…and this too shall pass…
This is a sentence that brings me so much comfort. My high school sweetheart used to say it to me on days that had been particularly tough and before he kissed me goodnight. I would go down my stairs, crawl into bed, and fall asleep with his loving reminder echoing through my mind. Inevitably, I would wake up feeling so much better about the situation.
Sleep helps me. A lot.
Thing is… for a while now, I haven’t quite been myself. It began when I had an experience that was *nothing* as I had hoped it would be and so much more than I believed it could be. It was a situation that – while it was exquisitely joyful, it was heavily weighted with an undercurrent of negativity. It resulted in more physical pain than I’ve ever experienced before. It locked up my entire body from the base of my skull to my mid-back. It was a roller coaster where I felt like I had been punched in the face with angry energy, where I felt the energy of disgust and judgment flung at me repeatedly, where I felt as though I was continually an inconvenience.
When I came out of that experience, I was hollow. I was exhausted. I was in so much lingering pain that I couldn’t see straight. I was hurt on a core level that I haven’t allowed to even be touched, let alone hurt for… well… a really long time. I was confused. I was scared. And most of all, I was really not myself.
And I couldn’t sleep.
From the very first step into that experience, when I was greeted with bitter anger, I began questioning who I am, what I am about, what I am here to do. It boiled down my existence to one of useless pain, frustration, and, eventually, white-hot anger. Anger because I felt abused. Anger because I *allowed* that abuse in the name of love – again. Anger that I didn’t speak up at the time because I didn’t want to cause pain to anyone else. Anger that, in the name of self-defense – because I had no idea what else to do other than protect myself and retreat – I took on more than was mine to carry, I injured myself in the process, and I haven’t yet bounced back.
And then… all that resulted in me not being able to sleep so, night after night, it compounded upon itself.
The ripples of that experience have magnified over time. I’ve gone forward, pretending that I had let it go and everything was fine – I was fine – pretending that “it is what it was and that’s perfect,” pretending that I understood the lesson and I could be compassionate and I could have my own feelings about all that I had witnessed, all I had gone through, all I had felt. I kept telling myself that *that* was good enough. I kept reminding myself that my experience was *my* experience and that no one else had my experience, nor did I have theirs. I kept reminding myself to breathe and to let go, to clear the energy and return it to sender. A million times a day, I cleared myself and returned the energy to sender.
And I still couldn’t sleep.
Yesterday, I decided that I needed to talk about it. I needed to verbalize what I was going through – what I had gone through. I needed to understand what had happened. I needed to get clear about what I had done that had resulted in all those painful sensations right from the very first moment, from the very first step I took into that place. I had been hurt; I had been treated incredibly poorly from the getgo; I had been confused and at a loss because of that unfair, seemingly near-hateful greeting. I needed to hear the other angles, the other points of views. I needed to see what I hadn’t been able to see while I was in it. I needed to hear what I had missed.
So I talked and I listened. I heard, absorbed, and understood every single viewpoint shared. I questioned and listened some more. I heard the pain, the sadness, the anger that was present outside of me. I took accountability for all I was aware of, things I remembered doing and saying and how they could have been hurtful. I owned that I had behaved out of line, myself. Things that I did and said that were inappropriate, as I acted out unconsciously while swirling in self-inflicted pain and delirium, I owned them too, even the horrible thing that I don’t remember ever saying. I owned that and apologized with tears rolling down my face. I held other’s pain. I held their judgment, their disgust, their disapproval. I listened. I heard. And, oh my god, I felt it. I felt it all. Again. Over and over, I apologized because *I* had hurt people too. In my pain, I hadn’t been able to see that, but I can see it now. I had inflicted pain and that needed to be forgiven. *I* had to forgive me.
I went into that conversation to get clear. And I did it because I needed to be heard. *I* needed to hear me – and I did. I needed the other person to hear me. But, instead the hurt was compounded and I left the conversation feeling more hurt, more confused. And far from heard.
I cried a lot yesterday. I cried late into the night with two of the most fantastic people in my life. They heard me. It helped to relieve a lot of the pressure of the ongoing pain I’ve been living with. And yet, I cried myself to sleep. All that crying exhausted me. Therefore, I slept. It was a fitful, sort of comatose experience, far from restful, far from restorative.
And then I woke up.
I woke to find all the loving private messages in response to my tearful, tender post yesterday. I found all the loving questions and support, the reminders that who I AM is who I am no matter how I am “working” and no matter how crappy I feel. That never changes, nor can it be taken from me.
I know that, when I do not sleep and it goes on for a while, I get morose, I get muddled, I get lost. When that streak of no sleep begins with heartbreak, I notoriously tear myself apart in that process, eviscerating myself in an attempt to mute the heart pain. I become a gut-cutter – a more agonizing, invisible form of emotional cutting. Rather than taking a razor to my exterior skin, I shred myself internally all in an attempt to balance the pain.
Just realizing that right now.
So… yeah… thanks for listening. Thanks for sending love and being generous with your care.
I’m still not sure what the answer is to the question, “What’s next for me?”
And, for now, I AM okay with that.
It is a new day.
That means… there is still hope…