Sometimes you come home from a trip full of fun experiences and interesting insights to share and you walk through your front door and then you realize that no one is home and it is silent and the hydrangeas on your kitchen counter have died and your dog isn’t there right now wagging her tail and kissing you all over and so…
You lose your shit.
You crack open and make broken animal noises.
You hope the neighbors don’t hear.
You think no one would understand this ridiculous sobbing over something like this.
You hiss at yourself: What are you even DOING??
You gasp for breath.
It’s a tidal wave.
It’s a homecoming to fear.
It’s an unwillingness to surrender.
Yes, this is happening, but you can’t believe it’s happening to you.
Then, five minutes go by. Your abs hurt. You start to worry that maybe the neighbors can hear you wailing. Then you worry because they will worry. Why? Because they are so nice. And they like you.
You look around and remember that you live in a safe and comfortable place.
You remember that you just got back from a fun trip with people who love you. People who laughed with you. People who hosted you in their home. People who you could pick up the phone and call right now.
You remember that there are people. People who are likely reading your blog right now thinking, “Dude, why didn’t you call ME???”
But you don’t feel like calling anyone. You realize you may be tired. You want your wiggling sweetheart dog. And she’s not there right now, so…
You lose your shit again. Less audibly. More gently. Because grief comes in waves.
You have been learning to surf.
One of my students got to go surfing over our recent break. It sounded amazing. I can’t surf (yet) but I imagine myself on a board on top of an ocean of waves: balanced, confident, strong, in the flow.
You don’t fight waves. You ride them out.
You don’t fight grief either. You ride it out.
Sometimes, I still try to fight my feelings: I fight with insecurity because I don’t have the “perfect” body. I fight with anger because I want people to think I’m a “nice” person. I fight with frustration because I want things I can’t have.
You never win the fight with yourself. It’s a scrappy, dirty fight. The wounds from *You V. You* cut the deepest.
It’s way too painful to fight feelings. Instead, you learn to ride them out.
In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about losing her shit on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night, sobbing, asking the universe for some kind of answer. Here is her account of what happened next:
“’Go back to bed‘, said the omniscient interior voice, ‘because you don’t need to know the final answer right now, at three o’clock in the morning on a Thursday in November. Go back to bed, because I love you. Go back to bed, because the only thing you need to do for now is get some rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer.’”
Thank you, Liz. I’ve thought of you on your bathroom floor often. I’ve sat like a sister beside you. Your bravery and willingness to get off the floor and share your experience has inspired me.
Beautiful reader: I hope that you feel grateful and full of joy every day because life is good. But sometimes, you are going to go home at the end of the day and lose your shit. You will want to fight *You V. You* and you will not win, and sometimes you will stick with your feelings and ride them out, and then sometimes you will just need to go to sleep until the next day.
Yet through it all, even on the bathroom floor, I love you because this is how I see you: balanced, confident, strong, and in the flow. Again and again, you get back up on your board in an ever changing ocean of waves.
And by the way, you look amazing.
Welcome home, courageous surfer.
Get some good rest and take care of yourself.
Tomorrow’s going to be another beautiful ride.