A few months ago my baby and I were sitting on a porch swing under the shade of my friend’s beautiful tree-lined garden. She had recently housed plump little hens in a homemade chicken coop, and they were happily pecking and scratching around our feet.
I asked after someone we both know, and she said:
‘since she broke up with that young man, it is difficult for her to open her heart again.’
‘that is understandable, it only happened recently.’
and I thought about my own journey.
My friend continued:
‘her father is articulate about his feelings and sensitive to others. I think it is difficult for her to find someone in that image, most young men can’t talk about their emotions. ‘
I said :
‘there are many women who can’t either.’
What I meant by this is that I have learned that life is too short for me to surround myself with unsupportive women. There are people who have awful life events, but are blessed with a mature emotional vocabulary and a self-knowledge that allows them to heal. These people are light, and bring healing to others by drawing them to their light.
On the other hand, there are those whose life circumstances meant that they were never given an emotional education, as in they were taught to shut out deep trauma and engulf themselves in something pleasurable and not deal with their feelings. These people are darkness, and can pull us further into the dark.
What is it about our lives that, as we get older, we find more and more people in pain? I have found this helpful from Tiny Buddha:
It’s not easy to release a pain identity, particularly if you’ve carried it around for a long time. It may help to remember who you were before that experience—or to consider who you might have become if it hadn’t happened.You can still be that person, someone who doesn’t feel bitter or angry so frequently.
I have found looking through old photo albums very helpful. There is a lot that we manage to edit out of our personal narrative when experiencing a strong emotion. When we are angry with someone, a sibling for instance, it is easier to forget the sweet things they do for us, or the many kindnesses they have shown us.
I looked through old photos of myself with friends, on holiday and at home. What I think about is the warmth and love I experienced. And it reminds me that in the course of a lifetime:
- The little arguments and things that make us cross don’t matter at all.
- The huge, devastating emotional things matter at that moment, then they cease to matter.
- Worrying about the future has zero impact on it.
I often find myself wanting to know ‘What is the prognosis? Is this something I can tidily handle?’
But none of us knows. That is what is beautiful about being present. We are not our emotions, they are not our past and future. There is only now, and now I can understand there are some things within my control, most things are not. But why not use the things in our control to our advantage?
A heart can re-open, just as a body can heal. Reflection has strengthened me in many ways, and made me realise that my little son, the rainbow baby, is born of my love and loss.
He has also borne my love and loss.