This Is Our Unmasking

In those moments I permitted myself to feel the discomfort of all that has changed around me, all that has changed within me, and to grieve all that will never or cannot ever… be returned to me.

I approached the doors to the funeral home to find a young staff waiting with a thermal scan aimed in my direction. I leaned in slightly and on gaining her nod of approval of my afebrile status, was ushered forward to share my personal info with the woman behind the plexiglass window. This was my first celebration of life during these unusual and confusing times.

And it changed me.

Moving to the left I found myself staring into a space where seating was paired, two side to side with six feet to the next set, on both sides and behind. The stagger of the chairs bewildered me for just a moment, due in part I suppose to my expectation of how this should be. I stood there glancing about the room, not certain what to do in the absence of a grieving family standing to greet those who were there to pay respects to their loved one. I will admit to a pang of panic in not quite knowing what was expected of me in that moment. My husband indicated the familiar face of the Reverend officiating and I found myself steered in her direction with some relief that I could comfortably stand close without fear that I was encroaching on a bubble I didn’t belong to. The presence of another known friend found me taking the seats that sat six feet behind his own. The arrival of the widower permitted me my need to reach out, to return the requested hug and to share my sorrow at the loss of his beautiful spouse. I will admit that I have never been a fan of the family greeting line; to me they force the grieving into a position of accepting touch and comfort in a time when they are most fragile and at risk of shattering. It was a surreal realization for me to suddenly recognize that despite my distaste of the typical practice, I still stood there seeking its tradition.

Taking my seat once again, I glanced about the room finding only eyes to greet me, the masks dutifully drawn to the bridge of the nose, glasses perched and clouded or raised to sit on the head to clear the vision of the breath that steamed it. I felt that I had landed in a different place, a different time with a brand new set of rules of both behavior and engagement. I peered into the eyes of the older lady seated six feet to my right and smiled quickly realizing she wasn’t aware that I had done so at all. I felt sad in that moment that we had missed the opportunity to meet on that smile. Perhaps she had smiled my way also, and I missed it too.

My dear friend the Reverend stood to take her place at the podium, and I fell silent to listen to her words. As she moved through her eulogy, and the children stood to speak, I was quite stunned to find myself reaching up to wipe away tears that have never come easily to me. I am not that person. I am not that crier; I share in painful expressions of loss and pain on a daily basis, making this a highly unusual occurrence. I sniffed deeply back to pull it together and immediately found myself right back to tears dampening the cloth that covered whatever facial expression existed beneath it. I could feel the familiarity of the trembling lips, the attempt to then pull the lip between my teeth, as if that motion could stop the flow of fluid now freely escaping my lower lids. But this time the attempt ended in failure.

And then it hit me.

My mask had afforded me the vulnerability to be honest. Yes, I was pulled into the stirrings of emotions listening to a family share stories about a wife, mom and grandmother whom I respected deeply for her love of life despite her egregious health battles, yet a woman I hadn’t been blessed to know well at all. Her story and her fight to live shared over social media by her loving husband whom I knew well enough to be honored to be asked to share in the celebration of her well lived story.

In the short time that followed, I allowed myself to both partake in the words I was hearing, and in the thoughts of the losses I had encountered myself over the year(s) that just passed. With eyes dampened in tears, and the stain of eyeliner marking the trail, I glanced again around the room and found a comforting reality that I was not at all alone. Without the expressions to guard the tears, the tears were more truthful than I have ever witnessed. I felt each one, and became part of a whole in a way I could have never imagined possible. In those moments I permitted myself to feel the discomfort of all that has changed around me, all that has changed within me, and to grieve all that will never or cannot ever… be returned to me.

During a 45 minute celebration of life, I cried for the year(s) that I lost. The year(s) that we lost. Seated hidden beneath my mask, I bade farewell to the experience of what once felt real and felt a stir of hope that something better will fill the holes that these losses have left behind.

Behind my mask I found my pain, and I gave it permission to leave me. My wish for you is that you find your own, that you allow yourself to let it free to absorb into a piece of fabric that protects the vulnerability beneath. My wish for us all is that on the day that this ends, that we can turn new and beautiful faces to the sunshine.

My hope is that you find yourself immersed in the opportunity to understand and know yourself entirely before these strange times come to an end. My hope is that you find solace enough beneath the mask to give truth to what you grieve.

There is no joy to be found in the heavy loss of precious life during these present times.

But there is joy ahead for those that will understand why we have shared this together.

No one can see your lips trembling. Go ahead and grieve.

With love and light

Tania

What The Dead Want Us To Learn From A Pandemic.

“You’re all in this together. Work it out”

What The Dead Want Us To Learn From A Pandemic.

With slightly off color forward by Tania:

Have you ever had one of those “I showed up to the party naked and everyone else was dressed” dreams? If you have then you know the feeling it evokes when you believe that everyone is staring at you in horror. That’s kinda where we are right now in relation to forgetting your mask in the car. At least that’s where I am. I leave home and as I cross the parking lot I have this uneasy sense that I forgot to put my clothes on and a wave of momentary panic ensues before I realize that it’s my face that is showing. At this point in the game it’s likely considered the more offensive nudity, which is somewhat disconcerting actually. With the current focus on inappropriate facial features, I almost want to walk into the mall in my bra and sweatpants and see if anyone even notices what’s actually missing.

Several times over the past few months I have reached out to my Guides, even asked those that belong to my clients if they might wish to chime in on our current state of being. Each time I have attempted to get a response, I have been thwarted with either a shoulder shrug or what might amount in the human world to an eye roll type of response.

To say this was a most frustrating experience is an understatement. In my experience those on the spirit side tend to have an opinion on everything, so this silence was both curious and concerning. Not to mention downright annoying as I was struggling to bring comfort to so many who were finding absolutely none. And then last week, we went into the dreaded “second wave” and my already thin patience snapped.

“We’re tired universe. This is exhausting and I’m fairly certain there is a mutiny mounting over Thanksgiving dinner; you have anything to share to bring about some form of calm to the masses, I would most appreciate it”

What I received in response may not provide the calm that I wished for but perhaps it may offer some perspective during these trying times.

Message From Those On The Spirit Side

“You are in this together; as one whole. Not one is separate from the rest, all are equal in their risks. What other way to unite you than to place you into the same experience? What better way to teach you to consider each other than to be considerate of your own frailty? It is only in your own fears that you can adequately understand the fears of those in your own community. We have watched for some time now. We have heard the discomforts of your hearts and souls with many of the unfortunate and tragic events that occur in your world. You can empathize with the catastrophes yet you cannot truly become a part of them therefore you learn little. You send your thoughts, your donations, your blankets, your love and your monetary assistance and then you continue with life as it goes in your own world. With little understanding of the continued struggles of those still battling the waves, you move forward, buy your usual coffee, read your usual news. This pandemic has created a vaster knowledge of the pains that many face in all times, not only during a viral outbreak. The discomforts of isolation, of loneliness, of loss of health and loss of loved ones. It has taught us that not one human is exempt and that all humans are in the line of fire. Regardless of social standing, of wealth or of poverty. This virus has no chosen few, it adheres to all demographics; all race, all religion, all human kind. This microbe might be the one single thing that helps you to finally see each other and not simply look at each other. Perhaps now you might find some understanding in those that struggle and must ask for help. Without the assistance of your governments you would have been in the same place in a short period of time. Perhaps now you might find some sympathy for those that struggle with mental health concerns or with thoughts of leaving your human world. Because now you have been subjected to having your usual set aside for something new and frightening and uncomfortable. Perhaps now you yourselves are beginning to feel the helplessness that arises when there are no answers or no direction to take. Your world will come through this, as it has come through everything that it has faced. You will come through this and we hope that you come through changed. We hope that you come through kinder, gentler and considerate to the plight of all those humans who have been living this very existence alone. That is… until a germ forced you to join them”

Powerful words…so simple yet so thought provoking. So relatable now that we are all in this same place, battling these same demons. A germ forced us to join all those that have felt dehumanized in their exemption from our good lives. This is a wake up call. I hope you all answer.

We are in this together. There is no other choice. We can heal this together.

In love, kindness, common frailty and in understanding.

Tania ( and friends)

Grieving The Distance

“Sometimes I feel so- I don’t know – lonely. The kind of helpless feeling when everything you’re used to has been ripped away. Like there’s no more gravity, and I’m left to drift in outer space with no idea where I’m going….”

“Sometimes I feel so- I don’t know – lonely. The kind of helpless feeling when everything you’re used to has been ripped away. Like there’s no more gravity, and I’m left to drift in outer space with no idea where I’m going’
Like a little lost Sputnik?’
I guess so.”
― Haruki Murakami

This is a lengthy writing and I thank you for taking the time to read it. Before it continues I want you to try to find something positive from the journey we are currently on together. Stop and reflect on how this may have altered or will alter the person that you thought you were. From my own personal pages I have discovered a remarkable “lacking” on my own journey that has deeply surprised me. But that is for the next blog. For today let’s talk about the grief in our distance. 

If I can predict and assure you of one thing it is that at the end of this discomfort you will remember the pain of lonely and it will make you a better human.

I can say with complete honesty that prior to this current place we are in that I don’t really think I understood loneliness. Which means I couldn’t construct empathy for the lonely as effectively as I will following this experience.  If anything, I think I may have envied them slightly the freedom to be alone.  As a natural introvert I love being by myself…

But not this time.  This time the loneliness feels like crippling grief, an emotion I have adapted to through my work, and one that I can place aside at the end of the work day.  Yet how do I put it away in its tidy box when the entire world around me is grieving.  Grief naturally comes in waves, it affects one person one day, another the next but in the middle of it all is that energy of peace that allows us to breath until the next roll crests. But not now. Not today.  Today we are all collectively as entire populations toppling about on the lifts and the crashes of a tidal wave that doesn’t appear to be descending to something manageable enough to swim in.  If I can frame this for you from the position of fresh grief, from a place of just having lost someone you love; we are in that first few days through the mourning period where time stands still, where nothing feels natural and auto pilot has engaged to get us to the other side of it safely.  But in this moment exists one major and influential difference in how we heal our respective pain. This time we cannot reach for each other to console.  And that’s making this experience unlike any other you will have been through or may go through again.  This is grief at its profoundest state and nothing in our lives will ever feel so uncomfortable after this is over.

To those that shy from human touch I now understand how painful that might be for you, and I want to learn who made it that way for you.  The soul, the very basis of what makes us human requires the act of connection.  Physical connection. Whether it be sitting across from someone in the coffee shop, walking with a friend, or sharing a hug…it is a natural need to feel closer than six feet away.

I stood in the cemetery the other day at the end of a row of headstones.  Six feet apart and six feet down. I believe that the basis of this is more logical of course in that most caskets are approximately 6 feet in length or more. That six feet down is more appropriate so that the earth doesn’t give up what is buried below.  All set out for geographical reasons. But as I stood there staring I wondered…why doesn’t this place feel as lonely as the world feels outside of it today? Here in our resting spots we are six feet apart. Why do I feel peace here but not out there? And then I realized.  We’re not six feet apart underneath of it all. We are head to head, toe to toe. Mere inches separate us even if on the ground above it seems farther.

Here and now we are separated by six feet painted on a sidewalk. Taped onto a grocery store floor. Our soul energy that lives in our hands is trapped into latex gloves, and our reassuring smiles are hidden in masks. The only thing we can connect to now is the eyes. Eyes that are tired, are vacant and are lost in the same grief as your own.  No one in the crowd knows when the discomfort ends. No one can tell you that it’s going to be OK.  No one can pat your hand and say it all ends somewhere soon. And there is nothing lonelier than living that.  Nothing lonelier than not being able to connect in the support that only another human can provide.  We can talk about connecting energetically but when it comes right down to it…we didn’t come to live together as humans to only connect this way.  We cannot, it’s impossible to fully feel the energy of a soul when the human body is tucking it away behind individual walls created in our own unique life stories.  We came together on the human journey to feel the beauty and the love that comes with physical touch. To remember that behind every facade exists something we know already. Something we’ve shared space with in another place free of our physical restrictions.  Maybe we all forgot about that. Maybe that’s what this is all about after all.  Maybe we needed to remember that we all need to feel loved.  We just couldn’t possibly have known the experience we would have to share together, the losses that we would accumulate together or why it would happen the way it did.

I have witnessed something remarkable this past few weeks.  In the lineups of people standing  six feet apart I have seen less and less of us looking down at our phones.  Instead I am seeing the bare naked souls standing behind another with a strange and wistful stare. It didn’t take me long to figure it out.  It wasn’t boredom. It wasn’t frustration.  It was the sound of the soul speaking in the silence.

“I need to be closer. It hurts to stand alone”

I don’t have to hope that we all one day need to try to remember this feeling. I know without a doubt in my mind, in my heart or in my soul that we will never forget this feeling. And for that part I am grateful.

Because this isn’t at all about changing things. This is about remembering what we came here for.

We came here to touch each others lives.  We came here to learn love. We came here to remember how beautiful that truly is.

And a special note for all those grieving the loss of someone to this illness, I want you to know that they were surrounded and touched by immense love in your absence. That your pain in being kept from their side was reflected to all those that went before and they stood in to bring your loved one all of the love that you wished you could give in those moments.  My heart aches for the grief you have experienced in this and I send you comfort over the journey from here.

In love, in light and in the power of human connection,

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smashing Glass Slippers

“In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy”   

~Andy Stanley~

“In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy”

~Andy Stanley~

I am not sure I am comfortable with the word enemy in the quote above, but in keeping with the original wording I must allow it to remain.  I really don’t consider anyone to be an enemy.  In any situation where I might happen upon someone with whom I have suffered a disconnect, I can and will behave in a cordial albeit aloof manner, but I would never consider them to be an enemy.  More so a lesson in what to avoid, I suppose.

I am terribly imperfect. This blog represents a vulnerability that is uncommon for me because I am much more comfortable in healing your discomforts than my own. From yours I have an ability to disconnect.  Perhaps this is why I am so good at what I have been led to do. It’s worked for me so far, yet recently it has become evident to me that I have missed a step along the way somewhere, and my ability to go forward and provide the best of myself  was reliant on some soul searching and contemplation.

For those that know me quite well, they know of my inability to comprehend or extend forgiveness. This is in complete opposition to my empathetic nature, a learned human behavior not a true characteristic of who I am.  It is not uncommon to hear me tell people to reserve the act of forgiveness for themselves alone.  To heal their hurts without giving opportunity to those that created them to feel that they are abolished of their wrong doing.  As the quote above states I have always lived by the belief that forgiveness does little more than reward the behavior that created discomfort.

So, in keeping with the fairy tale, I will, more often than not, don the proverbial glass slippers and exit stage left. I rarely to never leave a shoe behind either.  Gone. Little trace exists that we spent time in each other’s journey short of a few crystals you might find that have broken off in my escape.

I am no Cinderella by any stretch. She was much kinder than I when it came to the dealings of those that distressed her. At least she provided them jobs in which to support themselves once her Prince Charming appeared. I don’t even allow that much.  I cut you out entirely, my support in your journey forward is over.

It’s just always been my way.  I will not forgive you but I will forget you. I guess the premise behind that logic (somewhere in my mind) is that you won’t forget me because I leave no opportunity for you to feel that you found closure in my departure.

Well that’s not screwed up at all is it?

Someone recently asked me to consider forgiveness and my first instinct was my natural instinct. Find a big box to put that in. Nail it down firmly and bury it.  Dig out my glass slippers, rush off to my hearth, pack them away and then sit and forgive myself for allowing something or someone to cause me pain.  And it often goes a little like this.

“I forgive myself for allowing myself to be harmed by the actions of another. “I forgive myself for my inability to control the events that led to my discomfort”. I forgive myself for being misguided” “I forgive myself for giving too much of my good energy”  “I forgive myself for the expectations I put on others”

I could go on forever here because I can find a litany of reasons to forgive myself in any and all situations.  I could forgive myself for burning the pasta last week.

But I digress.

I recently pulled out the glass slippers. I haven’t done that in a long time now. Maybe the passage of time caused me to hesitate before I slid them to my feet. Maybe I was too tired of trying to run in them.  Or maybe…..just maybe….

I was tired of putting the blame on myself and soothing myself with a ritual of self forgiveness for my own sincerity of action.

I still strongly believe in the power of self forgiving. Once this blog is public I will forgive myself for not discovering this lesson sooner.  I will forgive myself for perhaps offering up advice to others based solely on what I thought was true for me. Early into this spiritual journey I was reminded several times to not permit my own prejudice to color the souls that I encounter along the way.  And I believe I have allowed that to happen.  Forgive me.

So something today I never thought I would do…..

A plot twist perhaps…

Forgive.

Forgiveness does not mean that you will accept further discomforts. It does not mean that you are a pushover. It does not mean that you announce open season for those to take aim once again. Forgiveness means that you are loving yourself enough now to include boundaries that will not permit discomforts in the future.

Forgiveness is not weakness. Forgiveness is strength.

Forgive. If your forgiveness comes with an apology accept that and forgive because in doing so the responsibility for your pain is shared. As it should be. It is not solely your discomfort to carry and feel you created. Sharing it is much less uncomfortable and far less self injuring.

Forgive. If your forgiveness must come with no apology attached, forgive anyway.  Because no one suffers in this but yourself. Spending decades waiting to hear I am sorry takes the beauty out of life because there is no pain such as the pain of waiting for words that never arrive.  And if it has taken you decades to reach this part, then forgive yourself only for not doing it sooner. You are a beautiful creation and you deserved so much more than that. You deserve so much more going forward from today.

Forgive. Because forgiveness is self love in its most unconditional manner. And there is no one more deserving of that love than yourself.  It does not require that you maintain a connection to those that you have forgiven  but it does require that you understand that until you forgive you do not attach responsibility to anyone else but yourself. And that’s a heavy load to carry alone.

 

So take a moment and repeat this with me if you are so inclined.

I forgive you if you caused me discomfort intentionally, unintentionally, with malice or with lack of consideration.  I forgive you because it is my right to live a life unfettered by the weight of pain. I forgive you because I deserve to live a life that is free of self blame.  I forgive you because I love myself.

And if I have caused you discomfort I ask that you forgive me also. Because you deserve nothing less than I deserve.  We will share our discomforts and love ourselves through it.

You’ll excuse me now……

I have glass slippers to smash

With love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grieving Promise

Grief is hemorrhagic.

It shares no umbrella of the same color or shape. You can’t expect someone to stay dry using yours because it worked for you.

I promise you will grieve.  And there is nothing I can do to prepare you.

I can share literature and lead by my example but there is nothing I can do to help you understand.  Like birth and like death, the journey to your  certain discomfort will only be known by yourself.  There will be nothing to catch you, nothing that can console you and nothing to fill the shatters in your soul.  A deeply painful and personal unraveling of all the words you could have said and all the moments you had the opportunity to say them.  Of all the chances you missed and the chances you took.  You will find discomfort in every choice you created and every choice you allowed.

I promise you will grieve. And there is nothing I can do to prepare you.

What I can prepare you for  is that no one will understand the depth of your pain. They will try to understand, attempt to console, try to catch you when your knees burst and you fall to the depths. But I can promise you they will not know how deeply you will drop because you are falling through your own waters and bringing your own beliefs, thoughts and regrets as your swimming companions.

I promise no one will understand your pain.

Your pain is as individual as your fingertips, your DNA and your thoughts. While many will commiserate and understand the experience of loss, they can never truly seek to understand your ownership to the individuality of your story.

If we are to help one another through grief, we must be aware that not one process is like another.  We cannot seek to know the physical and emotional results of a heart that is punctured; whether once or a thousand times over.  The choice of injurious results lies with each individual story.  Over time hearts will heal, some more quickly; while others will leave nothing more than sinew to toughen the holes and to make them impenetrable to the possibility of further bleeding.  In both there is strength. And in both we have no right in our opinion of the process.

I’ve heard it enough now in my lifetime and my career. The judgements on how the grieving can grieve.

“He’s already moved onward to a new spouse. Her body is barely cold”

We have no right.

“She’s pregnant again, so soon. She hasn’t grieved the child she lost”

We have no right.

“You are angry and not what I knew. I cannot work with what I don’t recognize”

We have no right.

“Get up from the couch. Uncurl your hands from the teddy bear. You have to keep going”

We have no right.

Until the moment that the sharp pins explode  into our own hearts, our own souls and our own understanding of what that looks like…

We have no right.

And even after that moment…

The only right we are afforded…

Is the right to finally understand that we can offer nothing to change the experience.

Nothing that is…

Except to love them through it.  Whether we disagree, we wouldn’t have done it the same way, or we think our way is better.

Their way is the only way.

Love them through it.

Love them through what they need to do in order to survive.

Surviving might be angry, risk taking or silence. Surviving might be running forward to something new. Surviving may be terror in allowing anything or anyone to come close again. Surviving might be bottled or prescribed. Surviving may be tolerable only in introversion or in dancing through the streets.  Surviving may be in dying and breathing concurrently.

Love them through it anyway.

Grief is hemorrhagic.

It shares no umbrella of the same color or shape. You can’t expect someone to stay dry using yours because it worked for you.

Love them through it.

Let them bleed.

Only they can stop the flow because only they know where the punctures exist.

Love them through it.

Love you through it.

 

Be kinder. Be more compassionate. Don’t push. Don’t force.  Be gentle. Be tolerable because understanding will be obscure.

Just love them through it.

 

Loving you through it

Tania