There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken, a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy, and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open to the place inside that is unbreakable and whole.”
– Rashani Réa
– 1 –
There are forgotten truths about the human experience and society.
We’ve been led to believe that we’re less capable and less resilient than we truly are.
There is a part of you – of all of us – that knows how to get through this. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.
Beneath the pain, fear, and uncertainty we know how to get through this, how to get back up, and how to flourish in the eye of the storm.
We can wake that part up.
– 2 –
First, you need to stop fighting against the darkness. To deny your deepest and most complex feelings is to become both victim and aggressor.
Instead, allow yourself to feel the things you’ve been longing to avoid.
Ask yourself, bravely, “What is standing between me and greater well-being?” Of course, we know some of the easy answers: the virus, uncertainty, stay at home measures, an economy in tailspin.
But those aren’t the answers we’re looking for. We want the feelings beneath those concerns: the fear, the confusion and smallness, the lack of preparation or ability, the sense of being unloved or unlovable, and/or the specter of death and loss.
Surrendering to whatever is true for you is the first step to rekindling the strength and clarity that so many of us have been tricked into forgetting.
Then, simply ask, “Can I be with this feeling?”
You may be surprised to find that the answer is a calm and stable yes. Stay with that yes for a moment. Recognize that your fears do not own you.
– 3 –
Next, we come together to help one another.
This is trickier now than it used to be. It feels like there is only so much we can do from the confines of our homes. And many of us are more afraid of other people than we ever were before.
So we must learn to distance our bodies but not our hearts.
We ask an elderly neighbor if we can pick up food or prescriptions. We check in with our friends and family who have been struggling. We donate a bit of our money to people who need it more than we do. If we have a skill that can help others, we offer it.
We thank the countless medical professionals, delivery and mail people, law enforcement officers, people providing food and working on the supply chain, scientists, reporters, and others who are risking their well-being to keep the world running. We thank the people who stay at home and share their resources.
We mourn with the people who have lost loved ones, who have fallen ill, and who don’t know how they’ll pay rent or buy food. We do our best to lend an ear and to shoulder some of the burden.
– 4 –
Finally, we treat ourselves with compassion. We take breaks from the pain before we need to. We watch a movie, sleep in, lower the bar, smoke a joint, go for a walk, whatever. We accept that some days are going to be better than others and that there’s nothing really wrong with us. We’re just getting used to it.
Just as we must find the courage to stare it all in the eye, we must also find the compassion to take a break.
And when it feels like the darkness just won’t abate, we ask for help and call a friend or a professional.
None of us will get through this alone, so reach out. Check in on old friends, your family, and colleagues, because we are all affected by uncertainty and history in the making.
We only ever heal and we only ever persevere together.