Presence and Peace

9 Quotes on Grief and Healing

tennessee 070lthe long and winding roadThere are probably as many forms of grief as there are people who grieve.  That’s the thing–each feeling is different, making the grief itself as tough to pin down as old mercury out of a broken thermometer.

My mom died four years ago today and it’s my opinion that losing your mom is like having a chunk of your heart ripped out.  There were times when thundering waves of grief simply threw me to the ground with nothing to cover me but a hot blanket of tears.  I just knew that I would never breathe normally again.

But of course I did.  We all make it to the healing wall sooner or later.

Other episodes of grief occasionally swim by–losing a job, walking a beloved pet to the Rainbow Bridge or leaving one home for a new one.  I’ve experienced all those things in the last four years.  Heck, my back helps me mourn the passing of youth every single day!

So what do we do?

Here’s what I know for sure:  Giving myself permission to feel grief is essential.  There is no time frame for grief, so if anyone says or implies, “Gee, aren’t you done with that yet,” please feel free to kick him or her in the shin.  Feel what you need to feel whenever grief rises.

I’ve been melancholy for the last few days.  I knew of course that the anniversary of Mom’s death was coming, so I purposely chose to sit with the grief.  In that process, I found that parts of me have healed, or are healing.

That’s what I want to share with you.  Thoughts on healing.  I’ve chosen these quotes because they come from books and books are where I so often draw my comfort. I hope they touch your heart as they touch mine.

Remember, your grief is your own. Don’t let anyone else judge it–or you.

I’d like to send special healing thoughts to my friend Lois who lost her mom this month.  Be good to yourself, my dear!

Thoughts on grief and healing

“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.” 
― Anne LamottOperating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.” 
― Wm. Paul YoungThe Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.” 
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

“The human heart has a way of making itself large again even after it’s been broken into a million pieces.” 
― Robert James WallerThe Bridges of Madison County

“And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to me feet once again – so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.” 
― Jack CanfieldChicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II

“Simply touching a difficult memory with some slight willingness to heal begins to soften the holding and tension around it. (74)” 
― Stephen LevineA Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

“It is important for people to know that no matter what lies in their past, they can overcome the dark side and press on the a brighter world.” 
― Dave PelzerA Child Called “It”

“In a world plagued with commonplace tragedies, only one thing exists that truly has the power to save lives, and that is love.” 
― Richelle E. GoodrichDandelions: The Disappearance of Annabelle Fancher

“Love opens your heart, trumps fear, and paves the way for healing in all aspects of your life.” 
― Lissa RankinMind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself

Photo courtesy of greyerbaby

Easy Prayer of Surrender: “Ok, God, Whatever”

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I’m experiencing the Big Book’s promise that fear of economic insecurity will disappear.

For those unfamiliar with the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (the book carries the same name as the organization), millions worldwide rely on its teaching. It’s also known as a textbook for recovery.

I don’t claim to know the book backwards and forwards, in spite of its persistent connection with my life for more than two decades. I know people who quote the book constantly, often flinging the words about with the fervor of a street preacher.

For me, the Big Book is not a sacred text so much as it is the spiritually inspired wisdom of the co-founder of AA. For that reason, I hold it in respectful esteem.

The Promises

The familiar phrasing of the most quoted promises sandwiched between AA’s eighth and ninth steps begins, “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.”

The promise that comes a bit later in the section reads, “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.” That’s the one that is filling my mind and heart right now.

Here’s why:  Somewhere during the last six weeks as my sweetie and I maneuvered through our move, I crossed an imaginary line from spastic, worrying and fearful Beth to calm, peaceful, come-what-may Beth.

After we found out that we qualified for our beautiful new home, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I dodged a bullet because I’m still a fledgling self-employed entrepreneur with a credit score that’s lower than I would like.

But that was a turning point for me.  Suddenly, I viscerally believed the words that my sweetie continued to say to me: “Everything is going to work out just fine.  God’s got this.”  Looking backwards at that line in the sand, I knew then that she was 100% correct.

My new MINI

I felt so good about my new-found surrender and belief in the Promise  that I decided to get a new car this week too.  Five days after we moved in. I know–crazy, right?  Uh huh.

On Tuesday, I spent nearly seven hours in the company of the fabulous folks at the MINI of Plano, TX dealership and I had a great time!  If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out.  There’s no other car dealership like it, I’m convinced!

Throughout the back-and-forth negotiation process (which I actually enjoyed), I was cool and confident.  I set my intention of what I wanted and if it didn’t work, I was okay with walking away without malice or judgment.  The thought of adding a car payment to my already tight monthly cash-flow was just that:  a thought.

Zero fear of economic insecurity.

Can I share a secret?  Since this new understanding and acceptance of the Promise settling around me, I’ve had an unexpected check arrive, picked up a new client and just yesterday, learned of a major project that I’ll soon undertake.

My lesson?  Let go and the return is immense! My secret weapon is the shortest, easiest prayer of surrender I’ve heard.  Three words:  “Okay, God, whatever.”

Try it. Set your sites on the Promise, test the prayer of surrender and let me know what you experience.  Hold on for a great adventure!

Photo courtesy of jemolesky

It’s OK When Your Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

Snoopy and Charlie Brown

 

My friend Lisa Frederiksen over at breakingthecycles.com posted the above picture on Facebook yesterday.  I think she grabbed it from Buddhism’s Facebook feed.

The photo’s caption resonates with me because the last six weeks have not gone as I planned and that’s okay.

The best-laid plans

The line from the Scottish poem by Robert Burns, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” is so true, isn’t it?

There’s also a ditty from recovery rooms that goes like this, “I plan and God laughs.” Lest you think I’m over-reacting or even being silly, try making a decision on June 1 to move from one house and then taking up residence in another house six weeks later which was three days ago.

Oh, and for three weeks in the middle, my sweetie and I house- and dog-sat at our home away from home.  If you picture a triangle, place each house at the three points–each one about 25 miles from the other.

Looking at houses, buying furniture, selling furniture, packing, AND one vehicle (mine) going on the fritz.  Oh, and working too, when we weren’t dozing in the pool (hey, this is a full disclosure post).

There were few days in the past six weeks that went according to MY plan.  I’ll let you in on a secret, though.  The days that were good days were the ones when I said first-thing, “Okay GUS (God-Universe-Spirit), I’m pretty sure I’m gonna mess things up today so I need you to lead me where you need me.”

3 things we did right

Moving when you’re part of a couple is a tricky thing.  I won’t tell you the entire time was without sharp words and a few tears shed, but we came through not only intact, but pretty damn good, thank you very much.  We did three things right.

1.  We respected our individual packing and unpacking processes. One of us is methodical and completes a small area (or box, in this case) while the other is more, shall we say, “creative.”  One of us has more pronounced control issues–yes, it’s me!

2.  We took care of our bodies.  Let’s face it, moving is much easier for a 30-year-old body than for a 50+ body.  As little as a few years ago I might have muscled my way through by carrying too-heavy boxes.  This time, I gave myself grace and let my rational self remind me that I have degenerative disc disease and that I’m under ongoing chiropractic care.  I heeded my limits and paid others to do the work for me.

3.  We knew when to say when we needed to stop.  As I’ve aged, both in recovery and in biology, I’ve learned to give myself grace around letting myself stop.  Take a break, take a nap (usually on a heating pad) or plop in front of the television for a mindless hour or so.

Stick a fork in me. I’m done! Gone is the frenetic pace to finish; instead I surrender. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet!)

There’s a fourth thing that’s been on my mind throughout the last six weeks.  It’s grace; giving ourselves permission to be good to ourselves.

Why in the world would there be any other way?

Photo courtesy of www.snoopy.com

Is Love Really ALL You Need?

heartttSing it with me like we’re the Beatles: “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

Are you buying it? Is love really ALL you need?

If you’re Marianne Williamson, the answer is yes.  Marianne, who wrote A Return to Love and several other books that heavily influenced my early recovery, is often quoted for her words on love and forgiveness.

When I’m spiritually fit and seeing the world through a clear lens, love IS all I need.  I find myself agreeing with Marianne, Eckhart, Wayne, Deepak, even the Dalai Lama about be-ing love. I mentally send buckets of love out into the Universe to pour over the heads of those not as far along the spiritual spectrum as me . . . ah, those poor, unenlightened souls.

And when I’m not spiritually fit?

Oh, you would have to ask. During the myriad of times when I’m hitting sour notes and damning the grasshoppers that hop-and-touch me as I walk across summer grass, I’m certainly not singing love’s praises.

You’d think it would be the opposite, wouldn’t you?

Nope, I’ve got no use for the seekers’ quotes when I’m restless, irritable and discontent. I would rather–forgive the imagery here, please–sit in my own shit because it’s warm (That’s a quote from one John W. Admire, another great influence to my recovery.).

I can get spiritually unfit quickly when I’m in that warm, poopy place. Fortunately, I don’t go there often.

Now is not one of those times, in case you’re wondering. But I am thinking a lot about a friend who is super-special to me. I spoke with her yesterday and it seems her life is in the pits on every front–work, primary relationship, self-worth.

She sounded tired and alone. My heart breaks for her. But if I said to her, love is all you need, she would have probably hung up the phone.

I didn’t, of course. But I’ve been thinking it.

What happens when the wheels come off the bus?

My friend lamented that she wasn’t doing good things for herself, that she was too angry and frustrated and over the whole idea of taking care of herself. How could I say to her that this is the exact time to feed her soul lots of love?

I’ve been in that emotionally drained morass of pain before so I know a little about what my friend is feeling. Why do we hurt ourselves more by denying self-love when we need it most?

Human nature, I suppose. I recall the kind words people in recovery say to newcomers, “Let us love you until you can love yourself.”

Wise words. Even as I asked my friend to give herself some grace for the things she’s doing right, I know that I can help her too. I can send her love.

Ice cream scoops, minnow buckets, Texas in-ground pools all filled with love for a woman who is always unconditionally, no-questions-asked there for me. I hold a vision of brighter times for her, a vision of her finding her laughter again, a vision that sees her heart overflowing with love of life.

Blondie, this one’s for you. I’m sending you love.

Love is all around us all the time. Love is the ethers that we swim in. Love is the amniotic fluid of the soul. ~ Marianne Williamson

Photo courtesy of greyerbaby

Have You Found Freedom in Recovery?

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I found the rooms of recovery and a new way of living in 1991. While I recall the facts that surrounded the final days of active addiction, sometimes it’s hard to bring the feelings and emotions from that time to mind.

Hanging out with people new to recovery helps bring those early days closer to the surface for me. I so love watching new folks blossom during the early months of their recovery. That too takes me back to my first few months.

Once the fog cleared from the initial withdrawal of substances, I remember a sensational feeling of freedom. Suddenly, every experience was brand new again, as if I had been released from a bubble where all my senses had been cut off from my surroundings.

Recovery set me free.

I wonder, have you asked yourself what you’d like made new in your life so that you can be free?

Recovery’s beauty shines for you upon realizing that you get to decide–every day–what passes for meaning.

You.  Beautiful you.

Your eyes suddenly see clearly what was previously cloudy. Now your gaze falls upon the recognizable without wondering how it got there.

You’re released from the tightly wound death grip that formerly restrained you in a satanic clutch.

You can breathe again, deep, cleansing breaths, previously impossible with the weight of a thousand hammers holding you down.

You think and each thought takes you closer to the pureness of delight.

You wonder how you could have waited half your lifetime for this born-again experience. But you know you had to wait, had to know you were beyond the aid of anyone or anything before you could raise the white flag of surrender.

You had to be through with lounging in the devil’s den.

Your spirit, once given a glimpse of freedom, couldn’t wait to leap and drag the rest of you through the open window filled with sunlight.

So here you are at the precipice of your new life.

Freedom papers are yours to have and hold. You clutch them and leap like a child throwing himself into a cannonball pool jump.

Leap and the net will appear.  You’re told–promised–a recovery net will hold you. Can you hear the truth that yearns for your belief?

Freedom nudges you forward until your toes hover over the edge.

What if I’m wrong, the old you cries.

What the hell, your new self shouts. What if I’m right?

You jump.

Freedom is yours. Tell us about it, will you?

Photo courtesy of where_ever_I_am