There came a time when I didn't have it in me. Didn't have what in me? The ability to continue with life as normal when it was anything but.
I was pretty quiet on social media and here at my site last week because we were dealing with a family tragedy. Dealing with loss is ridiculously difficult and I don't know that we ever get good at it. My first response was to try to compartmentalize what had happened and continue to do what I do, flap my Superwoman cape and delay dealing with the fallout. But I could not. And I decided it was a disservice to my circle, my audience, and myself for me to try to fake it. So I didn’t. Let me explain.
Normally, I develop monthly themes for content that I am going to create or share and then on Sundays I plan content for each week. But on a recent Sunday when I would have been planning, I received the unspeakable news that one of my cousins had been killed. And in that moment, I felt almost completely lost.
I say almost, because I had enough presence of mind to focus on supporting my family first. His mother—who had lost her young son, his grandmother—who had raised him and hence lost a son AND a grandson, and my mother—who lost a grandson. (Don’t worry about all the familial connections, biology does not determine relationships, the connections between people take care of that.) I felt unspeakable pain and sorrow. I don’t know if it made it worse that he wasn’t ill, that someone had killed him, but it was all so much to bear.
After the initial shock wore off and I was confident that I had done all I could do to support these amazing women who have been part of my village, I then felt a new crushing blow. I remembered our final conversation, and the last words I had spoken to my cousin. I told him, ‘I hope you will keep in better touch now, because you need to know me’. You need to know me. That phrase haunted me for days.
Bringing My Ghosts into the Light
When I said it, we giggled, we hugged, it was an ok moment. But in my grieving mind, the words stood out as arrogant and not as loving as I wanted my final words to be. Of course, I didn’t know those were the last words we would ever share, but we never know. And I believe in the power of words and really wanted to believe that he didn’t take them the wrong way and cover it with laughter, that he didn’t think I was judging him and that I thought he was anything less-than-perfect, exactly the way he was.
I wanted to take them back and I felt so angry and full of regret because I couldn’t. I was so full of regret that I didn’t have anything in me to give my circle or my audience. I could hardly eat I was so full of unspoken affirmations and encouragement. I was so full of ‘now I will never get to…’ that I felt physically heavy and couldn’t even begin to do many of the things I felt I needed to do last week.
But in spite of all that I accepted the responsibility of creating the funeral program and working with my mom and the funeral director to take as much weight off his mother as we could. I believe in dark moments, the best we can do is to use our God-given gifts to help others. I usually take for the granted my ability to use words and technology to paint a picture, but at this time, I was glad that I seemed to be able to do some things on autopilot while my mind swirled with pain.
No Time for Faking the Funk
I am not trying to be a downer here, I’m simply being as authentic and honest as I call others to be. How could I possibly I talk about being powerful and conquering obstacles, when I was feeling that broken? Becoming a woman of influence is not for the weak or the phony. Being fabulous isn’t always pretty and that’s ok.
I suspect in this last week some of you dealt with different yet similarly devastating situations. Maybe you endured the death of an oft-promised, long-awaited, new career opportunity. Maybe you regretted not saying something to a loved one or speaking up for someone who needed your supp...