Even as I strive to move forward in my #journeytojoy, I still wear an enormous shroud of grief that I have not been able to shake. Grief sours the purest fresh milk. It draws the staunchest mouth downward to a grimace. Enough grief can collapse broad shoulders and send tremors through strong muscles.
In my work with abused children as a guardian ad litem, I explored the impact of trauma on their neuro-biological development in an effort to guide my interactions with them. I learned that trauma, especially early in life, can send our neuro-pathways in directions not originally intended. We literally become different persons than we would otherwise have been. Dr. Christopher Wilson gives powerful workshops on this subject. I’ve linked to a page with his work here.
In exploring this research as part of my Continuing Legal Education, I learned that my own psyche probably sustained terrible damage during my childhood which later life experiences deepened. I cringe at the memory of loved ones snapping that I needed professional help as the door slammed behind them. Likely that would have contributed to faster healing than I’ve managed on my own, though as a client-turned-friend once said, “I don’t ‘do’ therapy”. Some people respond to the guidance of a psychologist. Others of us, for whatever reason, can’t partake of that type of dialogue — by nature, by tortured nurture, or by dint of our psyches however twisted you might find them. We slog along, doing the best we can, finding our path to wholeness with slow, stumbling steps. We lose people by that process, I’m sure; but there it is. All the more do we appreciate the ones who persevere.
I recently stumbled upon some poetry which I wrote during a dark year of my life. I had suffered horrific losses. I could barely breathe most of the time. I worked as much as I could to distract myself from the mourning which I desperately wanted to forestall. Eventually, everything crashed around me and my dark year became a half-decade of despair.
At the beginning of that time of my life, as fate would ironically dictate, my son had brought nonviolent communication to my doorstep. “You need this, Mom,” he urged. I read the books; I watched the tapes; I tried to get my mind and my mouth around the words. I endured the hostile reactions of people to my halting efforts. I had been warned by the master. The creator of nonviolent communication, Marshall Rosenberg, cautioned that people would hurl insults at us. “They’ll disparage what they call your psycho-babble bullshit,” he said in one particularly prescient passage.
I let my lack of progress daunt me. I lapsed back into a stumbling half-formed version of NVC, which at its essence, forswears blame, shame, and judgment. Lately, though, I’ve felt the calmer wind of a gentle sea. I’ve taken the message back into my heart.
At the same time, I hauled the ugly, rigid kernels of pain out into the open air. I no longer wait for anyone to acknowledge the damage that they inflicted. I know what happened. The give and take of life does not demand that I parse responsibility. Is that forgiveness? Or something like it? Perhaps. The recovery can go by any name and still be splendid.
The morning sun dawns full; and duty calls. I started this passage intending to post one of those old sorrowful poems. That no longer seems appropriate. Instead I’ll find a photo of some loveliness from my new surroundings. I’ll leave you with this thought: Wherever your feet stand in your own #journeytojoy, I hope you find the strength to keep walking. Look forward. You’ll see me smiling as I wait for you.
It’s the fifth day of the sixty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.