newton’s cradle of grief

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This month has been a lot for a heart to take and to process.

A massacre. A rock legend’s death. Potentially hundreds of people dying in on an island with barely any power or not enough clean running water. The exposure of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of one movie mogul. The cascade of stories of survival and the exposure of other perpetrators. Wildfires destroying more acreage than the size of New York City.

Another rock legend dies from brain cancer last night.

I took yet another break from Twitter because I was starting to sound shrill and sucked into this vortex of pain and anger. For me to leave because of an emotional contagion is saying a lot, because that’s not usually my bag. The people I am friends with on Twitter are my main community, which I am chagrined, but they are real people, real people who really matter. So it’s kind of a big deal to me when I’m not there.

And I’m not the only one who has left for Twitter for a spell. It’s more than OK to take a break from things when they aren’t serving you.

I also left because astrologically, Mercury is conjunct Jupiter in Scorpio and I wanted to focus more on improving my writing and editing business, to dip my silver tongue in the stars and say all the right things to all the right people. But emotionally, I’ve been a lot distracted, even with my sabbatical from Twitter.

And actually, Mercury conjunct Jupiter, in Scorpio, has probably created the climate of this fixation on sharing pain and anger.

And my heart just pours over…

Gord Downie’s death last night was one that Canada has been bracing for since he announced his battle with brain cancer and the subsequent final tour with his band, The Tragically Hip. It was a band I knew about back in 1996. I loved the song, “Ahead by a Century,” but I had no clue how big the band was in Canada and how much Downie meant to his nation. I learned a lot about that last year.

It’s weird how his death allowed me to shed at least one tear for Tom Petty. I’m listening to him right now (Highway Companion, for the record) and I can finally do that a little more, listen to his music. It’s like all the pain and trauma from this month is in a Newton’s cradle. This new loss of Gord Downie, and the grief of a whole nation, knocks through all the grief from before and starts at the grief at the beginning of the month.

I can’t even comprehend what happened in Las Vegas, though. It’s unfathomable, even though people die of violence here, and elsewhere, every day. What’s going on in Puerto Rico is closing in on genocide due to chosen negligence.

My conscience is seared all the way around, but maybe it’s the only way to get through the day so I don’t collapse under the weight of the all the pain and sorrow that’s been very heavy lately. It’s fixed, like Scorpio energy can be.

And then there’s my own stuff.

Not to roll out the scroll of my own suffering, but living here has been triggering memories of living with my family of origin, of how unpredictable it was due to living with someone who has untreated mental health issues. That came to a(nother) head today when I once again woke at 5:30am in the morning to the smell of brewing coffee, which derailed my whole day. It took forever to go back to bed, and then I woke up too late.

If something gets tripped up like that, over and over, to mean it means it’s time for healing. So today, I was planning on doing some work-related things, but today was a day to work some of those old emotions out: forgiveness and self-compassion and grief and anger.

New things knocking around old things.

And I imagine that’s what it’s like to hear these survivor stories–being triggered as others tell their stories. I only hope that healing can occur as Newton’s cradle of grief goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

This may sound really rah-rah and strident, but in this increasingly fixed and stubborn energy, I want to think about solutions. Especially if you’re any kind of marginalized person, you already know the world is a fucked up place. You’ve tried, in your own way, to heal yourself, to bring healing to your corner of the planet. Yet sometimes Twitter can just become an echo chamber and all you can hear are endless screams and cries and groans and yells. It could be an empath’s burden, feeling everyone else’s feels so easily. But one can only feel so much…

As I was telling a friend today, I’m so tired of hearing people glibly say that we’re all gonna die. I’ve gone through hell and back too many times for that sort of existential resignation.

I don’t have any overarching solutions right now that don’t involve a lot of money–as my friend today has surmised. So right now, the best thing I can do is to make sure I can make some so I can donate to causes that support marginalized people, i.e., take care of myself so I can take care of others.

What else can I do?

I love the people who love me back hard.

I continue to find compassion for myself as I look at my old stories with fresh and kind eyes.

I try to push back the dark, rolling clouds of doom that tried, and failed to overwhelm me today.

I keep hope close to me, but not too close so it smothers me with exaggerated optimism.

I cry if I need to.

I attempt to be more grateful and rejoice if and when I’m successful.

I look for the threads that hold things the good things together. Tie those thread tighter.

I do the best I can and know that it’s enough.

I can even look forward to things, like having my own family and not living here and/or in Florida anymore.

For now, I have to focus on the work that’s in front of me, which includes fighting to be here and not drowning in doom. If I’m sleep deprived like I am today, it can be really hard. But the fight is worth it.

To find joy and hope in the midst of immense suffering can seem impossible. But in order to survive and really live, it’s necessary.

May we all keep fighting to be here and to be happy, loved, and safe.

“I accept that”/the lost tribe

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Lately I’ve been binge-watching the outlaw biker show, Sons of Anarchy, and one of the minor characters, Chucky, says the title a lot. He’s got…some issues. If you’ve watched the show, then you know what I mean. It’s clear that he’s been in a lot of therapy that had some Eastern/Buddhist leanings. As a sidenote, I find it really intriguing how new age/spiritualist messaging has filtered through pop culture.

I woke up this morning thinking about that phrase: “I accept that.” As the new moon in Aries starts a new lunar cycle, I definitely feel the urge to start again, to leave the past behind.

What am I actually accepting today? That, in this Venus retrograde season, where we’re reviewing what we value, and that includes relationships, there’s no going back to the glory days of my relational life–and that would be college, where I found my people, people who valued a rich interior life, people who were really thought, really snarky, and really there for me.

I accept that most if not all of them miss me the way I have missed them. I’ve been living in mourning since I left and returned to college to finish. That’s at least 17 years of sorrow. Life happened the way it did, and even though I’m friends with people from college on Facebook, it’s not the same. We’ve all gone on with our lives–without each other.

Case in point: I noticed that my first year roomie, a fellow Capricorn, was in town on vacation while I was in grad school. I reached out to her, met her son–it was fun. But, it wasn’t the same. Later, I reached out to her during one of my many hard times down here, and I got some kind, almost condescending “there there” words, but no real help. Whatever real friendship we had dissolved in the seas of time.

Currently, she’s doing really well, working in municipal government. I’m torn between being proud of her, being insanely jealous of how her life has been so stable and rewarding, and just being tired of putting any emotional thought or concern into her or her seemingly fabulous life whatsoever. I’m pretty sure it’s all of the above.

Multiply that times a few people, and it’s a constant emotional drain, like a pipe that’s been leaking for a while, and then all of a sudden, a pipe bursts. I wistfully look back on these relationships that were supposed to matter–that’s the bill of goods you’re sold as you go into college and graduate school, that these will be lifetime friends. I don’t really have any.

Add to it that it’s very hard to make friends post-college, then I wonder if finding a lost tribe is possible, or worth it. Adulting is hard enough, but it does help to have some semblance of support.

Earlier last week, I thought of how school past junior high was always full of conflict. All these lifelong friends I was supposed to have do not exist. What I have instead are boring acquaintances. I get to see their babies and their spouses and their vacations and all the curated happiness they allow to filter through their Facebook feeds. No tinges of intimacy.

Another story: a friend of mine and I connected on Facebook a few years ago, and I spilled my guts about a mutual friend who basically cut me out of her life because I was a little too Mercury in Sagittarius-blunt about the death of her father. I said she must be glad about it. Maybe she had come up in conversation–I’m not sure why I brought it up. Usually, I don’t disclose things without a reason.

That other friend and I had seemingly parallel lives, and we bonded on that. Friend #1 reacted like I had uncorked bad wine–she was compassionate, but it just seemed like time had rolled on, and that I had spewed some irrelevant vinegar all over her. I had apologized to Friend #2, but it’s definitely up to her to accept, or to not accept, my apology, or to forgive, or to not forgive me. I did the best I could with my antidepressant-addled brain, making my way on my own painful journey. When ours intersected at her father’s death, we abruptly parted ways. And all I can do now is shrug. I’m done mourning what can’t be undone.

I don’t think I won’t meet people like the ones I met in college again, but there won’t be the same shared sense of mission, of collective awakening that seems to happen only in college. We were all writing our own bildungsromans, together, being the major and minor characters in our life stories. And with my family’s drama dragging me down, I missed out on the final chapters that my friends were writing. I had faded into an apathetic background, into obsolescence.

But this is what I accept: if my story was meant to be any other way, it would have been so. I fought hard to stay in school and get back into school, and most of those friends fell out of touch during that time. I did the best that I could with the resources that I had. And, if I had mattered more, people would have stayed in touch. The only person that kind of kept in touch years after I had left is dead. So, that’s that.

I’m frowning as I write this because acceptance isn’t necessarily some pain-free experience. I’m sad that a lot of the human condition I’ve experience involves losing a lot of people–or maybe never really having them at all. So much of my time was recovering from familial wounds. So maybe the better term is acquiesce. I reluctantly, but without protest, accept that I’ve lost way more people than I have kept.

I’ve been ruminating about how I had been framing my life here as an isolated one, as someone who is completely emotionally destitute. This support group I’ve been attending for the past few weeks at first seemed to be my local only lifeline. Now I’m not so sure.

I skipped two times in a row because of allergies and because of writing deadlines. I didn’t miss the group, and yet I made myself go last week and it was canceled when I was just 10 minutes away. I didn’t miss the group because the last two times I shared about my life, it just seemed to not land on any place of understanding. And it hurt, doubly. Sharing with strangers isn’t easy, but the lack of response is a sort of rejection. Yet I was definitely missed. I received text messages from a couple of people wondering where I was. It was nice, but there wasn’t a mutual sense of being missed.

I don’t know what that group will mean to me in the future, if I will go this week or ever again. And that’s 100% completely fine with whatever outcome comes to being (yes, I’m saying that more for my own edification). I probably needed this group to realize that I’m not as bad off as I think I am, even if these people will definitely not be the lost tribe that I am looking for.

And that’s why I have gone back to my college years, in my mind, when I was able to share deeply and intensely, for hours, and not get blank stares in return. It was a special time, but I live in a different time now. I accept that.

Also: I am finally learning some fucking discretion about who I share my life to. Those recent heartbreaking and honestly embarrassing group experiences reminded me that most people will not care about the quotidian details of my life. There’s something I’m currently going through that only one person knows about–which is not really normal for me, but it feels mature and normal now, to value myself, my life, my desires, my passions, and to share them with people who do the same.

Maybe, most of all, it’s that I do have good relationships with people online. It’s not the same as being in the flesh with folks, but it has been enough for a while. I kept making my life wrong and empty and less than by valuing in-person relationships over just relationships in general.

I accept that this is the path I’m on. It’s not the one I’d actively choose for myself, and many times it’s unpleasant and soul-crushing. But I’m doing the absolute best that I can. I accept that no other relationships are going to rise from the dead and be as awesome and as close and as meaningful as the relationships I have in my life right now. I’ve tried, and it’s just…never the same.

Having a tenderhearted Cancer moon that really values relationships and the past-I’ve wasted that precious emotional side of me exerting a lot of effort into dead things, like my past. As alive as it can be in my life, it’s so very, very dead. All of it. It got me to where I am now, but I’ve been living in the cemetery of my youth for such a long time. I accept that my life still looks like the remnants of a forest fire, still smoldering, still raining ash. I also accept that through all that fire, fertile soil is underfoot. Seeds have been planted. Sprouts are appearing and will continue to appear.

So, with the newness of Spring, of Aries season, and of this new moon in Aries tomorrow, I welcome more new life, new chances to be understood and seen and heard, and new chances to not waste time on trying to revive dead things. I can instead use the rich organic matter of pain and loss as the fertilizer for new dreams and a new life. I don’t have to wait. It can start right now. I’m not dead: only my past is.

P.S. I am baking apples because I hate Gala apples and I accidentally picked some up. I saw the number 55 (which means big changes coming) right before I returned my cinnamon onto a shelf. While I did that, I brushed passed a favorite mug of mine. It crashed and broke into a musical explosion. Holding onto my past is like holding onto a shattered mug. Instead of holding onto those broken pieces, or trying to glue them back together, I swept them up and threw them away.