If you’re not sure that opening is for you, every life is better for it.
And if you don’t think vulnerability is really your thing, guess again.
Grief shuts life down. Locks the doors. Pulls the drapes. Shutters the windows.
But at some point, you have to go outside again.
And inevitably, in your first excursions after grief, you do stupid things. Angry things. Unkind things.
Another writer at the cafe has been grieving, too. The first day we met, she struck up a conversation with the woman sitting on the other side of me. When I smiled and waited for a pause and then tried to join in, she cut me off. “I wasn’t aware that anyone was talking to you.”
I blushed and turned my face down to the page. It hurt. It hurt because it touched very old wounds. It felt like high school all over again. And she couldn’t have known. But it hurt.
I didn’t see her again for a couple months. I just think our schedules didn’t match up.
But then, the last two weeks, we shared the same space again.
I stopped by her table and cracked a joke with Bob, my mentor–putting her in the position of co-conspirator with me.
Then, she smiled.
I’d had enough time to get over it. And so had she. I’d forgiven her. Grief makes people say angry, cutting things to total strangers. Especially to strangers. I know that all too well. As they say, it takes one to know one. And who hasn’t been a bitch when times are tough?
The next time I saw her, she swung by my table and cracked a joke about our mutual addiction to the same cookie. We smiled, wholehearted, and then it was done. We could write. We were good.
Shutting yourself away from the world, while a necessary stage in the grieving process, can go too far. It can alienate one from oneself. I’ve been there. For years, I’m realizing.
And if Robert J. Ray hadn’t got me onto this memoir writing streak, I’d still be there. In the dark. Behind drawn curtains. Afraid of the next tree-fall, the next thunderclap, the next flood. Because it always comes.
But the more I go out into the world and just tell my truth the way I see it, the braver I become. The lighter my load.
I know I’m only learning to stand up straight so that I can get knocked down again. But that’s the way of the world. You fall. You get back up. You fall down again. The joy and the beauty of it is that we get to be here at all. And that, through that cycle of darkness, there is blossom and smile and forgiveness.
That moment worth all the darkness, when
“Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break