The Unmistakeable Effect
Below is a piece I wrote for the amazing digital magazine The Unmistakeable Effect (erryone check that shit out cuz its fuego!). This issue was all about Making The Damn Space - a perfect topic for this time of year, and naturally I wanted to share how and why we need to face our loss, and grief, so we can let it the eff go. Ain't nobody wanna be carrying that ish into 2017.
Read the full article below.
We need to talk about loss: Why we need to face the shit in order to get rid of it.
How loss can help you gain – the key to letting shit go. For real.
As the end of the 2016 draws near I find myself reflecting on all that’s transpired – the good, the bad and the real fucking ugly. For me, there was a lot of all three. I’ve dealt with grief, heartbreak, depression, anxiety…and that was just from the US election! But truly, we are all riddled with loss. And grief. And we often don't even know it (#wtf). So, as another year comes to a close it’s the perfect time to get still, to sit with all that’s gone down, to get real fucking honest with whatever losses you've incurred, feel it and then motherfucking heal it. How do you let shit go, fo real? First and foremost, truly letting shit go requires taking an honest stock of all that’s gone in your life – including, and especially, all the shit that stirs you up. Whatever person, experience, relationship triggers the fuck out of you – that’s where you begin.
Sounds pretty simple, but it’s a damn scary undertaking in a culture that rewards immediate, pretty and put together. Conducting a truthful review of everything that’s happened in the past 12 months (and earlier) means marinating in some upsetting stuff. Undoubtedly there will be some disappointment, sadness and strife and it will undo you in some way. That’s all a part of the human experience. Yet, in our Insta-obsessed culture we cast aside any “downer” feelings, opting to post the shinier, wealthier, healthier bits of our lives, and thus ourselves. But that’s all a fucking hoax. Do many of us lead a rich, fulfilling, genuinely happy existence - of course. Still, we all succumb to pain. I believe we are doing ourselves, and the Universe, a serious disservice by choosing to hide or ignore these communal experiences. We need to spit truth about what loss really looks like, how much we experience it and the impact it has on our lives (which is major). So let’s cut the shit, look within and get real. Cuz it’s the only way we really gonna heal.
2016 In Review
If you look at my personal IG account you’ll see some joyful shit. Trips to LA, NY and DC. Vacays to Europe and islands in the sun. Laughter. Friendship. Romance. Palm trees and bikinis. Life looks pretty damn ideal from this perspective but, I assure you, it ain’t. Last New Year’s Eve I witnessed a father drown in front of his family on a beach in Mexico. As the year unfolded I dealt with unparalleled grief, moving through the death of my only parent. I wrangled with work that demanded too much of me on all levels. I had friends abandon me in my darkest hour. And my relationship with my man suffered as a result of it all. This ain’t even the half of it y’all, but let’s just say 2016 was a doozie.
BUT. I also learned the power of setting boundaries. Saying “fuck no,” so I could get to the “hell yes.” I learned how to love myself and give fewer shits about what others think. I got hip to the depths of my darkness, and the height of the human spirit (mine and others). I found my ride or die tribe and left everyone else by the wayside (deuces!). It wasn’t easy, but in the end, facing my shit was the only way to lighten my load.
Gettin’ Rid of the Grief Girdle
I believe all of the triggers we have – regardless of its source or form - are centred around loss and grief. No matter what it is that hurts your heart or ticks you off – it’s usually about something you’ve lost or feel threatened of losing, and the grief inherent in it all.
There are 43 identified forms of loss – everything from death, illness, divorce and bankruptcy to marriage, childrearing and starting a new job (yes, happy shit can result in grief too). But we just smile and act like everything is a fucking cakewalk when it ain’t. Life isn’t easy. It wasn’t meant to be – still you can find the joy, and that doesn’t mean stuffing down the shitty feelings and pretending you can kick it like the Kardashians. Quite the opposite.
How can you truly let go when you haven’t even acknowledged all the crap you’re carrying? Short answer: you can’t! Most everyone has what I call a “grief girdle”. A tight waistband/belt-type thing that tucks everything in and makes it look all taut and perfect when really it’s a hot ol’ mess underneath. You know that boy that broke your heart at 18 – yah, that’s in there. Or that time you landed that fancy new job and felt you had to give up a part of yourself to do it properly, yup, that’s in there too.
There are so many damn losses we carry around with us from all stages of life but we don’t even give them the recognition they deserve, or understand how the pain we felt from those experiences was actually grief. So, we tuck them away and tighten up our girdle so no one, including the person looking at you in the mirror, can see all our sadness start to bulge out from the sides.
Well, amigo, now is the time to take that shit off. Let it out so you can let it go (#prayerhands). If you don’t, it will haunt your ass I assure you. Have you ever stepped in dogshit? You know how you may not notice its there at first but then someone points it out, or you smell something just not right? You know what I mean, and you know that it sucks. But what you may not know, is that grief is like that. Like fucking feces on your Miu Mius. It can be hard to notice right away, but once it creeps up on you, you can’t escape it and it ain’t goin’ nowhere until you get your hands dirty and get to scrubbin. So, as Rihanna says, let’s work work work work work.
Entering Sacred Space
The thing about loss is, once you realize it’s there, once you face the stench and decide it’s high fucking time to do something about it – you enter a sacred space. Loss provides you with a crash course to wake the fuck up. To see things as and how they truly are. It can result in a call to your highest purpose, to find your soul tribe, to eliminate whatever isn’t working in your life – basically, to make damn space. To let go of all that isn’t for your best and highest good. Let me be clear though, loss and grief in and of themselves will not result in a spiritual awakening. Oh, hell no. But, sitting with all the shit that’s been stirred up, getting clear about what it is and why it’s there – that, that, can blow things wide fucking open. Sure as shit did for me.
None of my newfound bliss would have been possible had I not been willing to sit in the dogshit. Not just sit with it, I mean roll around in it, get used to the smell and let it cover me without shame or fear of how bad I stunk. I had to get real and raw with the crap so that I could begin to wash it off, and walk the fuck away. I am more clear, more grounded, more joyful and more me than I had ever imagined possible this time one year ago.
So, as I think about the year ahead, I plan on doing more of the same. Facing the loss and the pain. Sitting with and in the shit. Getting cozy with the sacred space inherent in my loss and thus my grief. So I can actually, truly, let shit go.
If you’re ready to acknowledge your loss, free yourself from the grief girdle and truly let shit go for real, I’m your biggest fucking fan and the most ready to dive in and help however I can.
My hope for all y’all is a 2017 that is lighter, brighter and full of fucking space.
Cheers to that. xo R
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