*actual photo of my very first surf lesson in 2014…riding real waves that time, not emotional ones*

I wrote recently about the importance of facing our pain so we can heal it. Then I wrote about patience with the process. Now let’s talk a little about the process itself.

What you must know is grieving and healing are not linear. We don’t progress through the “stages of grief” like a To-Do list (“Denial, check. Anger, check (note: repair hole in wall). Bargaining, later today”). The reality looks more like Billy from Family Circus coming home for dinner.  

Sadness, grief, anger, hope, back to anger, more hope, sadness again…cycles and unpredictable waves. 

If you’ve ever gone surfing or taken a swim in the ocean, you know that fighting waves or the current is the quickest way to exhaust yourself. 

It’s the same with our emotional waves.

Sometimes we block our own healing cycles because the depth of our emotion scares us. We fear crossing a line or getting stuck in the intensity…that anger will turn into actual destruction, that sadness will turn into deep depression. So we fight against those waves. 

I used to be ashamed when I was overcome by emotion or in the throes of the grieving process. (Clearly I’m not ashamed anymore since I’m putting my personal shit on the internet for anyone to read). My own recent process has been a reminder of the importance of surrendering and allowing, knowing the waves of emotion will crash differently every time, and to allow them all to come as they are and accept each one. This is the way of healing.

After experiencing several days of feeling whole and hopeful (“Wow, I’m doing great…check me out, healing like a CHAMP, moving on with my life!”), I was knocked to my knees by a wave of grief. I collapsed on my bedroom floor. It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I full-on ugly-cried, y’all. Sobbed. Deep, gut-wrenching sobs. Feeling every millimeter, corner, and edge of my loss and heartbreak. And when I do something, I COMMIT….suffice to say, there weren’t enough cucumber slices in the world to keep that from showing in my face for the next two days. 

THIS is healing. 

Another day, my heart felt full of joy and hope for the future. I felt grateful for my pain, and even my loss, because I believe the Universe unfolds for our higher good when we just get out of the way. I felt the sunshine cracking through the edges of my hurt.

THIS is healing.

Not too many days after that, I was angry. Not mild anger. Nope. Pure, unadulterated, want-to-throw-things-and-scream RAGE

How could….” 

“…after EVERYTHING…” 

“…so unfair…” 

(Side note: the real feeling under anger is often helplessness, if our loss came at the mercy of someone else’s choices. Which eventually will move into acceptance for the other person’s choices, even if we don’t agree with them. And guess what? THAT is healing, too.)

THIS is the healing process. THIS is the reality of being human, with our beautiful tapestry of emotions. It’s infinite joy and it’s pain, and it’s everything in between. We all experience this process, no matter what social media may tell you.

Allow yourself to feel it all.

Surrender to the process. Stop fighting the currents and allow your own healing to take place.

The cycles will continue, the waves will keep coming, until eventually you’re carried through the storm. 

Sparkle on, friends…