I think that if my daughter hadn’t died, maybe this pandemic would have had a bigger impact. But once your child dies, there isn’t really anything else that can top that. Everything else is slightly sepia.
Every once in a while I look at my life, where I am now and I grieve.
There is a lot to be happy about, like my amazing partner/best friend – he is fantastic and supports me in ways I never realized existed. We have become that couple that other people gag about due to cheesy, mushy interactions and continual enjoyment of each other’s company.
I am sober – ten months. No hang overs, no regrets, no post-drinking anxiety (just regular anxiety now). Being sober has allowed me to do better at my job and be more present.
Financially I am making ends meet, and feel very in charge of my own life. And am finally making headway with my son’s progress through some enormous challenges.
But I grieve.
There is so much grief not only in the obvious of losing my daughter, but in having to realize that my previous relationship of 13 years needed to end. When that relationship ended, it took with it not only the 13 years we were together as a couple but it tainted the ten years prior to that in which I had put him on a pedestal with a massive crush.
I grieve because I miss his family, and because I never got to speak to his dad again before he died last month. I grieve because everything feels weird and foreign some times, as though I woke up in someone else’s life.
I grieve for the loss of a spiritual path I had thought made sense for me, and I feel the cold touch of reality setting in upon discovery of the man behind the curtain.
In so many ways, I have come into myself – I have a vibrant blue and yellow kitchen, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night crossed with Sunflowers. I have raspberry walls in the living room and rec room and fun fan art of Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and others adorning the walls. I have shelves full of books on Christianity, Judaism, Gnosticism, Taosim, Hinduism, Paganism, various strands of mysticism, herbal lore, tarot and more. My bedroom looks just like I want it to and I have favourite stuffed animals and dolls, posters and incense – happy clutter everywhere.
I have my two kiddos at home with me, two dogs, two rats and my bunny. And a job that allows me to work from home (though its market research and for the most part my evenings are spent calling people who’d rather I get bent).
But there is so much pain interwoven with everything. For every joy there is hurt, but likewise I suppose for each hurt there is joy. Marriages end, people die, and yet life goes on each day. The sun rises, the day begins, stuff happens, the sun sets and we sleep.
I hope I live long enough to continue discovering myself authentically. It is happening in tiny painful bits, but definitely happening. Sometimes I feel as though I am coming full circle but I realize that each time I am bringing something new to the table. This recent dark night of the soul reinforced that.
I remember when my relationship with my spiritual path would end before, I would try to find another to fill the void. I am, after all a champion void-filler. (just ask my many tarot decks that have taken the place of empty whiskey bottles) This time even though I initially reached out to some communities that did not respond, I had already realized that there is not one fit for me and it was fine. It’s okay to not be Christian, or Pagan, or [insert religion here], because I have found such common truths among many paths and I no longer feel the need to be accepted into a religious community or to try to harmonize everything to make it fit. I will no longer mistake desire for community as a religious inclination. Having the church services stop during the pandemic helps one to examine what the actual community is made up of, outside the business disguised as a spiritual refuge.
I am a Universalist – not just because that is the tradition I was ordained into, but because it makes sense. Because there is so much beauty in the various myths, stories and belief systems in the world. And also a Divinaturist, a term coined about ten years ago to describe the experiencing of the Divine in the Natural world. Not ‘Pagan based’, or ‘Christian influenced’ . A relationship with God doesn’t need to tick all the boxes of mainstream religion.
So in the process of grieving the loss of my spiritual path I became warmed with the reminder that the boxes we create and label for God will always be too small. And that God is accessible always. 24/7. I don’t have to attend a synagogue an hour away, or recite creeds that I can’t relate to, or dance and twirl to deities I don’t believe in. God is within all and beyond all. And that includes religion.
So within this bleak strange sepia tinged year and the stripping away of who I thought I was, I have been allowed to feel the pain, embrace it and remember who I truly am. As said in Gospel of Thomas, Logion 50 :
‘It is from light that we have come – from the place where light, of its own accord alone, came into existence and [stood at rest]. And it has been shown forth in their image.’Translation from Layton, Gnostic Scriptures 389
In emptiness I find myself because in the fullness of possessions I am lost. Too much to distract, to soothe, to long after. Rather than the things I want being tools to help me know myself, they only add layers and labels.
I still feel unraveled, and unsure. I still hurt a lot. There is a lingering confusion as to how I can enjoy and love my life so much while at the same time feel my heart splitting into pieces. But at this point I can accept this and know that it’s okay to feel this way. It’s part of the experience I am having in my life and it is totally fine if I feel lost.
As long as I seek truthfully, and don’t bury the longing with the novocaine of over indulgence. It’s not the finding that matters as much as the effort of searching.