Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.
– Brené Brown
The last eight months have allowed for needed integration and for me to see where the last seven years have taken me. Unremitting grief continues to carve out new spaces within my being. The depth I touch each passing day has been one gruelling ride of joy and sadness co-existing in the same carriage. It’s a rollercoaster, which I now understand will never stop; there are just pauses that become longer. An endless stream of tears can make their mark at night, in between distractions, and carry me off into a slumber of sorrow.
Only recently am I unearthing what it means to “make whole” and the role of how letting go is embedded into the process of integration. Looking back, I can see that it started with my first dieta in Peru (in which I received doses of plant medicine), which has been closely woven throughout my life over the last 16 years. I realise it’s taken me almost seven years to fully integrate the teaching and depth I experienced during that time of silence, solitude, and dieting on plant medicine.
Each chapter within this seven-year cycle has been a vital stepping stone for who I am today. Each of the moments have been a deep leaning into letting go and learning how to rise after each fall in the arena.
What would become the cycle of deep unravelling started when Tiago and I separated seven years ago. Letting go of what I thought would always be. Divorce and dividing a family are painful and humbling processes, and it’s taken me a long time to find a peace within the complexities.
Leaving England after 15 years was another bittersweet adjustment as I moved back to South Africa for an incubation period of nine months. I then embarked to Denmark, a foreign land, to make a new home for myself and the boys. People don’t come to Denmark for the weather; a strong love relationship was the catalyst for such change, and my sister was already living there.
This relationship of three and a half years turned into being housed in emotional and physical abuse. The ending was dramatic. Having to walk away from someone I thought I loved was a traumatic experience. It has taken time to process the dismantling of a relationship that was toxic for both myself and my children. There I was, coaching women about domestic violence and gaslighting, and I was raw in its clutches. I feel proud of myself for walking away and choosing another path.
Then came the global COVID-19 pandemic and world-wide lockdowns and restrictions. That journey was, and still is, a deep excavation of grief on many levels. Each of us has our own stories of what this time has meant – our own journeys of finding surrender and acceptance in the uncertainty of these changing times.
These chapters have come full circle, as each have been met with the sorrow of letting go. Rising up after each fall has, in many ways, prepared me for the most unexpected grief of all – losing my mother. Each Fall has taught me about the resilience of my open heart and how strong we are as humans. I feel blessed for my spiritual practices that access the depth of my pain and the bliss of my joy. They enable me to trust life’s mysterious journey even when you are face down in the mud and when sorrow feels like its drowning you.
Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” It’s going to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
– Brené Brown
Things have a funny way of coming full circle with a twist. I have witnessed a sweet rise in the way things have merged together through the despair and pain that death brings and the changes that lockdowns and restrictions create. Tiago (my ex-husband) and I moved back in together – not as a couple – but as two individuals co-parenting two magnificent boys. And it works for this time in our lives I have also had to let go of some close friendships which has been bitter sweet. I am slowly learning the importance of being around those that relax my nervous system and the importance of good company. I feel very grateful for the unwavering tribe of people I have in my life, I feel very humbled by the sweet and real Portugal community I have found in the mountain tops along with the presence of Oli, Caroline and Gerdus who have been an integral part of healing and support this last year.
We all walk different journeys together woven by individual tales vacillating between grief and joy. This is fascinating because we have so much to learn from each other. What gives our lives meaning are not the stories that define us, but how we get back on our feet and keep our hearts open to loving fiercely that which is important to us. Letting go, for me, has been a long integration since first my sitting in the jungle in 2015. My integration process has been about “making whole” even though I have not been aware of it at times. Finally, for the first time in many years, I can join the dots and be grateful for each chapter of a story that is still unfolding.