Gently Bruised

`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness `

Today’s blog is part cathartic and part an attempt to ease the gentle hearts that I encounter every day. In a world that can be tragically uncomfortable I wanted to take a moment to recognize those that try to soothe it. Bless your soft and tender souls for trying to light the many dark corners.

`I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness `  Tania

She’d always be the last one to get to her desk; the impatient students would shove past her, the condescending would glance at her as if she were an inconvenience; an obstacle in their path.  She wore thick glasses and carried an odor of stale urine as firmly attached to her body as the steel crutches that were attached like bracelets to her wrists. I think it may have been polio perhaps, but will never know for certain I suppose.  I found her one day, not so long ago now and upon reaching out in my excitement of seeing her grown and a seemingly happy adult; felt slightly wounded as she brushed me off like a piece of lint on her sweater.  I can clearly recall thinking that if I had tried harder that she may have remembered my kindness.

I would run ahead of her as she tried to reach the bathroom before her bladder released into the telltale darkened stain on the back of her jeans.  Her best efforts at speed were only slowed by the non compliance of two feet that would be dragged behind the frantic clicking of the crutches that hung from both forearms. She rarely to never would make it and the remaining hours of the school day would be spent sitting in the dampness that shared its pungency with a room full of student nostrils.  They would pick on her while I did my best to make her feel that she was not unusual.  And I remember wondering if I could have done better back then… that perhaps she may have recalled that I tried to be gentle.

Or perhaps the insults and the cruelty of others overshadowed the softness.  And if that is true, then my heart still wants to fix it despite the passage of decades.

It’s my natural way to be gentle. I struggle to understand anything less than a desire to be kind.  I cannot comprehend cruelty, or intentions that may be less than loving.  I will never find comfort in stepping on other humans to get to my destination. I would much rather join those on the ground to help ease the burden of the weight of those that do so.

Certainly I am no saint and have followed selfish paths in the moments that I feel unsupported. We are human of course, and not one of us balanced perfectly. I can dive into bursts of anger as quickly as I can dissolve into tears.  I can hide the bag of Oreo’s just as well as the next person simply because I believe I deserve the sweetness. We have all shared of the discomforts that can manifest into human nature.

However…when all is said and done…my defining nature is to be gentle. To not step on others to gain my rewards.

It is this characteristic that will find me continuing to want to soothe the way forward despite having felt the weight of such feet press into my spine time and time again.  I say this without complaint but a simple yet new understanding that in this gentleness is my greatest strength.  Empathy is an unforgiving journey and not for the faint of heart. Empathy requires an ability to unbend a spine that is bruised, sometimes broken and unfurl it to standing without sharing the pain.

I wondered for a moment if I was practicing true empathy in questioning why this woman did not remember my kindness.  It burned ever so slightly for a minute or two to feel that I hadn’t done something good enough to be remembered.  And I had to stop and wonder if I was battling the EGO or punishing my heart for not being enough when she needed it.

Or if, perhaps, I was understanding her from the value of being different than most. And in doing so I could feel how the discomforts might overshadow the kindness; and better understand my overwhelming desire to make it go away for her.

Which leads me to question something very obvious.

Are the gentle trying to heal the world because in doing so they heal themselves?

Life offers no easy answers. But it does offer us the opportunity to ask the questions.

And I love questions.

And softness.

Don’t stop that. Your gentleness. One day it will be remembered first.

Love love and more love.

Be soft to you first. And then share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grieving Promise

Grief is hemorrhagic.

It shares no umbrella of the same color or shape. You can’t expect someone to stay dry using yours because it worked for you.

I promise you will grieve.  And there is nothing I can do to prepare you.

I can share literature and lead by my example but there is nothing I can do to help you understand.  Like birth and like death, the journey to your  certain discomfort will only be known by yourself.  There will be nothing to catch you, nothing that can console you and nothing to fill the shatters in your soul.  A deeply painful and personal unraveling of all the words you could have said and all the moments you had the opportunity to say them.  Of all the chances you missed and the chances you took.  You will find discomfort in every choice you created and every choice you allowed.

I promise you will grieve. And there is nothing I can do to prepare you.

What I can prepare you for  is that no one will understand the depth of your pain. They will try to understand, attempt to console, try to catch you when your knees burst and you fall to the depths. But I can promise you they will not know how deeply you will drop because you are falling through your own waters and bringing your own beliefs, thoughts and regrets as your swimming companions.

I promise no one will understand your pain.

Your pain is as individual as your fingertips, your DNA and your thoughts. While many will commiserate and understand the experience of loss, they can never truly seek to understand your ownership to the individuality of your story.

If we are to help one another through grief, we must be aware that not one process is like another.  We cannot seek to know the physical and emotional results of a heart that is punctured; whether once or a thousand times over.  The choice of injurious results lies with each individual story.  Over time hearts will heal, some more quickly; while others will leave nothing more than sinew to toughen the holes and to make them impenetrable to the possibility of further bleeding.  In both there is strength. And in both we have no right in our opinion of the process.

I’ve heard it enough now in my lifetime and my career. The judgements on how the grieving can grieve.

“He’s already moved onward to a new spouse. Her body is barely cold”

We have no right.

“She’s pregnant again, so soon. She hasn’t grieved the child she lost”

We have no right.

“You are angry and not what I knew. I cannot work with what I don’t recognize”

We have no right.

“Get up from the couch. Uncurl your hands from the teddy bear. You have to keep going”

We have no right.

Until the moment that the sharp pins explode  into our own hearts, our own souls and our own understanding of what that looks like…

We have no right.

And even after that moment…

The only right we are afforded…

Is the right to finally understand that we can offer nothing to change the experience.

Nothing that is…

Except to love them through it.  Whether we disagree, we wouldn’t have done it the same way, or we think our way is better.

Their way is the only way.

Love them through it.

Love them through what they need to do in order to survive.

Surviving might be angry, risk taking or silence. Surviving might be running forward to something new. Surviving may be terror in allowing anything or anyone to come close again. Surviving might be bottled or prescribed. Surviving may be tolerable only in introversion or in dancing through the streets.  Surviving may be in dying and breathing concurrently.

Love them through it anyway.

Grief is hemorrhagic.

It shares no umbrella of the same color or shape. You can’t expect someone to stay dry using yours because it worked for you.

Love them through it.

Let them bleed.

Only they can stop the flow because only they know where the punctures exist.

Love them through it.

Love you through it.

 

Be kinder. Be more compassionate. Don’t push. Don’t force.  Be gentle. Be tolerable because understanding will be obscure.

Just love them through it.

 

Loving you through it

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Strong Soul: If Anyone Can Handle This It’s You

“I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say. I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say…”

I have been struggling for months now to find my words because I thought I’d shared all that I could share to help with the process of loss. Last night I found them again. Life is all about timing. Painful yes. But a much needed lesson in allowing others to hurt authentically.

We made my best friend cry last night. Her dead sister and I. Unashamedly. Unabashedly. Uncontrollably.

It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced, and that’s saying a lot from someone whose job it is to bring you to tears.  As I watched her little face crumble into her chest I shoved my tongue hard into the roof of my mouth to distract from the heat of my own tears that were threatening to pour over my cheeks. I found myself looking upward and to the left to avoid being pulled into her discomfort. I was working and as such that demands a different part of me that cannot be taken off balance.

In one fell swoop her deceased sister had moved the conversation from laughter to profound discomfort. I was completely unprepared although I should know this energy well enough by now to have been ready for just about anything.  Over this past year since her death she has provoked me to issue ridiculous and often off color comments via text to her older sibling.

“Tell her she forgot to shave her belly button” among other things that should likely never be shared publicly.  My friend wouldn’t care what I shared here but that’s really not the purpose of my thoughts today.

I had no idea that she was in such profound pain.  She is so forthcoming about her journey through loss in her own blogs that I missed it somehow?  Maybe because we are too close to recognize it? Maybe because she is a lot like myself, she counsels the grief of others? Maybe because I hold her up as my example of how to be strong.

That’s it.

I hold all five feet of her as my idea of strength.  In fact, if I am honest about this, I can well recall the moment that her text arrived to me on the morning of her sisters tragic death. “She’s gone. My sister is gone” and the first thought that swept over me was….

“You got this girl. You got this. If anyone can handle this, its you”

I never told her that but I think she knew that’s what I was expecting.

So she did. She handled it. She swept through what had to happen in the days to follow. She got up, she brushed her teeth, she put on her eyeliner and she took charge. Exactly what I expected is exactly what she did.  I never saw her break. Not even as she stood in front of the colorful flowers and the urn at the funeral home and recited her own version of her sisters life and how she might expect others to handle her death.  And my friend handled it the way she thought her sister might expect.

She handled it the way I might expect. The way her mom might expect. The way her friends might expect. Her clients might expect.

She simply handled it.

And then last night as her sisters words about sex on the dining room table faded off into the inevitable giggles, she turned that table and took me to the truth. The room suddenly emptied of those that were physically present as I watched this little sister pull her broken older sister into her arms and rock her like a child.

And that’s not what I was expecting.  And I don’t think that’s what my five foot Wonder Woman was expecting either as her eyes darted quickly and then somehow slid down her face like wet paint and splashed into her broken heart.

In fact just this morning she recounted to me that it had all caught her off guard. Not that I needed that confirmation because it was written all over her brown eyes as she struggled to hide the fact that she knew…that I knew….

That she had been handling it because she was expected to handle it.

I knew the look.

Intimately.

And I will expect that many of you do too.

It caught me off guard too. A scene swelling in my mind of my caped crusader curled up into a ball that made her no bigger than the pillows on her couch.  With her sister in her awful polyester navy pants and bright red blouse wrapped tightly around her trying to console her pain. Not what I thought I would see. Not what my friend thought I would see either.

But something I needed to see. And something she needed to share with someone other than the little bear that was made of her sisters clothing. The little bear that was hidden under her chest as she curled up like her throw pillow.

I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say.  I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say.

I’d like to thank Kerri. The little sister that died because she couldn’t hit a possum. Because her heart was too big to cause pain. Because she talked about bleaching her backside. And sex on the kitchen table.

And because she showed me what real strength looks like. It looks like a throw pillow wet with tears wrapped around a small bear. A wee Wonder Woman that breaks apart in the early hours and then unravels herself to her full five feet as the sun comes up. Brushes her teeth. Puts on her eyeliner.  And handles it the way she’s expected to.

The way I do. The way you do. The way all that feel so deeply do. Every single day.

And now I am left wondering why something so incredibly beautiful and courageous is something we don’t talk about.

Because it opens our own discomforts? Our own what’s “not expected” of us?

Perhaps.

Lets change that.  Because my intention going forward is a whole lot of….

“Well I didn’t expect that”

Of course not. Because you are doing what’s expected. In grieving, in losses, in love.

Stop it.

Show me. Show others. Show them the truth. Because they might be hiding their own.

Show us what we don’t expect you to do.  And then we can heal together.

Sending love to those that are curled up and crying before you stand up and do what’s expected.  I got ya. xo

 

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fine Feathers

“Have you humans ever stopped for a moment to consider how angels are made?”

“Well no, but now you have me concerned that death is impending and I am starting to feel itchy. Can you allow me time to at least pull off the road before you take me because I really don’t think it’s cool to take the trucker along with us”

“Pluck em out. Leave the holes. Fill them with light. And shine Angel. Shine”

~the universe~

It’s 8 am on Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. I stumbled from bed at 6:30 am to ensure that our bird was prepped in time for a family get together later today. Last years was a fiasco when, after seven hours, I discovered that the bird had cooked to no more than a sickening shade of serous pink; this no thanks to an oven that I hadn’t recognized as broken. It was a flurry of panic as I dragged it to my daughters home and somehow managed to heat the BBQ to hell temperatures and cooked it in two hours flat. Today I am taking no chances, and have obsessively wandered in no less than four times this past hour to ensure that my oven is indeed hot enough to handle 20 pounds of bird.  So far so good. I’ll put my daughter on alert just in case.

I thought today was a good day to talk feathers. Or rather, to talk about “fine” feathers. These ones are significantly different than the course ones that were taken from Tom the unfortunate turkey recently. I’m sorry Tom. Maybe vegan in the next go round. I’ll try harder.

I got to thinking about feathers yesterday while on a long solo drive. Well, no, that’s not so much the truth. What I was thinking about was the ridiculous hold up on a highway full of construction cones, reduced lanes and the fact that my coffee wasn’t nearly as hot as it should be.  My chosen background music kept leaping tracks so I would be half flight into my incredible styling  rendition of a love song when it would lurch to something obnoxious and screechy. I finally acquiesced, rolled my eyes heavenward and muttered out ” Fine. I give up” and turned off the offending noise.  I leaned into my wheel to stretch my shoulders and heard a voice from the back seat.

“Let’s talk about it”

I’ll admit I hadn’t expected company yesterday and almost went off the road. My apologies to the transport driver to my right who saw the whites of my eyes. He sure did look frightened for a moment.

“Talk about what? My obnoxious vocals?”

“No, although it was mildly entertaining sitting here listening, that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about your fine feathers.”

I glanced down at my hands for a brief moment wondering if someone had roofied my coffee.

“My WHAT?”

“Have you humans ever stopped for a moment to consider how angels are made?”

“Well no, but now you have me concerned that death is impending and I am starting to feel itchy. Can you allow me time to at least pull off the road before you take me because I really don’t think it’s cool to take the trucker along with us”

“You’re funny today”

“Thanks. It’s been a hell of a week. Humor is my survival instinct”

“How you doing Tania?”

“Oh, I’m great. There’s a body absent voice sitting in my car and my coffee is cold. Just a perfectly normal day. Otherwise I am fine thanks”

“Good to hear. And that’s exactly what I want to talk about today”

The last hour of my drive was about to get interesting.

FINE Feathers

Do you know that heaven is full of fine feathers?   To the pained soul these feathers represent a soft place to land when the human journey becomes too difficult to bear. And for the most part this is the truth. The angels that you  reach to in times of discomfort most certainly do offer for you a gentle support for the moments that your legs start to buckle.  But are they fluffy and pristine in shade as your illustrators may present?  Are they all holy and all knowing?

No they are not. And today I want to set you straight on the makings of an Angel. Today  I want you to understand why you find such comfort in their presence.

“I’m fine”

The catch phrase of the hurting. The words of the pained. The ramblings of compassion.

You’re not fine in truth. Let’s be honest about it. You have struggled with so many discomforts that you have become accustomed to them and accepted them as a part of the journey.  The gentlest and most pained souls knows these words all to well. And they use them often. It’s far easier to shrug off any and all discomforts under the veil of “I am fine” than to create discomfort to anyone listening. It’s much easier to bind them to your physical self and create an energetic wall that few, if any will ever break down.

If you have ever heard the words “You are so strong” uttered then you might just be on your way to becoming a genuine true blue Angel.

So here it is.

Angels are created from pain. They are not what you expect to discover on your arrival into your version of heaven. Angels are put together slowly, like tedious needlework each bearing a unique pattern.

And if I am honest we’d like less to join us. Or, I should say, we’d love to have you, but could you stop building your own version of wings first. We’ll gladly give you some on arrival.

Whoa. Well you weren’t expecting that were you!

Well let’s get right to the facts.

Feathering is incredibly uncomfortable and not something that we require you to do. No one asked you to martyr yourself into a set of heavy wings! But it would seem that the tools are right there down on earth with you. Every item you need to sprout your own shoulder adornments are within a fingers reach.

Emotional abuse. Physical abuse. Sexual abuse. Self abuse. Wars. Politics. Physical Illness. Spiritual Illness. Mental Illness.  Judgements. Lack. Greed. Identity. Bullying. Hate. Fear. Loneliness. Shame. Resentment. Anger. Self denial. Addiction.

With every small discomfort a small feather grows. Maybe an inch. Maybe a foot. Maybe no more than a millimeter. Regardless of the size of the attachment it creates pain. It’s easy to recognize it if you are paying attention. For every time you say “I’m fine” when in truth you are struggling, you will become aware of a discomfort that you cannot put your finger to.

We call it the emergence of fine feathers.

And we’d be happiest if you might stop giving them nourishment to grow. Because in all truthfulness we are getting mighty tired of pulling them out when you get here. It hurts us more than it hurts you.

Ask yourself how many times a day someone inquires into how you are. And reflect back on how many times a day you respond with “I’m fine”

And the discomfort of a new tuft occurs.

Angels are the humans who empathized but didn’t speak up. Angels are the humans who determined that by remaining silent of their own pain, they could best assist with the pain they recognized in others. Angels allow. They swallow the bitterness, they push the resentment aside and they help you. And it’s incredibly beautiful to be the person that wishes to take on the discomfort of thousands or one. But it serves you no good in the long run as the weight of your wings drag you down in the physical sense before ultimately pulling you upward. And only  here will you find respite from the feathers you have been carrying.

Your sacrifices will not go unrewarded. This much is true. As you ascend into love your wings grow lighter, the heaviness dissipates and you are free. But you are called upon to remind those on similar journeys to speak up. To speak out. To be vocal and reflective of struggles that they are enduring. You become the angels that stand by when called upon from a dark room through sobs. It’s a difficult job because most do not understand the reason they are there. We are not here to simply comfort but to commiserate the same pains..the same feathers..and to ask you to learn from us. To let you know as we wrap our feathers close, that we share your hurt and are hopeful that you find a new way to heal it.

You are slowly beginning to understand what we have been trying to do. One by one, you are stepping ahead to announce that you are not OK. You are stepping out of the darkness of your own rooms and being honest about what you are. Who you are. Why you are.  Speak out not for revenge of abuses but the healing of abuses. Speak out not for the celebrity of your voice, but for the voices that haven’t found their stage yet. Speak out to change the world not to challenge those who resist the change. Speak out to find the acceptance that you are not alone. Speak out to find your value in a world that often tells you you have none.

And then…come to us in your darkened room!. And tell us what you’ve done. So that we can celebrate with you. And pull from your backs the weight of a feather.

Angelic feathers are things of great beauty. They emanate light and provide a soft place to land when the human journey becomes too much to bear. But our hope is to create the light without the need to carry the weight in your world.

Yes, you are incredible. Yes, you open your wings wide to give comfort to those in pain. And yes, you swing them in tight to yourself to not burden others with your own. Feathers are both a gift and a curse. So lets just pull them away.

Earth Angels. Drop your weight. Pull the feathers one by one to reveal the holes that you have filled.

Light shines best through the broken. Not through the blanketed.

Shine your light. Let others find it. And change the world.

You’ll get your feathers one day. But instead of wedging them into the pain, we will drop them down to dance softly over the light that your holes have created.

Love one another.

And shine Earth Angel. Shine.

***No truckers were harmed in the “making of an angel”*** phewf.

🙂