My daughter had a bit of a breakdown last evening. She misses school and she misses her friends and she is afraid that things won’t ever return to normal. Many of her friends are going through hard times at home, and she is brimming with worry and fear and feelings. She tries to be stoic and strong and unemotional- ways of coping she likely learned from me.
But I tried telling her that emotions demand to be felt. That’s what feelings are. They have to be honored and faced unless they eat you up from the inside. My childhood grief lay dormant in my chest for so many years. I tried to drown it out through alcohol and drugs, overworking and overperforming. For years I thought that I stayed one step ahead of the tidal wave. I worried it would drown me if I ever let it crash past my shores.
It took years to know that peace resides on the back of that wave. I didn’t believe in the strength of my own two feet to have the ability to wade through it.
But eventually I learned. When I finally let go and let grief fall and flow through the gates of my self-constructed prison, I was astounded to see how to see the sun shone again.
My parents taught me that our souls are more than our bodies. This little piece of God that exists somewhere inside. Beyond the chittering and chattering of our mind, beyond the tidal waves of emotion. That our very essence is what gives us the strength to endure pain and loss and disappointment and grief. The pain life teaches us acts like a sanding stone- it doesn’t chip away at our essence, it smooths it down, creating something more beautiful, more luminous, more brilliant.
If I can teach my daughter that pain is not an enemy to run from, hide from, or fight, I pray that she becomes certain of her own ability to stand firm in a tsunami, and let the waves crash when they rise up.
It is her journey. And she may need, in life, to go through all the agony and all the suffering that a mother’s heart would shield her from, if she is to become who she came here to be.
God, bless us both. Help me be the mother she needs. Amen.