After my divorce, the future seemed very uncertain. Suddenly, there was no longer an anchor to my life — no familiar structure or plan. There were many possibilities, but it felt as if there were almost too many — I could start a new job, move to another part of the country, go back to graduate school. The possibilities were endless and overwhelming.
But lately, I've begun to look at my life from its end: what would I, in my last moments of life, wish for this current period of my life? What would I want to come from the divorce and from my manic episode and diagnosis of bipolar? Would it mark the beginning of a downward spiral in my life, or would it be the catalyst for something new, for something good?
When I think of my life from its end in this way, I begin to feel like its creator, its author. And suddenly, all the doubts, fears, anxiety about the future fall away, and it all becomes very clear: I know what I want to make of this period of my life. I know what I want to come of it.
I want to acknowledge my faults and failures and to use them as the basis to grow. I want to live in the space of forgiveness and grace each day, in gratitude for a love so amazing and undeserved. I want to use the darkness of my life as the basis for something beautiful.
I've been feeling lost for months, and yet the answer came to me so clearly the other day: I want to write books that connect with others. I want to start my own private psychotherapy practice to help others with mood and bipolar disorders.
More and more, I feel the light and certainty grow in me, that this is the way forward, this is how I make peace with the darkness to go onto live. That there is a purpose to the pain, to the darkness, and it is to more deeply understand the beauty of the light.
The quote in this post was originally posted by user GSnow on Reddit in a thread in which a woman asked for advice on how to cope with the recent death of her best friend. It’s one of the best descriptions of grief that I’ve ever read. When I connected with GSnow, he said that he’s been contacted over the years by so many people who have been touched by his response — people have asked to feature it on TV and t-shirts and everything, which was a surprise to him, as he was simply posting from his experience and heart. I’ve posted it here in case you find it helpful in your own experience and journey with grief.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3: 1).
Sometimes we may feel discouraged, and feel as if life as we have known it is over. What lies ahead? We live in fear that our best days are behind us, that we have failed and made mistakes, that there is nothing to be done now, nothing that can turn back time and get us back to a place of what once was. In our darkest of moments, we wonder if there was a point to any of this suffering. What is life if it involves pain and grief like this? Life feels empty and meaningless. We feel like giving up.
It has been 3 years since my initial experience with grief and loss and though many people told me that time would heal, it didn’t make each day easier. Although time heals, it takes a commitment to wake up each day and to make it through to the next day even when your mind, body, and spirit are crushed. At some point this process of living in the face of grief becomes easier, and you find yourself feeling joy and contentment again, even with the pain that is there. It’s like learning how to walk all over again, but this time with a broken leg.
You are loved. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You’re not perfect, but you’re not your mistakes. Perhaps you’ve made them. Big ones. But that’s okay. We all do. Forgive yourself and use it as the soil for growth, for compassion for yourself and compassion for others when they make mistakes.
I read somewhere that sometimes life involves two mountains. The first mountain is the one you start off in life climbing. You ascend it, thinking that this is what life is about — your career, money, stability, achievement, making your parents proud, worthiness, etc.
Know this — you are loved. You are worthy and beautiful in every way. You don’t have to be anyone other than who you are. You’ve made mistakes, just as we all have. You’ve said things you wish you could take back. You’re not perfect. But you’re none of these mistakes.
There is a light inside you. Let it grow and shine. Sometimes it’s long forgotten. We haven’t connected with it given the busyness of our days. Other times, we have allowed the world to tell us that it is not there and never was.
It’s strange how time passes — how after the unthinkable occurs, life goes on. The sun rises and falls. Flowers bloom. Trees rustle in the wind. There is an eeriness to it and in the beginning it is tempting to stay lost in this space.
There is a light within you. No darkness can overcome it. Sometimes this light is loud and vibrant. Other times such as in places of grief and loss, it is quiet — silent almost. A thread.
It’s different for everyone, but for me, grief was like walking through the valley of a shadow of death: a place where I walked and walked with seemingly no hope — just darkness and shadows and the faintest of light.