Grief comes in many forms. Most often, we think about the grief of losing a beloved – a parent, spouse, child, friend, or even a pet. We all have, or will, experience this in our lives and it can feel bottomless at times.
What I want to talk about here is grief that comes with growth. Yes, personal growth. A grief that is invisible yet no less important to process. When someone we love dies, we hurt and expect to grieve. We have permission to grieve from ourselves and others. We don’t really acknowledge the grief of growth because it’s not so obvious as a physical death yet each time we grow, change, and expand who we are our old identity dies.
As I set my intention for 2023, the year of complete and unapologetic self-approval, I became ill with pneumonia. As someone who practices metaphysics, lung issues typically indicate grief. “Emotional wounds are not allowed to heal,” writes Louise Hay in You Can Heal Your Life.
This healing adventure has definitely been a practice in self-approval. I’ve had no choice but to surrender to a lot of deep rest, letting go of any impatience I may experience or thinking I ‘should’ be better by now. I had ask for help from loved ones and be okay with all of this. After 3 weeks, my body still wants lots of rest.
Don’t get me wrong. I have moments when I wish I felt better already – but I’m much gentler with myself about it and more easily relax into the moment.
Then there’s the grief. Grief I had no idea I was holding onto. The more I’ve surrendered to it, the more I realize this is an old pattern of self-abandoning I learned as a child. To dismiss my emotions because as being wrong.
Let me share what I mean by this.
If you’ve been with me a while, you know that 2022 was a year of big changes. Intentional changes. I sold my lovely home, a place I’d lived for 10 years. A home filled with beautiful energy and light with a cottage garden I’d lovingly created and tended. I also sold nearly everything else I owned, bought a small motorhome and started traveling. It was time. Time for me to do something new and different in my life. In that process, I had moments of sadness and tears as I prepared to leave all this behind, but I don’t think I really allowed myself to go deeper than that.
What I’ve discovered in this healing adventure is an old belief that I ‘shouldn’t’ feel sad since I chose to make these changes. These are echos of my childhood that sound like;
- You made your bed, now lie in it.
- You wanted this, you have nothing to cry about.
- You shouldn’t feel that way…
- I’ll give you something to cry about…
In those echoes was the belief that I had no right or business grieving because I elected to make these changes. I internalized this belief as a child and I can see her struggling with her feelings and thinking she is wrong to have them. It’s painful and yet such an amazing awareness to have now.
I also saw an old pattern of pretending. This is not new. My need to pretend that everything is ‘fine’ when it it’s not. There was so much going on during this time. The excitement of finding the motorhome and traveling. The excitement and loss of selling a home I loved. The sense of adventure and stepping into the unknown which is both exciting and scary. I think I am still process a lot of it and finding my way to who I am now.
We go through changes in identity over and over again in our lives. Sometimes in very small ways and other times we make big changes…or the universe thrusts us into change. Regardless, we continually shed who we have been to become who we are now and step into who we are becoming. With each shift, we let go of some part(s) of ourselves to make create space for more of who we are here to be. It can be subtle or loud…but it’s really important for our wellbeing that we acknowledge these changes and be in complete self-approval as we feel them.
There’s one thing that has profoundly changed my life in the past 10 years and that is the understanding that everything in my life is happening for me and through me (not to me). This healing adventure with pneumonia is no exception. It has been an opening to see this old pattern of self-abandonment. I get to see it, shift it, and give myself and that little girl more grace and more love as I step more fully into unapologetic self-approval.