Grief is agony
I keep learning and relearning this,
and it is hard to say what is is most painful,
the waves-on-top-of-waves of sadness, or
the way I keep sailing directly into the rage storms,
hurting and hurtling,
giving the storm the middle finger and sailing into it anyway,
watching myself, sometimes raw and sometimes numb,
sometimes in awe of this new fearlessness,
and sometimes crumpling,
whispering, always: breathe, breathe
and I do.
Grief is agony
and I am in it.
Grief is agony
I am the ship and also the sea, the tempest, the waves,
the thing that is being shaken and also the shaking,
and then oh shit how do I keep forgetting,
how do I think I’m maybe-almost-fine and then suddenly
that undertow of hurt and anger, I forget and then
there it is again,
sweeping me out to sea.
because grief is its own strange form of clarity and vision
and because grief is the place where all you get to do is breathe
Grief is agony
And sometimes I say this out loud,
when I am howling at the sky,
sometimes through the windshield,
and sometimes beneath the trees,
I say HURTING THIS MUCH IS AWFUL, and then I agree with myself
YEAH BABE GOOD POINT YOU ARE RIGHT,
because it’s true, and it’s true even when we forget:
pain is real / pain is legitimate / grief is agony / this is all true if unacknowledged
and just because our culture minimizes pain and
doesn’t make space for the grieving,
hurting is hurting is hurting,
and you passage your way through in whatever way you can
Grief is agony
I don’t know what makes less sense to me,
the way it just keeps fucking hurting,
or that I am still surprised by the pain.
There isn’t really anything to say about this,
other than that it is miserable.
And that I keep being surprised by it,
even as it is essentially unsurprising.
Surprising / Unsurprising
I have some monsters about this too,
on the topic of: come on, you have been alive for forty years,
and not a chill forty years either, we’ve put a lot of miles on this ride,
this is not your first time at
The Loss & Pain Ranch or the Heartbreak Rodeo,
this is not your first encounter with
big, wild, intense disruptive emotion
or the aftermath of feeling this much.
They say, ugh this Grief Is Agony story is so boring and also
a waste, the person you left is not worthy of a single tear,
this situation does not deserve a millisecond of your attention,
this pain has no purpose,
and they are not wrong, but also they are not right.
the monsters want us to heal up and so do we,
but we will do this in our own way and our own timing,
loving ourselves with fearlessness and a wild heart,
no judgment, no rules, no agenda, no timeline,
just Love More Trust More + Set No Path Never Lose Your Way
Heading north I met the saddest broken Montana cowboy,
we had nothing in common
except that he was also on a heart-healing road trip,
and as you know I have a soft spot (or is that a blind spot)
when it comes to cowboys
— yeah okay well anyway back to the story —
he said you don’t understand what heartache is,
and I said oh honey I know heartache,
and he said you don’t know what it’s like
when you can’t see the road through the tears
when you have to pull over until your sight returns,
but I do know, I do know,
my sight has not yet returned
and that’s a country song right there.
Speaking of country music and broken hearts
I am of two moods, two mindsets, when it comes to
the long-gone cowboy, the one who, with my permission, hurt my heart,
these mindsets pull me to them like magnets even as they repel each other,
neither is particularly useful or sustainable but hey here they are:
“But don’t think for a second I’m out to drown your memory /
Baby you ain’t worth the whiskey”
“I’m goin’ home, gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
If he wants a fight well now he’s got one
And he ain’t seen me crazy yet
Grief is agony
I have not wanted to write this post about Grace,
because to talk about grace I have to tell you about my grief,
and I really, really don’t want to, but here I am in the grief,
and it is waking up old, other losses that still hurt,
they hurt like fire, hurt like ash, hurt like gone
I try to remember that even as pain is a legitimate response to loss,
this intensity of sensation has to do with my pain being
amplified by surrounding pain,
the actual storms, the hurricanes,
the tumultuousness-fear-uncertainty of it all,
meanwhile my beautiful state of Oregon is on fire,
I spent the first ten days of this Month of Grace
wandering the coast in search of breathable air,
and of course there is so much destruction, so much beyond weather,
(nazis, deportations, really no shortage of justifiably panic-inducing things)
and so we who already feel so much
feel it all
I am learning how to be my wild (Wild) self,
out in the wilds of the wild wild west,
nestled in a hammock under the stars,
drinking coffee by the fire pit,
writing in the notebook where I only ask one question,
over and over again:
Tell Me About The Wild Life
Then I returned to the city for a day,
and someone told me that my magical ballroom,
the one I loved and lost,
now houses a business called The Wild Unknown.
I know that future-me will see the humor in this,
she will laugh and laugh and laugh,
and good for her,
but I am going to be agonizingly honest with you and tell you that
I am not even slightly there yet,
I am not ready to look at the flowers growing
in the place where the trees I planted burned.
Another story, a better one, this one is actually funny
I named my notebook Tell Me About The Wild Life,
and then a few hours later I met a
— WAIT FOR IT —
wildlife biologist who said he wanted to
tell me all about the wildlife.
The wild life
I had of course meant that I wanted to know about the Wild life,
the life in which I am most true to my wild heart,
but it was a good reminder
that naming wishes is complex, magical, surprising, unpredictable and
quite often frustratingly hilarious,
just like being alive.
Today marks 500 days on the road, and maybe it is time
for this adventure to rename itself.
The Wild life, again
The me who is at home in her Wildness,
she has wild hair and wears long glittering earrings,
she is not afraid to get in a fight,
she follows the call, the pull of what is for her,
and easily lets go of what is done,
and let us breathe gratitude for the month of Courage (August)
because asking for Courage is how I met her.
I saw a tiny squirrel trying to intimidate a crow,
marching behind it and then stretching tall on hind legs,
totally doing the Lurking Scooby Doo Villian maneuver,
the crow turned and glared,
the squirrel ran away as fast as it could, I laughed
and there was the grace of laughter.
Grief is agony and so I thought I didn’t know about Grace,
that maybe Grief doesn’t have room for (can’t make room for) Grace,
and that maybe I don’t even know enough to learn about grace,
maybe my hurting angry raging heart isn’t ready for grace,
but there it was.
And then grace was everywhere,
even bitter moments suddenly laced with grace,
the grace of those funny sweet small perfect moments of aliveness.
The grace of wisdom and right timing
I saw Allie and she asked how I was and she asked this
like she really wanted to know
so I said REALLY FUCKING HEARTBROKEN AND MISERABLE,
and in her wondrous Allie-way,
she happened to have a copy of the David Whyte piece on Heartbreak in her bag
and she gave it to me, here are some fragments of grace…
“HEARTBREAK is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight / Heartbreak is inescapable; yet we use the word as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong / Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going”
The Grace Of All Of It
You could say that the grace was in the clues
and also the grace was in the gift,
and the grace was in her question
and hello to the grace of
my total inability to pretend I was okay in that moment,
which resulted in reading those words with new eyes.
Here’s to the Grace Of
Here’s to the grace of poetry and words,
the grace of loving intention
and the grace of clues.
Here’s to all the grace I have been missing
and the grace inside of the missing
(and, speaking of words, the relationship between
Here’s to the Grace of a good soundtrack
The Montana cowboy wound himself up tightly inside of a story
that only existed in his head,
and decided that I must be hiding something from him
and that the something I would be most likely to be hiding
is that I’m a man, which is true but not in the way he thinks,
also transphobic bullshit which needs to die in a fire too,
this experience fortunately resolved itself safely and speedily,
and I immediately added the song I’m A Man to my Wild playlist,
mmmm a breath for the grace of Bo Diddley.
and the thing they are a clue about is that I have a HARD NO to being around their bullshit
What else do I know about Grace
Self-fluency is my saving grace,
the skills I have to navigate these pain-states.
Observing, taking notes for later,
practicing Acknowledgement & Legitimacy
which are secret doors to self-treasuring,
also breathing, and naming what I hear, feel and see,
remembering that recognizing a pattern
is already changing the pattern,
taking exquisite care of myself,
and so on.
What else do I know about Grace
The grace of surprise joy, the grace of replenishing,
the grace of a moment of caring for someone who is in more pain than you,
the grace of caring for your own pain too,
the grace of suddenly a bridge,
the grace of sunrise,
the grace of the reverberation-circle made by the sounding of a bell,
the grace of ritual and repetition,
the grace of slowness and trusting the process,
the grace of set no path never lose your way,
the grace of oh hey there is no longer ash falling from the sky,
the grace of walking the labyrinth,
the grace of temenos (marking space for ritual, marking space with ritual)
yes, the grace of defining external space to protect the internal space,
the grace of finally-rain after months of no rain (!),
the grace of this beautiful door that is a passage,
the grace of breathing into my thank you heart
the grace of / the grace of / the grace of
The grace of superpowers
Each day I name superpowers, and it took me ten days into the month of Grace
to realize that Grace and superpowers are basically the same thing:
something I invoke-and-remember,
call-on and call-in,
there for me in my moment of need,
the magic is not only in what is named,
but in my commitment to being the namer who
names what she needs.
Interestingly, this month’s superpower is I Have What I Need,
a superpower of provision and also of
remembering that I am provided for.
What do I wish for in the month of Grace
May I reclaim and celebrate my independence,
integrate my wild self,
learn to tie knots
and untie everything else.
I want to walk with prowess and intention, crown on,
to live by Wild Self-Treasuring, and allow for
[the grace of fewer needs] to co-exist with [the grace of higher expectations].
I am hearth and flame, keeper and admirer,
yes to blazing and yes to steadiness
yes to life
I am the water and the replenishing,
the emptying and the receiving,
yes to flow and yes to knowing that I am a gem and yes to shining,
yes to life
Invitation: Communal wish space! Come play with me…
You are invited to share this post and to share many !!!!!! about what is here,
Or share appreciation or anything sparked for you while reading…
Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving.
Everyone belongs. We let people have their own experience. We’re supportive and welcoming. We lovingly refrain from giving advice.
And of course it’s always okay to comment under a made-up name, whether for play and delight, or in the interest of Safety First.
Wishes and checking-in are never late because whenever you wish is the right time for wishing.
We remember that people vary and my process doesn’t have to be yours, and this is a good thing.
Here’s how we meet each other: with great kindness and appreciation and awe, whispering (and sometimes shouting) oh, wow what beautiful wishes!