Practicing Them Skills!
Well, nothing like getting to practice what you’re offering. I found out today that my absolute favorite cafe in my town is closing, and it just hit me like a stomach punch. So I am getting the chance to practice tending a new ending.
This is the place that really anchored me to my town when we first moved here almost 14 years ago. We became friends with the owners. I was on a first-name basis with most of the staff. The food was top notch, creative, and just casual enough.
It was where I’d go, with a book, by myself when I was having a really bad day. Lunch there *never* failed to comfort me and make me see the world more brightly.
They had a dedicated gluten-free fryer so I could have the fries, for fuck’s sake.
Most tellingly, it’s the only place in town that I have so many memories with my ex that I still go back to. Because I love it more than those memories cause me pain. There is no other place here where that calculus works out.
I cried for the first half-hour of breakfast, because it was so unexpected.
The poor assistant manager, who was trying to hold it together herself, told me to “be strong!” and I looked her straight in the face and said, “I get to feel how I feel.” My husband just looked sorry for me and talked about other things.
But because I didn’t choke back my grief, because I no longer believe that grief is something to be ashamed of and only let out in private, because i didn’t let other (well-meaning) people impose their expectations on how I should act –
I was able to move through the shock and the first big wave of sadness really cleanly.
By the time we left I was able to expand and let this loss in, let it start to become part of my reality. I used every single damn thing I’ve learned in the past 3 years about gut-punch losses AND IT WORKED.
I stayed with my emotions. I didn’t have to disconnect for fear of being overwhelmed. I knew I could let the sadness rise up as far as it needed to, and that I had room for it.
I watched myself start to think, “Oh SHIT another huge loss of such a cherished thing, I can’t do this, not another one,” and then recognize that it wasn’t true.
Life is about constant loss. This, too, shall pass.
And that is actually the secret source of joy. It’s a joy that is fully grounded in loss – not “Disneyfied” “happiness”, but true joy that weaves sorrow into itself.
I’m only *barely* coming to understand that joy – it just flickers into my awareness at times. But I’ve never understood it before at all – because I love so fiercely, so thoroughly, I thought the only way to save myself from annihilation was to hang on to what I loved with every fiber of my being. And then I lost them anyway, and I really thought I *was* annihilated.
Turns out not. But this tiny shoot of a new understanding, about joy that is woven with sorrow, is what is starting to emerge out of that burning ground.
Today I watched it in action.
And I realized, again, why I want to share this.
The honest truth is that I don’t know if I can. I don’t really know if this will translate, if I can offer it to people in a way they can make use of too. I won’t know until I try.
But this is why.
Tending The Endings starts May 3. If you’re curious, I’d love to talk with you about it – but that’s really not the point of this. It’s just sharing my experience with people who can hear it.
Thanks for being my pea pods, all of you.