Alone, in Loss
It has taken me ten years to sit down and write this story; my story of loss and aloneness.
Even now, I am half-tempted to write it small, as its weight already feels suffocating with the first few strokes of the keys. I pause long enough to wonder if that feeling will ever go away. Doubting it, I choose to write on, knowing how often I speak to others about the writer's heart and the need for courage when fear silences the writing voice.
A lesson that I have learned, between then and now, it is that grief and recovery do not acknowledge the laws of time.
At twenty-weeks pregnant, I lost my son. One day his heart was healthy and beating vibrantly, and the next day, it was not. "A bad ticker," the doctor said, whitewashing over it all. None of it really ever made sense.
I struggle to find the words that would do justice to how much my son was loved and wanted. I waited five years for him, and fully-and-completely loved him from the moment the doctor announced, "You're pregnant!" I felt an incredible amount of shame with the loss of my son. I felt responsible. I was riddled with "I should have..." and "If only I..." Most days I feel certain that unless you have experienced the grief and shame of losing a child, you will not understand the crushing degree to which it impacts your life.
After my son's death, for a long time, life was a blur. A big cluster of blurriness. For years, I felt incredibly alone despite being surrounded by those I loved the most. I didn't know how to turn to my husband for help; he didn't know how to help me. As time marched on without my consent, the distance between us grew.
Cracks grew into canyons, as they are always at-risk for doing.
My goals in life became etched around survival. I disappeared in every way I knew how: studies, research, teaching. I gave every ounce of myself to something else because the idea of being present with my loneliness and grief was too much.
And then, life got better.
The complex grief I experienced did not become less complex. In reflection, it became more convoluted and twisted, as I moved from a place of pain to a place of complete numbness. Numbness, I am convinced, is a coping skill that makes a difference between surrendering and moving on. My emotional world became very small. My heart became impervious to whatever life threw my way. I knew one direction - forward - and, life felt manageable again.
The problem with numbness is that when you numb out the pain, you also numb out the joy.
Desire, arousal, pleasure - these things were no longer for me. I had no space for them. At one point, my sexual desire was absent to the extent where I began to wonder if my lack of sexual motivation was because I didn't need emotional and physical closeness like other people did. It made quasi-sense enough to provided some emotional relief. It was easier to say "I don't desire love" than it was to look at "I don't feel lovable and desirable."
It was a lie I told myself and it kept me in a place of quiet shame.
I understand the challenge and grueling work many of my clients face because I, too, have been in their shoes. I understand how grief and loss can shut-down our sexual-beings. I understand how fears can bulldoze over desire. I understand how shame is a hole of darkness where harsh narratives are written.
Grief, loss, shame, and fears - they all led to my sexual incarceration. And, I was both prisoner and warden.
And thus it went, until one not-so-fine day, when what was working, no longer worked. I felt I could no longer breathe. My body revolted. I couldn't take another single day of living life in a state of status quo. I had a panic-attack and I felt incredibly lonely.
It was a defining moment, and the change was me. In an instant, I made the conscious decision to start feeling, connecting, and living because the alternative was no longer an option.
The journey of sexual awakening was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I had to deconstruct everything I knew about relationships, intimacy, and sex. I had to examine my entire vision of who I was and what I wanted. I learned my sexuality was so much more than just sex.
It was my womanhood. It was my humanity.
It was me, being able to be naked and vulnerable in every sense. It was the lens in which I saw and related to others and the world.
My journey started with allowing myself to grieve for my son. I had to learn how to let go of the dream that I would be able to grow older while watching him play, laugh, love...
Slowly, I began to unhitch myself from the negative-narratives that prevented me from fully loving myself and others. I stopped the abusive relationship I had with my sexual-being, and opened a pathway to healing.
I learned that liberation of the mind and body is an inside job that often requires a helping hand.
My son's death taught me so much about the woman I am today. There is great strength and fragility in love; connections created with that awareness, are what makes life so beautiful.
Everyday, I am honored to work with people who desire to open their hearts to meaningful connections, and experience liberation-of-self.