Conscious Darkness: How I Learned to Grieve.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ C.G. Jung
I’ve been afraid of the feeling of grief for as long as I can remember.
The first time I experienced it was when my Uncle Frank died. I must have been 7 or 8. Confusion is what gripped me first. I didn’t understand where he went. I didn’t understand the pain that was swirling in my belly.
Then I went to an altered state, wishing, wanting desperately for it to be undone. It felt so dark and unsteady.
Throughout those early years, I felt this hollow feeling far too many times. Too many deaths to count. I remember being envious of friends who had never even been to one funeral. I was a pro by that point.
Each time I remember the fervent wish to turn back time so the person I’d lost would still be with me, but I don’t remember allowing myself to really grieve. Crying and feeling was something that I learned years before was not safe to do.
To cry and to feel meant the possibility of falling into a deep, dark well with no way of getting out. Ever.
So when tragedy struck, I felt it on a surface level, and then pushed the deeper feelings down and found a different focus in order to move on.
As I got older, the deaths were accompanied by painful breakups. The more intense, the better.
I seemed to call in relationships that were powerful and head-over-heels passionate, that would end just as spectacularly.
In no way did I think I was equipped to face the grief embedded in those situations.
Then came the most devastating blow of all: the loss of my mother. That was the queen of all heartbreaks. I always thought that I didn’t date for so long because I was getting over my divorce, but the truth is, I was recovering from losing her too. She was my first love.
For a short while after that, I had opportunities to do different kinds of grief work, which would have helped me heal, and I refused to go down and do it. I thought it would be damaging, and I got angry and frustrated when people suggested I do it.
But as I stepped more and more into my spiritual nature, and even more opportunities to grieve and grow presented themselves, little by little I was able to let myself crack a bit here and there.
The quotation at the beginning of this piece is the catalyst that totally cracked me open. Once I acknowledged that there was a beautiful purpose behind it, I felt safe to do it.
And I received two opportunities to crack and grow with lightning speed. One occurred as I live my purpose, and the other appeared as I entered into and moved out of a beautiful relationship.
Living my purpose allows me to look at all the sides of myself, the dark and the light, and the work is to love them all. I’ve fallen to my knees as I face the parts of myself that I’ve denied for so long. I’ve wailed and felt excruciating pain and hit bottom.
And the beautiful part about that? I didn’t stay in the dark well. I floated up in the most beautiful ways. Renewed, with layer upon layer of old judgments and hurts lifted off of me. And through that work, I was able to befriend myself.
I also transitioned out a relationship at a time when it was still so good and filled with potential, but not destined to be. I let go, and cried unabashedly for what was and what would no longer be. I let myself be seen for the feeling woman that I am. I showed him the love that I have for him and would continue to have for him. And it allowed me to feel utterly whole and beautifully human.
And so I rise again.
What my experiences have taught me about grief
1. It’s safe to go down into the depths of your grief, because you will always rise again: Once I really started to study the laws of the Universe, and the Law of Rhythm in particular, I knew that I would not stay in the dark feelings, but eventually float back up to the light.
The Law of Rhythm states that “Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything.”
2. Seeing others helped me do the same: I’ve had the honor of witnessing people in my life who have courageously shown me what it is to surrender to their pain or grief, and to do it with beauty and grace.
This gave me the courage to let go into my unknown darkness, because it’s a part of me, and I trust that I will return as more of who I am.
3. It doesn’t have to be all darkness and pain: I’ve experienced moments of crying over things that I perceived as grief, and the experience was utterly cleansing and beautiful and cathartic.
4. Grief has different dimensions: I learned that I resisted grief not only because of the soul-sucking feeling that I got from contemplating the actual loss, but because the grief was always multi-faceted.
The grief wasn’t always just about the person I’d lost. It was about me too. It was about the core beliefs I held about myself that I didn’t want to acknowledge, ones that bubbled up whenever I lost someone.
But as I go down into the pain and see these core beliefs, I know they are not true. And that becomes my work — to continue to see that they are not true and live from a place of radical self-love.
Lauren Malloy is a coach and spiritual teacher of love, sex and relationship. She works one-on-one with women who want to live a fully turned on life and be connected to their beauty, sexiness and power. She also teaches classes around NYC on the Masculine and Feminine, where you’ll learn how to turn on your life by using the most essential ingredient: You. You can contact her via her website or email.