By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
So I haven’t written my column “Life’s Journey” for a while. I know I promised that I would keep up ‘Life ‘s Journey’ on my blog, after changes late last year saw my column cancelled in one of our community newsletters. Life’s Journey has been about documenting the journey my life has taken. In recent months, life has handed me many changes. Changes that have made me see that sometimes sitting down and writing can become downright difficult.
Changes in my life have included working steadily on my first manuscript, which I can now say is done and sent out! I have been struggling with a few things that have resurfaced in my life, mainly depression and the return of an inner anxiety that has me struggling with feelings of insecurity and a sadness because one of the most important people in my life- my oldest niece has gotten to adulthood and boyfriends, and doesn’t need me as much as she used to.
Sometimes I wish she could stay a little girl forever, but I know that’s impossible. She needs to get older, and experience her own life’s journey. My niece’s 18th birthday is coming up, and it feels like just yesterday that I was playing with her, watching her in the park playing on the swings or one particular favorite memory is her running through the park with a mason jar in her hand because she wanted to catch fireflies. Those carefree days are over, as she now adjusts to adulthood.
Adjusting to change can be difficult. I know that I’m not alone in that, but sometimes when you’re in the middle of experiencing changes, you feel like no one really understands and your reaction to that is to withdraw and isolate, even though you know that you need to do the opposite-reach out and be with people.
When I withdraw, I notice that my personal writing goes by the wayside and it becomes difficult for me to sit down and focus on just any particular thought or incident. The journey that life takes me on is one that is unpredictable. I never deal well with unpredictability because I can go from feeling elation about something that I’ve done or something a friend has done to feeling low about something.
Today, I learned of another loss in our community, and thought this would be a good time to sit down and write. I’m learning how fragile life is, and how we can take life for granted. You meet someone, or see him/her around on a daily basis and then BANG, one day you hear they’re ill. You hope that they get better, and keep a light of hope within that you’ll see them again. When it doesn’t happen, you go through a million different emotions, because you wish that you had just had more time to know them.
Tonight, I let myself cry and feel the loss our community has encountered, and then I went through the typical emotions that a loss can bring- feeling anger and sadness. Anger because someone beautiful has been taken away too soon, and anger that we have such diseases like cancer that can take someone away so quickly. I feel for this woman’s family and the community as a whole.
After I let myself cry and feel the sadness I began to realize that lately, I haven’t been letting myself genuinely feel. After I lost my favorite uncle in February, I shut myself down. I know that I’ve been feeling the emotions but I just haven’t been giving them any airtime. Not giving my feelings any airtime is not necessarily a good thing. I have learned that in order to be truly healthy, you need to let yourself feel things, and then you need to be able to slowly let them go, in order for true healing to happen.
Grieving is difficult though, no matter what. According to the “Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses,” written by John W. James and Russell Friedman it is said that “since most of us have been socialized to attempt to resolve all issues with our intellect, grief remains a huge problem.”
This is where sometimes I wish life came with an instruction booklet. Wouldn’t it be nice, if there were a booklet on how to deal with things that come our way? But then again, if it did, life would be boring, and the things we encounter in life would become predictable and there would be no learning.
Death is a hard thing to deal with. Loss or changes made in your life are two of the most stressful things you can encounter in your life’s journey, but as you go through life, you slowly learn how to deal with these things in a way that is conducive to where you are in life. That’s what life’s journey is all about.
If you are grieving, or feeling at odds about things going on in your life, don’t be afraid to reach out. To all of those out there, who may be struggling with something, I send love. I will put semaa (tobacco) down for you.