By Nicole Barlow
Loss and Disappointment. Those two make a mean pair, don’t they? We spend our lives trying to run away from this duo in active avoidance of its existence. But here’s what I know to be true: to bask in the warmth of the light, we must endure the damp of the dark. My experiences have taught me to embrace and appreciate them both equally. Today, I find myself soaking up the light, my life radiant with blessings. But let me take you back to a time when light felt elusive. And what I’ve learned is the surest path back to it…
Between the years of 2005 and 2010, it felt like Loss and Disappointment were following me around like a bad smell. The past 5 years had seen my body carry and give birth to four baby girls – two of whom call me “mom” today (no. 2 & 4), and two of whom were born still (no. 1 & 3). Up until that time, I hadn’t given much thought to the sadness of those two words – still + birth – being put together, but suffice to say it’s an accurate description. When a baby is born silently into this world, with no hearty cry to declare her arrival, the labour room is, indeed, awkwardly, heart-breakingly still.
To really add salt into my gaping, bleeding wound, we no sooner got our healthy family unit of four when my marriage of seven years rather unexpectedly fell apart. Yep. Dark times.
That was then. Today I find myself in the position of relating very closely to the subject of pain and heartbreak, but with enough ‘life’ happening between then and now for me to have perspective – a perspective that may provide some hope to those that are still at the foot of their mountain.
So, what have I learned in the years since I held my baby angels or signed those divorce papers? I’ve learned that asking ‘Why?’, no matter how consistent you may be in your curious pursuit, most often does not yield the answers you’re looking for. But, if you tune in, you find something else instead – resilience. This little gem is often not given its due credit.
Strength is one thing, but KNOWING YOUR STRENGTH is pure gold.
I’ve learned that whilst Mother Time is often awarded the ‘Ultimate Healer’ title in these kind of sad dramas, I see her in more of a “Supporting Actress” role. For me, the Leading Act goes to… SELF-LOVE. It’s the real shining star of this bleak show. You see, eventually, and with the support of Time, your Self Love steps into the picture. You stop resisting what is and you give yourself the grace to feel. Little by little, self-love loosens your grip on grief, one white-knuckle at a time. It gives you other things to hold instead, like kindness, like character, like the support of family and good friends (like a teaspoon hovering over a tub of Haagen Dasz?).
You’ll carry the burden of hurt until one day, this intrinsic Higher Intelligence within you quietly shouts NO. MORE. It’s so quiet, you may not even hear it. Nothing profound. No epiphany or defining moment. You’ll just notice you feel lighter. You’ll feel less guilty for smiling. Somewhere in the movie of your mind, a silent understanding has crept in; an acceptance that to live is to feel. And that every feeling – good or bad, light or dark – has its place, its purpose. Self-love has gradually been steering you to the edge of the colossal mountain you’ve climbed, and you find yourself ready to release your balloons of sadness.
You let go.
They float up and up, into the heavens above… and you are left with the memory, but not the melancholy.
So to all those who are suffering the impossible disappointment of losing a baby, a marriage or any emotional turmoil that feels overwhelming, I hope you’ll see these words as a beacon of the peace to come. Weep but don’t wallow – you’ll know the difference, so try not lie to yourself. Nurture a softness for the emotions you feel, but steel yourself against pity – self or other. Now, more than ever, is the time for LOVE. While you mourn that empty car seat, the empty cot or your empty womb; while you mourn your empty ring finger, the empty side of the bed or the empty promise, know that your seemingly-empty heart WILL endure. My take-away pearl-offering?
There is always light – and it is always YOU
Nicole is not just a stay at home mum of two amazing young woman, but is a successful, writer, public speaker, life and business coach based Cape Town. Her website is a source for anyone who is looking for encouragement, inspiration, and guidance. Website: nicole-barlow.com “The Empowered Mom Blog”.