I couldn’t go under, around, or over it–I had to go through it

7-smlToday’s post features Julie Smith, a single mother who counsels teens and parents in Colorado. Julie experienced her parents’ divorce when she was 13, as well as a series of other loss events, including her own divorce, a miscarriage, and the death of her mother-in-law whom she felt a strong emotional connection with. For years, she tried to suppress the feelings that came from her early loss, but after the death of her mother-in-law, it forced her to deal with all the loss she experienced. But when she learned to accept the loss, both the loss of people and relationships, as well as the grief of what those people and events meant to her, her life became much richer.

I had this shadow of loss that kept following me. I just ignored that loss but then I lost my mother-in-law, whom I had a strong emotional connection with. Losing her led to questions. That loss just shook me. She truly believed in me. It felt like a 2X4. I could no longer ignore how these loss experiences affected me. It affected everything, my work, parenting, and how I saw myself. It hurt my health, because I had a heart condition, and it made it worse. I was sobbing and thought, I can’t do this. I can’t go around it, under it, or over it. I’ve got to go through it. I have to grieve all loss in my life. It was incredibly hard. I had to change and embrace that change. I had to feel I had to have a reason to be here, a purpose. I realized whatever I had been doing earlier wasn’t working. I hadn’t previously felt good about myself. I looked successful on the outside, and yet inside I felt like I was falling apart. I realized I was creating the tension in my life when trying to deny the loss. How I was dealing with all the losses in my life just wasn’t working any more. I was angry with God, myself, everybody. I had to allow myself to be angry.

I had to let myself go through it, and it helped me teach my kids that it’s okay to feel and to share what they feel. The more transparent I became the more I started to know myself. The more I knew myself, the more transparent I wanted to be. And then I realized I’ve gotten to this place where I know me and others connect with my story, but I got to the point where I wanted others to connect with me. I didn’t want to be my story. I know I’m not always status quo, and I’m okay with that. I couldn’t say that before because I thought I’d be judged. It’s just been in the last year that it’s okay with me.

There is this childhood picture of me. I look at it and I look at her eyes and there is sheer bliss. I feel like I am that person again. I have confidence.

To learn more about Julie, check out her webpage.  To learn more about how to cope with loss or how to strengthen your potential from loss experiences, connect with me on Facebook or Twitter!

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