I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop in crunch mode. A few weeks ago I wrapped up the first draft of a book more than 25-years in the making. As I typed the closing words of the final chapter, I felt something was missing. That perhaps my book was an illusion or misrepresentation of grief. Despite being brutally honest about my lack of credentials or knowledge base around this topic, I felt like a fraud. Somehow my story didn’t seem strong enough or capped with enough wisdom and answers to really provide a sense of purpose to the reader.
As I contemplated what to do next, I began reading Susan Cain’s latest book Bittersweet. When I hit chapter 3, Cain made the comment, whatever pain you can’t get rid of, make it your creative offering. I realized in that moment, the purpose of my book, is to share with even one person, my journey with loss. For me, it has no end, because for me to never experience loss again would mean to quit living. Despite believing that in my soul, I seriously questioned if anyone else would understand. After all, one of the most common pieces of encouragement after losing someone or something you love is this too shall pass. It will get easier, once you get through it.
The problem is that never happened for me. I kept waiting and waiting, believing that if I just tried hard enough, I’d reach the other side. But the truth is, I feel loss and I hold onto it. I don’t dwell in it or quit living. I’m not clinically depressed or emotionally unavailable. Instead, I find myself acknowledging this is the price of admission and often times elevating my blessings by recognizing that anything worth anything I will in fact lose someday.
This is where divine intervention, fate, or a more logical explanation of Frequency Illusion of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon comes into play. Because as I contemplated my shortcomings, Bittersweet provided the framework needed for me to finalize understand my inner workings.
Cain’s explanation of how certain people hold space for love and sorrow finally answered a decade old question. I am not broken. I am what Cain describes as a true connoisseur of the place where light and dark meet.
How did I come to that conclusion? A simple 15 question quiz that had me scoring 8.1 on the Bittersweet scale. Interestingly enough, my husband landed solidly in the category of sanguine or eternal optimist. It makes sense – I’ve been called Eeyore on more than one occasion, especially by my husband. I never minded, at one point going as far as to have a blog called It’s ok to be Eeyore, because I felt the world has enough Tiggers in it. That, I’d rather be loyal to one and contemplative, then someone I’m not.
Cain spends a lot of time contemplating the complexities of living in the place where light and dark meet, including one extremely important factoid that our culture has decided to overlook – it’s not human to simplify move on.
Trust me when I say this book is packed with wisdom. I earmarked so many pages and passages. But this, well it sums up my conflict with grief. It finally provides me the research to back my experience with loss – and the reality that while I keep living after loss, it does not mean that I’ve moved on, but rather that I’m continuing to move forward. The truth is, acknowledging my loss and being willing to talk about it, does not mean I’m dwelling or depressed, but rather I’m resilient. I am resilient and strong enough to embrace both love and loss, or as Cain explains, bitter and sweet, in the same moment.
How lucky we are to live in a world so beautiful where that’s possible? We are literally programmed to experience emotional multi-tasking. Yet, somehow that message continuously gets lost. Grieve and be sad. Then move on and be happy. I’m here to tell you, there’s an alternative. If you don’t believe me, then you MUST READ HER BOOK and take her word for it. Years ago Susan’s book Quiet gave me language around being an introvert. Now, she’s providing me peace for my experiences with loss. For that, I am forever grateful.
I have months of editing to go on this book and a proposal due in less than 3-weeks. The past few weeks have been packed with self-doubt. Yet, as I sought a sign, this book dropped in my lap. The proof I needed to know that I am not alone. Call it divine intervention or frequency illusion, it is a fine a line. Just know, that often times, the answers are there if you just ask the right question.