the dark alchemy of grief and disappointment
I think, if we carry disappointment, loss, and grief in our bodies long enough, they’re going to turn into shame.
Shame, in a lot of ways, is the opposite of transformative justice. It’s remarkable how we can feel persistent shame over someone else’s [likely remorseless] behavior. We typically try to exorcise that pain through forgiveness fantasies; but when those feelings return we feel shame all over again - and then we internalize it.
Nothing ever completely goes away with trauma. Eventually, we will deal with those feelings again. The goal isn’t to rid ourselves completely of negative and destructive emotions - the goal is to learn how to navigate them successfully. In my experience, the torrent of emotional flooding still has the same volume as the hurricanes that used to make me feel like I was drowning. I’m just a better swimmer now.
I carry so much grief and disappointment in my body, and it feels like another side to shame. I am good, really good with who I am. I know I am worthy of love and belonging. I won’t let myself be gaslighted or manipulated. I’m capable of enforcing the strictest boundaries [with others and myself]. I am the strongest and most tender I have ever been. But, somehow, that combined disappointment and grief are the only things that can truly bind me. I still struggle with touch repulsion ~4 years later, and I have done all the work 6x over. Radical acceptance only acknowledges that I am trapped by that Frankenstein version of shame. Acceptance doesn’t even allow me to be met where I am. So not only am I bound by that shame, I am severed from being touched, from being loved.
I think the only option I have is to surrender [that disappointment], but to what? What do I surrender to? Who do I surrender to? How do you surrender an insurmountable loss? What do we do when life denies us of the possibilities of transformative justice? Perhaps all we can do is realize and embrace that possibilities are not promises. Possibilities only exist for as long as we are alive. And some possibilities are forms of magical thinking and healing fantasies.
How masterful and mad hope can be.
C.S Lewis said the death of a beloved is an amputation; and in my experience that’s true. I’m not asking for my left arm to come back to me. I’m asking what will grow out of my shoulders now. Surgeons have said every wound gives off its own light - that you can dress a wound by what shines from it.
I can see in the dark with this one.
Even if I couldn’t - I’d still be willing.