On Grief and Love

grief, love, destruction, oya, orishas, healing, break ups

When I wrote about leaning into love the other day, there’s a critical piece that I missed. The other part of why we shy away from joy.

Yes, there’s the foreign-ness of happiness in a world that’s often weary for a black woman.

Yes, there’s the guard we have up because being on the constant defense has allowed us to be safe.

Yes, there’s the real psychological, physical, and emotional need to be our own solo support system.

But there’s another layer that most of us are completely unaware of.

Grief.

What did you see when you first read that word? Death, dying, loss of life.

What if I told you that grief is at play with all types of loss. Loss of the life we expected. The loss of a love or relationship we thought would be forever. The loss of status or home or purpose.

Grief is a real thing. She’s also elusive.

She takes on a journey of sorrow and despair and not-enough-ness and desperation.

And if you’re anything like me, we see those feelings as dangerous, so we avoid them at all costs. Solange said it best:

I tried to drink it away

I tried to put one in the air

I tried to dance it away

I tried to change it with my hair

I ran my credit card bill up

Thought a new dress make it better

I tried to work it away

But that just made me even sadder

Here’s what I know. When you don’t call a thing a thing, you can’t heal from it. And when you can’t heal from it, it eats you from the inside out. And as it’s eating you from the inside out, it will wreak havoc in all the external- your job, your livelihood, your relationships.

A year ago, grief brought me to my knees in ways that still inspires nausea.

I had been friends with my ex for ten years- as friends, as spouses, as coparents, and partners. I thought it would be forever. I built my identity around my relationship and it served in proxy of my sense of worth. I was only as good as my ability to be a wife, a mother, a proper woman. Life had taught me that I could have anything I worked hard for. And I worked so very hard. I pushed and worked and bent and stifled and coerced and manipulated and begged and bargained with my Self and God to be the partner I thought I was supposed to be.

When the relationship ended once and for all, I was simply stunned. I couldn’t understand. I felt blind-sided. I was in disbelief.

“I tried to keep myself busy

I ran around circles

Think I made myself dizzy

I slept it away, I sexed it away

I read it away.”

None of it worked. None. Of. It. Worked.

It got to the point when I couldn’t get through the day without having meltdowns. Even when it became clear that my relationship was indeed over, I still couldn’t function. The silence was so very loud. The sorrow so very deep.

My Pantheon, Oya specifically, told me that everything that wasn’t for me would be destroyed so that which is for me can come. I knew in my spirit to trust that, somehow, even when I couldn’t see more than 3 feet in front of me.

I knew how to listen and this was a time I knew to be quiet. In that solitude, people came into my life that revealed the next step. There was my vision board party that revealed to me my heart’s desire. There was Shonda’s Year of Yes that gave me permission to try new things. There was the Tantric Yoga class that connected me to people like Vatasha and Empriss. There was Empriss’s workshop introducing the Desire Map that nudged me to experience my feelings. There was Bikram Yoga that reconnected me to my body when I didn’t have human touch to energize me. There were the countless friends that held space with and for me. Ade, JaChel, Roy, Tamara, Angie

Still, it wasn’t enough. My head and heart were still too fragile to deal with life that didn’t stop just because I was struggling and growing. I had to stretch myself and be there for people who needed me. My child. My employees. Other people’s children.

I was free-falling. I called the EAP hotline with shaking hands and told them just that. I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. But I was going to break. The woman that had survived neighborhood violence, drug addicted family members, sexual abuse, poverty, miscarriages, foreclosure, and divorce finally hit her limit.

There were sessions when all I could do was cry. There were times when I couldn’t utter more than a whisper. There were confessions of being afraid to love. There was a singular goal of being open to a date with someone.

And all the while, the world thought I had it all together. Or did they? Or did they even notice?

That didn’t matter, though. I had to do it for me. I had no idea where my journey was going to lead and I had to learn to be one hundred percent in love with myself. I had to define me for me. I had to be mine. I couldn’t compartmentalize anymore, being a bomb ass boss. Kick ass leader. Dope ass friend. But nothing for me.

“I want to know your authentic self. I want to see all of you that no one else does.” That’s how Bae won my heart.

I wish I could say the grief process was instant and easy, but it wasn’t. It roared and it trickled. It skipped ahead and it backtracked. But for all of the winding, it has consistently propelled me forward. And I’m here to bear witness that’s real and it’s necessary. And here’s what I know:

  1. Too many of us are living in reaction to grief that we haven’t even named.
  2. Unchecked grief will destroy you and everything you care about.
  3. Grief doesn’t have to be a forever process, but you do have to process it.
  4. Awareness, support, surrender, spiritual tools, and physical activity are essential and can’t be shortchanged.
  5. You can’t experience the fullness of love and life without healing your grief.
  6. You are designed and equipped to experience love and life and your gifts. Love is FOR you.
  7. You have me to hold space with and for you.

Dearest Bee, what is YOURS to do?

*****

Are you craving a space where you can be the free, unadulterated you, without guilt or shame?

Do you need sisters to hold space for you, laugh with you, learn with you, and heal out loud?

Are you exploring what your soul needs to do to love, heal, expand, restore, turn up, and be?

Do you identify as

  • A Black woman/ melanated woman of the Diaspora or her ally?
  • Spiritually expansive
  • Intersectional
  • Life-affirming
  • Queer and/or a queer ally
  • Light bearer
  • Our ancestors’ wildest dream
  • Ancestor-respecting
  • Pantheon following
  • Sexually expressive
  • Beyhiver

Welcome home to the Queen Bee Order, a sanctuary for melenated women to heal, share, grow, learn, love, laugh, fellowship, restore, turn up, and be so that we can light shit up and change the world.

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