What gifts have you received as a result of your anxiety or grieving?
The Meditative Moment
I do not ask this question as a way to gloss over the challenges of hard experiences. Nor is it a sneaky way of saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” The trauma itself isn’t necessarily something to be grateful for. The aftermath, though, might hold a kernel of a gift. It takes time—certainly weeks, often months, maybe even years—for such gifts to surface. As I noted at the beginning of this week, because of Shaun’s and Ryan’s suicides, I explored grieving and anxiety in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. The gifts are the words I write, the return of my breath, the ability to hold space for others in their struggles, and the gentleness with which I approach grief and anxiety. These didn’t happen overnight; uncovering them took a long time. Take a moment today to think, not necessarily of the direct causes of your grieving or anxiety, but of what has happened since. Maybe there are significant negatives: ruptured relationships, inability to trust, fear of phone calls or text messages, sensitivity to sounds, brain fog. These are not to be discounted, but set them aside for a few minutes and ponder the flip side: the people who surprised you by showing up, the empowerment that comes with setting boundaries, the ways in which you connect and communicate differently, what you hear in silence, the startling clarity when the fog lifts. Grief and anxiety can trick you into seeing only the giant hill you have to climb; taking time to ponder the wildflowers growing by the side of the path gives you a little break and allows your breath to return.
Originally sent September 20, 2023, to paid Substack subscribers. If you want to receive current Thin Space reflections, you can start a paid subscription here: https://laurenlmurphy.substack.com. You can choose to pay $75/year or $8/month.