Grief Space Part 2

Grief Space – the place one finds themselves after a series of losses after some time has passed; the moment when one has to confront their emotions; a place of acceptance

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I’ve been trying to pinpoint what’s going on with me. I wrote about feeling untethered and the unfortunate state of being that I am inhabiting that currently includes daily tears and sadness. After a series of conversations, I finally realized that I am in what I am calling Grief Space.

I have not grieved the numerous losses that I have experienced since the summer of 2011. At the time that these losses were happening, I was in the midst of a depression so deep that it would take time off from work, an emergency intervention and a course of medication to get me to a place where I could finally put one foot in front of the other. So needless to say, I was not in a position to actively grieve.

Once things got turned right side up so to speak, I did what any strong black woman would do – I kept it moving. I actively worked on my healing. I threw myself into my work. I began making plans. I got a new job. I moved. I threw myself into my new work. I went through the motions of self-care. In the midst of all this doing however, I never stopped just to be. I never stopped to grieve.

It hit me this week that I am now finally in a place where the grief will no longer be denied. It wants to be recognized. I no longer have a choice. A friend of mine pointed out that I am now in the place where I need to pay attention to my grief. I need to look back over the past couple of years and just stop.

I need to deal with the fact that I left my seminary community.

I need to deal with the fact that I got married, separated and divorced.

I need to deal with the fact that I am no longer a step mother and am facing immense guilt over this reality.

I need to deal with the fact that my grandmother is dead.

I need to deal with the fact that my father is sick.

I need to deal with the fact that I left my beloved community in Atlanta that literally saved my life.

I need to deal with the fact that I am lonely.

I need to deal.

And it terrifies me. I often think that the worst place to be is healthy when it comes to mental illness because you know what sick looks like and you don’t ever want to be there again. My fear all of this time has been that if I let myself feel, if I let myself grieve, I may never emerge from the darkness.

During our conversation my friend pointed something out. She reminded me that I am not where I was. I am aware. I am proactive. I am supported. I am loved. And it is time for me to grieve. It is time for me to inhabit this grief space because until I do, as long as I keep stuffing it down and pretending like it’s not there or it didn’t’ happen, I will never fully embrace my shadow. It’s time for me to lean into the grief space, to go through it, to emerge on the other side. I’m asking for your prayers and your support. Maybe we can do it together.

Love,

Me

Grief Space Part 1

griefSunday was a day – you know one of those days when the emotions bubble up and over.

I’ve been feeling untethered recently. There’s no way else to describe the disconnect and chaos that I feel. I have been struggling to identify where these feelings come from.

Life is pretty good. I’m enjoying my work.

I’ve been proactive about my mental health, seeing my therapist weekly and staying on top of my medications.

My visions have returned. In my major depressed states, I don’t have the capacity to hear from God and my gift of visioning is hindered. That hasn’t been the case recently. My visions have returned, almost to the point of being overwhelming. The creative energy is flowing and ideas are racing through my mind faster than I can account for them.

I’m nervous about the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that I deal with and being in a new city where cold, long winters are a norm scares me, but I’ve been proactive about dealing with this reality.

But there is still this feeling…this persistent, nagging emotion that something’s off.

I have been having a few days like today in succession recently and that scares me. I don’t like days like this because they remind me that the darkness is ever present. But something else happened today. I chose to reveal myself instead of hide. I reached out instead of staying in. I opened up instead of shutting down.

It began with church this morning. I’ve been feeling so guilty for not going to church. I am a leader in God’s church and I don’t belong to a regular worshipping community. I worship with many different communities as I travel, but I don’t have one community that I call home. Many have told me that I need to cut myself some slack because of the demands that my work in this season of my life make of me. But that doesn’t help ease the guilt. It doesn’t change the fact that I am disconnected from community. So today, on a rare occasion that I was in town and that I wasn’t exhausted, I went to church.

I cried most of the way there and I can’t  even tell you why. The tears just flowed. I got to worship late but I still went. This is a BIG DEAL. The anxiety of walking into places late is often times debilitating, but I decided to push through it and enter into a space that I knew God was calling me to be. It’s funny because I had these great expectations of worship this morning and they didn’t come to pass. But I realized as I left the service that me attending and getting out of my house was the first step.

From there I met with a dear friend who happens to be a pastor. I warned him before lunch that I was a complete mess and sure enough, over the course of our meal, the tears flowed. I still couldn’t explain exactly why I was so emotional but he let me babble on incoherently as I tried to make sense of the the emotions that I couldn’t seem to name. Our time together ended up being cathartic and I realized that if I hadn’t gone to church this morning, I wouldn’t have had lunch with him. I left our conversation extremely grateful for our time together.

As I drove home from lunch I kept playing the rest of my day over in my head. All I wanted to do was go home and bury myself under my covers. But I kept thinking that I needed to be out of my house. I needed to be around other people, even if I wasn’t directly engaging them. I needed to get outside of my head. And quite frankly, the thought of going home and being in my space by myself scared me. So I headed to a local coffee shop and began reading a book that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I sat there for an hour or so and still felt unsettled. At this point, I was getting tired of myself. I have no patience with myself and often wonder why things seem to be so difficult for me. I get tired of the tears. I get tired of the anxiety. I get tired of the sadness. I just get tired. In these moments I can’t imagine why anyone would want anything to do with me. I don’t want anything to do with me.

As I was having these thoughts I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who has profoundly shaped how I understand myself, my gifts and my call. It just so happened that she was available to talk. What happened over the next hour helped me understand what I was feeling and what I needed. Our conversation led me to realize that I am inhabiting what I am calling grief space. And it’s time to deal with it…

Part 2 to be published on Friday.

From Darkness to Light

A year ago today I launched Embracing My Shadow. This blog was born out of pain and despair. It came to life when I was dying. It taught me that even in the darkest moments, light can emerge…

I started writing about my depression a year after my last major depressive episode. It took a year to get to a place where I was feeling like myself – the self that I had never fully embraced. This blog started as a cathartic exercise; as a way to cope with a darkness that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Things are not always easy but this blog, this community of Shadow Lovers who have accompanied me on this journey, has been life-saving. I am so grateful for the support, for the people who share their stories with me and for the grace that I am constantly shown when I reveal dark, painful truths about myself.

Thank you for walking with me.

Thank you for sharing your story with me.

Thank you embracing your shadow even as I continue to embrace mine.

Thank you, dear Shadow Lovers, for joining me on this journey, as we go from darkness to light.

Love,

Roze

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Butterfly Confessions meets Embracing My Shadow

Have you ever had a moment or series of moments that led you to recognize that something great was happening? That something or someone was making all the dots connect? That your journey – the pain, the suffering, the triumph, the joy, the confusion – may have prepared you for the life you are now living?
Things have been clicking recently. Even in difficult times, those times when I am reminded of my depression and anxiety; those times when I doubt the goodness within; those times when fear threatens to overtake me, I am hyper aware of the fact that something is stirring…
“Thank you God for divine relationships, connections that are firmer than what passing out business cards can do…”
I met A’driane through Twitter. Yes, I know how that sounds. You met someone through twitter? Yup, sure did. When I emerged from the darkness that was my last depressive episode, I began doing some internet searching. I was looking for resources, people, stories, videos – anything – that would make me feel a little less alone. Anything that would help me make sense of my newly embraced reality. Enter A’Driane.
You see, A’Driane is a woman who has been blogging about her experiences with PPD, Bipolar 2 disorder and anxiety  for a long time. Not only did her writing endear me to her, but the fact that she was a younger african american woman made me begin to imagine a friendship with her. That sounds a bit stalkerish but truth be told, her writing was so profoundly honest, authentic and comical at times that I felt like she was
a long-lost sister. So I did what anyone who is involved in social media would do. I started following her on Twitter and keeping up with her blog. And lo and behold, she followed back!
What’s amazing is that our connection wasn’t just a chance meeting. I soon found out that my best friend in real life, who is also a PPD blogger, knew A’Driane long before I’d meet her. Little did I know that something was stirring…
Our social media relationship continued. We soon exchanged phone numbers and began texting. We even set up a time for a Skype date. By this point, I knew that A’Driane was someone whom God placed in my life at a very particular time for a very particular reason. At first, I thought it was all about me – meeting a woman who was sort of like a mental health mentor. Her story and her willingness to forge a relationship helped me personally. But as time progressed, I realized that our coming together was not just about me or her alone. God was doing a new thing and had brought us to each other for such a time as this…
Over the next couple of days I’ll be releasing videos of a conversation that A’Driane and I are having about black women and mental health. The case of Miriam Carey spurred both of us into action with the goal of helping to destigmatize mental illness in the black community and encourage women to stand up and speak out. I hope you join us on this journey, for it isn’t until we confront the darkness that we can see the light.
Love,
Me & Addy
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Planning Hope

The Rev. John Clausen was the father of my dear friend Sarah who died after a battle with Cancer in 2012. John was a writer and I thought this poem was very appropriate for anyone who struggles and feels like they are alone. These words give me hope and hopefully they’ll do the same for you. Thank you John.

Love,

Me

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You know the plans

Oh, Lord of life

You touch beyond
The pain and strife
You give the hope
Oh, God of love

In midst of doubt
You carry me
You bring me home

You are the plans
New life bestow
You are beyond
What I can know
You are the hope
Oh, God of love

In midst of doubt
You carry me
You bring me home

(Ref Jeremiah 29:11-14)

-Written by John Clausen

Photo by Linnea Clausen

An Ode to David: Live Life

On February 18, 2002, my cousin David committed suicide. David and my brother Cole were the same age. He would be 26 if he were still alive. It rocked my entire family and I still can’t believe he’s gone. This suicide prevention month, my brother and I have been talking about David – about his life and legacy – and want to share the importance of each life. Everyone is precious and no matter what you might be going through, please remember that there are people who love you, people who care, people who would never want you to feel like you are alone and that there isn’t hope. Please, live life. Please, seek help. Please, love yourself. You will be missed.

David, we love you and miss you so very much…

Love,

Roze & Cole

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To: David

From: Cole

It’s a true blessing to see another day. My cousin is an angel now and watches me so everything is ok. A life is precious so live it to the fullest. My cousin’s life, though short, taught me love yourself, there’s not substitution. Think three times not just once when making decisions because life is only lived once. Even though I can’t see you, I have faith in us. I feel your presence no matter what. You will always be missed. I live through you because it’s you I trust.

Herman “David” Davis III

May 29, 1987 – February 18, 2002

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