The return… the rise… the comeback.
That’s the hard part.
You think it’s the cracking open. The moments where the wind leaves your body and you’re brought to your knees. Feeling your heart split as the tears begin to flow. Knowing, in that moment, that nothing will ever be the same again. Losing all sense of stability as the ground shifts beneath you.
You think it’s the fall. The moments where you’re tumbling down so fast you no longer have a sense of which way is up. Twisting and turning and clawing at the empty air around you, trying to get a grip on something. Anything. But there’s nothing to do except free fall into the darkness.
You think it’s rock bottom. The moments where you lay on the ground so broken and beaten. Shattered at your core. Unable to function. Unable to handle the day to day. Unable to understand what it means to be on “the other side” of your pain. The heaviness nearly consuming you.
But the hard part is the return. The rise. The comeback.
Because this part of the journey requires a series of simple, yet incredibly difficult choices. Moment to moment. Day to day.
You have to keep choosing to rise instead of settling into fear. You have to choose to take steps forward and upwards instead of staying in what’s familiar and known. You have to choose to do what’s hard and exhausting, even though you’re still tired and broken and mending from the fall. Still picking up the pieces from landing at the bottom.
You have to choose it, when you’re not even sure what “it” is.
I was sitting on the couch one fall evening when I had this realization for myself. It seemed like everything I’d worked so hard for was falling apart again. As I cried and cried and cried some more… and I wondered, how was I ever going to find my footing again? How was I ever going to come through this chapter whole and healed and happy? What was the point of all of this if I was only going to keep falling back into the pain, time and time again? How would I ever move on?
Until I realized I had to make a choice in that moment.
I could stay in the darkness, which was hard, but familiar. Or I could choose to rise up and come back. And it was scarier than I ever thought such a choice could be, because I didn’t know what “coming back” really meant or looked like.
I just knew in my bones that if I didn’t make the choice, I would get stuck. Stuck in the darkness and brokenness. Stuck in the heartbreaking loop that was threatening to pull me down and around again.
I’m not going to pretend this choice was easy… because it wasn’t. Not even a little bit. The truth is, the hard parts were familiar. I knew how to be broken. I knew how to hurt and cry and grieve. It was painful, but it was known.
Which was crazy to admit to myself as I sat on the couch that evening. Because I remember the moments where I was so broken and beaten down that I would just close my eyes and pray for this chapter to be behind me. Trying so desperately to understand what it would mean to be “looking back” on what I was going through in those heartbreaking moments. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t see it. I was too deep in the darkness… too lost inside the pain.
I thought the hardest part was behind me.
The days and weeks and months where I was so broken that I couldn’t eat or sleep. The week my brain finally stopped working, and I would sit in front of my computer in tears… deadlines looming, and absolutely no memory of how to build a website. No idea who half the names on my client list belonged to.
Then the healing work began. The painful recovery that hurt more than anything I’ve ever experienced. The opening to a love I’ve never known as my broken heart was still mending. The clarity that took my breath away, and the moments and conversations that continued to reinforce what I was put here to do. The inspiration. Having a memory. Finding my footing in the after.
I thought those were the hardest parts… and I was terrified to admit it to myself, let alone those around me that the truth was: I was scared to death of the comeback.
The cracking open… the fall… the rock bottom… those were the easy parts. They just happened without any say on my part. Without any ability for me to control what was going on around me, because there was nothing I could do but face the facts and the darkness that engulfed me before I knew what was going on.
But the rise? The rise is where the real work begins.
The choosing, moment to moment, to rise above all that’s burned around you.
To be reborn from the ashes and fragments of the life and self you once knew.
The taking action when you’d rather nap or cry or do anything but.
The showing up when all you want to do is hide or disappear.
The pushing through when it would be easier to retreat.
The choosing to leave behind all that’s known and comfortable.
This is the hard part… but it’s the part that carries you through all that’s left to be felt and healed and released. That allows you to find the clarity you so desperately seek. To stabilize the ground beneath your feet, so you can finally stand back up, taller than you ever knew you could stand. It’s hard as hell, I’m not going to lie. But if I can do it — if I can find my footing and calling and truest self inside the most heartbreaking and traumatic loss — I have no doubts you can too, and I’ll be here to hold your hand the entire way. We’ve got this.