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I See You, I Hear You

The Moon is full. Abundant, rotund, luxurious. If you can, even if it's through a window, spend some time sitting with the Moon tonight or tomorrow night. Drink in her uncomplicated presence. Let her share some of your burden.

She can hold everything in her fullness. All pain, all grief. All of us who are dying alone. All of us exhausted and risking everything to help. All our varied sacrifices. All of us confronting shadows in dark corners. She also holds the golden moments of simple pleasure, our hearts reaching towards one another, the gifts, the support, the music. All the laughter, the teamwork, the unity. The Moon can bear witness to all of it at once. She contains multitudes.

I reckon you've probably been feeling some profound discomfort lately. As our quarantine lengthens, and essential workers continue working hard, time is walking us through new phases of this experience. The initial adrenaline wave has likely settled or is settling down. Different kinds of discomfort are arising. Perhaps you've noticed your patterns or coping mechanisms shifting.

In this collective heroine's journey through the dark forest, we're encountering helpers, hope, and also dark or malevolent entities. You, like the Moon, are strong enough to meet all of it.

In a recent (virtual) conversation with someone I barely know, I admitted that I was struggling. The moment I brought up uncomfortable feelings, this well-meaning person, bless their heart, answered with "You always have a choice between fear and trust, and you just have to keep choosing trust."

This is precisely what we're taught to do with our hard feelings. Growing up we get the message that there are good feelings and bad feelings, and that bad feelings should be covered up with good ones. We can love our way out of anger, distract our way out of sadness, trust our way out of fear. The act of trying to skip over or transport out of the painful parts of life is called spiritual bypassing, and it tells us that sufferers are doing it wrong. If we're struggling, it's our own fault; we just need to work harder, to focus on the positive, to love and light our way out of it.

If you're sick, grieving, out of a job, or worried right now, it's not your fault. You're not doing this wrong.

Perhaps unfortunately, and certainly uncomfortably, the only way out of the dark forest is through it. Distractions might offer temporary relief, but we live on this Earth and in this body, pain is part of it, and we'll come home to it one way or another. In order to be fully present for joy and pleasure, we must also be present for grief and despair. Those who know love know loss. Cheating one cheats the other.

That said, we don't need to make one or another our identity. We don't need to live by the edict "I am depressed," or "I am pure love and light." These states are visitors, they come and go. When we're present inside them, we're also present for the next phase that comes along.

We also don't need to do it alone. We are big enough, intricate enough, strong enough, to sit with ourselves and with each other, and hold it all. Know it all. Feel it all. Be it all.

When someone tells you that they're struggling, know that their vulnerability is a great gift. While the urge might be strong to try to fix their discomfort, or to offer advice, I promise it's enough to just sit with them. To say "I hear you," "I feel you," "I'm sorry that this is happening to you." To repeat what they've told you in your own words. "Its sounds like you feel..." It's so healing to be seen, heard, and understood. What a beautiful gift we can offer each other, as we walk through this dark forest together.

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