By Tanya Tiger
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye
I’m not going to tell you that it’s all going to be okay…
To tell you that you will never face a storm would be a lie. To pretend they do not exist would only leave you open to being blindsided by their harsh reality. To tell you to hide away in shelters built around your heart, to remain steely and aloof, would only serve to cut you off from all that makes life worth it. Shelters never survive the biggest storms anyway. Storms are a natural part of life. They come in the form of death, disease, job loss, separations, financial collapse, and numerous other trials and tribulations found within the human experience. We can pray that a storm will never find its way to our door, but they always do.
I could tell you to run screaming, crying over the inevitable pain that the storm will bring, but that would only serve to weaken you and that I will not do. Instead, I will tell you to run into the storm. Embrace the winds and let them carry you.
You can make them a part of you. You can love the storms and all their brutal honesty.
Head this warning: once you choose to embrace the storm, you will never be able to go back to the way you were before it. To do this means letting go of the limitations we have placed on ourselves. It means opening wide, dropping the sword and the shield, and leaving ourselves vulnerable to all that comes when a storm hits. Once we stand inside the storm and survive, we realize just how strong we really are.
You will come to realize that everything you allowed to hold you back no longer holds power over you. Things that seemed impossible become obtainable. Things that were once a nuisance no longer seem to matter. I know the doubts that creep in with each step forward. I am familiar with the fear of being swallowed by the howling gale-force winds.
I too have found myself suddenly engulfed, drowning in oceans of tears and pain that takes my breath away.
The secret to withstanding life’s storms is to find your “eye.” It is there we rediscover our footing. While all the world seems to be whipping around your head and you feel like the storm will never end, don’t run from the pain; walk through it, to the center, to the “eye.” Stand firm, or fall to your knees, but stay present. Let every pain, regret, despair, “what if,” and “why” whirl around you. Let the numbness go. Let the shrapnel fly by your head and tear at your flesh. Let it draw blood—see that you are still alive. Let the wind of hopelessness threaten to steal your very breath.
You can exist in the middle of the tempest, you can scream into the howling winds, you can dance, you can stomp your feet and curse “the powers that be.” You can do all of this and more in a giant display of “fuck you” against the anguish that threatens to squelch the light from your soul.
So long as you hold onto an ember of hope, the flame cannot be completely extinguished, no matter how hard the storm tries.
When my storm came, in the form of my daughter dying, I tried to escape it, but only found myself more lost, more caught up in the pain and grief that seemed to exist all around me. It was only when I stopped running from the fear—sat with my pain—I found some semblance relief. I finally gave myself permission to grieve, and I grieved hard. I dropped the platitudes I had been clinging to and let the grief wash over me.
There was beauty to be found in that breakdown.
I let myself be cracked wide open. Tears poured forth in a torrent of loss, disbelief, and an unbearable ache in the very depth of my being. I cried until there was nothing left. When I could finally allow myself to feel everything, and to be emptied of everything, love had room to move back in. Slowly it filled the empty spaces; a balm washing over my wounds. I began to heal from the inside out. The storm began to quiet; I could see the other side. The “eye” was the scariest place I had ever dared to stand, and yet I realized that it was also my sanctuary.
I will not tell you that it’s all going to be okay, but I survived, and became stronger. You can as well. Time will heal some of the wounds and you will begin to feel bent rather than broken. A scar, only you can sense, will remain. Wear it on your heart as a badge of remembrance and live your life.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak