When the heart weeps for what it has lost,
The spirit laughs for what it has found. ~Sufi aphorism
I can almost feel every one of you rolling your eyes. Laugh? Hardly, you're probably muttering. Your spirit feels practically dead. Nothing funny or joyful about that.
I felt the same way.
I was 14 the day my father picked me up at school to take me to the hospital where my mother had just been admitted after attempting suicide – a cocktail of prescription anti-depressants washed down with vodka.
I was so scared.
I worshipped my mom. She seemed so strong to me. Larger than life. Very, very brave.
I felt like a disappointment to her. A non-athlete to her ribbons and trophies. A shy bookworm to her debating club victories. A loner to her social butterfly.
Though she loved me, I knew, she didn't "get" me.
Five years before she washed down pills with vodka, she'd learned that my father had been having an affair, though he wouldn't call it that. He would call it a "friendship". With a woman at work who was unhappy in her marriage. (All this sounds so sadly familiar, right?) And he wouldn't stop being this woman's "friend", though my mother begged him to.
And since she loved him and desperately wanted to keep her family intact, she drank away the betrayal and confusion.
Not just the pain of my father's "friendship" but the pain of her entire childhood. A dead father at five years old. A cold and critical mother. A beloved aunt lost to suicide.
She also drank away my childhood and almost drank away her own life.
And though I could feel my heart was weeping, I didn't hear my soul laughing.
I didn't hear my soul laughing until seven years later. When my mother had sobered up (thank-you AA!). When she'd paid for my own therapy to deal with years of anger and my lost childhood. When she and I had reconnected as friends, in a way that few of my friends have with their mothers.
If I had known then – that my mother and I would be best friends for two decades before I'd lose her for real. If I could have heard the laughter then, perhaps my heart wouldn't have wept.
But I didn't. And it did.
Know this: We all have pain in our lives. Some of us are given so much more than we think we can bear. Some of us can't imagine our spirits laughing ever again. But our spirits know things our hearts don't. Our spirits know how strong we are, how brave. They can see past "events" to larger truths. They can see past things that happen to who we are. Our spirits, if we let them, can guide us into a future where the past makes sense. Where the lessons are clear. Where the pain has given way to joy.
It's possible. And possible is all you need to know to make it so.