Nothing, of course, happens fast enough and we just want to be returned to that uncomplicated life we once had – we want stability restored – but it is not to be. Now we have a new life; unchartered, uncertain, beyond our control, and that we are on some level undertaking alone, even within the company of the ones we love. Our worlds are still raw and new. They hum with suffering, but there is immense power there too.
~Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files
Nothing, of course, happens fast enough...
On the one hand, our days blur into nights blur into days and it feels as the world should have stopped entirely and yet it's not, it is turning turning turning.
On the other hand, time crawls. It is 4 a.m. and we wonder how we are going to survive the remaining darkness until morning gives us some reason to at least try and stand, to find some way to make ourselves useful, to try, at least, to feel part of the world.
We just want to be returned to the uncomplicated life we once had. Nick Cave is, for those familiar with him and his work, talking about the death of his son. And I know it's so tempting for us to gasp and hold ourselves back from relating because, after all, we didn't lose a child, nobody has died. How dare we think our grief compares?
But Cave himself, and anyone who has truly felt their grief and the way in which it connects them to all suffering, everywhere, doesn't monitor the door the grief club – letting in only some and not others. Rather, they – we – learn that grief is grief is grief. That it is, as Cave says, tidal. Washing over us, threatening to pull us out where we can't possibly survive and then depositing us again and again, a bit stronger each time, back on the shore.
It has been many many years since I felt that grief as it related to my marriage, to my husband's betrayal. It has been months since I've written here. I have used the years to heal myself and my marriage, to rebuild a relationship with the man who has spent his time earning back my trust. I consider myself lucky to be with him still. He remains my best friend, one of the kindest people.
I have more recently spent months working on a new project, a magazine focused on climate solutions. And that is where I am becoming reacquainted with grief. I had taken a break from much of my writing on environmental and social justice issues because it sometimes felt as if I was bashing my heart against a rock.
But the focus this time is different and, bear with me, not unlike my approach to healing from betrayal. This time, I am focused on solutions. I am no longer interested in trying to convince the unconvinceable about the climate crisis. (Just as I long ago abandoned the idea that I had to defend my choice to stay in my marriage.) Instead, I write about the incredible ways people are addressing climate, the ways in which they are using their bruised hearts to heal the earth, to connect with others.
But still...Ukraine. Trans youth. Book bans. The list, of course, goes on.
And with it, grief.
Know this, all of you whose grief around betrayal eclipses all: You are down but you are not beaten. You are stronger than you know. Grief is a normal human response to pain, to injustice, to inhumanity. It is a normal response to betrayal. Let yourself feel it. Trust that it will not strand you. You will find yourself, as I do now, years down the road, having survived. Having rebuilt a life that may or may not look like the one that feels annihilated right now. There is suffering indeed, says Cave. But there is immense power there too.