Before you read this post, I want you to imagine that there is a shiny gold crown resting on your head. Whatever shape you imagine it to be, whatever brilliance and decor you want it to have — it is uniquely yours. Each jewel represents the wealth you’ve accumulated over time from the connections you’ve made with important people in your life and the goals that you’ve accomplished, while every dent and scratch serves as a reminder of the battles you have overcome. Your crown showcases your strength, wisdom, and courage. It is a glistening representation of all the things you carry with you as you walk through life, and because of its value, you instinctively want to protect it at all costs. But what do you do when your crown slips from your head and slams harder to the ground than it ever has before?
Of all the things we possess power over in life, one thing we will never be able to control is what those around us do, nor the magnitude at which their decisions affect us. It is safe to say that at some point in our lives, we will inevitably feel the ground cave beneath our feet, and the swift punch of cold pavement smack against our faces as we are knocked to the ground by the actions of someone we love and trust. And oh, how it stings the more we love them. But if you look closely, you’ll see that there is immense beauty in getting knocked down. Beyond the cuts and bruises, the loss of breath and the unknowingness of which parts of you are the most broken at the time of impact, there is beauty. Pure, everlasting beauty that lies not within how you hard you fell, but how carefully (and loving – to yourself) you rise.
For the past few months, I have been slowly picking myself up from arguably my hardest fall yet, as I was hurled to the ground by the realization that my partner had been having an affair (or two? Or three? It was hard to keep track, if we’re being honest…), and forced to watch the crown that once rested on my head roll far beyond my reach — damaged, scuffed, and dinged. As one would imagine, recovering from such a shocking and painful loss has been rather difficult in some ways, being that grief (and all of its stages) unfortunately is not something we can suppress. I’ve cried, I’ve screamed, and I’ve cowered at the prospect of having to walk further into this newfound darkness alone without yet being able to see even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. But what has surprised me the most, and what I need to share with those of you who are having to pick up your crowns right now, too, has been the three simple things I’ve learned to do each day that have helped me lift my chin up and keep moving forward. If you’ve had the floor cave from underneath you recently, and you now find yourself wondering how on Earth you’re going to make it through, I need you to do the following, asap: grab the biggest piece of paper you can find, the most permanent marker within arms reach, and tape the following three things on your wall as daily mantras to live by. Trust me, you’re gonna need them.
1) Know Your Worth (And remind yourself of it, constantly): When you are devastated by the acts of someone close to you, and I mean really shown that this person does not have your best interest in mind, you are worthy of living life without them. There is no need to allow any of their negativity to impede on your path, whatever your path may be. You are worthy of every dream you have created, every goal you are trying to reach, and all the support you need to reach them from the people who truly love and care about you. Remind yourself daily, as many times as you can remember (especially when flooded with anxious thoughts about what you’re going through), that you are worthy of a peaceful, happy and fulfilling life, and the only people who should be a part of it are those who want the same for you, if not more. This is when you pick your crown up, buff out any scratches, and gently place it back on your head. You are worthy of wearing it.
2) Let Yourself Feel Every Emotion, Fully: Our situations may be different, but the fleeting control we have over our emotions when going through the process of grief is the same. Grief is not linear. This means that while you may get past the initial pain and heartache found in the immediate aftermath of getting knocked down, as shown by your days becoming increasingly easier and the weight on your shoulders feeling a little bit lighter, there will be times when you will be overcome with sadness. Or anger. Or guilt. Even on your strongest days, you may find yourself feeling emotions as raw as you felt them on Day 1. But I want you to know that that’s okay. And the only way to continue having lighter days is by allowing yourself to process every emotion fully, as they appear. So, get mad. Scream into your pillow, punch your fist into your other hand, and allow the imaginary argument billowing up in your head to flow out as if it’s actually happening. And if you’re feeling sad, cry every tear. Watch a sad movie, read a sad book, or bring forth the memories that tug on your heart without any sign of erasing themselves any time soon. Then, take a deep breath. And then another. You are okay. Your emotions are there for a reason, and only when you honor them fully can you allow your body to release a little bit more of what’s weighing you down. Let it out, so you can let it go.
3) Above All, Be Grateful: When you’re going through a devastating loss, it is so easy to become hyper-focused on what has changed, or the hurt that has been thrust upon your lap because of it. Something as simple as turning onto a particular street, or hearing that one song could trigger your mind into remembering the pain and heartache you are trying so desperately to diminish. But what if instead of focusing on what is gone, you trained your mind to focus on all the good you already have, and the “even better” that’s on its way now that you have all this extra space in your life where something that wasn’t good for you once resided? Someone (okay, fine…a really cute date, but that’s all I’m going to say…for now 😉) recently reminded me that the one true antidote for suffering is gratitude — and his words have stuck with me ever since. Whether you start each day by saying three things out loud that you are grateful for before even fluttering an eyelid open, or you combat anxious thoughts as soon as they flood into your mind by thinking about the things that you feel fortunate to have (supportive family, amazing friends, actualized accomplishments that were once but dreams), practicing gratitude daily will unequivocally help to extinguish the suffering that has raged war within you. You are healing from the inside out, and every ounce of gratitude that you posses will not only help that crown you’re putting back on your head sit a little straighter than it once did, it will also make it rest more securely than it ever has before, as it is now rooted by a deeper knowledge of the things that serve you, and unwavered by the things that don’t.
Remember, your life is worth living the way you want it to be lived. By learning how to hold all of your emotions (the good, the bad, and everything in between) while still walking with your chin held higher than your fears, never once looking back at what is being left behind, you’ll soon find yourself on the other side of grief feeling more complete than empty. Strength lives abundantly in you, even when you can’t feel it. And while there may now be one more deep battle scar that adorns your gorgeous crown, its damage pales in comparison to the brilliant new jewel that shines with the love you’ve shown yourself just by picking yourself back up from the fall. So, grab that crown, place it back on your head, and continue to walk forward with the three mantras above at the forefront of your mind, knowing that even if you get knocked down 9 times, you’ll always have the strength, courage, and wisdom to get up 10 (and yes, that was a Cardi B reference, thank you very much).