Fall is upon us, and it is a time of slowing down a bit. For the past week, I’ve been trying to replenish after feeling depleted from a trip back to Hong Kong to visit with immediate and extended family. I’ve been prodded and questioned about my life, my work, the choices I’ve made and boy, has it been tiring. It’s reminded me today of this quote by Peace Pilgrim;
“When you find peace within yourself, you can be the person who can live at peace with others.”
For the first time in Hong Kong, many of my immediate and extended family met my hubby for the first time. We had eloped a few years back quietly without fanfare. At the time, I was “taking some time off” from some family members who were feeling incongruent about life decisions I had taken.
So during a dinner one night, I found myself faced with the following question: “Are you sure he’s the one? This is your 3rd marriage.”
It made me pause.
I realized this came from a caring place, but it sounded like judgment.
I also know while this came from one person, there were likely many pairs of ears burning, wanting answers.
My extended family and I exchanged pleasantries about our various works and everyone’s professional projects. Except for mine. Unfortunately, no ears were burning around grief work.
Sometimes, it is not what we say, but what is left out that is the elephant in the room. Were they approving or disapproving of my work, my marriage? Was my feelings hurt? Sort of, but I realize 98% of the population treats grief the same way. I am trying to not take it personally or return projections.
1) Consider where it is coming from, in my case, family lineage: My family is very Chinese. Let me preface this by lovingly saying not all Asian families are alike. And, I am only basing this on my personal experience. In our family, we tend to hold our emotions within. Instead of saying “I’m proud of you” or “I love you”, we are supposed to know that is the way our loved ones feel inside. Or if I almost got all A’s on my report card, they would point out the one B and focus on what I didn’t do.
On the contrary, if someone was disappointed me, they would tell someone else in the family, who would then tell me. It would be prefaced with, “Relative x didn’t want me to say anything, but…” To save face, I would apologize for whatever it is I did wrong.
For you, if someone has disturbed your peace, consider the source. It may be that the person you love is not even aware of his/her behavior. It may have been something he/she grew up with this way of being all along. I used the non-display of affection as an example.
2) Allow yourself in that moment to be not okay (if you are grieving, you don’t have to force the happy smiley face on) Be true to who you are. This will set you free. After my conversation, I was made to feel shamed, and that I wasn’t being “honorable”. When I took some time to consider the source, I realized it was her issue, not mine. Instead of shoving my feelings down, I went into another part of the house where we were having a party and let my tears flow.
3) See things if you can see things from a brand new set of eyes, or look at the way your life is now for the very first time. Chances are, seeing it from an outsider’s perspective will help shift some of the muck. When we are grieving, there are multi-layers to the heaviness, sadness, the tenderheartedness. Tend to your emotional garden. Especially if you have been a caregiver for others. Put yourself first. Just be you. I know you’ve all heard this one before. But it is the tonic that is helping me the most since I’ve been back. I went to Pilates this morning and then saw my BEST practitioner for some healing. I am taking extra supplements to replenish. From a brand new set of eyes, I would say I am doing great considering all the space I had been “holding” for family.
I would love to hear from you below ways you might love yourself up when you are feeling tender…