Dancing on Your Grave

Jose Guadalupe Posada - El Jarabe en Ultratumba (The Folk Dance Beyond the Grave)
{via artoftheprint.com – Jose Guadalupe Posada – El Jarabe en Ultratumba}

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell

Why is it so damn hard to open my hand and let go?  Let go. Why am I so stubborn that I cling to things and people who are not for me, long after it’s healthy, or even marginally sane? It’s crazy. But I am a little crazy, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’m doing a lot of unpacking of my last relationship right now — as part of a process I am completing with a friend — to help us sort out why we find ourselves unattached at mid-life. It is a sobering, infuriating, upsetting process. However, it’s also enlightening, disquieting and empowering, too.

I’m alone because I’ve chosen to be alone.

I like it. There. I’ve said it. It suits me. If it didn’t work for me on some level, I wouldn’t continue to do it.


That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Flying Solo

I thought I was alone because I couldn’t find a person of quality to be with. Instead, I realize I fly solo because — until right now — finding a partner wasn’t a priority. I told myself it was because I wasn’t over my last dalliance, but that is not strictly true. I’ve been dragging around the corpse of that relationship so that I would not move on.

The demise of that relationship isn’t an impediment to my current love life.  I am.

Something Ripe. Something New. Something Wonderful.

The mental and physical space we create by letting go of things that belong in our past gives us…the option to fill the space with something new. – Susan Fay West

So, that’s a smelly suitcase to open and finally start rummaging through. Phew. Why on earth did I think packing up the bones and detritus of my last love affair and schlepping it around with me was a good idea? (Rhetorical question.) Did I think that if I kept the corpse I could revive it? I think a part of me did. Surely my ex would realize the error of his ways. Surely he’d see that I was the woman for him.

Yikes. It makes my skin crawl to think that I have given him so much power over my life. For all I know, he’s happily married to someone else by now. And even if he’s not, he’s still not for me.

I’ve hung onto my memory of him, my projections, and daydreams, and flights of fancy because that was easier than doing the excavation that I am currently undertaking to get to the bottom of my feelings of isolation, victimization, powerlessness and lack. But the thing is, unless I am willing to do this work, unless I am willing to turn over every slimy rock and dig up every slippery bit that has prevented me from truly owning my own life and loving it in all its messy glory, I cannot move on.

Letting go of what is not for us means acknowledging that we sometimes do not know what is best for us. We don’t. It means acknowledging that we sometimes cannot steward ourselves, so we must surrender and let our angels and guides and other unseen hands reach in, pull the right threads, close the right doors, and open the right windows. It means we must trust in a benevolent and kind universe.

It means we must believe we are inherently worthy, cared for, and deeply loved — whether there is another soul sleeping in bed next to us or not.

Be Open to Surprise

Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go. – Anais Nin

This week, as I wrote in my journal about my past, I had the uneasy realization that I’ve been living in a graveyard. I’ve stomped around an open grave for much too long, unable and unwilling to shovel dirt onto the casket. Doing so meant accepting that I’d ‘failed’ again to build a lasting, respectful, loving, spiritual relationship. So, I dismissed all that was good about my ex, and railed against his faults (as if I was perfect), wanting to assign blame for the fact that I felt severed and broken, yet again.

However, suddenly, I was filled with the knowledge that I could choose to see my situation through a different lens. I could choose to see the situation as absolutely perfect, absolutely right. I could see all the ways that this relationship unfolded as exactly what my life needed most. My relationship ended because my ex and I had finished teaching each other what we needed to learn, and it was time to move on.

And moving on is a necessary thing, a good thing, not some random punishment. I am worthy of love, even if I am a mess. I was born worthy. We all are. We don’t have to do a thing to be ‘deserving’. We just are.

And with that thought, I began to imagine a different ending. I imagined plowing all that dirt onto my past and carefully arranging a riot of flowers on the mound left over. I imagined dancing around the grave, bare feet caked with mud, dancing and dancing until I dropped to the ground.

It’s OK to mourn the passing away of one part of our lives. It’s OK to sit — grief-stricken and alone — wondering if we’ll ever feel right again. It’s OK to love fiercely even if the someone we love, doesn’t love us back. That doesn’t mean we give up and sit down in the cemetery and make ourselves at home there.

I realized I’ve been holding my breath for a while now.

And I need to start breathing again.

Loss may seem to smash us to bits, but it cannot break something that cannot be broken: our spirits.

And my spirit’s been cool with M’s exodus for a long time now.

So, I am walking out on this old shit. I am back on terra firma, heart thumping furiously in my chest. I am alive. There’s still time.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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6 thoughts on “Dancing on Your Grave

  1. Good stuff. Really, really good. I’m in much the same place. I wonder if you wrestle with the message that I keep bumping into in all of my reading…that you attract the relationship with someone else that you have with yourself? Trying to get my head around it.

    1. Yep. But the empowering message in that is that we have the power to change ourselves. We cannot change others, but we can make choices to change ourselves. It is hard to realize that we have a hand in our own unhappiness (so much easier to blame others! LOL) but ultimately, we can shift our relationship with ourselves and attract what we DO want by doing so. Or at least that’s what I believe. Thanks for writing. ~ S

  2. I’ve struggled with the same question, the same conundrum, and this was a timely indeed. Like you, I have chosen to be alone midlife it seems and it’s time to admit that it’s that choice that’s the reason for why I’m flying solo not anything else. Thanks fpr the reminder and as usual a lovely read. 🙂

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