New eyes, new landscapes, new freedom

Two years and eight-plus months out from GR’s death. Thirty-one years and six months out from my dad’s.

Where does that put me today?

Well, for one, I’m ready to move forward from being Brooke, the daughter of a man who died when she was 10 years old and also, Brooke, the wife of a man who died when she was 39 years old.

Only I can release myself, though, because it is only I who sees myself as that woman.

This doesn’t mean that those experiences didn’t happen and that they haven’t shaped my life more than any other life experiences have.

In ways, experiencing such major losses relatively young has made me a very compassionate and sensitive person, but it’s also made me an anxiety-ridden, fearful person.

Nothing terrifies me more than opening my heart to be broken by the universe again, but to live any other way is not living to me. A closed heart is a dead heart.

Today I’m learning how to live with the experiences of the past imprinted on my soul while not allowing them to define me.

I’m learning how to integrate those experiences of major loss into my being while remembering to focus on and embrace ‘having.’

This has not been easy for me to do. It’s been really fucking hard and really fucking uncomfortable and often pretty painful.

But true growth often is.

As of late, I find myself wondering how to honor my life’s experiences and everything they’ve taught me while being open to a fresh, new slate. When I sit quietly and ponder it, I feel lighter and freer. 

I’ve done so much inner personal work in the face of my grief. So much. And I will continue to do this work for the rest of my life. Because love and grief co-exist and I love so many people, there will be much more grieving to do. C’est la vie, as they say.

Lately I keep hearing a quiet whisper from the universe, though, that says, “It’s time to let go again, Brooke.” (It’s a continuous, load-lightening process in my neck of the woods.)

Let go of what?

Not of my dad’s and GR’s love, which will reside in me forever, but of the woman who has carried the weight of that loss around on her shoulders for so, so long. That woman is me. And she is tired.

It’s time to let go of the ease with which I can snuggle up and get comfortable with sadness and sorrow. Of the fears and anxieties that nearly a lifetime of loss has downloaded into my soul. So much anxiety. So many endless loops of fears and uncertainties spin through my mind that it can sometimes feel paralyzing. 

I’ve grown so tired of the seemingly never-ending work I do every day to choose joy over sadness, light over dark, resiliency over defeat, gratitude over self-centeredness. As I type that I feel like a small-minded, ungrateful asshole of a human. Because I know that gratitude is my medicine and my solution. And, more than anything, I am grateful. Grateful for it all. The beauty and the pain. The love and the loss. The light and the dark.

The truth is that the work never ends. I am learning to accept and embrace that. I can’t even be mad at it because it’s exactly that exhausting work that’s delivered me to this new intersection where I currently stand.

I can honestly say I’ve never been here before. I’ve never peered out of this particular window. I see a new and foreign landscape. One that I’m ready to explore in becoming Brooke, not the woman defined by loss but the woman who looked loss squarely in the eyes over and over again until she was no longer afraid.

Words of wisdom from author Elizabeth Gilbert





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