The Shapes We Mae

Finding Power in Loss (or How to Weather a Shitstorm)

Friends & Lovers, Inner GoddessLily MyersComment

It’s a rocky week here at SWM headquarters (aka, my head). My boyfriend is leaving the country indefinitely, and some friends backed out of a living situation that cost me a heck of a lot of money, time, and energy. Great. The life I thought I was building for myself here seemed to suddenly dissolve. I’ve known for a while about the boyf leaving, but I didn’t start to really feel that loss until my sweet living situation--which I'd imagined as my refuge, my new solitary home-- also fell through. I felt blindsided, lost, and angry all at once. That’s right, friends, a good old-fashioned shit storm!!!

I spent a few days processing all this, steeping in anger, traveling back home from my favorite place in the world, a tiny island in British Columbia. As we sailed from Sidney, B.C. to Anacortes, Washington, I sat on the ferry and pressed my face up against the glass window, staring at the sea and the darkening sky. I watched the moon reflect off the water and found myself asking, “Why is this happening? Why do I need to go through this?” And I answered my own question almost immediately: “To more fully step into my own power. To more fully become the wise, kickass woman I am meant to become.”

Oh. Yeah.

It didn’t take away the pain, and it didn’t solve my problems or return my money or convince my boyfriend to stay. But answering my question this way calmed my stormy waters the way nothing else did. It was a direct message from myself, to myself, saying: I am not abandoning you. It was a promise to myself that despite sorrow and challenge and loss, I am here on this path to become the strong and powerful woman I am meant to be. 

Asserting this truth reframed the situation. Recognizing these losses as opportunities, as nudges for me to more fully step into my power-- to take more time alone, to concentrate on my own pursuits, to prioritize my own goals-- made this situation empowering, rather than victimizing. I’m still just as sad, but the sadness doesn’t feel like it’s random and purposeless; now I know it's something I must go through to become more fully myself.

My dear friend Alison once told me the phrase: “Become more yourself every day.” Sometimes the process of doing this isn’t comfy or familiar or fun. But sometimes we have to be prodded to leave the comfy and familiar behind, so that we can rise to the challenge of our lives. So that we are pushed to really pursue our true path. If my love wasn’t leaving and my cute apartment hadn’t fallen through, I’d be really comfortable. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I also wouldn’t be pushing myself to pursue the things I want and need to be pursuing.

With the loss of these things, with the feeling that the rug had been pulled out from under my feet and the near future of my life had become a void, I realized I needed to look out for myself. That I needed to prioritize my own dreams. That this loss, this destruction of what’s familiar, is creating the space--yes, the void-- to create something totally new.

Each creation, after all, must begin with a destruction. Sometimes that’s painful. But it can also result in the biggest rewards. After all, that very night I got the news, after sobbing and staring directly into that void, I opened a Word document and finally began work on the grad school application I’ve been too scared to start for over a year.


Why must I go through these losses? As the moon over the dark sea illuminated, it’s to become more fully myself. To become the woman I truly want to be.

Top photo via Flickr/Frank van de Velde