When I was earning my Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, I would often ask the clients to think of the different parts of themselves. For instance, “There’s a part of you that still loves your husband very much, the part that remembers what first drew you to him, the part that is able to see what a great father he is. But there’s another part of you that no longer wants anything to do with him because of his betrayal, which has hurt and angered you so deeply.”
It’s a useful exercise because it informs us that we can hold conflicting emotions about the same person or experience, at the same time, and that doesn’t mean we’re nuts. We’re just complicated! And that’s OK.
- There is a part of me that will always be sad that my son is no longer walking the earth. There is another part of me that, for the remainder of my days on the planet, is hungry for joy. I seek it out despite the hole in my heart.
- There is a part of me that is furious with Julian for choosing to abandon his life the way he did. There is another part of me that feels compassion for him and the pain he must have been in to believe that suicide was his only choice.
- There is a part of me that still feels guilt, that I failed in some way to prevent this tragic outcome. There is another part of me that knows I did all that I could with the information, tools, and level of self-awareness and consciousness I had at the time.
Things are never black or white. Life happens in the grey areas in between. We are complex beings with complex feelings, especially towards those individuals we have felt closest to and been the most vulnerable with.
I allow all the parts of me to co-exist under the umbrella of grief. Sometimes one part wants more attention, and drowns out the other parts, but I know the whole gang is in there. One thing’s for sure: all my parts are always welcome. To speak up and to be heard. To show up and to be seen.
I want each and every part of me to know that it matters. And somehow, rather than making me feel as if I have a mental disorder involving multiple personalities, it allows me to feel whole.
I have heard it said, “we are all wounded healers”. I think the horrific experiences we survive serve to help us become more empathetic, more compassionate, and yes, more whole. There are an infinite number of shades of grey, black, and white. I think the older we get the more we realize this, perhaps this is why these years have been referred to as the golden years. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your experiences – great post!
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This is lovely, Celenia.
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