Episode 48 – Life After Death and Healing Emotional Pain
Listen to this episode here!
In this weeks episode Rachel talks about her experience with death and loss. After losing her best friend, her grandmother and her dog within the span of just a few months, her entire life was turned upside down. In this episode she shares little pieces of her experience and talks about emotional healing and how it’s not a linear process. She shares her experience writing her second book – on the topic of grief and death – and how it’s bringing to surface a pain she has been running from for a long time. She also talks about growing up with a suicidal mother and how always waiting for the other shoe to drop is causing a lot of fear and pain to show up in her own experience of motherhood.
Rachel: Hi, and welcome to From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl! Happy, happy, happy end of the week, everyone. As you know, Friday is podcast day. I hope everyone’s had an amazing week. It’s Wednesday evening as of this recording, and I’m getting this very strange déjà vu feeling from last week’s podcast recording. I am, for some reason, again sitting in what used to be our old bedroom. So, we have this beautiful bedroom at the very top of our house, and it’s really tiny, and we’ve slept in here since we got this house four years ago. And then when the baby got her own room, which was downstairs, which is three floors down, we decided to move into what used to be our guest room so that we could be close to her, because I didn’t want to have her that far away.
[000:45] But this room is my favorite room of the house. It’s the only room that’s completely renovated and beautiful and our bed is up here and I miss my bed! And we’re sleeping in this guest room bed that’s kind of the shitty bed. Anybody else offers their guests, like, the shittier version of everything?
[001:03] But anyway, I’m sitting here again, which is really rare for me, because I normally record at the office, and again, like last week, I’ve had some wine! And again, like last week, all three dogs are with me in the room. So they might bark! And again, I’m alone in the house, and the baby is sleeping. So, I have the monitor here. I don’t know if it’s just me or are these podcasts becoming more and more, like, completely laid back and easy going? Am I giving less and less fucks every single week? I don’t know, it’s an interesting thing, this medium. The first ever episode I recorded I was so freaked out, and I re-recorded a bunch of times, and I had this sort of script that I had laid out with a thread I wanted to follow, all of that. And now we’re down to, literally, me drinking a bunch of wine, sitting in my bed, not giving a shit if my dogs bark or my baby cries.
[001:58] So, welcome to the very intimate part of my life! There’s this part of me where I genuinely do not give a shit about what anybody else thinks. Like, it’s a very kind of … It’s very relieving to live life that way. But then there’s this whole other part of me where I’m super cautious about what I say and how I express myself, and how I show up in the world. I’m really scared to offend anybody. It’s like I have a split personality. But tonight, anyway, you’re getting the absolutely giving no fucks version of Rachel. So, welcome to today’s podcast.
[002:35] I’ve had a really … I don’t know, I’ve had a really hard day. A really good day, a really … busy day. I’m feeling a little depleted, emotionally. I’m feeling very … yeah. So, in the spirit of From The Heart, how am I doing in this moment? Speaking From The Heart, super candidly, I am so emotional today. Really, really emotional today. I actually, I had another astrology reading. Oh my god, every forking … every week I’m talking about astrology. Shout out to Debra Silverman who is, like, running my life right now. Yeah, when I had recorded with Trevor Hall, which was a little while ago, he introduced me to, yeah, the art of astrology in a way that I have just never experienced it before. And then I had a reading with his astrologer, Debra, who is amazing, and then the next podcast episode I recorded I kind of shared my epiphanies from that reading. And then I had Nahko on the show and he’s talking about astrology. He’s into … doing this whole thing. And then, today, I’m talking about astrology!
[003:44] So, the Yoga Girl podcast is just becoming … oh my god, I feel like we’re more and more one of those memes, you know? Like Shit Yogis Say. (laugh) I’m like the person who just casually slips into conversation, like, “Well, my astrologer said.” But yeah, it’s real, it’s real.
[004:01] I had a session today, and I just, I kind of left a little shook by it. I don’t know. So yeah, I’m going to rewind a little bit. Already today, this morning when I woke up, I have talked about this a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m repeating myself, and if I am, I’m sorry, but it’s just … when I’m working through something that I can’t quite figure out, or that I’m, you know, really deep in, it’s really hard for me to not come back to the same topic again and again. But … I am really deep in pain and fear of something happening to my baby girl. I really thought it would be something that would pass one day. It was something that was just here early on. I’ve done I don’t know how many podcasts talking about this. I’ve cried into the mic because of it. You know, I talk about it a lot. I vent a lot. I think everybody listening, you know that I’m working through this fear.
[004:55] Most of the response I get whenever I share it, from other mothers, is that, “Oh, this is completely normal. Also, it will never go away.” You know, it’s kind of like you have your heart living outside your body. This is just what it is. Anyone out there that doesn’t have kids, like, it’s very hard for me to explain this feeling.
[005:12] So, I can give an example. Ringo is, right now, lying next to me in bed in a ginormous pile of laundry. Ringo used to be my only baby. I don’t … really how that happened, because my first dog is Keela, she’s the black, bigger dog. You guys have seen her on Instagram story, I’m sure. And then Dennis has Lyka, which is white. And when we met we got Sgt. Pepper, who was our, like, first puppy together, first baby together. And for a really long time, he was really our little baby, our puppy that we raised together. And then we got Ringo, and Ringo is just small. He’s a really small dog. He’s also very much like a person. Like, he’s not dog-like at all. And Sgt. Pepper, I mean, he was like heart and soul, I miss him every day of my life. He passed away the same year we got married, a couple of months after we got married. The pain of that passing, it’s with me every day. He’s buried out in the backyard. I sit by his grave all the time.
[005:12] But, Pepper was dog dog. You know? Like, a dog dog. He loved to fetch and go for runs and just … you know, jumps up and down barking when you come home. He was kind of a doofus and a little stupid, and just a big, clumsy … He’s just the best dog. He was just, you know, a dog.
[006:28] But Ringo, we got Ringo as a baby, as a puppy. And he’s really small, so he travels with us everywhere. So when we started traveling the world, someone would move into our house to take care of the other dogs and to take care of the house, but Ringo would always come along. I mean, he still does, he comes everywhere. And Ringo is not a dog dog. Ringo is a person dog. (laugh) Which is very strange. He’s extremely picky about people. He’s very … very human-like. He doesn’t step in puddles. He like to sleep under the covers, like kind of wrapped around me. He has this very weird personality where you can just kind of look into his eyes, and you know that he thinks he’s above us, a little bit. Like, he kind of judges me, like he’s the higher species. He doesn’t fetch, you know, you can’t go for a run with him. He just doesn’t act like a dog. He’s more like a little person.
[007:17] So, Ringo, because we traveled with him so much, I became so attached to Ringo. Incredibly attached to him! Also, because we got him really close to my best friend passing away. So, he was just a puppy then. He was little. And my best friend passed away, and I kind of attached myself to Ringo like a little buoy. Like I was in this rough ocean. I didn’t know if I was going to make it, if I was going to sink or swim, and Ringo became … well, he became my reason to, like, get out of bed in the morning, because he needed a walk. You know? He became, like, of course Dennis is, like, you know, above and beyond everything – Dennis, if you’re listening, sorry, I didn’t mean to make you sound like Ringo is more important than you – but somehow caring for Ringo, taking care of him as if he was my baby, it gave me a purpose, right? Me as his mom.
[008:09] The fear I’ve had, like, already with Ringo, of something happening to him, it’s totally abnormal. Like, very, very abnormal. I’m completely … I was always totally hysterical about him being on a leash, like 100% of the time. I was so scared of him running away. I was kind of treating him like, you know, like he was really dumb. Which he’s not. He’s a smart dog. If he would be in the street for whatever reason, there’s a car, he would know not to step in front of the car. He’s not an idiot. But, I would, you know … And Dennis loves to just let Ringo run, and have a spurt of release of energy, because he’s an Italian greyhound, so you know, he runs like a Cheetah. It’s an amazing thing to see. He’s so fast. And Dennis loves to do that when we’re alone or far away on the north shore, or somewhere where we’re completely closed off from everybody else, we’re in the dog park, or whatever. And I would just have my heart in the back of my throat, freaking out, if he would let Ringo off a leash for like a second. Because I had this thought that he might just, like … bolt. Like he might take off and leave me, or get run over by a car, or disappear and not come back. I don’t know, and it was actually a source of a lot of discussion and fights between me and Dennis, because Dennis just thought like, you know, I have so much tension around how we take care of Ringo, because I’m so scared something is going to happen to him. And never let anybody else watch him, ever ever ever. Always with me, always by my side. I kind of put my claws into him. That was it. And there was this big fear there, really, of him dying. Of something happening to him.
[009:36] Then I had the baby, and everybody told me, “Oh my god, it’s going to be so different with this baby.” And I said, “Well, I already have a baby, his name is Ringo.” I literally could not imagine loving another being more than I love Ringo. Loving Ringo, for me, is just, like the epitome of love. I just couldn’t understand loving another being more than I love this baby, my baby Ringo. I even had a friend who was like, “Oh my god, you’re going to want to, like, get rid of Ringo when you have a baby.” And I just … oh my god, I still think that’s the most insane thing I’ve ever heard. But a lot of people told me, like, “Oh, you’re going to have a different relationship after this because your baby just takes front and center.” Your baby becomes where all of your attention goes. It’s really hard to focus on anything else, even your partner, your soul mate, your husband. There is those first few months where automatically they kind of slide into number two spot, because you’re so absorbed with nursing, feeding, and keeping this tiny little human being alive.
[010:29] And then, ideally, you come back to that place where, of course, you’re husband and wife and soul mates, and … you know, you should have your husband at the top and baby number two. That’s something that I totally, totally learned. Or maybe, like, we’re in this triangle and it rolls around. So we all take turns. So we’re very equal there at the top.
[010:48] But the first thing that happened when I had the baby, the first moment I saw Ringo after I had birthed the baby, and you know, this was a 24-hour birth, 42-week pregnancy. I was very, okay I’m saying it, like, I was more pregnant than other women who are pregnant, like, clearly that’s not the case. But there was something about the end of that pregnancy that was just … Oh my god! And then I had the baby. My whole life turned upside down. I’m looking at this tiny being, and it hadn’t even hit me really yet. Like, “Oh, I’m a mom.” I just had this newborn baby, a couple of hours old.
[011:24] And then Ringo walks into the room, and I swear to God, okay, I kid you not, he looked like a wolf. Like an actual … like a wolf! He looked so dog-like. He looked so dog-like, it was like his face was a wolf! I don’t know, I can’t explain it any other way! He had these huge fangs, and hugs teeth, and his hair was just standing up from his back. He just … he was an animal all of the sudden. He became an animal. I was just, you know, my jaw dropped! I turned to Dennis, I was like, “Dennis! Ringo is a dog!” (laugh) And he looked at me like I was insane, you know, like, delirious from birth and whatnot. He was like … “Uh… Yes, yes honey. Yes, yes, Ringo is a dog.” I was like, “No! No no, like, Ringo is a dog. He’s not a baby.” And he couldn’t quite understand what I was saying, but for all the years that I’ve had Ringo, I haven’t seen him as a dog. I’ve seen him as a baby. And then I had an actual human baby, and I realized, “Oh my god, Ringo is a dog,” right? Such an insane, insane realization to have. But yeah, that’s what happened.
[012:34] And, what everybody said, I don’t quite agree. My love for Ringo is no way less. I love Ringo exactly the same as I loved him before. It’s just, the love that I feel for Lea Luna, it’s like, it’s in another part of my body. It’s just … It’s another type of love. I don’t know. I don’t know how to compare the two. It’s like apples and oranges. But I don’t think it’s like you have this finite … Is that a word? Like, a limited, I guess, is the word I’m looking for? Like, you have a limited amount of love that you can give, and if you love someone and then you start loving someone else, like, you have to love them less. Like, that’s not how love works. We have infinite amounts of love that we hold in our hearts that we can pour onto other people, and animals, and the earth. And yeah, it’s just a different type of love.
[013:20] But something that did change, immediately, was that this overwhelming fear I had of something happening to Ringo moved over and landed in the baby instead. So, you know, Dennis would start walking Ringo off the leash from time to time, or let him out in the garden, or, you know, someone else would come watch him, and I just, that panicky feeling that I had when Ringo was off leash or outside or whatever, it’s not there anymore, because all of the panic that I felt, all of the fear of losing him, was transferred into the baby and became this absolutely paralyzing fear of losing the baby.
[013:55] So, in a way I feel, I don’t know, I felt relieved. Like, oh my god, I can love Ringo the same, but I don’t have to freak out that he’s going to die. Like, why would I think that Ringo is going to die? Ringo’s a … you know, he’s safe, he’s fine, he’s here. But now I have this, yeah, this totally paralyzing fear of something happening to my baby instead. And yes, I’ve talked about it a lot, but I’m beginning to realize that the level of panic that I feel, the level of, I guess, the level of fear in a way that it actually inhibits me in my day-to-day life. It’s not normal. I’m coming to terms with this now. It’s not normal. I think, yes, it’s normal for every mother to be super fearful that something is going to happen to their baby, and, you know, I agree with that term, like, having your heart live outside your body.
[014:43] But, for me, and I don’t know if it is because I’ve had a lot of loss, probably it’s because I’ve had a lot of loss … It consumes me. It actually consumes me. I often choose to not leave the house because I’m worried about the baby. I always choose to not have a babysitter, because I’m worried about leaving the babysitter with anybody else. I turn Dennis down for date night all the time, I choose to not go to yoga in the evening, like, I actually set my life up in a way, not just because I want to be with the baby and be at home, but also in the night when she’s sleeping, where we could go out, go to dinner, get a babysitter, like, I am just so scared that something is going to happen to her, so I actually kind of plan my life around me being present, even though it’s not really helping that I’m hovering over her trying to make sure she’s breathing all the time.
[015:34] Every time I put her down for a nap, and then I check the monitor and she’s sleeping, I have that thought in the back of my mind, like, I wonder if this is the time that she’s not going to wake up. I’m starting to realize, like, this is not normal. What I have, I think, is a very extreme form of this fear. Maybe there’s other women that feel the same, or dads, and everyone, people that have had loss and are kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, but yeah, it’s definitely something that I can’t imagine living with this pain and living with this fear.
[016:06] So, for instance, you know, whenever I articulate this fear, and right now I’m cool, I’m cool talking about this right now. Like, I am okay talking about this right now because I spent a big chunk of today crying. So, I’ve had a big emotional release and I feel better.
[017:44] And, like, on cue, Ringo is now trying to burrow himself deeper under this pile of laundry. Oh my god. Yeah, there he is. Hi buddy!
[017:59] So, for instance, when I share this with anyone, like today, I had this astrology reading with Debra and we were talking about, just, I don’t know, what I think is important things. Like, we’re talking about career stuff and work stuff and relationship stuff and me and Dennis, and I don’t know, just going through some, yeah, big picture important things. And then I get this feeling in the back of my throat every time she mentions the baby, for any reason. And she’s talking about beautiful things. How, you know, the relationship that I have with her, it’s really what’s meant to shape me for the rest of my life. Like, she’s here to teach me unconditional love. She’s here to teach me to slow down and be soft and be feminine and be, you know, really really present and really still. And every time she mentions here I feel the back of my throat, like, kind of tightening up. You know, when you have to kind of really intensely cry, but you want to swallow it. Because I … One, I don’t love crying in front of people. And, you know, being vulnerable is a really hard thing for me. I have to work at that really hard every day. Especially face to face with someone.
[019:04] Then, all of the sudden she’s like, “Are you okay? Is there something here?” And I’m like, you know, and I just mentioned the words, because we’re talking about motherhood, and I said, “Well, like, the hardest part about motherhood, for me, is there’s this overwhelming fear that something …” And I couldn’t even finish my sentence! I couldn’t even finish the sentence and say that something is going to happen to her. And I just. Start. Bawling. Like, I just can’t not cry. And I can actually, in the moment, sense – I mean, I can feel it right now – I can sense, it’s like a rock at the pit of my soul. It’s like this ginormous dark cloud, and it hangs over everything I do! Absolutely everything. So it’s not this little light fear of like, you know, saying bye to her because I’m going to work and hoping she’s safe. It’s … It’s heavy as fuck, and it’s messing with my whole life. Everything I do, everywhere I go, whatever I’m talking about, like, it’s there. And it’s morbid. And it’s messed up! It’s something that I really decided to work on and kind of move a little bit deeper into.
[020:10] So, once I accepted the fact that, okay, maybe this is not normal, maybe it’s not just every mom feels like this, I think this is something that’s anchored a little bit deeper into my own history, my own story, my own past, right? So for the rest of the reading today, I really got to go into parts of my past, and stories from my past when I have experienced really overwhelming loss, right? And how, somehow, in my life, overwhelming love and attachment is immediately connected to loss and death. So, whenever I have something that’s just so precious, and so cherished, it automatically comes attached with this knowing that I’m not going to get to keep it. So, it’s not that I’m fearful for what if one day something would happen to Lea Luna, it’s like, there’s a part of my being that’s just convinced that she’s going to die. And those are two really different things. Being convinced that one day your baby is going to die, like, that shit is fucked up. And it’s not real! It’s not real.
[021:16] And … okay, I’m crying now if you can’t tell. But, today, something that Debra said, she’s like, “Well this is … this is so messed up, specifically, for the very first reason, that one, you know, I see in your chart here that you have this amazing bond and you’re meant to live this whole lifetime together, because she’s your teacher for the rest of your life. And number two, she’s completely safe. Like, completely safe. And nourished and held and, you know, you have built this beautiful family, and you’re in this space where you’re taking amazing care of her. She’s so safe. There’s no reason to walk around with this rock, you know, weighing you down, waiting for the other shoe to drop, because maybe all the shoes dropped already.” You know?
[021:59] And when I think about that, like, I had to really … and it’s interesting that, for me, death right now is a really … It’s really present, my thoughts on death, thoughts about death, worries about death, in this moment of my life that’s just so full of life! It’s so full of life. I’ve never felt more alive in my whole life. I’ve never felt more joyful. I’ve never felt more like I’m in the right place than I have since I became a mom. It’s not just being a mom to her, but in my relationship with Dennis, and work-wise, and making a difference in the world, like, I feel in so many ways I’m so anchored in so much life and so much purpose. And then there’s this overwhelming kind of dark cloud of death that’s chasing me.
[022:49] And I realized today that it’s not real! And that’s a relief. I mean, it’s not real. Like, the fear is real, but it’s not … this is not something that’s playing out in my life, right now, at all. Like, I have no reason, in this moment in time, if I can be super present with where I am, everything is okay. Like, I’m completely cared for, I’m completely held, my baby is safe, my husband is safe, I’m safe, we’re all safe. All is well. I can repeat that mantra again and again. All is well, all is well, all is well. So, this fear that I have, it’s from something that’s surfacing from my past, and this idea that I have that’s stuck in the core of my being about this is how life plays out, or this is how life has to be. Someone, in the end, if you have overwhelming happiness, someone in the end has to die. That’s a really, really horrible, horrible way to live your life!
[023:49] So, what I’ve talked about today, a lot, and I guess also why this is a theme right now is that I’m writing a book … okay, I’m going to laugh now, because this is …. I’m laughing now because this is really silly. I’m writing a book about death. (laugh) And haven’t quite connected the dots as to why am I spending so much time thinking about death? Why is death resurfacing again and again in the back of my mind and playing out in my relationships? Yeah, probably because I’m also playing an active part in making these things surface.
[024:22] But yeah, I’m writing a book, and yeah, I have a book already out since a couple years, it’s called “Yoga Girl,” and it was a really easy book for me to write, even though I wrote it during one of the most challenging years of my entire life. So I wrote that book, yeah, end of 2013 and first half of 2014. So when my best friend died, when I went through a lot of loss in my life, but I wasn’t ready to process any of that yet. So I just stuck with a script and I wrote what I intended to write, from before. So, “Yoga Girl” is … it’s just little stories from my past in my life and epiphanies and realizations I’ve had about life, paired with really good yoga sequencing and good recipes, and it’s a really inspirational, colorful, happy, poppy kind of book. It was really, actually, pretty easy to write.
[025:09] Now I’m writing number two, which has been a long time coming. Book number two. And this is not at all what the last one was. It’s not going to be this super poppy, colorful, easy to put together book. It’s a book about loss. It’s a book about resilience. It’s a book about overcoming. It’s a book about death. And I’m writing about this exact year. So, when my best friend passed away … If you’re new to following my journey, or if you’re new to this community … 2014 … (sigh) Oh fuck, this is as hard to say every time. Every time I say it, it’s like I’m talking about someone else’s life, or like I’m describing a movie or something that didn’t happen to me.
[025:53] But, I was flying to Bonaire from Aruba together with Dennis and Ringo and just walking from the check-in counter I had this stabbing, like, overwhelming, stabbing pain my stomach, and I collapsed to the floor. And paramedics came and they couldn’t find anything wrong with me, and we had to fly to Bonaire for this retreat, so we carried on. I was vomiting, and I was in so much pain Dennis had to carry me through the airport. When we finally got there, I mean, it was like 9 hours of excruciating pain. Way worse than giving birth, by the way. Literally. Oh my god, so much worse than giving birth.
[026:33] Then when we got to the hospital, finally the pain went away, and in the same time that this happened my best friend had been at the hospital as well, but in another country, and she … she crashed her car into a truck on the other side of the freeway … No one really knows how, yeah, how exactly it happened, but yeah, at the same time that I spent with this excruciating pain trying to survive, she was trying to … to live. So, we had surgery in the same part of the body, and yeah, the moment my pain went away was the moment that she died. (sigh) And that’s … real. That’s, it’s insane. But yeah, it’s real, that’s what happened.
[027:18] Then, yeah, she was supposed to be my bridesmaid at our wedding, we had our wedding just three months after, and of course, yeah, it was a really, really hard time, because it was also paired with so much love and so much joy and friendship and family, but it was also the hardest time of our entire lives, I mean, of Dennis’ too.
[027:33] And then right after that, a month after our wedding my grandmother passed away, and then three weeks after that Sgt. Pepper died. Our dog died. And then four months after that my mom tried to commit suicide … for the third time. This is kind of, kind of like I’m making this up, except, I’m sad to say, I’m not. And I can talk about it now. I definitely can. I’ve gone through a lot of healing and a lot of work to get to a place where I can just articulate that these things happened to me, or that these are things that just came my way.
[028:07] And I’ve had this book about this story, about this journey, because it led me all the way until now, like, it’s not over. It’s something that’s … I feel like a chapter definitely closed when Lea Luna was born. I look at that as two phases of my life, sort of, then and now. And I’ve been writing this book, but I’ve been writing it in my mind, since it happened. And it’s not until this year … I mean, okay, end of last year that I was actually able to put this stuff down on paper. You know, what actually happened, how it happened, and tell the story and share that pain.
[028:45] It’s been so fucking hard, you guys! It’s been so hard. Writing, actually, is easy once I’m sitting down and I’m writing. But every time I open my computer and I know I’m going to sit down to write, it’s like I have this massive wound, like, right at the center of my heart. Over the wound, you know, I’ve like sewn it shut, and it has a big scab over it, and then Band-Aids and lots of bandages, and every time I open the computer to write, it’s like I have to rip all that shit open again. You know? It’s a really hard process to go through it. It’s a really hard thing to do. But then I write, and every time I write I cry, and I write and I cry and I write and I cry, and then all of the sudden, you know, like Dennis calls and like, “Let’s go do something,” or, “The baby’s awake,” or, “I have a meeting,” or life happens, and I just close the computer and I carry on with my day. And to be able to do that, I have to piece everything back together again, you know? I can’t walk with this … open wound in my heart open and still function to do everything I have to do throughout the day.
[029:47] And I’m starting to figure out that this, I think, is the process of healing. Like, really. Like healing trauma, healing deep, emotional pain. Because when it happens, in the moment, we have to shut down. We have to close off. Sometimes there’s no other way to survive what’s coming. We have to close down. There’s just no other way. It’s too much to process, the body helps us, you know? We just shut off for a while. And then we can choose to stay disconnected and to stay shut down and to stay, you know, to not feel … forever. You know? It’s … actually, I’m going to say, it’s easier to go through life and not feel. At least, we trick ourselves into believing that in the beginning I think it is, because just the idea of going back into that pain, like, it’s too much to bear. So we live our lives and we continue, but then there’s that gaping, kind of, big wound that we put bandages on it, but it’s not healed, and it’s there. So, for the rest of our lives, for as long as we live, anytime anything rubs against that wound, we’re going to be triggered and we’re going to have a really fucking hard time. Whatever it is. If it’s fear of loss, fear of death, if it’s relationship stuff, if you’ve been hurt in a relationship in the past and you didn’t heal it, whenever you have a new relationship, and it might be beautiful but it might just touch upon something that happened that triggers that wound from before, and you might want to just run the other direction and end that relationship immediately and start over somewhere else. There’s millions of ways that this manifests for us. But I find that the process of healing has to require going back to the place of entry. It has to be returning to the actual wound, which means picking at those scabs, and tearing off the bandages, and looking inside. And it hurts. It fucking hurts. It hurts like hell. But that’s the process. And maybe we can only do a little bit at a time.
[031:41] I don’t think it’s … I mean, maybe for some people we can have like an overwhelming huge epiphany or a healing moment or a healing experience, definitely, but I think for most of us, especially since, you know, shit’s going to happen and come our way, and then we think we’re done with it, and then just life keeps throwing new things at you … all the time. It’s also just called “life.”
[032:04] But yeah, healing it, at least for me, where I’m now, it means going back to the wound and just scratching at it a little bit, peaking inside, getting something down on paper, breathing into something, remembering something, feeling something, just sitting with the pain of that moment, with that remembrance, and then I walk away. And then I’m like, “Okay, that was it. That was what I could handle today.” I don’t think I could have gone through this process then. Like, at the time. It was too much, too overwhelming, too much, too quick, too big. She was my best friend! Her and Olivia, they were it. So, you know, to have … and, you know, I had four girls to stand by my side when we got married. Four girls and a guy. And then those four were just down to three, you know? That’s what I had. So, it was just, it’s still too big to absorb that that’s real, that she actually died. Sometimes I think about that now, like, okay, I think about death a lot, but like, yeah, if something similar would happen to any of my best friends now, it’s just absolutely unimaginable. I cannot even put that thought in my brain. At all! I just can’t. I’m like, “That’s ridiculous. That could never happen.” But I also know, like, yeah, that stuff happens. It happened to me. It happened to Andrea, like, she died. And it can happen to anyone at any time.
[035:00] Have you guys, have you watched The Good Place? That’s why I say, “What the fork.” If you haven’t watched The Good Place, on Netflix, with Kristen Bell, it’s The Best Show Ever. I love it so much. But they can’t curse in the show, so they say “fork” instead of “fuck.” Yeah, so it’s the best show ever. In that show, there’s a moment when one of the angels/demons in the show, he gets to experience a little bit of what it’s like to be human in that knowing that one day we’re all going to die. Just, existentially knowing that this all ends. And he’s just consumed with this overwhelming, all-consuming panic, and despair. He turns to the humans and he’s like, “How do you live?!” And she answers, she’s like, “Well, this is what it’s like to be human. We’re just a little bit sad, all the time, because we know one day we’re all going to die. But we live with it.” You know? And I actually genuinely believe, like, yeah, that’s absolutely true. Once you’ve had loss, that fear or that knowing, it becomes at the front of your mind, versus if you haven’t been through a lot of loss, it’s in the way back of your head. The idea of death is just this abstract concept. Like, you know, one day we’re all going to die, but what does that really mean? It doesn’t really mean anything. You’re not thinking about death every day, or every moment of the day. But once you’ve had loss, that thought is right there in front, all the time. Because you know, like, hey … this happens. Someone I live died unexpectedly. Maybe, or maybe expectedly, or whatever. All loss is awful and really hard to come to terms with as well, so we start waiting for the other shoe to drop. We start looking around and wondering, “When is this going to happen again?”
[036:38] And yeah, for some of us, it happens again. I had Andrea die, my grandmother died, Pepper died, and then my mom wanted to die. You know? It was just, I think, a little … a lot … A little too much. Too much to take in just that short amount of time. So, I think, now, I’ve taken all of my fear of death, all of this loss, all of my loved ones that have died and passed away, and the fear, of course, that I lived with my entire life of my mom dying, like, that’s a … yeah, that’s another podcast … but, I’ve taken all of that pain, all of that fear, and I’ve put it into this tiny little human being. I’ve put it into this tiny little human being. I mean, she’s 11 months old. She’s like a little suicidal, like, insane person too! She puts everything in her mouth. Everything. Everything! Like, the craziest stuff. Everything goes in her mouth. She throws herself off the bed. If she could, like, down the stairs, into the pool, she would jump out of the moving car … she has no grasp (laugh) of danger, or pain, or fear, obstacles, or anything, at all. She puts her hands everywhere, puts everything in her mouth, and just, there’s one million times of the day when I’m just like I feel like I’m saving her life in some shape or form!
[037:59] So, living with a paralyzing fear of death, it doesn’t really fit with having an 11 month old, you know? It doesn’t really work! And just think of all the energy that’s spent, from my end, every day worrying about this stuff, and imagining these morbid things in my mind. Like, what if I could just have a normal sense of fear? Like, a sensible sense. Meaning, yeah, okay, if she goes and plays with a friend, or if she is going to ride a big for the first time, or she’s … I go to work and I’m not with her, like, whatever. Normal, basic things, right? Just like worry like a normal person. But worry doesn’t actually ruin my life. I kind of think that that would be nice. And also, I kind of think that I would be a way cooler mom. Like, how cool would I be? C’mon. I mean, okay, Dennis, are you listening? How cool would I be if I was like the awesome mom that I am, but if I was also chill? (laugh) Like, being a chill mom, that’s the dream.
[038:55] Part of this was, uh, I was sitting with a friend the other day, and she’s older than me, she has grown kids, and I was just casually mentioning, because I was, you know, trying to carry on a conversation, but the baby was walking around, so actually I’m not listening to anything she says, because my eyes are just laser focused on what the baby’s doing and whatever way she’s going to try to injure herself today. And I said, “You know …” And she says, “So how is motherhood? Is everything going well?” And I said, “Yes.” That’s kind of my answer all the time. “Yes, it’s beautiful, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. But how long does this fear last?” When I asked her, she said, “What do you mean? What fear?” I said, “Well, like, this very paralyzing fear that she’s going to die,” and she looked at me like I was a little weird. She was like, “I never felt that way.” And I was like, “What? Oh my god, what a relief! Like, a mom that says she doesn’t feel that way! What do you mean?”
[039:43] She says, “Well, I mean of course, I worry about my kids all the time, but I never felt like it was impeding my life in some way. I always felt a lot of trust, like, of course these babies were brought my way for me to keep them. You know? We’re a family. I’m going to grow old with them.” And that thought, just the knowing of, like, she just knows, she’s going to grow old with her kids … I never felt that. I never felt that. I never had that trust. So a big part of this also is if you trust in life, and if you fully trust and if you have faith in the universe, or god, or spirit, or infinite love, or Jesus or Buddha or Allah or whoever you pray to, if you really have that trust and that faith, of course you’re going to be more settled and more calm. You’re not going to wait for your child to die if you, at the same time, fully trust that the universe has your back.
[040:37] So, a big part of this, for me, I guess, is that I don’t actually have that trust. I guess I … I always think that I do, but I’m realizing now I don’t. If I did, then I would trust that the universe takes me beautiful places, and of course universe would not take my child away. There’s no … These things just don’t go together. But that’s the thought that I’m living with every day. So, there is this lack of trust that I need to deal with. And another thing the astrologer asked me today, she was like, “Well what about faith? How do you pray?” My thing with prayer is I pray when shit hits the fan. I pray in moments of doubt, in moments of pain, of loss, of death. When I’m thrown to my news by fucking pain and despair, yeah, then I pray. I don’t have a normal relationship to god, to spirit, that just exists in my day-to-day life. When I’m happy, when things are good … I’m not there … I practice yoga every day, I connect with my body, I take deep breaths, I have a mindfulness practice. But that’s a very different thing. I don’t talk to god unless … Unless I need him to save me.
[041:54] Fuck, man. This day has been really filled with pain and realization and epiphany. I have two things I have to do now. I kind of like being able to put things on an agenda, even abstract things like healing. But yeah, there’s definitely things I need to come to terms with in terms of this loss, like with my mom and her depression and her suicide attempts, it’s something that we don’t talk about a lot. It’s a very painful thing. Of course it’s always there. It was recent that this happened. It was two or three years ago … it was three years ago already? Damn, yeah, two, three years ago.
[042:36] So it’s always there, I’m always worried about her, all the time! You know, like, I never really know. And she’s so happy now, and she’s had the past two years like really solid, really strong foundation, I feel like she has her feet on the ground, she’s in AA which has changed her tremendously. Like, also with the birth of the baby, I think grandmotherhood I really shifted something for her. So, you know, but I’m never going to trust her to be there. Never. And that’s also not a, you know, super fun way to live either. But now, you know, when someone asks me, someone from the outside who knows our history, and they’re like, “So how’s your mom?” And my answer is always like, “Well, like, right now she’s really good. I actually think right now she’s really good.” But there’s always that right now, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. I don’t know if she has another trauma or loss or something hard come her way. There’s no one who will ever know how she’ll react to that. So I have to kind of live with that uncertainty, probably for the rest of my life that I don’t know if my mom’s going to be here forever. You know? And not just by, you know, course of life or accidents or someone driving their car into a truck in the other side of the road, but yeah, maybe some day she won’t want to live. And that’s a really different pain you know, it’s a difficult pain for me to … I don’t know, and I’ve been through this a lot, talking to people that have been suicidal and depressed. It can look really selfish from the outside, you know? That was really my first reaction. Like, if you want to kill yourself, you want to leave all of your loved ones, your family, your kids, you want to leave them behind, like, that’s the most fucking selfish thing I’ve ever heard of. Like, Jesus. But I’m realizing now that someone who’s severely depressed and doesn’t want live, like, they actually most likely think that it’s going to be a relief for the people they leave behind, like, they’re just a burden, you know? So, yeah, my view on this has changed a lot, but it’s still something that we don’t talk about a lot. And I’m starting to be able to see how, for me, this fear, this not being able to settle in, okay, well if love is here, it’s here to stay. I kind of have it in the back of my … it’s in my backbone that, no, if it’s really precious, if it’s really special, like a mother/daughter relationship, it’s not going to stay. And it’s just not true!
[044:54] That’s something I think I’m going to have to bang myself over the head with. It’s just not true! It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true. It was true at one point in my past, but right now, like, look at the reality of my life right now. My reality is my mom’s fine, my mom’s happy, my mom’s thriving. She’s over there in Stockholm having tons of fun. We work together now. Every morning I wake up with the baby, when I feed the baby oatmeal in the morning I can call my mom. We have a great relationship. We talk every day. She’s fine, she’s good. The baby is safe, super safe. Are you kidding? Super safe! She has a hyper-sensitive paranoid mom that watched her every move. Like, baby is safe. And also from a universal standpoint, we’re all held and safe. Dennis is safe and I’m safe and, you know, so these things, they’re actually not playing out in present in my reality. It’s not true. But there’s this part of us that when something happens to us, especially in our childhood, it becomes engrained into how we look at life. What we expect life to give us. And it also shapes us in how we look at the world. And I’ve just been … I’ve just been shaped in kind of fucked up way. I think this is, yeah, life is really wanting me to look at this and pushed me to heal these things.
[047:33] So, a part of me is wondering if by the time I finish writing this book, like, where am I going to be? That’s also really interesting though, because for every chapter that I write, there’s a little softening of that wound, you know? There’s a little healing taking place. I also think that healing is a lifelong process. If you’ve experienced major trauma, you’re never going to be what you were before. That’s just not what it is. But you get to live the rest of your life with your heart on your sleeve. You get to live the rest of your life knowing that the rest of your life might not be infinite, you know? It might not be forever. And through that knowing hopefully you’ll cherish the days that you have even more, and you’ll learn to love even harder, and to really, really love and cherish the people that you have in your life, and spend every day with intention and purpose, and anchoring into that pain, and then using that pain to do something, right? To change the world, somehow. And to not let that loss just grow into, yeah, grow into this big scab or this big weight that you carry for the rest of your life. But, yeah, bringing that wound to surface.
[048:45] So, yeah, out of the two things I have to do, one is continue this process of healing and continue talking about, writing about, sharing these things, and not let too much time pass in between each time, because I think eventually, if I go there enough, it’s actually going to settle. I really have that feeling too, which is pretty remarkable. And then the second thing I have to do is I need to re-evaluate my relationship with god. Like, I know the word “God” … I have my guard up for god. The word “god” doesn’t sit well with everyone. Especially anyone, you know, any Swedish people listening, like I’m Swedish, Sweden is the least religious country in the world, the least religious country in the world, which is pretty crazy. So, you know, I’m not raised that way at all. There’s no relationship to church or Christianity or anything like that. I wasn’t raised believing in something greater than us, at all. And actually, what’s brought e there again and again is this pain, is this loss. So I have this relationship with god, but if I’m only there when life kind of throws me down on the floor, it means that I miss out on that day to day trust and joy of feeling connected. If it requires something horrible to happen for me to feel truly connected to spirit, you know, that’s kind of … that’s no fun way to live. I want to be able to feel that connection all the time, every day of my life. And yeah, and I see glimpses of it all the time with the baby. Her birth was a major thing. Her first weeks of life was just, whoa. God lives in her, like, 100%, and I can feel her there. I can feel it all in that moment. But then it’s overclouded by that fear of death, and by that pain. And then, you know, that doubt that I have, and the fact that I don’t trust. So … (crying) So I’m guessing that this is just a lifelong practice.
[050:47] I can’t believe I spent a whole podcast talking about death (laugh). But, you know, if anybody listening out there, if you’re going through struggle, and it doesn’t have to be actual death or loss, although I know a lot of you listening are or have been through this … That’s the thing about being human. We can’t avoid it at all. We really really just can’t … And hopefully we won’t have the shoe drop again and again and again. But I’m thinking, for me, that this story actually maybe begins with death and it begins with birth. That’s how I’m feeling, right now, in this moment.
[051:34] So I want to thank you. I want to thank you for trusting in me, and listening to me share my experience, because it’s not an easy thing, definitely not an easy thing. It’s not an easy thing to talk about. It’s not an easy thing to get into. And something for me, it’s easy to write, like, I share this a lot, you’ll see posts from me on Instagram … you know, like wrote a post today about this fear of losing Lea Luna and what that does to me, and reading that, like I’m crying like a baby. I can’t stop crying, and I’m reading my own words, and it’s making me cry. And then I read the post again like and hour later and I cry again. So, from afar, but you know, I’m still very distant with that. I’m not sitting with another person in front of me. If I’m actually in that intimate moment, it’s really hard for me to be vulnerable.
[052:22] So, maybe the podcast is just one more step closer to touching that genuine vulnerability. To just really being able to sit with my pain, and also show it to the world, you know? Because if we’re all this connected and we’re all one, walking this earth, I mean, your pain is my pain, and my pain is yours. And, I love you.
[052:48] I’ll see you next week.
ZipRecruiter – ziprecruiter.com/yoga
Parachute – parachutehome.com/yogagirl
Tripping – tripping.com/yogagirl