I’m speaking.

“I don’t know how you are doing this.” It’s a phrase I have heard variations of from so many people. The “this” has changed since this all started, of course, from interviews pleading for help locating our daughter to getting up every morning not knowing, and then to knowing, and still getting up every morning. And then, planning a memorial service and sifting through her belongings, the tiniest shards of her being. Starting a scholarship fund in her memory, and trying to raise funds for it. Writing through my feelings, exposing my heart, on social media and eventually this blog.

I think it might be a common response to grief to turn inwards, to retreat from the world and to protect yourself from the things that might intensify or add to the pain thats already gnawing at you. I have this newfound penchant for incredibly soft socks. I need this extra level of physical comfort surrounding me. I can at least control how my nerve endings feel, not my feelings, but certainly the nerve endings. It’s this innate need to protect and shelter myself, because really, how much pain can one person take? But, I haven’t retreated from the world. I have even been criticized for that, for oversharing. I have continued to speak, even though it feels like I am speaking a whole new language.

I have led hundreds, maybe thousands of yoga classes over the years. It is familiar enough to me at this point that I joke that I could do it in my sleep. After losing Abby, I couldn’t even bring myself to practice. I would break down. Practicing yoga was something she and I shared; it was the language we spoke when nothing else seemed to be getting through to each other. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get on the mat again. But, I was given this really wonderful opportunity to lead a yoga class at an event to raise funds for the scholarship fund. And without knowing if I actually had the grit in me to fight through the sobs and the heartbreak, I said yes to that opportunity.

And this was an EVENT. This venue is top notch, there was an outpouring of donations from community businesses for raffles and silent auctions. It sold out and the reality struck that this community was coming together to hear ME lead them through a practice, a practice of healing. ME, the most broken person I know. I often find myself questioning “damn it, Tressa, what did you get yourself into THIS TIME?!” This was one of those moments. I even gave myself a backup plan and had another yoga teacher at the ready if I simply could not get through it. But, what an opportunity, which is why I always find myself in those situations to begin with. I always tell people in yoga that growth happens when we are “comfortably uncomfortable”. It’s like I have been preparing myself for this time, when I am uncomfortable always; and regularly desperately seeking out my comfy socks.

So, I opened myself up to sharing that practice, again. I was completely honest, again. I was vulnerable, again. I shared my baby steps back to the mat, and with that shared my baby steps toward finding out how to speak this new language that has been thrust upon me. I was comfortably uncomfortable. Uncomfortable baring my grief, but comfortable speaking to others, sharing my story, finding the right words. It feels important to give voice to these huge shifts inside of me, to honor them with words that sometimes cause discomfort.

Grief, sorrow, trauma and pain are key players in so many people’s stories. Since I have lost my daughter, and I guess as a result of that loss, I can not count the number of times people have shared their own pain or loss with me, and it has stunned me that I NEVER knew how many people were experiencing traumas on so many levels. People walking around in pain, but smiling and offering encouragement! All around me, every day. But, I didn’t know. Maybe it was blissful ignorance. Maybe I just wasn’t a very good listener. Maybe we don’t become acutely aware of the need for empathy until it is our very own need. Maybe we have stopped allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and sharing the messy, uncomfortable things with each other because we are so busy sharing the highlight reels of our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate. I mean, we even celebrated leap year when it happened (frog themed, don’t ask), and yes, I totally plaster it all over social media. But when there is the hard stuff, the messy, unpleasant, scary, the stuff one prays to never have to deal with, things like tragic death, they so often gets relegated to hushed conversations in corners. These are the stories I want to know, the difficult ones, the ones that people often want to look away from. These are the things that shape and change and transform people. These vulnerabilities, these stories of resiliency and strength and overcoming are the stories that remind us the life is HARD but life is beautiful. These are the stories that liberate us from shame at our own pain and pain response. These are the stories that bind us together as a bunch of broken people, filling in each other’s fractures. The stories survivors tell, as we are all clinging to the same life raft. These are the stories that give people the strength to live out their purpose.

I don’t know if it is the right or wrong way to grieve and to feel, the way I am doing it–by laying my heart open, and exposing all of the feelings, by “oversharing”. But it’s the only way I know, because every time I think “damn it Tressa, what have you gotten yourself into THIS TIME?!”; those are the times that I grow the most. I get myself all comfortably uncomfortable and something changes inside of me. I break apart a little and something new sprouts in the fault line left behind. Maybe someone will be helped from hearing my story. Maybe someone will share their own experience without fear of judgement. Maybe we, as a society can become more empathetic because we become a little more comfortable being uncomfortable. I don’t know, but I know I am not done oversharing. My voice and my story have a purpose. I’m speaking.

Fantastic photography by Pretty Faces by Sasha and Vince Ha Photography. Hosted by Grant Street Loft.

7 Comments

  1. Melody says:

    I love your sharing of your sweet daughter and the horrible journey no one wants. What comes out is the deep pain. Thank for sharing your journey and one of these days I will see you in class🙏🏻❤️🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ali Wilson says:

    Again I’m amazed at your ability to touch so deeply with your words. I truly look forward to reading your blog and hope you continue to “overshare”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel Bailey says:

    There is no right or wrong to grief. Each person must do as they need to grieve. Again, your heart and words are beautiful. Keep speaking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NJN says:

      Tressa, how beautifully, poignantly spoken. Thank you for sharing your journey of grief with us. You are deeply loved!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Karin C Fitz says:

    Speak,write, share………those who love you want you to walk this journey in the way that is right for you and your family. We pray for you, we care about you and you are 100% correct………people walk around every single day carrying things others never know about. You’re sharing just may help others to share………..no one has the right to criticize you for how your are walking this journey. It is yours and yours to walk. Hugs and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heidi says:

    You blow my mind every time I read your feelings! Your words of comfortable and uncomfortable really Touch my own reality… love you my friend! My heart is with you everyday🤍

    Like

  6. Tracy Lombardozzi says:

    Keep on beautiful sister. keep sharing in Christ’ strength. Love you

    Liked by 1 person

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