“Something changed. I’m not sure when, exactly,” I told Brendan between pauses in our meal. “I guess, the fall—it doesn’t ache in the same way. I think I’ve healed even more than I thought.”
He paused, waiting for me to say more.
A few weeks ago, I noticed my typical response to the seasons changing felt different; lighter. Far, far less heavy than many other years.
Awhile back, I wrote a blog post I still love. It’s about fall, and the inherent bittersweetness of the season. I discuss a profound sense of grief in the midst of beauty and the inability to put my finger on the exact why; and that this is how it is for many of us. We know something, but we don’t know why. It’s less of a solid memory and more of a wave of sensations that causes us to question why a time that “should” be hopeful or good doesn’t feel that way.
Instead, it feels more like goodbye.
For me, the months of October and November have often beckoned something akin to impending aloneness. As though, whatever parts of my life felt solid were about to be thrown into a blender. No longer would firm ground lie beneath my feet—instead would be the murky quicksand of all that is not steady.
As I’ve reflected on the leaves changing where I am and feeling the temperature drop; I found many of the intense emotions connected to this season have dissipated. It’s not to say autumn doesn’t hold bittersweet memories for me. It does. But the other day as I gave myself permission to search for the grief that has accompanied much of my life—I found she had saw fit to settle into something less acute, and painful.
It could even be called peaceful.
Often in my work as a therapist and even just interacting with folks around mental health, I hear how difficult the transitioning of seasons can be. This makes complete sense, as our body is constantly assessing the information around us and attempting to figure out how to keep us safe. Then, if something reminds us of a time that felt threatening or isolating or shaming, it follows that any unprocessed emotion or disturbance connected to that time will show itself. It’s important to know, this is completely normal. Of course the time of year we experienced difficulty will hold reminders for us. It’s okay to wrestle with all that is required to be a human.
Yet, I suppose I write today because even for someone who does this work, observing a change in my own story still feels like a miracle. Not the quick ones that so many of us long for, but as Sarah Bessey calls them—“a process miracle.” Or as I’ve been calling it lately, a slow miracle.
And now I see I needed the blog post from a few years ago. I felt grief for so long. It wasn’t until I let her sit at the table and listened to what she needed that I moved toward deeper healing.
May it be so, for each of us.