Updated: Sep 24, 2020
"In my thirties, I learned that there is a type of pain in my life that I want to feel. It is the inevitable, excruciating, necessary pain of losing beautiful things: trust, dreams, health, animals, relationships, people. This kind of pain is the price of love, the cost of living a brave, open-hearted life - and I'll pay it.
There is another kind of pain that comes not from losing beautiful things but from never even trying for them. I've felt that kind of pain in my life. I recognize it on others' faces. It's the pain of a woman who has slowly abandoned herself." - Untamed | Glennon Doyle a.k.a. the Queen Cheetah.
One of the many takeaways from Untamed is that happiness is not a destination or a checkbox that you get to check off when you have finally gotten it right. Happiness is something that comes and goes and if you're not constantly losing something, you're not really growing... or living. This is something that I have felt and realized on a subconscious level many times throughout my life, but reading it was comforting and reaffirmed that maybe I'm getting something right.
The idea of pain and loss being necessary and appreciated might seem to some like a negative or glass half empty perspective. I see it as the exact opposite. If you know, expect and accept that life will bring pain and loss you can appreciate the love and life that came before it and the growth that will come after it. If you avoid pain and loss, you develop fear. While fear is something very real and can protect us from danger, it's also something that we manifest. It can make you stand still and often, alone.
Something that people don't really explain to you when you have children is that you're always losing them; but you are always gaining the next version of them. You think about losing your children when they turn 18 and they go off to college or get married and move out. No one tells you that you will mourn your newborn because they are now a walking, talking toddler and that baby quite literally doesn't exist anymore. There are days you cry about it and grieve them because you had a bond with that little person. But when you grieve and experience that loss, you grow into a stronger and more meaningful relationship with them. There is beauty in that pain.
Last year our families were faced with a lot of loss; The loss of grandmothers, aunts and young mothers. This year I watched marriages end and friends and family go their separate ways. Lately I have been thinking about these losses and referencing Glennon Doyle's passage about loss and the cost of love.
When we lose a mother or grandmother, we grow into the next matriarch - we are a version of the mothers and grandmothers that we were so lucky to have, and there is beauty in that. When we lose trust and comfort in a spouse or significant other we gain independence and bravery, and there is beauty in that. Losing a loved one or a relationship is painful, but it means we didn't stand in fear. It means we lived an open-hearted life.
I turned 35 this month and I no longer fear getting older; I have actually found some comfort in it. I learned that life, and really, nothing in it is guaranteed; a painful but inevitable and necessary lesson to learn. I feel fortunate to have learned it early because I have taken chances and filled my life with a husband and children, family, friends and a career that I LOVE. I would be lying if I told you that I did not fear the day that I lose it all and feel the pain of losing that love. But it is a price I am willing to pay.