I posted on my instagram recently asking what kind of content people wanted as I embarked on this new adventure of re-branding (I guess it is true that new liver means new me. Or we could go with near death experiences really change a person). Not only did I get another chance at life, and understanding it's brevity and how there really isn't time to live a life you don't love, I dove deep into the waters of grief, and I realized that none of the traditional approaches to grief were providing me any assistance. I didn't want to talk my way through grief, or mentally try to understand it. I could feel it in my body, and I wanted to reclaim it, transforming the way I saw my grief and my body.
I remember returning home a few months after my transplant and I spent a lot of time sitting in an empty room staring at the wall. It looked like depression. It looked like I'd completely lost my marbles. But it was grief. I was holding vigil, for the life I would never live, the liver I'd lost, and for my donor. The body tells stories, and it was if I could hear my new liver howling with the grief of losing a home and being placed in another environment. And that's when I knew if I wanted a chance at healing from this thing, not just in body but in the most holistic sense, I needed to create the thing I needed.
Over the next few weeks and months, I'm sure you'll hear about this often. But right now, as a response to all of those who have asked for prompts and self reflective content, I am compiling a list of 10 journal questions I've used along my journey. Take what works for you, leave what doesn't. If you answered one or any of these questions, I'd love to hear how this experience was for you.
This practice is called Journal Speak. It's something I've used often along the way. The idea is to close your eyes and put pen to paper, or your fingers to the keyboard. Don't worry about spelling anything correctly or writing in straight lines. This isn't for public consumption, or even something for you to go back to. This is about embodying all these emotions as they exist within the moment, acknowledging what is real right now and giving it space to exist somewhere other than in your body. I invite you to write down anything that comes up. It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else. You can just write girl grocery store, you'll know what that means. Write the things you would never say out loud (I've called people some things I would never say out loud, and things I didn't even really mean. It was just in me and I needed to get it out). If it helps, set a timer and free write for the allotted time. And when the time is done, rip the paper up or burn it or press select all and delete. Once it's out there, you let it go.
Think about the person you want to be. Your ideal self. Write about that person. Be as specific as possible. Write what this ideal self eats for breakfast, what she wears, her morning routine, her bedtime routine, what characteristic she possesses, how she takes her coffee. The simple fact is we can't become what we can't see, and just like non-specific goals don't really drive us towards accomplishing them, the key to this exercise lies in tapping into the details and being as specific as possible.
What are you here to reclaim? In this life, in this body, in this experience? Again, specific is key. Reclaim your body image? Your narrative around grief? your sexuality? Once you've got it written down, how will you know you've reclaimed it? What does reclaiming your body image look like? Is it I will know I've reclaimed it when I can go to the beach in a bikini?
Where in your body feels safe and warm and good? Or the opposite, depending on the kind of day you're having, where in your body are the sensations that don't feel good? Physically or mentally, sometimes it's easy to pinpoint those feel good spots and sometimes it's a process of elimination, going through what doesn't feel good to find what does. This can show up in the craziest spots, like behind your ear or your left armpit.
On a similar note, tap into your feelings. Think of anger, and then see if you can locate where anger is in your body. What does it feel like? Hot, cold, tight, jittery? Find sadness, fear, joy... Once we know these emotions we can work with them, but the first thing is noticing what they feel like and becoming aware of how they present themselves.
If you woke up tomorrow morning and didn't care what anyone thought, if you felt 100% confident, what would you do?
Write your own rules. We've been living inside society's rules for so long, and if you're asking these questions you've probably discovered playing that game isn't working for you. So make your own rule book. It can be as serious or absurd as you want. What kind of person will you be? What will you do? I made my own rules and I decided we don't wear a bra to the grocery store because who made that a rule anyway? I decided I get to eat cereal for dinner. I have a rule that I get to enforce boundaries when I don't feel comfortable around someone. Write your own rules, and know they don't have to be forever. Rules were made to be broken. But what rules would serve you right now?
If you could tap into the power of anyone in the entire world, who would it be? I also play this game as who is in my corner? I imagine all these people I call on gathering in a cottage and I can call on their resources. Sometimes it's the archetype of the mother. Sometimes it's Dolly Parton. Sometimes it's my friend who is branching out and starting her own business. Whatever it is, think of what you need more of and resource that. Because you get to decide I need some of Dolly's confidence so she's on my side and it is decided that Dolly Parton has my back.
What heals you? What do you do/see/experience that lights you up? What makes you feel good? What helps you tap into that alchemic magic? Walks in the sunshine with my dog heal me. The smell of coffee in the morning heals me. Working with my coach heals me. Being around water lights me up.
Healing has always been a love story, not a war. We can't force our way into being healed. This isn't the path of pain and struggle. We heal through gratitude, through joy, through play. So ask yourself: what do I love about my life right now?