Griefwork: Reclamation, Ritual, and Renewal
2018 was a year of transitions. I credit the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, for setting into motion these transitions. As the sun darkened, I set an intention on what I wanted to let go and die. One of those things was to no longer fear the things I need to let go of. As the light returned, I set intentions to embrace the things that I needed in order to grow.
The process of death began. What I knew of my life began to wither and die; some things died faster than others no matter how much energy I put toward keeping it alive. A week after the eclipse, I lost my adjunct position as yoga and senior fitness instructor (another post for another day).
Less light, more darkness
2018 was met with beautiful moments of enLIGHTenment. I entered into a new relationship. I traveled to Europe with my daughter. I fully emerged myself into the college experience to fulfill my 20-year promise to educate myself when I was “done” raising my daughter.
A balance of light and dark
The marriage to my friend and love of 6 years was laid to rest after many attempts to resuscitate it and the faulty core beliefs about what that meant about me carried me swiftly into the abyss. Lastly, my daughter got married–which an incredibly happy moment for us, but it was also a reminder to me that I was in the process of transitioning from mother to crone and I wasn’t quite prepared for that title yet.
On October 25, 2018, there was a full moon. I shaved my head in ritual for two reasons attachment and the symbol of “what was” had come to fullness.
The first reason was simple…attachment. From birth, I was complimented, celebrated, and known for my hair. Mom said I didn’t get Dad’s green eyes, but I did get the auburn highlights (you know, the good “white” hair”). My hair, skin tone, and features put me in question with those “curious” of my “ethnicity/race/nationality”. Strangers asked, “are you greek?”, nope, I am mixed. At the time, I felt I needed to answer. Ask me now, and I won’t be so polite. I digress.
As a teen, I had the best big-hair band hair (naturally). As an adult, people constantly commented on my hair, “it is so thick”, “is that your natural curl”, “why did you stop coloring it”, “I wish I could wear my hear like that”. So, could I get rid of the very thing that I was “known” for and still be the strong, empowered warrior woman I performed as?
The second and most important reason for shaving my head was that I was ready to grieve. I was ready to accept all the things that had been crumbling around me and just FEEL it. I wanted to dive deep into the darkness and I didn’t give a *uck about what people thought about it. I felt it.
So I put on Directions by Nahko and Medicine for the People and went to work.
I let go
After I shaved my past, I headed for a mid-west winter on a farm. For months, I cried EVERY – SINGLE – DAY. The cold, dark, wet weather wrapped me up and held me in the grief as if to help me keep my commitment to feeling it all. Some days I wished I would just disintegrate into the ether because feeling it was too much.
Less dark, more light
As Spring arrived, I started to feel less grief. Then Summer. Then Fall. By Winter 2019 I noticed I hadn’t cried in a few months and felt lighter.
The Spring full moon happened on April 7, 2020. I practiced yoga with the rise of the moon on the farm. I realized, my grief and darkness are transitioning into the light again. I don’t know what that means, but I do know my life isn’t the same. The things that worked in the past won’t work anymore. They aren’t meant to. It is time for something new to begin. For that, I am grateful.
I want to thank my community for loving me through this difficult time. I know I was absent from your life. I am sorry I missed so much. I am here and ready to embrace you again.
Thank you to my little sister for always being there for me. For telling me to go take a walk and get exercise because you know that is MY body’s love language. For pretending to call me to say hi, but really, you were checking on me. For storing all my crap in your space and making a warm bed for me when I visit. Mostly, thank you for not putting any pressure on me to be “myself”, cuz, you know I was being myself, even though sometimes I didn’t know it. Also, thanks for changing your name with me. We are the only two Payan Hazelwoods in the world…and that is pretty *ucking cool. I love you.
Summer, I want to especially thank you for allowing me to unfold my darkness in your presence. You never expected anything from me, not even love. You were patient and kind. You didn’t try to fix me or change me. You knew when to leave me alone and when I needed to be held so I could collapse and ugly cry in the middle of the day. I always felt secure in the fact that you said you just wanted me to have everything I wanted and needed even if that did not include you. But it does include you. Thank you. I love you. I am here. I am whole. As I am. Not because of you, rather, because you gave me the support and love I needed to heal myself.