|photo by Jennifer Upton|
For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays. Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season. Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays
Over the past few years, I've written countless posts about what the holidays do to me.
Lately, the nostalgia and loneliness have settled into a constant ache. And it's not the ache of lost promises or forgotten desires.
It's the heaviness of hope.
I think it's particularly painful to hope during this season. Perhaps you know what I mean?
It's weighty to hold on to the belief that maybe—just maybe–this year will be different.
But it's not impossible.
More than ever, I'm realizing the enormity of waking up from these past few years of darkness. It's been hard to embrace the unrelenting onslaught of emotional disappointments and devastations. You learn to accept it, you know? Despite the difficulty, you learn to accept and you learn to expect.
So what happens when the sun edges over the horizon?
What happens when you breathe in the deep inhale of one who isn't fighting for traction anymore and feel the sweet release of an immediate exhale?
A few months ago, I sat with a friend and she shared with me her hesitations concerning hope. Her family had been matched with a birth mother and as the due date loomed, she looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and whispered, "I just don't know how much to expect...and I'm afraid if something happens..."
She stopped then, glancing down at her hands and then looking up at me briefly before wiping at her cheek. I smiled, knowing what she was thinking.
What if she chooses to keep the baby? What if I'm devastated?
I looked her in the eye and told her "I do not regret the hope."
And I didn't—I don't. Regardless of these past years and the stuttering and tripping and falling and weeping and thinking that it couldn't possibly get any more difficult or hurt any more than in that moment, I do not regret those small moments of hope.
I'm sitting in my bed right now, exhausted after a weekend full of friends and weather that's way-too-cold for Texas. My dog sleeps at my feet and I'm pressed up against my husband who's playing a game on his iPhone. The soft light of the stringed bulbs above us create a cozy resting spot.
I feel the blooming begin deep in my chest and I can name it now, this feeling. It's hope and apparently she's making herself a comfortable resting spot deep in my bones. I hesitate, wondering how long she'll stay.
And then I shake the thought away and welcome her, quietly whispering that I would love it if this time, she'd stay for a while.
I wonder about tomorrow—both literal and figurative—and the possibilities awaiting me when I wake to a new week. I think back to this time last year when everything seemed to be blowing to pieces. I can't imagine my life staying on that same trajectory. As cliche as it sounds, those devastating losses really were blessings in disguise. I just didn't see it then. Couldn't see it in the midst of the frigid wilderness.
The same goes for all of the holidays before this one. They seemed empty. They seemed long. Never ending. But slowly, I was building up strength I didn't know I possessed. Slowly, I was making room for hope by burning away all of the dead pieces of my soul.
For those of you who struggle—and for those of you filled with the achy newness of whatever beginning you're facing—breathe in today.
I love Elora's reminder to not give up on embracing hope. And embracing hope does not mean to ignore the pain and the hard parts. The dark and the light can coexist. I think that it is so easy to forget the hope, or to regret it. It is for me, anyway. What about you?
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Elora Ramirez lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband. At the age of four, she taught herself how to read and write, cutting her teeth on books like Dr. Seuss and writing anywhere she could find the space--including her Fisher Price kitchen set, the pages of picture books and Highlights Magazine. Since then, she's grown to love the way words feel as they swell within her bones. Writing holy and broken is her calling, and pushing back the darkness and pursuing beauty through story is her purpose. She embraces the power of story and teaches women from all parts of the world how to embrace theirs. She has a knack of calling things out , the truth and the detail, the subversive threads that make a life a story. She loves hip-hop, wishes she lived by the beach and cannot write without copious amounts of coffee, chocolate, music, and her husband's lavender liqueur.