January 2016 – Reflections and Arriving at new year

Reflections on the month include a look back at 2015. In order to arrive in 2016 it’s important for me to reflect. I have never been a resolution type of person but I do like to focus on intentions to help keep me focused.

The month of December was a challenge but I look back and see a pattern. Leading up to December and the aftermath are the toughest parts for me. I seem to put on the armour and handle everything like a champ by making the events happen, by being present during gatherings etcetera. However, the “before” and “after” hit me pretty hard. The passage of time does yield the benefit of witnessing the patterns of grief. Emotional patterns can help us prepare for a new way of “being”. So many emotions seem out of our control when it comes to pain. The sudden arrival of unexpected emotions can send me running. For example a sudden memory or a smell while shopping can send me running to the car to explode in tears. It’s nice to know there is hope by reflecting on the inward journey to see patterns when possible.

I also reflected on the year of 2015 and discovered lessons I will bring forward in 2016.

I have learned so much and have found gratitude in so many places.

In January 2015 I learned that I could indeed stand in front of the very people who harmed my daughter in such unimaginable ways and speak my truth. I spoke from my heart and expressed my sentiments. I felt strength within me that I never knew existed until that very moment.

I have learned that there is a pillar of strength in me that exceeded any that I have met previously on this journey called life.

I now honour that strength and feel its presence. I have also learned that it does not does not ALWAYS have to be front and center- that the strength of the “warrior” can relax and find a resting place too.

The Armour of the warrior is something that I continue to work with because I know that there is a tremendous strength in a different place too.

I have learned that vulnerability is a characteristic often overlooked but its majestic and beautiful.

I have learned that Rehtaeh’s message continues to be heard in text books, in thesis dissertations. Her message has reached people all over the world from classrooms discussions to family dinner conversations. She has changed the dialogue.

I have learned that is part of her legacy and what a beautiful legacy it is.

I have learned that the power of love can overcome fear. I would never have believed anyone who told me that public speaking was in my future yet there were whispers along the way that told me otherwise. I attempted to avoid public speaking throughout my life. Yet in 2015 I spoke to thousands of people and shared my deepest pain.

Polices officers, politicians, students of all ages, frontline workers and so many more have heard Rehtaeh’s story of bravery, courage, despair, loss of hope and they listened. I learned that people finally are listening to what Rehtaeh had been trying to say for many months before she died. Changes are being made everyday.

I have learned that whatever life plans you think you have life shows up and tells you otherwise.
I learned that “what have I done to deserve this?” will never bring any real answers because as we know horrible things happen to wonderful people all the time.

I have learned to contemplate the “what ifs” “if only” “I wish I would have…” for moments when they arrive but not to get caught up in the “story” that follows because I know I loved Rehtaeh with my entire being and that love did not save her.
I have learned that keeping an open heart is the only way possible to find peace in this world.

I have learned that anger, sadness and frustration come and go and it’s important to let these emotions be felt. Feeling them does not mean I will crumble emotionally. It means I can still feel, have a meltdown, cry, scream and make dinner for my family. It means we can crawl into bed and retreat when we need to – Honouring the self! What a lesson!

I have learned that PTSD is so elusive at times and the mind is so clever.

I have learned that PTSD is not “only” flashbacks but a feeling of angst arising within. That the amplification of noise, sounds and commotions in our mind cause us to seize up both emotionally and physically.

I have learned that behind this commotion and orchestra of emotions is a peace within. Behind the noise of the mind is silence. Wow!

I have learned that gratitude is essential everyday as we struggle to find our new “normal” which does not exist.

I am learning and continue to learn that I am not who I once was and to stop comparing as if the “before” was somehow “better” than the after.

Of course life was better when Rehtaeh was here but comparing what I was able to do before is not fair and that is not showing kindness to the “self”

I have learned that I have to nuture my soul everyday even on the days/moments I feel I cannot breathe.

I have learned that I cannot run away from myself by doing “external” work.

I have learned that I like my own company most of the time.

I have learned that people continue to be mean, hurtful and cruel and it still hurts but loving people are more abundant.

I have learned that people you once enjoyed and loved leave you and strangers embrace you.

I have learned it’s so difficult to manage the day to day events in the days, months, years after.

I have learned that resting when I can is the only way I manage the new me.

I have learned to find creative ways of expression by reconnecting to art, writing and nature.

I have learned that the miracles are real and found in the mundane of my everyday life.
I have learned that the way of my future is finding my spiritual connection in my everyday life and I will continue to honour this path.
I have learned that grief is not a stage and that time does not heal loss of a child. The deep searing pain is something I carry within as well as the deep Love for my girl.

I have learned I am not “this or that” but a complexity and it’s okay to laugh and cry. I don’t have to feel one or the other.
I have learned that listening and being still has provided many answers to my questions.

Most importantly I have learned that there is beauty in loss. There are gifts waiting for me to open. I feel blessed that these beautiful lessons have found their way to my heart even in my darkest days.

My intention for the New Year is to remember to breathe through the painful times and keep my heart open to receive love and wisdom from the Universe.

I walk on with Rehtaeh by my side with my memories tucked in my heart like a warm blanket on a cold winter day.

Rehtaeh changed my life for the better the day she was born and will continue to do so in 2016!