What Angels Want Us to Know: Life After Guilt

What Angels Want Us to Know: Life After Guilt

Even when things seem so grim & a realization of so much loss pierces deep within, it is these moments that my angels are there to rescue more than ever. Without fail, the dragonflies come out to swirl around, reminding me I’m not alone.

When I think of the confusing and complicated guilt I experience for being the last one left to stand, I take my evening strolls out to the azul water that is my backyard, siempre in search of peace. The other day while in a dark head space, I thought, maybe my angels actually got the better end of the deal. This world, as beautiful as it is, can be so very painful… at least they are together, in peace. But, just as I was beginning to slip down the rabbit hole, the dragonflies began to dance against the masterpiece of a backdrop, a pink lit sky and blistering ball of solar energy beaming over the water.

As I returned back from my evening with the divine, my best friend that channels had reached out to me. She said my brother, unclear which one, had softly contacted her to send me a message. Just some days before, I had been suffering then as well from a plummeting feeling of feeling lost. I was seriously questioning my own existence in the very scary kinda way. My friend shared with me the message of simple and touching relevancy, that I am ‘right’ and to keep doing what I’m doing. So just when I was feeling the crash that is life with a mood disorder, and or just life… I realized what a blessing it is to have angels intervene when I’m pleading to know if I’m going to be okay. And, how miraculous it is to have that sort of love surrounding me at all times, protecting me, and sending me clarity when the fog moves in. To let me know I am still here for a reason. To let me know that I am indeed shielded by love.

I do have to say, I’m pretty fucking ready to leave this experience behind… that is, the first one-year anniversary of my brother’s death… and basically, all the terrible memories that coexisted with this time last year. As much as my guilt may want to hang onto them, I know to move beyond surviving to thriving is to release the guilt. The present does include pain that has yet to fully heal, so the reality is the past, unfortunately, exists within the present. However, I can stay there, or choose to try to move forward one more step of the way, as the pain stays one step further behind.

What I’ve discovered is the guilt keeps me “safe.” The guilt, the pain, the story… it is all a toxic high that of course is superseded by a crashing low. It’s moving out into the unknown space of joy that is the real work. It has been easier for me to be afraid of more pain so that I stay in my excuse of pain.

I started dating again a few months ago after moving literally and figuratively into new space. I have vaguely shared already that I went through a pretty bad breakup as well this time last year, which naturally was what exacerbated the already gut-wrenching period of mourning. It was the core-shaking, yet illusive experience of love-at-first-sight, in which crashed & crumbled during the time one would presumably need support the most. The truth is though, I had everything I needed & still do. But, those lessons were to be learned in the most hardcore of hours. When you’ve lost that much, it’s kinda like, fuck it… I guess I’m sorta liberated now. Or, so I thought…

As I found myself back on the dating scene and after meeting someone I was actually interested in, I was overwhelmed with vulnerability. Bombarded by a surplus of “what-if’s,” I didn’t know if I was capable of enduring more pain, so instead I would not let myself leave the pain behind. I was bound to it out of survival, without realizing it was keeping me from living my life… it was keeping me from joy. Even as I proclaimed that I wanted otherwise, I was actually avoiding joy by avoiding imagined pain.

I was self-sabotaging because of survivor’s guilt. It’s a difficult thing to articulate, but perhaps it’s as simple as this… I have felt guilty for wanting joy. I felt guilty for believing there could be joy without my brothers in the world. Or, that I owe it to them to stay in the misery of their loss. Which of course, though, this I know… a life full of joy is exactly what my brothers want for me.

To live the life I have left. And if anything, for them, that is the way to truly honor their loss —to live so fiercely & courageously on their behalf.

So today on August 1, it is my brother Patrick’s birthday. This time last year I was thousands of miles away saying my last I love you over the phone, as he was bedridden in the hospital, struggling to speak. A week later after his 33rd birthday, he was gone.

The months that followed thereafter were a nightmare, yes. Those days and nights where I felt like a walking zombie, unsure if I was going to come back to life or not… I really didn’t know if I was gonna make it through. But it is these memories that I must no longer attach to so that I can grow with my brothers in a new way. By putting my hand out to accept a dance with the divine is how I get to experience… the magic of the dragonflies.

And you know, it’s really fucking hard sometimes. It really is, but I have to believe I am still here for a reason and they are not… AND THIS IS OKAY. I have to trust the cards were supposed to be dealt this way, and that yes, at least they are together in peace. A life left full of guilt will never bring them back to physical life…

But the magic that is pure love… will always keep them alive.

A Happy Birthday to my late brother, Chef Patrick

Right Where He Belonged, RIP Chef Patrick & Chef Bourdain

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Hello.  

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Hello.  

A few months ago when my brother Patrick died, somewhere in the midst of the funeral haze, I drifted off by myself to collapse on a bed and sob. My eyelids lifted to watch my consoling cousin pull back the tear-drenched hair off of my face. I recall my faint, yet bitter voice emphatically saying to her, “You know, I could be standing in the most exotic, stunning place in the world right now and I’d see no beauty. I’d feel nothing.”

I meant that. Much of the declaration was because world travel has become an invigorating passion of mine. But, sadly, it’s because this is not my first rodeo of tragic death. I lost my oldest brother Aaron when I was a teenager. After a decade of soul-searching and finally feeling at a pinnacle, losing both of my brothers has been a bizarre actuality to wrap my head around.

To say this year was one of the most formative years of my life would be an understatement. Then again, it has been so transitional that I am not sure taking form is even the right description. As per usual with the ever-flowing tide of life, it has been accompanied by soaring highs, followed by one of the greatest lows. It was a year in which I left behind my California identity of the last decade to embark on a new story. I confronted changes occurring within me while adapting to those outside of me. It was a year where I went to the other side of the world to feel back in the world. An excursion to the magical island of Bah-lee completely changed and redirected my life. I had never felt more alive than traveling solo in such a foreign land, and I had never felt more dead shortly thereafter.

As days have gone by, each one feeling as though there’s a little more life inside of me, I reminisce back to what I said to my cousin that day. I recognize it as a reflection of my internal experience at that moment in time. My apathy towards the aesthetics of the external solely mirrored that I felt dead inside. My reality was a belief I created based off of the numb feeling that nothing could make me feel alive again. Of course with good ole time, this experience has shifted. Since the loss of Patrick, I’ve returned once again from traveling. My thoughts have centered around a prevalent theme that emerged — an embrace of transitions.

In retrospect, there are so many chapters in my life that were remarkable periods of transition. Yet, if each changing moment is one transition to the next, then isn’t everything a transition? Reminded by all chapters left to the past, one final page after another, it got me thinking about my perception of goodbye. As someone who has long struggled with goodbyes, I’ve come to discover why traveling has been healing for me. The temporal experiences that unfold, only to fade, have been a powerful teacher. It fascinates me, really, the incredible forces at work when I step into the unknown to allow the divine to intervene. In my experience it has been one of the greatest agents of change, accelerating rapid growth and bringing forth much clarity. The big picture, so to speak, becomes a lot clearer.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is always the people I meet and connect to along the way. It’s interesting, being the person that’s never liked goodbyes. There’s an inherent understanding when traveling that while I may meet others on the journey, there’s no guarantee for anything further. In fact, there’s more the likeliness we won’t see each other again than there is otherwise. The respect of the present moment and allowing it to be is the lesson. It is recognition of a willingness to embrace the new moment and the ability to gracefully let go of the last. The beautiful temporal qualities of life teach us that there’s no way to foresee that which is to stay or go. It’s a hard thing to master, letting go, especially when shocked or traumatized. The go-to of fight-or-flight is to clench with all one’s power. Yet, we fail to realize the giveaway of power when struggling to make something stay that is to end. Things forever continue to strip away in life. The more I’ve grown and the more goodbyes I’ve had to say — I’m learning to consider a new perspective. I’m learning that maybe it’s not goodbye, it’s hello.

It’s been a year of many goodbyes and many hellos. As my various grief becomes interwoven, all I can do is stand in it. Feel it. Face it. Loosen my grip, and let go.

Endings are hard, but as it is often practiced in yoga — the transition between each pose can be the most enlightening of all. It is the power in awareness of each transition. How do I respond to the changing moment? Am I present? Is my ego holding onto something that happened in the last that no longer serves me? Am I moving forward into the next with total embrace of the new? Can I trust that what is gone is as it should be? Can I be content with the plan that is out of my control? Can I trust myself to be okay? Can I have compassion for my grief along the way?

So, life is one transition after another. It is a transition from one moment into the next, a city or career to the next, a profound love, or from one dimension into the next.

It is challenging to accept both of my brothers’ fate and their transitions from birth to death in this lifetime. Still, I ponder my own transitions of grief and have learned something. In one moment I thought I could see no beauty in the world, that I was dead inside. A few months later I was on a gorgeous beach in Mexico, and I was feeling things; I was feeling a lot. As the lucid, turquoise water slipped between my ankles, and the warm wind danced on my skin, there I stood in my grief. And, even as much ache as I may still feel in my heart, I was able to look around and feel some peace that day. I could acknowledge gratitude for the new because I could see my progression. So, I was able to accept goodbye a tiny bit more, and this time I could say, hello.

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Tulum, Quintana Roo, México

#Grief&Glory