August 15, 2018

Grief, Loss, & Making Painful Decisions

brainsoverblonde_grief_loss_decision-making
Grief is weird. One minute I’m out with pizza and wine, the next I’m bawling in the fetal position.

“Welcome to an exciting life. That’s what you chose, my dear.”

This is what my therapist said to me, with a knowing grin, as I sat cross-legged on the couch and sobbed uncontrollably in her office last week. I hadn’t seen her in three weeks. (She was out of town, in a camper van, traveling up the coast on a vision quest. I love her.) The weeks we didn’t talk were PIVOTAL for me. I moved into my new apartment, my previously amicable breakup took a turn for the worse, and I survived the day I’d been dreading… August 3rd, the day of my would-have-been wedding. Considering the circumstances, I was actually doing pretty well during those three weeks. I focused on my well-being, and in many ways, I was happier than ever before. I was SO excited to update my therapist on my progress… until a couple days before we met, when GRIEF hit me. HARD. I’ve always attached emotional meaning to significant dates. Well, this summer has been FULL of them: the day of my would-be bridal shower (June 16th), the day I got engaged (July 2nd), my would-be bachelorette weekend in Charleston (July 14th), and last but not least… my wedding day (August 3rd). All summer I told myself, “I just gotta get through August 3rd. It’ll all be downhill from there.” On August 2nd, thirty-eight of my best friends from business school flew down to LA for the weekend (I srsly have the best friends in the world). We stayed in WeHo at the Mondrian Hotel, we partied (a lot), and I was sufficiently distracted during what could have been an emotional trainwreck of a wknd. I made it! On Sunday, August 5th, all my friends departed to LAX. I was exhausted and honestly ready to go back to my new place and just chill by myself. I threw myself onto my air mattress (OMG don’t worry, I have a fab Leesa mattress now), and to my surprise… I started BAWLING. I didn’t even realize I was SAD. There was a lot I needed to process that weekend, and I didn’t do the emotional work. (NO REGRETS btw, I had an incredible time with my bffs.) But you can’t just skip over grief. It’ll rear its head eventually.

Grief has a life of its own

Grief has a life of its own. You can’t make it go any faster, but you CAN prolong it by avoiding it (or in my case, interrupting it for the weekend). So, there I was, in my unfurnished apartment, living alone for the first time, and FEELING even more alone. I starfished on the air mattress and cried my eyes out. A. L. O. N. E. I went from the highest high of a weekend to the lowest low. I didn’t leave that air mattress for two days. (Btw, I’m literally OBSESSED with my new apartment. The moment I saw it, I KNEW it was *the one* – the place where I’d become a stronger version of myself and build my EMPIRE. But as I looked around that Sunday through blurred teary vision, I didn’t even RECOGNIZE the place. Where was I? How did I get here? Wtf happened to my old life? What have I DONE?) I haven’t wavered in my decision to call off my wedding. With time and space, I’ve only become more confident in my decision. But that doesn’t mean I’m not mourning my old life.

Grief validates the things we love(d)

Some days I wake up feeling stronger than ever. Like if I did this, I can do ANYTHING. But that Sunday, feelings of immense loss hit me, seemingly out of nowhere. There were LOTS of tears. Lots. I watched like 10 episodes of Southern Charm. I closed the shades. I ordered mac & cheese from Uber Eats (duh). I was really hard on myself. I felt like a loser, wasting my life away instead of going out and living it. So when I saw my therapist that week, I broke down because I thought I’d “backtracked” on all the progress I’ve made. Her response? “It’s APPROPRIATE to lay in bed for two days after the weekend of your would-have-been wedding.” Hm, I hadn’t thought of that. I didn’t just cancel a wedding, I also canceled the entire life I mapped out for myself. I lost my best friend. I lost my home. I kinda lost my mind for a little bit there tbh. And, the kicker… I shared it all with the entire worldMaybe I should have stayed in bed for longer. I wasn’t backtracking. Grief is unpredictable; it does whatever the hell it wants. It comes in waves. Just when you think you’re moving forward, it pulls you RIGHT back in. Grief is anything but linear. This experience taught me that the only way to get through grief… is to grieve. Grief validates the things we love. It validates our capacity for love. The deepest grief is felt from the loss of something (or someone) we love. Far too often we carry our losses as burdens because we never process them. Grieving forces us to do the emotional work that allows us to march forward into the world as a stronger human being.

People miss out in life because they’re afraid to make a painful decision

I believe people miss out in life because they’re too afraid to make a painful decision. It’s not because they’re scared to make the wrong choice, it’s because every choice involves LOSS. As humans we’re programmed to HATE loss. Assuming we can’t tolerate the loss, we avoid making a painful decision, and thereby stick with the status quo. Every day people ask me, stunned, how I had the courage to decide to call off my wedding. (I’ll get to that in a bit.) The flaw in the question is the assumption that making a painful decision (and facing loss and hence, grief) is harder than the alternative. In actuality, all this grief is worth it in the long run. It’s the alternative you should be worried about.

When it comes to decision-making, we have a bias toward the short-term

When it comes to decision-making, people over-weigh the short-term consequences of loss. Every decision involves some type of loss. Mine involved the loss of my love, my planned life, my best friend, my home, my sanity, and my pride (… just to name a few). But all of that’s temporary. If I hadn’t made the painful decision, and moved forward with my wedding, what would I have lost in the long-term? Likely, the same list as above, except with a few kiddoes along for the ride. Or, maybe I’d dodge those losses and lose other things instead, like my lifelong well-being and happiness. When you think about it that way, doesn’t it seem like loss and grief in the short-term is better than the long-term? (… and btw, all this emphasis we place on LOSS makes us forget about what I GAINED by making this decision.)

When you lose something, you make space for something else

Every time you lose something, it makes space for something else in your life. This year, my life was at CAPACITY. If my life were a glass of rosé, it would have been filled 60% with building my business, 15% with T (my ex), 10% with friends and family, and 10% with self-care. Then I overflowed the glass with 5% for wedding planning and another 30% for massive anxiety and pre-marital doubts. (Clearly, my cup runneth over.) Ok, so then I did it. I called off my wedding. That 5% of rosé that was wedding planning? It spilled all over the floor. The 30% that was massive anxiety? It evaporated! (YAY!) And the 15% for T? That was lost too. Don’t worry, we still have more than 80% rosé in our glass (I mean, always.)… I had to dedicate 30% to grief and 20% to apartment hunting. Obviously, I’m spilling rosé all OVER the place. But because I’m GOING THROUGH THE GRIEF, it’s now starting to take up less and less of my glass. It went down to 25%, then 20%, then 15%. Sometimes it goes down to 10%, and then back up to 20% (somebody keeps pouring me refills). I also found an apartment, but 10% of that rosé is dedicated to moving in, nesting, and making it home. So let’s just say my glass is now perfectly filled to the brim (plus or minus a few sips, depending on the day). That’s a HUGE WIN, right? But it gets better. Someday soon, I’ll be done setting up my apartment. And eventually, the grief will subside as well. Humans are resilient creatures. When that happens, my glass of rosé will only be 80% full. That means one day in the not-so-distant future, I can fill up my glass with NEW 2019 VINTAGE ROSÉ. What kind of rosé should I get? 2019 Podcast Rosé? 2019 Yoga Certification Rosé? 2019 New Relationship Rosé? 2019 B/B Branding Course Rosé? 2019 Travel Around the World Rosé? IDK U GUYS! I need to do some taste testing! (What do U think? Lmk in the comments below!) K sry, having too much fun w this rosé metaphor. Basically, when u lose something, u get space in your glass of rosé (a.k.a. life) for something else. You’re smart; you get it.

So, how did I get the strength to call off my wedding?

K, now back to the question you all keep asking me: HOW DID I GET THE STRENGTH TO CALL OFF MY WEDDING? The answer is simple: I didn’t have a choice. I can’t help but keep it real; it’s who I am (but u guys know this lolol). I’ve never been able to fake it (when I don’t like someone, it’s written ALL over my face). I won’t live in denial. I know myself well, and I can’t help but be true to who I am and what I feel. It’s hard sometimes, and it takes a lot of courage. But sticking with the status quo only APPEARS to be easier. To me, it comes at a great cost. My entire brand is about “be a woman and to thine own self be true.” That means that sometimes you have to flex your female and GO AGAINST CONVENTION. We have a bias in our society that sticking with convention is easier, but that may or may not be true for you (it’s not for me, obviously). When we don’t follow convention, we’re basically saying, “I know what OTHER people would do in this situation, but that’s not going to work for me, so I’m gonna do something different.” You have to know yourself DEEPLY in order to recognize this. I have the gift (and the burden) of knowing who I am, so I recognized that something wasn’t right and decided to go against convention (in this case, convention = going forward with my wedding as planned, not rocking the boat, not hurting the people I love, etc. etc.) I didn’t know what would happen next, bc CONVENTIONALLY, brides don’t call off their wedding with two months to go. But I had to follow my truth and trust that I’d figure the rest out later. It’s especially hard for women to go against convention bc we’re bred to “be nice” from the moment we pop out of the WOMB (it’s rly amazing that female bodies give birth to human life btw, we’re fucking awesome, sry for the tangent my b). “Nice” women prob would have gone with convention and gotten married. They might need that first marriage to get to know themselves and realize something wasn’t working (nothing wrong with this path btw, it’s just diff than my own). Whatever your path is to getting there, I believe that once you sincerely know yourself… that’s when you really start LIVING. Being true to who you are makes life infinitely richer. Even if it means you have to go against convention, face loss, and grieve. That’s how you GROW. My therapist asked, “What’s the difference between denial and serenity?” Nothing, I suppose. But once you know yourself fully, denial isn’t possible. The only way to get your serenity back is to face your truth. So ya, I had the audacity to not be “nice,” bc I refused to be in denial. It pissed some people off, because that’s what happens when you go against convention.

When you trust yourself, things start to fall into place

I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I’m not going to get ahead of myself. This isn’t what I wanted, it wasn’t in my plans, but sometimes in life, that works out (and it often does). What I DO know is that once I started trusting myself and listening to that little voice inside (that we all have), the universe has rewarded me. Things just seem to be… falling into place. I’ve realized that’s what happens when you follow your gut. The best part is, I’ve never felt so in TOUCH WITH MYSELF AND THE UNIVERSE (I realize I sound like a massive LA hippie rn, & that’s bc I am). To some of you, it may sound like I’m losing it with this universe shit. Do u want me to do a post on spirituality? Lmk in the comments! Anyway, I’m going to leave you with this:

It’s crazy how easy it is to switch up your whole life.

It’s crazy how easy it is to switch up your whole life. All you have to do is decide to. Making the decision to call of my wedding was the hardest and most painful thing I’ve ever done. But all I had to do was DECIDE. Since then, my entire WORLD has opened up with new possibilities. I thought my life would be one thing, and now, it can be ANYTHING. I’m freer and more empowered than ever before. Yes, I’m still grieving. But as B/B reader Chastity told me, “the strong woman to emerge from this will be UNSTOPPABLE.” And that’s worth the grief and loss. What decision are you avoiding in order to spare yourself short-term grief and loss? If you make a painful decision, it will be hard, and it’ll get worse before it gets better. But eventually, the loss will open up space in your life for the beginning of something new. I’m confident that whatever it is will be bigger and better than you ever thought POSSIBLE. It’s going to be an exciting life, if you choose it. decision making brains over blonde

Posted in: Bliss

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