Rediscovering Yourself and Rebuilding Your Life After Loss

Woman Silhouette

“He who sits in the house of grief will eventually sit in the garden.” ~Hafiz

My life has fallen apart around me.

I ended a five-year relationship with a man I thought I wanted to marry, quit a full-time office job with no further prospects, and moved back to my tiny hometown to live with my parents.

All of these transitions occurred within the same week.

I was twenty when I met my boyfriend, and he was twenty-eight. We spent every waking moment together, dating for four-and-a-half years and living together for two. This time was punctuated with moments of bliss; however, I was often filled with doubt about our future.

Small betrayals had left me co-dependent, with low self-esteem. Toward the end of our relationship, I was suffering beyond measure. I lacked fulfillment in my first salaried job, and our tiny, decrepit apartment was void of nourishment.

I quit my job first, giving no notice and leaving a resignation letter on my boss’s desk. A week later, I moved all my things from my boyfriend’s house while he was on vacation.

He returned to a half empty home. I was shaken to the core with grief and guilt.

Two months later, I am still wading through an overwhelming depression. Despite an aching loneliness for my former life, my heart is overflowing with more love and gratitude than I thought possible.

In this personal rock bottom, I finally understand the meaning of abundance.

My friends showed up, offering me places to stay if I needed. My family showed up, supporting me in my financial crisis. Old flames showed up to rekindle and reflect deep love.

My creative practice showed up to heal wounds inflicted through years of betrayal. Music has become sweeter, more soulful, and longing with reverberations of the human condition. Nature has become a solace.

I find myself slowly reaching closure in all forgotten aspects of my soul. Alone and without distraction, I have been forced to unlock the closed doors of my psyche, full of dusty memories, ignored desires, and misplaced dreams.

I am picking up the pieces of the identity that I lost in the whirlwind of relationship compromises, job obligations, and money-based motivations.

I am finally rebuilding an identity based on trust, love, and compassion for others and myself. I am holding space for the tender parts of my soul, patient and yet full of longing.

The hardest part of this transition has been a lack of consistent emotional intimacy and losing all financial “security.”

Despite my rapid mood swings through grief and joy, I sense stability approaching. I feel the upswing coming, the point in my life where I transform into a more positive, full expression of myself. In the elimination of all the old experiences and situations that no longer serve me, I am reborn.

I understand the metaphor of the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. My molting has begun.

Dear reader, take heart.

If your life is falling apart around you in any capacity, please trust the process. Through the darkest nights of your soul, a light shines forth.

Only through these heart-wrenching challenges can we grow and develop spiritually and emotionally and become more fully who we were meant to be.

After loss, we have an opportunity to reinvent our lives and ourselves.

All the patchwork dreams I wove while in my grief are finally coming true. I have been traveling to new places. I am falling in love again. I am rekindling my fondness for oil painting. I signed up for a ceramics class at the local community college. I am starting to think about a graduate program for art.

These are all things I formerly felt were far from reach, but since radical change and loss, I am finding my true identity and fulfilling myself.

If your depression and grief takes you to places of fear, confusion, and loneliness, please hold space for those feelings and allow them to wash over you like water. These turbulent emotions will pass. Tomorrow is a new day, with new opportunities.

Be patient. Change takes time, especially positive changes. You must work the compost before growing the flowers.

Train yourself to pay attention to the small things. I notice all these things now.

A light rain soothes my aching heart. A call from a friend reminds me that I am not alone. A warm meal nourishes my spirit.

Sometimes, all it takes to recover from loss is awareness of life’s small treasures. New opportunities for change and development present themselves every day.

Grieve, and the garden will begin to grow beneath your feet.

Woman silhouette via Shutterstock

About Mahala Lewis

Mahala Lewis lives in Sierra Vista, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2012, receiving a BA in Fine Art and Anthropology. She loves hiking, painting, and hanging out with her two dogs and all her beautiful friends. You can see her artwork at mahalalewis.com.

See a typo or inaccuracy? Please contact us so we can fix it!