“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

Recovering emotionally from a recent trauma was a difficult journey for me. Adapting to a new life took time, and the grief I experienced for someone I cherished was profoundly complicated. It was vital for me to realize that transitioning from intense sorrow to eventual acceptance needed to happen gradually, step by step, to pave the way for a complete recovery.

This process was similar to peeling away the layers of a detailed emotional puzzle. Each step was a delicate plot, uncovering a different part of my feelings. The depth of my grief was not always apparent on the surface. It hid in the gaps of my soul, waiting to be acknowledged and processed. As I embarked on this journey, I learned the value of taking it one step at a time. In this healing process, I faced moments of intense sadness and times when the pain felt impossible. Yet, I realized that these feelings were just one chapter in my emotional recovery. There were stages to pass through, and milestones to reach. I slowly progressed from the overwhelming waves of grief to moments of acceptance. This transition wasn’t a linear path, but a complex labyrinth of emotions. Each step forward was accompanied by a greater understanding of my feelings and a newfound perspective on life.

In the end, I understood that healing from trauma isn’t a race but a journey unique to each individual. It took time, self-compassion, and the readiness to confront the layers of emotions I carried. It was a complex process, but it allowed me to rediscover my strength and toughness.

“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.”

-Mandy Hale

In Emily Dickinson’s poem, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes,” I found a metaphor that spoke deeply to the steps I needed to navigate during my recovery journey. It was like understanding the roadmap for my emotional healing. She brilliantly compared this transformation from profound sorrow to acceptance with the stages of hypothermia and the process of enduring a snowstorm. It all began with the first signs of getting colder, a chilling experience that mirrored the initial waves of grief I experienced. As I dug in further into the poem, I discovered that the journey wasn’t linear. There was an inevitable intensification, a chaotic stage similar to the chaos of a snowstorm. It was as if I was caught in a whirlwind of confusion and emotional turbulence. Yet, in both the metaphorical hypothermia and the storm, there came a point when everything just stopped. This stillness was where acceptance began to emerge. The turmoil of emotions gave way to a sense of release, similar to the feeling when the grip of hypothermia loosens, and warmth returns. These metaphors painted a vivid picture of the process I was going through. It helped me grasp that recovery isn’t a straight path but a tumultuous journey with moments of freezing sorrow and eventual release. It gave me a sense of direction and allowed me to appreciate the elaborate steps that led to healing and acceptance.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
― Maya Angelou

Hypothermia, I learned, could be a sad metaphor for the emotional journey I was on. When my body lost heat faster than it could generate it, just like how I felt in the depths of sorrow, confusion started to set in. In the early stages, my body mirrored this chill with shivers, and my blood circulation reduced, much like the “First – Chill” in the poem. Gradually, irritability took over, and my pulse weakened and slowed, in a way reminiscent of my emotional state. Breathing became flat, and a passive, sleepy air enveloped me. With each passing moment, fatigue seemed to intensify, and even my speech became mumbled, my hands clumsy, and my memory delayed. This progression continued until I reached a stage where my respiration and pulse, much like the “Stupor” in the poem, became slow, weak, or sometimes even absent. It was as if I had entered a different zone, much like the moment when the grip of hypothermia completely took hold. In the final stage of hypothermia, there was the risk of losing consciousness, and beyond that, the possibility of a fatal outcome. If that occurred, I imagined it as a release from a painful situation, a letting go of all the overwhelming feelings that had burdened me throughout my journey.

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

The poem’s comparison to a snowstorm deeply resonated with me. Snowstorms are unpredictable; you can’t foretell how long they’ll last. They escalate from gentle snowfall to fierce storms rapidly. In those moments, the weather chills, and I feel a shiver deep within me. Human nature often mirrors this; anger and frustration can consume me, and everything else takes a backseat, as accomplishing anything becomes near impossible during this disruption. Trapped indoors, I had no choice but to wait and see how the storm would unfold.

As the snowstorm intensified, I’d become anxious, nervous, and sometimes even hopeless. Predicting its duration or intensity seemed futile. Convinced that I would be confined for a while, I’d resign myself to the situation and start planning the tasks I could complete while waiting. I’d peer out the window, observing the relentless snowflakes driven in all directions by the fierce wind. Fragile, they could easily melt on contact with the ground, but the relentless cold kept them frozen and immobile. Their helplessness mirrored the “stupor” feelings described in the poem.

Finally, when the storm subsided, and the biting wind ceased, everything appeared frozen, still, and tranquil. The smooth snow bore no traces, and a sense of relief enveloped me. I embraced the pristine environment and even relished playing in the snow, building snowmen with childlike joy. Despite the snowstorm’s intense phases, they couldn’t endure for long, eventually dissipating. The snow slowly melted, and it seemed like nothing had ever happened, much like the “letting go” mentioned in the poem.

The poem’s description of a “formal feeling” mirrored these profound changes: growth followed by a void, then a return to normal. The journey, marked by these different stages, mirrored the evolution I experienced over time. In the end, I survived all the upheavals and changes that life presented me with.

“Freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something- and it is only such love that can know freedom.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

I’ve discovered that being content with my own company doesn’t equate to loneliness but rather to self-fulfillment. It’s in these moments of solitude that I’ve untangled the complexities of my thoughts and beliefs, similar to the intricate interplay of thoughts and beliefs that shape my life. Like the characters in a well-written story, my conscious mind, with its ever-turning thoughts, and my subconscious, the keeper of my steadfast beliefs, have danced their unique dance within the theater of my mind.

Moving through the stages of emotional recovery after loss, I encountered moments akin to the stages of hypothermia or a snowstorm. Just as hypothermia could lead to a state of mindlessness and release from pain, so could emotional healing free me from the shackles of grief. Through these intricate metaphors, I’ve come to appreciate the ebbs and flows of my own emotions and my healing journey. I’ve learned to accept that emotional recovery, much as a process that can’t be rushed. The stages of my recovery, my pain, and my eventual acceptance of loss are all vital chapters in my story, reminding me that every aspect of life, even its darkest moments, holds value.

I’ve learned that solitude can be a cherished time of self-discovery, reflection, and growth. In my own company, I’ve found the strength to face life’s challenges, adapt to its twists and turns, and heal from its wounds. It’s through the company of my thoughts and the lessons I’ve learned that I’ve found solace and the courage to continue writing the intricate story of my life.

“We live as we dream: Alone….”
― Joseph Conrad

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