A few years ago, I began on a journey to find peace. Things at the time weren’t great but they seemed to be following the somewhat natural flow of things. Until a bomb went off that shook everything I thought that I knew about almost everyone in my life, to its very core. I did a lot of soul-searching in order to get out of the negative headspace for all of those who had chosen to deceive and/or be deceived with ridiculous lies and calculated manipulations. I did away with anyone who had merely become lambs to the slaughter, instead of the advocates of truth they had always claimed to be. In that moment it was a “my sanity or them” scenario. If I had just accepted what was being maliciously done, I would have kept my sense of normalcy but would have, in-turn, lost everything that I knew about myself. There was a ripping away, that I can wholeheartedly say hurt like hell — But now when I look back, I can see how positively vital it all was to the peace which I so desperately sought after.
I still remember the night when my desire for this peace finally became my decision for it. I remember so vividly seeing and hearing my grandmother whom had just passed away, telling me to stop in my persuit of resolution and to walk away from the situation that was plaguing my mind and heart, each day.
My grandmother had been on a decline healthwise, and me living in another state did not afford me the opportunity to go and see her. My mother staid by her bedside as she went in and out of consiousness and would recount how my grandmother was doing, to me, each time that we spoke. My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was kind and gentle, compassionate and so proper… Lady-like. She spent her years as a Missionary/Pastor’s wife and had a true love and desire to help people. Everyone whom met her, instantly loved her and she never had an enemy… At least not that I know of. My entire life I had never heard a stern tone from my grandmother, never a harsh word or any kind of firm stance. She was always gentle and kind, loving and humble. She was a writer as well, and was the one who encouraged me to pursue my desire to write. She didn’t write with the hopes to become famous, she wrote for herself. She wrote because it was what she was meant to do, even if only for herself. I’ve always admired her, for so many reasons, but certainly this one in particular because writing for her, wasn’t about receiving notariety or monetary gain, but about doing what her heart was pressed to do. I didn’t get the chance to grow up with her as a constant in my life or really knowing her as most grandchildren do — But somehow we were kindred spirits, sharing so many similarities that later, as an adult, I came to realize.
The night that she passed, I was in the thick of my struggle to let go of a situation with my family, that had me thoroughly broken inside. It’s one thing to lose relationships to people whom you’ve spent a life-time both knowing, respecting and loving — But to lose them in a way so abrupt and based solely on the miserable lies of an outsider with far too much influence, was world-shattering for me. I couldn’t come to terms with how the very people who knew me the most, could’ve easily believed such nonsense, without question. I was completely exhausted from nights of little to no sleep, due to my mind trying to process this upheaval, and was going in and out of a deep sleep when I heard my grandmother say, “Elizabeth Ann?…” in her soft voice. Something was different this time though, this time she had a sterness to her tone that I had never heard from her, before. I opened my eyes and there, this beautiful young woman was, with rosey cheeks and shiny brown curls. Her eyes were almost sparkling they were so bright and filled with wisdom of past and present. Her skin was flawless and porcelain-like, it almost looked airbrushed. She was whole and healthy, vibrant. I had never seen, or at least have no memory of seeing, my grandmother in her younger years, but by the voice and the feeling of her essence in the room, I knew that it was her. I could even smell her sweet aroma of rose water in the air. It wasn’t until at her wake where they had on display pictures of her when I saw a photo of the exact woman who had visited me and then knew, without a doubt. The night that she came to me, her words were almost forceful, as a mother would talk to their child who is acting outside of their will. Loving, considerate, but with a warning. While wagging her finger at me she said, “Elizabeth Ann? Honey, listen to me. You need to leave him alone. It is not his time to understand the truth, and when it is he will come to you. Until then, you leave him be! Don’t you spend another minute thinking about this, you just be happy. This all happened for a reason. You be at peace, honey, and know that I love you.” She leaned down to kiss my forehead and then, she was gone.
It was several months later before my mother told me of one of her last interactions with my grandmother at the nursing home, before she passed. My grandmother while in a state of being in and out of conciousness started to speak, “Oh, my Elizabeth… She has to get on the chopping block,” My grandmother said. My mother not knowing what she was referring to responded with asking her what she was talking about. “She has got to get on the chopping block…” “What chopping block, Mom?” My mother asked. My grandmother looked at my mother and responded, “Are YOU a chopping block?” My mother replied telling her that she was her daughter, to which my grandmother giggled and said, “Oh, that’s right,” closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
What my mother and grandmother didn’t know at the time, was that my husband and I were actively seeking some sort of way to sever from those on both sides of our families that were involved in this coup to hurt us. And we were fighting each day against what our hearts wanted, the emotional life-long connections to these people, and the cold reality of what they were doing to us. It was a battle that would take many more months to finally be free from. It’s almost easier with people you aren’t related to, to just move on and never speak again — But when it’s family, there are so many times where seeing each other is unavoidable, and not speaking both hurts and puts undue strain on the entire family as a whole. Not just the ones at odds with each other. It’s hard to get around needing to seperate from toxicity and that toxicity being blood related. The truth is, we didn’t want to remove ourselves from those whom we loved so very much, but we also couldn’t sit idly by and allow the attacks and lies to continue. My husband and I had had many talks with eachother about bucking up and cutting ties to those that no longer had upright intentions for us. In essence, putting them on the chopping block of what we would allow to be a part of our lives, going forward. No one knew that this is what we were going through at the time of my grandmother’s words, and yet she knew what I needed to do without having known anything about the situation taking place.
When my mother recounted months later to me, this moment between her and my grandmother, I erupted into tears over the phone. The kind of weeping that comes from a place so deeply rooted that you feel like your stomach will come up through your tears. For my mom, her mother’s almost incoherent words finally made sense and for me, it was confirmation that I not only really had seen and heard from my grandmother after she passed away, but that what she was telling me was the right thing to do.
For months, I had been in a silent battle between my head and my heart on the necessity of letting go in the pursuit of peace, and my own inability to do just that — Let go of the ones that I loved so dearly. It made no sense until this moment, how a person whom I cared for, whom held a giant piece of my heart, could be the very thing that was keeping me from having a peaceful existence, a happy life, and an unclouded mind. But in my case, it was the truth. I had spent my whole life fighting against nasty rumors and speculations about who I was as a person. I spent years on end being maligned by one person or another, and yet from the ones who knew me and should have defended me, there was always this radio silence. It made for a life of torturous thoughts. Thoughts that kept me up every night, wondering who was really my friend? Who loved me with the same pure intentions that I loved them? Who could I really count on to be there when the chips were down? Was anyone truly there? Living in this kind of uncertainty, lead to a lot of depression, anxiety and a total lack of trust for anyone and everyone. Because I had become so used to being disappointed, to realizing that who I thought cared about me really didn’t, and to perpetually feeling alone. This was not an environment for peace. It was not a healthy place to grow, and be truly happy. It was a place of dysfunction and a feeling of insignificance so overwhelming that at times, I found it hard to breathe.
To know that my grandmother saw what I needed to do, before I had come to terms with what I knew had to be done, and then to have her visit me right as she passed and confirm what it was that my intuition was guiding me towards — Sealed the deal for me. It not only gave me the strength to do it, but it gave me the freedom to finally obtain the peace that I had been searching for.
Waking from that fog of what felt like endless dispair, but was really just a thoroughly broken heart, was like waking into a world that was totally unfamiliar. For the first time in a while I was actually seeing the world around me, without any painted on color of melancholy or even hopefulness. I was seeing everything for just how it was, with no expectations. Through the process of finding my way to peace, also came learning the act of mindfulness. Of being fully present in every moment, devoting one hundred percent of myself and my attention to whatever it was that I was doing. Which was the opposite of what I had been accustomed to. My mind had always been a minefield. I remember the first time that I actually understood what mindfulness was, through experiencing it. I was at the kitchen sink washing dishes, my absolute most loathed household chore, and yet in that moment I was almost in love with what I was doing. I was content, blissful and meditative with the movements. I was lost in that moment, thinking of nothing else but what I was doing right then, so much so that when I was finished it was as if I was waking from a dream. All of the sudden all of the pretense of doing a hated chore, had diminished and I was in a state of total consciouness. There was no pretext going on in my brain of why this chore needed to be done, what the mess would ultimately look like if I didn’t do it, or any mumblings in my mind of why I was the only one in charge of cleaning the dishes — Only this pure form of complete and total peace. It was euphoric. It was then that I realized how much a negative mind can discolor and sidetrack you from experiencing the peace which is already there and for the taking — If you’re willing to let go of expectations in order to have it.
It was also then when I realized that my own negativity and that of those of whom it was hard to for me to seperate from, was the reason that peace felt so unattainable for me, prior. It was the reason why I had to sever those ties and equally had to go to work on myself. We want the peace, the content existence, but we’re hardly ever willing to make the difficult choices and put in the hard work on ourselves in order to get there. We don’t want to have to sacrifice this, that or the other to have it and yet even if all that you have is peace, it is worth more than all things combined. Before this, I didn’t really know what having peace actually felt like. I just knew that I needed it. That is to say that I knew it was missing. But once I had it, even just the first taste of it — I knew that I would never be willing to sacrifice it for anything else, ever. I instantly knew it’s value and understood that nothing in this world was worth losing it, over.
Since that huge change in my life, of course there have been many more trying circumstances that probably should have rattled me, but because of this peace — It didn’t. I unintentionally learned through the process of seeking peace, having gratitude for what is, and finding mindfulness, how to shed expectation. It’s in the expecting of things, which often do not go as expected, where we set ourselves up to feel consequent dissappointment, anger, frustration, sadness. In turn, through those emotions is where we find it near impossible to let go and yet within the letting go, is where we find the peace.
I think this is what my grandmother was trying to get me to see. That my peace was on the other side of letting go. In living a life that was geared towards my own happiness and not filled with expectations, I would then find something far greater than anything I could have ever expected or imagined. It’s been a couple of years now since she passed, and today I couldn’t help but think about her words to me which ultimately changed the course of my life, and the amount of pure love required to say it.
I’ve thought many times over the passed two years, if I had only known then what I know now I would have handled everything in my life so much differently. I guess that’s the thing about this journey, we never really know how much our ideals, opinions and hearts will change over time. With age and more importantly wisdom, what feels catastrophic today, will likely seem insignificant in years to come, and far easier to handle. My grandmother knew something then that I had not yet learned — Everything, eventually works itself out without my worry inserted into it. That peace is the ultimate reward and what we should always strive for, above all else.