Truth Telling Day One: The Painted Face

Christa Doran Uncategorized 30 Comments

Like opposing ends of a magnet being pulled towards each other, I felt drawn to her. I approached slowly, studying her face, her body, her eyes and her surroundings. She is so sad, I thought to myself. I wondered why her face was painted black and her hair cut short unlike any of the other women that I saw when I look around. I know that hurt, and I see you. I see your pain. After having a moment with this statute, I looked around to make sure no one saw my antics and marched on. A few minutes later I found myself in a room adjacent to the village and saw the woman again. Here, they told her story. This woman is morning the death of her husband. She has blackened her face and cut her hair to express her sorrow. Her period of mourning could last up to a year.

I look at her and instantly wish I could paint my face black. I study her face, her eyes, her pain once more and tell myself that a painted face would most definitely make life easier. I wouldn’t feel like such an imposter. My outside would match the inside and send a message to anyone around that says, Here is my pain. Remember. See me, sit beside me and bear witness.

In the wake of last nights blog, and my decision to each day, re-introduce myself to myself as a check in of sorts, I have decided I will capture it here and share it. Part in effort to normalize grief and the grieving process, part in an effort to let all you who are weary know that you are not alone. I see you and I share in your pain.

Those were the exact words I said to my friend today as I held her hand, our glossy eyes looking at each other with a both knowingness and a brokenness for our present situation, and also with a sense of gratitude to have someone to sit with and bear witness to our pain.

I see your pain and it’s big. I also see your courage and it’s bigger.

Glennon Doyle

Because, really, that is all we want. I don’t want advice, or pity, or a strategy or game plan or a tissue. I want someone to see my pain and not try to fix it or heal it or make it better. I want them to see my tears and let them fall. I want them to have the courage to sit in silence as they bear witness. But people are uncomfortable with pain. Experiencing it personally, or watching it happen to someone else. We don’t like it. We want to run from it, escape from it, numb it, treat it, mask it, hide it, wrap in up in a box and shove it wayyyy back in the deepest, darkest part of our being. We want to coat it with something cleaner, prettier, and less messy. The pain reminds us that life is precious and fragile and yes, this can happen to anyone.

I write to you wearing the same “salty” sweatshirt I wore all day yesterday. The sun came up, a new day started, and here I am showing up in my dirty sweatshirt, with my courage, writing about my pain…again. I decided that for as long as it is helpful to me, I will do my best to start my day with truth telling. I would love to hear your truth telling as well. Feel free to share in the comments and together, we can bear witness.

Hi, I’m Christa. Today I put on clean pants and feel a tinge of hope. Today I decided that I can be in pain, and still show up. That’s courage. I can be scared and still show up. That’s brave. Even in this dark place, I can show up and bring what I have to each day and be honest with myself and others in the process. That is honesty and vulnerability. I can see your pain and stand beside you in silence. That is bearing witness. I can be angry and sad and mad and not feel like me, and yet still love the person I am. Because that person was thrown into the fire and came out the other side. And I think that deserves a celebration… and possibly a clean sweatshirt.

Comments 30

  1. Christa I know you are hurting and grief just plain sucks. I look at you and think why does god test such beautiful people? I have been tested by him a few times in my life and I know the ups and downs you are feeling. You continue to amaze me and it is truly a blessing to have you part of this thing called life. I love you and trust me if I had a way to heal this for you I certainly would.
    😘😘😘

  2. Christa, I don’t know you but I admire your honesty and the courage it must take to share your experience. Holding space for you today, here to listen but not to fix ❤️🐺

  3. Hi, I’m Barbara. This morning I woke up with energy for the day. When clothes choosing time came I opened my closet, had a moment of indecision, and a vision of my always colorfully clad put-together art teacher mother flashed through my mind. Urgently I searched for color, vibrancy, grabbed the clothes that spoke to me and then plopped down on the side of the bed with a sigh.“Oh Mom, why aren’t you here, I miss you so!” I whispered. In another moment I got up, got dressed, and got on with what has now been a fine day. But that morning moment, even as I write about it now, makes my eyes mist over and my throat into a sticky lump. My mother died totally unexpectedly in 1982, 36 years ago, mind you, in a Connecticut flood. It was a devastatingly raw hellish time. Life was forever changed. I changed. I cried more tears then I thought possible, I actually wondered if my body could burst from the depth of grief and yet now, here I am, most of the time living with joy and gladness and love. It is what is. Here’s the truth given to me once again today. To have lost a prescious life-giving Mom before her time forever will hold a place deep within me. See me. Look at me. Even if you know nothing of this, my story, I am as her daughter a living witness to her shortened life and the wonder of who she was. Visions of her at random times will fly in to my head, my heart. It is what is. It is life lived and living.

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      Hi Barbara. I see you and your pain. Thank you for your willingness to share. You are courageous. Sending a hug your way. -Christa

  4. My name is Marion. I saved the father of my children from dying alone in his house, I gave him three beautiful months on this earth, healing and surrounded by people he knew loved him. I did not sleep a lot during those three months, I worried every single day, he would lose his battle. Not that he would give up, but that he would not be able to fight that horrible f^%$#@& disease.My mother said, “don’t worry it will be alright” I said through tears ” I will not stop worrying until they tell us it is all gone!” I then drove him to the Smilow with my bravest face on. He told his sister, “it’s ok if I die, I spent this time surrounded by everyone who loves me, who is better than me!” He was incredibly kind, incredibly strong, incredibly handsome and incredibly hard not to love. Dogs and small children loved him instantly, and they are always the best judge of character. He was larger than life, tall, blond with beautiful blue eyes. His eyes were the only thing they could donate, the cancer had ruined all of him. I stood in the room at the hospital in disbelief, watching my mother run her hand through his hair, whispering, “I will see you soon, I love you Big Rick ” I thought I would never stop crying. I would cry on the way to work everyday for months, I would sit at work and cry. I would go to my mothers house and pull into the driveway and look up at the front bedroom window, the room he stayed in after he was released from the hospital and just feel like an elephant sat on my chest. I dreaded walking in the house and up the stairs, knowing he would not be up there to share a good morning, ball breaking and laughter. It felt like this sadness would never stop, never end and I would never get over the loss to myself, my sons, my family. We loved each other so very much, so long ago, two young people started out with hopes and dreams. We didn’t make it, but remained the best of friends and we never stopped loving or caring about each other. Deemed the best divorced couple ever, we always put the boys first. Happy divorced family. There are times these days when I share joyful moments with my sons, My youngest son has been sober for 12 months. I am wracked with guilt, Why am I here to enjoy this? Why does he have to be gone? He deserves to see these boys grow up. I am nauseous with guilt. Guilty I am alive and healthy and he is not. I went to breakfast with my boys two weekends ago and they both had genuine laughter and happy in their faces. I went home and cried in the shower, on the floor hugging my knees, sobbing quietly. I have more good days than bad. I cry still. I see his face, his smile, his hands, his legs, his bum, in my boys and some days I can laugh, some days all I can do is cry. It has been 17 months and 5 days. I will never be the same, my sons will never be the same and my family will never be the same, he was incredibly loved and you cannot understand the loss unless you have experienced it. My father hugged me and we sobbed into each others shoulders, they only time I have seen my father cry, was the day he told us him and my mother were separating. Sometimes I just want to go climb in bed with my mom and feel safe like when I was a kid. This is my truth, I get up everyday and be brave from my granddaughters and strong for my sons. I don’t quit living, for him, he would hate that and all of the crying, he would absolutely hate all of the crying. I am so glad I told him once more before he died I loved him, I hope he knew how much.

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      Hi Marion, I see you and your pain. Thank you for your willingness to share. You are courageous and brave and I love you. 🧡Christa

  5. I hear you and support you in whatever you are feeling today and every day. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are teaching all of us so much. Lots of love to you, Christa.

  6. Hi I am Anna. A mom of 9.5 year old twin boys. I am the activities coordinator & work in a 50 bed skilled nursing facility with long & short term patients. Today,during s visit, I had a man cry because all he wants to do is die so he can be with his wife who passed away a year ago. In 3 weeks it would be their wedding anniversary. This man knows he is dying of metastatic cancer, “it’s just not happening fast enough.” You see this man reminds me of my father who died just over 16 years ago of cancer in 9 months. I see him every day I work…even though I fear/anxiety of death and cancer.

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  7. Pain comes in all forms of grief that never goes away. It just doesn’t. I still cry for the Mother I lost to cancer when I was just 16 years old. She suffered from breast cancer for 8 years, half of my life at that time, 40 years ago. And I suffered with her, watching it all. That’s how I spent my childhood. You would think by now, after 40 years, I would have a better grip on my indescribable loss as a child. And for the most part, I do. Now. But there are dates every year, holidays every year, special occasions every year, that I am constantly reminded of a terrible tragic loss. You don’t get another Mother. And I’ve lived a good life, despite my painful loss, that I still carry around. It just hides itself better, but I know it’s still there. I’ll never pretend to tell you how to “get over it”. You won’t. Just trust in the only being that makes promises he keeps. God. You may or not see it, feel it, like it, care about it. But he’s still there. Waiting with open arms, for all of us that believe and trust in Him. Seek him in all things. Even when you’re mad, angry, upset, inconsolable. Screaming at him, pissed beyond belief. I’ve been there too. He is right there with you. He did not take Lea. But he will give her back to you in eternity. And when you walk away, then come back, He’s still waiting for you. With open arms. Always. It’s OK! Even when it’s not. God Bless you, Christa.

  8. Pain comes in all forms of grief that never goes away. It just doesn’t. I still cry for the Mother I lost to cancer when I was just 16 years old. She suffered from breast cancer for 8 years, half of my life at that time, 40 years ago. And I suffered with her, watching it all. That’s how I spent my childhood. You would think by now, after 40 years, I would have a better grip on my indescribable loss as a child. And for the most part, I do. Now. But there are dates every year, holidays every year, special occasions every year, that I am constantly reminded of a terrible tragic loss. You don’t get another Mother. And I’ve lived a good life, despite my painful loss, that I still carry around. It just hides itself better, but I know it’s still there. I’ll never pretend to tell you how to “get over it”. You won’t. Just trust in the only being that makes promises he keeps. God. You may or not see it, feel it, like it, care about it. But he’s still there. Waiting with open arms, for all of us that believe and trust in Him. Seek him in all things. Even when you’re mad, angry, upset, inconsolable. Screaming at him, pissed beyond belief. I’ve been there too. He is right there with you. He did not take Lea. But he will give her back to you in eternity. And when you walk away, then come back, He’s still waiting for you. With open arms. Always. It’s OK! Even when it’s not. God Bless you, Christa.

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  9. Christa, I don’t know you personally but I do through friends. I cried through all your posts, because I knew how you were feeling. I cry for you now because I know how you are feeling. I prayed hard for your sweet beautiful Lea and continue to pray for you and your beautiful family. I lost my 25 yr old daughter 12 yrs ago in early Feb. Losing a dtr so young is worse, I can imagine. I woke a week or so ago crying my eyes out, then realized I had spent the night with her in a dream. I dream of her often, but this dream was so real and so close and so her. I sobbed uncontrollably for hours, I had lost her again. Prayers keep me sane. I trust in God.
    Christa, I see your pain and it’s huge, I also see your unbelievable courage and it’s so huge!!!
    I send you a hug filled with love and understanding and continued prayers.

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  10. Hi Christa,
    You don’t know me, but I have followed your painful journey through your sharing. You are courageous in sharing so honestly and in your vulnerability you are strong. I am so private with some of my deepest pains and sorrows, I’ve had my share, but I am learning from people like you and people I encounter every day in my job, and in my faith walk. I’ve always wanted children and never had any which is a great sorrow, so I can’t imagine having one and losing it at such a young age, although any age is so painful. I have lost my parents, my dad at 15 and my mom, the family rock, much later in life to a drunk driver. I have lost several siblings some through painful difficult circumstances and after much prayer for healing and life changes. I fight to be strong, but do not fight alone, I can’t do it alone. I am grateful to know what my Jesus crucified is all about and this has sustained me, only He knows my deepest sorrows. Although my faith has waivered at times, He is faithful, and I am sure He cries with me. I thank Him for the joys I still have and for the joys to come, and I pray for His grace and mercy In the difficult times. I am humbled by your great transparency and by how much you love.

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  11. I lost my first born child Silas Orion 10 hours after he was born 10 years ago in a homebirth. For years we tried getting pregnant again and after 3 IVF’s were successfull with our only child, our rainbow baby Zephyr who is now 7 yrs old. Until i got pregnant again, I was depressed and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I have very few photos of me from that year. I didn’t want to remember me at that time, it’s just too painful. After Zephyr, we tried IVF 1 more time using our last chance embryos and got pregnant to then lose the baby at 13 weeks.
    It’s been a long road of healing and I’m mostly happy, as my family, friends, gratitude practice, meditation, TG, yoga and work all keeps me in a good place. I love my little family beyond words, but can’t help but long for what I’m missing. I still feel shame and guilt around the birth/death of Silas. The therapy helped get through the trauma but those emotions around it are still there.
    There are still triggers. When conversation turns to birth stories, I really can’t participate bc mine was so traumatic. Do you know how often women talk birth stories? Also, there were friends who were pregnant the same time as me, and being around or seeing pix of their 10 yr olds is hard. It is a reminder that I should have a 10yr old too.
    And Zephyr wants a sibling so badly. I try to be fine with an only bc he is an incredible kid, and I’m so fortunate to have him, but the longing for another child is there, mostly buried. It feels awful that I can’t physically give us that. I can easily find joy, peace & happiness- it’s there and most of the time now. But the darkness is there too- that will never leave. I cry and move through it. I rarely talk about it, but will talk when it feels right. Thank you for giving me a space to share something that I rarely do.
    I love you Christa. I feel your pain so deeply, the way I feel/felt mine 10 years ago. No words can change what is. Your courage to lay it all out there is part of this process and will help others who are suffering too. I’m scared to hit send but am going to just do it.

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  12. Hi Christa. I see you and your pain. I am grateful for your courage to share your deepest pain in words. I honor you and your sorrow.
    I lost my sister, Marilyn, to leukemia in 1999. She was only 45 years old. She was a nurse practitioner, a soccer player, dog lover, a quiet soul, and the best big sister ever. I donated my bone marrow to her, which gave her about 2 years more but it came back. During that time Marilyn endured a massive stroke and became wheelchair bound. She never complained. Never. I gave my marrow again but the cancer was too strong that second. time. I hold anger that I couldn’t save her. She fought so fucking hard. The night she died I awoke at 2:15am and just started crying. It was puzzling to me. I felt a deep, dark sadness and my sobs were gut-wrenching. I finally drifted back to sleep. The next morning my mother called to tell me that my sister had died during the night. When I asked her what time she passed, she said it was 2:15am.
    Our family of 6 is now 3. Mom, Dad, and my sister are gone. I feel such a terrible loss sometimes but walking through those fires has given me strength, wisdom, a different perspective, and more patience than when I was younger. I am grateful for the years I had with my sister.
    Thank you for giving me an opportunity to say my truth here, which is that I made a silent promise to Marilyn that I would be her legs, her arms, her strength, since all that was taken from her. It’s what drives my strength goals after all these years. I typically keep this in my sacred place, in my heart, where I hold my sister and Mom and Dad.
    Thank you for your lessons Lea. I love you.

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  13. Hi, I’m Amanda. My mother died unexpectedly at the age of 58, when I was 36. I watched her die and understood the science but still grapple with the grief of her death. We had at least 30 more years together. Why did she have to die and leave so much unsaid?
    I stayed busy to not face the incredible pain. If so many others could go on, I could, too. So I soldiered forward. I detached myself by imagining she was finally getting to travel the world and is just too busy having fun to call or write. It’s been five and a half years and still I have trouble accepting she is gone. I just want to be happy again but it’s so hard. Now I am almost 42, trying to having a second child and the fear of loss brings that grief to the surface again.
    Grief is a lonely road filled with so many people moving alongside right beside you. I choose to look for the flowers and glimpse of sunlight in the clouds only because I know my Mom always wanted to know that I was happy. Although I don’t know your unique pain, I walk along that same road looking for a bit of sunshine as if it were the arms of my Mom hugging me from Heaven.

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  14. There is a time for grief and a time to come back to life and love in a brand new way and be fruitful in honor of Lea, only you Christa with the grace of God will know when that time is. Thanks again for your honest sharing. God bless!

    Grace

  15. Hi, I am Danielle. In 2013 my life changed forever when I was involved in a car accident that took the life of my best friend at age 19. A driver that was under the influence crossed over into our lane and hit us head on, leaving us all injured and forever changed. My best friend died that day, but part of me died in that car too. I always had this positive outlook on life, but I couldn’t fathom why something like this would happen when we did everything right. We had on our seat belts, we never drank and drove, we weren’t speeding. I am not as positive or happy as I used to be, but I try to be for her. Why her, why us? She wanted to be a pediatrician – that was the type of person she was – kind, loving, funny. I am often angry that something so horrific could happen to someone so wonderful. It has been 5 years, multiple surgeries later and although we are physically healed (for the most part), I still have days where I am so angry and sad. Sad that her family lost a daughter and sister, sad that my last memory of her is us in that car, and sad that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I like to think she is watching over all of us, and I imagine heaven to be a much better place than earth. Because of this, I have more good days than bad.

    I am a former Tuff Girl, and I have been praying for you and your family since Leah was diagnosed. Your gym was the first place I worked out after my injury and it helped me regain confidence to accept my new physical normal, with some modifications. I hope this year you have more good days than bad too. Thank you for your courage.

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  16. Hi Christa,
    My name is now, Ro. I’ve shedded many selfs to finally be me, Ro. At the age of 21 I was in a extremely abusive relationship, nearly lost my life. Although I’m here to speak about it, I managed to live with the devil himself for 1 year and a half. I eventually safely escaped, losing every single material thing I owned including my home. 11 years later, I live with PTSD and still am triggered, but every day I get up, get dressed, and show up for myself, Ro, and my 2 munchkins. I admire your strength because it reminds me of the strength I needed in my hard time, I admire your courage because I too had to be courageous and stand up and spread awareness, I admire you sharing your grief because it inspires me to be my best even when it’s hard. I see you, I read your posts and blogs. You’re an amazingly strong woman and I thank you.

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  17. Thank for continuing to write through your difficult times. I suffer from major depressive disorder and PTSD for various life events which were beyond my control. You really offer great insight into the daily struggles one’s up against that seldom people have the courage to speak of. Well, I really appreciate it bc you’re real and honest. In a way it makes me feel not so alone in navigating through pain and trauma. Thanks for the times you told it like it was and the times you shared you’re strength especially in this post.

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