Loss and Sorrow

For anyone who asked I described 2023 as the best and worst year of my life. Now, nearly halfway through 2024, I’m ready to write about it.

Most folks who know me would describe me as an optimist. I’m positive, future-facing, and tend to always look for the best in people and circumstances. “There’s always a bright side” and “It’s even better this way” have been common refrains of mine.

What I learned last year, though, is that my optimism has been a survival mechanism and for the majority of my life I’ve been surviving.

2023 brought it all into sharp relief.

I realized that, more than 30 years later, I hadn’t fully grieved the loss of my father.

My 15 year marriage ended in divorce.

My business partner and I decided to close our businesses and end our work together.

I lost the majority of my income, lost my home, and began the move towards bankruptcy.

Someone I care about deeply attempted suicide – twice.

My faith was shaken, beliefs I’ve held since a child were upended, and I experienced shame and ostracism for the first time in my faith community.

I was diagnosed with autism (and have since discovered I also have ADHD).

My first major move in the WordPress ecosystem, where I’ve invested the past 19 years of my career, failed spectacularly.

I broke my habit streak of 5 years, which had become a part of my identity.

And through it all, I kept looking for the bright side. “I’m learning”, I told myself, “I’m growing”. I was surrounded by amazing people who supported me and had my back.

I’ve also experienced some of the most joy and happiness I’ve known over this past year and a half as I reconnected with my family, found a new life partner, discovered a path forward in business, and rediscovered my faith.

I’ve realized, though, that joy and happiness can exist in the same moment with loss and sorrow and that both need their space. I’ve cried often this past year and that crying has given way to grieving, which has been new and uncomfortable for me, but also relieving.

Through the shame and ostracism (a fair amount of it, I’d add, in my own head) I’ve also felt acceptance. I’ve connected more deeply the people around me who’ve supported my grief and encouraged me to take the space I need to process and heal.

I’ve nearly finished Jessica McCabe’s How To ADHD and it was one of her final chapters, “Stories and Endings” that gave me the unlock I needed to start writing again and processing my experience.

My hope is that my own loss and sorrow may help some of you feel that you’re not alone as you work through your own. If I can be of any support or encouragement to you in your own journey, let me know.