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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Paletta

Rip Currents and Remembering

When we moved to Tampa, Fl eight months ago, I didn't expect things to go this way. I quietly wrote the blog titled "Lighthouses and Life Restored" and wandered forward into the unknown. People say it's important to write things down, to see them, to visualize what you want and need, work hard and so it will be. I remember visualizing, I remember imagining a home that wasn't failing structurally, a backyard that the dogs could really run in, a space for The Yoga Room, and an overall feeling of relief. There have been many many of these relieving moments since we landed in this little Jean Street house, and I feel so much gratitude that sometimes I can't hold the happy tears back. Coffee on the back porch, Brandy's old beagle-body soaking up the sunshine while she sleeps at my feet, bike rides to the brewery and yoga and the coffee shop with Steve. It's all so good.

But without fail, the calendar slowly turns over and despite my resistance, June and July show up. I can hear you now, "What? You hate summer? Who hates summer?" I don't hate summer, but rather what summer reminds me of. No matter how busy I stay, how distracted I make myself, no matter if I greet these months and acknowledge their power, or even if I surrender completely, it pulls me under. Grief like a rip current.

The thing about rip currents is that they will drag you to the bottom and hold on until they are ready to finally let you go. There is no point in the struggle, it's best to relax in the chaos and trust that the release will come. I'm not really afraid of the grief, of the images and the dreams that inevitably come, the way my body remembers, the weight of sadness or the sear of my anger about it all. I'm not afraid of the blanket of depression, because I know the weight of it so well... I'm afraid of the swim back up, the work of fighting like hell to get back to the surface.

There will never be a year where the grief doesn't come. The calendar turns, the body remembers, and so it is. This year, I'll watch the water as it churns and my trauma bubbles up from the deep to meet me here like clockwork, looking for the markers of change, for the little shifts that remind me things are different no matter how eerily similar they seem. In this time observing, I have found some absolute truths:

1 - I am a better swimmer than last year.

2 - The current will (and always does) let go eventually.

3 - Even if I feel destroyed, what I have built is not.

I will visualize and remember the feeling of the release, the touch of my feet to the sand again, the relief of breath at the surface, as I rise up again, praying one day I miraculously grow some gills. I will trust in the strength of my legs to kick and my arms to guide me towards the shore so that I can lift myself back into the life I have built. Nothing is lost, nothing is destroyed, I am just briefly and annually baptized in my grief, and I will choose to laugh as it spits me back out again.

If you are in a rip current, remember it will let go eventually, the release will come. Remember you are a stronger swimmer than last year. Remember just because you feel underwater, overcome, and nearly drowning, that what you built in your life is still there for you to rise up again and continue. If the pull of grief can feel so familiar, perhaps one day, stepping into the healing will too.

The calendar turns, the body remembers, and so it is.

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