“The Full Catastrophe.”

“When they ask you about me. Tell them I felt all the things that weren’t being said and wrote about them.”

Brooke Hampton

I don’t want to be sad, but there is sadness here.

I don’t want to be mad, but there is anger here.

I don’t want to be frustrated, but there are so many things I need to say – and the people I need to say them to are no longer here.

The weight I carry is heavy but, with no way to make things right, where exactly do I go to set this burden down?

When my body is feeling all of these things and my mind insists upon processing it all – everything, and all at once – the only thing I can think to do that makes any sense at all is RUN.

But what do you do with all this energetic turbulence when you are physically unable to purge it?

I don’t want to feel any of these things, but they are with me, nonetheless. They are a part of me.

“The full catastrophe”, as my therapist calls it – and this analogy hits a whole lot deeper when the wisest man I know marvels at what a strong being it takes to contain these multitudes of emotions and, in this moment, I realize that he’s talking about me. And when the tears begin to fall, rather than expressing pity, he offers me grace.

In times like these it helps to remember that I am bigger than this – I am bigger than all of the things that sometimes threaten to overwhelm me. And the simple fact that I can feel them all is actually more of a blessing than a curse.

Catastrophe here does not mean disaster. Rather it means the poignant enormity of our life experience. It includes crises and disaster but also all the little things that go wrong and that add up. The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing. This includes our ideas, our opinions, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, our creations, our bodies, everything.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Full Catastrophe Living”

Ever since I heard it, I have felt that the phrase ‘the full catastrophe’ captures something positive about the human spirit’s ability to come to grips with what is most difficult in life – and then to find within it room to grow in strength and wisdom. For me, facing the full catastrophe means finding and coming to terms with what is most human within myself. All the times I fell, but got back up – and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. All the times I doubted myself, all the hurt that I chose to turn into healing, and how I used these moments to build myself back up, becoming the most certain thing that I have ever known. It’s the future version of myself that I have yet to meet, as well as all the past versions that helped to get me where I needed to be. It’s the ugly parts of my story that made my life more beautiful, and how these moments taught me grace.

It’s how I’ve come to know the depths of chaos, unafraid to dive right in. It’s courage, it’s strength, it’s resilience, and an unbreakable faith. It’s believing that everything will always work itself out in time, even if all we can do is wait. It’s looking back at how far I’ve come and realizing, without a doubt, that my comeback game is strong! I am still here, I am still standing and, no matter what this life throws at me, I can still go on.


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