2 and 1/2 years.
That’s how long the three women in my book study had been been meeting.
Of course, there were other women who had come and gone, some staying one session and others much longer.
And in the end, it was these 3 women who showed up in my office week after week to be there with and for each other. Even when they did not want to, or they did not particularly like each other.
There was a rhythm and continuity to it that rooted everyone through the laughter and the tears of their lives.
There was, that is, until there wasn’t.
A few months ago, one of the members shared that she believed her time in the group was complete, and that she was not coming back. After she spoke her heart, the other 2 women also arrived at the same place. It had been a good ride, and it was time for this iteration of it to be over, at least for now.
They started to stay goodbye ( as most of us do) in a very high school Raise Hell This Summer kind of way. Almost as if they wanted to hurry the process up, to get inevitable ending behind them so they check it off the list and move on.
Which, I believe, is how many of us relate to some meaningful chapter of our lives closing. We want to avoid the feelings of loss. And we can when we pretend it ( or they) didn’t matter so much to us. It was nice and all, but I’m going to move seamlessly into the ether of my life without this causing a blip.
Not. So. Fast. I said to them, and I am saying to you. There is still gold in this space for us. Slow down, and let’s see what’s here.
So we went around the room, each women telling the others what she had appreciated about her contribution to the group. And then each women took a turn voicing what they were proud of themselves for along this journey, and what they wished for the others in the future.
By the time we were done, there was not a dry eye in the house and each lady had a glow about them. They were beaming because they had been fully seen, acknowledged and praised for how they had showed up. Not what they were doing but who they were being.
This is (one of) the powers of tending to completions consciously. It gives language to our experience and anchors into our psyche that we were part of something transformational. Not only did we contribute to it, our presence helped create it. Without each women’s unique expression ( mine included), that group would have been altered. Not bad, just different. And I think it’s so important to name that, and let it integrate into our bodies.
As a culture, we don’t navigate endings especially well. This starts with how our family of origin processed losses. Some of us had families that simply ignored or denied that they were happening at all. Others had families where good bye meant screaming, fighting and door slamming. And to others, the end was never quite the end. In those cases, nobody could really let go and move on because there was not a sense of finality. There are many versions of this; no matter how you experienced completions growing up, chances are good you did not learn how to feel them and put them in their proper place so you could open up the space for the new and evocative.
And that is what the three of them did on that Tuesday night this summer. They put to bed what needed to rest in a way that honored the individual and collective alchemy that was created when they gathered. In doing so, there was no residue holding them back from what was to come. They learned that endings do not have to be traumatic, and full of angst and hard feelings. They saw that even though the form for relating had changed, their relationships with each other did not have to.. And they experienced how the transformation from group to solo can actually be beautiful, healing and restorative.
And that’s a huge fucking win in my book!