Self Preservation... Or Wisdom?

There are humans, and then there are humans who are aware of their own mortality.

I don’t know about you, but I’m the latter. I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at just a couple months old, and it wasn’t lost on me that highschool may well have been the middle of my life. Other kids were going through rebellious phases while I was potentially experiencing a literal midlife crisis at 15.

And you know, in a way that was a gift.

Because it taught me not to waste my time, my one life and the time I get to live. It taught me to live with passion, intention, and kindness… because I want them to know I was here. I want them to know I lived and loved (just like Beyonce, did you catch that nod?). And I don’t have time to just mess around with wishywashyblargrah pointlessness.

I’m here to LOVE. To giggle, to laugh and shine so bright. To share my beautiful ideas and perspectives, to learn and grow and connect with others.

I don’t have time to sit here hating myself or feeling jealous or holding off on letting my superpowers shine. I’m here to live fully, and I’m not going to let that pass me by.

But… Something I’ve realized lately is that I have some pretty severe trust issues…
Or else I’m wise. I suppose time will tell.


This whole trust-issue concept probably comes as a shock for a lot of my readers- because you guys know me. We chat, you know how vulnerable and trusting I am. You know how openly I share and connect with you.

The thing is- I can’t open up to receiving the same compassion and kindness and openness from others all the time.

Sometimes it’s really really hard.

It’s hard because I know that my disease will likely lead to a slow death.

I could suffocate in my own lungs, or struggle along for months and years as my organs slowly shut down. Or if I’m a lucky duck I might even live long enough to die of colon cancer…

So… that’s terrifying.

Except it’s not really.

I admire grief, felt down deep. I think it’s a sacred, powerful, passionate thing. What a gift to experience- one of the greatest gifts of life is to grieve, because when you grieve it’s a sign that you have loved deeply. And that’s more precious than anything. More precious than time.

And in a way, I’m grateful that I’ll likely have the opportunity to grieve and mourn my own life. (If this interests you, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Album is a fantastic book… which I read at 15… probably not a coincidence with the whole mid-life crisis, thanks Mr. Z in freshman cornerstone.)

So… if I’m going to be grieving my own death… I’m going to need some amazing people in my life when the time comes. People who are comfortable with grief. Who show up for it and treasure it and honor it, rather than running away or becoming explosive and unpredictable.

I’m not afraid of getting to the end and being all alone…

I’m afraid of everyone I love vanishing- pretending I’m not dying and busying themselves with life when my time comes- I’m afraid that I will die inside a thousand times for the pain I know they’re going to feel when I’m gone. Not because I’m vain and selfish, but because I know that I am so so so deeply loved and treasured, and when I leave this world of course people are going to hurt. That breaks my heart. I’m going to be feeling that, carrying that aching myself- and I’m afraid I’ll wind up carrying that with nobody to help me mourn and say my own goodbye to this world. With nobody to remind me that while I’m sad for my loved ones, I’m also sad for myself.

I crave depth and strength and love in my relationships- all of them. I long to be surrounded by the kind of people who know how to fill their own cup, who honor their needs and show up with love and grace for themselves each and every day. Those are the kind of people I can trust- because I know they will not only take care of themselves, but they will also be present with me in my own grief when the time comes- just as I would for them.

I dream of relationships where we will be able to share and carry burdens of grief and loss together, rather than desperately clinging to or avoiding each other through the painful process.

I have always thought those sort of people were hard to come by, but I realize now that they are everywhere, and I am even more delighted to realize they surround me already. I am so grateful for them- and I’m grateful to be one of these people too.

Grief is sacred.

A circle to grieve with is precious. And the kind of trust that exists between people who can honor their own and one another’s grief simultaneously is absolutely incredible.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe this trust boundary is a dilemma I need to work through in myself, and I’m sure I will in time.
Maybe this is why I tend to isolate myself, rather than exploring new and exciting possibilities with people I don’t yet know. The thought has crossed my mind.

But I’ve found that the deepest, greatest friendships I’ve ever known have grown from or else rooted down deeper through the waves and aching of grief.

The people who know how to love in spite of an impending ending? Those are my people.

So… call it wise or call it a trust issue… but the ones I can commit to are the ones who aren’t afraid to grieve. To go all in, to dream, to love deeply and wildly and passionately in every moment of their lives. And then to be present with the crashes that come and the grief that follows. There’s divinity in grieving, and it’s not all sad and bad and melancholy torture. There’s a kind of love that exists only for those who aren’t afraid to grieve. And it’s not a masochistic thing. It’s the whole point of everysinglething.

It is the being in human being.
It is life.
It is divinity.

This is what I believe.

Jessica Pena1 Comment