“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we'll ever do.” –Brené Brown

Does anybody else feel life is messy, complicated? I have learned life is not either/or, rather it is both/and. It’s not simply black and white, but shades of grey. Life is both brutal and beautiful at the same time. Like the Phoenix rising, beauty arises from the ashes of our lives.

One of my children was considered by some to be rebellious — the truth was he saw dysfunction and spoke out against it. He held to the light and truth within; that later led to much needed awakening in our immediate family. Another child went into addiction treatment which led us into many layers of inner work — creating healing and growth on multiple levels. One of my children died; dysfunction again rose to the top in our family and eventually led to some grace filled collateral beauty as a result. I went into intensive therapeutic treatment and was faced head on with my own dysfunction, and our family system of dysfunction. My awareness became wide open. I wanted to heal and started intensive recovery work, leading to a major ripple effect in the family.

The examples demonstrate both/and — life changing crises which initially left devastation in their wake: immeasurable turmoil, separation of family, intense pain and suffering in each of us — it was literally brutal! Trauma and post traumatic stress was experienced individually and collectively at different levels among us. There were immediate losses and secondary losses like a multi-car accident continuing to pile up! The impact of each went well beyond our immediate family of 6. It effected other family, friends, church and community etc.

Later, brutal made room for beauty. In no way was this an overnight process — rather years! None of us experienced any of these crises in the exact same way. Besides containing the both/and of brutal and beautiful, these events were not “once and done.” Some things remain UNhealed—healing is ongoing. Wounds become exposed, and it can feel brutal again— just like (over and over) beautiful things mystically arise in the midst of it all.

Our family looks different. Some are missing, and others have been added. Healing work is not for the faint of heart. There will be stumbling’s, relapses—at some point you may want to quit and throw up your arms in exasperation. Off and on, it’ll feel brutal again. Recovery is not an easy path, but I promise it’s a rewarding one.

Where healing has come in each of us: there is a different and deeper faith, more gratitude, expansion of heart and soul, strength we didn’t know we possessed, new found freedoms, and “gifts” we possess that have come only because of healing recovery through grace—to name a few. Beauty arises in the most unexpected places for each of us who choose to heal.

Love yourself, trust your healing process and please hold on— because in this messy, complicated life we’re in— brutal and beautiful reside together!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.