essays

Loss

I’ve written so much about loss – mostly because I’m trying to harvest the meaning of the most powerful experiences in my life. Some of my losses were visceral surprises, some echoed inside and opened ancient wounds. It’s those doubly powerful losses I had in mind as I wrote an essay called “A Brutal and Sacred Gift.” 

Here are the first few paragraphs: 

When I was about eight I read C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader during a summer visit to my grandparents in Utah. Curled up on Grandma’s nubby old blue sofa in the basement, where the air was cool and a bit musty from the scent of the earth that pushed up against the small windows near the top of the walls, I read for hours. 

I remember little of the book other than a moment when Eustace, who was a scabby and difficult kid, got turned into a dragon. After several misadventures his moment of redemption comes when Aslan the lion pierces through every layer of Eustace’s dragon-ness with his sharp claws to uncover the boy within. But Aslan isn’t done yet. He then strips away more – everything Eustace believes he needs to survive in the world. Eustace is left open and exposed. He is required to confront his delicate core, to remake himself and the way he exists in the world.

When I read that section, my eight-year-old eyes grew wide. I freaked out. I could envision nothing more awful than having every single defense stripped away and then even more defenses stripped away after that. 

I kept imagining it over and over again, my heart beating fast. What would the claws feel like? How far down would they peel? What would it be like to go out into the world raw and naked and new? 

I was desperate to never go through anything like that. Even at eight, I required a protective covering, armour to hide the secret darkness that had always nested inside me. Before I had language to name it, somehow I felt  ineligible for love. That dark and heavy knowing fell like silt into the deepest part of my heart. I learned to carry my disqualification for a normal life, my tender, unmet needs, my lonely separateness. Carrying that loss was all I could handle – I couldn’t face anyone else knowing it was there or seeing how broken and unworthy I was. The pain of loneliness was bearable, the humiliation of it being discovered was not. 

When I write, I always hope that by spelunking down into my own heart I can find a morsel of truth that might illuminate other peoples’ humanity too. 

I wish you courage and fulfillment as you navigate through both the dark and the bright in your life.

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About Lisa

Lisa Poulson is a voice in favor of the complex beauty of female power, the descendant of fiercely resilient Mormon pioneers and a woman who survived the death of her fiancé four months before their wedding. Lisa lives in San Francisco, where she spends her time absorbing and creating as much beauty as possible.

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Lisa Poulson is the legal copyright holder of this blog. Contents may not be used, reprinted, or published without written consent.

About Lisa

Lisa Poulson is a voice in favor of the complex beauty of female power, the descendant of fiercely resilient Mormon pioneers and a woman who survived the death of her fiancé four months before their wedding. Lisa lives in San Francisco, where she spends her time absorbing and creating as much beauty as possible.

Join the conversation on Instagram!

Reminder

You are reading of your own will and choice. How you read, act on or don’t act on what you read here is up to you.

Reassurance

While lisapoulson.com does use cookies, which helps us understand how you engage with our site and where you’re from, we do NOT save your personal information - like e-mail, name or address. And, if you join our mailing list or comment on a post, we will not share (or sell) your contact information. We are not responsible for commenters or other third parties here.

Clarity

Lisa Poulson is the legal copyright holder of this blog. Contents may not be used, reprinted, or published without written consent.