Over the last few days, buried under all of my pain, guilt, and horror, I’ve been finding myself getting to my roots. I keep asking myself the same few questions and I keep coming up empty.

How will I love again? How will I trust my own heart, instincts, and truth again?

How will I feel deserving of another life in my hands again?

I can rationalize the facts that I was a nanny for years and years with little lives and I was worthy, gentle, and cautious.

I can tell myself that we all make decisions every day that can have horrific effects we don’t realize until after, the day in and out activities like driving to work can lead us down a path we never imagined.

The problem is that it doesn’t take away the pain, or my gut wrenching heart that’s twisted and tight.

Somehow, though all of this, I’ve been at work with some of the most amazing people that keep me laughing and focused on the present so I can make it through the day.

I’ve somehow had my family so close that was too far for too long.

I’ve managed to take baths, keep my stomach (mostly) full, I’ve managed to keep creating art and keep writing about it all. I’ve found a strength I never knew I had.

Within my last year of breathing on this planet, I’ve endured a lot.

Some of the endurance was self-inflicted – like packing my car up and moving across the country, while some was universe-inflicted.

Learning how to wake up, get dressed, and let the day happen as it does despite the pain is a new level of work for me.

I understand, very clearly now, how easily someone could give it all up. Give up on trying and give into the darker corners.

I realize how we can have moments where we forget anything else matters and we have so much pain that we wouldn’t care if the earth below us fell.

Perhaps that’s what we could all use more of. A little understanding.

The world is full of so much pain, blame, and guilt.

Everyone walks around with something they’ve regretted, a decision that led to another that led to a wrong turn, we all share a darkness.

What we’ve done as a culture, is forgotten how to embrace that darkness and turn it into something stronger.

We embed fear of weapons, fear of authority, fear of ‘bad neighborhoods”, and fear of the unknown. We have forgotten how to embrace the differences and re-learn what our ancestors fought so hard for us to have – freedom.

Freedom to wear a black hoodie, responsibly own a gun, the freedom to speak your mind, the freedom to make choices that are right for you and your family while not doing harm to others. People are angry. Anger is ok. Pain is ok.

What do we do with that anger and pain?

How do we decide love is more important than turning a cheek or harming others?

As a culture we have to start with more empathy and understanding of differences.

We’ve got to stop having a person, law, or political movement to blame.

We’ve got to hug one another longer, say “I love you” more frequently, and take longer – deeper breathes when we find it’s all still so complicated.

We don’t all understand everything, we don’t all have the right answers – we are a community – a very big, beautiful, scary, and critical community.

All we can do is what’s right within our own hearts and hope that it helps.

We need to forgive ourselves more, forgive others more, and push ourselves to understand differences within all of the cracks. It really, really can be beautiful.