On Making Meaning Out of Life

I was a great meaning maker for most of my life. I could make beautiful meaning from my traumas. I had a gift for taking the worst of what happened to me and transforming it by creating something beautiful for others.  I was a teen mom so I co-founded a home for teen mothers. I was a rape survivor so I helped organize Take Back the Night on campus. I was a welfare mom so I managed a welfare-to-work job training center and filled it with love. And I’ve been writing publicly about my journey for 20 years. 

I made meaning out of having to be a worker to support my kids by working exclusively for nonprofits that provided necessary services.

I made meaning of the rest of life through spirituality. My spiritual framework shifted over time (Christian to pagan to mystic), but it was always vital to my ability to feel connected to All of Life. I had CPTSD so I made relationship my spiritual practice. I struggled with the ugly realities of the world so I focused on spiritual meaning for our human existence. I wholeheartedly believed the stories that said we were evolving to something better (that's a much longer game than the New Age gurus want us to believe). 

My meaning maker broke 8 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with Lake, dissociated, and dropped into a dark night of the soul. It was devastating. Then it broke again with our adoption triad fracture, and again when I became disabled by pain. Add perimenopausal depressive nihilism and meds damaging my brain to the mix and things were f’ing dark. The darkest they’d ever been.

It's only in the last year that I feel like my meaning maker is mostly repaired and functioning. I started HRT, I stopped taking meds, and I finally reached a place in my journey of grief and healing where I can see the light again. But spiritual meaning is still elusive. I believe I’m not fully reintegrated because spirituality was a vital source of connection for me and it feels like something is still missing. While I feel connected to people and the natural world, I feel disconnected from any sense of the Sacred and that makes me sad. I had a vibrant love affair with God and I want that enchantment, ecstasy, and deep sense of meaning back. 

Image credit: Samantha Wallen is a writing coach