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Once a week my partner Mark and I meet for a “heart talk”. This is an opportunity for us to discuss vulnerable issues that may have come up for us during the week related to our relationship, usually the types of things that we would prefer to sweep under the carpet. Last week, Mark checked in with me about my work.

I had had surgery ten weeks prior to have fibroids removed from my uterus and had allowed my business to drop. Six weeks after my surgery, my business picked back up, but I hadn’t done anything differently to market myself and I still had room for new clients.

“Where are you at with your intentions for growing your business?” Mark asked.

“But my business is growing!” I responded defensively. “I’m worried if I market my business too much right now, I will become overwhelmed.”

Over a year ago, I had been diagnosed with the Epstein Barr virus which frequently expresses itself when I am run down. That morning I woke up with the usual symptoms – fatigue, a headache, body aches and sore throat. I had seen back-to-back clients the day before and I was completely exhausted. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day with everything I wanted to do.

Mark listened empathetically and reflected back what I had shared.

My heart softened. “I feel like I am trying so hard to take care of myself and I still feel poorly,” I said while tears poured down my face. “Nothing I do seems to be enough.” I added, sobbing.

Mark continued to listen with love in his eyes as I expressed disappointment and sadness about my health challenges. He held space for my grief without trying to fix it. As a result, I felt seen, heard and understood. My body relaxed and I stopped crying.

As the day went on, I noticed that I felt much lighter. I had plenty of energy to do my chores, drive over the hill to visit my mom, and have friends over for dinner. Without the grief bogging me down, my vitality increased dramatically.

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Karen Mehringer, MA, MFT - Grief support, counseling and life coaching in Santa Cruz area.