On Loss and Losing in 2020

Photo by Eli Defaria on Unsplash.com

(…) but I needed that first night to be alone. I needed to be alone so that he could come back. This was the beginning of my year of magical thinking

Didion, p. 33

2020 was a deeply humbling year, because we all had to deal with loss in some form (even if this was just the loss of a former sense of self). It was also a year of unprecedented opportunities. Paradoxically, this year was also the start of a new cycle in the Chinese zodiac wheel, as it represents the energy of the Gold Rat (January 25th 2020 until February 11th 2021). So this might’ve been the most introverted beginning ever, or if you’d like to see it in a different light, it was a reset. As the year progressed from the initial political and economic shocks with which it began, it gradually gave in to an eerie state of survival and anxious in-betweenness, since the Covid-19 pandemic was gaining global proportions.

In lock-down in my own apartment, in a tiny village near Bucharest, I kept thinking of the legacy that Saturn in Capricorn was trying to leave to the world and two books I had read since this transit of Saturn began on 19th December 2017: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Ottessa Mosfesh’s My year of rest and relaxation. Both titles are slightly sarcastic since the books tackle difficult subjects such as the death of loved one, and the aftermath of loss, how to cope with living, return to normality and heal. Even if one book is autobiographical (Didion’s) and the other one is a work of fiction (Moshfegh’s), each book in its own way asks: How to go on, when nothing makes sense anymore and life loses it’s emotional meaning?

The book cover of Joan Didion’s ‘My Year of Magical Thinking’

I find that this question strikes a deep chord within our current reality, when a year-long of imposed restrictions and self-isolation made us all frail, weaker, more sensitive and struggling to get by. It also unlocked within us some new veins of untapped potential, and I have a feeling that 2021 will be about mining the gold of this new sense of self (open, vulnerable, honest and more than just 1% of our current brain’s capacity). Optimism required a lot of effort in 2020 and so did the act of being grateful for life’s simple yet increasingly important moments. As Moshfegh describes in a scene that her unnamed character enacts, something as mundane as taking out the trash became significant as an act of connection:

I took the garbage out into the hallway and threw it down the trash chute. Having a trash chute was one of my favorite things about my building. It made me feel important, like I was participating in the world. My trash mixed with trash of others. The things I touched, touched the things other people had touched. I was contributing. I was connecting.

p. 114-115

What made an impression on me was that Ottessa Moshfegh is a Sun sign in Gemini while Joan Didion is a Sun sign in Sagittarius, or so at least a couple of Internet searches tell me. I think that’s somehow significant since the North and the South Nodes of the Moon are currently in the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius up until January 2022. These signs, opposite on the astrological wheel of the zodiac, represent the axis of truth and its defragmentation, of exchanging information versus amassing it, optimism and pessimism, belief and skepticism, and the constant interplay between the higher mind and the lower mind, between what’s real and what is fake. But these two signs are also the signs of Union (Gemini) and Divinity (Sagittarius), of extracting deep wisdom out of life’s mundane events.

My Year of Rest & Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

To me personally, the wisdom I could distill from the haphazard events of this year, coagulated into the unshakeable belief that no matter how much we try to control it, life has a way of working things out on its own, without our conscious involvement or approval. In the midst of all this disease and death, solitude and feeling despondent, I also felt protected and helped by the Divine and its angelic currents. This year thought me so much about dissolving my Ego, slowing down, loving myself by accepting who I am (‘warts and all’) and learning to draw protective boundaries in my life.

The knowledge of this inner current of empathy and love, made me think that we might have all manifested the cocoon-like structure of this year – not the deaths and loss, but the externally-imposed rest and sudden cessation of frantic activity; a lull in the constant pursuit of material gains and status-bound achievements, meant to help us reflect on what we are doing in our lives (and whom are we doing it with). Sometimes sleeping through certain parts of our lives is what it takes to help us appreciate our waking states, but sleep also helps us rest and heal:

Oh, sleep. Nothing else could ever bring me such pleasure, such freedom, the power to feel and move and think and imagine, safe from the miseries of my waking consciousness. I was not a narcoleptic – I never fell asleep when I didn’t want to. I was more of a somniac. A somnophile. I’d always loved sleeping. It was one thing my mother and I had enjoyed doing together when I was a child. She was not the type to sit and watch me draw or read me books or play games or go for long walks in the park or bake brownies. We got along best when we were asleep.

p. 46

I learned how to discard toxic parts of my Ego, in a process that felt in equal parts exhilarating and like I was losing my mind – when Saturn entered Capricorn I was living and teaching in Oxford, UK, employed in a permanent academic position, surrounded by a large group of work colleagues and in a relationship with a Capricorn, whom I had met on an online dating site. Things looked good on the outside but felt difficult and unhappy on the side. I was ridden with inner conflict, competitive and unhappy. By the end of the transit, things drastically changed – I am now living in a small village near Bucharest, with my cat Luna, at peace and hopeful, single by choice and independently managing my work of love ‘The Spiritual Social’, surrounded by the support of my unique crew members. Also, I am now able to deal with the health issues I was previously ignoring, and that my high-profile training certainly enhanced in the last couple of years. I traded public acclaim for doing what I loved, and for once I chose to follow my heart. It’s not the classic Hollywood happy-ending (yet), because I lost the support of my immediate family and group of friends in this process, but I am happy that I stuck true to my heart and bravely chose to follow it.

Acquiring new wisdom about the self does come with a loss, a renunciation of something else. You might call this Universal balance. Losing someone you love to death or some other form of permanent separation is always painful, but the pain can sometimes be delayed or assuaged by holding space for that person, by thinking that somehow through the use of magical thinking that person can be summoned back into your life. This is how Joan Didion begins her account of how she lost her husband and her daughter in the span of the same year, never to see them again. Her book, written in a detached, almost stoic prose, is about trying to make sense of these two loses and find some sort of meaning in life again, understanding how one can live on when the unbearable restructures your life in this unexpected way. As Didion writes:

Life changes fast, life changes in an instant.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

p. 3

Joan describes here the loss of her emotional support system and the ones she also helped support through her love and mothering. I cannot even begin to imagine what she must have felt. I did not have a chance to mother a child, but I did fell in love once and lost my husband, not to death, but to the more prosaic circumstance of divorce. However these two situations are not comparable, even if both are sad within their own right. I did recognize a very familiar coping mechanism, that helped me as well deal with emotionally overwhelming situations. She’s describing a Tower moment, that dreaded Major Arcana card of the tarot that is nonetheless part and parcel of the process of living and being a feeling and sentient human being: when we love we also run the risk of losing those we love, this is a truth universally acknowledged that our greatest joys in life are also the sum of our vulnerabilities:

The Tower card as depicted in the Deviant Moon tarot (left) and Mystical Dream Tarot (right)

Even if I found it hard to identify with Joan’s emotional process, I felt somehow closer to the inner journey of the second book’s main protagonist’ – a young (and unlike myself) rich American woman who begins to deconstruct her identity in a surprisingly non-active way: by sleeping through the pain of having lost her parents (much life myself). As Moshfegh writes through her Sleeping Beauty’s voice:

My hibernation was self-preservational. I thought that it was going to save my life.

p. 7

2020 for me brought about similar circumstances to the ones evoked by Didion and Moshfegh: revisiting the past due to social isolation, feeling as if time leaks backwards rather than forwards, sleeping my way through healing and even though I was lucky enough to not experience the immediate death of anyone I love, just switching on the TV made me shed tears for the people who turned into statistics on the daily news, people who were falling prey to the mysterious Covid-19 infection.

Placing myself in social isolation and heavy quarantine for a year meant I revisited everything I had been through, and there has been a lot to process having consistently travelled in the last 5 years and seeing my marriage fail, my career take off and then spectacularly fail and a completely new sense of self emerging out of this emotional debris. So this transit helped me feel and connect with Spirit, and build on the foundation of my heart rather than that of my mind. I’m a Pisces Sun (in the 5th house of self-expression) and by living more from my heart, rather than being afraid of dealing with my heart and the emotional baggage that was crowding it in, I guess you could say I consciously chose to be myself in 2020, and this is why to me this year has been understated and magnificent.

I understood through a painful process that I don’t need to impress anyone, to chase anything, to ask anyone to love me or to accept me. I am no longer hiding what and whom I love, and the culture from which I came from. My task at the moment is just to keep being me, to keep peeling the outer debris until I reach the core of my authenticity, to control only what I can (my body, my health and energy levels) and then do the best that I can do, creatively. I hope my work continues to touch your hearts, but equally if it doesn’t that ‘s also good. I create because this is who I am and this is the natural state I feel grounded into in the healing chaos of 2020:

The Healing Chaos card from the Sacred Destiny Oracle

Despite 2020 being the year of generalized fear, I feel that we also learned how to cope with this fear through daily effort and with patience. Losing in 2020, was just a way to make room in your life, for the winds of change to sweep in. To me, it was indeed a magical year of becoming awakened, a year of apparent rest and relaxation but also deep inner work and letting go, and one of growing into my new and occult identity and owning it. I look forward now to this shift from the healing chaos of 2020 to the vast unknown that 2021 presents. According to Greek mythology, Chaos was the primordial entity that gave birth to everything in the cosmos, to our ancestors, our lives, our hearts. So who knows what magic we as modern humans can birth next, if we make friends with this unknown and stay connected to both our deep knowing, to technology and to Spirit?

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

With universal love,

Lexi <3


One thought on “On Loss and Losing in 2020

  1. Everyone of us has lost something important in 2020 but I think 2020 has also gifted everyone of us something equally important but in a hidden, not so obvious way. We lost things in our outer worlds but gained things in our inner worlds. Everything must stay in balance, that’s how things are in a cosmos. And I think whatever we gained in 2020 has laid deep roots within us, that if acknowledged and nurtured, it is to grow and blossom beautifully in the future.
    Thank you Lexi for being part of my 2020. ♡

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