I thought I was stoic, but maybe I’m not.

When we’re thrown into the fire, the first thing to burn away are the masks and falsehoods we use to protect ourselves. I’m in the fire.

I just returned from a retreat entitled Ego Break Retreat. Workshops centered on breaking away from ego to find our true selves, and tap into awareness, intuition, and authenticity. Lessons included real-life examples of how to take a step back from a situation and become witness in order to find the power of chosen response, instead of being driven by emotional reaction.

Stoic Ego-Breakers

Maybe I’m borderline stoic, but I mostly grin and bear it until I can’t.

And here’s the thing. Stoic doesn’t mean grin and bear it. Stoics are practical and centered. They cultivate happiness and strive never to fret over things they can’t control. Stoics focus on living a meaningful life and being their best selves.

If only I were stoic…

Stoic in Grief

The fire of my grief is a slow burn. The grief blisters in unexpected places, sometimes as a reaction to the ways others behave in this shared fire. I’ve been consumed by things and people out of my control, expectations and disappointments, if-onlys and what-ifs.

If only mom were here. She was the heart, the glue, the warmth, the cookies.

The emotions spill over, and I find myself with wet cheeks, chewing on impractical thoughts.

Mom wouldn’t have….


If mom were here, she would have…

The ruminations are valid but not at all constructive. Mom’s not here. We are. Together, we pick our way through the rubble of the things that fell apart without mom.

  • Weedy flower beds and garden
  • Cold kitchen
  • Rotting trampoline
  • Empty cookie tubs

But mostly, whole people in pieces. What they do and don’t do are stark reminders, mom’s not here.

Stoic Lessons

Since March 13, 2020, and especially after June 13, 2022, I’ve been taking deep dives into what have become buzz words: authenticity, intuition, integrity, passion, inner child, happiness. Without realizing it, I’ve had stoic intentions.

I struggle with some of the lessons, not because the concepts and books trip me up; I trip over myself.

  • Cultivate happiness: What is my happiness?
  • Break from ego into meta cognition: What does that look like in the middle family conflict and heartbreak?
  • Live a meaningful life: Where is the meaning in this rubble and unraveling of family?

I can’t say “I’m stoic” with integrity… yet. What I can say is I’m in the process of becoming stoic. With each lesson, each word, and each conflict, I am in the process of finding my true self, my authenticity, my integrity.

And the grief? This fiery grief reminds me to be stoic, to pursue truth, meaningfulness, and virtue even when they cause discomfort; to cultivate happiness even in the fire of sadness; to step away from the fire and be witness to this moment. Mostly, the fire reminds me to let go and let the falsehoods and fears burn away so I can be myself, my true self.