The Beauty & Pain of Paradox

 A paradox of the spiritual life requires that we experience the most profound aloneness to experience the most profound connection.             ~Blessings From Mary, Sally Bartolameolli

     The paradox of life has not been an easy lesson for me. IN the last third of my life, I have come face to face, toe to toe, with this wisdom. I am grateful.

Life is full of paradox.

     I am a seeker. I am perhaps a seeker because of the paradox of life, the paradox of being welcomed, and loved deeply from my earliest days on earth to 15 months later having the foundation of security pulled out from beneath the already unsteadiness of my toddler’s feet.

A paradox of belonging and suddenly lost.

My father died unexpectedly. My mother courageously took on her responsibilities to provide the basics of food, shelter, and clothing, but emotionally, she was gone, too.

A paradox of love through doing and the absence of being.

I was born late in their lives and I imagine when she looked into my dark brown eyes, into the eyes of the little girl that my father was delighted to embrace, she only saw him. I was his last great gift to her, his seed, left to her, left without her consent or warning. I was hers to nourish and grow to fruition.

While writing my memoir, I have come to fully forgive my mother’s emotional absence, her rage, her inability to be all of whom I wanted, and needed. She loved me deeply. She loved me imperfectly.

In addition, while arriving at forgiveness for who my mother was and who she was not, I have been able to forgive myself. I forgive myself for blaming her for being human, for blaming others for not being able to fulfill the emotional insatiability inside of me, and for blaming myself for needing, for wanting, and for my own humanness.

It is the paradox of our unparalleled ability to love deeply as humans and to pass our woundedness onto those we love.

In the last month, I’ve been hit with an unexpected loss, the loss of my marriage, a marriage that I felt secure within, that I was welcomed and loved within. It is not my choice.

And, like all loss, all grief, and all tragedy, it is a paradox in life. As a seeker, one who leans into the wisdom of emotional and spiritual intelligence, I know these three truths:


  • No matter what we do or who we are, there is paradox in our lives, events, and persons outside of our own control. During these times,

we have a choice – become bitter or become holy.

  • The answer to all of life’s problems is spiritual – a belief in a power greater than myself, a benevolent source, something beyond my intellectual or corporeal understanding. A return to my ancestors has been a return to myself. I am not alone.
  • Actions of self-care during difficult times become necessary. Drinking lots of water, walking slowly, and breathing deeply are the right actions that will redirect harmful thoughts or unhealthy behaviors. Leaning into loving support in our lives is an important action to take.

I believe in leaning into grief. Doing so releases the issues in our tissues, allows us to connect somatically, and we empty the flooding of emotions. In doing so, we build resilience, we open to gratitude; the authentic, soulful gratitude that flows from a broken heart. Compassion and self-love follow.

Lastly, I am aware that my ability to do this soul work with my ancestors is because I am privileged. My background, ethnicity, and foundational family allows me the privilege of seeking and healing emotionally.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I must have the basic needs of my life handled before I am able to move into the spiritual, into the spiritually transformational realms

Another paradox of life is that the depth of compassion holds the pain of those less fortunate while at the same time, I am grateful.

I ran. I blamed. I hid from my ancestors for the longest time.

Now their souls are my soul and we walk in darkness and in light, facing the paradox and mystery of life hand in hand.

Sally Bartolameolli, M.Ed., & Teacher, author, seeker, and a woman committed to making a difference.

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