Tonight has turned into a more challenging evening than I was hoping for. When you lose someone and you are grieving, you soon realize that you’re going to have to learn to ride the waves of emotion that crash through. I really can’t swim…but I can float so that’s what I’m doing…keeping my head above water. When my dad died years ago I grieved very differently. I internalized a LOT and just didn’t cry. I thought I had escaped the really painful part, but I was just in denial mode. At the year anniversary of Dad’s death I crashed and burned…you can only hold the pain down inside for so long. It has to make its appearance so that you can purge it out of your system, and the longer you hide these feelings from yourself, the harder they hurt when they finally come out.
A friend of mine is full of interesting observations and she has a very simple one that she points out when she sees people going through a difficult situation: “You can’t go around it…you’ve got to go through it.” Very matter of fact – and very accurate. We try to go around sometimes. I know I do. Just like I tried when Dad died. I didn’t realize that of course – I was just doing what I could to get through each day. But that experience has made me very aware, that this time around I have to own the grief. And God knows I still have moments that I kick and scream about it because I really just want life back to normal…I am tired of trying to feel my way through each day being fine one minute and a mess the next. You find yourself walking around with these gaping holes in your heart and stomach and you can’t possibly wear that on your sleeve 24/7 so you try to be okay when you’re with people, but I am finding the most comfortable place is alone and that’s not always good. I have to find a happy medium. I realize too, that I am experiencing a profound sense of loss, which in turn has left me with an irrational fear that I will lose others that are close to me. Feelings are sooo magnified and raw. But then, an hour later you feel fine…you’re on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. It’s a merry-go-round, but at least I know that eventually the ride ends.
So what am I doing about all of this? I can’t make it go away…I just have to find ways to cope and I feel pretty confident that I am. I’m trying to be more active both physically and mentally as I know this helps all the way around. If I have to grieve I may as well do something constructive with it, so bike riding has become my drug of choice and I am trying to polish up my piano playing and learn the guitar. The guitar… well… I’m becoming less enamored with the idea of taking lessons. I think I was made to just play that a little more freely. Maybe it’s how my brain works. The piano makes sense to me because everything is so visual and orderly and you can put so much emotion into it. The guitar is a great stress release, but I think it’s just going to remain a fun instrument as opposed to one that I’m going to try to be technical with (not that I’m technical with the piano either…but you get the drift). There’s nothing better to relieve stress than playing the guitar along with songs that you’re listening to on iTunes… you just crank the volume on the songs up so loudly that you don’t hear yourself playing so much and VOILA!!! You’re a rock star! 😉
The balancing act comes in when you have to allow yourself to feel the pain, because that is equally as important as doing things to take your mind off of it. You have to own it. It’s real, it’s yours, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. This is the hard part because this is when you permit yourself to feel whatever is there to feel…hurt, anger, sadness, confusion, emptiness, loneliness…take your pick because you’ll run the gamut with all of these and more before you’ve healed. Just know that in the end…you’ll be so much stronger and so much more resilient. Remind yourself that nobody is holding you to a time frame. I have to do that myself…realize that nobody’s acceptance of me is affected by what I am going through – and that my acceptance of myself shouldn’t be either.
A poem I wrote years ago about the very denial I just talked about…
April 3, 1993
Torrents of fear grip my heart
as the ravaging pain echoes
through my very existence.
The icy temple whose god is Denial.
Struggling to survive, yet,
no longer to be a fortress
surrounding my soul.
Exposed and frightened,
unmasked to the very foundation.
amidst the ruins of constraint.
Guardedly awaiting rebirth,
the light of truth melting
the temple that holds my soul captive.