Sunday, 22 March 2009

what's on my mind today

I believe grief is as individual as fingerprints or DNA. I know, I know, there are the “five stages of grief” – and when you do not follow them and end your grief in what your friends, family, and society in general consider a timely manner – you must be “depressed” in a clinical sense or “holding onto your grief to keep them here”, or “holding on to your grief so that you do not have to move on”. One’s extended grief can actually become annoying to those close to them. “ You need to see a psychiatrist”; you need to “get some help”. Sometimes a person in grief is not crazy or depressed – they are in grief and it last until it’s done or they are dead.

“Why haven’t you married again?” “Why don’t you date?” “You should have a relationship and then you will forget.” Well I don’t bloody well want to forget! I have “moved on”. I have a happy life.

It’s not a timetable that works. There are always extenuating circumstances – for some it’s the last straw on a lifetime of loss, for others it is just too overwhelming to consider life without those lost, some have never had such a loss and have no tools with which to deal with such an all consuming emotional state. Some take their own lives because they cannot face a future without those whom they loved so completely; and then there are those like me, who find we have no ability to commit suicide and it’s fucking annoying at the time I can tell you – pissed me off. So I spent a year trying to die in some very creative and noble pursuits – you note that I remain.

I suffered such a loss over twenty-five years ago that still makes me bleed through my skin. At this time every year, some years less and some years more, I walk, talk, eat, sleep (not very well), and function as best I can while all the while my life’s blood is oozing out my pores and dripping on the floor, the keyboard, the book I’m reading, the kitchen counter, into the sink while I wash my face. I watch it swirl down the shower drain in a whirling circle of red.

And grief is fucking sneaky! It gets you when you are watching mourning doves build a nest outside your window and you burst into tears; when you see a child whose face snatches you back in time as surely as any mechanical time machine and your heart aches to the point you can feel the pieces falling off; when you make the mistake of watching the latest Kira Knightly movie because you think it will be just another light costume drama and instead it leaves you feeling like a rag that has been used too long, wrung out one time too many times; a song plays, or a smell – like a curl of smoke – drifts slowly up your nostrils and sends you body and soul back to the that day; a touch on my face, just so, can put me back on the walk along the Seine on a Spring day in Paris…

You can be just fine and then suddenly you can’t see through the blackness that has descended, you are trying to communicate with the world through a fog so thick it’s like cotton candy, and so dark that it could be midnight inside a singularity, and there is a one hundred pound anvil on your chest so that breathing is an effort. Your hearing is impaired – you hear the sounds from that day, those years ago, instead of now – the bells of Notre Dame, the ragged chugging of the motorboats taking the tourists back and forth along the Seine, the barking of the small Paris dogs that are ubiquitous, the sound of my love speaking to me of nothing of any great import – all sounds of a Tuesday morning, any Tuesday morning, like so many Tuesday mornings that had come before, and like no other Tuesday morning ever to come.

And the smell of the fresh grass of spring, the flowers that the old woman on the corner is selling from her stall (I remember the cart was blood red with a fleur-de-lys stamped in gold in the centre, and the flecks of gold paint had fallen off over the years giving it the appearance of standing history); the flowers in the Tuileries peeking out from the winter thaw, the smell of fresh bread baking, drifting out from the many café’s along the way, and the clean man smell of the tall chap rubbing my huge belly with his long fingered hands, my belly which was filled with life that we had created together – and he laughed, and then I laughed to see the joy in his eyes that I had put there.

And then in a single moment that lasted for an eon they were both gone. And I should “get over it”? I don’t’ think so. I can live with it. I have done so, I continue to do so, but “let them go”? Why would I want to do that? The guilt yes, I’m working on that; I’ve been working on that for almost thirty years but guilt so deep as to be felt every time you breathe is not so easily expunged.

First the Universe gave me Q to ease my heart and give me joy, and now a love from thirty-three years ago has come back into my life and has filled it with so much love that I wake every day with gratitude. So yes, this year is different. This year is much more difficult. This year I must let go some of the past so that there is room for my present, for him. This is no easy thing. Some emotions, experiences that change us fundamentally, lie buried so deep that there are endless reservoirs of grief to replace – indeed to displace a new love.

Oddly enough I feel almost adulterous, an unpleasant feeling being the loyal soul that I am. He feels it, he sees it when my eyes go ‘dark’ and I’m no longer here. It hurts him. It makes him feel I leave him, and at such times I indeed do just that. It makes him jealous of a dead man, and that does not make him feel honourable no matter how much I say it is normal and that I understand. He has been tender, loving, patient, but the pain in his eyes is growing; and he wants an answer. He wants the pain to end because he loves me; but he is after all a human, and he wants my pain to end so that I am here, in present time, with him.

I am trying – yes Yoda I hear you, “Do or do not… there is no try”. I am meditating. I am constructing a room for them in my mind. A place my memories can stay and be out of the present; and yet a room I can visit. I know that to not have love in my life, to not have the best existence I can is to fail to honour them. I know this. I do not disparage psychiatry, I think it works for some, and is needed for many people; it’s not where I go for help – for a list of reasons it is not an option for me. I can do this. I know I can. I just have to convince myself that I want to do so. I do. I am not someone who is willing to throw away happiness. I have seen much of the world and there is so much misery that to give your happiness away is not logical. I will not do that. And yet I know I cannot pretend. I cannot push the feelings down lest they attack me at some crucial moment when not expected. I have to bring it all, including the guilt, most especially the guilt, and expose it in the clear and merciless light of day. I know that they, the one who could not yet speak and the one who loved me completely, would want me to do this. For me, it is time. Now is the time. I know that their souls are out there, that I will meet them again in the next turn of the Wheel. I know this.

Today is a better day. Yesterday was a very bad day. Tomorrow is another day. I can do this.

13 comments:

Anna said...

Such a moving, honest post. Two losses flattened me also. And, yes, the pain goes on. I live my daily life but it's underscored by sadness, shock, regret, anger, guilt, and sorrow. "Move on"; "let go"; "leave the past behind" blah-blah-blah. You are so right - grief is as individual as DNA. It's a lonely path. It's not nice in our culture to speak of decay and death: too negative! Sympathy for bereavement seems to have a shelf-life of about six months! Incorporating the pain of loss, though is the most important endeavour in the universe, I think. Perhaps we're the strong ones. I hope that the people who love you will let you go on doing it in your own way. Hugs.

Crushed said...

That was kind of poetic...

I can't say I've ever been in that situation, but obviously obne has had experiences that resonate, somewhat.

I don't think its wrong to love people even when they're no longer 'yours'.

Broni said...

in a situation were I dont know I always put myself in the other persons shoes. How would I feel? How would I react? etc

In this situation I honestly dont know what to suggest. I too know how you feel and go through this every year. Life is never the same.

I agree with Anna : I hope that the people who love you will let you go on doing it in your own way.

All the best

I Beatrice said...

I have been very much affected by what you say, and feel for you deeply.

I have never experienced anything quite so terrible as that - but I have to some extent experienced it from the other side... which is to say that I too have had to watch, and wait, and long to be accepted whole-heartedly just for myself. It does happen eventually, but in its own time and its own way.

Always in its own way. And I don't believe it can, or should be forced.

Coming2Terms said...

My heart aches for you ... I've been dancing with grief for different reasons, but your poignant passages spoke to me and described my encounter with this difficult emotion. I've been planning my own post on the unpredictability of grief and came across this bit of info:
- The American Academy of Family Physicians lists these common symptoms of grief:

* Numbness, shock and denial are common initially.
* Feelings of abandonment may occur once reality has set in.
* Anger -- directed at the person who is gone, yourself, others and even religion -- is common.
* Temporary depression and guilt may set in once the grieving person realizes what the loss means.
* Thinking frequently about the person and reliving memories are normal reactions, as well.
* Little by little, you should begin to feel better. Eventually, you should begin to focus on resuming relationships and activities. It's not uncommon to initially feel "disloyal" to someone as you start to move on.

The bit about feeling "disloyal" as we start to heal from the numbness, anger, etc., etc,. is what reassured me that guilt is yet another aspect of grief that requires some working through.

Wishing you peace and strength in this difficult time of memories.

Gary said...

Wow! Your post conjured up feelings and the memory of feelings that I too have had. Besides the loss that we both know about, I too lost a lover and a child...and it hurt SOOO much. It was palpable. It was nearly unbearable. It made suicide seem like good medicine. Thankfully Dante came to the rescue with his final line from "The Pergatorium". "And at long last in the dark night of the evil wood we broke through...and once again beheld the stars!"

Mama Zen said...

Yes, you do remain, and you write beautifully of a kind of pain that I can't even imagine. You can do this, but be very gentle with yourself.

James Higham said...

Touching post, Lady M.

lady macleod said...

Anna
Being the "strong ones" is bloody exhausting isn't it? thank you for your comments, and thank you for coming by.


Crushed
Thank you for your comments and thank you for coming by.


Broni
Thank you, and thank you for coming by.


I Beatrice
I can imagine from the other side it is every bit as difficult. thank you for that perspective, and thank you for coming by.


PJ
Thank you for your comments - I know your pain, and thank you for the data. I wish you, as always, continued success on your journey. Keep breathing. And thank you for coming by.


Gary
Grief is more common by far than I would wish. Giving up is never the right choice, but it does look so very attractive at times eh? Thank you for your comments. Ah yes, Dante... And thank you for coming by.


Mama Zen
Thank you for your kind comments and thank you for coming by.


James,
Thank you, and thank you for coming by.

sally in norfolk said...

What can i say... nothing but sending big hugs x x

Sparx said...

Lady M, I am so sorry. I've had a small taste of loss and I cannot imagine surviving a larger hit, you are very strong.

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