Sunday, January 26, 2014

One Step at a Time

Already the journey seems long. 

Every day drags into the next; there is a same-ness to them that is somehow numbing. Numbing feels good sometimes, now that the initial surreal-ness of the grieving process has worn off and the hurts (when they happen, usually unexpectedly) hurt worse. 

The problem with the numbness is that sometimes I forget how fragile I still am. 

And a large part of me just doesn't want to "go there." There are issues I need to work through, but try as I might, I just can't make myself open that Pandora's box. Looking within, I can tell that I do have unresolved feelings and that these feelings need to be addressed, but it's not an experience I look forward to having, because it involves allowing myself to be angry at someone whom I love dearly and whom I miss so much that it aches. 

When I have "impatient" or "self-critical" times like this, I try to think about what my counselor would say to me. Or what I would say to someone else who was going through this. And it helps me to turn the Golden Rule toward the mirror, to treat myself the way I wish to be treated, to be gentle with myself.

Grief looks different for every person and also for every loss for the same person. There is no right way to do it; there is no timetable to follow. It takes however long it takes and it takes whatever path it takes. If I am not ready to tackle a certain part of my process and I am truly honest with myself, I will discover (as I have so many times these last three months) that the part of the process for which I am not ready is not where I am supposed to be for right now, that I can let it go. It will return when I am better equipped. 

Right now I'm not ready to even look at my anger. I am currently at a different stage - psychologists call it bargaining - and part of that stage (for those who are dealing with a death) is a tremendous sense of guilt: the "if only" mentality. 

"If only" is not pleasant. But it's normal to feel those feelings. Realizing that all the "if only" statements in the world aren't going to change what happened has been a process in itself, and applies to each regret in turn; there is no 'blanket' coverage for it. Every time, the process is the same.  Feel the feelings. Look at them and figure out why they are there, and do what I need to do in order to look after myself. 
Image "Watering Stump" by rattigon at

Objectively, I can see that going through the process in this way is necessary. Personally, I can't work through feelings of anger against someone else until I've faced my need to work through my own guilt and forgive myself for so many things. Some of it I've processed; that is progress. At least I can sleep past 1:30 a.m. without sleep aids now. 

It doesn't stop me from wanting this whole thing to be over with, though. I keep wanting to "skip to the end" but ... it doesn't work that way. I need to take one step at a time. And then I get to take the next step, and the next. Eventually I'll have worked through the tough stuff ... even the anger that I am unable to process right now. 

The blessing about going through the process as it happens (without borrowing trouble from the next step before I get there) will be that the memories, the good times that bring comfort and laughter - these will remain. It doesn't mean that I'll have stopped grieving, or that I have ceased caring, or that the pain will go away. It will just be different.

Maybe different will be good. I hope so.

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