Sunday, July 8, 2012

Good Grief.

So, I decided to get a “check up” from my therapist. It’s been awhile since the break up and the big move and I needed some affirmation that I was headed in the right direction. Just a little “atta girl… you are doing fantastic… pat on the back for you… and call if you need anything.”

Epic underestimation. I should have known.  

You know you are in trouble when in the course of an hour you discuss co-dependence, boundaries, grief and self-esteem.


“What I want from you” I plead “is for you to listen to my words, give me some strategies, and send me the hell out of here.”

“Yeah... not so much… we have some work to do… I’ll see you next week.”


In the past few years, I’ve experienced my fair share of loss. Loss of a job, loss of a parent, loss of a relationship and loss of time with my daughter. And on any one of those stress level scales, I have hit the jackpot.   

All of those things have caused grief, and all of those things I have survived. 

I have, I think, done OK. Not perfect, but OK. I’ve allowed myself the requisite amount of mourning, managed to continue to go to work, been a better parent, and basically taken care of all the “to-do’s” that life requires. I joined a gym, lost some weight, made some new friends, and have even gone on a few (disastrous) dates. 

All of that moving in the right direction. Right?  

But I still have grief—profound and awkward grief.  And one that doesn’t line up with the timelines of regular bad stuff that has happened. And it’s really pissing me off.

It’s that grief over losing myself. Or at least that self that I used to be. 

As complicated as it was, I knew how to be in my past lives. I knew how to love and be loved. I knew how to manage my home and my responsibilities. I knew how to be a parent in an intact family. 

And I knew how to nurture and breed my own insecurities—how to take on other people’s emotions—how to intervene and “fix”—and how to take the blame. And when push came to shove, I knew how to do that which I have expertise—how to check out.

And now, all of those things that I was sure of are not so much so. 

And now there is a big blank open space sitting there that I can’t seem to fill up. 

And as hard as I have tried, I can’t seem to check out. 

Not this time.   

Some people would be thrilled at the prospect of starting over and re-inventing their lives.

I’m terrified.

I am not, and never have been, good at being vulnerable and out of control. And this, quite frankly, feels like a free-fall into an abyss with no ropes.

Call it lack of self-esteem—fear of change—lack of spiritual or mental strength—inability to trust—or downright cowardice.


All I know is that I don’t quite know how to get there from here. I want a manual with step by step instructions. I’ll even take one written in Ikea—I don’t care. Just give me something—anything—that doesn’t require a big fat scary leap and a whole lot of pain.

Something that tells me that it’s OK to feel unsure and grieve for now—and that doesn’t make me crazy or dysfunctional.

Something that lets me acknowledge my past mistakes and make better choices in the future.

Something that tells me that I will get there and it will be better.  

And something that assures me that where I am now is exactly the place that I’m supposed to be- painful and awkward and terrifying as it is. 

For the record, my therapist is “excited” about this next chapter in my journey.

I think it’s going to blow.

And I’ll see you next week.

1 comment:

  1. Funny. I've been talking to friends all week about grief.

    I think i've been afraid all my life of giving into it, of being overwhelmed by it. These past three years have definitely been my "dark night of the soul"--how far down the river can grief take me, now that i have nothing left to hold on to?

    There have been moments where i have not made good choices in my grief. and certainly nights and days where i suspected my grief had taken me past a point of no return, past sanity and rationality, and there'd be no return. but i wake up every morning, and i'm still here.

    The great thing about grief is the way it connects us to every living soul. Everyone grieves. Mourning our losses is the consummate human condition. i now have something in common with frat boys and cowboys and Chilean widows and snotty-nosed brats and elephants in Africa. We lose. We experience death, large and small. And we grieve. Loss empties our hands so we can take someone else's.