2017-02-03 On Grief

Life is complicated, you know, and human beings are fascinating and beautiful and strange. The body is remarkable and unusual and the mind is mysterious and wonderful. This seems like the perfect combination for a extraordinary existence yet, all the connections and unknowns and conflicts can cause chaos. We’re thinking all the time. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Take grief for example. We start by trying to define a feeling. That’s probably the first mistake. Something has happened that is perceived as negative and it elicits certain consequences in the mind and body. We are sad or angry about whatever it is. We maybe think to much about it and don’t get enough sleep. We could become tired and unmotivated. It might cause us to eat too much or not enough. Our heart may even ache. Have you ever had an actual heartache from an event? I have and it was a very powerful experience. How do you explain that? How do you define it?

As beings with higher functioning brains we tend to do a lot of analysis on everything. We study a topic and apply what we know about science to it. We theorize and do experiments and draw conclusions. We use those conclusions in decision making. Those decisions are considered solid because of the process, but this is flawed. It is because the process is only as good as the inputs. We don’t know what we don’t know and if there is something we don’t understand, we dismiss it from the equation.

What we have concluded and not really refuted are the five stages of grief. As I understand it, these can be experienced in any order and for any duration and can also repeat and overlap. So that loosely translates as “whatever your situation is, it’s normal”. The five stages are: denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance. Like I stated, they can happen in any order but this “flow” makes sense to me within the context of things I’ve experienced.

As I look back at the last year of my life with respect to my relationship with Matt, I see a great deal of bargaining and denial. Even before we broke up for the third time I was going round and round with the problem of us. I recognized something was not right and I tried over and over to puzzle out what the right course of action was. Yesterday I posted about the flowchart, but that’s over-simplifying things. When it comes to real life, you can’t just ask “Are you happy”, then answer “No” and then turn left to change something and expect to fix it. I came to the conclusion that just not being together anymore was the right course of action. And then I had to deal with what came after.

That included less denial but more intense bargaining. I tried, in desperation, to make deals with Matt and with myself and when it did not work in either court I fell into a dark place I can only describe as depression. I don’t use that word lightly because I know there are folks with serious problems with mental illness and depression and I never would count myself among them. For a while, it was like I was in denial of just that aspect of my grieving process. But I believe with what I know now, that is exactly what I was experiencing. To some degree, I’m still experiencing it.

Lately though, I’ve been more angry than anything else and frankly that’s a huge relief compared to what I was feeling in October and November and December. At least anger is an energy I can channel into other facets of my life. I can angry sing and dance and exercise. I can jog a mile to a song that makes me want to scream for all the swell of wrath it elicits inside of me. I can jog that mile and it’s like my body never felt it. The elapsed time feels more like 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes. So at least there is something positive I can find in this stage.

I have to direct that energy into something besides the person I still feel is 50% responsible for the failure of that relationship. Unlike my bargaining phase when I had desperately tried to connect over and over again, I no longer have any window of opportunity to work with. There’s no real reason to meet and talk. There is no hope and nothing is going to change so it just doesn’t make logical sense to want that. I said yesterday I want to meet and talk and say what I have to say, but then I question my motives. If it is only to make myself feel better, then why can’t I just acknowledge that and dismiss the idea. Why can’t I just move on to acceptance? Why?

It is because life is complicated. Human beings are fascinating and beautiful and strange. I don’t have all the inputs and I don’t know what I don’t know. I can’t solve the riddle because I’m my own variable in the equation.

If that wasn’t twisted enough I can always offer up that this entire thing is based on the perception that what has happened to me was a negative event. If I shine a light on it, could I potentially see that it’s not negative, bit instead a positive? If I had come to the end of what I could learn or experience from being together and continuing on together was doing more harm than good, then going our separate ways was the best outcome. That opens up a whole different line of thinking which I’m not quite ready to accept yet either.

Good Grief!

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