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Waves of Grief

Grief: deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement

Through my life, I’ve had seasons of relationships, several of which have come and gone naturally as people have moved away, or as men have entered and left my life.

The largest relationship that ended was the divorce of my father and I. Divorces are often referenced when speaking of marriages, but as time has moved forward through my life, I’ve come across more and more people who have moved through divorces with family members (particularly parents) and even deep friendships.

They always hurt. However, the more experiences I’ve had with them, the more I’ve been able to take things from each relationship and learn from them.  Flexing self-care boundaries and advocating for one’s own needs in relationships can feel selfish early on if you aren’t used to it, but relationships that are well-balanced will be able to handle honest open communication when those needs arise.  Those conversations may still be fragile (because let’s be honest, it’s still hard to say “I need this, and you aren’t meeting that need” and it’s hard to hear that and not react strongly as well.)  If the relationship can’t handle those conversations, it’s a great time to start looking at that more closely.

Today I am hurting and I’m raw due to the loss of a friend.  I broke up with this person last night, and I’m in mourning. I’m wishing it could be different, but also know that it was for the best, and was a long time coming.   I’m angry and sad beyond belief today.

I’m experiencing literal and physical waves of grief as I have so much to say and know it will never be heard. I’m feeling that my truth is completely right, and hers is lost in her story.

I went to my massage this morning and in the middle was asked what I was experiencing and at that moment burst into tears and said “waves of grief.”  I felt warm contractions of tightness all over my body moving through of pain and sadness as I started to process all the anger and frustration other feelings this situation brought up in my heart, and how the gaslighting of this interaction churned up remnants of past interactions I’d had in previous relationships.  I felt, as her hands were on my neck, this shooting moving through my body that landed in the pit of my stomach that was similar to this awareness I’d have when people would say things I just knew not to be true, this visceral gut feeling like a blinking warning light screaming at me to run away, but I felt stuck. There was literally nothing to do but lie there and feel, and grieve and notice.

So for 90 minutes I lay there, felt, grieved, and noticed.

I’m feeling vulnerable, misunderstood and wanting to be a right-fighter, but knowing that none of that matters because nothing can fix this, and even if it did, it could never be the same.  So it will be left, never to be talked about again and I need to face feelings of bereavement.

I have to refocus all my feelings to the future.  What have I noticed is important to me?

1. I am worthy, and others I’m friends with are worthy too- I am worthy of friendship, and of people noticing me.  I had people checking in on me last night after the divorce happened.  I had people checking in on me today.  This is how I behave as a friend towards others as well.  This is friendship.  I am not a last-option.  I am not an accidental thumb dial when you are a purposeful consistent dial.

2. I will make time for my friends, and my friends will make time for me- I value my friendships, and I will make sure they know that.  I will continue to go over and chalk their driveways with pretty messages if they are having a bad day.  Or bring them Italian sodas, or drop them a text to let them know I’m thinking of them because that’s who I am. My friends will do things that will help me know that they are there for me (in their own way.) Not only will I work to get together with them, they will work to get together with ME.  I will work harder to figure out creative ways to get together with my friends.  I’ve realized that this is really important to me.

3. I will not just rely on Social Media for my friendships, I need more.  I will continue to build relationships outside the keyboard.  Social media will enhance the friendships, not be the main form of communication.

4. I will not be gaslit.  I will remain true to what I know is right and true. I’ve worked hard to know what my gut feeling is, and it’s accurate.  I need to listen to that feeling more and use it.  It’s a powerful and amazing tool.

5. I will strengthen my friendships by sharing fun, challenging, and intellectual experiences.  These things make me feel alive, and those I want to be around will also share those feelings!

You matter.

I matter.

We matter.

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The Profit

“It’s a Process”

There are a few words that truly make me cringe when I’m sitting on the couch in therapy.  Rape.  Victim.  Compassion.  and Process.  I suppose I’ll get to the former three at some point (and they may seem obvious to you,) but today I’d like to talk to you about the word process.

Therapist’s (and all help gurus, let’s be honest) seem to throw “process” around expecting all of the trauma ridden to catch and hold on to it like a Hope Ball.  Thankfully, I’ve got a fantastic (or perhaps sort of odd) relationship with my therapist in which I throw back my annoyance with these words/terms very quickly.  I’ve dubbed them as “pretty words.”

Here’s what I’d like to say.  Fuck process. That’s right.  FUCK.PROCESS.

Whew.  That feels better.

Now that I’ve said it, I can move through my emotions on the topic without the total anger towards the sentiment.  I can’t speak for everyone who is dealing with systemic and longitudinal trauma, but it’s exhausting to loop back over the same topics over and over and “feel” like no progress is being made.  From MY side of the couch, it’s an orbit, where I’m orbiting out away from trauma symptoms (triggers/flashbacks et all) then launched past them again at supersonic and uncontrolled speeds.  From THEIRS (or so say they all) it’s a process, and progress is made.

There’s a show called “The Profit,” which I’d call a mix of Shark Tank and Undercover Boss, where an investor comes in and helps to rescue a failing business.  He has three points he addresses when he helps rescue the business; People, Product, and Process.

As I’ve spent more time in thought about why “process” bothers me so, this show keeps coming up.  Perhaps I have an issue with this word because of the fact that process implies that we humans too are business like, and if we can just get our process together, we won’t be malfunctioning. If I am not broken (the person), if what I’m doing isn’t broken (product), then it must be how I’m doing it (process.)

Not only is that process something that is broken, but the process is always changing and needing to be altered for each situation, each person etc.  It’s also a landmine trying to bring other people into my process.  Trying to describe to someone how to navigate my process can seem totally ludicrous for a person who has not experienced trauma.

Yesterday evening, I was at another Authentic Relating event where a person was expressing how hard it was to have an experience that no one else could relate to, and how isolating that felt.  They didn’t want to even try to explain it because they were concerned that it might make them look crazy. I wanted to scream, “BUT I GET THAT! I AM YOU! YOU ARE ME!”

Trauma is so isolating because we don’t talk about it.  We sit in little rooms alone with therapists talking about our feelings, then leave to live our lives alone.  We typically don’t talk about our trauma, even with our loved ones because they don’t ask and/or we don’t tell.  It’s too uncomfortable for them, NOT because it’s too uncomfortable for US.  We walk in the grocery store longing for a PTSD button on someone’s shirt so we can exchange glances and go “hey, I get you. Carry on, Warrior.  Wanna talk about it over the squash? Because I SURE AS HELL DO.”

“Did you breathe today?  Like a full breath?  Dude, that’s amazing.  I made it out of the house.  Yeah, I know.  I’m a fucking rock star. You are too.”

“You aren’t alone…”

“Fuck Process.  Let’s just breathe today.”