For a Reason
Just curious...Does everything in life need to be a learning experience? It’s in my nature, probably because I’m a mother, to sift through the ashes of any given negative event and find the redeemable nugget of golden wisdom. The “upside.” The proverbial shiny side of the penny. The original American version of this is, “Sure, you’re having your tonsils removed, but at least you’ll be able to have as much ice cream as you want.” Another good one often used through one’s college years when faced with a romantic breakup, “He really wasn’t that funny (insert any positive attribute here: cute, smart, etc…) anyway.”
Don’t get ahead of me here, I’m not going to tell you that I’ve found the upside to Pete’s death and accompanying grief. However, after last week’s blog, The Mattress, where I discussed my ceaseless anxiety, I received a lot of truly helpful and kind-hearted suggestions. As I read all of the notes and pondered what might be the most applicable tips, I realized that where I am emotionally is probably right where I need to be. Then, I automatically shifted into that “what’s the upside of all of this?” habit. What have I learned from this experience? That horrified me. What was I doing? There’s NO upside to going through this massive amount of grief, but–if I have to–then I can at least acknowledge the wisdom that helps me move forward.
Primarily it is that suffering is a fact of life, and everyone suffers at some point, and everyone’s suffering is real to them. It’s necessary. That last part I haven’t figured out yet–the why it’s necessary–but I have most definitely embraced the concept of suffering and not fighting it. I have learned so much from the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön. I mentioned in a previous blog, You’re Not on a Timeline, that my daughter Sean gave it to me immediately upon Pete’s death. I’ve read it several times and use it as a reference.
I learned not to fight or push against these monstrously large and painful feelings, but rather to acknowledge them and move toward them. To live there when I need to. I believe that the push and pull of fighting grief zaps a person’s strength and ultimately may ruin their natural defenses. To me, this instruction does not mean that a person doesn’t do their damndest to get out of bed every morning, to eat healthy, to not wallow in sadness, to move. I think it just means to feel what you feel at that moment in time, and to not be obligated to anyone else’s timeline but your own. Even writing this blog I feel an obligation to all of you to show improvement. I need to show you that I’m getting better. I even sometimes will write something humorous just to prove that I’m okay. Obviously I wasn’t writing too much funny prose a year ago, so if I can be funny now I must be “getting better.” Right?
This is a really slow, perhaps never-ending, process. For me, I guess, the anxiety is a part of it. Again, as long as it’s not debilitating, I think I’m going to just try to live in that space for a while.