I went to my therapy session this morning and walked out with another homework assignment. I have never understood why these therapists don’t understand that the work done in their office takes so long to recover from that there is no time for homework. My eight year old has homework; I am too busy recovering.
Despite saying that, I truly try to put at least some thought into my homework assignment. At least to give me points in the next session which considering what we are talking about, I will take. Sessions with therapists are supposed to be emotionally draining, and I will just say for those who have never known therapy, the emotional draining is much, very much, much, much more different than the physical draining. I can run a mile, but sitting in that office talking for an hour brings me to my knees, out of breath, and sweating like a pig. Yet, still I go.
This week’s homework was supposed to be simple: how do you process grief? The only problem is I have no idea the answer to this simple and what should be straightforward question. And how could that be?
I have felt my share of grief. I have felt the grief of losing a person, the grief of watching the suffering of others, the grief of disappointment, and even the grief of lost dreams. I understand that there are thousands of kinds of grief. I understand that I know most of them from this life I was given. I would even posit that most people know these griefs.
So why isn’t the answer easy? At first I thought it was because we were talking about all kinds of grief and certainly it should be that dealing with each of them would be different. But I am not so sure.
Then I wondered if the reason I don’t know the answer to this homework assignment was because it was natural for humans to grieve and then live life once more. But that led to thoughts of people who cry when a picture of a loved one is found unexpectedly. Or when someone holds onto their life despite its despair and complete heartbreak because that is what they are used to or scared to lose. This led to the conclusion that people sometimes don’t grieve even when they are allowed to.
And as you imagined, that opened a whole new bag of worms. If there are choices in the process of grief does that mean there is no text book answer to the question. Does that mean it is possible that my choice is different than others and therefore, there really is an answer I am supposed to find when it comes to my own grief. Because the answer can be so many different things does that validate the question?
I can sit here and type all day about grief in the physical, very real, solid form; but I can’t tell you the feelings I have for my own grief. I can’t tell you how I handle the emotions and the physical changes that happens for each of us after grief comes into our lives. I can’t even tell you what brilliant steps that I follow in order to sit here and be able to talk about this topic and give you sage advice about how it is all done.
I suppose I am going to have to start with at what times was I supposed to feel grief. So do I put on some kind of slow moving, but soulful music that will enter into my bloodstream and get those memories started? Am I supposed to go through the thousands of pictures I have in order to jog some of the memories? Or do I simply need to find a quiet spot and look into my heart to feel the agony of grief? If you are thinking that it is easy to look into any part of me you should really sit through one of my therapy lessons – those doctors love me simply for this challenge.
As I type this I am coming to the realization that there should be some kind of sadness, hurt, loss, devastation, anger, bargaining after the events of grief have happened in my life. I see that this is an important part of some journey – although I am not convinced it should be my journey. Is it horrible that I can’t remember grief? I can’t remember my first birthday and maybe it is exactly like that. Not mine to remember.
If I were to look around into my soul and try and figure out when I should have felt grief, although I hate doing this, I could come up with a few things. The deaths of my grandfathers. The realization that my marriage will never fit into a Disney movie. The loss of my confidence after years of being treated poorly by those I around me. The loss of my financial stability could probably earn itself a spot on the list of those things we grieve. And of course, each and every time I build these amazing castles in the sky only to realize that I forgot to bring the reality to the construction grief is probably right there.
Grief. Grieving. Go ahead explain to yourself how you handle it. The exact steps that you use to deal with the pain. The exact steps you use to deal with the loss of dreams and hopes. List out the steps on paper. Figure out exactly what you do.
Because here is the truth that I have known for as long as I have had breath. I don’t deal with anything. I bury it. I bury my grief as much as I bury my sexual drive. I bury my loss as easily as I bury my anger, my bargaining tools, my closure. I bury the emotions I feel when I look at the beautiful children I help create and I bury the reality of who and what I am. And instead, I sit up and play a convincing part.
And the reason I know this answer: my therapist told me it long ago. I have everyone convinced of who and what they think I am; never what I find to be amazingly beautiful and what hurts my soul. I can convince even the man I have built a life with that who and what he sees is exactly who I want him to see. And I can always, always, bury the truth. Even when my husband stands up, puts his hands on a Bible and says differently.
My therapist introduced this to me long ago. Crazy enough she isn’t the only therapist I have seen that showed me this. One doctor, early in my disease, taught me that I bury things so far in my feet that eventually I won’t be able to walk. Despite this truth, I am still walking.
I walk because deep inside me lies a truth I will protect with all my might and it is stronger than any will to feel my feet stop walking. I will protect who and what I am from every being out there. I will never show my feeling out loud (although it must be said that sometimes I don’t have a choice and emotions briefly surface that I can’t control – but that loss of control isn’t for long). I will protect and stand in front of that very real girl. And if one day I can’t walk, you can take to your grave, the knowledge that I still won’t let go and let anyone in.
Will there ever come a time when I will feel strong enough to grieve? Will there ever come a time when I will feel strong enough to laugh out loud? Will there ever come a time when I will be able to look at someone and feel for them all that God has given me? No. There are too many obstacles in the way. I am destined to stop walking one day.
So to answer today’s homework – I don’t do anything but bury my grief and I never bring it out again. Ever.