BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 225
“When I sat with my anger long enough, it told me its real name was grief.”Isaac Rowe
That is a heavy place to start. But I want to start heavy. The topic is worthy of the weight. And the quote spoke to me. Especially after yesterday’s self-incriminating post on forgiveness.
When my parents got divorced, my chest caved in on itself. I sobbed. I threw things. My body, interestingly, reacted to the news the same way it reacted to the death of our son, Matthew. Cold sores. Stiffness. Physical pain. Lack of appetite. My mono peaked. Etc etc. My body recognized what was going on in my mind, and labelled it “grief”.
The movie, A Monster Calls, came to mind, many times, in fact, those first few dark months. I bought the book. I wept my way through the book. Twice. Three times. Four times.
I don’t know if I can write this post.
“Four lines, and the world went quiet.
‘I’m sorry’, read the first line.
‘I miss being your friend,’ read the second.
‘Are you okay?’ read the third.
‘I see you,’ read the fourth, with the ‘I’ underlined about a hundred times.”Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
When I need to feel understood and “seen” in my pain, I turn to that book. When I need to progress through the pain, I turn to other sources – the scriptures, a podcast, a level-headed safe friend, etc.
I felt grief over my son’s death. But grieving can apply to the death of anything in life that we’d come to expect – and that certainly includes the death of a marriage.
This week I didn’t anticipate feeling the grief so strongly again. I dared to listen to Jody Moore’s podcast episode on grief – it was a gift to myself. And that is how I looked at it when I approached it. I’ll bring my grief out again from the cupboard, and observe my grief, and allow my grief, and see if there is something I have since learned about my grief.
“Grief can be clean pain – useful pain that will help you move through an experience and help you heal, and even become stronger as a result of that experience.”
Now, anger is a part of the grieving process. It is full of energy. It feels urgent.
“‘You be as angry as you need to be,’ she said. ‘Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not your grandma, not your dad, no one. And if you need to break things, then by God, you break them good and hard.’
‘And if, one day,’ she said, really crying now, ‘you look back and you feel bad for being so angry, if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know that it was okay…’
He bent in two, like he was being torn right through his middle.”Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
No one told me this. No one in my life told me it was okay to be angry. Maybe Bryant did. Maybe others did. Maybe I wasn’t listening, because I didn’t believe it myself. I expected more of myself. One of the things you have to understand about an adult-child of divorce is that it feels like you are not allowed the anger. You’re not allowed to break things. You are expected to comfort your parents. You are expected to be mature. You are expected to understand. No one tells you that you can call on the monster inside, and that you can allow him to speak through you, the truth about what hell you are living through, in your own mind.
But, I promise you, I ran through the mess hall with Conor and with his monster, when I read about his pain. I broke the lamps in his grandmother’s parlor. I ripped the upholstery. I shattered the glass in his grandmother’s cabinet with Conor, and then later with his grandmother.
Depression is a part of the grieving process. Depression comes from resisting other emotions – not allowing the other emotions.
“You must tell the truth or you will never leave this nightmare.”Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
“What if you didn’t NOT want it? I don’t think you have to get all the way to, ‘I want it to be this way, I want this thing to happen.’ You don’t have to want it, but what if you just didn’t not want it? …Your brain stops spinning on it in resistance and bargaining and anger and all the other things that you’ve been spinning on for so long.”
I can make peace with grief – it is part of the 50/50 of life. Nothing has gone wrong in the end. It is part of the human experience.
I can make peace with the emotions I am feeling. Relax into the emotion.
I can make peace with who I am while I am grieving. I am nervous right now. I am clingy right now. I need a nap every day, right now. etc etc
“Relax into the grief, relax into all of the emotions that it includes. There is no emotion that you can’t handle, my friend. There is no emotion that your body doesn’t know what to do with. Emotions are just created by chemicals and hormones that are released by your organs when two neurons in your brain fire together, which is what I call a thought. Your body releases the appropriate chemical and your body knows what to do with that chemical. You don’t have to react to it. You don’t have to push it away and tighten against it. You can feel it, even if it doesn’t feel good.”
I have been picking at a scab here, writing this post over the past couple days. Writing has brought up so many emotions surrounding my parents’ divorce – painful emotions. But I am not picking at it for the sake of picking at it, rather I’m just checking for infection. I am making sure the wound is clean, so it can heal properly.