UNLOCKING US WITH BRENE BROWN – 31 March 2020

One of the greatest take-aways for me, in my search for peace and for change and for progress in ONE YEAR, is this: It’s okay. I’m okay. It’s okay. And when I am okay with me, and I am okay with “it”, I can move through “it” and heal from “it” and learn from “it”. And no one, especially not God, is in a rush for me to move through my grief and through my pain. There is not an end destination, rather experiences to be gained and claimed and even loved and made sacred along the way.

I am already emotional, and I am only one paragraph into the blog post. My emotions are coming from the gratitude I am feeling for the journey – all of the journey!

I have picked my way through this particular episode, with Brene Brown and David Kessler, six times now. The information he shares, and the thoughts that his words have triggered in me, are so incredibly important to me right now. I want to break up this specific podcast episode into three posts, and I will see what I can uncover in the next three days.

First, let’s start with talking about grief. Grief is our response to the loss of something we held dear, or we held true, right? It doesn’t necessarily mean the death of a loved one. What grief am I experiencing?

  • Grief over the death of my son, Matthew
  • Grief over my parent’s divorce
  • Grief over the loss of things I had held to be true
  • Grief over saying goodbye to our home and experiences back in NYC

I don’t know, maybe I could come up with more. And I am not listing these to throw myself a pity party – not at all. I am just trying to understand where I am coming from, where my thoughts and my emotions are coming from. Grief.

And there is not one right way to grieve – there is not one right model. But the “scaffolding” that David, and his co-author, Elisabeth Kubler Ross, offers is a way for us to normalize our experience, and, I think, to look at our thoughts and our emotions with mercy and gentleness and kindness toward ourselves.

  • DENIAL
  • ANGER
  • BARGAINING
  • DEPRESSION
  • ACCEPTANCE
  • FINDING MEANING

Have I given myself the space to experience these stages, as needed? I think one of the big differences between losing a child and experiencing my parents divorce is that, when Matthew died, I myself and those around me expected me to go through these stages. It was expected that I would really really grieve – every part of it. And I had the space and the support I needed to go through these stages.

But when my parents divorced, I didn’t allow myself that space.

“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 to grieve. You’re not allowed the anger. You’re not allowed to throw things and 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, in your whole body.”

https://livingandtravelingwithkids.com/2019/11/day-29-grief/

David said,

“We’ve got to feel those feelings… If you can’t feel it, you can’t heal it.”

What does that look like? Feeling those feelings? Allowing myself to experience these stages?

  • DENIAL
    • They will work this out. They are in love. They will be okay. I feel like the kid on the movie who’s parents are going through a divorce, and everyone sees it except the kid.
  • ANGER
    • For me, it looked like one evening, throwing things in the kitchen, weeping, and swearing. And then I ended it there. I told myself to “grow up”. If I would have allowed it to run its course, would I have been able to bypass the resentment I now feel? How do you allow yourself to go through the anger without becoming bitter? That could be a whole month’s worth of posts, right? Can I separate who I am – 100% worthy just the way I am, 100% lovable just the way I am – from what I am experiencing? I feel anger – I am experiencing anger – but I am not that anger. I can go through it, without becoming it.
  • BARGAINING
    • If I share enough memories of our pleasant years together – of their pleasant years together – will they change their minds? What is my job? What is my responsibility in this? Tell me what I need to do and I will do it.
  • DEPRESSION
    • I can’t sleep. I am so extremely sad and scared. This has affected my relationship with my parents. This has affected my relationship with my husband, and my children, and even the older couple walking through our neighborhood who appear to be happy. How can you allow yourself to go through depression without it becoming shame? Again, I feel incredible sadness – I am experiencing sadness – but I am not that sadness.
  • ACCEPTANCE
    • Well. It’s done. And it is possible that it’s for the better.
  • FINDING MEANING
    • Who do I want to become by experiencing my parents’ divorce? Who am I in 5 years? Who am I in 10 years? Do I like who I am – is it want I want for myself?

Okay. I need to chew on this some more. Let’s take a look at space and time tomorrow.