First off, tonight's pictures were taken at the memorial by our friend Richard Kelly.
Well, thanks for all the kind words of encouragement. Today was a much better day for me. Not so much for Ang. This time, she got hit with the grief shovel. After I took Ali to daycare, I went to the Dr., then to umteen stores an errands. I got home around 2, and I walked in and Ang was making a sandwich in the kitchen. She just looked at me with a flat stare, and when I kissed her, there was no beams of light coming off her (I genuinely feel beams of light exude from her when she kisses me! I know, I know, it rocks). I asked her how she was doing, and I got an "Eh."
I knew about "Eh."
She mentioned it (the grief) hit her hard today since she was home alone. That's when it comes on full force for her. The house just SCREAMS quiet these days. It stinks. I totally understand why people move. The living room will never be the same. That's where Bella could be found sprawled out playing with any number of items. Now, it's a ghost town. The dining room won't be the same either. I tried to remember where we all used to sit for dinner and I went to sit in my old spot, and I looked across at the empty seat where Bella used to sit and play staring matches with me at dinner every night. Won't sit there again. Ali's room won't be the same. There's no music box playing in the evening to calm the savage baby to sleep. There's no more baby clothes. There's no more baby. You get the picture.
Even today, as I went to our old Target, I turned to walk in the men's room, and realized I didn't have the dually stroller with two girls inside. Shopping was so... lonesome.
Still, today for me was better than yesterday. I got A LOT done today, so that felt good. I also got a relatively benign report card from my orthopedist. I hurt my shoulder and knee in MN, but it turns out my knee has recovered and a shot of cortisone later in my shoulder and I was on my way! I am looking forward to getting back in shape again, and I wanted to make sure I didn't hurt anything by going back into the gym.
OH MAN, COGNITIVE DISTURBANCE STORY OF THE YEAR....
So... I needed to go to Target to get a new booster seat for Ali for our sedan. No problem. Our Target in happy little suburbia? No dice. The Target on the edge of the bad part of town? Nope. The Target in the middle of the bad part of town? The only location that has the same model we bought for the minivan in MN. Okay, so I head over there, get out, go inside, wait for the seat to be brought up (I put it on hold so I wouldn't have to drive into scaryville and NOT leave with what I came for), pay for it, and head back out to the minivan. As I am walking up to the minivan, I realize... I don't have my keys. [shoulders shrug]. I put the box down and walk up to the driver door, hoping it's not locked. Nope. Not locked. I get in and see the keys in the ignition where I suspected they might be. Why was the door not locked?
The car was still running!
No kidding. I walked into Target in the bad part of town having left my minivan running in the parking lot! Holy cow. Thank GOD it was still there when I returned! They say you run on 1/2 to 1/4 mental and physical capacity during grief.... whoever they are... are RIGHT!
Time and Healing...
I want to address a common misconception about healing and grief. I'm sure you've heard the phrase "time heals all wounds," right?
Time does not heal all wounds. People get stuck in their grief when they stop being willing to experience (and thereby move out of) their pain. Instead, they repress their pain with the hope that over time, they can subconsciously bury it deep enough that it is essentially "gone."
The problem with this thinking is that if another trigger comes along and "uncovers" that old pain, all the pain (new and old) are now present. In fact, often times, people aren't grieving the person who just died. The person who just died triggered unfinished grief from a prior loved one. I have noticed certain family and friends who have been grieving in different ways, and it makes me wonder what loved one have they not finished grieving for yet?
Remember, the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is a signal from your body, while suffering is the story you tell yourself about the pain. You can be in pain without suffering, and you can be suffering without being in pain. They are not necessarily related at all. When people repress their pain, it is because they are suffering over it and don't want to experience the suffering anymore.
See, if I look at a picture of Bella now, because my grief is so raw, I don't experience the love and good times and happiness, I am experiencing pain of her loss. However, as I work through those feelings of pain and grief and, to the degree that I am willing to, allow those feelings of pain and grief to wash over me, I am healing that pain. By doing so, one day, when I am complete with my grief, the pain will be low enough that the happiness and beauty will dominate the moment and the memory.
If I rely on time, all I'm doing is freezing my pain and suffering in a capsule. I have worked with scores of participants in our grief retreat who are still in this early stage grief... 3, 4, 5 years later, because they have yet to walk through the pain. They are still suffering as if it were a month after the death of their loved one.
Time does not heal all wounds. We heal our own wounds over time.
Don't be afraid of pain. Yeah, I know it doesn't feel so hot, but it is a necessary piece of life, nature, reality. Remember, we live in a relative universe. Nature is built on the foundation of balance. We cannot experience pleasure if we don't have something to contrast it with i.e. pain. They are two sides of the same coin. Follow me here...
One reason I think we are a nation on antidepressants is precisely because we have brainwashed ourselves that pain is bad. By running from pain, we inevitably push the pleasure line further and further away from us. It becomes an unattainable reality, and as such, leaves us miserable in the process. Now, as we run from pain, we push away pleasure, and are left in this hollowed out limbo, and we get depressed. We do this to ourselves. We cannot escape the laws of nature. The degree to which you can experience pleasure is forever tied to the degree to which you can experience pain.
I really do love the phrase, "Pain is just weakness leaving the body." When we see people come through a tough, painful ordeal on the other side, we say, "They were stronger for it." Why? Why do we have cliches like, "No pain, no gain?" Do we respect people who have overcome pain and tremendous adversity? Do you think they respect themselves, too? YOU BETCHA! Think of pain as access to greater strength, respect, and ultimately pleasure, and I guarantee you will suffer no more. You can recreate your own association to pain into a positive one, or at least a neutral one. That's where I'm at right now. I am in pain, trust me, but I am not suffering. I am simply experiencing the pain, feeling the pain, tasting the pain, all without judgement. I have reprogrammed how I see pain. I am no longer afraid of it. I don't necessarily welcome it, don't get me wrong! It is just that I acknowledge its place in the universe and therefor in my life.
If you are willing to experience pain, you will eliminate, or at least greatly reduce your suffering.
Can you tell the difference between them?
The fam on "small World" at Disneyland last winter...