Cortisol. Is it real? I suppose it is. In the last two years I have gained thirty pounds.
In my journey through grief I stumbled upon a great article that really defines our journey through the mourning process— taking us somehow from dark to light.
Tons of therapy helps of course– but embracing the pain and pushing through it is how we grow.
I miss my mother everyday.
But I know that she would want me to thrive.
I’m still trying.
Please read ahead:
Adversity is of value because it often helps us grow more mature. How does this work?
Human psychology is concerned, at heart, with loss and the threat of loss. So it begins with desire, and with the consequent forming of attachments to all manner of people and things: to places, wealth, objects, activities, ideas (including political and religious ideas); to anything under the sun.
The converse of desire is aversion. They go together. If you like something, you are averse to losing it. If you dislike something, you desire its absence. Likes and dislikes are part of being human. No-one avoids desires and attachments, or the painful emotional consequences. However, we can learn to manage them wisely. It helps a great deal to understand the process, as follows.
Let’s say you own a costly diamond, and keep it locked away. Your desire for the precious gemstone and attachment to it naturally spark the emotions of anxiety and doubt. You have heard that thieves are operating in the area, and are uncertain, possibly to the point of bewilderment, about how best to protect your possession.
Anxiety, bewilderment and doubt are the first emotional responses to the threat of loss. As threat intensifies (when, say, attempts are made to break in and steal the jewel), angercommonly arises. Your security is threatened. Your people are threatened. Your ideas about yourself and the world may feel threatened too. Defiance, resistance to loss, gives birth to these feelings of anger.
Eventually, your defences are breached. Let’s say the theft actually takes place. Anger persists for a time as the reality and extent of the loss sinks in. Feeling responsible; that you could and should have done more to prevent the intrusion, for example; you begin to experience the emotions of shame and guilt. Finally, in full face of the loss, realization dawns upon you. When forced to accept the reality of it, with nothing left to do to reverse the situation, nothing left to say to justify it, only sadness remains.
These painful emotions are linked. Like the colours in a rainbow or the notes of a musical scale, they set each other off. Happily, this is not the end of the story.Grieving is a process that eventually leads not only to healing but also to personal growth. Each painful emotion is related to a pain-free counterpart, as follows:
Spectrum of Painful and Pain-free Emotions
Wanting (desire) – Contentment
Bewilderment – Clarity
Anxiety – Calm
Doubt – Confidence
Anger – Acceptance
Shame – Worth (self-esteem)
Guilt – Innocence (purity)
Sadness – Happiness (joy)
Real sadness is accompanied by tears, by weeping. This liberates emotional energy that was previously invested in attachment to whatever has been lost. An emotional cleansing (‘catharsis’) occurs, and results in a renewal of energy. With this natural and healthy re-charging of the emotional batteries, sadness turns spontaneously into its polar opposite,joy. Guilt and shame revert in a similar way to self-esteem and a sense of purity. Anger likewise switches over from resistance towards acceptance. Anxiety becomes calm. Doubts fade, leaving a sense of certainty. Bewilderment evaporates, leaving clarity. Finally, with full acceptance of the loss, desire is replaced by contentment. Calm, joyful satisfaction is felt with things just as they are… Until desire and aversion take hold once again!
We go through this sequence towards catharsis, healing and growth frequently, in small things and on the grand scale, whenever threats and losses are experienced and weathered. The emotional release, as the process resolves, leaves us more alive, more spontaneous, less fearful, and better able to stay clearly focused in the present moment.Personal growth like this is usually permanent and cumulative. We continue to build our strengths and our virtues. It may feel like it sometimes, but we are not designed to go backwards.
For those already mature enough to let go easily of their attachments, happiness arises with, or even ahead of sorrow; so laughter works to unlock the emotions as well as, or even better than, tears. The mental clarity associated with such emotional healing fosterswisdom and creativity. Other people, no longer experienced as competitors, are now seen as fellow strugglers and sufferers on life’s difficult path. This insight then fosters a rise in fellow-feeling, selflessness, compassion, wisdom and love. When someone faces and accepts a loss, and weathers the emotional whirlwind that follows until calm is once again restored, everybody benefits. That’s what I call maturity!
The last time I saw my brother he said he was there for me.
That I always have a room at his house.
That he is on my side.
The day before I left, he told me to take my stuff out of his house.
Because things have changed. He and his wife are having a baby.
He knew this before he made claims of being there for me.
I know a baby means change, but the baby was only eight weeks in.
I’m happy for him, I guess.
In many ways I don’t care anymore.
I’m okay with that too. Maybe I should care more. But I don’t.
No one needs to seek abuse.
In this journey you realize you are alone and somehow have to be okay with it.
There is a shift happening inside me, where I am okay in this loneliness.
Sometimes I’m not.
But I’m more okay than not, right now.
I still cry over all this loss. But that’s okay too.
At least I feel.
All lost. All gone.
I have to take care of me, because no one else will.
And as much as this hurts.
It’s okay. I’m okay. I have to believe that.
As I go on to create my own tribe, I stand alone.
But my tribe is my choice.
Christmas has changed forever.
But I’m okay.
Sometimes, when I am desperate to speak to my mother.
When I need advice, or am stuck on something I’ll ask her out loud—I tend to do this when I am alone— to come talk to me in my dreams, so I can consult with her.
Most recently, it was over what I should do with my mom’s house. The house I grew up in.
The question: “Mom. Should I rescue the house we grew up in from foreclosure?” — Then I waited later that night to dream.
How the “yes” and “no” of this will impact me:
- If, “yes”, then that means I’ll have to take out a huge home loan to repair it, so I can rent it or sell it.
- If, “no”, — then we lose it completely and have to pay back taxes on it or sue our dad.
In the dream, I was with my mom. Painting the walls of our childhood home. Loving the house and getting it ready for rental. For some reason we decided to paint the walls a chocolate brown, and after we painted it, we didn’t like the result. At the same time we both said, “Why don’t we try a gold overlay?” And we laughed because we had the same thought.
Then the dream morphed, into different scenarios, not related to the house. In one case, I was driving a truck along a cliff, and she was my co-pilot. I began to steer in the wrong direction—and she corrected my path.
Or if these are merely dreams?
Do any of you have experiences like these?
There’s this notion that life is about forgiveness, but the more I live and look at certain people and analyze certain events in my life, the more I realize that life is about accepting the truth and finding a way to live with it.
Take my stepfather.
He was in Special Forces.
A well-decorated war vet.
But deep down, he’s a coward.
His true self is:
He’s a bully.
What man hits a little girl, or sends his teenager to jail for an unpaid traffic ticket, or tells her that it’s not his fault she’s all fucked up and no one will marry her?
Clearly. I have my demons, but I know deep down in my core. I am not a bad person. I did not deserve his treatment and neither did my mother.
My mother chose him.
I did not.
My mother stayed him.
I don’t have to.
My mother let him bully her.
I can stand up for myself.
The only person I have to forgive in this equation is my mother, for trying to make things work with a sociopath, for not knowing her worth. I’m barely uncovering mine, and in this process, I realize I DON’T have to forgive him, but hold him accountable for the things he’s done. I DON’T EVER have to subject myself to his abuse again, and I have to trust that the TRUTH will prevail; no matter how difficult that is to prove.
My soul hurt at not being at not being loved by him.
At not being understood.
At being forced to sit in the sidelines and wonder:
- What’s wrong with me?
- What’s made me unlovable?
- Why I’ve accepted less than I deserve?
But, now I know none of this is my fault.
I am better than that. Better than him.
He does not deserve my love, my forgiveness, or my goodness.
Last night I dreamt that I was walking in my mother’s house and came across what could only be defined as a cardboard cut out talking version of my dad.
He yelled at me, “What do you want?”
I screamed, “To be your daughter,”
He screamed back, “I’ve done everything within in my power to make you go away. I never wanted you in my life. Leave!”
Enraged, I stabbed this paper cutout with a butcher knife and woke up screaming in sobs.
I guess the pain of his abandonment still runs deep.
I’ve been so far removed from my emotions that they are coming up in my dreams.
There is nothing worse than the betrayal of ones own family.
I don’t miss him, but what he did still hurts. It cuts deep, and maybe that’s what my stabbing was about.
He left my brother and I, while under the spell of a seductress, and now our family is left in shambles, including him. My mother has been gone just under three years, but it feels like an eternity. Oh, to have her back.
But I’m slowly piecing myself back together in therapy.
Any thoughts on what this dream could mean?
No one knows it like we do.
Those who have lost.
Forced to rebuild and start over.
Expected to be alone.
In the sidelines.
To watch the happy home.
No longer ours.
Weakness never an option.
Vulnerability a defect.
Happiness an illusion.
As children, we did not know despair.
That deep dark cave.
That feeling of emptiness and unimportance.
That apathy that exists when life is lost.
We came to know later.
Forced to face our shadows.
Monsters from our past and present.
We used to slay dragons.
We used to curse demons.
But now we welcome them.
We are pain.
We are suffering.
We are despair.
Two roads split in the dark.
To the same place.
One cannot exist without the other.