Unsticking: Finding A New, Bigger Story

I texted a friend something I found interesting the other day and received back a one-word response. Golly.

My initial reaction was, Who the fuck says “Golly” anymore? 

But then this morning, all I could think was… Golly. Because I don’t recall the last time I blogged. And because even though I don’t remember the post, I am certain it contained the same threads all of my writing has captured for a long while. Well over a year. And because I don’t know how much I care. And because I am unclear on whether the caring or not caring should bother me. And because I resigned myself, about two weeks ago, to a new idea: I am not blogging anymore.

So… Golly.

I told one of my bestest buddies I was going to stop writing and he looked at me like I ran over his dog, then smiled, put it in reverse, and backed up over his neighbor’s dog. Thankfully this was at his birthday party and he was enjoying his beer and friends and family and was quickly diverted. Phew. We haven’t talked about it since. I’ve sort of hoped it slipped his mind.

None of that really matters as it’s firmly entrenched in mine. And I wrote out this defensive narrative explaining myself that read like a robotic legal brief. Only it’s not. I don’t have to present evidence. There’s no precedent here. Burden of proof? Nope. And that there–the bit I just deleted–is one of the reasons I need to detach from this for a time. My blog has become less about sharing my story and what’s bouncing around my brain, and more about securing a place to seek and find approval. I long for you to like what I write. Not just “like” it. Click the “Like” button, damnit! I desire your blessing. Not so we can connect or relate or share a moment. I need you to tell me I am okay. Because I cannot tell myself. Because I’m not. Okay, that is. And this pathological, deep-rooted obsession with being loved by all is an issue that floods all arenas of my life. Family. Home. Friends. Work. Relationships. Particularly relationships with men who are older and, in my twisted mind, possess some sort of authority over me (Daddy issues).

I was searching recently. I’d come off of a particularly terrible week. Terrible as in riddled with behavioral hangovers. (I am still dropping my head on my desk with shame.) I recognized I couldn’t do dick about what I’d already done… and I did my best to right my wrongs… but the bigger thing was that I knew. Something–some big or little or any thing–had to change. No one could do it for me. I used up those cards. You see, I had been looking to others to manage my feelings and sadness and grief and guilt (not a conscious expectation) and when they couldn’t, I lashed out. And depending on the relationship, those people distanced themselves from me, scolded but forgave me, or expressed serious concern about my actions. All of the above, understandable.

So, I was searching. Online. For help. This shit? That I am feeling? That I am blaming myself for? That I cannot drop and move forward from? Well beyond the pay grade of any of my friends or family or acquaintances. I was searching for help, help. Hired guns. Professionals. And in doing so, two things happened.

First, I found a website. This spiritual guru who writes about grief and sadness and loss. I read his entire website and lots resonated but what I grabbed onto was this: I have a story. I have told that story. Repeatedly. Different variations, maybe. But the same story. If I want to reorient myself to this world, to unstick, to stop feeling so awful, I need to create a new story. A bigger one. A story that encompasses everything–it’s not about forgetting or pretending. But I think it’s about accepting what I can and allowing a new narrative to unfold.

Second, I located a psychologist. One who specializes in complicated grief. I called her. She wasn’t accepting new patients but we spoke on the phone. After about ten minutes, she agreed to see me. And I’ve visited her three times in two weeks. She rings regularly, urging me to come in. Whenever she has a cancellation. If I can, I go. Because I fucking have to. If I want to uncover and discover a place where a new story, a bigger story, can begin.

I wasn’t prepared for intensive grief counseling. It is serious stuff. She’s digging deep and I have never felt so unhinged. I’ve been in therapy for years and years. I’ve seen a shrink nearly every week for two years. But this? This brand of therapy? Entirely foreign and uncomfortable. I hate it. I am all over the fucking place. Crying when I can’t anticipate it. Clenching my jaw constantly. I dislike almost everyone and everything about 22 hours of the day. I am resentful. I am pissed that I have to do this. It’s not touchy feely, oh poor you, so sad, here’s a fresh box of tissues therapy. There’s homework. I have to observe myself and keep a journal of certain behaviors and feelings. Almost like Bridget Jones but decidedly not amusing. My body is heavy but I have no appetite. I can feel the weight of my skin on my face. Smiling is fake. It takes more energy to get myself out of bed than ever before. I lay there, sometimes for three or four hours, willing myself to just jump up from under the covers. But I can’t. Or I won’t. Something for upcoming sessions, I am sure. The accountability and honesty of this process makes my skin crawl.

At the same time, I see it. I signed up for this. Cracking apart complicated, compounded grief? Simply put, it sucks. I have to talk about all of the losses I’ve experienced, beginning with my dad’s death over 16 years ago. Relationships with men that ended very badly. My mother’s decline and then passing. Finding one of my cats, dead, after returning from my mother’s funeral. Feeling as though I lost my best friend, my closest person, when she moved out of the city and got married. More relationships ending. Putting my beloved dog to sleep. Laying on the floor of the vet’s office with her, after she’d gone, feeling grateful that she was no longer in pain but also the deepest fucking sadness I’ve ever endured. Another relationship ending, only this time the loss wasn’t so much the man but the kids I’d fallen in love with. The kind of love I’d never felt before. Followed by financial distress. And more financial distress. Then a bright light. My favorite person. But he died nine months later. Lots of numbness. Pretending. Distracting myself. Until I couldn’t anymore. Big crash. Bringing us current. Only now there’s something else. One of my cats, my buddy who has slept on my hip at night ever since my favorite person died, my pal who’s been with me for almost 16 years, is slowly declining. I watch him closely. I don’t think he’s physically uncomfortable but I fall apart at the idea of him suffering. We have an vet appointment soon and the inevitable is approaching. And that’s all I can write about him because it renders me a fucking puddle.

I recount all of this–what’s happened in my life–not for sympathy or to qualify myself in some way. I write it out because… it’s like a stack of blocks. One atop the other. It held up for a long time. Sort of remarkable what we can withstand. But the stack of blocks fell over and now this grief counselor is making me pull it all apart. Slowly and methodically. It’s unbearable at times.

Funny. I always thought that I was dealing with my pain. With grief. With sadness. I suppose I was… on the surface. I’ve also been really good at finding distractions, however. Usually men. I hang my hat (well, really, my hopes and dreams and pain and the notion they will rescue me and take it all away) on these men and it blows up. Of course. Which serves only to set me back 1,000 steps after I’ve taken 10 forward.

I asked my new counselor what the end game is here. I mean, really… is there a point? Because once she made me recount everything, I thought, no. No. I don’t want to. It’s too much. Fortuitously (maybe?) I have this little piece of my brain dedicated to reminding me how horrendous and lonely and desperate I’ve felt lately. And that I chose this. Something in me chose this. To get better. So while I am terrified and pissed and my flight response is on full alert, I chose this. Which means somewhere there is hope. And what she told me is that it’s not about letting go. It’s not about moving on. It’s about wading through it all again–in a safe environment–so that I can let it be. And once I can let it be, I will be able to unstick. Permit myself to feel hope and joy. Find real light, maybe more love.

For a reason I can’t understand, I believe her. Maybe because what she has me doing is more arduous than studying for the Bar exam. If I didn’t already write this, it blows. Alas, I have an iota of faith in this process. I don’t know why. Doesn’t matter why.

So. Golly gee! That was a lot to throw into one post. But this is me signing off. I will have something authentic and real and selfless to share again… a new, bigger story. Thank you to everyone who has read and continues to read my stuff. Yeah, I want acceptance and likes and love, but for a long time, it was about connection. And that meant a great deal. Hopefully it will again.

Until then, and as always, all the love and light in my heart, to yours. Peace.



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