Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grief: Put Away Your Measuring Stick

What is the proper way to grieve?  The way you are grieving.  How long are you supposed to grieve?  However long it takes.  When are you supposed to let go?  When you are ready. When is the right time to give a dead person's clothes away?  When you want to.   Are you doing enough?  You are enough.  Will the pain ever end?  It will change; it will gentle down.  Not when other people think it should, but when you open your eyes and heart and discover it is happening, or has already happened and you haven't noticed.  Sometimes people recover from grief quickly - but sometimes you think they have and what you don't know is that they go home, take off their mask, and cry.    Don't compare yourself or your loss to anyone else.  You will go at your own pace, as you should.  Is a cheetah better than a tortoise?  Certainly faster and furrier - but better?

Do you feel stuck and sad and lonely and maybe even like you're crazy?  That's normal.  If it you are comfortable with your level of discomfort be comfortable.  If you are uncomfortable with your level of discomfort - there are lots of ways to create change.  Keep looking until you find the one that helps you.  I don't know why but perky people annoy me.  I met a man yesterday who said, "When things are bad, I'm happy.  When things are good, I'm happy."  Someone might have found this inspirational - I found it irritating.  I said something nice to him - but for those of you who read this - you know that I'm about feeling the full range of human feelings.  I like to get angry.  I like to get sad.  What I don't like is to get all jammed up and paralyzed. I want to feel the anger or the sadness - express it if I need or want to - and then do something else.  I look for things and ways to weave grief into my life instead of getting over it.  There are a lot of people who want to get over it.   Nothing wrong with that.  It's just not where I want to plug myself in.

For me - there are things I want to change today at almost a year and a half after Artie's death - that I couldn't have changed a year ago.  There is difference between depression and grieving.  It is okay to get medical help, take medication, all of those things.  By putting away your measuring stick I don't mean stop searching.  I mean let your searching lead you on to your own path - not onto any else's.  There might be a lot of stumbling and getting up again.  If you stumble and fall you can sit there for a little while and then get up.  It's okay. You might notice things sprawled on the ground you won't notice striding along.

There are a lot of things I would like to do differently.  One of them is accomplish more.  Once I start to compare myself with other people I'm in trouble.  I can't even see my own gifts clearly.  Years ago in a comedy improv class we were told to choose someone and tell them something we wanted to say but were fearful of saying.  I chose this amazingly talented creative man.  I wanted to say to him, "I'm afraid because you're so talented that when you are assigned to work with me you are disappointed."  He asked if he could talk first.  He said  "I'm afraid because you're so talented that when you are assigned to work with me you are disappointed."  I laughed!   And yet - still - I tend to focus on what I am not doing instead of what I am doing.  I know people in NY that are very successful.  I don't think of myself that way - but when I talk to them - even though I am not traditionally successful - they are very impressed with me and think that I am awesome.  Obviously my measuring stick is faulty.  I got a rejection slip yesterday and slid right down the self pity pole - and yet I know that if I am ever going to publish more than I already have - that rejection slip is only a piece of paper.  It only has meaning about what I write if I give it meaning.  Remember - there was that critic who told Fred Astaire he couldn't dance.

I've been writing more because the holidays are difficult without the ones we love who have died.  Tomorrow I am going to write a New Year's gratitude list.  Things I feel I've done well the past year and the things I'm grateful for.  I decided - even though I wrote New Year's Resolutions - that they aren't good for me.  They are things I can use to beat myself up with if I don't do them.  I don't need to think about lack or failure - I need to fill my mind with joy and successes (no matter how small).  Without Artie I am too easily  hurt to hurt myself.  I want to make plump pillows of all the things I have done and all the people who have been loving and supportive and funny and roll around on them.  I think that will be a better beginning for 2011 than what I had originally said I would start doing on Jan. 1st.  My goodness. Imagine if I went to the gym for the first time and tried to lift 1000 pounds.  Actually - there is a thing (you athletes know this) called a dead lift.  I kept calling it a dead man lift.  It was funny and not funny at the same time.  We carry our dead with us and sometimes the weight can be heavy.  It is okay to wait for the weight to shift - and find that it is ourselves that are lifted it up - lightly - and easily - by the love we know and the memories that hold us.

More tomorrow.  Hard to believe the first decade of the 21st century is almost over. I get more historical every second!   xo

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