Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grief: An Imbalancing Act - One for the Seesaw

I have never been a particularly balanced person.  I actually like being a little off center.  With Artie's death, though, I'm no longer even sure where the balance line is.  I feel all the time like I am an only child wanting to play on the seesaw and my best friend can't sit on the other side any more.  Maybe I am thinking that because in Dubrovnik, of all places, my granddaughter dGwendy and I went on a bouncing seesaw in a playground.  Our guide helped give her more weight and up and down we went.  You just can't do a seesaw by yourself.  So...do I find other things to play on?

Artie was my balancer.  He would catch me when I fell emotionally.  Oh, we fought.  I think I have said before that when we had a bad fight - when it was over - we would look at each other and say, "Who were those people and how did they get into our house?"  I was his balancer too.  We understood each other in a way no one ever did before in our lives.  We were interdependent.  We took care of each other.  Is he taking care of me now?  I think he is.  It matters but it doesn't matter.  There is no weight on his side of the seesaw.  I can't go up by myself.  I have to move over to the swings and push.  Sometimes I don't have the energy.

If I write too much about the dark times do I feel and others feel that I am living in a negative loop that I know how to get out of?  If I write too much about the positive steps I take and the happy moments do I feel and do others feel that I have left the truth behind?  I don't have balance because for me grief doesn't have balance.  One moment I am full of energy; the next I am stopped.  One moment I am laughing, the next crying.  One moment I am surrounded by friends and family, the next I am totally alone in the world.

I've lost my personal advisor.  How am I doing Artie?  Should I edit this?  Should I take a day off?

I've lost my go to guy.  Here's what I did today.  Are you proud?  Can I make you giggle?

I've lost my compass, my north star.  Together we could map the route.  Alone I find my way but the paths are overgrown.

This is silly but my domain name is expiring on August 11th and I can't find the place to change my credit card.  Artie wouldn't have had a clue how to do it.  He used to have people come over to set the clocks when the power went off before he met me.  But he would hold me and pet my head because I was frustrated.

Ballet dancers balance on their toes for hours. Gymnasts do stunts on a balance beam.  Maybe the trick isn't to try to be a ballet dancer or a gymnast.  Better to try to be a clown, a comedian.  I'm good at pratfalls.  I can fall and not hurt myself.  I can even get back up without help.  Sometimes quickly; sometimes slowly and with pain.

Maybe part of being alive with grief is to nurture oneself in a different way.  Maybe all that talk about being centered and balanced is a myth.  I'm starting to think that being present means taking in what comes - rocking with it - and then letting go to go on to the next bit.  There is a move I've been taught from Aikido.  If you stand your ground with clenched teeth and fists and someone tries to push you over - it's easy for them to do.  If you stand loosely and when they push you, you go with the push - they can't move you at all.  You have gotten power by going with the movement presented to you.

So balancing is easier if I welcome all my feelings which means allowing the possibility of light and dark, fear and courage, joy and despair, loneliness and community.  Honor the one that is present instead of fighting and then ask it's opposite to come in.  Today I am frightened - hello fear - meet courage.

So much of learning is remembering what we already know but keep forgetting because that person, those people, those animals - are no longer here to remind us.  Remember when they reminded us of something and we said, "NO!"   There are a lot of things Artie told me about myself I didn't recognize were true until he was no longer here to tell me.

I'm not going to take my seesaw out of my garden.  I had too many good times on it.  I'm going to try to remember the slide and the swings.  I have to find different ways.  I've always said my role models for depression are Carrie Fisher and Winston Churchill.  Maybe I can use my imbalances to give me strength and creativity.

I am alive.  I am breathing.  I will figure some of it out.  The rest...hopefully...Artie will tell me about some day when we are no longer separate but are both in the same form.  Maybe that was the truth all along; the balance that I'm lacking now waits for me further along in my journey.  Artie and I stood once in a concert hall and sang..."Lean on Me".   I hope some day we can lean on each other again and not fall over into empty space.  Until that time - all us grief warriors - we will lean on each other.  xo

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