I am learning that grief is not a linear process. The sudden waves of simply an overwhelming sense of loss is something I can honestly admit I had never experienced in my entire life. Which, at 44, I can appreciate makes me incredibly fortunate and truly sympathetic to anyone that has gone through this process. I can also admit that my grief is due to the loss of my beloved dog, Tobias Maximus Minimus, which I know cannot compare to the extreme loss countless others have experienced in losing children, spouses, partners, parents, siblings, relatives and friends. But, this is the grief I know.
I also understand the 5 stages of grief and can attest to its accuracy. I can pinpoint the moments of bargaining when the veterinarian was explaining my dog’s situation – I wasn’t listening, but rather steering his words into an irrational outcome in my mind where all would be okay. My denial was short-lived, as clarity came in speaking to my wife and daughter about what to do. We all knew, as sudden and painful as this moment was, that our selfishness couldn’t outweigh our boy and his pain. I can pinpoint the moment of acceptance that was accompanied by the first wave of tears where grief first appeared in the silent wail, compressing my chest and taking my breath away. The anger, I am ashamed to admit, came in the following days, judging every dog and owner that walked past my house or that I encountered on walks. The bargaining came back in those moments too.
What I was surprised to learn was that the grief cycle leaves out an emotion: the actual feeling of grief. The sixth and most powerful feeling in my opinion. I have learned to discern the nuance between emotions that I had previously lumped together. I feel the reason for this is that the 5 emotions in the grief cycle are universally familiar, but grief, once experienced, is different. Grief feels like your soul becoming aware it’s been disconnected from a power source and trying desperately to escape your body in an attempt to search the universe to reattach itself, but returning untethered, resting just long enough to gather strength to set out once more. This is the linear process; a journey with an unknown travel plan and no destination. There is no getting to the other side of grief or conquering of it, and there’s no going back to before what lead to it. Grief doesn’t go away; the soul just learns at its own pace to travel less as it learns that it regenerates more efficiently on the fondness of memories than it does on pain. Nothing our soul connects with would ever want to see us suffer, and although grief has no expiration date, there’s also no due date.
The thin line between arrogance and insecurity teeters on foolishly thinking everyone else believes you’re great and greatly overthinking that everyone else believes you’re a fool.
Busy is a trap. Busy is an excuse. Busy can also be the antidote of worry. When I sit still with my thoughts, Anxiety takes that opportunity to play the role of fortune teller – proffering scenarios and outcomes with the sole intent of stagnation. This is as much a foolish waste of time as it would be to try to dig up the roots of a fake tree. For me, the difference is discerning between work and effort. Busy work can at times be a welcome distraction for the mind, but once the work stops, the problems return with compounded worry since they were merely placed on hold. Conversely, effort (a show of strength) is a conscious exertion towards an achievement. To busy oneself with effort is to weaken Anxiety’s grip. Effort, though strenuous, doesn’t need to equate to anything momentous – it’s simply productivity in service of betterment in some small way. The ultimate benefit is not allowing the idle mind to irrationally turn its gaze skyward.
Relaxing is not my forte. I realize my interpretation of relaxation is really more about doing nothing than it is about rejuvenation through some form of stillness. When I try to “rest”, I just end up feeling restless and it prevents me from falling asleep. My mind is presently ill-equipped to turn off, and the days have become a blur of routine. Although it’s taken time for me to build up some good habits during the day, the nights have become strands of boredom tied together with no purpose.
So today begins a new attempt for more intentional efforts in the evening. Beginning the day setting a small goal for each night with hope that by resting less, I will find a solve for my recent restlessness. This post is my buy-in. Perhaps it will be left unread, but its existence is my accountability coach.
There’s a point when external factors can longer be the delay for unfinished projects or goals. These are the moments when you either realize it’s time to be pragmatic (even if that means the completion point may be extended because you have to learn a new skill before you can get it done) or it’s time to realize that the project or goal had no internal value. The third option is that you convince yourself the project or goal is unattainable; perhaps, or is it that your ego feeding itself to keep you stuck in discomfort.
Some days, in spite of the work you’ve put in, it will be hard to fend off the frustration you perceive as how others are making you feel. Know the truth, they are making you feel nothing – it’s your reaction to their words and/or behaviors that is stirring up unwelcome emotions.
When you can’t find inner peace at a given time, you can always acknowledge that it’s you that needs to change. It may not help your current situation, but it will prevent you from carrying any additional weight, or foolishly waiting for someone else to change. You don’t fully understand your own path yet, so don’t assume you have any idea what path anyone else might be on.
A speck of light is all you need to know it’s there.
I like to think that I can be present every now and again, but then I think about that expression and realize it’s a lie.
Every now = always
Again = and then some
An expression that’s intends to convey “once in a while” really means the opposite, and serves to demonstrate how we allow ourselves to believe what we hear instead of seeking to understand what something means beyond the surface.
Moments like this remind me of Byron Katie’s 4-questions, and the importance of the first two questions: 1) Is it true? and 2) Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Think of the world we can create if before reacting, we all sat with those two questions first, taking the needed pause to consider what’s really being said or done.
If someone approaches you starving and dehydrated, there’s likely something you can do in the moment to help assuage their deprivation. However, if someone approaches you deprived of truth, even if you provide it objectively, they may still walk away unsated. Our stomachs require nourishment, our minds seek truth, but our egos and ignorance only seek validation. Seeking validation over truth is fasting with the expectation of fulfillment.
There’s a difference between comparison for the sake of rivalry and comparison for the sake of proximity. When it comes to material items, either is a futile pursuit. When it comes to personal growth, it becomes more about awareness of one’s surroundings. The company we keep tells us a great deal about who we are, where we are and where we’ll be.
Conversations can replenish our emotional buckets. But the same conversations and the same stories told ad nauseam point towards stagnation.
I heard a saying the other day, “When it comes to pebbles in a shoe, the only correct number is zero.” Any one relationship can become a pebble in our shoe over time, and although it may not be inherently unhealthy, it can get uncomfortable and bothersome. Too many of these types of relationships and your pebble-filled shoe makes taking another step unbearable.
Sometimes we need to remove our shoes and shake the pebbles out. Other times, that’s not an option because the relationships may be with people we can’t avoid or cut out of our lives (co-workers, family members, etc.). In those instances, we can do our best to remove our metaphorical shoes before entering into their space. Therefore, the discomfort only lasts as long as the interaction, and we walk away with the only correct number of pebbles in our shoes.
We have all experienced those moments where we’ve become so frustrated, we feel the impulse to put others in their places. Impulsivity doesn’t care about foresight, so it becomes a matter of training. If we are to spend time crafting the perfect verbal retaliation, the response is no longer an impulse – it’s a knowing act of an irrational mind and/or bruised ego. Thinking that what we say will make us feel better is not as important as knowing it will surely only serve the purpose of making us look worse.