Grief: and I’m not sorry for what I’m feeling/bring the ceiling to the ground

I’ve been working on this post for some time. Since mid-September. And it just doesn’t seem to get finished.

Grief is hard. And there are many kinds of grief; death is only one. And many things have been written about grief. I’m sure there is not one thing you’ll read in this post that will be an “a-ha” Oprah moment for you, but maybe a “hmm, ok” moment. Or maybe you’ll go look at cat videos. That’s fine, too.

In Psychology class in high school I learned the five stages of the Kübler-Ross model of grief. Grief can be a death or some life-threatening illness or a life-changing situation.

The first stage is Denial. Of course. Then comes Anger. Anger is what I’m writing about today. Denial says “this isn’t happening. This can’t happen to me. This is a dream/nightmare. No, this isn’t real.” Denial can last for a while until the boom lowers.

There is nothing wrong with anger. Anger is an emotion that is essential in life. Many people are very slow to anger and are pretty mellow most of the time. There is something to the stereotype of the redheaded temper. In the R.E.M. song “Redhead Walking,” Michael Stipe sings “When ginger hair gets all fired up/She beats them in the night/That redhead walking, uh/Don’t get close/She’ll warn you with her growl”

In other words, you have been warned.

Oh, anger. My friend of fire and rage that I do not welcome with open arms. Rage starts in your freshly painted red toes, then bubbles up to your gut and simmers. It will simmer until it can simmer no more. It starts as a low rolling boil until it pries its way into your heart at a full boil. Full boil is dangerous. Full boil can find its way up your esophagus onto your tongue and make you spit words you cannot take back.  Rage goes up to your eyeballs and makes them hot. Have you ever been so angry that your eyes felt hot? That, my friend, is rage.

What rage gets right is John Cusack in High Fidelity screaming out the window at his ex-girlfriend, “If you really wanted to mess me up you should have gotten to me earlier!”

I would prefer to stay in anger because the next stage is Bargaining, such as asking God to change the situation or the “if only” talk and I don’t buy that. That is for the ones who think wishing will change things. Wishing gives you hope, but isn’t an answer. It won’t change anything. Wishing is “someday my prince will come” while wearing rags and standing around a well in animated movie. Wishing is for dreams. I stick with anger. Anger makes sense. Anger is logical. It’s the stage Batman got stuck in and it worked out pretty well for him.

I prefer to stay in Anger because the step after Bargaining is Depression and that is a dark, dark place where I do not wish to visit. You see, I’ve had the Big D since I was 16, and even though I’m doing well now with medication, Depression doesn’t care. Depression will suck me in and hold me down on that dark place. Depression makes me want to suffer. Depression wants to make me stay in bed and wallow in emotion that drenches my eyes and stings after awhile. Depression robs you of everything in your life that should bring you joy. Sure, you’ll laugh at something once in awhile — depression allows you that — but it’s always waiting like the Eternal Footman holding your coat, snickering bastard. That’s depression.

So, here it is in November. And the Anger is still there. I skipped bargaining because my mind knows better. I’m between Depression and Acceptance. I go back and forth. More questioning than anything. More thoughts that are singular and won’t end up as blog post or a Facebook status — just a “what the fuck was that?” Just a “did that — was that — who does that — and why — and how did we get here?”

Then the Ben Folds lyric from House — “I’m not sorry/For what I’m feeling/Blow the walls out/Bring the ceiling to the ground”

Because I’m not sorry for what I’m feeling. And dammit, bring the ceiling to the ground.

It doesn’t matter what the grief is caused by. Over the past twenty years I’ve lost love ones, I’ve lost babies, I’ve had friends enter and re-enter my life, I’ve had them exit – just like that, I’ve moved 12 times, I’ve lost a business, I’ve lost — I’ve lost — I’ve lost. So, maybe it’s delayed grief over several things. Maybe it’s not. But it’s real. And it’s real hard. And it will get easier. And I’ll go on. I’ll go on a little lost for awhile, but I’ll go on.

Which brings me to a song by Phosphorescent that’s a go-to for me these past couple of months. It’s “Song For Zula” and I posted it last month, but it sticks with me because it’s truly about grief. Here’s the first stanza:

“Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me
It puts its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing”

That — right there — is grief. “Something I am not recognizing.” And further in the song is what I think is somewhere where I am right now — between Anger, Depression, and Acceptance:

“You see the moon is bright in that treetop night
I see the shadows that we cast in the cold clean light
I might fear I go and my heart is white
And we race right out on the desert plains all night
So honey I am now, some broken thing
I do not lay in the dark waiting for day here
Now my heart is gold, my feet are right
And I’m racing out on the desert plains all night”

I don’t know if that’s what Phosphorescent was intending to put across, but I know what I get from it. Because I am broken, but I’m not waiting for day because I’m, figuratively, racing on the desert plains all night.

And with that, this post is finished. Like so many things.

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