Refuge in Grief – Day 11

A response to an excerpt by May Sarton and these lines: “I suffer from these brief weekends, the tearing up of the roots of love, and from my own inability to behave better under the stress.” 
Ant algorithms, first proposed in a PhD thesis by Marco Dorigo in a 1992, are based on ants finding the best paths from their colony to a food source: Think the shortest distance between two points. The algorithms translate those paths into mathematical formulas and graphs. It’s what FedEx uses to deliver 1.25 billion packages per year in seamless efficiency. At the moment, my brain follows paths around my grief. My brain says “no thank you!” 
I need to be completely honest and now is a good time for me to share. This writing course is kicking my ass. I am all about “getting it all out” as they say, but I am also “taking it all in.” When I read others posts, I want to give support and acknowledgement, however I find myself often bursting into tears by just one heart-wrenching phrase or stunning imagery that fills my mind by eloquent descriptions. I am either reading or writing through tear-filled eyes. I have to take breaks in between posts sometimes. And so I find the refuge in our small group of writers to actually be magnifying and sharpening a habit with which I struggle: I am leaning in to the things that give me pleasure over pain. I choose the thing that makes me happy or is not “griefy”. I think the phrase for it is “avoidance technique”, and often this knee-jerk response includes some form of “escape.” I am sorry that I have not been a better participant with you all, it is not without an effort of trying.
When Jon first died, I had to take care of all the “business” of his affairs, and I did not allow myself to fall apart in a heap. I needed to handle things, plan memorial services, and get the kids to school. And all of those phone calls! I think this robotic mode was just an extension of pre-death behavior. I shrouded my utter sorrow and horror behind a perfect wife exterior, and followed Jon’s mantra to uphold our privacy rules of keeping the cancer to ourselves and that also included our deepest feelings. There was limited crying, especially in front of our children. These roots of our last years together have now been completely ripped up from the dusty clay soil. My grief, the build up of emotions once below the surface, is now fully exposed and raging most days. As the business of his affairs winds-down, I often wonder if I now let go completely and lean into these emotions, will I get better or worse? I am afraid of being sad for too long! 
And what about those roots anyway? I have been planted in a different soil as a result of my losses. I look different, I act different, people that have known me for a while are seeing someone they don’t recognize. What they need to know is, this version of myself is getting back to the essence of me. Call it a reset or perhaps a “me” from 25 years ago now with wrinkles, but it is “me” nonetheless. We are all changed by life, it’s highs and lows. Grief is like the moon in its many phases, I am trying to handle each one, but not hurt my eyes as I stare into the night sky to see. ~Paula

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