Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Loss and Living

Elisabeth Kubler - Ross, in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, identified five universal stages of the grieving process: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. To experience and then move through grief, not all stages need to be experienced, nor in a particular order.  We all experience life in our own unique ways.

I have experienced all of these stages when dealing with death, the initial shock, the why not someone else, the tears, and finally the gentle letting go. I remember being shocked at how angry I became after a dear friend committed suicide and the subsequent guilt for that same anger. How dare he do this to his family and friends? How dare I feel that way? Why didn't I notice he was in pain? These extreme tragedies take a toll on the body, emotionally and physically. It is understandable to go through extreme emotion when death occurs. It is the smaller losses that I have a harder time navigating and do not always allow myself the time and space to grieve and mend.

Let me take one small step back. I have been looking for full time, meaningful work for the past four years. Within that span of years, I have pieced together small jobs, usually just enough money to eek through, pay some bills and keep myself stuffed with tofu and kale. On a few occasions, I have actually obtained longer stints of temporary work, work that entailed months of steady work and income. It has been the loss of those longer stints, one just recently, that have proven intensely painful.

Now I am not comparing the loss of a loved one to the loss of a job, there is no comparison, however I am exploring whether the stages of grief can explain the complicated, convoluted feelings that I experience after my employment losses. First the denial and isolation, the initial, "I am so ok," accompanied by a huge smile and race to a far off location to cry by myself. Second, the "fuck you and your mother and all of her distant relatives." Third, the dreaded if onlies..."If only these people were different, or I was a transvestite from Jupiter..." Fourth, the utter ridiculous sadness, that realization that the health insurance is gone, I will have no money to eat and I will be living in a cardboard box (albeit a recycled one) for the rest of my life. Finally the acceptance, the knowledge that God does for me what I cannot do for myself. I cannot leave a place. I cannot even call in sick. I will stay in a situation until the bitter end, the marriage until all cards have been played (and it was a double deck) and only leave when I am broken. I believe that the Universe has my number. I need to be booted. And I need to find that ray of elusive hope fluttering in the breeze. In order to find that hope however, I have to stay with the feelings, to be here, in the present moment, in the uncomfortable, messiness of it all. Throughout the whole process though, I need to ignore the voice of the "You Suck Monster" and listen to the voice of the Divine, that voice that has always guided me, that has always gently kept me from situations that do not serve my Higher Purpose. I need to trust in the process, that gentle unfolding of life.

It is a beautiful day, and as I gaze out the windows I know that I still have a few more months of a paycheck, that maybe I will take that Yoga Teacher Training course this summer, or maybe something else. Fifteen years ago, I would never have thought I would be right where I am today. Fifteen years ago I was struggling to raise my son, battling with addiction and stuck in an unhealthy marriage. The Universe took care of me then, and it will surely take care of me now. I just have to open my hands, ask for help, and be ready to receive the answer.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Beginner Mind

It has been a long time since I have sat down to write; my fingers miss the rhythm of the tapping on the keyboard and my mind misses the meditative state that writing induces. It is a blustery Saturday in the Berkshires; the snow is still piled up in the backyard, but Spring birds have started their morning symphony. All is well.

I have not taken the time to write, I have not given myself the space to prattle off a poem, or even just a few lines, lines that someday will transform into a story, a post, or even just a note to myself. I have been too "busy," rushing about my day, working and commuting while squeezing in runs and yoga and shopping and bill paying and time with my partner. Too often, what is really important, what really brings me joy, those activities are stuffed into a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. If I were to go back, to read my previous blog posts, I would undoubtedly find a post similar to this one, following months of silence. What is really important to me today? Do I make the space in my day to nurture those things? Probably not.

It is National Poetry Month. Yes, it is already April 4, but I remember last year on April 1 I made the vow to create one poem per day. I upheld that vow and was left with 30 poems, some corny, some nonsensical and a few that made me smile. The act oif creating as a daily practice is intensely powerful. It is within the act of caring for my self and my soul, that I find God. It is within the intersection of self-care, silence, and creativity, that my Higher Power exists.

So right now I gaze at the sun-streaked sky, the balsam pines swaying in the wind, the snow disappearing, and oak leaves floating across bare ground. It is in this moment that I am grateful, for the desire to put my fingers to the keyboard and the space and time to do so.