Feeling The Grief

I’ve never liked that word. Grief. Even as I’m typing it out, I’m cringing inside.

But as a friend recently told me, words are just that. Words.

The morning after having written my post ‘Basking in the Sun‘, I woke up with this feeling of intense sadness. It’s followed me through the entire week, and I’m still feeling it.

Random spurts of crying accompanied it. Even at work, while focused on what I was doing, I was acutely aware of the aching inside me. And sometimes I couldn’t contain it any longer and the tears would just spill out. Obviously not wanting anyone else to see, I would go the bathroom, and let it just come. But only for a minute or two, and then I’d compose myself and walk out smiling, as though nothing had happened. I’m grateful that it’s not easy for people to tell that I’d been crying. It only becomes noticeable if I’d been crying for a long time.

Even while out with a good friend yesterday, I couldn’t get rid of this sadness. I was spending the day with her, her new boyfriend and his family. At one point I pulled her aside and told her that I was struggling emotionally. She gave me a big hug and told me that it’s okay to feel the way I am. That it’s normal. She was so caring and and supportive. I felt safe. I don’t usually tell friends or family that I’m struggling with something, but I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable with people closest to me. I’m glad I told her, because she helped me realize that it’s okay to feel these emotions and to deal with them.

The reason for my sadness is I’m missing someone that was a constant part of my life for years. I’m grieving for the life I had. It wasn’t the good life, but it’s familiar. I miss the place, the people, the person… Just everything. Now I’m in a new place, new environment, and nothing is familiar. I know I’m starting to build the life I want, that I’m slowly starting to find my feet, but I’m overwhelmed. I feel as though I shouldn’t hope too much, or allow myself to feel happy, because it will just come crashing down around me anyway. I feel like I don’t deserve to be happy and to have a happy life. That it’s just not meant for me. The day after having written the above mentioned post, I felt guilty. What right did I have to feel that good? What right do I have to feel good, when so many other people are suffering and in pain?

I haven’t really allowed myself to fully experience the loss of all I left behind. I thought I had. I thought I had let it go. But I haven’t really. Because most of the time I would just push it away or play it down when the thoughts and feelings would surface. I would tell myself that I’m fine. But I’m not fine.

I’m allowing myself to really sit with, and experience these emotions today. To sit with the sadness and grief. With the unbearable pain. With the thought that I made the biggest mistake of my life. That what if all we needed was this break? I’m sitting with the longing to go back to my old life. To the person who’s love was conditional, admitting that she took it away sometimes in order to punish me, but at least I had that love sometimes. I never felt safe when I was living that life. But that life feels safe now. Safer than where I am at this moment. But I know it’s just the grief talking. That if I go back, nothing would have changed. Maybe it would be different for a little while, better, but then what? So many ‘what if’s’ consume my mind, and I’m allowing myself to ask and answer those difficult questions.

It’s so hard and painful. And I’m so unsure about my future.

Being My Own Friend

During my therapy session yesterday, I was highly annoyed with myself. I told my therapist that I feel I should be better by now. That I should just get over everything and move on. She told me that I’m very harsh on myself, and set very high expectations. That’s very true. I’m my own worst enemy. My harshest critic.

Then I got to thinking. I’ve read articles before on treating yourself as you would treat a friend. Back then it didn’t make much of an impact on me. But now I get it.

If a friend tells me that she’s a terrible person because of something she’s done, what would I tell her? I’ll tell her something along these lines:

“I can understand that you feel like a terrible person. But you’re human. We all make mistakes. The good thing is that we can fix these things. And those things we can’t mend, we learn from them. Simply by you admitting to what you did and how terrible you feel about it, you’re actually showing me the opposite. If you were truly terrible, you wouldn’t have been feeling this bad about it. That tells me that you have a good heart.”

Now what does it sound like when it’s me that’s done something I’m not proud of? It goes like this:

“You stupid idiot. Once again you fucked up like you always do. You’re the worst person in the world. Can’t you ever do anything right? You deserve to feel terrible about yourself. You shouldn’t even be allowed to live.” Yes, that’s really how I talk to myself. Black and White thinking in full swing. I would never talk to a friend like that, so why shouldn’t I show myself the same courtesy?

I learned a valuable skill from my therapist yesterday, which works great in the context of this post as well. I was going through one of my insecure phases and wondering whether I really can trust her completely. “I don’t want to be here today”. “What if you don’t really want to work with me and you’re only staying because it would be unethical for you to drop me?” Those kinds of things. After 6 months with her, I had hoped those insecurities would be non-existent, but that’s not the case. Just when I feel closer to her than ever before, and am enjoying that wonderful connection, it’s not long until I find myself pulling away and falling into the insecure, negative place again.

Yesterday, instead of reassuring me the way she sometimes does, she made me work this time. I suppose there has to be a balance. She can’t just always reassure me without showing me how to change my own thought patterns and reach conclusions for myself. That being said, she still managed to sneak in reassurances, and didn’t leave me completely alone trying to work through this.

She asked me these kinds of questions for each of the negative thoughts I was having (she encouraged me to look at the facts):

What is the evidence that she’s trustworthy?
What evidence is there that she’s not trustworthy?

What evidence is there that she doesn’t like working with me?
What evidence is there that she does like  working with me?

This ‘little’ exercise took a while. She really makes me work hard, and sometimes it feels like my brain just wants to explode. Not to mention my rage at having to spend so much time on something that seems so trivial at the time. Afterward though, I see just how valuable it really is, and I’m grateful for it. I have so many cognitive distortions, and negative patterns and habits that I’ve developed over the years, so of course it’s going to be hard to train my mind to think differently. I need to be kinder to myself. I need to be my own friend.

I can use this skill to be a better friend to myself. When I start feeling like a failure, a waste of space, or whatever my mind comes up with, I can practice this technique.

“I’m a failure.”

What evidence is there to suggest that I’m a failure?
What’s the evidence that I’m not a failure.

This stuff can be used for anything. Thank you psychology. Thank you therapist.

I’m going to practice being kinder and more gentle with myself, and talk to myself the same way I would to my friends, and other people in my life. If I find myself being harsh, I will re-frame it and ask myself what would I tell someone else if they feeling the same way.

We deserve to be our own best friend.

Protected: A Wasted Life. Begin Again.

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Change

I started a new job on Wednesday. My range of emotions are vast.

I’m excited about this job, and enjoying it. Other times I feel fearful and just want to stay home in bed and drown out the world. I’m still trying to find balance. I feel completely off kilter and not quite sure how to handle this. As with any change, it takes a while for the body and mind to come together in harmony again I suppose. And as much as I like change, that fact doesn’t make it that much easier to deal with when it actually happens. Alternating between periods of feeling “I belong here” and “what the hell am I doing here?”, and “what if I fuck up?”.

I no longer have unlimited time to spend on my blog or other people’s blogs, my emails are falling behind, and I haven’t watched TV in days. It feels a little strange to not have that so much anymore. But it’s a good thing. I just really need to find that sweet spot. Anxiousness has reared it’s ugly head again.

I found in the first few days, I was testing the people I work with. Being awkward, saying the weirdest shit because I’m feeling nervous and uncomfortable, only to find them laughing at all of my jokes and paying complete attention to me, almost like they’re eating a meal and savoring every bite. This is strange. I thought I was putting them off. Definitely a good group of people… And it seems I fit right in. After all, anyone who can accept me through my awkwardness is alright in my books. I’m much more comfortable around them now and the awkward moments have mostly disappeared.

Working night shifts, my sleeping patterns have changed too. It feels strange to get home late, past my bed time, and sleep in until 8am. But I’m slowly starting to feel better. Yesterday was the first time in ages that I woke up feeling as though I had a good nights rest. The constant fatigue seems to have gone. So maybe I’ve found a good sleeping arrangement and should continue this even on my days off. Maybe it’s a combination of having a job, socializing, and Vitamin B, Iron and Magnesium supplements that have also helped me feel physically stronger and less mentally exhausted.

They say change is as good as a holiday. Well, it takes a while to get your mind fully into holiday mode too, so I’ll go with that.