I find myself always aware of what stage of grief I am experiencing. I don’t always move right through them. I don’t always need all of them. I may go from one to the next and then go back again.
My last boyfriend before my husband was not kind to me. His abusive tendencies left me feeling like I lost more of myself. When I broke up with him I didn’t have to grieve the loss of him. I had to grieve the loss of what he did to me.
I grieved my last boyfriend by chopping up all of his furniture and then borrowing a chainsaw and hacking up what was left. I then started a burn pile in the front parking lot of everything that reminded me of him. Now THAT is anger. I still find it funny when family says I am “rageful” now. PFT. Little lesson: Unless a chainsaw or axe or fire has happened, I have NOT shown anger. After I chopped up all his stuff I could throw out the upstairs window of the apartment, he packed up what was left and went on his way. Something about chopping up his furniture and allowing my body to feel that full rage over what was done to me was liberating. So much so that after, I laughed. I was immediately over the grieving process. Anger was all I needed to grieve the loss of what he had done to me.
With my family and what they did to me I did also go through stages of anger. Some scissors did come out when I cut up the curtains my mother hung in my house. But lets be real, that is pretty benign. I didn’t scream or yell or bash things. I just cut up some curtains. We all have our own way of dealing with anger. I write about it, and apparently now, cut up curtains. Unfortunately, that was not the end of grieving my family. I skipped the denial phase. Went straight to the angry phase and hoped to skip the sadness phase and go right to acceptance. It didn’t happen. I have come to the sadness and here I sit. I hope I don’t stay here for long.
While grieving my body because of this muscle disease I went straight through! I was in total denial. I was angry. I was depressed. I accepted it. And then I went backwards. I refuse to accept this disease. I am going to fix it, I am going to research it. I am going to fight it. Then I would hurt myself by overdoing and become depressed. Then I would be angry and push myself to do something I knew I couldn’t just to show I could, just to repeat the cycle again. Grieving my body through this muscle disease process has not been linear. I don’t even know where I am in the grieving process right now with my body. Perhaps, appreciating what I can still do. Which is my own little amendment to the grief process.
When it comes to the grief after abuse, 2 nights ago I had a moment of denial. I never ever thought I would go there. Grieving the loss of my childhood and the loss of my identity and the loss of normalcy due to PTSD has FIRST come with acceptance. Then there has been sadness. Anger has not really played a part. But I have never denied what happened to me. But a few nights ago, for a moment, I thought, OK, maybe this really was not as bad as I have thought. Maybe I have blown this entire thing out of proportion. Maybe the abuse wasn’t that bad. Maybe my childhood wasn’t that bad. I kept thinking of the good things that happened growing up. I thought, am I making the bad a bigger deal than it was and ignoring all the good I had? Maybe it just wasn’t that bad. Denial. It is a stage of grief I have not ever felt in abuse I experienced while being an adult. As a child, coping required a certain coping skill of denial but that didn’t have to do with grief. It is not a good feeling. I doubted myself. I doubted my words. I doubted my truth. I had to reread the letter I wrote to my dad detailing the abuse details (it only details small details). I read. Oh. Right. That did happen. Oh. That happened too. Oh i totally forgot about that. Oh right, that was awful. I was immediately thrown from denial to depression and back to acceptance and then depression over the acceptance. I know why I did it. I let my family get into my head and I let their words and the weight of them overpower the actual truth. They live in denial. They want me there too. So I went there. Tested out the waters there in denial. Denial from childhood abuse is a very unhealthy place for me to visit. I didn’t stay there long. I was trying to pretend. Make it all go away. Just for a moment live in the fantasy world where I didn’t have to mourn myself. But that is not being true to all of the work I have done listening to my inner child and speaking for her, finally. Denial cannot be a part of my grief when it comes to trauma. So I didn’t allow it to be. Good things did happen in my childhood. Wonderful things. I don’t deny those things either.
I have never bargained for myself It is a stage of grief I have never felt within myself. I have bargained when it came to my daughter’s illness. I have begged and bargained God to just take me if that means she will be well again. Because her illness has caused grief too. Grief over the loss of what I want her life to be and what she has lost.
Grief is powerful. Whether it is for a loss of our body, a loss of our self, a loss of someone we love, or a loss we are witnessing, it is complicated. It is definitely not linear for me. I have also put in an extra stage for my own grieving process: Allowing for love. I don’t have to be in a stage of grief that requires sadness, anger, or acceptance, I could just be in a state of love. I can love myself through the grief. Love that little girl in me. Love my body that I am losing with the muscle disease. Love my daughter. Find a spot to just love in the midst of it all.