Griefburst

“It is only by selection, by elimination, and by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe

Life is beautiful and life is painful.

Anger is a foreign feeling to me; I am uncomfortable with it, and it makes me feel fear. The fear stems, I think, from the concern that my anger may become uncontrollable, like my dad’s was.

Lately, I have been feeling a lot of anger. I now understand why people smash up their apartments when they get upset, yell, scream, and cry. I understand the 5 year olds in my care who tear up their classrooms. I am frustrated.

For years, for ages, for my whole life almost, I blamed my dad for everything wrong that happened. When he was dying, my brother and I thought my mom would get better somehow, after he died. But she didn’t. And I didn’t (this is most important). I realized that the problems came from both of them, not from just one.

Last night I realized that one of the reasons I am so angry with my mom is that she didn’t take care of herself, didn’t protect herself, let alone her kids. I had a grief attack Monday that started innocuously enough; I thought that Cody wasn’t listening to me and I became steadily afraid of him taking advantage of me financially (this happened in my first marriage), and devolved into me not really knowing what I was saying but refusing to end an argument that wasn’t based on anything real. At 11:30, I became scared and sad. I went into the front yard and cried. The dog looked at me with a worried expression. I came inside and cried some more.

The next morning, I realized that I had been acting like my Dad; after all, we are very similar. I lost control over my emotions, and what I was saying, and let it all come out in a way that made no sense. The next afternoon, I apologized to Cody and asked him to help me stay grounded.

My grief is stemming from the loss of my father, realizations about my mother, my relationships with both my parents, the recent loss of my friend Mary Ann, and my experiences at my job. I have never hated a job before, and, in reality, I quit this job that day when the 5-year-old brought a gun to school. That was the third week of school. We are almost at Week 16. In other words, I am overloaded and I exploded. I asked Cody to help me stay grounded, stay focused, to re-align myself by asking me to come back to conversations later, and to refocus by taking time to make something. I am finding that only when I am making things do I feel almost ok.

My grief is overwhelming. Little Patience is sad and tired. Little Patience feels that my parents tried their best, but they did a lousy job. Adult Patience hates the job I worked really hard to get, not knowing what the job really was in the present state of education in Texas. Present Patience, strong though I am, is incredibly sad that I was the person who brought Mary Ann to the doctor the day she was told she was dying, the person who arrived first the morning she died and watched waves of people awkwardly enter and leave that space and witnessed my friend Von be so sad and there was nothing I could do for her. I was also the person who packed up the apartment with and for her sister Pearl when all the other friends couldn’t see past themselves enough to help. I say that I am incredibly sad because I am, not that I regret being there in any of those moments; those moments just were and are incredibly, soul-shakingly sad.

Tonight I looked up the world’s strongest animal; it is the dung beetle, the scarab. When I was weeping with the grief counselor a few days ago, she said she felt my strength in all my stories. I am trying to get there; trying to cross that bridge from sorrow to accepting that God only gives us what we can handle. I have learned that when things are really hard, that is very difficult to remember.

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