Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I want a new attitude.
Your heart may stand in the sun...
Originally uploaded by emaho
Today is January 19, 2010. This is the first January 19th I have celebrated since Michael passed away on September 13, 2009. Was there something previously significant about this day? I'll tell you. It was another day that I used to have Michael with me. It was another day that I actively loved him. I suppose it is another day which stands as proof that our relationship existed, and that our love was present. So why do some days get distinguished more? Shouldn't each day be a celebration? Shouldn't each significant prior celebration be mourned just as much?
I ask these questions to myself. This is going to be part of my new challenge. This is going to be my new attitude. Did I love Michael any more on January 18th as oppose to January 19th? No. I probably gave him more notice on the 18th, as that was his birthday. I was probably more willing to look past his flaws on the 18th. I was probably more willing to pick up after him on the 18th than on the 19th. But let me tell you, if he didn't pick up his damn socks by the 20th there was likely going to be hell to pay. Okay. Calm down. I'm only kidding.
But here is my thinking. I have been getting myself so worked up about the big emotional challenges of getting through significant anniversary days, yet each has been much easier once it arrived. And, the ones that have gone the best are when I plan some positive down time to really appreciate what we had. Keeping these days simple, has in turn kept me emotionally together, which means I did better than just survive them. I cherished them.
As for the more difficult times, I want to return to the practice of radical acceptance. This is a concept I continuously get exposed to when reading about grieving mindfully. For those not familiar with some of my early posts, I am trying to bridge my approach to my grief through some of the Buddhist teachings. In Buddhism, radical acceptance is known as the Middle Way. It is a way of not plunging headlong into our feelings, but also not running away from them. It also teaches us that there is an impermanent nature to our experiences, which helps us face our difficult emotions. The challenge then is to stay more centered during these difficult times, knowing that our emotions are not permanent.
For me this is saying that, especially during this Year of Firsts, I need to pace myself. If I am to make it through all of this successfully, then I need to keep returning to the concept of grieving mindfully. In this way grief is seen as a purposeful and meaningful journey. I cannot rush through it, and at the same time I should not purposefully get lost in it either so as to slow it down. There has to be movement. I think for some of us it may tempting to deny our pain, yet for others, we may find ourselves over identifying with our pain.
My daily challenge is to be as fully aware of what is going on for me as possible. If I am feeling sad, or lonely, then I want to be fully aware of this, not try to hide it, yet also careful not to purposefully add to it. This is something I have noticed myself doing at times. If I am having a difficult day of missing Michael, I sometimes find myself wanting to feel it stronger. Somehow I think it helps me to legitimize what I am feeling. Of course in doing this, I have made my day all the more difficult to get through. This in turn, seems counter productive, as my goal is to move forward in my grief, not get stuck in it.
I have to recognize that in moving forward in my grief, I may at times feel like I am choosing to walk further away from Michael. I need to actively dissuade myself from this type of thinking. I did not walk away from Michael. He died. As harsh as this sounds, it is what I need to keep telling myself. His dying has happened. It is a finite occurrence. I had, and have, no choice to make in the matter. It already occurred.
The machine of joy
Originally uploaded by Catch the dream
I want a new attitude. I want to embrace life, and to embrace all that comes with it. I don't want to walk around with this dark cloud over my head all the time. If there are dark clouds, then so be it. But if the sky is full of sunshine, and if I am experiencing a good day, then I want to embrace the sun, and walk with a smile on my face. I know this will not be easy right now. It will be a challenge. But I would rather challenge myself to be happy, then to live in sadness out of defeat.
I'm finding that it is too easy to live in defeat. It takes less work. Grief brought me a sense of defeat, but I don't want to get stuck here. I want more than grief's defeat. I want joy. It's time to ask, "What can grief offer in the way of joy?" And, more importantly, "Will it come in my size?"