It’s a breezy, 80-something-degrees and today’s sky is earnest-true-blue with bouncy-not-too-close-not-too-spread-out-clouds
I force my computer to snap a reluctant selfie to confirm that I have not been annihilated but, rather, safely living out the last of my master-planned-dreams-defered-disappointment-of-a-community-days
In recovery from a rough night, I’m too preoccupied to appreciate this enviable atmosphere, checking my phone every ten minutes for a text / DM / email / call from the Universe that might push my life, or mood, back into the light. I am certain that no sounder plan has ever been devised
(Before you judge, you should know that I already received a text from a concerned friend inquiring about my mental health and offering to chat / hang / teach me a fancy morning tea ritual)
(Also, just hung up from a promising call with a diligent lender helping me secure a mortgage by precariously stacking my life savings and retirement accounts like a fragile deck of cards in a windy tunnel)
There appears to be hope in this profane approach to life after all yet, in between avoiding work and manifesting a sign from the Universe, I Google things like “can stress make you dry heave?” and “stages of grief” to see if this pit in my stomach is from a mouth full of dental aligners or something more serious
I notice an ad where I can take a quick and easy quiz to see if I suffer from “complicated grief” but I resist the urge because I’m too proud and LM (low maintenance) for this kind of advanced suffering
The internet says there are FIVE stages of grief. They are universal but not experienced in any particular order. You may not even hit them all up on your way around and around and around
So, if you also find yourself stuck in a personal purgatory, this not-new-to-me-seemingly-science-based-non-sense can be or not be for you too:
Stage 1 : Denial
A double-decker stage that blanketed this past February and the months of March / early April like a dense fog
With the assistance of hindsight, it occurs me that denial might very well be our collective natural setting, no?
Because contrary to what the news reports, being on this planet is all just so good good and, like, how can any of us afford to feel anything but gratitude when we’re living these full, shiny lives, amiright?
Still, I obligingly put an “X” in the Stage 1 box as I can no longer deny my fateful prom date with denial, wearing its heavy corsage like a badge of honor as I shuffle about, groping in the dark for a phantom partner. Oh beautiful denial, you’ll force us to follow your lead then step on our toes but we’ll probably still make out with you on the bleachers because hormones and Rom Coms and reckless optimism, etc etc
Stage 2: Anger
A bitter horse pill that remains lodged in my bone-dry throat. I used to say “I am uncomfortable with how uncomfortable I am being uncomfortable” but now I think what I really meant by that was “I am uncomfortable with how uncomfortable I am being angry”
A useless, unproductive emotion, I’ve always felt better served to sublimate that -ish into something loftier and more generous
But, fuck it
Fleeting moments of fury are starting to seep through the cracks and, you know what? My hair and biceps have never felt better so hat tip to whatever angry witchcraft is at work here and there and everywhere in my life
Don’t operate large machinery during this phase or hurt any animals / small children, but like try it on for size, I dare you
Stage 3: Bargaining
Or as I like to call it, the “If Only” stage
I don’t have lucid memories of what bargaining looked like for me as I’m pretty sure it was attached to some fairly regrettable text messages during a prolonged period of insomnia. Downright mortifying for my bruised and battered ego but, also, fuck that too
YOLO and LOL and my bad
That said, in my professional grieving opinion, I recommend you avoid bargaining altogether because it’s the ugly crying of all these stages and, let’s be frank, nobody wants that
Stage 4: Depression
The internet reports that depression comes in two flavors. Apparently, the second is more subtle and more private, a “quiet preparation to separate and bid farewell”
This is my definition of depression: not knowing WTF and waiting to know WTF…
The internet also says, “Sometimes all we really need is a hug”
I have no talent for soaking in ambiguity until my fingers grow pruny. I’m a newly fragile little spoon lacking a respectable big spoon but I’m also so much more than that, ya feel me?
As a general rule, I employ Stage 1 tactics to reboot myself back into action as onward and upward we go go GO!
In summation: Don’t overthink it — or think at all — and you’ll do fine
Stage 5: Acceptance
This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm
Wait, what? That doesn’t sound amazing
This is not a “period of happiness” yet “distinguished from depression…” What’s a soul to do?
Personally, I write it out. I start and stop, and start and stop, and start again. I leave behind weird evidence of this crooked journey replete with unruly thoughts, lacking pretense or a filter, so that I might look back someday to avoid free falling into an avoidable pattern
Sure, it’s rarely coherent but resistance is, as they say, futile
Of course, none of this is even remotely helpful as my Fear of Annihilation continues to grow so I return to my steadfast laptop
Now I Google “Ambiguous Loss,” a term I heard relationship therapist, Esther Perel use on a podcast called “The Erotic Is an Antidote to Death” (far less salacious than I’d hoped)
My current #womancrush, Esther’s work is changing our discourse about coupledom. Eroticism is more than just a description of sexuality
She believes it’s an essential ingredient to life and how we connect to ALIVENESS / VIBRANCY / VITALITY / RENEWAL
Spiritual. Mystical. Life.
And just like that I am a soft kid in a hard candy store, distracted by sexy sounding words that seduce with a sugary promise
So I Google “eroticism” to see what the Universe has in store for me
Because YOLO and LOL
and my bad