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Summer Soul Searching

Hello again.  How are you?

I want to have something beautiful, witty and wise to write here, for you.  A message full of optimism and hope, and sometimes I think I might just manage it. But possibly not today...

I'm not maudlin, you understand, I'm just feeling weary of grieving.  And it's not something I can turn off.

I can't snap out of it. Or wilfully distract myself from it.

I feel like I'm in an enormous IKEA, and I'm committed to following the floor plan through all the departments (of Grief). There's no short-cut I can take through Bedrooms (Crying), Kitchens (Deep Rattling Aloneness) and Storage (Heavy Weariness), that will whip me out into the Supermarket Area of Goodies (Smiley and Not Flinching with Every Quick Movement Any More).

I don't want to sound upset or angry.  I don't want to come over as bitter, or God forbid, self-pitying, but I'm definitely in the region of possibly knocking on those doors. If not knocking, then somewhere close to ringing the bell and then legging it.

Grieving is exhausting.

Time doesn't heal.

Healing doesn't automatically happen because time has passed.

Healing is an active process of having the ability to face all the darkest, murkiest, loneliest corners of the self. Without doing an about-face 180' turn and bolting, (hair on fire), screaming to the heavens for a bottle of gin bigger than your head, with the words "What the eff was that?  I don't want to look at that pile of c**p ever again and no one can make me!"

Every day waking up to the most painful parts of the self and not muttering "The horror! The horror!". Instead, facing those dark, scary feelings, looking into them, seeing them, acknowledging the hurt they bring, expressing that pain and then, subsequently being able to let the pain go, piece by small piece.

It takes some stamina to stay with yourself when what you're looking at and feeling is lots and lots of murky loss.

Pass the gin.

In the past when I've grieved, I've reached a point where I've needed to numb out for a time, and have tried to use food, drink, friends and family as massive distractions when I couldn't face feeling my own hurt.

Now that I'm older and not much wiser, I've decided that's not something I want to do to myself.

Not least because, what I've discovered while grieving the death of my mum, is that the grief that hasn't been actively healed in years gone by comes back to haunt you when a big loss happens.  It really does.

Like rowdy friends at a party, and demanding an audience for their bad jokes.

I'm grieving for all of my losses this time around.  Not just the massive loss of my mum, which is huge in and of itself, but many of those smaller losses I numbed out and distanced myself from through the years.

Each one seems to be popping up, asking to be felt and released.  Not unlike "Whack-a-Mole" the fairground game where you have to wallop that annoying little fella on the head as he peeks up out of one hole after another. Only I haven't got a plastic mallet and there's no mole to beat the c**p out of.

It's been 9 months since my Mum died. And I'm tired.

Distracting myself from my pain doesn't work now I'm older.  I know the gin is just going to leave me feeling more awful the morning after.  Eating a pile of food is only going to make me feel sick, and looking for myself in somebody else is going to leave me lonelier than I was before.

And none of this is because I don't deeply miss my mum or love her any less.  It's because I love her so deeply that the grief is so intense and unrelenting.

So, I'm facing myself and my hurt, and I feel like I want to say, firmly and quite clearly.  "Yup.  I get it.  I need to look at it all.  But, I'm done.  I've had enough of lifting up rocks and looking at the shadowy stuff underneath.  I'd like some sun, some sand, a bit of a shindig and some massive honking great belly laughs, if it's all the same to you, Universe. And while you're at it, could you mix me a cocktail with all the trimmings and more paper umbrellas than you can waggle a stick at?"

How do you balance feeling your grief with having some lightness in life? I don't easily seem able to at the moment, and I'm tired of feeling all the sadness. I haven't yet fully found a way to balance the sadness with something gentler. Hot baths, hugs, and snoozing are my go-to heart-lifters at the moment. Oh, and good, ripe mangoes. That's not a euphemism.

I miss the fun of life. Grieving and healing loss are hard ruddy work and I feel very disconnected from the Emma who cries laughing.

I need a holiday from my grief and haven't yet found a way of having a holiday from myself. I feel very guilty, writing that out loud.  As if it somehow dishonours my mum. But it's my truth at the moment and I know my mum would understand.

So, I'm plodding on with the journey through all IKEA departments, taking a nap, or a TV break along the way, in the hope that if I stay my course, I'll soon find myself laughing more and enjoying a hot dog bigger than an inflatable, after navigating some of the dark corners of bedding.

How do you give yourself a break from feeling your grief?  How do you find the fun and laughter in life while you're grieving?

Sending you huge love wherever you are.


P.S. This is a recent painting of mine, inspired by the artwork or Tamara LaPorte, and the quote by Henri Matisse.

P.P.S. Netflix is proving itself worth every penny for giving me a break. I am giving it an absolute bashing by currently watching a plethora of dramas, as well as learning more than I hope I will ever need to know about life in a women's prison. Orange definitely is the new black.

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