My first counseling session. I drove up to the Cancer Support Community with other plans on my mind. Plans about what to do with the rest of my life. Then, sitting in reception, waiting for my counselor, Liz, I wondered what I was going to talk about. All of the other therapy I’ve done has focused around depression and how to cope and get better. What I’m dealing with now isn’t depression, and the feelings I’m dealing with aren’t likely to go away with medication or even therapy.
Liz made a ramp with her arm. “In depression, you’re headed on a straight path toward a specific goal.”
She spiraled her hand around. “In grief, you’re going to be touching on certain aspects over and over at different times.”
Grief. I knew this was grief, but it feels so weird to be grieving for myself, not someone else. I still don’t know how to do it right. Right? Right for me, I suppose. I don’t reckon there’s only one right way to grieve. I think of my nana, who I’ve missed more acutely in recent months. I think of Louis and Doug and Stefan, my contemporaries who were all taken away from me. I think of my children and what I won’t be able to share with them. And I grieve. I grieve for the mom I won’t be, the wife, I won’t be, the personal connections I can’t complete as I once thought I would.
These are feelings I didn’t think I’d have to deal with for another few decades. But here I am, looking at the rest of my life. I might have less time than my mother. I certainly have less time than I thought I’d have a few months ago. Suddenly I’m like an old woman, looking at the last few years of my life, trying to get it right.
I write to help process everything that is going on. There are so many thoughts and feelings whirling around in my head, and writing allows me to grab hold of one or two and tether them down, to slightly calm the maelstrom that is my mind. Liz says that processing more of the grief, more of the thoughts and emotions, will eventually help me to have more room to deal with things that aren’t a crisis. But for now I’m probably going to remain scatterbrained, disorganized, a little crazy (my words, not hers.) I realize that I also write my blog as a way to share some of these feelings while not having to do it face to face with people. How can I deal with other people’s grief when I can’t deal with my own?
For now, I am relieved to have a safe space to process all that’s going on within me.