Disguise (verb): Give a different appearance in order to conceal one’s identity
We all know so little about grief. We know it’s not linear, that it can hit you at any time. But I think the majority of us who haven’t been forced to explore it, think grief is feeling really sad or crying a lot. I say this because, it’s what I used to think.
Until recently (despite losing my dad when I was 11 and despite 2 previous miscarriages), that’s how I thought of grief. I’m usually pretty switched on, but it’s taken me so long to realise this: Grief is so much more. Grief is just one tiny five-letter word, but the actual emotion is multi-faceted.
With hindsight, my pregnancy announcements blog showed me that. Grief isn’t “I feel sad”. Grief is “I feel sad, I feel rage, I feel hopeless, I feel numb, I feel longing, I feel impatient, I feel guilty, I feel jealous, I feel bitter…” Grief is the need for self-preservation. Grief is the urge to shut everything out. Grief (and its description) is endless.
A friend alluded to this recently. When discussing my Mumoirs she noticed that the tone of the blog posts are all different. Some are heart-breaking, some are hopeful, some are despairing, some are thoughtful – I’m pleased she picked up on that. Grief is a real roller-coaster of emotion and each blog is a snapshot in time, though some of these snapshots I revisit more frequently than I’d care to.
I had a real breakthrough with counselling last week. The conversation (I say “conversation”, it really is just me wittering on!) ran along these lines:
“I’ve said from the beginning haven’t I, that I’m scared? That I don’t want to go back to that dark place, that angry place from last year. That place where everybody upsets me all the time, where I don’t like who I am…”
I told my counsellor that I always “needed” to be pregnant, to not be in the dark place. It’s why I eventually decided to go through with the counselling, because my new aim is this:
I don’t want to have to be pregnant for everything to be ok.
I just want to be ok.
This was the breakthrough:
“…Oh, I’ve just realised! That wasn’t a dark place, that wasn’t an angry place: That was grief, wasn’t it? I think I’ve been grieving for a very long time”
Now that I’ve really spent time processing and facing the grief I’ve always tried to ignore, I’ve realised that this grief isn’t new. It was there in the trying to get pregnant, it was there over the course of the first two miscarriages, and it’s here with me now. Hello Mr Grief! You really have made yourself at home. I wish you could have waited to be invited, but then again, I have always tried to be a good host.
I cannot tell how much relief that breakthrough has brought. All this time, I’ve been telling myself that I was being an angry, childish, selfish person. I now hope I can be kinder to myself. Maybe it’s time for a new mantra, to counter that critical inner monologue:
“Anjulie, you’re not being selfish: you’re grieving”
“Anjulie, you’re not being bitter: you’re grieving”
“Anjulie, you’re not being too sensitive: you’re grieving”
Mr Grief, you may have disguised yourself. But I see you now.