Grief Recovery and Anxiety’s Gift

None of these tasks I have signed up for are anything that I want to be doing right now.
I wonder if this sort of thing is the same source of anxiety-driven distraction even when I was a kid, and if this is also why I find myself not knowing what direction to take with my life sometimes…  When I was a child I had so much motivation driven by desire, so much I dreamt about and wanted to do. But I was forced or coerced into conforming to an education system and program that was not what I primarily wanted to be doing. From an early age I was being asked to deprioritize all that was most important to me, not just til I finished my schoolwork, but indefinitely… because the amount of time it would take to accomplish the insane load of work at my private college prep school would leave less than adequate time to pursue my own leadings, if it left me any time at all. 

I wasn’t lazy- I just had plenty of other things I would rather have been tasking myself with. It was constant self-denial for the sake of what the authorities told me was more important. Funny, because this is exactly the thing that has made me feel anxious and overwhelmed as an adult. Connecting to this insight has been such an enlightening and freeing revelation. 

I am currently in a “grief recovery” process right now with a trained professional who I just tell people is my therapist, because that’s simpler to mention without having to go into explanations. One of the big things that comes up when we discuss events of “loss” that are the source of unprocessed grief throughout my life is when I was put on Ritalin for my ADHD diagnosis. Diagnosis is a hilarious word to me now, and I am so grateful that many people are redefining what place “diagnosis” should have in psychology and psychiatry. But at any rate, it was a move that further separated me from what I truly wanted to be doing by numbing me out and helping me conform to something else, and it also separated me from the sources of my anxiety as a child. It helped me conform and tune out what someone else deemed as less nonessential, that’s it. I do not believe it was the only way to accomplish success in school for me, and I definitely don’t believe it was the best way, but my mother was trying to do the best she could during the most stressful years of her life and I honor her for that. So she took the advice of “experts” in hopes that it would help me. Turns out I was just another guinea pig to them.

The great irony here is that I’m here with these “Grief processing” assignments in front of me along with several other tasks and responsibilities that are not what I would consider most important to me. There are helping me see the overarching pattern of what separates me from living more fully, what creates my patterns of self-sabotage, which has been insanely helpful. But I crave the time to just do what I am thinking about and desiring to create all the time. It has begun to feel like even all these helpful things, like the grief recovery program, are also a part of what stands in the way of me doing the things that would be most fulfilling and completing to me. 

I think this process (the book, the program, the way my friend/counselor has guided me through the work) is all incredibly constructive, and it came into my life during yet another soul-crushing breakup. It and she helped me process the things that came up for me during this time that in the past have snared me into deep extended depressions. I haven’t been saved from it, but this work has provided me with connection and framework to not get lost in my own downward spiral. 
      …It just feels like I don’t want to spend any more of my life not doing exactly what I would prefer to be doing. I don’t want to do any extracurriculars to “help prepare me” for doing the real thing. I just want the real thing, to show up for it fully, with my whole being, without waiting. 

I’m sure some of that is impatience, but I kind of don’t care. The hunger is that strong. In the past, that hunger has been overridden by another hunger- the hunger for connection. This need is equally if not more essential to living fully and contentedly. However sometimes when we feel so starved for something, we end up reaching for other versions of it in desperate ways, taking whatever the closest thing to it is that is handed to us, rather than waiting for what we really want or what would be better for us. To me this usually feels like a big game of mind-fuck, because we are afraid of the thought, “What if I pass this up and nothing better comes along? What if no one else will ever love me? What if this is the best shot at security I’ll ever have?” And so we take it, both to fill the void that hurts and has hurt for so long, and also to combat a type of FOMO. I think that if we weren’t so overcome by that fear, we would be able to be still, we’d be able to remember what we really want. At some point we will remember what we really want anyway, and usually that will cause a disruption in whatever relationship or coping situation we have accepted out of desperation.* 

This grief work has helped me stay present rather than be totally overcome by feelings of starvation from my long unmet needs. I’m not denying them, but I’m not letting my boundaries down altogether. I’m remembering my Self, my own center of Strength, my positive desires that have been there since I was a child. I’m learning to foster those things, and that that sense of Self gets foster when I have a good support system and framework to move through tragedy and grief. And I am so grateful. 

But at the same time I just want to get to my own work rather than finish this book and all the assignments! Haha. 

 

A few years ago, I began to learn that my anxiety is a gift, a messenger, and a friend. It acts as a guide to reconnect me to my center, like a whistleblower saying,
“HEY. You are forgetting about these things over here. I know your mind is justifying to you why all these other obligations are important, but I’m here to tell you that you have a unique purpose and mission that is getting shoved to the back burner, and you’ve been neglecting it for far too long. I’m going to file Purpose-neglect against you if you don’t do something about it ASAP, or start making you an insomniac since you won’t allow me to get a word in edgewise any other time of the day. Just trying to let you know that we’re about to lose some nuts and bolts in the hardware if you don’t get back to these priorities soon!” 
I don’t think this is a voice you can negotiate with too much. It might give you a little wiggle room, but it’s stubborn as all hell, or at least mine is. 

 

I picked this photo for this post, a) because I am a little lazy and didn’t want to spend a ton of time finding a perfect “grief” photo of me, and b) because out of the photos I had easy access to, I suppose there’s a relationship between the feeling of being in the barren desert with no oasis in sight on the horizon, couple with the feeling of putting in hard work seemingly to no end. You may or may not be able to tell from this photo, but I was putting in hard work to hold that handstand for this photo, lol. I’m on a rounded uneven surface, it’s hot as hell, etc. Turned it upside down because processing grief, trauma, betrayal, loneliness, or anger whilst having to uphold other tangental responsibilities in life can feel like everything in existence is crushing you. That depression makes you want to just curl up in unconsciousness just to turn off all the other demands and stimuli, and even your own thoughts often times. You just want a moment of peace in death, and then you may not want that peace of death to end, because sometimes our pain feels so innavigable that death feels like relief rather than something to be feared. 
— Spellcheck says “innagvigable” is not in the dictionary, but it is a word I use, so there. So let it be written😂

This is another huge reason I have been grateful to find my counselor and this grief work- it takes you out of looking for positive distractions or well-intentioned false beliefs about how to cope with loss. I will write more on the actual content of this book later, but for now, it will suffice to say that to be an integrated, present, whole, conscious being, we have to learn how to feel and accept and go THROUGH everything that happens in our lives, without skipping over any of it. Otherwise we start operating like a skipping record when we have coping mechanisms that block out the messages of our pain and anxiety.
I repeat, those are Messengers who hold our best interests at heart.
We need to look at where they come from and what they make us desire instead… not suppress them so we can carry on with the same kind of life that gives them reason to show up over and over again. 

 

 

That is all for now. Big love and support to all of you, and I will say it again, because heading into this kind of journey takes great courage:

Live Adventurously, y’all. Here’s to showing up for yourself so that you can genuinely show up in the world with all the uniqueness and power you were born to.

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