Those of us who live with deep grief walk a bit differently. We stoop a little, limp a lot, and take our steps slowly. Grief is mind-bending; it alters your steps, shifts your perceptions, and echoes loudly in the soul. It doesn’t go away; it’s always present. First thing thought about in the morning, and the last thing thought about at night. No, that’s not quite true- it happens before the thinking even starts, and continues when all thinking stops. It’s the stuff bad dreams are made of. It just is. Controlling our thoughts is good, as far as it gets us, but it does begin to dawn on even the most naive at some point that we really haven’t gotten very far, and very little about the situation has actually changed. Trying to explain to someone what we need or want doesn’t work so well, either. It’s too hard to put into words what we need and why; too difficult to even try to explain what it is we’re trying to say. So the whole thing becomes even more of a mess. The odds of being both heard and understood aren’t great. Nobody’s listening. It feels as though God Himself is not listening.
Sometimes other people really do hold all the power, at least in any given situation. Anybody who has ever been the victim of a crime knows this. Any woman who has ever been in a domestic violence situation knows that the other person is in control, at least of events located in time and space. The person holding the weapon is the one who gets to decide what happens next. It is far easier to be compliant, and usually a lot safer in the long run, if not in the moment. Most of the time we don’t have a choice, nor are we asked. We realize too late that if we had any say in the matter at all, that time has long since come and gone, and we are completely at the mercy of the person in front of us. Horrible feeling.
We don’t have as much control over our own destinies as we would like to think, either. To imagine that we have control is simply not always true, especially where other people are concerned. As my daughter said earlier, people have free will. Free to use it for good or evil, hurt or healing, but have it we do, because God saw fit to give it to us. We have to live with the consequences of other people’s choices, like it or not, even if it scars us for life, and leaves us disabled. We know this is not Heaven, but the shock hits us hard every time, nonetheless. What does shock feel like? Same thing pain does. Tonight it was cold. Absolutely freezing cold.
Hope is not control, although we hang onto it like it is. We’re fooling ourselves if we think otherwise. We have control only over our own actions and our own words, but that’s about it. Most of the time we are powerless. Yes, in all the small, daily choices, I have a certain degree of control; how I spend my money, how I spend my time, what food I eat, or clothes I buy. But for the big things- the life changing things- no. Not so much. And there is not a damn thing I can do about any of it. I simply have no say. And I do not see it as being any different from any other life-threatening, or emotionally damaging situation I have ever been through. To be empowered, you have to be given a choice. There has to be one. And you can’t force someone to give it to you.
This is where Anorexia starts: with the realization that since we have absolutely no control over whatever is going on in our outer world, we sure can control the hell out of our inner world, so control it we do, one restrictive, self-imposed choice at a time. In deference to not having any control over the world around us, we just make an inner one, and barricade the door. It has been said that we try to control our outer world because we cannot control our inner world, but for the anorexic and the avoidant, the reverse is true.
Someone asked me this week to write my testimony; the story of my healing from all that I went through with my divorce, but I realized tonight I don’t think I’m going to have one. Not from all of this. Had I known everything that would happen after, especially the last few years, I can honestly say I would rather have stayed married. That part of the story is familiar territory; it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s okay. I am never so unsure of my subject as when I am writing about myself, and wasn’t sure what to write anyway. But emotional healing is not an option. I am simply not being given a choice. Again. In therapy, this is called re-traumatization. Works about the same as the original trauma, but now we add a moat. No bridge.
This is all I do have tonight; I memorized it a long time ago, not on purpose, but I read it once and it stuck, so here it is:
“Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.
It has no future but itself;
Its infinite realms contain
It’s past enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.”
– Emily Dickenson
Sorry, but I did warn you that it wasn’t always going to be happy over here, and tonight it just isn’t. Don’t know if and when it ever will be, but not now. Certainly not tonight. Can’t even find a scripture for this one, and there sure as hell aren’t any pretty pictures.