Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good Grief, Charlie Brown

I had to borrow the title from one of my most loved books as a child. I don't think I read much apart from Charlie Brown books for the whole of primary school. It may explain a number of things about me really! Anyway, I've just returned from another visit with Melissa. For those of you tuning in late, she's the psychologist helping me work through all that has happened in the last 2 years. And today we hit on something I had been wondering about. Grief.

It was recently the second anniversary of 'the break up' and although this sounds like ages, it's only been 6 or 7 months since I last saw the Ex. I've been feeling like everything I held in to get through 18 months of hatred and threats have finally come to the surface and I am exhaling. Trying to let it all go. Better out, than in, as they say. As I was recounting the panic I felt last week at discovering my Ex is now delving into the online universe (is it wrong to Google your Ex?), she said my distress was natural. 'You're still grieving'. My friend Trish, has suggested the same thing.

I was wondering if what I've been feeling would just lessen in time. I'm stuck between feeling like this has gone on for ages, and in reality only getting space from the old relationship recently. But it also begs the question: how long do you grieve? I have friends who's parents have died, and I have lost a friend. I have seen that grief can last years. But is death different to the death of a relationship? Is there a difference when the other person is still out there somewhere?

I've also chatted to another friend, Stephanie, about the end of friendships. I'm beginning to think everyone has an 'ex' friend out there somewhere too. And again, these can be intense relationships that hurt you when things turn sour or are one sided. Maybe there is some clever calculation that can tell you your grief will last X number of months, based on the length and intensity of relationship. And even though I'm tempted to Google to try to find a grief calculator, I guess it's something that is quite personal and specific to each relationship...living or dead.

I wonder if closure plays a part in the grieving process. If there are things left unsaid, does that prolong how you feel? Like many things I've contemplated over the last couple of years, I think closure has to be something within yourself, rather than with another person. I have come to realise that you will never get exactly what you need from someone else. You need to reconcile how you feel within you, no matter how hard that is. And that's the point I'm at now. Working through things, letting stuff go, grieving...for however long it takes. Because it's what I need to do. So like Charlie Brown, I'm glad the Doctor is in. Good grief, indeed.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Well I've been back at work a few weeks now, and with a week's extension, I managed to get both my essays for Uni in. I'm back dealing with things at work, and I'm 2 visits down out of 6 with my new friend, Melissa the Psychologist. She's a busy woman and it's hard to get appointments, and I guess that says so much about what's going on with society. Perhaps it's a response to therapists being covered by Medicare now (thank goodness), so people don't have to worry if they can afford to get help.

It has been an interesting experience so far. It makes you aware of words you use and the thought processes you have. It's funny, I was connecting things together before my first appointment. But understanding something intellectually is not the same with processing it emotionally. So that's what I'm hoping to get from the visits. It's been good so far, as I've talked about what I went through with the break up, and it was nice to hear someone independent say that the Ex's behaviour was unreasonable, threatening and hurtful. Somehow just hearing that made me feel...um...better. That's really the only word for it. She said it was a shame that during that ordeal, I didn't have a nice safe haven like her office to come to. I've always thought that if I let the walls down during that time, I just would have collapsed in a heap. I was chatting with Peter about this and he said something that pinged around inside my head for a while. He said that perhaps I was too resilient.

I have to admit that I had a little teary at this. In chatting to Melissa I have realised that I don't like feeling weak, I don't like not being able to sort things out or deal with things. It's part of the reason I felt like a failure having to get a lawyer to help me deal with the Ex. It's also part of the reason that faced with crap, I just dig deep and keep pushing. But I guess there can be times when you've dug too deep and found yourself in a hole. Hence, my eventual and inevitable chats to Melissa.

Resilience is a blessing. It's a great skill to have. There has been much talk in the papers theorising that the current crop of helicopter parents aren't teaching their kids to cope with the ups and downs of life. You can't be protected from everything. Peter is reading a book at the moment called 'The Happiness Trap', written by one of the people off Making Australia Happy (a fabulous tv show I've written about previously). Life is never one endless conga-line of joy, excitement and fun. You have to learn to deal with the roller-coaster, appreciate the highs and cope with the lows. Simple, huh?

I guess that I've been slowly prizing open the walls I put up around myself to deal with the hardship and battering from the Ex. And in doing so I am letting go of the pain I felt. I can't be trapped with those feelings inside the walls around me. I don't want for him to still be hurting me, long after all this has finished. I need to work through it and let it go, and not give him any more power to hurt me. I also need to stop being terrified of ever seeing him again.

Work is still a week by week proposition. There's a chance I'm going to get some experience with another team, but we'll see what happens after I get to meet people tomorrow to discuss this project. Fingers crossed it leads somewhere interesting. One thing I know for sure is that life can take a sudden weird turn in a great direction. If you have the guts to go somewhere new.

So that's where I'm at this week. Steps in the right direction and quite a bit of normality returning. The pressure I once felt is subsiding, and that means I can cope with things a little better. I don't know that I'll ever be good at confrontation, but maybe I won't be so hurt by it. Even when my walls are down. Maybe that is the healthy way to be resilient.