Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The grief of letting go

Image courtesy of Anna Destephano, annawrites.com.

Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes people don't fit. Like mismatched puzzle pieces too bent and chewed by the family dog. Our edges are soggy, tattered, jagged.

We try "making it work," refusing to give up. We mash ourselves together into an ungainly unhinged scramble of a Thomas Kinkaid Disney castle and Guernica. We pull hard into each other's incompatibilities while they jab helplessly at our faces like Pickup Sticks in the eyes, splayed points gouging everywhere the harder we hold on. We break off each other's teeth, punch new holes in each other, and break ourselves in two, trying to make it work.

And we try to ignore this, sometimes. Even after all the damage, the self-mutilation, the shaming, the self-hatred and scourging blame of everyone including God, still we try to make this dysfunctional clash cling into a consoling whole. We see others hang together in pictures of fulfillment. They have familial love and warmth. Everything we want. And we ache.

Something like a yawning emptiness, a vacuum sucking sinkhole drops out in our heart. We hunger. It burns. It flickers with despair. And we panic. We claw and scramble away. We can't accept it. We refuse to even consider it. Surrender, "giving up," that would be a failure, loss. That would mean we're damaged, that we can't make everything right. It would be falling over the edge of that pit. If we do, we'll never get out. Nothing will ever be right again. We'll never be able to put the pieces back together.

And we'll be alone. Starving. In the dark. Forever.

Maybe it'll be our fault.

So we hate ourselves. And them, the ones we can't make fit. We try blaming ourselves. And them. We try running at them, and running away. We bargain. We do inventories. We do therapy. We plead. We pray. We do anything and everything as we scratch up and chew over and kick around every stage between ourselves and acceptance, between us and grief, that black shadow into which we cannot slip.

This does nobody any good, this aggressive denial, this refusal to accept what we cannot change. This obstinate denial that we, and they, fall into that category too. All it does is create misery. Scar us. Keep us tortured and trapped. Hating ourselves. Hating them. Blaming ourselves and bending ourselves until we break or feel half-labotomized with the pretend. We wear our spirits down, erode our souls, denying them, crushing them, until maybe they'll never fit anything ever again.

Sometimes, when you get here, to this desperate edge, all you can do -- the best you can do -- for everyone, is let go. Give in. Surrender. Fall. Sink into the black. Let grief swallow you, and trust that someday, somehow you will come up for air. After you cry and cry and cry and cry, you will land on a sunny seashore at the other side of the tunnel. You'll breathe. You'll feel warmth again. You will find love, real love. The love of acceptance, where finally, finally, you fit.

You'll fit with yourself. You'll just be you, complete.

But sometimes, you can't do this, you can't get to that free shore of self-love and self-fulfillment and health and peace, until you say goodbye.

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