Sunday, May 23, 2010

Remembering to Tip My Hat

When I think about how "balanced" my life is, it's really not about the great juggling act (home, kids, work, etc.)    Stuff just has to get done.  Some days are better than others, but I do my best to let go of the idea that I could ever be perfect at all things in my external world and also be 100% happy and healthy.

If you get nothing else from my blog, my greatest wish is to share the perspective that true life balance is internal.  That you must take care of yourself or else the balls in the great juggling act are sure to fall.  And it won't be pretty.

All that said, I'm in "practicing what you preach can be a real biotch" mode yet again.  I guess it's understandable on some level, but my dad's death has definitely rocked my core.   My inner balance is in a state of vertigo.  I confess.

Even on a good day, I fight the tendency to spend too much time in my own head.   Lately, it's harder than usual; my head spinning with so many thoughts and memories.   Constant flashes and gut reactions brought on by any number of little things throughout the day.  Now I know why they call them "triggers."  One photo or momento or word can make me feel like I was just shot in the gut by a Glock 31. 

Even as I am writing this, a letter comes from the funeral home with print-outs of all the condolence messages written for my family on their website and a letter to Hospice about the donations being made to them in lieu of flowers.  *sniff*

I might see a toothpick five minutes from now and have the same reaction.  (When we cleaned out my dad's closet, we found a toothpick in every pocket in his wardrobe.  The man had great teeth.  All his own, even at the age of eighty)

It can become very easy for me to go from one quick gut reaction to being completely lost in the pain.  Utterly, completely swept away in sadness. My emotions kicking and screaming in an internal tempest of obsessive thought.

Even if you've never experienced this Pandora's box, you can imagine that it's completely exhausting after a while. 

As an alternative... and so I can actually function, I'm working hard to to keep in mind something I learned from Eckhart Tolle.

The feelings are going to happen.  I have to be kind to myself and accept that this is a normal part of grieving for a man that I loved so much.   Everyone assures me that the sadness will evolve into something else more comforting. 

I'm just not there yet.

However, I can actually choose not to get swept out to a sea of despair by an obsessive undertow (or as my dad used to call it when we were kids, the "undertoad"). 

Instead, I can acknowledge each thought/feeling, accept them as real and normal and then... move on.  Rinse.  Repeat as needed.

Easier said than done but this is where Eckhart Tolle's great wisdom comes in.   Tolle advises “tipping your hat” to the emotion, as you would someone passing on the street.  Say, “Hello feeling. I see you. Goodbye.”   Look at it in the eye and then continue walking by without a backward glance.

Being a very visual person, another image which helps me is that I'm walking down the street and come upon a huge dark hole.    I can choose to dive in or just "tip my hat" and walk around it. 

Trust me when I tell you've I've spent a LOT of time in that stinkin' hole over the past couple of months. 

I'm kinda ready to start walking around it (with said "tip of hat" of course vs. attempting to ignore.)  I'll imagine that the hole gets smaller and smaller, slowly repaired by the helping hands of time.

In my heart, I know the street will never look the same.  But I need to keep walking....


PHOTO CREDIT:  Blog article about the painter, Bob Ross (though there is no specific credit given to this painting)
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I'mPissedOffBecause said...

I'm usually the master of obsessive thought and sadness and mad daydreaming. I know this sounds petty and I don't mean to suggest this as anything but a small start, but actually, getting a lot of sleep helped me to feel like everything wasn't so intimidatingly important all the time.

Bruce Coltin said...

Your honesty about your own struggles makes your advice to others all the more credible. Your fans are fortunate to have you.

Charlene said...

Thanks IPOB. Everyone has unique ways of coping... not petty at all.

And thanks Bruce -- you are always such a dear. I really appreciate it.

webb said...

Know that there are lots of us who would be happy to walk by your side - metaphorically, at least - and hold your hand as you walk around the hole. We could also help dump concrete in it if that would be useful. It takes time. It just takes time and it's perfectly normal to feel the way you do. love.

Cheryl D. said...

The pain does get easier to manage over time, but indulge it now from time to time. I think it helps the healing in the long run! So sorry you're hurting!

Sarah said...

I'm not going to say I know it's painful and you will 'get there' soon, but just sending big, big HUGS.

webb said...

Hope you are having a good day. I left you a little love over at my blog today. Thanks and enjoy. Consider yourself hugged - hard.

Anonymous said...

I've learned that grief is very much like a sore with a scab. Every so often, the scab has to be removed in order for the sore to continue to heal until one day you realize that the sore has healed. The memory will always be there and that's o.k. As so many of your friends have said, it takes time to heal and all of what you are feeling is part of it. God is there with you and so are we. Prayers go up for you.

Charlene said...

Thanks everyone. Webb -- Thanks for the extra love - I'll be over soon!

TC said...

It does pass. Not entirely though, it's been 10 years and I can still tear up @ talking about my dad. What you said about repeat as needed is so true though.
I was grieving for a pet last year. I could barely talk about him. Now I can speak whole paragraphs without misting up....

Alyson said...

This is a great post -- thanks for writing it. I love the "tip my hat" idea, and I think I will share it with my kids, particularly my more, ahem, dramatically inclined children!

So sorry about your dad...My first tip of my hat is to him, and you!


Charlene said...

Thanks TC & Alyson. Now I have to remember to practice what I preach!!

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