Fair warning (as I have stated before about my blog…I share happy stories AND painful stories), as of this writing, this post has no happy ending.
Clock the Time
Perfect for me this week. And I hate it!!
I’m in the middle of the longest, most frightening period of time I have experienced in my 71 years of life. In reality, it’s only been about 7 days so far, but for most of the last week, time has “stood still”, you know, the way it can sometimes when it loses all meaning! But in the moments when relevance has slipped back in…hmm, it’s been 13 hours since I’ve eaten anything…the time passing has seemed like an eternity.
I’m having one hell of a time Choosing My Perspective!
It’s been a little like attending a childbirth…where the only important clocking of time is tracking the number of minutes between contractions, or the more important clocking the time issue, the number of hours of labor so far. I’ve attended so many births and in the latter example, I would be vaguely aware of crossing that somewhat subjective line, mostly determined by the Doc or Midwife. It happens when a labor goes from what will later make a good story-I was in labor for 16 and 1/2 hours to the…Uh-oh, this is taking way too long moment. I know that look, that Uh-Oh facial expression on the face of the person there to “catch” that baby…
All the waiting this week has also triggered some deep, internal philosophical debates about the passing of time and the theory about feelings/emotions I have always taught my clients.
My basic premise has always been what I learned early in my training and education as a Psychotherapist.
-Emotions are basically biological…a physiological response to some perceived trigger, real or not.
-Feelings are not right or wrong. They just ARE!
-We can’t control a feeling response…only what we do with it…what we conclude from it and how we express it.
-Ignoring feelings completely is not good for us. They are going to need expression eventually…and the longer we wait, the more messy, and out of proportion they can become.
So this week, I have been trying to practice what I preach. But I’ve gone completely blank.
I had an experience of this kind of Clocking Time a few years ago. It challenged my beliefs about if, how, or when to express feelings. In a routine physical, an enthusiastic young Doctor decided that I had what looked like a life-threatening disease. Melanoma. She concluded that it had probably already metastasized. The biopsies to confirm this would take 48 hours.
A long couple of days, huh? I did not want to give myself over to the looming panic, but I also did not want to ignore the waves of feelings that were coming up, threatening to wash over me tsunami-style. What a balancing act that was! Luckily, I also knew to trust my gut, and the hard-earned knowledge I had of my own body.
My gut didn’t believe it, so I “waited” as that clock ticked fairly calmly. And it turned out to be, of all things, just an “age spot”!
During that eternity, on the clock just 48 hours, time had very little meaning. But a lot of other stuff sure did. Moral, ethical, philosophical debates raged in my head and heart.
Should I tell my family? Don’t they deserve to know?
Hell NO! There’s nothing to tell yet?
Yes but I always do scary things like this alone and never ask for support. Shouldn’t I reach out?
For what? You don’t know anything yet. Just wait!
Ya but I KNOW how PTSD works. The sooner someone who has been through a trauma can feel the resulting emotions, the better.
Yes but, has there actually been a trauma? You don’t know yet.
I think I was able to survive that two days of time standing still because of that little internal voice that was whispering to me that I was fine. When my gut reaction was confirmed, I could feel a huge relief and then use that to turn the whole thing into just an anecdote. Thank goodness, I also knew to get some “there, there” from my closest people. Turned out it was not a death sentence after all, but I still needed empathy for what was a rather a grueling stretch of stopped time!
I know why this current period of Clocking the Time has me in such a state. Fifty some years ago my mother went missing. I knew she was in serious emotional trouble. She had attempted suicide just two years before and this time, I recognized that same dark, dark resignation and resolve the last time I saw her. But because I was only a teenager, no one in authority would listen to me. For three eternal days, I looked for her, more and more frantically as each hour passed.
My gut was right. And I was too late. When they finally found her, she’d been dead for 3 days.
Right now, we are 7 days into hoping to hear from (or about) my teenage grandson, who “ran away” in a very dangerous state of mind.
My gut is failing me. Strangely and frustratingly silent.
And it’s been the longest week of my life….
To some who read my blog, today’s post may seem a bit lazy. But hear me out, OK? I try to write something every year, on both Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, to thank Veterans for their service, and to honor those who gave their lives for their country.
This year is no different except that I can’t really think of anything new to say today.
So I am including a few of the posts I already wrote, even though I still don’t know how to make it easy for my reader to simply click and read. I suspect you will have to copy and paste. (Open to feedback here…)
I also realized this year that I have no idea how many of my readers (supposedly, there are an amazing 486 of you) are Veteran’s yourselves.
I’d love to hear from any of you willing to share that about yourself. I’d be honored for the chance to thank you for your service to your country, no matter the circumstances (drafted, just needed a job, or a passionate commitment to a cause). And no matter the country.
Please read as many of these posts as you want and I really do appreciate comments of any kind. I want to know I am earning all the attention of all 486 of you.
And if you actually read all those others, here’s one, also in honor of today, but way, WAY lighter, I promise!
I had the same thought as V.J. ( https://onewomansquest.org/2019/10/16/candid/ )
I immediately remembered this series of photos of cousins meeting for the first time.
No clue what they were watching but they both look pretty serious. And it was not the first time I caught a glimpse of my grandson’s protective nature!
Nancy Merrill’s challenge this week immediately made me think of the many times James and I have had the wonderful experience of house-sitting for my sister and brother-in-law, in the San Juan Islands. It’s like a second home for us, but without the incredible amount of work it takes to maintain paradise.
I’ve written about this wonderful place many times before, but today’s topic, “What’s for Dinner?” made me realize just how special our experience has been.
First, the location is truly exceptional…it’s house and setting are unlike any other!
But it’s the food that we get the biggest benefit from! They work year round work to keep their garden and green house producing beautiful fruits and vegetables….and we just get to come in and EAT there for 2 or 3 weeks each year.
Here are some samples of dinners we’ve had there, where almost every ingredient is picked, plucked, harvested and gathered…from these famous gardens!!!
Thank you so much for this experience!!
Ahh, controversial topic for me.
My Mom’s parents figured prominently in my young life, but pretty much continued their emotional excommunication of my mother, with my sisters and me. So there was no closeness. Mostly disdain.
I never met my “father’s” parents because I never met my biological father.
My Dad’s parents were gone before I was born.
I was close, for a while, with a boyfriend’s step grandmother.
Just not much experience with grandparents. So I became dedicated to being a good one myself!
I am “Dammaw”! Hear me roar!
Disclaimer: I’m responding strongly to this topic, but obviously not with my own photography.
Wow, tough theme.
I knew the exact photo immediately, but I keep this particular one hidden from myself, so I had to search through my files. It’s been almost four years and I still grieve a little every day.
They went from this…
And this is the last photo of them as a family…
PS In case it would be of support to anyone reading this, here is what we use in therapy to help folks walk thorough Endings, in the healthiest way possible. Handy to use for closure in any and all Endings, big or small…job, moving, school, relationships, pets, favorite restaurant closing, new phone, etc.
This is worth exploring and expressing in all its forms…denial, wishful thinking, false hopes, etc.
It takes some practice but being able to express a truly personalized resentment, without any finger pointing or blame toward another, is a valuable, life-long skill
It’s important to acknowledge the things you wish you could have done differently
Remembering the good times is the natural pathway to the 3 stages below. It is why we tell funny stories at funerals.
Release and Relief
There is always a whoosh of peace after wading through the painful parts of grieving an ending
Now true gratitude can happen, for the whole experience, even the hard lessons that usually come from an ending.
To be able to re-unite after an ending, even if just in your mind, without a bunch of leftover baggage, is really and truly possible.
These are the natural stages of all endings.
In order to have healthy beginnings, with no leftovers lingering to muddy the new waters, these phases must be experienced and honored…
not necessarily in this order, but finishing the first four
makes the last three much more accessible.