And just as I said: I have been thinking. And it has be an odd, somewhat revalatory, somewhat disturbing process. Not what I imagined. For it seems I am not a person given to truly thinking at all and that when I do the thoughts only have to be formally invited to come dashing in and stomp all over my serenity.
I have thought with a pen in my hand. Sitting in a coffee shop across the table from a man who looked so much like Prince William I could not help but stare. I have thought in a bath full of rose oil scented magnesium flakes and in the dark of my bedroom with only the light from the phone illuminating my mind. I have thought sitting in the window, watching Dolly, the lovely Polish girl across the lane struggle to get out of the house with her newborn baby girl in her arms and her tiny toddler clinging tightly to her legs. I have thought alone and in the midst of my family: ignoring their noise and tuning in to my own head.
I have thought and thought and thought. Astonished to see how well I have compartmentalised my mind to enable me to ignore that which does not suit the current story I have been telling myself. I have thunk until I am tired of thunking because it asked too much of me: too much rooting through piles of thoughts I would rather leave to gather dust. I have thought with tears running down my face in the midst of the palava that is making a bunk bed. And I have realised how very little thinking I have been doing lately. How very much life has been led on autopilot until now. Wearing my grief without acknowledging it. Accepting what is without poking the status quo. Tolerating ridiculous behaviour without complaint and then standing back and staring in bewilderment at the bloody aftermath of encouraging someone else to speak up. Thinking until my Mum enters my dreams: running at me with a floral
Perhaps then, thinking is a terribly bad idea. Perhaps those of us who declare our intention to have a “thinking week” are simply closer to madness than others who tuck their thoughts away never to be exposed to inspection. Perhaps there is actually a reason why our minds allow us to hide our thoughts away like this: because it safer – less likely to tip us into sorrow, or cause us to confront that which we might just regret confronting. Because thinking is in fact the way madness lies.
And yet. Thinking breeds more authentic action. It demands decision and commitment to whims and ideas. Peeling away the flesh we have coated our pain in and doing something about it. Thinking says “no more dithering” and “get on with it” and “for heavens sake just get it done“. It kicks procrastination in the bottom and encourages us to pin blame where blame actually lies instead of allowing it to infest our blood with so much itchy anxiety.
We women are such terrified creatures aren’t we? So frightened of ourselves and the thoughts we are ignoring. But I want to tell you that it is ok. That after real thinking starts, and the horror of it passes, there is peace and more than that there is purpose, for I think it is purpose that is so often lost: bewilderment our much resented spiritual home.
For the record my thoughts have been big and small. I have learned that I miss my family and that I want to live in this house for always instead of buying the new build we were considering merely for convenience’s sake. I want to buy it and make it ours. Plant trees where there is an ugly house in our eyeline. I have seen that money slips between our fingers. That we are not careful enough. Not with money. Nor with each other. I have thought about Finn telling me in jest that he wants to marry a girl with sensible parents. Better role models for his babies! What lies beneath that I cannot stop thinking about. I have thought about what is both surplus and missing here on
I have written until my hands hurt. Made lists I will relish ticking off. I have been terribly honest with myself for a person can tell more lies to her own soul than she would ever contemplate telling those she loves. And above all else I have dug through that honesty for direction. For what to do next. For those who simply cant be in our life anymore because unkindness defines them and who thus must be given short shrift. And for those whose very presence I miss and whose company I so desperately need to seek all over again. To save myself and cosset this family of mine.
More than all of this, I have learned that it is grief that has defined the past three years. That I didn’t do grief very well at all. That I tried my hardest to replace what was lost with a new reality and in the process lost much of who I was becoming.
Thought then has been the floral
There is no right way to do grief, just like there is no right way to live. It is a journey we take alone.
About 5 years ago – I decided to take a whole week off work, I shut myself away and finally allowed the grief I had been holding for nearly 40 years to go. I think what frightened me most before I began is that once I began crying I would never stop and that isn’t true.
I was holding all the grief in check, a three year old child who could not make sense of why her mother would take her own life , wasn’t I enough to continue living? She chose to leave me, when I needed her the most. When I had my own children – I could not forgive her, so I locked it all away.
But when, eventually 40 years later, I decided to go into the deep, dark forest of my soul and allow myself to let go – it was the same as walking into a forest at night. At first it is all dark, everything is frightening, but your eyes adjust and suddenly you can see that what you were afraid of wasn’t frightening at all – there is no darkness. letting go of all the pain, anger and sense of abandonment lifted a burden I had been carrying around for years. I cried for three whole days, sobbing and feeling all those mixed emotions – until I would fall asleep exhausted. Then I would begin crying all over again – until there were no tears left. The feelings, by being expressed, and acknowledged were gone.
We are all alone, yes, we can walk the path sometimes with people beside us, but we are all on our own journey – everyone who loves us and walks beside us, can give us love – but we have to savour that time for what it is, finite and let them go.
What ever you believe about death, seek those thoughts that comfort you. The Christian tradition offers comfort that we will see that person again, but I also am comforted by the Buddhist concepts of reincarnation – that we come back again. Either way, some of our connections are soul based and for me that is beyond this life.
I leave you with a quote from Rumi – “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”.