Stages of Grief:
- Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
- Anger (why is this happening to me?)
- Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if ...)
- Depression (I don't care anymore)
- Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)
I have been looking at the five stages of grief, trying to find which one I'm in. It occurs to me that I have been grieving for some time. Am not sure when it began but recent comments by Amba and Jean have left me thinking about this. Last October I realized I was in denial about our imminent move to Philadelphia. I spent months bargaining and hoping that it wouldn't come to pass and then for the rest of the time wavering between anger and depression.
It seems as if I have been grieving leaving Buffalo, my job, home and friends. In fact, I have been so preoccupied with all of that I was unable to see who it is I am really mourning:
The old me.
Yes indeed. Shedding old skin of self is more painful than anything I've left behind previously in my life. It means giving up old preconceived notions, beliefs and myths about my role, my place in the family. Just as Amba so wisely suggested, as I start to realize that being free to be me means I stand alone, I resist and struggle to go back to the old and familiar, or as Danny termed it, the old glove. I'm kicking and screaming running around in circles and mazes through denial, bargaining, anger and depression holding acceptance at bay. Each time I get closer to accepting the new, different and free me I race back into the abyss, black hole of depression and anger and start it up all over again dragging myself down. Over at Ronni's today I read about how Bonnie Raitt's father chose happiness. Bonnie described him as a teacher for them. I think about how hard it is for me to develop an attitude of happiness.
I love the huge oak tree which stands outside our apartment at the edge of Fairmount Park, Valley Green and the winding Wissahickon. Sometimes I stand on our porch and stare up at its enormous spreading branches full of leaves and thousands of acorns which feed squirrels, deer, chipmunk, raccoon, and who knows what else in the dead of night. I feel its strength and generosity: aged, tall, reaching into the sky. I want to be like that old oak tree. Strong, generous, aging ... ahem, well I can't exactly be tall (in fact I'm shrinking as we speak) ...
Susan sent me an e-mail yesterday. She wrote:
You have evolved, my dearest friend. Perhaps teaching, for you, is no longer about standing in front of a classroom. What is it that you thought you would find? Embrace the urge to find something you love - to grow again. Welcome the journey! The answer is inside you. You need only to go there to find it.
Whining, complaining, raging and criticizing is part of the grief stages of anger and depression. Could it be that it's time to turn my face to the light of acceptance and bid farewell to the old me? I remember parting with Charlie and Mar-Mar. I let them go in peace with lots of love to speed them on their way. Have just been to visit little Alvin. The little creature is taking its last breath as evening falls with a gentle mist. I covered the little chipmunk body with leaves, came indoors to light candles and incense that Leanne brought me from Taiwan this summer. The Prayer Cycle playing in the background and I settle in with a glass of wine. I raise a toast to little Alvin and shrinking old me. Hope rises around me tonight.
I think I might be starting to feel which direction I'm headed.