Toad in the Hole

April 21, 2007

You Know What

...really sucks?

That -- even so long afterwards -- when you've been in fear and suspense about big things that could go wrong, even after those things have gone incredibly wrong, even after you've feared the worst and the worst has happened, the fear doesn't go away.

That you stumble over something jagged in the dark and it's still the fear. That something hurts inside and you find it and it's still the fear. That the thing that keeps blurring your vision when you need to see the road ahead is still the fear. That the clammy foreign thing with you in bed, when you just want uncomplicated warmth and sleep, is still the fear. That what's sitting on your hands when you try to write, what's muffling your voice no matter what you try to say, what's breaking everything you touch, what's draining the color from the sky, what's tying your guts in a knot all the way up to your throat is still the fear.

That what gets between you and whatever and whoever you love, no matter what or who, no matter how much you need it or how much they deserve it, is still the fear.

You can't find the end of it and it's all over and the worst has happened and you couldn't stop it or even make it better and there's nothing left to be afraid of because there's nothing left and the fear is still there.

Posted at April 21, 2007 04:41 AM


grief sucks. i'm a witness. it's possible for fear to be optional. i lived through the worst that could possibly happen, and my life since then (ten years, almost) has been ... an unrequested gift.

perhaps your fear means you still treasure your life, and the still-breathing people you love. a good sign.

grief sucks. and you will not always feel this way.

i hope you are being kind and gentle with yourself. i will hold you in the light.

Posted by: siriosa at April 21, 2007 06:44 AM

Oh, man, Ron, I'm sorry.

I have an ex who's crumpled up in a wheel chair dying of brain cancer, and, along with grief, I feel terror at the fragility of life, and how peace of mind can be ripped away in a second. When Miss Patsy rides off on her bicycle every day, I can't even watch her because I'm struck with terror that something might happen to her.

It's so visceral, I feel the horror and terror rise up out of the center of my chest.

For me what helps is to exercise myself into exhaustion and make sad playlists for my iPod and have controlled crying jags while I listen. And to kind of throw my consciousness out into the world by noticing how visually beautiful are the birds and blossoms, the East River and Brooklyn Bridge (where I run with my dog).

You want I should send you a zip file of mp3s?

My current playlist is called "Lord Have Mercy!" because I can't find an atheistic way of saying it that packs as much in as "Lord Have Mercy!"--which just keeps springing to my lips. Anyway, it's got songs by The Wailin Jennys, Martha Wainwright, Etta James, Nanci Griffith and some others. I think you wrote about Emmy Lou once, you'd probably like it. I'm crazy about the Be Good Tanyas right now. They're all slurry-voiced and sad harmony with heart-piercing lyrics.

yrs, BDL

Posted by: B. Dagger Lee at April 21, 2007 02:47 PM

I know. It becomes a reflex. Then you catch yourself, remind yourself that you don't have to be afraid of that anymore because it already happened, and then you get to feel the horror and loss of it having already happened all over again just like the first time, except maybe condensed slightly. It's like waking up and finding out that it wasn't all a dream and they're really gone, and the having them back happy, healthy and alive was the dream. It sucks.

Time of course will tone this down, but even that feels like an assault, like a theft, like a violation, like the natural wearing down of the intensity of these feelings insults whomever you felt them for not to mention you for feeling them, and yet it only happens so you can keep living without such intense pain every moment, every breath. It's mercy and a slap in the same phenomenon.

You have my continued sympathy.

Posted by: Sara at April 21, 2007 06:55 PM

Ron, I have no words for a wordsmith but the grief, anger, pain, and fear WILL lessen. Life will never be the same but it will be bearable.

It hasn't been that long, be gentle with yourself, be kind, allow the grief as much time as you need. Take solace where you can, as much as you need.

Posted by: Sally at April 23, 2007 03:08 AM

((( ron )))

Posted by: kathy a at April 23, 2007 04:23 AM

Yes. I suppose you could say that it's a form of PTSD (though I didn't have that kind of phrase available when my sister died).

I found that one of the things I could do was address the physical symptoms rather than necessarily try to wade through the emotional stuff all at once. When I'd start feeling anxious and such, I'd force myself to go for a walk, to stretch, to do SOMETHING to keep from curling into a tight little ball. I also found that, often (but not always) the physical approach helped me open up to dealing with the emotional stuff. And, for me, i went and found a therapist (and lucked into a GREAT one)--when I stopped sleeping, i took that as a cue. It was a huge help for me to be able to process all the grief-related and family-related stuff with people who were neither friends nor family, i.e., with someone who wouldn't hold my words against me somehow.

Posted by: narya at April 23, 2007 04:59 PM

Ron, I don't know how I missed this posting when you first wrote it, but when I read it last night I realized it put into words exactly what has been wrong with me since Jeanne died. May I print it out and give it to the shrink with I see her in the morning and she asks how I am? I have no words to comfort you except to say I feel the same way, my sister. And I can't stop begging no one that is just isn't true, even though I know it is. I remember putting something in my stupid myspace blog on Thanksgiving last year that having my sister Jeanne in this world made me feel safe. I don't feel safe now, I feel scared. I feel sad and lonely for my other sisters, and my brother, and my daughters and my granddaughter and the rest of the fam damily. I love you!

Posted by: Ellen Sullivan at May 1, 2007 03:17 PM

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