Tallulah, our Portugese Water Dog, who we welcomed into our lives just before Christmas, has my heart! I have become accustomed to waking up and letting her out several times a night to "do her business" -- outside rather than in, preferably! I feel like a new mom all over again (and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it!) Saturday morning, however, instead of my chipper girl putting her paws on the bed, saying -- "Are you up? Hey you? Woman? GET UP!" -- at 5:00am, I woke up to the sounds of vomiting. Furthermore, it didn't stop. By 1:00pm we were in the emergency vet clinic being tested for everything under the sun. Turns out she had an obstruction in her intestinal track, and surgery was needed.
Today she is resting quietly, and she has a new name: MEPE "Most Expensive Portie Ever!" Thankfully, I have every reason to believe our Lullah will be fine, but as I was worrying about the vet bill, one of my dear friend's across town had just lost her husband. My heart breaks for her. Love is such a two-edged sword -- one of the greatest joys in the world -- which, in seconds, can turn into utter agony. In my experience, Grief is a living - breathing entity. We can attempt to ignore it or run from it, but I promise...it will win-every-single-time. Being from California, I describe the act of grieving as standing thigh deep in the ocean facing the shore -- arms spread wide, trying to hold the waves back. It doesn't work. It's impossible to stop it. Embracing the waves -- is truly the only way. How do we do that? Well, it's not easy. Everyday, it gets a little easier, however, it often seems like a lifetime.
The first step seems simple, but is difficult to execute. Coincidentally, this technique is also good to stop the "awfulizing" discussed in my previous blog. We begin by separating the things we can control in our lives with the things we can't control. During times of crisis -- our minds run amok -- we have to set up some boundaries. One simple exercise, is to draw a line down the center of a piece of paper creating two columns. Label one column "THINGS I CAN CONTROL," the other column is "THINGS I CAN'T CONTROL." As your worries begin, start sectioning them into columns. Example: I can't control that my Lullah is sick. However, I CAN control that I get her the care she needs. The critical piece is to remember to only allow yourself to worry about the items in the "THINGS I CAN CONTROL" column. This may sound simple, but it is really quite difficult. It will take practice. Keep pulling your mind out of the loop by saying (outloud if needed) "Can I control this?" "Which column am I worrying about?" Every second we spend worrying about things in the "CAN'T CONTROL" column is wasted energy. In early grieving stages, some things on your "CAN CONTROL" list may be as basic as taking a shower, eating regularly, or going to work/school.
When grieving any type of loss (a loved one, your job, a divorce, or even a lifetime goal), sometimes every drop of energy is needed just to get out of bed. You can't afford to use what little energy you have at that time on the wrong column. Nonetheless, don't expect too much, too soon. It takes time to learn to create this virtual fence in our minds, trying to "organize" the pain. It's hard work, and the journey is long. Surround yourself with support so when the waves come, you have others to help you stand. Thanks for listening...