Healing the Split In Ourselves

I’ve spent many hours walking in the desert during the past few months, which has given me plenty of time to contemplate grief, life, death and anything else that comes to mind. One thought that filtered through my mind was the idea that when my mate died, I split in two. The me that shared a life with him is grieving still, while the other me, the one who was born with his death, continues to live and grow. As long as I am in the person of this second me, I do fine — I’m strong, in control of my emotions, looking forward to what comes to me in life. The problem is that I keep slipping over to the other me, the grieving me, and when I do, the grief is as new as it was when it first hit me. The task is to reconnect the two parts — both the grieving me and the new me.

This might seem like dissociative personality disorder, though it’s not really a disorder. It’s how we all deal with life. I don’t remember the name of the person, but a psychologist once hypothesized that there are no true moods. What we think of as moods are different personalities. This natural order becomes a disorder when you lose track of yourself during mood swings or when they cease to be a way of dealing with life and become a way of hiding from life. I don’t know the truth of this, nor do I know the truth of my idea of splitting apart, but my idea feels true. I can almost feel the clunk of the gears as I switch from one mode to the other. I don’t switch as often now, which makes me think I’ll eventually be whole again.

Today, at my grief group meeting, I had a graphic example of how I am moving beyond my grief (at least for the moment. It does swing back and slam me in the gut from time to time).

During these meetings, there is a lesson — a topic — that we discuss before going on to personal updates. One of today’s lessons started out: Grief brings with it a terrible and lonely loss. Instead of acknowledging the sentiment, and contemplating my terrible and lonely loss as I was supposed to, I looked at the words, and said, “No, it doesn’t.”

This brought the meeting to a standstill while everyone stared at me.

“Grief doesn’t bring the loss. Loss brings the grief, ” I said.

More silence. Eventually, they agreed with me, probably to shut me up and get the discussion going again.

The point is, I focused on the words, not on the emotion. Of course, this could be more that I’m in writing mode than that I’m moving on with my life, but I took it as a good sign. Because this is the truth: death brings a terrible and lonely loss. Grief is our reaction to the loss, and ultimately it’s how we learn to heal the rift in ourselves brought about by that loss.

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4 Responses to “Healing the Split In Ourselves”

  1. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    Putting ourselves back together into one integrated personaility sometimes seems impossible. But, like your focus on the words of the tiopic rather than the emotion, maybe there will be more signs in the coming months that you are succeeding. The you that was born on the day of your mate’s death is a positive thing, though she came out of the ashes of the old life. Yes, loss brings grief! Yet I can see it the other way, too. Too much focus now on the grieving you might bring about the loss of the new you–for a time, anyway.

    Malcolm

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The most exciting part of writing is when someone responds to one of my outlandish thoughts as if it had merit. Makes me feel as if I can do this (this meaning writing, this meaning living, this meaning thinking).

      It’s a peculiar situation. I’m ready to be done with grieving, but the fact remains that he is still dead. That is the kicker.

  2. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    Walking in the desert. I picture in my mind walking down that sandy road in your photo.

    Your post contains not only a good report on your progress, but also, you present an analysis of the grieving process which held me captive. You describe a split that is real. You are both personalities, and split will reconcile as grief diminishes. And you are healing, Pat. You see it happening and it gives you hope. Blessings to you…

  3. Kathy Says:

    The grief process can be lengthy and full of steps forward and steps backward. Be kind with yourself. It takes awhile to find the part of you that can function without your other half.

    Hugs!
    Kathy


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