I’ve been taking out a lot of trash lately. Emotional and energetic trash. I can’t say I feel the results yet. Just an unavoidable sense that this is what I’m supposed to be doing right now.
The passing of our deeply loved cat three months ago has thrown me into a full-blown depression, I think. I’m still crying myself to sleep every night, pressing a so non-sufficient replacement cuddly bear against my chest, where he should lie and purr. The bear still smells of him, they used to share the armchair often. It was cute then. Now the bear is a sad reminder of the huge empty space he has left.
I realized soon enough that it wasn’t just my beloved cat missing, but my ability to access joy that’s gone missing with him. It’s been like that for decades, pretty much exactly since my dad left almost fourty years ago. His disappearance out of my life, death-like, started something I have never been able to shake off during all this time, only alleviate for periods of time when I was more happy than sad.
Underneath that superficial happiness lurked a deep grief, pointing to a loss that I couldn’t make sense of. The loss of a father I had loved and whom, I was sure, felt sure, had loved me deeply too. It’s only thirty years later, when we met again, that I finally understood that his not staying in touch had had nothing to do with me, but with his own inability to overcome his deep grief over the end of his marriage and his broken heart.
So now, it seems, I’m stuck in a similar cul-de-sac, an end of the road called sadness and, though I resist the word, self-pity. Both fuelled by subsequent losses: the breakup of my marriage and agonizing divorce, my burnout, the death of my father, this time all too real, my realization that I had to leave my high-flyer job if I didn’t want to die spiritually. And now my cat.
It all might seem trivial in comparison to other people‘s misery. In a way this is the normal dose of loss and pain one should reasonably expect to experience during the course of close to five decades in human shape, isn’t it? Yet, I can’t seem to escape the grip these events have on me. Joy, when I do experience it, does not seem equally sticky. It’s more fleeting, less reliable, less… constant.
Now what? I don’t know. I‘ve started taking a natural anti-depressant. I’m not too keen on pharmaceuticals. Somewhere deep down and within I feel this is a process I have to go through, not around. There is no short-cut. I have to take it one day after the other, as I did when life struck in the past, and hold my own hand while marching or crawling on.
There is one thing I feel rather prominently, pressingly, at the moment, though. It’s the call to take out the trash. Release all that I‘ve been carrying around with me, out of a wrong sense of obligation.
I recently disengaged from two voluntary roles in dysfunctional projects that felt like a huge drain on my energy. I also saw my ex and made clear, rather diplomatically I thought, that I didn’t see us develop the friendship my ex suddenly thought we should launch into. Thank you, but no thank you.
It was a memorable evening. And not in a good sense. It wasn’t all that amicable. But it was fitting. The reason I didn’t want to work on kindling a friendship was that I didn’t feel emotionally safe when engaging with my ex. I explained why, even though this should be rather obvious after the disloyalty and misused trust I had experienced in prior years.
It turns out we don’t share the same assessment of the degree of pain this had inflicted on me. Might I have too thin of a skin? I don’t think so. I’m only just now learning to put my self-esteem aka healthy boundaries over my old urge to appease and vindicate people.
So I keep taking out the trash. One bin after the other. It’s exhausting, seems never-ending. I could really need the sliver of a sun ray, no, actually, I’d prefer some solid, unequivocally sunny days and weeks and months and years ahead for a change.
And before you worry: No, I’m not THAT down. I do have a professional coach/therapist to get in touch with, if needed. I also have a loving partner at my side. I just feel that there are processes we need to go through on our own, so we can experience the full extent of our suffering and dig our way out of the trash that’s blocking our view.
So this is what I’m doing now. Taking out the trash, one bin after the other. Hoping to see more sunlight soon.
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