Sunday, August 31, 2008

Acknowledging Your Grief And Releasing It

From Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses, written and published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Hope and help for families and friends of alcoholics, 2007:

page 45:
"By taking responsibility for our own lives, we begin to recognise that our happiness isn't contingent upon what others do or don't do."

"When we apply our slogan 'Let It Begin With Me,' we stop waiting for others to meet our needs and instead look to ourselves. This does not mean we have to 'do it all,' or that we can't count on anyone. Rather, we learn to stop expecting our needs to be met by someone who is incapable of doing so. We can feel disappointed and let down without our whole world falling to pieces."

A friend who read my last article "Grieving Again" wrote me and said that I seemed to understand the grief and how it is interconnected in my family and its history. That got me to thinking.

I do understand the grief. I have lived with it for so long. As Adult Children of Alcoholics, that is what we do. That is what depression is, unresolved anger and grief that, instead of being expressed, it is turned inward on ourselves. My friend also said that I seemed able to walk through my grief. Yes, today I can, but that wasn't always true. If you could see the child that I was standing beside the adult that I am today, I doubt that you would recognise the two as being the same person other than the physical characterists that we both share.

The child was extremely shy and withdrawn into her own little world of a few friends and her books. Outsiders rarely heard her speak. She didn't have an opinion about anything that mattered. She was terrified of people and life. She dressed to fade into the background. She craved your attention and love as much as she feared it. She felt totally alone. Fear was her main companion. The child, Patricia, felt that there was a hole of emptiness where her heart was supposed to be. She was afraid to feel anything. Patricia knew that if she had to feel all of the pain that she carried inside that she would die. The pain would be too much. She would curl into the fetal position and never come out. If Patricia started to cry, she would never stop. She had so many tears stored up inside. The only anger that she knew was the rage of her father and the silence of her mother. With the rage of her father, Patricia knew what to expect. With the silence of her passive-aggressive mother, she felt crazy. In some ways, the passive-aggressive behavior was more destructive by its silence.

All of the anger was hidden under a ton of grief, waiting, hoping to be acknowledged by someone. Anger is a power struggle that a small child has no way of winning, if she can even figure out how to compete in the game with the adults. Patricia felt so powerless as a child, like she had no value to anyone. That is the main reason that I stopped using the name Patricia for many years as an adult. I didn't ever want to feel that powerless again. Feeling powerless was beneath the majority of my fears.

Except for family, I refused to answer to Patricia until about 5 years ago. That was when I finally started working with my grief, coming to terms with it and took back the name of Patricia. Sometimes, even today, I can feel that blanket of darkness trying to work its way back up and over me. Today, I can recognise it and say, "What's going on? What am I feeling?" Oftentimes, just acknowledging that I am feeling another layer of grief coming off of me is enough to lighten the load and release it.

Any new grief, such as my uncle dying last week, is enough to bring up the old grief that hasn't been fully released. As my friend stated, I can, today, walk myself through my grief as it arises. Thanks to my friend for the new awarenesses that you gave to me about my grief. Taking responsibility for my own life and my own feelings was a very important step in letting go of my grief and finding happiness in my life. Take that finding happiness a step further to making happiness in my life. Nobody else can do that for me or for you. We are each responsible for our own happiness. For me, happiness has to begin with me. For you, happiness has to begin with you, or not, your choice, just as it is mine.

Related Articles:
Grieving Again ---
Grieving---A Necessary Process For Healing ---
What's In A Name? ---


Jenny said...

That was a very powerful post and thought provoking as well. There are many points you touched on that I found myself comparing to my life.

Patricia Singleton said...

Jenny, I am glad that I could help you to think about your life. Thanks for sharing that with me.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I just want to scoop up that little Patricia and tell her how beautiful, precious, adorable, lovable and valuable she really is! I'm glad you are doing this grieving for her and for you. I know it is so painful...but I also know it is healing.

Thanks for sharing this and for letting us use it for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. I finally got the edition published. Thanks for all your participation and support of it! *hugs*

Patricia Singleton said...

Marj, thank you. I knew you would understand about grief. You are welcome. I am glad that The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is in existence and for the work that you do to keep it running. Again, Happy 4th Birthday for the Carnival. It has been in existence for a year more than my blog.