1: Brokenness Up With Tears
Step One of the grieving process (withdrawal) for love addicts and codependents.
Ya’ll know Kubler-Ross & Kessler. That was the DADA gig..sort of (Denial, Anger, Depression, Acceptance). I lied, though. Bargaining is the in the mix, too. There are five stages total, but I like DADA better.
Rachel, why do you have to change things and make them all special ’n’ shit? Why do you have to be a unique know-it-all and modify everything you read?
First of all, fuck you. Secondly, the entire process of denial, anger, and depression involve an intense amount of bargaining. Why ruin a perfectly good acronym with extra words?
There’s another model, though. Another grief model I like way better than DADA. I wanted to mention it before, but I didn’t want to blow you out of the water too soon. It’s good to built some momentum. It makes the connection tighter and smoother and more memorable. It makes Life feel better, taste better. It helps the body sleep better, too.
Me: Hey Shawn, I’m talking about the brain.
Ballerina Me: Rachel, that was rude.
Hip-Hop Me: #sorrynotsorry #wink
Let’s talk about the other model. The Tear Model, invented by a fancy-panties guy named Will (he probably goes by William…academics are like that). Willy Worden gives us an actual action plan for grieving. I love action plans. I also love getting action, but don’t mind hiking and writing and dancing out my sexiness when celibate. That’ll be a post for another time…Back to Worden. You can read his book if you want.
Yup, he published a book. That’s how legit the guy is. Maybe I’ll be that legit someday…Shawn, let’s make each other legit.
The following quote is from a site that discusses Worden’s philsophy:
“Worden suggests that there are four tasks one must accomplish for ‘the process of mourning to be completed’ and ‘equilibrium to be reestablished.’ He makes clear these are in no particular order, though there is some natural order in that completion of some tasks presuppose completion of another task. He acknowledges that people may need to revisit certain tasks over time, that grief is not linear, and that it is difficult to determine a timeline for completing the grief tasks.
Grieve Like a Man. Cry Like a Woman. Be Fucking Adults.
No really, Shawn, let’s grieve so we can be fuckin’ adults who are fucking adults. The kind that are whole and healthy and properly available. The kind that don’t carry the toxicity of previous relationships into their future ones. No really, Shawn, let’s grieve the shit out of ourselves so we can live transparently. I don’t do secrets.
I learned about The Tear Model in the looney bin. The books and blogs about it are too academic for most lazy addicts who don’t like to read. So, to save the planet from the tiresome pain of actual research, I used my looney bin lecture notes to translate the Worden’s articles into digestible language.
We are also going to do this blasphemously rebellious thing that would probably piss off most dogmatic mental health professions. We’re gonna switch around the “T” and the “E” in TEAR. We’re gonna change the dance just a little bit. Why? Because we’re fantasy addicts…and fantasty addicts are a special breed of human. It’s Ok to be flexible…
Shawn, check out this grieve model translated for funky artist nerds who are married and trying to move ahead with their lives as kindly and gently as possible…you should do these exercises so we can have sex on top of a mountain someday. In a tent. In Flagstaff. And keep each other warm.
Step 1: Face the Loss that’s Occuring Head On.
That one giant loss is actually a bundle of mini losses tied together. We have to face the losses. Not the faults or the failures, but the things we’re gonna miss.
Rachel, isn’t that “euphoric recall?” Isn’t that evil? Won’t I die if I break the rules?
Oh, just stop it! You think I’d tell you to do something that’s gonna make you relapse? Come on, guys, give me some more credit than that! Cravings are part of the withdrawal. Don’t let your brain rehook you with slogans and fundamentalist thinking.
Ask yourself: What has the storm destroyed? Make a list. Share it with a sponsor or friend. Don’t judge to storm. I am griving my marriage right now. Here are just a few examples:
- The journey of “us.” The image. The story I was hoping to co-create as a 29-year-old dreamer. The nostalgic idea of his manliness complimenting my femininity — a situation that was set up to fail long before we met.
- His family. They are so loving to me. They are kind and community minded. The look out for each other. They talk.
- My routine — knowing there’s a body in the next room a few days per week, a few days per month. Smelling his shower gel from my the comfort of bedsheets when he’s saying good-bye before travel. Seeing his dirty face after softball. His grin.
- His facial expressions when emotionally “open.” The playful moments we shared when stress didn’t stealing his ability to be present and walk the dogs.
- A shared love for landscaping and construction projects…a genuine interest in improving the properties we owned. Our manual labor. Our pride.
- Two remodeled homes “just because.” Parallel lives with common goals. Parallel talents with killer outcomes. I know it felt lonely, but it was a beautiful loneliness, wasn’t it?
- Watching him be vulnerable with the dogs, Watching him be vulnerable with long-trusted colleagues after an emotionally charged miscommunication at work. Watching him chase peace and brotherhood. His soft spots.
- A funny guy. I mean, he is…sort of. Frat boy humor from a family of five brothers. It’s uncomfortably patriarchal and somewhat racist, but clever.
- Farting in his sleep — I absolutely hate this, but it will still be a loss. I don’t understand why, exactly. Love is mysterious.
- His forgiveness; his compassion; his Real love for me. The moment he told me he’s glad we got married even though my brain broke us. The day he looked into my face and said, “I’m sad, but I’m glad it all happened the way it did. If you’d remembered any earlier, we would’ve had eight beautiful years together. You taught me how to love again, Rach. I will always be grateful for us. We were a success.” God, the tears are endless! God, it aches. God, I love him. God, I’m so grateful. God, I’m so lucky. I don’t even believe in God, but God for Christ’s sake!
Special Instructions: Try to leave concepts and thought-forms out of the equation. Be concrete. Try to think of positive things. Things you’re proud of. Things you’d never have unless you met the person you’ll miss. We will have another section for “blame” and “fixing” and “I-hate-myself” and “what-if” and “why-now.” These conceptional mental fixations are just ego-chatter.
A Note About Ego-Chatter: Ego-chatter is the left brain shitting on you. It was fed too many narratives. It’s memorized too many bible verses. It’s read too many romance novels. It’s watched too much Disney. It’s heard too much criticism and assumed too many errors. The “itty-bitty-shitty-committee” lives in the left-brain. If you’re an addict or trauma survivor, there are probably lots of voices fighting over the microphone. Remember this: mental argumentation prevents feelings from being accessed, felt, released, and healed. Resistance is persistence…and not in a good way. You want the pain to persist? Just resist it.
Bottom Line Goal: Essentially, we want the right-brain to go wild. To bleed out. Let the body tantrum and ache and hurt and punch you in the gut. Let your emotions be unstable and erradic and interupt your day with waves of unexpected depression…and relief…and anger…and fear…and joy. The right-brain is where our somatic sensations and emotions reside. It’s full of memories we can’t recall, and memories replayed like movies. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride…it’s gonna make you throw up.
Important Tip: Be sure to take breaks throughout the day…the week…the month…the year. Do things you enjoy, visit people who feed your soul, find empathetic peers, write poems, watch the movie Wonder. Nature, hugs, books, and bubble baths are important. I love all of them. So long as you’re not breaking your bottom-line values (drinking as an alcoholic, purging as a bulimic, using hookers as a sex-addict), it’s Ok for things to look “unusual.” You should feel and behave unusually…you’re grieving for God’s sake!
Cheat Code: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous often calls the period of grieving “withdrawal.” It can feel like detoxing from drugs. Detox requires physically seperating addictive drugs (or people) from our bodies. If you happen to live with a person who is using drugs — or, if you happen to live the a person who is your drug — check yourself into treatment if you have to. There’s no shame in it. Or, rent an Airbnb for two weeks with two close friends. It’s Ok. You’re not needy or weak or inadequate. You’re fucking normal, Dude.
You got this.