“Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning,” I confess, twisting the tissue I’d been handed at the beginning of the session. It is dry. There are no tears left.
“Greif can be like that.” The doctor taps on her notepad and I wonder what she is thinking. It is unfair of me to fill her silences with the things I do – beliefs that she is distracted, or worse, bored during our sessions, but I can’t help it; time and experience has shown me that my thoughts aren’t interesting enough to be fully paid attention to, even by those whom are paid to pay attention to them.
“Is that what this is, grief?” I chuff out a dry laugh. Dry. Everything is dry. My eyes. My veins – I’d been refused for donating plasma twice to dehydration, unable to care enough about the bonus they were offering this month to even bend my elbow and bring a bottle of water to my lips on a regular basis.
“I believe it is a kind of grief you are going through,” doc says, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. I wonder what it is like to have a face and physique well suited for a short cut like hers. I squash the envy. I’m supposed to catch and correct negative feelings, but I much prefer to squash them down, down, like a spring, taught, ready to fling back up on me in moments of weakness.
“I think, when you lose something, anything, you mourn,” the doc says, and I endeavor to look like I am paying attention. Projection, they call this – accusing the other person of doing what you yourself are doing. I’m sitting here, filling the docs head with thoughts of golf or dates or eating chocolates, yet I am in truth the distracted one, thinking ridiculously about haircuts and springs. I straighten myself, reminding myself that the hardworking citizens of america have poured their tax dollars into a fund making this session possible. I ought to at least make an effort at giving them their money’s worth.
“So, I’m grieving,” I say. “What does that mean. I mean, what do I do about it?”
“Well, what have we already discussed about your negative emotions and thoughts?” What strategies have we already implemented?”
I sighed and rehashed the exercises like a good little student. I’m supposed to be “sitting with the feelings.” I’m supposed to remember that a feeling only lasts for about ninety seconds. I’m supposed to stay there, in the feeling, until it passes. I’m not supposed to numb the feelings with booze. I’m not supposed to distract myself from the feelings by finding tik tock videos to watch or inane television programs that I normally could care less about.
I tell her all this and she smiles appreciatively. I feel if this were kindergarten, she would give me a gold star on my paper.
Later, when I think about the thing that I am enduring, the “greif,” as the doc calls it, I try to sit with it. But I can’t sit. I get up and I pace. The feeling persists. I try to sit again. Ninety seconds. Ninety seconds is all I have to endure. The time must eventually pass, mustn’t it? I cannot wait. I get on the phone with my exhausted friend and pretend I am calling to talk about something else. She sees through it of course. After giving me a perfunctory list of the things she managed to accomplish, grief free and all normal-like, she says, “you don’t sound to good,” and that is all it takes to release the spring, and the feelings with it, and all my grief comes pouring out in a spewing hot torrent of words and tears and I get my release.
Of course I am apologetic.
Of course my friend tells me it is alright.
She is a friend, after all. Friends are friends for just this reason.
She is worried for me, I know.
She, like the doctor, worries I will return to the place inside where other actions are to be taken, not speaking, not sitting, not waiting it out.
But I am getting stronger. I notice.
I am able to sit with things for longer, I notice.
I am hoping, some day, that I will be able to endure
An entire ninety seconds.