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Seven Stages

Originally published March 19th, 2018.




Grief doesn’t always come from death. More often than not grief creeps in during the everyday comings and goings of our existence.


I've said countless times that I loved the interpretation of the sadness in the movie Inside Out. I felt like it was an accurate, kid-friendly way to break down the stages of grief, the depression that ensues, and the light at the end of the tunnel when it's acknowledged and handled.


I loved that it wasn’t a death that caused her grief, but instead a move, or a typical life change, that threw her into grief. Because we often ignore the way change shifts our lives and sends us into those familiar stages. Those stages don’t always proceed in a nice neat order. Sometimes they bounce around, sometimes we live longer in one stage than in another, and sometimes we skip stages. For instance, I tend to skip shock or denial. Whatever happened, happened. I usually breathe deep, go numb, and move on to whatever needs to be down in relation to the change. I prefer to move on to the whole burying my pain, swimming in the anger, and depending on the situation either dipping my toe in depression or diving into the deep end. The anger and depression pools swirl in and out of each other. They're toxic, but they feel like home, so I always linger.


Grief and I, like depression, are old friends so I can always tell when I’m shifting and making the necessary choices, be they good or bad, to deal with it. Self-awareness is a useful bitch to have in your corner. It doesn't mean you'll do better every time, but it will help you see yourself clearly and accept who you are. As I circle the drain of anger, I never bargain because I don’t negotiate with terrorists, I’ve found that a mixture of age and intolerance has made the list of shit libel to set me off varied and long.


Since I’m sitting in the airport with nothing else to do but write, I figured I’d take some time to list all the things that make me stabby because it should be good therapy, right? Well… not really. Instead, I realized that The Ex’s statements about me valuing perfection, and being unyielding or unwilling to compromise on a number of points are actually true. I have a set of values that are essential to how I live my life and who I allow in my life.


Those values aren’t negotiable. Anytime I feel like I’m negotiating the limits of my values I become annoyed. And when I’m working on grief? It enrages me. I become incensed that anyone would believe they are so special that they get to trump my value system.


While our society attempts to punish us for being unyielding, demanding we compromise in order to conform to its standards, I say fuck that. If you stand for nothing you fall for anything, right? So don't fall. If you have values that are paramount to living a happy, healthy existence, that harm none and you aren't forcing someone else to live them, then do you. We may not see eye to eye on those values but, there are billions of people on this planet and we don’t have to kick it together. Truth be told if I can’t be true to myself around someone I’m not going to want to kick it with them, plain and simple. So why should anyone else force themselves to tolerate that which they deem intolerable?


While I do believe we all need to diversify the circles we move through to make us well-rounded human beings, I don’t believe we should ever sacrifice our principles and values in hopes of “understanding” every human we encounter. So, if I cuss you from here to the moon, or burn the bridge that connects us, please take it personally. It means you danced on the wrong side of the value line that I draw between myself and others. And I’m not sorry.


Copyright(c) 2018 Rayven Holmes

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