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©2017 by annieleavitt.com

behold the suffering spiral

there are healthy ways to grieve.

and there are unhealthy ways to grieve.


I am a self proclaimed expert at the unhealthy ways, but I am learning to embrace the healthy ones because no one wants to be found drowned in a 15 gallon bucket of rocky road.


I keep feeling like our society has really messed up when we let go of the mourning black clothes or mourning black arm bands. it really makes functioning in society (and in a small, small, small town) way more hard than it should be when you are going through a loss. you don't have to smile and say "I'm great thanks!" when someone asks how you are in the bread aisle. (and I must apologize to my sweet friend who asked "how are you?" and I barked back, "I'm not ok!". poor thing. she had no idea what was coming to her, and it wasn't her fault. I told ty I wasn't ready to go to the store with him yet and he didn't listen. that feels good, I'll blame him.)


but grieving is painful. and natural. but sometimes I like to turn it into suffering, which is not normal. "Pain is not the same as suffering...suffering is pain that we hold on to. it comes from the mind's mysterious instinct to believe that pain is good, or that it cannot be escaped, or that the person deserves it." Deepak Chopra


my unhealthy ways of dealing with pain, grief, sadness, anger and despair is not just suffering, but starting the suffering spiral.


my suffering spiral gains momentum as you focus on more sad/bad/negative things that are around you and happening. because you deserve it. you've done something wrong and it's time to pay. my spiral gains greater force when I shut myself out. when I isolate. isolation is only prescribed for someone who is contagious, other than that is is the WORST thing you can do for any kind of physical or mental ailment. my isolation then starts picking up more crap debris as I choose to watch dark shows. detective series and dramas. full of sad stories, death, lying, darkness. my spiral is having a full on feast now. (I made a promise to myself a long time ago to only watch comedies)


because sadness feeds on sadness. the drama feeds on drama. the pain feeds on pain. so what are you feeding your pain? if you want it to go away, stop feeding it more pain. stop choosing darkness. start choosing light. lightness and darkness cannot co-exist. i have to pick and choose very carefully how things make me feel and act.


the healthy ways to grieve are:


1. feel it

2. learn from it

3. move on.


I think #1 is the hardest one. before? I used to run from the pain (distractions, projection). or numb the pain (drugs, food, tv, sleeping).


the earliest I remember being addicted to pain killers was in high school. I went straight from an awful tonsillectomy recovery on liquid codeine for two weeks to breaking my collar bone the next month and going straight to codeine pills. they instantly numbed the physical pain and emotional pain. I had to quit track because of my accident (four wheeler's aren't super nice to you when they roll down a hill and then over you) and miss out on a lot of social events. the pills filled the gap perfectly. but I kept asking for more, and I kept getting them, for months and months, until my courageous friends stepped in and gave me an intervention during mr. bowler's science class.


I've struggled with pain killer addiction since then but I'm upfront and honest about it. ty knows and if we have any for a procedure he keeps track of them. we don't keep them in the house "just in case". If I get a new doctor they will know about my affinity for them if I have any sort of pain or surgery. I tell my ob's when I deliver "I probably will call for more drugs, don't give them to me". it's funny because ty absolutely hates pain killers, they make him want to barf and then crawl out of his skin covered in barf, but for me they are a one way ticket to happy town and bliss for at least 3 hours.


the worst timing about pain killers is they are usually needed for pain after something traumatic, like a d&c. or a delivery. or an accident. exactly the same time you really want to numb and forget. so it's a super sticky and tricky subject. who needs them? and who is abusing them? I dream of a day where everyone is strong enough to be honest about how they react to them because honesty is the only thing that keeps addiction from growing. addiction grows in silence. addiction grows in shame.


I have to admit, the pain killers were really nice to have last week. I definitely needed a little numbing for both the physical and emotional pain. but since high school I've never let it get completely out of control, I think my honesty in our marriage about it and with my doctors is the only way. I've also seen first hand what it can do when people stay in denial. I never thought I'd say I'm grateful for watching opoid addiction ruin relationships, friendships and families, but I am, because it kept me 100% up front and honest about where I am with them.


pain killers aside, there are still plenty of ways that I could continue on my darkness spiral. like running away. running away from my pain is called "projects!" or "work!". I can make myself busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest in about two minutes if I want to be distracted. I can solve the worlds clean water problem, or my neighbors marriage, or start focusing on all the negative nellies and bullies at school and try to fix that. but that's all just projecting the pain. it's not feeling it, and that's not healing it.


so without the option of numbing or running away any more because I'm choosing to be healthy and happy (and I also don't have a job anymore), I had to CHOOSE. I woke up one morning, showered and didn't sit on the couch all day. I didn't say, "I'll just finish the series and then stop watching" the detective show, because that's how my spiral usually goes. I'll just keep going down the drain all day until there aren't any more episodes, I'll let that be when I finally stop but by then I'm nothing but a liquid sack of sadness on the couch covered in ice cream smears.


but this time I said No. I said ENOUGH. I put on (stretchy) pants and had a semi-normal day. that was what I needed. and then I did something a little normal the next day, and the next. before that moment, before I chose I could feel myself letting the sadness start to take over. I could feel myself choosing the spiral. I could feel I was using it as a weapon and a way to not participate fully in life. I don't have to smile. I don't have to be responsible. I can just numb or ignore it all away. but I had to feel the emotional pain so I could move on.


"The best way to get rid of the pain is to feel the pain. And when you feel the pain and go beyond it, you'll see there's a very intense love that is wanting to awaken itself." -Deepak Chopra

don't get me wrong, I'm going to be sad still. the pain is going to ebb and flow for a long time. but I choose now to be ok with what is. As the Beatles so eloquently stated: "there's nowhere you can be that isn't where you are meant to be."


suffering is unnatural because it is denying reality. and there isn't anything more natural than REALITY. do I still want to be pregnant? YES. am I still confused and sad and mad that I'm not? YES.


Can I also take a deep breathe and choose to see reality? that whatever is, is what is best? can I feel that God's love is so far reaching and all encompassing, that this wouldn't be happening if it wasn't what was meant to be? YES.


and that can bring me peace. if even for a small moment. because in that small moment, I can have space. and in that space I can feel love, and in that love I can, if I really pay attention, feel the divine source of love that is all around us. and then I can let it go. so far I have only been able to experience this feeling during meditation and some other extremely spiritual moments, but I'll take it. those small moments have made the biggest difference in my mental health and my life. Psalms 46:10 is one of my favorite scriptures, just be still, and you will know that it's all going to be ok.


"Could we, after our best appropriate efforts, just let go and let God? ...Is it possible that we can't really even know the full meaning of any experience- even any so called mistake? even any seeming tragedy? is it possible that we are encouraged to trust and accept what shows up, no matter how tough as a personal gift? Could it be that there is a benevolent, driven purpose behind every event?" M. Catherine Thomas

not running away from the pain was hard. letting go of the hurt was hard. handing it over to God is still something I have to do when it comes up...daily. feeling the pain was definitely not my first way to respond, but I knew I had to feel it this time. I ran away from the ectopic pain 4 years ago and it caused a lot of mental suffering, for...YEARS. so this time I felt it. and swam in it. and sat in it. and then one day I could get up. staying away from the darkness spiral was essential to be able to learn and move on.


if you are in the spiral, there is a way out. you aren't everything that has happened or is happening to you. you aren't your choices and you aren't your mistakes. you can choose right now to let go of your old stories and choose to see there is light for you out there. start looking and asking for more light in your life and it will show up. and slowly (and sometimes miraculously) you can chase out the darkness while making your life even better through the Light.


to accomplish this you just have to "LOVE YOURSELF MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOUR DRAMA." a quote from a woman I owe my self help journey to, Jen Sincero. and if that isn't a truth bomb, I don't know what it is. because honestly, someone has had it worse than you are they are out there living their best life. someone has lost their loved ones and their children and is a peaceful, happy and loving angel of service on this earth. someone has gone through a horrific divorce and is happy and peaceful. someone has had an affair and their marriage healed. someone had to lose everything in their business and they moved on. people in concentration camps found peace. children who grew up in the streets running from bombs found the peace and light.let your drama go. look at your sad excuses you've been hanging on to, feel the pain that's there, love it for protecting you, and let it go so you grab love and light.


I'm grateful for His light, it's changed my life. it's brought me peace. it's brought me love. I hope you can know you can have that too. you deserve it. it's who you are.