Stages of healing: Mourning

Once upon a time, early in my healing process, one person asked if I would put the stages of healing into a list. Honestly, though I would like to be able to do that, myself, I find that each stage is so complex, I can’t put it into neatly formed parallels. I just know that they exist, are necessary to become whole, and that some resonate louder than others, and in different ways for everyone. I was, however, able to find a great article which does a fabulous job, putting such a process into written form… Phases of Trauma Recovery … The author does a good job, here. Please read this. Part of healing comes from knowing others have experienced the same things as you. AKA: Validation.

I wanted to center on “Phase 2”, Remembrance and Mourning

As you go through each phase in your healing process, one thing you won’t notice is any type of “TA-DA!!”, cymbal crash, horn, or anything to alert you to the passing of one phase and the introduction of another. You’ll just recognize it’s existence. I never knew each phase had it’s own name, until I found the article. It’s nice to know that I’m somewhat normal :). As I was going through the ruminating phase (Safety and Stabilization [stage 1]), I was becoming grounded and yet, still recognizing how disjointed I really was. How uncomfortable I felt in my own skin. Still afraid of shadows, or the possibility of them. I also realized toward the end when I started feeling safe again, that I was also in mourning. The fear definitely overshadowed the mourning which was there, but mournful was still an underlying current.

As time went on and my turmoil lessened, my thoughts slowed, allowing for more peace and less panic. It also allowed me to reflect in a safer way. In the first phase, I was out of control. I was reeling, grasping for the “me” that I lost during such an abhorrent waste of time and heart. “I WANT MEEE BACK!!!”. It started early, as if I had just witnessed my actual death. I’m trying to put my own experience into words, here. Imagine a time when you lost someone very close to you, very suddenly. It’s a painful memory, I know, but necessary to recognize how you felt for sometime afterward. For me, It was as though I was separate from myself, in the early days. When I left the monster, I felt like I had just witnessed my own death. It felt that way. My conscious self was separate from the part of me that died, and I was fighting to recapture that lost part of myself. Of course, this is purely emotional figuratives that I am expressing, but I hope you understand. I was thrown into instant mourning. Traumatic mourning.

As I was able to regain a sense of safety and security, as well as a sense of self (If you’ve been through this feeling, you’ll understand), I began to notice my mourning. I called it a name, recognized exactly WHAT I was mourning, and was able to find peace. You see, I didn’t mourn my x-monster or his influence in my life. I didn’t mourn the lost relationship, or the fact that it failed at all. What I was mourning, was, #1) time that I would never regain. And, #2) I was mourning myself. In every sense of the word, I was shattered. I was broken, not even a shell of my former self. There was nothing left of who I was, or who I used to be. Just shards. The only thing I had were the memories of who I was. I could see how the shards were supposed to fit together, but lacked the knowledge of just how to go about it. I had to come to recognize, understand and resolve myself to the facts… I was still there…sort-of. The damage was so vast, however, that I couldn’t possibly be the same person, ever again. At first, I fought this. I cried. I got angry. I tried to force myself to become who I used to be, again. Of course, it didn’t work. I would never be the same. It’s just like it was when my Dad died, 6 years ago. I eventually resigned myself to knowing and understanding that I would never see him again. The pain lessens, but you will always remember. I blamed the monster, for all of this.

I remembered something that my friend said. In short, she said, “Rebuild”. It’s all I could do, once I resigned myself to the situation. I started living life, one step at a time, recognizing my actions and reactions, mentally putting each into a type of category. I would act a certain way, then later decide whether it was “good or bad”, “healthy or unhealthy”, and kept what I wanted, and discarded the rest. I began reteaching myself how to walk, so-to-speak. I carried with me, old habits or old ways of looking at people around me. I recognized each one, and categorized each as well. Once again, I retrained myself so I could become who I am supposed to be. I still remember some parts of who I used to be. I still miss those things, sometimes… Not “good” or “bad”, but personality traits I used to have. I’m still not done rebuilding. I am a work in progress.

Here’s what has brought peace to me: Though I have lost so much of who I was, I have gained so much more! I miss who I was, but love who I am becoming! Even though so many things have changed, I am no longer the person who I was… you remember her…the jelly-fish, who would cower to any perceived negativity. The soft-spoken, apologetic one. The girl who would never step into the unknown, out of fear of failure. The girl who would willingly be the martyr for someone else’s benefit.. I really was a miserable sort, before the monster ever came along. To that part of me who I “lost”… GOOD RIDDANCE!

In order to heal, you must deal with each phase as it comes. However, in order to go into each subsequent phase, you must process and work through the previous. Each phase has it’s own level of difficulty, and conquest. Each phase also has it’s own life expectancy. However easy or difficult your experiences are, is purely and uniquely determined by your own need. Everyone processes and heals differently. It’s a unique process and absolutely your own.