There was never time. There was always someone or something else that was more important. Bills to pay. People to appease. Bullied for mourning the death of a friend because the person I was living with at the time felt that as a personal attack. Told there wasn’t time for me to cry when I lost my home and had to pack my stuff. The things I was not allowed to mourn. The things I did not realise at the time that I deserved to grieve over – harm done to me that I had been persuaded was my fault and no more than I deserve.
Grief isn’t just for bereavement. What I do know from studies into bereavement though, is that grief you don’t deal with at the time will haunt you, and reappear in unexpected shapes and be harder to deal with.
So here I am, and there’s a lot of it. I have carried this a long way. In my mind, in my body. There are so many implications, and so much I need to work through so odds are I’ll be talking about this on and off for a while. Hopefully there’s someone else out there who will find it useful.
What I’m noticing at the moment is the massive shift in thinking that allows me, for the first time, to see myself as entitled to grieve. I’ve stopped framing my distress as a failing on my part. It’s so often been framed that way for me. The idea being that what was happening was fine, and what was unreasonable was my response to it. Things that hurt me, were hard for me, frightened me, and stole away my confidence were not things I deserved. I was never that bad a person (is anyone?). “That’s not fair” was a statement I was not allowed to make for too long. Well, it wasn’t fair, and I can say it now, and in doing so change how I think about my former self.
It wasn’t ok that I was afraid for so much of the time. It wasn’t ok that my feelings were mocked and treated as irrelevant. It wasn’t fair that I wasn’t allowed to have preferences or to express myself, or to have any and all emotional expression treated as emotional blackmail. It wasn’t ok to be put in situations that made it difficult for me to sleep, and it wasn’t ok that my sleep problems didn’t matter. It wasn’t ok to have things that should have been at least a bit about me arranged entirely for other people’s benefit.
I have lived with rage directed inwards and self-hatred because of how I’ve been de-personed and made responsible for what was done to me. I’ve lived with shame and fear, and stories about how the very nature of my body justified what was happening to me. I’ve lived with unspeakable, un-acknowledgeable grief that has been crushing me for pretty much my whole life. I’ve lived feeling unable to talk about it because I don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable and there are people who, if they read this, could feel uncomfortable. But unless I square up to all this, I can’t change anything. So here, in this space that is my space I am making some room to assert that there a great deal of things in my history that really weren’t ok.
I’ve been giving myself permission to feel angry about this. It’s been a personal sort of process, I will not take that anger to anyone else, to do so would serve no purpose. But I can be angry for me, and for the person I was and the person I could have been. And I can grieve it, and keep saying that it was not justified, it was not my fault, I did not deserve it.