Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Spiral

#writeingrief Round 2
Day 3-


Earlier today I came across a very timely paragraph I wrote about five years ago when I attended a week-long writing institute on genocide. In preparation for the institute, we created identity boxes. In my identity box, I included...damn. I can’t remember much of what I included, and I just searched for the box and can’t find it. I know I had items to represent my family and my job and my identities as a reader and a writer. One of the first activities we did with the identity box was that we were given a slip of paper that said the name of one of the items from our box. The item on this paper represented what was taken from us, and we had to write about how it would be to have that taken from us. My paper said “son.”

“Son.
I’m frozen at the thought of one of my sons being taken away. I’m trying not to cry about it right now and this is only an exercise with a word written in pencil on a small piece of blue paper. I guess that says something about how it would feel if it were true. About how people feel when it happens to them. I think my response would be to fight...but I can also see how it could be easy to just fade away, give up. And now that I wrote that I have decided that, no, I would fight. I would fight...I hope I would fight.”

So that was Before me, and I remember how I couldn’t allow myself to fully go there but that I was holding back deep sobs. When everyone around me realized what I had been given and how I reacted, they protected me from going too far into that scenario. When I read this today, I recognized how little I understood but also that I was onto something: I would fight.

Or maybe give up.

No, I would fight.

I hope I would fight.

Now I know that in the course of a couple of moments, Grief can take me from fighting to giving up and back around to a number of other places. Is this the spiral CS Lewis asks about in A Grief Observed? He asks whether he is going up or down. It’s not that easy with Grief. Up or down? No.

It’s not up or down. It’s both. It’s not just falling or climbing. It’s balancing on a razor sharp spiral and losing your footing and grabbing on as Grief slices at your grip. It’s climbing even when the very tip of the spiral has pierced your guts. It’s bloody and shitty and it reeks. You plead for tears to fall that they may wash away the gore. You climb and climb as Grief rips you apart until you realize that you have to stop flailing and feel the way the spiral shifts around you. And you move with it. And you learn to trust Grief and trust yourself. (You trust Grief to be a sneaky bastard that will shift at the last moment.) You trust even knowing that the spiral razor may wrap around you gently and carefully, lulling you into believing that you are in control, until--at the last second--it constricts tighter and tighter.

And you will fight.

And you will trust.

And you will give up.

And you will bleed.

And again.