Landscape of Grief

(the title is the CW.)

It’s my true father’s birthday later this week.

It took me a while to figure out that this is why I’ve been so tired, so angry, so unable to do things. Because grief is weird, & for me, every time it swells it decides to do something new, just to spice things up a bit.

A screenshot of Emeril Lagasse from his cooking show, with "BAM! Let's kick it up a notch" in white bold letters superimposed. Emeril is wearing a white chef's coat and has a green-striped hand towel over his left shoulder.
A meme of Emeril Lagasse, in his cooking show, with “BAM! Let’s kick it up a notch” in white bold letters superimposed. Also, I love that green-striped towel.

So yeah, it took me a week to realize this heaviness and apathy I’m feeling is because I deeply miss my dad. And it’s not like I don’t KNOW I miss my dad. I do. I feel it, every day. But grief is NOT basic, and it reminds me of that every time I’m all “ohhHHHhhh, dammit, that’s what that is.”

And that’s compounding another issue I’ve discovered.

Slowly, over the past year and a half of the pandemic, I’ve come to realize that I really have no idea how I can process my grief or rage. And I don’t mean this in the “give me instructions or advice about how to do it” kind of way… I mean this in the “nothing anyone has described, at all, even professionals, has helped.” I knew this in a kind of academic way before, but now I’ve had home time, and healing time I haven’t had before, and a new awareness of my own neurodiversity … and I seriously do not know how anyone else with my ND manages this bullshit.

For those of you who know rock climbing, it’s like someone brought me to a massive rock face with no obvious ledges, no pins, no rope, no chalk, and no gloves… and expected me to climb it. Because I’ve got instructions, you see. Like so:

A photo of Yosemite's El Capitan rock formation in slack gray and beige rock. A red line squiggling up it to mark the "Eagle's Way" rock climbing path. Black text on the upper right hand corner reads "Eagle's Way VI 5.8 A3."
A photo of Yosemite’s El Capitan rock formation with a red line squiggling up it to mark the “Eagle’s Way” rock climbing path. Photo from

So that person drops the me off at the bottom and says “See ya at the summit!” And, AND, I’ve got no other map, so I don’t have a way to backtrack to where I started.

(I think about a sheer cliff face like this one whenever someone says “you should talk to someone”* or “try therapy”** or EMDR*** or CBT**** or or or. The cliff face turns into oily shale whenever someone talks about “let it go” or “radical acceptance.” Like, HOW? Seriously, HOW?)

I’ve tried climbing that rock face a bunch of times for other grief and other rage, and it really freaking HURTS when I fall. It messes me up for weeks. It impacts my ability to work or do the things I need to prioritize. This big-ass cliff is in my landscape and even trying to climb it puts me in jeopardy. And when it comes to losing my dad, there are a lot more factors to consider.

So now that I know it’s not just “I need to be home to process,” or “I need [insert whatever lie I was telling myself before]” but it’s really about how my brain works?

Well, crap. Time for me to turn into my own personal emotional cartographer. Time to go crashing through the underbrush, writing everything down, and keeping all fingers and paws crossed that I don’t run into something poisonous.



* I don’t mind talking to people about what I’m going through, but I hate the idea that this is universally helpful for people to process. I never feel better in talking about it, and if I go into it thinking it will help I feel so much worse – and often like I’m useless and worthless because I feel worse – at the end of it.
** My poor therapists. I am such a hard case.

*** EMDR is pretty awesome for my anxiety and flashbacks but doesn’t do much for me otherwise.
**** CBT was a good tool for me for despair and depression but NOT FOR RAGE OR GRIEF, holy wow. I got so much worse when we tried.

Published by killerpuppytails

Really Quite Deadly.

%d bloggers like this: