Processing

WARNING: Emotional entry ahead. Proceed with caution.

Stuff ends. It sucks. You move on.

Simple? Not really. The journey from loss to closure is really quite complicated. There is a process that we carry out when something good comes to a close, be it a life, a job, or a love. In the Jewish faith, mourners go through a process of “Sitting Shivah” when a close relative passes. In this ceremony, mourners cannot leave the house or do any work aside from cooking and cleaning for seven days. They are not allowed to welcome visitors, have sex, wear clean clothes, or bathe. This isolation forces the mourners to confront their emotion and find a way to live with it. When the period of shivah ends, it’s time to return to living.

Most losses do not weigh as much as the loss of a family member, but they still hurt. You still have to process them before you reach peace and keep walking. I had a good friend in college who would run into her room, slam the door, and lie flat on her back in the center of her bed for hours at a time. She called it wallowing. Like a pig in mud, she rolled around in her misery before getting on with things.

She did this once after a particularly bad voice lesson as we were preparing to leave for a movie. I followed right behind her as she stormed toward her room. “There’s no time to wallow today. We’re going to be late!” I told her. In defiance, she looked me in the eyes as she slowly lowered her body to the bed. I knew we’d be at this a while. Like an impatient parent, I reminded her that the movie was going to start in fifteen minutes whether she was there or not. The girl did not move. “Please get up.” She didn’t even look. I tried tickling, hoping some laughter might get her back on her feet, but all that got out of her was a pathetic attempt at a smile. Defeated, I sat on the bed next to her for a good half hour until she cheered up. We missed the movie, but it didn’t really matter. She did what she needed to do; who was I to tell her how to cope?

We all cope differently. My process is simple: I give myself a day – one day to feel completely deflated.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I wrote in an earlier entry (here) about a wonderful boy I met right before tour started. Against my better judgment, I let myself continue talking to him after I left. I knew there wasn’t much chance of a future for us, but the dreamer in me felt like trying. The idea that he might look at me again was enough to fuel my imagination, creating a perfect landscape of possibilities where being so far away from him no longer mattered. Alas, time and distance do what they do, wearing down the strong cord connecting him and me until all I hold in my hands is a plain white string, blowing freely in the wind as he walks away.

Maybe he’ll pick the string back up, but I’m not counting on it and I’m certainly not waiting around to find out. My father tells me that the perfect relationship functions as an accessory to your life; it should never become your life. With that in mind, I’m gonna keep walking. I’ve had my day to wallow. Life is too short to waste time worrying about things that probably weren’t going to work out anyway. Plus, who knows how many potential conversations are waiting for me to start them. You can’t make eye contact with your head down, so I’m gonna keep my eyes up. I’m gonna smile – and when I see you, I’m gonna say hello. Be ready.

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    • rexhauck
    • February 25th, 2010

    laughing and crying out loud

  1. I’ve been wallowing for far too long…I’m thankful for your advice.

  2. I have the exact same rule for myself: one day of depression, and then it’s moving on time.
    Oh, Dylan… I miss you so!

    • Kate
    • February 25th, 2010

    The thing I love most about you is your ability to be hurt and then open yourself back up again. It is as though you do it seamlessly. And when you open yourself back up, there’s absolutely no trace of what had happened that clouds the rest of your life and experience. You learn from it and you let the lesson carry into your life – but you NEVER let it permanently wound you.

    Love you, bro.

  3. dude…. almost three years. I wallowed for almost three years. This made me miss her again. This made me cry. I don’t know how you get your strength to push on. I almost envy that strength, but I have to step back and remind myself that I do, in fact, have it within myself. Walking away from her was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… and it was the roughest road of my life.

    Dylan, I’m so sorry that relationship didn’t work out for you. That feeling, when you feel like you are nothing in the eyes of someone you care about so much … Experiencing something like that… that is one of the hardest things in the world. I’m sure that wasn’t easy, and I’m so sorry you had to go through something like that.

    But I do not despair for you (and I can’t say that for everyone). You have a wonderful heart, you embrace your own sufferings, and you haven’t given up on yourself or your right for your heart to be protected. In that regard, I am so incredibly happy for you. I have complete faith you’ll meet someone who makes you feel the exact same way this guy did, only better, because he will reciprocate the love that you have in store. I wish everyone had your spirit.

    Not only that, but I have confidence in the wonderful people you already have with you. With your heart, I’m sure you’ve cultivated amazing relationships. People who know you–people who know you have that wonderful heart–they will take care of you, every step of the way for the rest of your life. I know you’ll be just fine. Love is all around…

    ahhh I feel much better now….Thank you for my daily dose of emo-ness. It seems since she left, so long ago, that I have all but forgotten about these feelings of agapic love and adoration. Thank you for keeping it alive.

    take care buddy, and may peace be with you

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