Grief, part 4: Reclaiming

When my son was tiny, I watched a lot of Blue’s Clues. One of the most memorable recurring bits is a jingle Steve sings when Blue the puppy is looking for something she’s lost.

Go back, go back, go back

Go back to where you were

After leaving an unhealthy relationship, I need to reclaim my sense of self and of equilibrium and ownership over my lived experiences. I’ve been practicing that deliberately. I went back, to who I was and what I find most fulfilling and authentic, and I revisited relationships and geographies in order to reconnect and re-frame those experiences.

I enjoyed a delightful summer with my son in which I was finally able to be fully present. We created and gamed together, went camping and finally, traveled across the country by train.

Travel was both a challenge and incredibly satisfying. The challenges were primarily psychlogical hurdles. I had to give myself permission to make plans and execute them according to my own desires, and to set aside my irrational worries. Because I was able to do that, Mr. B and I had a low-stress, stimulating adventure we’ll both remember fondly for a long time to come.

B fulfills a life-long dream: breakfast in bed

I reclaimed my independence on that trip to visit my parents, and I reconnected with my sister after nearly seven years of estrangement. And I literally returned, deliberately spending time in places that held vivid memories for me and gently said, “I’m here.”

My everyday life is full of reminders of my dead relationship: a bench where an argument occurred or a restaurant where unpleasant revelations manifested, the site of a romantic evening out. Places where I reached a turning point in my wholly internal life, known only to me. The exact spot I was standing when I realized I was in love, or later, when I realized I was being lied to and manipulated. Touching those places again gives me a chance to heal a hurt, on my own.

the Suzzallo Library, one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever written in

It’s difficult to describe, but the process goes something like this: there’s a emotional resonance about those geographies. I acknowledge and release it so I can reclaim a space, for myself. Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. I can say to myself, I’ve felt joy or sorrow here, and that’s alright. I’m here now, and I’m okay. The place doesn’t mean what it meant before, not anymore.

Now, I’m in a place where I can be myself again.

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