The Sixth Stage of Grief: Hope & Karaoke

The Sixth Stage of Grief: Hope & KaraokeI can totally manage a focused crisis. Brief calamity is my specialty. Living in a chronic state of pain and anxiety is a different beast.

I started my ‘Rockstar Comeback’ experiment as a planned rebound after an extended, but time-bound trauma. Less than 4 months. An ugly thing that can be placed into a logical, neat box and referred back to as that one time that the unimaginable happened.

That would not be the case.

22 months after I hit rock bottom, I was still being dragged down to it’s depths, and then down into the mud and slate beneath what I had thought was rock bottom, every few weeks. 

I went through all of the stages of grief, a few times, in no logical order.

Anger was more of a backdrop than a phase, given my intolerance for an inability to vanquish this perceived arsonist who kept burning my life down. 

At first, denial was a fond ally, telling me and anyone who wanted to share their doom-and-gloom divorce stories with me that those absolutely wouldn’t be my outcome; that I was too good at managing these types of messes to let that happen.

I’m a therapist and a project manager – two disparate skill sets that merged beautifully into exactly what was needed for a dog-eat-dog divorce situation.

Surely I could manage to close this chapter of my life with a neat post-mortem where I analyzed a few missteps that could have been executed a bit better, but an overall successful resolution for all parties involved.

I refused to allow this to get out of (my) control.

I researched legal strategy. Took copious notes in a massive spreadsheet complete with case numbers, judges, police case IDs, and GRAMA request dates.

I quickly found the legal system wanting and moved on to depression: a firm hopelessness that misery and constant hyperarousal would be my status quo until my children became the messy adult byproducts of messy divorcees.

When I began meditating a year into this war zone, I let go of the sadness and simply accepted reality.

I was so proud of myself.

In the middle of that stoic reverie, two dear friends who I adore but sometimes feel are alien to this planet, told me in no uncertain terms that I was being defeatist and should manifest the outcome I desired. 

Ha! As if.

But the seeds were planted. About a month before a complete 180 degree miracle occurred.

I’m still fairly certain I didn’t manifest said miracle, but logic would suggest that energy shifts within ourselves can have a profound impact on those around us. Many other factors were involved.

A mounting family crisis came to a head – placing all adult parties onto common ground for one awkward evening in a waiting room.

The waiting in this waiting room was palpable.

Just three people who may or may not kind of wish at least one person in the room would keel over from a quick, painless stroke, all sitting in close proximity around the one small coffee table in the shrinking room with the shared air.

But that common ground, and perhaps some energy shifts on the part of both sides, transcended all of the history, all of the pain, and a fresh start was born.

I was (and am still) in a mild state of disbelief, but being the eternal optimist, I was so thrilled with the simple possibility of hope that I went out for drinks on that D-day with one of those alien girlfriends.

The joy poured out in between glasses of wine, bunless burgers, pickle chips and the brazen crossing off of one of my fears: karaoke. 

Two glasses in, two woo-woo sisters shouted out the chorus to Spice Girls’ Tell Me You What You Want and loudly mumbled through the rest (who knew there was a ‘rest’ of that song?) at a hole-in-the-wall strip mall suburbia bar to a mix of Latino landscapers still in their company t-shirts and a bachelorette party of twenty-something girls.

Hope.

Hope should be the final stage. There is always, always the possibility for a miracle. And it wasn’t a quick but deadly stroke.

The evidence, although I suggest viewing on mute:

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.”

– Buddha

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