grief

Wednesday, December 30, 1992

There's a difference between grief, as in one who is emotionally struck after a death or loss of someone close, and grief as in an emotional scar or oversensitivity, as in one who gets uncontrollably emotional at the sight or thought of a loss of anyone, or for that matter anything. Whether this emotional scar is caused by a genetic reality, a trait like the color of one's eyes, or by a tramatic experience during childhood, or even childbirth. This emotional scar leaves its victim an emotional reck at times when support is needed to be given and care is needed for others besides themselves.

In use of the phrase: emotional scar, I give the term a negative conotation. I do this because of the negative affects I feel it has on me. Whether this oversensitivity to loss is a negative or positive attribute is debatable, and should be considered seperately for every case. For me, I feel this emotional scar is a liability in my relations with people.

When I say in my relations to people, perhaps that should be clarified to in my relations with people who have the slightest chance of dying. In my original thoughts I had also included the loss of someone moving away, but, although that is an anguish, and I do grieve for the loss of that person in my daily life, it by no means leaves me in the same state as is if that person passes away.

The liability of this emotional scar is when I feel I am most needed, like by my mother, while my grandmother is going under surgery. The very thought, or sight of tears by either my mother, my grandmother, or any other relative automatically touches off an emotional attack. And even when I reread this last statement, I am barely able to fight off another attack.

I use the term emotional attack without truly defining it, so let me explain what I mean by this. The first feeling is a tightness, or perhaps tingling in my nose, that is the first warning that the attack is underway. Following that tingling my eyes begin to water. At this time even if I am able to stem the flow of tears that follow, a headache will follow no matter how far I go into my attack. If I am not able to hold back my tears, then my eyes begin to tear rapidly, my heart feels like its tightening up and my head begins to slightly ache. This may go on for minutes, or in some extreme cases hours. I call this an attack because of the nature and cause of it. It is uncontrollable, and although perhaps quite normal under certain circumstances, with an emotional scar, it becomes debilitating and frequent.

This emotional scar is an attribute most people like to group with 'the sensitive guy'. A man who is not afraid to show his emotions by crying. Perhaps more sensitive guys are needed in this world so that people can share their emotions openly. Perhaps I am only writing this because as a sensitive guy, I feel like I am not living up to my 'manly' requirements. Perhaps. Although I think that there is a difference between a sensitive guy, and a person who can't handle death. Yes, it is probably an inability to handle death that sets off these emotional attacks.

If it is an inability to handle death, then perhaps I can credit this fear or unacceptance to the fact that my father died when I was 13. That was my original thought, but as I went deeper into it I do have childhood memories of my grandfather dying. My father sitting my two sisters and me down and him taking off his watch and explaining to us that '...life is measured by time, which is continuous. It doesn't stop for anything or anybody. And each person is allotted a certain amount of time to live. After their time is up they leave us.' I also remember my grief at that moment quite vividly. Perhaps that was my first emotional attack. If that is so, then my emotional scar had to originate at a sooner time than the death of my father, or even my grandfather.

At what time could it have originated at? I was always a 'sensitive' kid. A 'good' kid if you like that word better. Always listening to my teachers, afraid of their scorn if I didn't. At this time I'd like to relate to you another emotional attack I had. This one had a negative affect, causing my rational thinking to turn irrational. It was when I was in fifth grade. One of the school aides who I worked for as a guide in the morning -- counting and writing the time buses arrived -- called us to the main office. It had been snowing a couple of days before, and she informed us that one of the teachers had reported that we had been throwing snowballs outside while waiting for the buses. I do remember meekly trying to defend myself and my friends with how I was just throwing the snow up in the air, and not at anyone. Which if I remember correctly (and this is a big if) was what we had been doing. Well, if the truth be known, I had been planning that as something to defend myself with when she called us in after informing us of what we had done. I of course wasn't able to relate my story because of an emotional attack which hit me right after she began to give us the fifth degree. To make a long story short, I accepted detention, instead of a vacation from our morning job for a week because the cloudy thinking that an emotional attack brings. Although this seems a millenium away, I offer it not as proof that emotional attacks are bad, but rather as proof that emotional attacks have been plaguing me for a long while.

And still there is the question of what causes this emotional attack. This overly good person to not allow themselves the freedom to feel a loss without remorse. Upbringing? Perhaps. Or maybe its just my inability to deal with death as a concept; not truly understanding it. That could be it, back when I was smaller, but as I've grown physically, and mentally. I have to rule it out as a reason. I have learned to accept death, perhaps not willingly, but at least grudgely. I'd also like to now document a change that has occurred in my emotional attacks. I am now able to stand up to authority which would have caused emotional attacks when I was younger, like the story I related before. This change cannot be attributed to an exact date, or time, but I do not fear the retributions that authority have on me as a reason for an emotional attack.

This revelation perhaps supports the fact that I am just a sensitive guy who feels deeply losses, and morals in which I have been taught since I was a little kid. Perhaps its morals that play a role in these emotional attacks? It is possible. Without morals people are nothing, instinctual like animals, but with the ability to reason. Perhaps not nothing, but monsters. Of course I use the word monsters dividing what is not morally correct by our societies standards as bad, or evil, and what is morally acceptable as good. This might be an unfair division, but I will leave that discussion open for a later date and just concentrate on morals without labeling their teaching as teachings of good, or teachings of society's good.