Saturday, 29 March 2008

Thoughts on Personal Identity

When my husband, Jerry, my "soulmale" and love of my life (one of 2... I can't seem to choose between- and why should I? I have decided that when one dies, I am allowed 2 "LoML's), died in 1998 I grieved. Of course this loss is so different. Nonetheless the mind continues to seek familiarity. (An effort, perhaps to find some experiential hint on how to proceed).
Well, I could write a book on my grief, my "breakdown" 14 months later, my process and my eventual and ultimate healing, but that's not the point that is vexing me today. My thoughts keep circling back to what feels like an important part of my current struggle in grieving this loss, the loss of not only my beautiful grandson, Bishop; but the loss of my daughter's (and perhaps somehow my own??) innocence and heart.
What has occurred to me over and over of late is that there seems to be no place for these losses within my personal identity that fits.
This is so difficult to articulate.
Somehow, over time after my Jerry died, "widow" became not a title or mere description, but a part of my identity. I was a widow. It seemed somehow to state clearly who I was and there was some odd comfort and implied strength in that for me. It became part of my identity that I grew to accept and ultimately embrace. I don't know; perhaps it was all tied up with getting my business off the ground at the time, survival. Perhaps the designation between "single woman" was important. I don't know why it was so; it simply was.
And in some way I think that embracing that as part of who I was at the time, and for the next many ensuing years, was part of my healing process. Somehow it gave me a very clear context within which to place the huge event in my life that was the loss of that beautiful man who meant so much to me. And strange as it may seem, somehow it was a positive thing.
Oh, I'm fumbling and bumbling to express this.
The thing is, there is no context within which to place the loss of my grandbaby and the grief for my daughter.
I'm feeling/thinking (one or the other or both- these processes are inextricably enmeshed) that there is simply nothing in these losses to embrace in a positive and affirming way for my identity.
Oh, I'm sure people will say inanities like "you're so strong, you've been through so much, that's something to embrace", but that's not how it feels, and that's not enough.
Before our Bishop died, I had become pretty disillusioned with the world, politics, human beings in general after all my political activism and blogging and outrage. The stoning of that man and woman somehow seemed to be the final straw for me. It broke my heart and rather than inspire cynicism in me it invoked a sort of despair. I felt defeated. I took a hiatus from blogging to try to find a place in me from which to care, without despairing.
Bear with me.
Our Bishop's senseless and inexplicable death (SIDS is in no way an explanation) has evoked a hopelessness and despair in me that I can't seem to kick. It has brought home to me, on a personal level, the chaos and senselessness of a world and existence in which people are stoned to death, murdered for a few dollars, bombed at the whim of one government, starved and gassed at the whim of another, and where babies die for no apparent reason.
An existence in which it had already grown so difficult to see "God" (as a very generic term). Perhaps the better term here would simply be "meaning".
"Existentialist", "Athiest"- these are not terms that I'm willing to embrace as my identity. "Defeated", "despairing" are not either.
I can't seem to find a way to integrate this loss, this experience, these feelings, this grief into my personal identity.
I think that's a problem.
Chaos reigns and I despair, lost in the void. I need to find my heart, but it seems to be MIA.

*4:03 PM editorial comment:
Writing this and then reading it here in black and white I note that it both falls far short of articulating my feelings and expresses them perfectly. Yet one more paradox of my existence. I should also note that it's exceedingly difficult to face these feelings this way; outwardly, instead of continuing to be wantonly assaulted with them inwardly (privately). And although this; writing/blogging, is one of several courses of action I've decided upon in hope of some movement from this place, it feels pointless. Nonetheless I shall continue.

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