Last week I had a stellar idea for this blog. I had thought it all out, drafted my outline, and was ready to post it today. Then the dog tore apart my sofa. Yes, I know how seemingly unrelated these two things sound, but this particular event has had an unforeseen impact on me mentally and physically, and I realized that this might be a better topic to blog on than the previous one. Interestingly, writers are human – usually. I can give you a noted exception or two, but we’ll get into that another time. Let’s just stick with the “human” concept for now.
Human beings are emotional creatures. Our emotions have a tendency to impact us physically as well as psychologically, and we can’t often predict how that will all play out. When my father died, I found that it was difficult for me to sit down and focus on writing. That’s a common reaction to grief – a lack of focus, a lack of motivation. If it lingers too long it can become full-blown depression. In my case, I bounced back fairly quickly. It was easier for me to write and become absorbed in my story than it was for me to deal with my grief head-on. After time, when the sharp edge of that pain had dulled some, I could more directly confront my loss and begin to heal.
Today, however, I’m finding that grief is getting in the way of productivity again. No, I’m certainly not experiencing the same intensity at the loss of a dog that I felt at the loss of my father, but there are some similarities none the less. I have a slight feeling of nausea, so I have no appetite. If I stop to think about having to leave the dog at the shelter, I will tear up. Trying not to think about it, conversely, ensures that it will creep into my thoughts even more frequently.
It’s rather a conundrum. I am up to my eyeballs in revision with a looming deadline. I know that I need to focus not only on that, but on the fact that I have a class to teach in 3 hours. Despite the obvious logic to the situation, I find that I am struggling just to get the minimum done. I haven’t even brushed my hair yet, and I’m still running around in my over-sized sweats. It’s like I’m moving through sludge.
But I am comforting myself with this bit of writerly wisdom: it’s all fodder for a future project. All life is potential material for a book, and this will come in handy at some point in the future. It’s okay to allow myself to feel this loss, this sense of being off balance, because it will help me to understand myself and the human experience more deeply. My husband refers to this as “pop psychology with a writing disclaimer.” I’m sure there is some truth to that, but right now it’s what’s working best for me.
Human emotion – any emotion – worms its way into our lives in unexpected ways. Try talking to a young woman whose boyfriend has just proposed. She will walk around, bumping into things and looking lost for a few days because of the giddy excitement she feels. Ask the man whose wife just announced they were having twins. That nervousness will distract him to the point of nuttiness. Ever had a sleepless night because you were worried over something? Ever been so mad that your jaw ached from clenching your teeth?
Emotions are a mixed bag. They are a barometer of our situations, controlling parts of our thought and parts of our physical functions. People who allow themselves to fully experience emotion are often referred to as “overly emotional” while those who suppress emotion are looked at as less than human, more like robots.
I’ll do the best I can do to get through the next few days until the grief is not so heavy. I’ll work on what I can, and I’ll try to let go of the rest. There’s really nothing more I can do beyond that.