Krissie: Are You a Good Wolf, Or a Bad Wolf?

Photo on 10-4-13 at 10.19 AM You know, you’d think with the Bad Wolf eating at my liver I’d be getting skinnier. My current craziness, since I don’t have to worry about my kids right now (or because worrying about my kids makes me even crazier) is being obsessed with Richie’s health. I think Richie’s main problem is he’s depressed, but he’s been tired, I haven’t liked his color, everything hurts, so I started thinking he was having heart troubles again. And then, yesterday, when Richie was working in the woods, I got obsessed that he’d been crushed by a tree. I seem to be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I’m working through the whole loss of original family stuff. I’d put off grieving for my sister, so I got my sister, my mother, and the complete loss as a triple whammy (not complete — I still have Mini-me, but she wasn’t around for the first 20 years of my life and she wasn’t a witness. Which is part of why I couldn’t laugh off my BFF’s comment – she’s really the last witness. I’ve known her since we were both eight — she grew up with me, we knew our crazy-ass families intimately. I’ve been going through boxes of stuff in storage because we spend too much money on two storage areas, and I’ve been finding letters. Being thrown back to horrific (I’m not using hyperbole here) times in my life. Seeing my parents from their points of view (totally fucked, but interesting). I can’t keep putting off dealing with the stuff, much as I want to.
I don’t think it’s the bad wolf pushing me into the pain. It’s the puppified good wolf keeping me company as I go through it. I take a break when I need to, but sometimes you have to face tough things. Sometimes denial is a wonderful thing, but sooner or later you really do have to face things.
(I’ve been watching the recorded episode of Project Runway from last night and feeling like one of those designers, facing a challenge I really don’t want to face.)
I keep wanting life to make sense, and it’s not right now. I’m not sure why — I’m not sure why I ever think it makes sense, or why I want it too right now. I think for now the only way around the chaos that seems weighing down on me is straight through, one foot in front of the other.
So that’s what I’ll do.
I don’t think it’s possible to hide … oh, wait, yes, I do. I do think it’s impossible to push something so far away that I never have to deal with it.
But mostly that’s not an option.
Damn it.

17 thoughts on “Krissie: Are You a Good Wolf, Or a Bad Wolf?

  1. toni says:

    I don’t think the death of a loved one ever actually makes sense. I don’t think it’s supposed to, except maybe when they’re very very old and ready to go. Even then, it hurts.

    I keep looking at the calendar, thinking things like, This time last year, Mike was having his bone marrow transplant. When he–a fifth degree black belt–was really terrified and asked me to stay with him, I did, and kept assuring him all night and the next day that everything was going to be okay. Of course it was going to be okay, because he was my little brother, and I always made things right for him..

    But it wasn’t okay. And he got worse and worse. I see the dates coming up, the milestones we passed, and then the one we didn’t. At least, not together, and it just plain doesn’t make sense. How can I be in this world without my little brother? It was always the two of us against the world. The two of us taking care of each other.

    It just isn’t fair. Or right. Part of me can’t stand it. Part of me knows, intellectually, that life doesn’t always make sense.

    The thing I hang onto, though, is that grief makes me see the things that are important that much more clearly. It makes me really look at, and appreciate, the people around me. Not take them for granted. Not take the time we have together for granted. This is the Good Wolf reminding me. Life just is. That is all. Take it and run.

  2. I don’t know what sort of wolf I am;-)…but my father died on Jan 2 this year and mostly what I’ve felt since is a sense of peace and serenity.

    We had a rotten relationship. From when I was about 10-12, until we saw each for the last time when I was 40, things were mostly bad. This really did torment me until I hit 20, and then on and off until our final disastrous encounter in 2004 and we never spoke to each other again. The night we had this horrible, stupid encounter – it was hardly even a proper fight – we were staying in the same house. I think I mourned that night. I knew absolutely certainly that there was no way back for me, that it was extremely unlikely that we would ever see each other again. Throughout the past 9 years, and especially once my father poisoned the relationship I had with my brother, I have felt all the stages of grief about this family mess, and for the first time in my life, I did some therapy.

    When my brother and sister rang me on 31 December to tell me that my father was in hospital on life support and that if I did want to come and say goodbye, they would welcome me there, all the anger drained away. I went with my sister to DC, we went to the hospital, we said our goodbyes, that night my brother and I were reconciled and the next couple of days I shared with my stepmother, brother and sister.

    Our narratives differ about my father. In my experience, he was an alcoholic, an unfaithful husband to two wives, a fantasist, a narcissist and someone adept at psychological abuse and manipulation with a limited moral compass. He was bitter and vindictive, and pretty much closed off to any joy, pleasure or curiosity. The best I can say about him as a grandfather is that he ignored his two grandsons. He frittered away a gift for writing and a formidable intellect. I could go on. To my stepmother, he was a man more sinned against than sinning.

    All I know is that the narrative doesn’t matter. Whether despite or as a result of my father’s emotional chaos, I’ve built a different family and although of course I mess up as a mother, I do my best not to play the games and spray about the bullshit that was such a significant part of my childhood. I know that because my father is dead, I will never again experience a very special sort of soul-lacerating sorrow. Phew.

  3. JenniferNennifer says:

    Powerful sharing, you guys. (I miss our like button)

    I think grieving can be useful, and regret never is. Which is easy to say and harder to live by.

    As for which wolf am I, I stand by my claim to having two modes – Pollyana and Wicked Witch. I often remind my boss of the alternative when she finds Pollyanna tiresome.

  4. Deborah Blake says:

    *hugs* to you, Toni. I remember when you were going through this, and it just all seemed so hard and unfair. And to you, Krissie. After my boyfriend died years ago, for a long time, those dates haunted me: anniversaries, his birthday, the anniversary of his death. For ten years, I send half a dozen roses to his parents and talked to his mom every year on the date. It’s hard. You just cope the best you can, and try to focus on the good stuff and not the bad. (Take that, BW.)

    Krissie–do you need to read all those old letters, or can you maybe just toss them without looking? *hugs*

  5. Just have to say that when the panic attacks began–my husband had been in a horrible accident on his hour long commute, or that my child had died in her sleep because she’d sounded terrible before she fell asleep and suddenly I couldn’t hear her, or that somehow a bill had fallen through the cracks and a service was going to be turned off because I’d fucked up… that was when my doc said “more prozac–that’s not normal.”

    Don’t let it get out of hand before you talk to someone about it. There’s a limit to “reasonable concern.”

    Today I am a Good Wolf. The sun will rise tomorrow. My opportunities are infinite. (Not easy–I’m not THAT positive–but infinite. 🙂

  6. Sharon says:

    We all have lost loved ones-it is a natural part of life-and of course, we grieve for them in our own way and in our own time. Some of the family members that have gone on before me made horrible choices and did dreadful things to the people they should have loved and cared for. When I think of these people-remembering thru photos, letters or talking with family and friends-I always remind myself that they have gone to a place where their words and actions can no longer hurt the living. That said, I realize that no matter how bad these people were, someone should find ONE kind thing to say about them and to remember them by.

    I decided a long time ago to forget the dates of death and the times of suffering and remember the good times and the good qualities in people. It is SO true that life is too short for regrets, sad thinking and dwelling on past grievances. Try to live a joyous life every day and get rid of the baggage that holds you down and keeps you from moving forward.

  7. Lani says:

    It’ll be okay, honey. It’s really good that you’re processing all of this stuff; it’s important, but it’s also hard. I like the idea of the good wolf by your side as you do.

    Has Richie been to the doctor? Didn’t they say he was fine? With all the stress you guys have been under, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was feeling the effects of that (all those stress hormones work like poison if they’re in the blood too long) and probably just needs rest. But definitely, get him to the doctor to be sure, and then you won’t worry so much.

    I remember when I was going through all my mess, and you said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” For a long time – and still, in stressful moments – I closed my eyes and heard your voice and it made things better. So here’s that gift back to you… I don’t know if I’m as good at it as you are, but I’ll try.

    All shall be well; and
    All shall be well; and all manner of thing
    Shall be well.

    Big love, darlin’. I hope today is an easier day.

  8. Sharon says:

    Lani!!It’s good to see your post. If you have time please tell us all here on Reinventing Fabulous how you are and what’s going on in your world!!

  9. Toni: big hugs to you! I lost my little brother over 30 years ago and it still hurts; it’s just more manageable now. And yeah, it still doesn’t make sense.

  10. Krissie, my heart goes out to you! I, too, always want to make sense of life and the Universe. I want life to be fair: the thing I most often said and thought and felt after my mom died was that it wasn’t fair that now she was free to travel and live her own life, she died. It sucks that life isn’t inherently fair; all we can do is try to be fair ourselves. And accept (which is oh so hard and takes tons of practice, at least for me), as Toni said, that Life Just Is. Trying to make sense just makes us hurt more.

    Have you ever read “It’s Easier Than You Think” by Sylvia Boorstein? She’s a Buddhist and a Jew and her books, especially that one, the first I ever read of hers, teach me and comfort me and help me to learn to accept and stop struggling against what I can’t change. Of course, I haven’t been reading the book for a while, so I’m back to struggling and hurting. You might try reading the book. It might help you feel better.

    I still grieve for my dad and my little brother and my mom. And I grieve for me because I don’t have them in my life anymore. When I feel overcome by it all, I’ve finally learned to reach out to my friends and say “I feel bad. I just need you to know that” and they respond and commiserate and tell me what they love about me. It helps.

    What I love about you Krissie is that you are so amazingly kind and caring and emotionally generous. You so very much want everyone you love to be happy, and you want to help them be happy (even when you can’t). You are a gifted, talented writer and you share your gift with the world. You reach out to and support those of us on ReFab who are in pain or difficult situations. You happily share the spotlight with others. You have a fabulous personality and you allow people to love you (which is another gift, one not everyone has).

    May you feel better soon and be able to let go of the hurts of the past and present like trees let go of dead leaves in the autumn. Be well, very dear Krissie.

  11. Kieran says:

    Lovely posts from women who care! Krissie, as you process your grief, I hope you’ll embrace more than ever whatever rituals you love…spiritual or otherwise. I also think that maybe embarking on something fresh and really challenging–something that allows you to explore new avenues, new voices–might help you grapple with the emotional stuff by working as a counterbalance to it.

    I think that’s why theater was so good for you. I know you quilt, too, but theater is such an in-your-face challenge, you can’t let your thoughts drift (as you can when quilting). So I really hope you’ll get into a show or a very sociable intellectual society (do you have a CS Lewis group up there?) or even a Bible study at your church–something where you’re forced to stay in the present moment.

  12. G and T says:

    I had a tough relationship with my father, as did my sisters. But when he died, I was the only one who was sobbing at the funeral. I think it’s because I recognized that there would be no fixing it, which is a tough thing to hang on to. For most of my life, I think he was depressed and there were many years he didn’t work. He’s been gone about 16 years now and when I think of him, I’m no longer so angry (although my mother did tell me several years after he died that she thought she should apologize to me and my two sisters — all unmarried and without children). I think it’s ingrained that the anger is an energy drain for me, and it’s all about something that wasn’t my fault and that I had control over. That was a bit of work, I don’t mind saying. I inherited my epic ability to carry a grudge from my father, and although his apparent rejection of us, or his inability to fulfill his responsibilities as a parent disappoints me, I don’t carry that grudge. But when men in positions of responsibility disappoint me — colleagues, bosses — there is very little redemption available from me. So maybe I am not as at peace as I could be, I am better than I was. On a side note, I walked away from some high-stress jobs because I recognize that I thrive on stress and adrenaline, and when I don’t have it, I seek it.

    So talk to someone. It’s one thing to process and be done. It’s quite another when you can’t be done yet.

  13. Wishing you comfort and peace, so here’s an Irish blessing for you:

    Deep peace of the running water to you.
    Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
    Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
    Deep peace, deep peace.

  14. Micki says:

    This is a very true thing, too. And a very, very sad thing to be the sort of person whose death is a time of relief rather than a time of mourning. I know I look at my own life a little differently after my difficult father died. How do I want to be remembered?

  15. Micki says:

    I think fall is a time for memories. And Halloween, which is around the corner, is traditionally a time to honor the dead — and there’s a reason why some of those ghosts and skeletons are really scary bastards.

    But, if you are overwhelmed, you need to check in with your doctors and make sure everything is balanced on that front. It’s important to face the pain, but when the pain spirals out of control, it’s important to reign it in by whatever means — friends, therapists, pharmaceuticals.

    Hang in there.

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