A week ago today, I broke up with my boyfriend, the love of the life, the man who I have been totally committed too for the past 3 years. And I am NOT happy about it. In fact, my heart is shattered into little bitty pieces, and I am simply overwhelmed with sadness. The only other time I have felt this level of grief is when my beloved Grammy died, the Erudite Mom's mom, 7 years ago. The sinking feeling in the stomach, the constant flow of tears, the lethargy, the listlessness, the inability to think about anything other than the vast maw of misery. It took me a couple of years to even start to recover from Grammy's death.
Grief is a universal emotion, we all will experience it at some time in our lives, and it has absolutely nothing to do with being a Spectrumite or a Neurotypical or male or female or Schizophrenic or Depressed. Grief simply is. It is part of the human race, part of being what we are, and is unavoidable.
This time, however, my period of grief coincided with the last three weeks of a very interesting and very challenging Anatomy/Physiology summer school course, three weeks in which I have taken or will take 2 midterms, two lab practicals, a project, and a final exam. Clearly, Erudite though I may be, I need all of my mental capacity to take tests AND I need to be able to study and learn and process and remember vast amounts of information.
Baaaaaaddd timing. Life, however, doesn't usually give you good timing. And in an attempt to get my mind focused and flexible and capable, I started to ask myself about the process of grieving, how I cope, and if I have different coping skills being on the Autism Spectrum. (I also wondered about the physiological processes that cause you to cry when you grieve as crying (or lacrimation!) is about flushing out the eyes which is part of our bodies innate defense system, but I digress).
I have learned that I have to give myself at least a day, sometimes longer, to do absolutely nothing but wallow in bed and cry. Exercise is good for relieving stress and grief, but I've learned that when it is really bad, for the first day or so I just can't do anything. I've learned to allow myself this time. I'm no good to anyone or to myself at all, absolutely incapable of rational or practical thought, and in the two times of extreme grief I expressed above I get to the point where I can actually barely walk.
After that, well, I go through the motions of life. I never want to. I want to just stay in bed. But knowing that I can't, I force myself to get up with the alarm, study and work, exercise and cook and eat. And check google+ and catch up on current events on PJTV. To pet the cats, and feed the lizard. And yes, you go through these actions numbly. But it is better to go through the motions numbly than to not do them at all. Exercise especially does have positive benefit, if only to help burn the calories you often over consume when really upset. So do cats. Nothing loves you more unconditionally than a cat.
The mental process is much more difficult. We Aspies obsess. That old saw 'just don't think about it' probably doesn't work for most people, and it most especially doesn't work for me. And the mechanisms of trying not to think about it, trying to block off the emotion, trying to have a positive attitude because that will make the pain lessen and go away faster, just don't work! Not that those are bad things, but my obsessive personality, my self-awareness, and my highly linear if emotional mind means that if life sucks, it SUCKS, and I can't imagine that it doesn't. Nor can I pretend to be happy when I am not. Nor can I clear the thoughts from my mind.
So I am sitting here thinking hey, I have an A in my class so far. I've had good talks with friends and family. I've had some good luck I praise God for in other areas of my life. And I don't want to diminish the positive in my life. But none, NONE of that distracts me very long from the grief, and the hurt, and the anger. Because reality is reality no matter how you try and handle it.--though, admittedly, writing this post has been somewhat cathartic.
If I had to guess, I would guess that my way of handling grief is common, and not limited to those who have Asperger's. The neurotypicals who read this post, please comment below. I'd love to hear your take on it.
And please either pray hard or think positive thoughts, whatever may be your wont, that the Erudite boyfriend and I can work things out. Hope should spring eternal, no matter what.
God bless you all,