I gotta say it’s damn nice being nowhere near the NYC Marathon. I received a text from Alexandra today: “Today is the marathon. Thinking of you and how far you have come. XO.” I knew it was the marathon before I heard the “dink dink” from my phone. It’s a milestone day, I guess, where we’re prone to reflect where we were once, and where we are now. If you read through my past entries, dated a year ago, today, you’ll see these anniversaries served as markers, mile markers, measuring how far I’d come. It’s why we call them milestones. But let me tell you what it’s not, what I’m not. I’m not one of those people who is going to define herself by her catastrophes, or by the sad that has burrowed into my life. I’m not going to mark my life in the deaths of things or people. I know some people who still set the dinner table for loved ones who’ve died. I cannot imagine their sorrow. This isn’t about the Miss Havishams of the world who clearly need help. It’s about those of us who stew in it because we think it helps to define us. I don’t believe life is about grieving.
Every experience, the good and bad, every person who has touched my life is worth remembering, but it’s not worth dwelling. There’s a difference between expressing a memory of a loved one and not being over it. Some people, somewhere inside themselves, think the sadness brings them closer, helps to honor the people that came before. Being sad, still, proves how much it meant. It’s almost a temper tantrum to prove your point. See? I still hurt! That’s how important the event was in my life. The sadness brings them closer, connected. It’s proof. Guess what, shit happens, and sometimes it really sucks, and we can miss and ache and feel sad, but at a certain point, what is the point? Yes, it’s the NYC Marathon again, the anniversary for me, the day my life changed as I knew it. Good.
“Good grief,” as I’ve written in Straight Up and Dirty. It’s about time to let it go. I’m no longer living my life in anniversaries of what was. I think the people who do this are giving themselves an excuse to wallow. “I’m allowed to feel sad today.” Why? Because something shitty happened a year ago? I understand profound sadness, but gearing up for it, anticipating the anniversary of it, is just added drama. Live your life in the now. The then always catches up when we’re not looking, not on anniversaries or anticipated events, but on the sidelines, in found letters, slipped between tattered books. In perfume scents on strangers, in songs, in dreams that might haunt us. Grief might find a way to sneak in, but we needn’t very well invite it into our lives, offering it a place mat and coordinating napkin ring. At a certain point, that shit should be left off your table. But I think it’s up to each of us to figure out when that point is, when is it still just an excuse to wallow and feel like shit, just because you’re entitled? You’re not special because you’ve overcome the shit that’s been thrown on your door. It doesn’t make you unique that you’ve turned crap into craptastic. You’re special and unique because you were born that way, at the very beginning, before all your “life-defining” moments. Don’t find a reason to grip the bad because you think it defines who you are now.
*As an aside, this site isn’t called Greek Tragedy because I think my life is tragic. It was named such, in part because of my Greek heritage, and in part because the “Greek system tragedy” that happened to me in college was all about how to handle rejection, which is a life lesson, one I explore often on this blog because I think so much of how we handle rejection hangs on our self-esteem, a subject about which I’ve always been fascinated.
Looking for more on the topic of grief? Check out Win or Lose Love.