My counselor has been trying to help me understand the difference between mourning and melancholy. Melancholy is a sadness that pivots around two phrases: “if only” and “yeah, but.” So, we’ll say to ourselves, “If only I had seen it coming,” or, “If only they had stood up for me.” It’s not that these aren’t important things to wrestle with, but in melancholy “if only” is tinged with a hopeless regret. The illusion is that if we re-visit the loss through “if-only’s”, then we can almost connect with the lost thing, person, or dream.
Mourning, is still aware of the “if only” feelings but it works through the unthinkableness of the loss, works through it toward acceptance. And, it’s not a casual acceptance, it’s an acceptance that involves a profound sorrow, a shuddering sense of loss and pain that faces into the FINALITY of what is gone. It really is gone and there is no getting it back. In mourning is when we grieve. But in grieving we can also hold onto our Hope.
Ok, so I understand that on paper but how in the heck do I get to grief from where I am now?
I have always envied others that have the ability to cry. Of course I experience sadness but it touches me briefly then quickly flies away. This probably has something to do with my mental illness, Dissociative Identity Disorder. I dissociated during the abuse at the hands of my father so now my most common emotion is numbness. Can you even call numbness an emotion? I know being able to numb myself during the abuse helped me survive but now it is blocking my healing.
One thing that we discussed yesterday was me being able to see my Dad for who he really is. For some shitty reason I am still clinging to him as a father (figuratively) and am refusing to let go of the idea that somewhere in my childhood there must be ONE good memory of him.
Why can’t I let go?
I guess it’s scary to think of a childhood with only a brutal, sexually abusing father. A die hard narcissistic man who used people for pure enjoyment. A man that tied his daughter’s hands up at age 6 to brutalize her. Whose Dad does that?
Yes, I know the truth, but to come out and say that I lived with a terrorist that purposely sought me out at every opportunity to dehumanize me is frightening. How did I survive? Only by splitting off…each alter getting a different abuse and emotion because one child could not carry all of that pain. So, I need to be able to say that life for me back then was death.
Death at the hands of my own father.