Posted by: scintillatingspeck | December 8, 2012


In yesterday’s post I wrote, “First, we grieve.  There is no way around this.”  I’m wasting no time in taking my own advice.  It doesn’t feel like a choice.  But here I am, gutted and gasping, and because I must be some kind of emotional-devastation exhibitionist, I’m writing about it, in the hope that it will keep my heart from splattering explosively across the walls, and also perhaps give others permission to do the important work of grieving.

Like so many other instances of grieving in my life, this one hurtles with dreadful momentum down a slope, a giant ball of mud, gathering up painful shards of every other previous loss, trauma, and injustice.  Do I have to revisit all of them?  Apparently so.  Slam!  There is the time I felt utterly humiliated for wetting my pants at a new school at age eight, because I was too shy to ask permission to go to the bathroom.  Slam!  There is a former neighbor a few years ago, mocking my concern about peak oil to other neighbors, turning my anguish into a joke.  Slam!  There is the realization that a huge percentage of my life was spent desperately attempting to fit into this sick culture, jumping through ridiculous hoops, believing lies, slicing away the most authentic parts of my heart, chasing mirages of “success”, all because I wanted to feel just barely good enough rather than disgustingly inadequate.

Interesting, how the grief almost always manifests in some detailed, personal way.  The murder of entire species, let alone the entire biosphere, seems impossibly huge and abstract, along with the appalling amount of everyday murder and suffering of humans and other beings; that is the horror that underlies all of the grief, a wrap-around backdrop that can’t be viewed all at once.  My limited psyche seizes onto the closest examples of suffering at hand, ones I can experience directly and intimately, as an alternative route to accessing the reservoir of emotional expression.  Forgive me, then, for what seems like a narcissistic stance, focusing on my own anguish.  It’s what I’ve got.  I haven’t forgotten that my little life is insignificant.

I am in pain.  I woke up this morning, felt achingly bereft and lonely, and cried a hot river of tears onto my bedsheets.  I stepped into the shower and the sensation of hot water on my skin acted like an amplifier of every last shred of longing and need; I surrendered to my own sobbing, grateful for water, grateful to have a body at all, and still it was all I could do to keep from yelping out my sense of abject deprivation.  I want to stay in that moment, under the caressing water, devastated and alone, because it grants me access to the voice of outrage, the voice of passionate engagement, the voice torn from a subterranean place in my chest, the voice that howls and growls in animal indignation.  That gravelly, wordless voice, it cannot be suppressed, along with the rushing rivulets of tears.  Frog medicine, a friend told me.  Honor the tears as soul-cleansing, refilling the coffers.  I’m in the river, and here I shall stay.



  1. As has been said “Mine is the hand that holds the rope that drags me on”. Letting go brings a modicum of relief; by “letting go” even of “letting go”one truly lets go.

    • So I suppose I’m torturing myself, then. All I have to do is let go, and it will go away? Can you show me where this rope is, and my hands, so I can let go of the damn thing? How much more do I have to let go of? How am I supposed to do that? How hard do I have to try? No, wait, you will tell me there’s no “trying” and I don’t know how the FUCK I’m supposed to do that. Sorry, Robin, I’m raging and anguished. I know you are making an offering. I don’t know what to do with it.

  2. Sometimes an individual act of atrocity by someone else throws the whole species into relief.

    I just read in Orion (Nov-Dec issue) about the bluefin tuna, which is near extinction. But it is a delicacy, in Japan, and companies like Mitsubishi have harvested many bluefin and stocked them, frozen, so the more rare it is, the more their stock is worth. Marine biologists have asked it be put on the endangered list so it can be protected – not caught, not sold (this at CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Japan was against it. The evening before the vote, which Japan won, the Japanese embassy served delegates a dinner of bluefin tuna.

    I read this to my husband, adding “the mind boggles”. But I *knew* (I didn’t say it, but I know it):

    it is time for us to go.

    • Oof, Kaat. Yes.
      Let that grief and anger fuel your work, while there is time.

  3. As long as one harbours expectations, one is bound by them. Both joy and sorrow are distorted by them.

  4. Kaat, as I read your first sentence “Sometimes an individual act of atrocity by someone else throws the whole species into relief.” I wondered which definition of ‘relief’ you meant. The sentence takes on entirely different, and equally valid, meanings, I think. And I agree with you. It is time for us to go.

  5. Jen, I think sometimes we have to stay exactly where we are. Experience the place. Not pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and move along. Part of the indoctrination we all get from the moment we are born is to stop crying. Stop flailing our arms about. Stop kicking our legs. Stop yelling and screaming and just quiet down there now, young lady. Instead, learn how to control and contain. Learn how to keep from making everyone around us uncomfortable. Learn how to bury our emotions and thought.

    Personally, I think that is not very healthy. I think we need to unlearn a bunch of crap. Go ahead and feel gutted, Jen. It’s ok. I’ll be here with you nodding my head, smiling, and being a loving presence. I’ll be here asking you what you need and how I can help you to follow your pain through to the light, wherever it takes you and however long it takes.

    This is a crucial part of the work of destroying the dominant culture. This is a crucial part of the emergence of you.

    • Liag, I feel your presence, and I will go ahead and cry my eyes out a while.

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