My Grief, Resentment & Desire for Happiness

Update 10/10/11: I know this was a hard one to respond to, but I really appreciate the notes you’ve left and just the good energy you always send my way. Some days I’m down and some days I’m up and I guess that’s life (like in the song). Trying to have more of those up moments, and more joyful posts coming your way.

The original Frank Sinatra version feels more raw and real. Don’t you just love that swagger? The way the lyrics are delivered feels like he reads the human condition with pin point accuracy. But I do love the Michael Buble version as perhaps it’s a generational thing and I find it more uplifting, being more melodic, with the gospel choir and big band supporting his vocals. Especially the crescendo and going up to a different key at the end. Love it.

What I wrote yesterday 9/10/11 (Warning: just me ‘unloading’ – skip it if you don’t want to feel too dragged down by my blues):

I just started writing and this turned out to be one of my most personal and reflective posts so far. I am very self conscious about it and it has been in draft mode as I hesitate to hit the publish button. (If you’re reading this, I’ve bitten the bullet and hit publish)

I am still holding back as there is a lot that is too painful or revealing at this point. I also feel deeply embarrassed somehow. Embarrassed that I am such a flawed human being. I thought I would have it all together in my 40’s, but I don’t. Perhaps it’s too self indulgent, but part of the reason why I started this blog is to reveal thoughts that are hard to relate face to face. To record things down before I am unable to. I also want this blog to help others out there who may be going through similar experiences. When life gets too unbearable, I want them to know that they are not alone.

Sometimes when I am feeling low, I try to dissect why that is so and how I can lift myself out of the blues. My early childhood, before I went to school, was a time of pure joy. A time when I felt completely and utterly safe. I felt like the luckiest child around because I knew not everyone had that. As a child the song ‘Nobody’s Child’ made me so sad. I didn’t want any child to be in that situation and couldn’t bear it.

I recall the point in my life when I was happy to the point of being blissful and I yearn for my early adulthood. I had finished with school and felt the liberation of financial independence and fulfillment in my vocation and being surrounded by kind people. Everything was just good and I was living the blessed life. Here are some of the things I recall from that time, that now seems so long ago:

1. Had faith that there was a higher spiritual power and that everything would work out in the end – loss my faith in the moment it was confirmed my father had passed away
2. Was full of hope and looked forward to the next day and not dread waking up to a day of anxiety
3. I saw only the good in people. My first instinct was to trust, even though I was sometimes warned not to be naive.
4. Always happy when I spent time in a natural as opposed to urban setting. Holidays were about being in nature and relaxing and not ticking things off a list.
5. I had an endless store of patience.
6. Had a sense of mission and purpose – a clear idea of where I wanted to go and the absolute confidence that I could get there.

Please allow me to be extra indulgent here for a moment as I want to be as authentic to my feelings as possible.

Since then my life has been shattered. Lost my father when I was barely in my 30’s, a time when life was just beginning and my energy was at it’s peak. All my hopes and dreams were tied to his being in the picture. Everything I did, was for him. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s always too soon. From that moment on, I was altered forever, and it left a gaping hole in me. Loss that I find hard to come back from.

Time made it easier to cope (probably a lot has been suppressed over the years just like a scar that forms over a wound), but it’s an unfair myth that time will completely heal you. It would also be a disservice to expect this of those who grieve. And if you’re grieving, the worse thing someone could tell you is “Life goes on, you have to move on”. Another thing never to say to someone who is grieving for a loved one is “you need to be strong”. Just say you’re sorry for their loss and give them space to breathe. They don’t expect anything more. The most comforting thing someone said to me was sharing their own loss and revealing that you learn to cope over time, but you never ever get over it. In that way he did not diminish, and was respectful of my grief.

I absolutely loathe that funerals in my community have become more about rituals that don’t mean anything to me and fake people who always turn up at funerals and don’t sincerely care about the deceased. They are preoccupied with ‘showing face’ or even ‘marking attendance’. It really fills me with rage that these vultures exist. Horrible people that prey off the sorrow of others. I am sorry, but I feel very strongly about this and need to say my peace and this is my best avenue to do so. I am enraged also because I what my mother had to endure. I am saying these unpleasant things so that other victims who feel similarly oppressed and bullied at the time they need it the least won’t feel so alone. Man made rituals imposed by people who like to show off that they know best and impose their will on others in their greatest moment of vulnerability. With no respect for the people who are closest to the departed. This kind of behaviour caused me so much trauma and is one of the reasons I suffer from post traumatic stress.

Don’t mean to be morbid, but I have to talk about this. One day when I’m ‘snuffed out’, I would want minimal discomfort to anyone. I’m no longer there, so seriously, don’t worry about me. It’s everyone else who is suffering. And why would I want anyone I love to suffer or to extend their pain. Some of my cousins, my mum and uncle shared that they feel the same way, in moments of contemplation. For me, this is what I want – just dispose of the ‘body’ in which I spent my life, as quickly as possible and get back to your life as soon as you can. I don’t want you to be burdened entertaining people who feel obliged to visit, but were not necessarily close to the departed. This is a time when you need all the time and privacy and zero intrusions. Why can’t people understand that? I think it’s best for people to grieve privately. It’s the only way to heal. The expectations of other people in moments of public grieving cause so much unnecessary stress. Often people who can’t cry are cruelly judged, even though you have no idea how much they hurt.

One thing I know for sure – the body is just a vessel. The shell is not the person you loved. Another consoling thought is that he went peacefully, quickly, and it is how I would want to go. My darling father also never grew old and never suffered through incapacitation. Something I would want for myself too. I think that’s how I console myself now. I still have no idea how I made it through the worst day of my life, but I did.

I have also lost trust in people due to being betrayed time and time again. Each time I trusted all over again, but I think my store has been depleted in the recent years. What people refer to as the last straw on the camel’s back. My patience has worn thin, as I became increasingly aware of people taking advantage of me. I have become afraid of people due to this and the at times cruel judgement and imposition of their views about what my life should be. I feel trapped and like a prisoner in my own life and a lot of resentment as a result. I just want to be free from all constraints.

It’s definitely not healthy – the state I’m in. But I have to remind myself that there are still good kind people out there. People who don’t zap you of your energy. If you’re reading or if you’ve commented in the past, I want you to know that you help me, and I thank you for it. Positive words equate to positive energy. I am trying very hard to banish negativity from my life and I don’t want to be the source of it either. It’s really hard though, but I hope to document it.

I hope to find out more about meditation as I think that will help. I am not religious in the conventional or organized sense, but I do believe in spirituality as shown in the movie ‘The Tree of Life’. I believe there are a lot of things and unknown dimensions that Science cannot yet explain. I don’t think time is a straight line, and have often experienced deja vu when I was younger. I want to believe in the continuity of our spirits. I never imagined that I would be so moved to tears by that movie, but I was. It transported me back to the safety and happiness of my childhood and the utter devotion of parents. The cinematography is stunning and I think Brad Pitt gave his best performance. All the actors, including the child actors in it were raw and real. It’s an impressionistic story that tries to convey emotions through the visuals rather than through the dialogue itself which is often muted. To me, the muted voices were a reflection of thoughts running through our minds. It’s about the question we all grapple with – the meaning of life, coping with unbearable loss, and a yearning for an afterlife. The yearning to be with our loved ones for eternity. Terrance Malick is now, one of my favourite directors. His earlier movie, The New World, captivated me deeply as well.

I sincerely wish that this post has not been too much of a downer. I really hope to document ways to move from despair to a happier place. I think that would be my best mission for now.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore helps me survive the mid-life crisis
This entry was posted in Midlife Musings, Movies, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to My Grief, Resentment & Desire for Happiness

  1. Laura says:

    I feel like I’m not sure what to say to you for the best, other than that you’ll get to that happier place in your own way and at a pace that is right for you I’m sure.

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thanks so much Laura….you said it perfect….made me feel loads better already πŸ™‚ It’s just the positive vibes, really do help.

  2. 365days2play says:

    I’m sorry you are feeling so down. It sounds like something uncontrollable because some days your posts are filled with happy thoughts and pictures. I hope you find a way to get out of your depression.

    I never knew that there would be nasty people going to funerals just to gloat or enjoy the spectacle? My grandfather just passed away a week ago. It was a pretty quiet funeral held at the void deck of the hdb. For the Chinese, funerals are not auspicious events and anyone who isn’t there to pay their sincere last respects would most definitely not attend!

    • bookjunkie says:

      Because the community is small, there are some intrusive people who are very distant relatives who insist on poking their noses into every situation. It’s really tiresome.

      I am so sorry to hear about your grandpa.

      I think my feelings fluctuate from day to day. Am trying to have more happy days πŸ™‚ Thanks for always coming by…..I feel happy when I see your comments at one go.

  3. Lady J says:

    Whoever said life was easy? It most certainly isn’t easy but I guess that’s what makes it colourful. The ups and downs that we experience in life makes for interesting chapters to write about. I don’t know what else to say for I’m constantly in search of happiness myself but that don’t always come by. So for me, I celebrate the little joys in life.. πŸ™‚

    I hope you feel better soon… I’m channeling positive vibes and sending them virtually to you as I do my little walk in the cold today here in Geneva ok? πŸ™‚

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thank you dear….reading this I already feel those positive vibes πŸ™‚

      Hope to post more joyful stuff and do more positive thinking. Have you any experience with stuff like meditation. Very interested to find out more about alternative healing like this.

      But sometimes I find talking about the troubling things helps….gets a load off me.

      • notabilia says:

        I’ve done quite a bit of meditation (in various forms) and it works. It has help me find ‘my center’ when life has seemed all over the place. Again, if you want to talk about this in detail, you know how to reach me.

        • bookjunkie says:

          It’s good to hear from someone that it does work. I like the idea of finding my center. Gives me hope.

          Already I feel calmer after reading some literature on it.

          Thanks so much Notabilia πŸ™‚

  4. Lady J says:

    I wish I could provide some insight to meditation but doubt I will be of any help. I tried meditation once but my mind keeps wandering off. I get too distracted easily.. hehe.

    I know what you mean, it’s like lifting off something heavy off your chest. It does work for me too… so write away! πŸ˜‰

    • bookjunkie says:

      I think I’ll be easily distracted too ;-p Tried it once with a video and it felt calming but I never quite got to the stage of real meditation. Just a moment of peace and quiet.

      Reminded me of sessions at the end of an aerobic workout at the gym, which used to be my favourite part, you get to lie down and relax while they played soothing music. That I recall felt very good. Another way is when you get a massage – heavenly when you are at the point of deep relaxation and on the verge of sleep. I wonder if meditation alone can achieve that effect & more. Will let you know once I get more into it πŸ™‚

  5. R64 says:

    The loss of your father sounds like it’s been a really tough time. I’m fortunate that my father is still alive, but through the pain I felt when I lost a dear friend at a young age, I know how inconsiderate or useless some of the “advice” or empty phrases of sympathy can be. It’s a time when you’ll learn who you true loved ones are, and who the fakes are.

    I think it’s brave you took one step closer to happiness (by lack of another word, for I’m sure “happiness” doesn’t capture the complexity of the true goal you want to achieve) by sharing this story. In a way, it brought a smile to my face, as I recognize so much of my own journey to “happiness” in this β€” and your previous β€” stories. It’s like seeing somebody swim toward the beach, exhausted, blinded by tiredness, beat down by the constant thrashing of the waves, unaware of how far they have to swim before they will finally feel steady ground under their feet again β€” and you’re looking back on them from shallow water, knowing it’s only a few more meters. Maybe 10, maybe 50, maybe a 100 β€” it’s always hard to guess if you’re looking at somebody else. And it might only be your toes that touch the sand at first, and maybe you’ll need to swim a little more before you can actually stand (and knowing life, you’ll probably stand on a sharp rock or get stung by a jellyfish too) but eventually you’ll hit steady ground and you’ll be able to keep your head above water, and then slowly the rest of your body, until you walk out of the water, sit on the dry sand, smile, look back at the wild sea, and say “that was rough, but I made it”. Right now, you look so close to where my toes first felt sand.

    Anyway, I don’t want this to be some long-winded post, making you think I have the answer and all (I’m far from perfect), but I just want to say: keep your head up, and make sure that once you leave this earth, you leave behind a vessel that has a big f*cking grin on its face!!

    • bookjunkie says:

      R64 I really so appreciate your sharing of your heart here. I think when you lose someone dear at a young age it can be terribly devastating and I am so sorry you had to go through the pain. For me the sweet memories I had with my loved one sustained me. Also the knowing that I was so lucky to be so loved.

      I love the metaphor of the swimming in the sea as the journey we all take. I am visualizing it in my mind as I read your note. It is rather calming I must say.

      thank you πŸ™‚

  6. Anne says:

    oh dear. years ago when i went through a similar trauma of my dearest loved ones passing away, i had similar thoughts. i had resented the tradition of facing all the people who came with us to mourn. but during that time. all i wanted was to be alone with my family and to attend to my own grief alone. though i appreciated their presence and offer for sympathy, i do not understand why i need to entertain and make them comfortable. i want my peace and i want my moment of grief when it is still tender and aching.

    do not apologize for over indulging. sharing pieces of you helps. it helps reveal your true feelings and it help us discover the way through… i am certain you will find your way to happiness again just as i have. grief is a natural process… we are here to help you… take care.

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thanks so much for the affirmation Anne and also for sharing your own very painful loss. You really are a sweet person, and I only feel good vibrations when you leave a note πŸ™‚

  7. Yen says:

    Hi. I chanced upon your blog from Imp’s. Sorry to hear about your loss and how it’s affecting you. I hope you will find the light within you soon. πŸ™‚

    As for meditation, it’s not the case that it’s bad if you are distracted. It’s really about learning awareness and watching your thoughts, and letting go of the thoughts as they come without judging them, without grabbing at them, and letting go gently without being harsh on yourself for having the thoughts. I believe it would help you to learn to let go of the pain you feel as well. My friends highly recommend the mediation retreats from http://www.dhamma.org/ Hope this helps.

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thank you so much Yen. You name reminds me of Zen πŸ™‚

      Loved how you put it – light within you. sounds very calming and that’s the very thing I seek πŸ™‚

      I think my thoughts come too fast and furious. You have made me even more earnest about wanting to lean more about meditation and becoming more aware. Thanks for the recommendation as well – will check it out.

  8. Crystal says:

    I’m sorry you’re struggling.

    Like you, I mark the loss of a loved one as the moment when my innocence and blind faith were shattered. My maternal grandmother died the summer before I started 7th grade (so I was 11 going on 12). I’d grown up living in her house (my mum was only 22 when she had me, so we’d almost always lived with my grandparents as she was barely more than a kid herself) and in many ways she was my strongest maternal figure. She died of complications relating to the removal of a brain tumor (most likely a clot) but all I could think of was that we’d gone shopping the day before she went into the hospital and that she’d wanted to go home…I’d begged (as 11 year olds do) for just “one more store”…and that somehow it was all my fault. Of course it wasn’t, and I understand that now, but no one could get through to me as a kid.

    It was also around then that I really began to question my religious faith. I’d been a fairly good Catholic. Sure, I’d gotten into trouble when I decided not to make my first communion…mostly because the priest couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer to the question of “why can’t I be the Pope when I grow up” (power hungry much?) and his answer that a woman couldn’t be the Pope hadn’t sat well with me at 8/9/whatever. I tried to find solace in my faith, but I couldn’t help but keep noticing that we didn’t agree on much. And after one “single parents are evil/sins of the father=sins of the child” lecture, I left for good. It took me years and years of exploring every faith I encountered to accept that I’m an atheist. Which is what works for me and isn’t right for everyone.

    After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather grew fairly emotionally distant from us (and we no longer lived with him). He was the only dad figure I’d known and I was really hurt.

    I spent years turning all that frustration and sadness inward. I now also understand that my mental illness was surfacing…bipolar disorder often comes out in puberty.

    I remember one day in college, when I was walking to my dorm on a crisp fall day, and realized “I’m happy in this moment.” It was practically a miracle as I’d spent so many days just trying to survive.

    Even today, I have to choose, as you do, to try to be positive. Small setbacks can shake me far more than I’d ever want to admit.

    You’re not alone…and there are plenty of us who care for you and about you.

    • bookjunkie says:

      I don’t know how you survived what you did. 11 years old is just a baby. I would be suffering from worse than Post Traumatic Stress as well, if I had to go through such a tough childhood. Your grandma sounds like she was practically your mum – boy that must have hit you hard. I understand completely when you talked about feelings of guilt (although irrational, I have them too and just can’t shake it off at times). I kept wishing I had been nicer to my dad and I kept wishing for a do-over where I would do everything right.

      I too had that innocence and blind faith and I kinda miss those times as it made life easier and so much less complicated. I think I need that crutch of faith or just knowing there is something bigger out there.

      Reading some stuff related to meditation/ living a more simple zen life and it makes me feel calmer so I’ll continue to explore that. Some days I tell myself to think positive, but it’s like climbing a hill depending on the life situation at the time. Other days it’s easier.

      Crystal you really are a sweetheart and I can always feel your kindness. It’s also very clear what a wonderful loving mum you are. I am really glad the world has people like you in it πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *