Coping skills

Thursday, October 13, 2011

People deal with their grief in many different ways. Some people take more healthy avenues to cope with their emotions (i.e. talking to a supportive friend, praying, volunteer work, ect.) while others take a less rational approach to eliminating their sadness (i.e. alcohol, drugs, rebellious behavior, ect.). Anytime I've experienced personal trauma in my life, my coping skills typically fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

I don't do drugs, I don't drink (much), but I also don't always have enough common sense to just talk about what I'm feeling rather than stuffing it down inside and saving it for a rainy, explosive day.

When I'm feeling lost or blue, I try to shake those feelings by working out, baking, and searching for online videos of beagle puppies.

When my mom called me on Tuesday night and told me that my godfather passed away, I had an incredibly delayed reaction. I wasn't sure what to say. I wanted to comfort my mother who sounded upset, but I also wanted to figure out how I was going to process the news. Unlike when I found out that my grandparents and cousin past away, my entire nervous system completely shut down and I felt absolutely nothing, as if my new survival guide was to get through whatever was coming by going through it completely numb.

Clay was out with his friends and I had just come home from yoga class, so I was alone in the apartment when I got the news. After hanging up with my mom, I got up off the couch and went to finish preparing my dinner. In the few steps it took to get into the kitchen, I was hit with a flood of memories of my godparents hanging out at our house, back when my parents were married and my family was still intact, playing euchre and Trivial Pursuit into the early hours of the morning. I remembered the four of them sitting around the kitchen table together, telling the same jokes and stories and laughing like it was the first time they had ever been told. I remembered my Uncle Walter's distinct, belly-rumbling laugh, a laugh that I could hear echoing through the house long after I had been tucked into bed. And it was there, standing barefoot in my kitchen and peering into the door of the microwave that I realized I wasn't numb at all.

So yesterday I started looking for ways to cheer myself up and get my mind away from the inevitable emptiness that comes with losing someone you love. Since I was at work and had very limited resources, I did the only thing I could think of to bring an instant smile to my face:


I'm not sure if you know this or not, but sleepy beagle puppies are the secret to ending all wars and eliminating poverty and world hunger. Dogs and cats are often times brought into nursing homes or hospice centers to offer patients some joy and comfort. It's clinically proven that petting an animal can elevate your mood. Another example of why I should have a puppy in my pocket at all times. 

After work I took to the trails with Mandy for a round of fartleks. By the time I hit the pavement, my legs were craving a run, feeling desperate to sweat the worry, stress and sadness right out of my my body. I cranked my music up loud and sprinted fearlessly, almost believing for a minute that if I ran fast enough, I could leave my problems in the dust forever. At the end of our workout I felt exhausted and depleted, and it felt good.

When I got home I wanted to keep my hands busy, so I went to the kitchen and started gathering ingredients for pumpkin cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting. I'm sure that "eating your feelings" is greatly frowned upon, but when you're spooning rich frosting or cake batter into your mouth, you're willing to believe it's possible. By the time I had two trays of cupcakes out of the oven and frosted, my eyelids were heavy and I was ready to lay down. I snuggled up with a blanket, turned on a documentary about the food industry, and finally felt my shoulders relax for the first time all day. Courtney was no longer human, but now a puddle of goo melting into the cushions of her new sofa.

And I slept like a baby.

****

And on another, almost equally depressing note, I will be turning 26 tomorrow. So please, don't expect a blog post from me. I will most likely be curled up in the fetal position muttering about "the good ole' days" or standing in front of the bathroom mirror plucking my gray hairs and crying old lady tears down the wrinkles in my face.

Actually, I'm not as bothered by this birthday as I thought I would be. Clayton said I will officially be in my late 20s, but I don't agree with him.  I think that 26 is still considered your mid-20s. In fact, I think ages 20-23 are your early 20s, 24-26 are your mid-20s, and 27-29 are the years you start buying cats and collecting social security because you are officially in your late 20s. 25 can't be the only year in your mid-20s. If it were, then that time in your life would be called your mid-20 ... singular. But it's not. It's plural. So shut up, Clayton.

These are facts. 

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1 comments

  1. I would like to give you encouraging words, so here goes....I am 53, and I just ran my 14th half-marathon last May. I am contemplating running my 2nd Marathon, having completed one in 1996. Age is all in your head...and in MY head...I am perpetually 23-27...or thereabouts! Happy Birthday, Dear Courtney! (I am Molly's Mom, but I didn't know how to post except as Anonymous!) Hang in there, Young Grasshopper! xo

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