The therapist asked me today to ponder if I'm afraid of not being strong. We talked about my yearning to be cared for tenderly. Actually it started by my saying that I think I'm coping pretty well despite my grief. She asked what it would be like to not be doing well, and if I was scared of that. We talked about that for a bit. I don't know how to not do well. I've wanted to have a complete breakdown, but I don't. Not completely. I pull myself together eventually. A few times I've had to reach out for help, like the day my executive director came up to my office and helped me stand up and move about because I was so paralyzed with grief. But I usually know the tools to use when I get in that place, and if I don't remember the tools at the time, I remember to get help from someone who can remind me.
But she wants me to explore that concept. Am I afraid of not coping, of not being strong, or not handling it all?
I told her I get exhausted from it. Far from being afraid of it, I so desperately wanted to not be coping that I tried to become anorexic in the winter just to prove it, but that didn't last. Why would I be anorexic? It's not good for my body or anything else, I told myself, and besides, I love food too much! So, yay for the 18 lbs I lost and for my new size 4 and size 6 clothes, but I'm afraid even grief can't keep my hand out of the cookie jar forever, I started eating again just fine.
So, I don't think it's fear of not being strong so much as not knowing how to be any other way. And then of course I see how I've always been the strong one. Oldest child, oldest grandchild, I had to be strong when my parents went through their mess and my mom was in the hospital over it. Thirty-some years of patterns are hard to break. It's not about fearing so much as not knowing any other way.