Was feeling badly for myself and looking for a sympathy card but couldn’t find one for this particular situation…go figure. So I made one.
You would think I would get that it’s hard to let go. “DENIAL!” as my wife liked to say, “it’s not just a river in Egypt.” It is one of the verifiable stages of grief. It is also what I have been experiencing for the last few months, when I thought about ending my stint as Captain Grief. Half Baked was easy as I already had that in the can from January. Funny Valentine was celebratory, vital and invigorating for me, but in the end it was my attempt at BARGAINING. I knew it was time to let her High Flying Adventures go but I stalled, and anguished as major changes in my life were fixing to roll in. I was definitely a rabbit in the headlight of life, but now, I think I have to let go of the GUILT and find ACCEPTANCE.
I have been feeling very guilty about moving away from Captain Grief. She provided so much laughter and solace this past year, and she gave me a reason and a vehicle to write after Kara died. She was like the most awesome cane, not only did it prop me up but I could use it to hit things when I wanted to. I was also considering how other people might feel, if they would miss her, and honestly, however insecure it feels to admit, if people would still be interested in me as a writer when she was gone. Okay…hav’in a bit of a cry now.
I have known for some time that I don’t need her anymore. I leaned on Captain Grief for a long time, but now I am out of the cast she has become more of a shield than a sword. I used to need her, and now I just want her because I am afraid to let her go. For obvious reasons I have become very attached to her and really don’t want to lose her and all the wonderful things she brought into my life. I am actually pretty positive it is my lot in life to experience many forms of loss, to some kind of karmic end.
In previous drafts of this post I wrote out the considerable list of ways I have experienced loss. After some reflection it just felt yucky to read that list over. I realized that things like loss of a loved one, having a physical disability or attribute that affects your functionality in every day life, have a way of defining you in negative terms. That is my challenge, to not let it.
Loss is painful, horrid and exhausting but it is even more so when it’s held very close. I think this is why, when the time comes, letting go of it is so freeing. There are a number of ways to let go of loss, and artistic expression is a great way. However I am also entertaining the notion of trying to accept the positive things that have come from the loss I have experienced. This blog for example, I would not have been brave enough to do this if I had not had that need to be bigger than my fear.
I would not have learned so much about self care and self advocation if I had not had to deal with fibromyalgia, and other chronic conditions. And the lessons I have learned about pain, grief and illness have put me in the position to be a compassionate and exceptional healer. In all these positive ways loss made me who I am and any way I look at it, I cannot and would not take that back. And nor would Kara or my father.
As Janis Joplin said, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” That groovy chick knew what she was talking about but not in the way I think she meant it. I will hazard to wax new age poetic now and say I have arrived at a new stage in my life where I am asking some fundamental spiritual questions. The most important being do we really lose what we lose, or is it just that we have to say goodbye to it for a while? It doesn’t mean the loss hurts less, it’s just that I am developing more peace with the fact that the loss is there to begin with. And I am more readily leaving a door open for healing. And so it is getting easier to say goodbye. However you know I have never been opposed to a little something sweet to ease the pain of LOSS.
Welcome to the guess how many words contest! Okay Captain Grief fans, this is for you! Count how many times the word “loss” or “lose” appears in this post to win. Prizes will be provided for the first five contestants that make the five closest guesses to the correct answer. Record your answers as a comment to Giving Up the Ghost and maybe some words of farewell to our snarky hero in yellow boots.
I will send you an official Captain Grief poster and if desired, a baked good from my very own chaotic kitchen. Or a baked good IOU depending on convenient delivery time and travel required. Note: it WILL NOT be an Orange Chiffon Cake. And hey, you can only guess once smart asses, and there is a catch. That is you must leave your answer on or before March 28th. Winners will be announced March 29, 2014. Which is as intention would have it The Ginger Menace’s third birthday! Sniff.
Okay back to the post. I can remember one of the first times I wrote after Kara died. It was the first time I walked down the street as a widow. The November day was brisk but very sunny. The perpetual, surreal haze sat heavy on me, but I suddenly felt like I could breathe and that for some reason I was going to be okay. Maybe it was getting away from the house and the gathering of people in it? Maybe it was taking a break from mommy duty? The Ginger Menace was quite reluctant at the time to let me wander very far from him. Maybe it was the sun?
For whatever reason I revelled in my alone-ness, my anonymous-ness and wandered store to store until I had a very strong impulse to buy a new journal. On a day of newness it was a relief to see a fresh lined page under my hand and the first thing that inked that page was memoir. Captain Grief was a place to make-believe, a place to play, a place to escape the loss and learn to confront it in a very safe space. The blog itself was like a fresh page, over and over, every week, but memoir is where I live.
Very often it distills to poetry but that personal focus remains. My memoir and poetry are very reflective of the loss in my life. However, after Kara died my writing naturally took on a new level of vulnerability and rawness, which I was not yet ready to share with the world. When I first began with Captain Grief and my friends and family started to get to know her, they would often make reference to her in moments when I was attempting to be brave.
“Put on the cape!” they would say.
And I would, I learned to slip into that unapologetic alter ego when I needed to take care of myself, or my son. I willingly donned that persona when the major evils came tromping through my life. I took a breath, put on the cape and I gave those villains something to think about! Then slowly, and without really noticing I felt stronger, happier and more inclined to laugh at my misfortunes than ever before. There were days that I truly felt I could take to the sky and soar with the eagles because I had something better than feathered wings! A slinky yellow flying cape, bitch’in boots and one hell of an attitude!
This attitude infiltrated my life and the singing, dancing, cooking, writing, laughing me has emerged. When I look at the soundtrack of my life there has been ample bawl-your-face-off music but that is slowly starting to change. The significant songs don’t make me cry as much. Sure if they catch me off guard in a grocery store I can be very quickly disarmed but for the most part my soundtrack is changing.
Looking up favorite artists on 8Tracks I found a mix titled “I Can and I Will” selected by aPoemByPoe (www.8Tracks.com). As the Pink heavy mix cycled through I heard “Brave” by Sara Bareilles for the first time and before I knew it, I was singing “I wanna see you be brave” at the top of my lungs. “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson was making a regular appearance, and who couldn’t feel like a super hero with lyrics from “Roar” by Katy Perry; “I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar!” Best “I am woman” video and best tiger I have ever seen! I was also introduced to a new artist that I had not heard before.
To all who know me I have long attested to have a bitter dislike for Country music but it seems to just sidle its way into my life, and I discover songs that I like. Kacey Musgraves “Follow Your Arrow” has pierced my heart and my funny bone. It is a super silly, super sexy song that I killed myself laughing at when I looked up the video. You just know this artist has a sense of humour. Her costume was like Daisy Duke meets Country Barbie in Wonder Woman’s pants! Wow that really sounded way more dykey than I even intended it to be…go me. Anyways, with a chorus like this, it was love at first listen.
“Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into. When the straight and narrow get’s a little too straight roll up a joint, or don’t, just follow your arrow wherever it points, yeah follow your arrow wherever it it points.”
Watch Kacey Musgraves “Follow Your Arrow” you won’t regret it!
Well I am doing my best Ms. Musgrave and now that these new and well-loved tracks are running in my head I know I am changing. I think it is time for me to fly on my own. And now that Captain Grief has launched me from her bow I think it time to leave her behind.
What I liked about Captain Grief is that she allowed me to develop her character traits in my persona as well as leaving ample room for tears, anger, and snot. Despite her own anguish she was unarguably allowed to experience laughter, confidence and joy. Sometimes I think I have spent so much time developing her that I maintain her as her own person. On a picnic at Toronto Island a friend asked me,
“Did you invite Captain Grief?”
“Nah,” I answered, “she’s a bitch.”
Well, as it turns out the lines between us are starting to blur and in a few areas they have all but disappeared. The queer superhero in my head and in my heart is re-assimilating with me. At first she was like a brace, so I could stand up straight and remember who I was. Now I am quite nervous to take off the brace and go out to find new ways and new spaces to keep expressing myself, without the flashy veil. What I had to remind myself of this week is that Captain Grief, as wonderful a character as she is, is in fact fictional. She however, is also me.
Brave. Creative. Me.
So now you know and have processed that fact that Captain Grief and her High Flying Adventures, however dear to me they may be, have actually outlived their usefulness, I would like to share with you something special. Lets call it a parting gift that is also a present to myself.
As befitting to this wonderful character and the role she played in my life and the life of others, it is time for her to go out with a….
Introducing the new, the improved, less griefy, less angry, less teary, less depressed, less snotty and much happier Captain Grief, drawn by my wonderfully talented girlfriend Amy Beth.
And so this is goodbye and hello. I will not say I will not shed a tear cause we all know the likely hood of that! I will say however, don’t worry my super friends and family, this blog may be over but new and daring adventures will continue with my brand new queer parenting blog…
The Ginger Menace!
Going live on April 1, 2014 at PinkPlayMagz
Captain Grief has graciously stepped back I might add to let The Menace we all know and love shine. He and I will be adventuring out to explore all the things that make being a kid with a queer parent easier. I will do the writing. He is almost three and certainly opinionated but not so much up to snuff on the written communication or typing skills! Stay posted and details about my personal start date will follow…
Until then, thank you to all of my friends and family who have loved and supported me, and helped me get through what has been one of the hardest years of my life.
Thank you to all the people I love who will always be with me in spirit, to heckle, to encourage and to laugh along with me.
And thank you to my hero Captain Grief. Go back to The Alps for a long earned vacation! Hang out with the goat herder you convinced to be your wedding cake topper. See if he will come party and provide the beer!