The last few days have been a bit rocky, with a little depression and uncontrolled tears. It's a spiral down into a dark place. I can feel the shift happening in my brain, the language goes from "maybe, hope so, it's possible" to "never, it's hopeless, impossible".
It's not just missing the love of my life. That's bad enough.
It's a story I start telling myself about how lonely I am and how maybe I'll always be this lonely and that I'm not worthy of love and soon I'm imagining myself homeless and dead, alone.
I call it the death spiral and I think I stole that name from one of my favorite bloggers, Heather Armstrong from Dooce.com. She believes she has the fastest death spiral in the west, but I think mine might be a close second.
The way to stop my death spiral is to plug into life in some way: make plans with someone to do something fun, sign up for a class I've always wanted to take, drive somewhere I've never been, watch a ridiculous movie, even simply take a walk.
I have to snap myself out of a death spiral before it can take me to the very bottom, which is a scary, dark place to be. Even if I return to the death spiral a little after trying to plug in, usually the plug-in has already led me somewhere slightly better. It's reminded me of the bigger story - that there's life out there to live, beauty to see, and what's happened to me doesn't mean I died too.
I was rereading a post I wrote a while ago during another one of these spirals I had. I wrote about how I'd joined a choir, signed up for a cooking class and started a grief recovery class. I realize now that all three of those plug-ins helped draw me up and out of that black place.
And even better, they now continue to deliver little rewards, but I love going to choir practice most of all.
I have always adored choir music. There is something about many voices blending together beautifully that stirs my soul like nothing else.
The moment a choir begins to sing in the middle of a popular song (think Madonna's Like a Prayer or Pat Benatar's We Belong) the goosebumps break out all over me as my soul lifts right out of my chest and floats up out of me. Seriously, that's the best way I can describe how it feels.
I had always wished to sing in a choir but hadn't made it happen yet.
Suddenly, while in that particular death spiral, I felt my heart search for something that would lift it and "join a choir" popped into my mind. I see now how instinct took over and got me to where I needed to be for my own healing.
My heart needed to sing in a choir. Who knew?
Now, I look forward to Monday nights because that's when I find myself sitting alongside dozens of other women, blending my voice with theirs while all of our souls rise up together in harmony. It feels like my heart's been carbonated.
Every time I plug in to life again, the death spiral's hold loosens and I find reasons to live, a moment of joy or wonder, or a reminder of the ways I've actually got it good, despite my loss.
Sometimes the plug in has to be something very basic, like watching a 30 Rock marathon while snuggling with the cats and other times it's something a little more adventurous like joining a choir.
Either way, it gives my broken heart what it needs to heal and it short circuits the death spiral long enough to get my feet under me again.