Tuesday, November 29, 2005

After the Exodus...A Five Part Series On Grief Management...Part two: Denial

"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." - Mark Twain

Part Two: Denial

As I said in part one of this series, according to Dr. Elisabeth Kuber-Ross, the five stages of grief usually manifest as ; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. I chose to begin this series with Anger first because that is the emotion we all seem to be most in touch, with since the decision of AOL to place banner ads on the top of the journals written on AOL, otherwise known as "Black Tuesday."

I believe it is true that Denial is the first stage to manifest. When I really thought it over, it was the first thing I felt after finding out my father was hemorrhaging in his brain. As I also said in my previous entry, because I hadn't actually heard the doctor say that he was dying, because I didn't hear those words, I couldn't quite believe that it was happening. And when I think back to, "Black Tuesday," I think I experienced Denial first as well.

When I first saw the ads, I immediately checked some emails waiting in my box and saw that a couple of my Journal Land friends had wanted to know if I knew what was going on? As of the time I went to bed, 4:30 AM, my journal looked the same as it always did. When I woke up at around 11:00 AM everything had changed.

After about a couple hours of fretting, looking for answers on the AOL People Connection Journal page, visiting John Scalzi at By The Way and Joe over at Magic Smoke, I finally decided to close Ellipsis by making it private with NO readers allowed. Sigh. I checked everywhere for a sign. It had to be temporary, it must be a mistake, I just knew it was a mistake. But then finally I saw it really wasn't a mistake, nope the ads were here to stay.

I stopped over at Steven's journal to see if he had posted anything about it, he knows so much about technical stuff, maybe he had some idea what the deal was. Maybe he had seen an announcement and I hadn't ,but no, he was apparently in the dark like the rest of us, and he, of course, had his own observations about what had taken place, but nowhere in his entry did he say it was a mistake, in fact what he wrote helped indicate to me that as far as he could tell, our community had just changed, for good.

Sigh. It began to be more and more apparent as the day went on that Ellipsis would remain closed. Three of my best friends in the land, noticed the "Gone Fishing" sign on Ellipsis and gave me a call on my cell phone, asking me if I was ok. I couldn't take their calls, I listened to their sweet voices on my voicemail and I simply couldn't find the energy to pick up the call. They wanted to know if I was ok, and to be honest I don't know what I was in those first few hours. I couldn't even speak to my friends on the phone...Because I couldn't find the words. So I sat down to the computer and wrote an email of goodbye to my friends.

Sometimes I think denial is really just a different name for shock. The day with my father I don't remember the rain outside, but late in the day I realized Alan had put his coat around me and my hair was wet. I didn't understand what he meant when he asked me if I wanted some dinner. I remember it made no sense, so I just smiled. It seemed to reassure him...I needed to reassure him. That still confuses me. I went immediately that day to make my father's arrangements, I didn't know it would be so easy to pick out a coffin. I always imagined walking into the "showroom" as being scary, instead it all so...normal.

I wrote my email to my friends about closing Ellipsis...and it was all so normal. I explained my reasoning, but I also included that one of my reasons for not deleting the journal completely was that I wanted to have it around in case AOL came to their senses and changed their mind. I wasn't ready to give up my journal, with it's memories, it's history, and all that it had meant to me. So, even after feeling the anger at the highjacking of my journal, even after feeling sadness that our community was changing before my eyes, the wishing for some kind of bargaining could keep the community alive, and the reading of after journal, after journal, looking for some indication that there could be a compromise met, I was ultimately still clinging to "just in case" because I was in shock at how fast something I had just put over two years worth into could change so quickly, without my consent. Denial is a very calming place.

So other examples of denial in my life have been..."If he will just stop beating me, he will be a good father," "He isn't dying, he is just hemorrhaging...the doctor can stop that now," "My boyfriend 'GolferGuy' isn't really breaking up with me...he will be back when he get's his brain back." "The World Trade Center can't be gone, where would it go?" "My mother didn't die six weeks ago...I would have know it somehow if it would have really happened." And the most recent..."My journal will be up and running again, as soon as AOL changes it's mind and removes the banners."

Funny how some of the most normal things in life can hurt the most. People live and they die, People love you, but sometimes they stop loving you, bitter hearts can take away the most vibrant, beautiful things, reducing them to rubble, and sometimes...the art we create, if we share it, can be taken for granted and in some cases vandalized. As I have moved on I carry a bit of denial with me, I think it is a part of mourning, not grieving, mourning. With mourning, you hold all of the stages of grief in a little compartment where they all remain in the "after" when a chapter in our life comes to a close. Lost loves, Lost family, Lost friends, Lost art we create...all remain with us and to a certain degree so does the denial. There is a thin line between denial and hope, or maybe they are part of the same line of logical reasoning that eventually leads us to smile when we remember the best part of what we have just lost.

NOTE: I am not a mental healthcare professional. I offer this series as a peer to peer suggestion only. Please contact a qualified mental healthcare professional, member of the clergy, or your physician for long term advice and care.

"The Flower Of Denial"
Berkeley, California
November 29th, 2005


Steven said...

Skipped denial, but then again for me this is the third great change AOL has thrown at me since last December. I did the denial thing earlier this year I think.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Dagnabbit! I wrote a comment here,but somehow I lost it in my distraction. Reconstructing...

I'm sure I wrote when all this started that AOL would probably dump the ads when they saw the uproar - not because they care about their subscribers, but because they care about bad P.R.

Nope. Drat.

And when my friend's husband kicked her out, and I was on suicide watch in the ER with her all night, I told her they would probably get back together.

0 for 2!

And when my mom was still alive,I frequently dreamed she was dead. Since she died, I frequently dream she's alive - or dead, but still walking around. And I'm too embarrassed to ask her about it!

Yeah, I know about denial.


Judith HeartSong said...

good post Carly... the last two weeks has been incredibly traumatic, including getting kicked in the teeth for imagined offenses by people who I thought loved me.
I have had enough life lessons for a little while and need a breather. Thanks for these posts.

redsneakz said...

You're right that everhyone is different; I for one experienced the anger first, but having dealt with AOL in the past, I simply knew that no matter what we said, it would not be listened to.

Denial is, for me at least, a case where my middot, my emotions, haven't had a chance to catch up with my sechel, my wisdom - or perhaps that my fantasy space has no chance of being penetrated by my reality space.

Spencer said...

I share your feelings at times and recognized me in them. I tend to agree that denial is really shock. I went into a shock stage which took me awhile to get past.

I do appreciate the effort you are putting in this series. It will do us good. I so miss visiting Ellipsis but understand the trauma the ads caused. To me it destroyed lovely art work.


V said...

You`re doing a great job!