“It’s the Unraveling” – Joni Mitchell

I haven’t unraveled in several years. I haven’t gotten all
the way down to bare wooden spool in quite some time. Apparently, sometimes you
need to go all the way to splinters.
Tuesday and Wednesday were days of this. Not knowing whether
I would stop crying. Not knowing if it were okay to just cry – or if I should
somehow feel something else – something more like acceptance, or serenity or
simply not so unmoored.
I didn’t want to let myself get that far – it’s been so long
that it felt dangerous, or juvenile to go all to pieces. If I hold on to
something, some semblance of being all right – some appearance of being
alright, then I’m alright, right?
So, on Wednesday, I watched The Karate Kid on
loan from the library. And as soon as it and the special feature commentaries
were over, I started to bawl. Again. Two hours relieved, distracted, and then
it all crashes in again.
It was then I called around for help – just to cry, to have
someone witness and hold the space as I did, so it didn’t feel so alone to do
it by myself in my apartment. If someone else is there, then I’m not unraveling
fully, am I? I’m not to total pieces, am I? I’m not a leper. Or a lunatic.
At the end of the night, I spoke with my
friend in Chicago. She moved back to Chicago after desperate attempts to make
it work in San Francisco, after she had to leave her job, needed to leave
her apartment, was trying in every backwards, upsidedown, whatdoyouwantfromme
way to make it work and stay in San Francisco.
In the end, she moved back home, to the suburbs of Chicago,
where she is living with her parents. Her greatest fear of what would happen if
she didn’t “keep it together” came to exact and swift fruition.
Her life unraveled exactly as she thought it would if she
let go of the desperate trying. … And yet, she’s okay. She’s in exactly the
place she feared she’d be, she didn’t want to be, she thought it was a failure
to be – but she’s not a failure. She’s still her. She let it all go to pieces,
she allowed herself to unravel, and she’s fine. She’s still amazing, and it’s
not as bad as she feared when she was trying so hard to make pieces fit that
weren’t fitting.
Her moral to me, was sometimes unraveling is simply what we
have to do. To let myself cry for 48 hours is simply what I needed to do. I
felt better afterward, yesterday.
I needed to, and I kept trying to keep myself together from
falling apart, as if that would eliminate the need for me to do so. And it
didn’t. Trying to force my feelings into a box they do not fit doesn’t work,
apparently. So, I let it all go, because I simply couldn’t hang on to it
I used an entire box of tissues, and made the mental note to
get the ones with lotion next time. I ached, and dribbled, and sobbed at the
ceiling for answers.
I fell apart. I really didn’t want to or intend to. If I
don’t fall apart, then it feels like I’ve still got some control in the
situation – I can still handle this, I am still the master of my destiny.
However, the truth simply is otherwise in this situation. I
am not the master of my destiny here.
This is
utterly out of my
control. I have no say in this whatsoever, and yet I have to continue with it
anyway. Who wouldn’t wail against the Universe for such a raw deal?
I didn’t want to see my powerlessness in it, really is the
bottom line. If I can maintain, even to myself some semblance of “I got it,”
then somehow, I can convince myself I really do. To fall to pieces is to admit
that I really don’t “got it,” and I really never had it – as far as this goes…
and as far as a lot of other things go to.
To really allow myself to unravel is to really admit that I
am not in charge of everything. That I am not G-d, and that I am simply,
unalterably human.
Who wants to admit that?
The irony, of course, is that when I finally allowed myself
permission to fall apart – or rather, when finally I had no further resources
to hold it all together, I did exactly that – I fell apart. I sobbed on the
phone to friends, to my mom, simply to the quietude of my own home. I cried.
And it felt like it would never stop – the grief for how different and
uncontrollable everything is for me right now.
But it did. I cried myself into that state of dehydration
and near-cross-eyedness. I poured myself into bed, and I woke up better.
My Chicago friend said something else. She suggested that I ask to speak with G-d’s manager. That this particular representative was not
being very helpful, and I simply needed more help. If my Higher Power wants me
to get through this, I’m going to need more resources. So, I’d like to speak to
your manager, G-d, you’re simply not giving me what I need, and I’m going up
the chain of command.
She suggested, even, perhaps I could talk to G-d’s mom. Tell
his mom what rotten things G-d had been up to lately, frying ants’ backs with a
magnifying glass, and giving a young artist cancer. Grounded.
These lines of thinking give me some power back. I don’t
have any external power here. I cannot control the doctors, the needles, the
hair loss, the fatigue; but I can control how I deal with it. How I choose to
address what’s happening to me.
I needed to fall apart first. I needed to let myself free
from my own ideas of what it looks like to go through something like this
properly. I’ve never done this before,
is what I kept on saying to my mom on the phone. I have never done this before
– of
course I have no idea how to
do it then.
Of course, I have no idea what’s the “right way” or “wrong
way,” because, there isn’t one. There’s just what I need to do. I needed to
cry. For two days. And I’ll likely need to do that again.
Today, I don’t feel that need. I’ve asked for more help from
the Universe, and I believe it comes to me when I’ll need it. The help that I
needed the other day was permission to let go, to let go completely. To tell
myself, I don’t know how to deal with this, to hold this, and to simply grieve
for that.
And, so, now I’ve unraveled. I went all the way to bone and
back. And I’m alright. I let myself fall to the depth of my sorrow, and I came
back. Therefore, I now have the experience of that being a viable option – it doesn’t
mean I’ll drown in it forever. Unraveling is allowed. Unraveling is not the

One thought on ““It’s the Unraveling” – Joni Mitchell

  1. Molly,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, so candidly. Thank you for your strength and courage, as well.

    I can't relate to what you're going through, but I do have a sense of what you were feeling:

    When I lost my husband suddenly, in August 2011, I appreciated when people would say I was “strong”, but I was also baffled by it. I was just being “me”. I didn't feel like I was doing anything different or “better”.

    I certainly didn't feel that it was deserved as often as others said it to me, because I was bouncing back and forth between “progress and pain”. When my emotions were in a ping-pong ball state, others would comment most often about my strength. That's when I understood it the least.

    How could they think I was strong? All I could do was cry some days. I thought I was weak – and they were just trying to be comforting the best way they knew how.

    I was always the one who allowed others to fall apart. If they needed it, I was there for them. For myself, however, I allowed very few people to ever truly see me in a vulnerable state. I had to have that “control”. To me, back then, that was 'strength.'

    Then my entire life changed. I couldn't grasp how “fix” what was wrong. I tried to solve it with logic, that didn't work. The emotions still surfaced. All I could do was let it hit me. No matter how hard I tried to keep it back…how I wanted to believe I was stronger than my pain; that I could BEAT my grief and not succumb to it…

    Finally, I realized in order to move beyond it, in order to gain ground, heal, be strong; I needed to allow the flood gates to open. To unravel. I needed to feel the pain that ached through every part of me. Feel it – and let it go.

    Nine months after he passed, I resolved my issues with Survivor's guilt. I reached a level of acceptance. I believed that I could have a future again. That happiness was attainable and worth the risk. The unfortunate loss I had endured, would give me a new perspective and appreciation for not only those in my life now, but everything I may be able to achieve.

    Crying is a shower from the soul. It cleanses from the inside out.



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