thoughts on rewatching six feet under

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inspired yet again by my archives

[untitled]

afraid of our fragility
we hold love too delicately
these imperfect mortal selves
always five minutes from death

afraid of our fragility
we hold love too intensely
these superstitious desirings
always five minutes, five more minutes
please, thank you, thank you, thank you, please

afraid of our fragility
and our stubborn human needs
we're too delicate or too intense
never just right, always imperfect
five minutes from an end that will arrive
we have no idea when or where or how or why

afraid of our fragility
and fear is totally normal
we're so delicate and can be intense
and just right, or not, this moment is as it is,
five or more minutes from the unseen end except
until it's already behind us and only those we left grieving
might know how the end came for us and where and why or when

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we've been rewatching Six Feet Under and whew, that's sparkling a lot of healing for me right now. I've been reminded of  just how much that series influenced my thoughts on grief and dying and empathy and love. and it all rushed out last week in this intense  (made up nonce form) poem. 

I also wrote a lengthy explanation, and further exploration of a few (vulnerable) things that are coming up as we rewatch the show, but then I hesitated in publishing it. 

it was way too vulnerable-making and I wasn't ready. vulnerability is great, but panic attack inducing vulnerability is a little too much. there's a line. that line is shifting a lot this year. it's ok. I can navigate safety and vulnerability. I have a lot of practice.

(and therapy, to help figure out the right questions to ponder.)

sometimes the most important thing is to write it out. 

sometimes the most important thing is to let my words go into the world.

sometimes the most important thing to do is let it happen as it happens, even if that means being uncomfortable in the waiting. 

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overly long explanations are a trauma response. 

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(and yet I still keep writing.)

responding to trauma by writing it out is a healing response. 

(I write for myself.)

I write for the me who needed these words before. maybe you need them now. maybe you don't. either way, here they are. I wrote them because I needed to. if you're reading them, it's because I decided to let you. this is not my private journal. 

(having my private journals read against my wishes is another boundary that may have been broken earlier in my life, I don't know. it's been strongly hinted at. and if it happened, it happened. I can't go back and change the past. I move forward.)

today, I am safe.

my private words are safe.

my public words are safe.

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after I got home from therapy last week, I was finally ready to print out a paper copy of the first draft of my grief-book. 

having a print copy is the first step in my editing process (I'm old school!) and it took me five years to get here. which is what it is. sometimes words need to sit awhile. and that's hard. don't think I haven't beat myself up any for not being ready earlier. I did. and then returned to not-beating-myself-up. I practice working on acceptance of the process a lot.

and now I'm writing even more words after this poem, still unsure how much of the rest of this piece will be edited away. 

this is the process. 

(I have a folder in Google docs specifically for things that feel too important to delete, but don't belong in the piece they started out in.)

eventually, some of what gets taken out may wind up in another book, or possibly the second draft of my grief-book. we'll see.

we'll see. 

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[last week]

I'm reminded in this rewatch of how much Six Feet Under reinforced my natural understanding that death and dying and grieving are all complexly and completely normal and unique; a simple (often horrific, gruesome, instantaneous, random, weird or sometimes even thankfully peaceful) fact of existence. 

everything that is born, dies. 

(suffering might be optional.)


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and the value of memory. that memory can be love, living on. 

yes. 

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and oh, fuck, there's so much I didn't know when Six Feet Under first came out. 

(almost twenty years ago now, whoa! so that's an obvious epiphany: twenty years is a lot of life experience. duh.)

death is a normal part of life but we can't actually live each moment as if we're in active death. that would be way too melodramatic. and exhausting. (for other people, if not for you.)

death might be the final mystery. inevitable, but more than likely, fingers crossed, for the vast majority of us, it's not quite yet about to happen: it's an uncertain future certainty. 

(which can be part of what makes being alive so awesome!!!! shout out to The Good Place series finale for getting that ending just right. wow.)

so provided you weren't five minutes away from dying five minutes ago, you're most likely not five minutes away right now. 

and yet a certain (tiny) percentage of us are five minutes away from death. and won't know till we get there.

and that sucks.

life is complex and complicated. 

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there's a lot I still won't say, here. 



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another interesting thing about rewatching Six Feet Under is that through the intervening years I seem to have (mostly) forgotten about the family dysfunction(s) in the first two seasons. dang, that's a lot of dysfunction. 

(so many different kinds of narcissists!)

d'oh.

I remembered really disliking a lot of the final two seasons (except the final episode, which was amazing), because the plot became so melodramatic, but my memory really hazed over the dramas of the first season. 

and umm. yeah, that's pretty pointedly on point for me at this time. and triggering. 

(ouch.)

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right now, I'm at a point in my trauma-healing process where being triggered by media can be (almost) a Good Thing. I know how to work with and through triggers and I am feeling safe and supported. it's still hard, but I rebound quicker and that helps identify and move through triggers. 

(this article on managing triggers is a good explanation of (seven of) those tools.)

working through triggers (which takes managing a step further and please don't work on that until you're ready: be gentle with yourself!) involves consciously enlarging your 'window of tolerance.' slowly and steadily.

media is a great way for me, personally, to do that, but I'm not finding much in the way of articles online talking about this.

(hence wanting to write about it!)

I've been intuitively managing my media consumption as a way to (mostly) avoid my triggers for decades now but only started consciously using media to enlarge my 'window of tolerance' in the past month or two. 

(after having a breakthrough during what would normally have been a pretty intense trigger.)

it's pretty interesting and new territory. I'm cultivating curiosity about the whole process.

I'm healing.

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healing is really uncomfortable sometimes. and painful. and joyful. and sad. I feel both very proud of myself and utterly destroyed sometimes. it's both.

and I'm not sleeping very well, though I reached a new level of lucid dreaming last night, which may or may not help with the awful dreams. we'll see.

we'll see.
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my next healing-process step seems to be leading up to working on the second draft of my grief-book.

which wasn't at all what I expected.

(I was expecting to write a new book.)

(that still will probably happen, but also might not look like what I thought it would look like.)

(I'm definitely cultivating curiosity. and patience. having to cultivate a lot of patience these days. I'm feeling very tender.)

and whatever the next steps are in my healing process, I'll continue practicing patience and not-beating-myself-up. 

working on enlarging my capacity for freedom.

working on liberation(ing).

and writing.

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I'll be poeming every day in April again this year, because it's what I do.

(I think it'll be my tenth year!)

thank you, thank you, thank you, past me.