WOD: Weed & Weep

Grief is a selfish and fickle companion. This is my first experience with real grief, and the emotions are shocking in their intensity, distressing in their unpredictability.

What seems like a brilliant idea can turn into an impossibility overnight. (For example, a spontaneous roadtrip to Houston to see Jane Eyre… This morning, I just didn’t have the fortitude to make the trip and sit through such an emotional show.)

One minute, I feel excruciating loneliness; the next, I ignore the ringing phone because I can’t bear the thought of having to talk. I have no appetite; I’m ravenous. I can’t sleep; I can’t keep my eyes open.

And the spontaneous crying! (We all know I’m a big crier; now it’s like the World Championship of Crying around here.) It would be so much more manageable if I knew I’d feel weepy at, say, 6:30 a.m.

6:00 am – Wake up
6:15-6:30 am – Get dressed
6:30-7:00 am – Cry, sobbing optional
7:00 am – CrossFit workout

It’s not like that. Instead, the emotions hit like a sledgehammer at wholly inopportune times: looking at the eggs in the grocery store, driving (!) down South Congress Ave., putting my lunch in the fridge at work. It’s random. No triggers, no warning.

If my (totally kickass) therapist hadn’t warned me about this and assured me it was perfectly normal, I’d think I was losing my mind.

I’ve been reluctant to share too much of this with you. There’s nothing inspiring in reading about sadness. However, I am learning quite a bit about how healthy habits can nurse the sorrow of grief, and I thought that might be helpful to you.

For starters, this list of guidelines I put together a few weeks ago is dead on. If you find yourself run over by your own Cannonball Express of Grief, following the advice on that list will help you keep yourself together.

The other thing I’m learning is that grief cannot be rushed. As my counselor said, “If you don’t grieve now or you try to hurry through it, it can come back and bite you when you least expect it.” In my imagination, grief looks like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – a nasty little monster who’s going to collect his due, one way or the other.

Accepting all the feelings associated with the grieving process takes that whole “be comfortable with being uncomfortable” thing to a never-before-imagined level. I won’t say that I’m comfortable with sorrow, but I’m not fighting the feelings either. It can be pretty scary to sit and think, “OK. Bring it on.” and invite the emotions to come, but the fear is not too dissimilar to that ‘weightless yet pressed down’ feeling at the bottom of a back squat. It’s a dark place, and you’re not sure you can stand back up, but you exhale nice and strong and hope for the best.

Ditching Jane this morning left me with my day wide open. I slept in a little, forced myself to eat, did a grocery run, then snuggled on the couch with Smudge and a book. But I was restless.

Bonita texted with news of her WOD: 150 kettlebell swings in 6:something. Before I could think about it too much, I changed into my workout clothes and ran 800m to warm up. Then I grabbed my kettlebell and started swinging. The whole time, I was thinking that I could just do 100. (It’s not a ‘real’ workout anyway. I’m just doing it to keep from wallowing on the couch.) But when I hit 100, I kept going to 150. My time: 11:22.

Then I hit the street for 4 rounds of tabata sprints, and an 800m walk in a misty drizzle. Somewhere along the way back to my house, I decided that I was going to practice kicking up into a handstand, and that I wasn’t going to quit until I did it.

It was really scary, and I was breathing like a freakin’ freight train, but I kept trying. After a few ‘almosts,’ I got one foot against the wall. After a few more of those, I was upside down, both feet against the wall… for, like, a NANOSECOND… because I got so freaked out that I was doing it, I forgot to lock out my arms and squeeze my core. Tomorrow is another day to practice.

While I was swinging that damn kettlebell, I noticed the truly terrifying weed jungle that was overtaking my pullup bars. See?

I changed into long pants, long sleeved shirt, and rubber gloves topped with gardening gloves – all the better to protect me from poison ivy and bugs. Then I pulled and pulled and pulled weeds Front yard. Back yard. Side yard. I yanked until I was drenched in sweat and covered in sticky, leafy, briar things.

Underneath the weeds, I found a wooden ladder, a metal ladder, two lawn chairs, a hand truck, and the missing lid to the trash can in my driveway. I also discovered many creepy crawly critters.

About 45 minutes later, the pullup bar yard looked like this…

… and the front yard is no longer an embarrassment to our neighbors. Now I just need to mulch the hell out of it, and I’ll be all set to work my pullups and play on the monkey bars again.

I’d like to tell you that all the moving around made me feel better. Honestly, it wasn’t much of a blues eliminator, but it did make me thirsty and hungry, and I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight. I’ll take that for now.

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  • erikajeanne says:

    There's nothing quite like manual labor to make a person tired, hungry and thirsty. Also, dirt can make you happy and pulling weeds is cathartic on a whole 'nutha level…. glad you got in some movement yesterday. xoxox

  • Steph H says:

    after reading that post – all I can say is hang in there. I can feel whatever you are going through via reading your posts.

    steph h

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Steph. I am, indeed, hanging in there. Thanks, as always, for your kind words.

  • Barbara says:

    Ah girl…You are such a lovely human. I know you're going through something awful right now but I have no doubt, NO DOUBT you will come through stronger. Everytime I read your blog it makes me think…EVERY stinking time. You inspire those wheels in my head to turn and I appreciate what you have to say.


  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hugs back to you, Barbara. I don't know how lovely I am right now… but definitely human. I've got the human part in the fucking bag.

  • Anonymous says:

    Melicious, I want you to know that you have motivated me from hmmm July 1 think it was one my first 30 day paleo. I hit a few rough patches and gave myself an out. Thank you for being as honest as you can be here because it is smacking me in the face to use those times as motivation instead of using them for excuses…..

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, there, anonymous. Thanks for your note… and allow me to give you a loving reminder to go easy on yourself. I don't always write about the times when I use 'rough patches' as an excuse to slack and mope. But trust me, it happens — it just doesn't make for great reading 😉 Treat yourself gently and push when you can.

  • Melissa says:

    Reading about you going through this grief is really saddening, but I am glad to see you working through it one day at a time, one minute at a time. It's all you can do, and I know you'll come out in the end healed – maybe a little scarred, but healed and badass as always.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Melissa. I have roller derby scars, "bit my a dog scars," thyroid and shoulder surgery scars, and a giant one on my knee from playing on a merry-go-round when I was five. No reason not to have some life scars, too. Scars = living, right?