Asking the storm for its name: grief

Asking the storm for its name: grief

My storm manifests as a hurricane, a devastating whirlwind of emotion and depression.

It serves as quite an useful metaphor, actually, extending into battening down the hatches, turmoil and wind, emotional destruction.

I find it ironic that I grew up in tornado country, but my demons have taken the shape of a hurricane. But it’s helped a bit in therapy to use these metaphors, to help me comprehend what I need to do to heal.

Lately it feels like there’s a mental block. A walled off area of emotion that I’d forgotten existed. I keep asking for clarification, because while I understand the words, it doesn’t make sense. There’s a gap between the knowing and the understanding. I can hear and learn–but I still don’t understand.

I think that’s what one dream was telling me. I kept not hearing at group therapy sessions (held on a cruise ship, because why?) I kept not knowing what people were saying. “Sorry, I’m deaf,” I told them, but even with accommodations I still couldn’t hear. Dammit dammit dammit. And then nobody listened to me when I warned them about the hurricane. They couldn’t see it. But I could.

Because it’s only my storm.

I always batten down the hatches, and try to avoid getting injured by it, but what if I rode it out? Went with the wind? What would it do? I fear the answer.

My task from therapy now is to figure out its name.

The storm roiled in the distance as I sang songs to my daughter last night. She sang along. I can’t quite tell if she’s mimicking the notes yet, but she has the beat down.

Morning has broken like the first morning/Mor-ing broken….firs mor-ing


I was 10, I think. We were in our apartment, sitting next to the bunk bed. Mom was teaching me how to sing songs and how to more closely meet the notes, since I was all over the place. She patiently taught me at least to follow the shapes of the notes, even if I couldn’t match it. Glo-ooo-ooo-oooria in excelsis De-eo. How to meet the beats.

Hail Holy Queen, enthroned above… Singing songs to my siblings when I put them to bed. Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing… Hearing my mom sing to them as she put them to bed. They sang along sometimes. Was blind, but now I three!

Christmas. The lights off, except for the tree. Sitting on the couches, on the floor. We all sing. Silent night, holy night…

The bedtime routine. “Goodnight,” and we get a hug. The hugs stopped when I was around 14. I thought maybe it was an off night–neither of them reached out from the couch to encourage a hug. I tried again for a few nights, before I stopped trying. Why does that bother me so much?

I miss my mom. I miss my siblings.


I kept singing as memories came. Grief. That was the feeling in my heart. The sinking, cold, painful feeling. Grief. I asked the storm, Is that your name?

Parts of it undulated in approval, while I thought this is so stupid at the same time, but it oddly worked. There were more names, I learned, because the rest of it only churned.

But I know one name. Grief.

Grief washed over me as I kept singing. Tears rolled down my face.


Because she’s a toddler and because I’m trying to teach her to fall asleep without me, I typically lay silently on the floor for a while until she actually passes out, and then creep out of the room. She’s still in the habit of checking to see if I’m still there–but it’s less often, and eventually she’ll stop. And I’ll eventually be able to leave the room while she’s sleepy and awake.

When sleep training intersects with trauma. Heh. How many other parents have gone through the same thing?


I sobbed (silently, of course, because no way was I going to interrupt that sleep training).

Pain. My mom disowned me. I lost my siblings. They were like my children. I often ran through the OCD thoughts of how to save them in various calamities–and all of them never involved my parents. Sometimes it involved my brother. But I felt the weight of caring for them. Protecting them, as I learned how to protect myself. Sneaking into their rooms to comfort them. Teaching them tips on how to handle stresses, teaching them that the problem wasn’t them, that they weren’t bad. It was that dad was ill. And for one brother, how to handle being deaf.


I’ve already cried so much. Haven’t I cried enough? I thought I’ve done my share of grieving.

But maybe there’s more. All the grief and sadness I’ve bottled up while living at home. Grief over things securely compartmentalized away in my brain that I’ve forgotten, but it still exists. I felt so much pain.

I learned the term for it the other day. Psychache. I think that’s the right term, unless there’s another word for it I’m not familiar with. But it’s when you are in mental pain and your body hurts like hell. Like you got run over by a truck, like the flu. Thankfully it comes and goes, and is not constant, but Aleve never helps. Nor Tylenol. I’ve tried.

Maybe it’s why I’ve lost my appetite for the most part. It’s grief, and I didn’t know it. Maybe my arms ache because I held my little siblings as babies until my arms did ache. Maybe my heart hurts because it was broken when I was disowned.

It took a while for my own baby to fall asleep, and when she did, I crept out quietly, trying not to wake her.

And now I know one of the names.

I am not looking forward to learning the rest.

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