Grief versus the control freak

4 mins read


One of the necessary elements for me to maintain my recovery is to have order in my life. If you come into my home everything has a place, rooms have themes, things are organized by size/shape/color/function, etc. 

I have a giant dry-erase weekly to-do list hanging on my fridge, a paper weekly to-do list on my coffee table, and countless notepads to make daily to do lists to carry on me at all times. I was never officially diagnosed with OCD but … feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Having said all that, you know and I know that’s just not how life works, mostly because I don’t live in a bubble; my reality consists of a world engaging with a multitude of people who do not function in that same exact way. It took me a while to accept that my perfect system is not the absolute perfect system for everyone in existence. And just because I accept it doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with this pretty much on a daily basis.

Grief laughs in my face when it comes to my system. Grief is like a sleeper cell that could detonate at any unknown possible and most likely highly inconvenient moment. 

Some days I’m perfectly fine kicking ass and taking names, in alphabetical order of course. Other days there’s a grief explosion destroying everything in its path. 

What I can appreciate about grief is its ability to keep things interesting: sometimes it’s Hulk-like rage, other times it’s ugly hyperventilating crying, and once in a while for me it’s this black-hole void of nothingness where the mute button got hit on all five of my senses.
More than anything grief is a teacher. It is within my grief I am reminded of the importance to breathe in a state of deep reflection for what was, what is, and what will now never again be. 

Grief throws me in the lake without a life vest yelling, “sink or swim! You choose.” My choice. 

At the end of the day, the beginning of the day, all day, every day, it is my choice what I’m going to do with the all consuming this of my life.

I love order, I need order, I crave order, yet I cannot always have order in my life. Grief reminds me of that. 

Grief is that trust fall I did in Girl Scout Camp where I hope they’ll catch me, but I don’t 100 percent know they will until it actually happens. 

Does that mean I just stay there standing on that rock never even trying? Absolutely not. It means I need to use this grief to build me up, not tear me down, and place my faith in the universe that things are going to be okay. 

I need to place the faith into myself that I am going to be OK.


Laura Kaponer was honored last month as the Stigma Buster of the Year for 2019 by the South Carolina state conference of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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