Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Emotions at Periscope Depth

I've realized something about my feelings and emotions regarding Josh's death that has helped me. Maybe it can help you too.

I have always been a reader, but after Josh's death, my thirst for books is unquenchable. I am reading non-stop, but selectively. The book has to mean something to me, as a grieving mom or it has to give me something new to think about regarding Josh. Because of this, I am reading books that I would never pick up otherwise.

For example, I am currently reading three different books on journaling. The unusually long titles of the books say it all.

  • The New Diary: How to Use a Journal for Self-Guidance and Expanded Creativity by Tristine Rainer
  • Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth. Open the door to self-understanding by writing, reading and creating a journal of your life by Kathleen Adams
  • Creative Journal Writing: The art and heart of reflection by Stephanie Dowrick

As I am discovering, one of the more well-known techniques to try and access the subconscious or unconscious mind is called free-intuitive writing. According to Rainer, the technique is simple. "You relax and try to empty your mind. You don't think about anything. You simply wait for whatever comes into your mind, and you write it just as it comes, without worrying about whether it makes sense. You let your hand do the writing. You record what you hear from the back of your mind. Nothing is irrelevant" (page 47).

Why would anyone want to do this, you say? For me, I want to know and explore my feelings about Josh and his sudden death. I need to look them in the face, deal with them and move on. For some reason, I know that I will have to do this eventually, so I might as well be proactive about it. At least, this is how I feel now. After a couple of exercises, I may want to live by the "ignorance is bliss" philosophy.

This is taken from my journal entry the night that I tried this exercise.
I am looking at my unconscious or subconscious thoughts. To get here, I've had to walk down corridors, through doors, shut them behind me - lower, lower and lower. I am looking at them - all jumbled, crazy, indiscernible, fighting one another to get to the top, noise, I cannot make anything out. I can't understand them. I can't hear them. My conscious mind won't let me listen to them or write them down. I am trying to hear but now it is silent and white - blank. I know they are there but I don't know what I am thinking.

Breathing deeply - what am I thinking? Why can't I hear? I want to hear my inner voice - what are they saying?

Josh - why did you go? Didn't you know how loved you were? Where are you now? How do you feel now? At peace? I hope so! Can you hear me? Can you seem me? See when I cry, weep and wail for you? I long to know that you are okay - why did you leave me? I didn't make you feel loved? Not enough? I am so sorry - I wish I could do it over again - everything from birth on. You were such a happy baby and little boy - even at 8 years old. So loving, innocent and happy - what happened? Where did you go? Why didn't I stop you from leaving? I am so sorry, my poor son - I failed you as a mother - no matter what anyone says. I failed you. My son, my poor, poor son. I wasn't enough for you. I didn't give you enough. I got distracted. I didn't make enough effort with you and now we are both paying for it. You are dead and I am still here. Why did you die? Now gone forever! My heart is broken. At my deepest level, I am so sad - weeping constantly, uncontrollably, non-stop for my poor boy.
(Still from my journal)
I realize from this exercise that what is happening in the depths of my soul and inner being, my subconscious is a constant, uncontrollable weeping for my son. I am not always in touch with this part of myself but it is there. I saw it. I was in it. This is why I can begin crying at any moment. What is going on inside rises - surfaces like a submarine after languishing in the depths of the ocean. "Periscope depth" is when this inner sadness that is perpetual and never ending comes to the surface. Poor me. Poor Josh.
Maybe what distinguishes really emotional people from me is that those inner feelings are almost always at periscope depth. And what distinguishes me from people who show little to no emotion is that my feelings come to periscope depth once in a while. Maybe for them, their feelings are so trapped - beneath layers of dirt, sand or water - buried so deep that they cannot come up.
As I closed my journal, I thought that perhaps I will know when healing has come. However long it takes, at some point in the future, I will take that trip again and see that the perpetual sadness and crying has been replaced. Maybe with acceptance and happy memories of Josh - maybe even joy? I can only hope.

I will end this post with a slide show of the adorable, happy eight-year old Josh.

God Bless


Irisheyes said...


My heart goes out to you. I send you hugs and love and only wish these simple expressions of love could ease your pain. You are living every parent's nightmare ... each of us as parents could have done more, been less distracted ... despite these inadequacies we love our children in ways that words cannot describe. Your love for Josh and all your family is supremely evident.

Be kind to yourself and remember all the love, thought and energy you have poured into your family. I wish you peace and comfort today and always.

I love you and continue to lift you and your family up in compassionate prayer.

Biggie-Z said...

Lots of love. We'll see you soon.

roxyarmes@GMAIL.COM said...

These pictures are so precious!!! I found a CD today with pictures that I didn't know I had. I put them in the computer and there was a picture of Josh and Sienna from Giselle's Baby Shower in Boston. I also found other pictures from the Boston portion of the trip and it was just like a gift. There was one of Josh in the background washing a dish in the sink. His "live strong" band on his wrist. There were other's of the whole group and the smiles on his face and Bryce's face made me cry. I have not seen a smile like that on Bryce since the day we Josh left us. Will we ever smile again with all of our hearts...will our hearts ever mend...or will they forever be broken.
I wish I had words that could encourage and lift you up. You amaze me with the way you are able to share such depth and emotion. I truly believe this is going to help the healing come.
All my Love Roxanne

NoLastName said...

As a diarist myself, your journal was an amazing, fluid piece of work thick with honesty and heartwrenching lucidness. Every emotion you feel should be validated and understood as truth--your truth. You will feel responsible some days (most days), other days you will acknowledge the impossibility of knowing the finer details of someone's inner psyche even if they are your child, and on your better days you will realize that this has only made you a more aware, in touch, and sensitive woman, mother, wife, and person for the rest of us and the world.