I feel like a dope even using the title, loss. It signifies so much more than what’s happened to me. I haven’t lost anyone. My family and friends are all alive and, if not in perfect health, they’re in a condition that matches their lifestyle choices. The kids are both in the house at the moment. I haven’t forgotten them at school or on some wintery fishing dock. They haven’t shrugged on a motorcycle jacket and sped off on a Ducati 900SS. I haven’t lost my mind or my, albeit stunted, sense of humor for prolonged periods. I haven’t even lost my wallet or red pen.
I lost some data. About four days worth of writing.
The lost data includes novel work from this week, a novel synopsis and chapter edits for a workshop submittal I’m preparing. When I discovered it this morning, I wanted to cry. After I wasted about an hour trying to recover it, I did cry. Not long and not hard, but the frustration had built to the point that I had to release it.
I was tempted to blame the software and take out my frustration and anger with some poor customer support person. I used to do that sort of thing in my business days – ruin other people’s days so I wouldn’t be alone with my anger. Instead of being a total dick, I did some troubleshooting myself and, unsurprisingly, it was completely my fault. I had an old-fashioned understanding of how the tool worked. I was wrong. I screwed it up and deleted my own data.
What do I do about it?
My first reaction was:
I decided I’d have a lunch that consisted of corn chips and cookie dough then Netflix binge until it was time to pick up the kids from school. Eating shit and watching TV sounded like a far better career than writing, so I was pretty sure that’s what my days were going to consist of until my family intervened.
What did I do instead? I took a walk. The temperature outside was finally above the point where human blood freezes solid. I think I shook my fist at the sky and mumbled something about all gods being bastards. I was, fortunately, not hit by a meteor. I acknowledged my frustration and anger and melancholy, thanked them for their service and dismissed them. Melancholy decided to hang around because he didn’t think I should be alone right then. Whatever, Melancholy.
I thought about what was lost and how I could best recreate it. I thought about each lost chapter and remembered the feeling I was attempting to achieve. I even remembered a few good turns of phrase. I thought about how much work I had to do. Anger popped his head around a tree and said, “Yeah! WORK THAT YOU’D ALREADY DONE!” I took a deep breath and told him, “Dude. Thanks. I got this.” and he left again. I told myself that I could do it faster this time since I’d already done it once before. I decided I could make it better. Especially the book synopsis. There were parts of it that needed major work anyway.
For those of us that are prone to depression, little losses like this one can feel much bigger. It’s the little stumbles that have, in the past, propelled me into days of the downward spiral where nothing I do is good enough and everything I touch turns to shit. I didn’t do that this time and I have my wife and my therapist to thank. They’ve both helped me to take the major step of acknowledging my emotions, embracing them and moving on. It’s okay to feel sad at the loss and experience the emotions for as long as I need to. Somehow, in acknowledging that I can feel something, without shame, for as long as I need to, I find I can release the strong emotions much more quickly.
When I got home after my walk, I got to work. I still had chips for lunch because, you know, Melancholy wanted some.