One of my favorite psychology classes was behavior modification, and one of my favorite topics was successive approximation. I had seen the technique used before and I had used it myself, but it was fascinating to find out that the technique had a name. It's a fairly simple conditioning tool: If I want my new puppy Cocoa (yes, we got a puppy) to come when I say "come," I offer her a reward for every step she takes toward me. So, I say "Cocoa, come." She looks at me as if to say "huh?" and then takes a step in my direction. I reward her with praise and a treat for that one step. With every additional step, she gets another reward. She doesn't have to come all the way to me on the first try. I just want her to move in my direction. I am reinforcing approximations of the behavior I desire from Cocoa. It won't be long before she comes when I call.
All of this came to mind yesterday when I was thinking back on these past 7 months. I remember thinking that I might not make it 3 months, much less 7. Those first few days after Isaac died, I had to remind myself to breath. I didn't sleep well. I didn't eat much. With each passing week, breathing became easier. I stopped reliving every moment of his short life. I started sleeping better.
At first, the grief was an intruder into our lives. As time passes, grief is a common companion. He's woven into every day and I accept it. I've stopped resisting. I've started enjoying the little things about life again. And each day I breath and work and eat and sleep reinforces the approximation of living. It won't be long before I feel like I really am living again. I'm finally looking forward to it.