One of the necessary elements for me to maintain my recovery is to have order in my life.

In 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 we 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.

My system is further disrupted when grief makes itself known following the loss of a friend or family member.

Grief laughs in my face. 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 butt and taking names, in alphabetical order of course.

Other days there’s a grief explosion that seems to destroy 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 and 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, though, grief is a teacher. It is within my grief that 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% 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.

Laura Kaponer is a mental health advocate and social media blogger, as well as a volunteer with the local chapter of NAMI. #LauraKaponeris1in5 (as 1 in 5 Americans have a mental illness).