…is that it is inconsistent, unpredictable and sneaky. It’s like just when you feel safely over it, like things are finally starting to return to normal, then BAM, it jumps out from behind a tree and grabs you by the throat. And when I say you, I mean me.
That is what I am going through right now. It has been over 6 months since my father died. I think I should be over it. I think I should be fully functioning and diving back into life like nothing happened. And I am not alone … it seems that many other people expect the same thing. So of course I am inclined to try to be “fine”, as they ask things about what I am up to in my life, and instead of saying what is really going on for me: how I still have occasional panic attacks in the morning while I am waking up, or that the sudden onslaught of tears happen randomly, less frequently, but still randomly at the most inconvenient times, or that I find it almost impossible to focus on work for more than a couple of hours at a time … instead I tell them about some new work idea, or some new client, or some new trip. Pretending everything is ok (and it is not that it’s terrible, it is just that it’s not ok) and normal (although normal when it comes to grief is that it lasts at least a year – we have to get through all those firsts), while inside fearing that these feelings and this experience will never end. And they look less squirmy, less awkward, less embarrassed than when I am real, raw and talk about that other stuff that is actually taking my attention. And so I guess that is why I do it.
But here is the problem with that:
It is SO isolating. I already feel alone in my well of grief. Like no one quite understands what I am going through (which I think is a part of grief, because each grieving is unique). But now I am staring to isolate. I am starting to not go out, not talk to people about it and just “go it alone”. And I am stuffing my feelings, trying to cover them over and get them to go away. I am doing that by:
- Drinking too much
- Uncontrolled eating (I weigh the most I ever have in my life right now)
- Watching way too much TV
- Not getting to the 4000+ email mountain in my inbox
… which leaves me feeling shame, and like I want to hide those behaviours from people (because I know they aren’t healthy), which means hiding myself from people (which is SUPER not healthy).
What actually helps me is getting to talk, and through talking crying (I am in extroverted processor), and through crying healing, and through sharing myself releasing the shame, and through that feeling less lonely and less alone (those are different – lonely and alone). That requires the right sort of person, probably someone who has lost someone close – so they get it … someone who feels comfortable around feelings and silence and uncertainty, someone who is willing (and able) to sit in the fire with me for however long it takes. That is a tall order. And besides, who isn’t busy these days … and so I am spending a lot of time alone, but not just alone, alone and lonely. It’s been hard. And I suspect it will continue to be hard for a while.
And all I can come back to, on these hard days, is the reminder from Winnie the Pooh (as quoted on my earlier post about my dad) … “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”