I have started this blog like four times…deleted, restarted, deleted again.
I have so much to say and I just don’t know how to start. It keeps feeling like everything I’m writing is like the blah blah blah drone of the Peanuts teacher.
So I feel like the easiest thing to say is, I am sort of living my life again. I have a life to be lived, and it’s high time I started living it somehow.
This pain, this healing process is a part of my life. And I suspect that it will forever be a key turning point for me.
But it’s put me in a state of suspended animation for the last 10 months. That’s almost a full year! It’s almost been a year. Holy shit.
This trauma and healing has disconnected me from people and activities and laughter and love and joy. This is what pain, trauma, deep depression does.
It took me on a turbulence-filled ride of ups and downs and sometimes the bumps are endurable and other times I am frantically looking for the barf bag and not necessarily finding it in time.
The only feelings I could feel were the ones related to the healing. In almost all other ways I became robotic, shell-like, almost inhuman, because there was just no room or energy for anything but pain, anger, sadness, grief.
It has changed over the last couple of months, though.
You know what? In that last sentence, I started to write “Luckily, it has changed over the last couple of months…” But then I deleted it, because it is not changing by luck or happenstance, it is changing through hard work and effort on my part.
It is changing through my (metaphorical) sweat and (real) tears and earnest intention to get to the other side of this ocean of grief from my old life and move forward to be me, living my life. Whatever “me” looks like beyond this grief.
In therapy a couple of weeks ago, I expressed serious frustration at this ebb and flow effect. Like, WHY DOES THE DEPRESSION/PAIN/ANGER KEEP COMING BACK JUST WHEN I START TO FEEL OKAY? I could not understand why I wasn’t making progress…but my therapist assured me I was. Recognizing that there was an ebb and flow, in fact just experiencing an ebb and flow instead of all pain/anger/sadness/depression all the time, showed my progress.
So I started to think about this last near-year, and how it has all played out for me. I wanted to see it all laid out so I could chart my progress and not feel all my work was in vain, and it has helped. Here’s what I came up with:
- Everything is fine! Nothing to see here! (early to mid May, memories resurface)
- I am in a place of shock, with no grasp of HOW BIG THIS WAS.
- My motto: Let’s just tuck this in with all the other dark things of which we never, ever speak and carry on. (Because carrying on with a smile is always the most important thing.)
- The armor is cracked, but I am determined to keep wearing it.
- Seriously, you guys, I can totally walk this thing off! Just give me a hot second.
- Wait. Something feels…off. (mid to late May)
- I start to feel a seeping sense of HOW BIG THIS WAS.
- I have a vague idea that this might not just go down with a hard swallow like a cut-slightly-too-big piece of steak.
- A bit of a panic creeps in–like maybe I have an entire steak stuck in my throat and I am completely unable to breathe. I think I might not be able to simply carry on.
- OH MY GOD I MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO CARRY ON! This is a worst case scenario for me, and the panic grows.
- I become desperate to keep up appearances–it’s what I have spent my entire life doing and I am really, REALLY good at it–and fail.
- HOLY SHIT I HAVE FAILED AT THIS THING THAT I AM SUPPOSED TO BE REALLY GOOD AT.
- Implosion/All is Lost (Memorial Day-rest of summer)
- This is the black hole. Enough said.
- Phew! Glad that’s over! (late August-September)
- I decide that the advent of fall, a new season, is my motivation to move forward and leave this behind.
- I enjoy some time off with my family, I start exercising again, I begin to feel like I am successfully working my way out of the hole.
- Look at me go! I CAN overachieve at healing from my traumatic past.
- NOPE, everything is still terrible. I fail again. (October-November)
- Cue sound of universe laughing at my arrogance in thinking I was all set with this.
- Cue ill-timed recurrence of toe problems, one of several catalysts sending me back into another version of the black hole.
- Cue new hole that is not quite as black and all consuming as the original hole, but still…it’s more of like a shallow, gray hole from which I can see the rest of the world but, like, through a weird sheer curtain like the one Sirius Black falls through in Order of the Phoenix (moment of silence for Sirius Black).
- Cue me returning to a blob-like state of inertia and deep sadness, certain I will never be able to overcome the trauma of my past.
- EVERYONE MUST DIE. (late November, early to mid December)
- So much rage. I hated everyone and everything, so I hope no one took it personally.
- Anger is my best friend, a comforting companion that I indulge in many ways.
- CHRISTMAS! NEW YEARS! SHINY OBJECTS! AND SADNESS… (December-Jan 1)
- I refuse to deny my family a happy holiday because of my own misery.
- We made a perfect plan to escape for the holidays, and we rented a beautiful cabin in the Smokies in North Carolina, just the four of us and our dog.
- I poignantly realize that the reason we have to flee for the holidays is so that I won’t be faced with the reality that we have no family to spend the holidays with. Because of me and my terrible life choices.
- I am obviously the worst at everything. Sadness and self-loathing return.
- It is a new year and I commit to being awesome again! (first 2 weeks of January)
- I meal plan! I cook! I make a schedule!
- My family seems more like themselves because I am back into my old role of steering the ship.
- YAY! I did it!
- Shit. That didn’t last long. (late January-February)
- Seasonal depression.
- More toe problems (I just can’t even with this fucking toe) that leave me heavily reliant on painkillers and unable to walk like a normal person. For two weeks.
- I am the worst kind of failure and will obviously never be successful at getting my life back together. If it was ever really “together” in the first place.
If you stuck with me through all of that, you can see what I mean by ebb and flow.
Today, in March, on this day and in this moment, I am trying to realize the hard truth: this isn’t just going to “happen.” I have to decide. I have to make it happen. I have to consciously say, today I will move forward in any small way I can.
There won’t be a morning when I awake to hear the birds singing and say, “Today is the day I am normal again! All of the sad things are over!”
There won’t be a moment in the therapists’ office in which I shout, “Eureka! I am healed! Thank you, doctor!” and skip out into the sunlight, never to return.
There will only be more ebbing and flowing, and me, deciding every day to choose my life. To choose the people I love today over a past I can’t change. To choose to actively become the person I was meant to be, whoever that person is, despite the challenges I have faced. Despite the challenges I continue to face.
I have to do it. I have to keep doing it. Every day.
I have to keep looking in the mirror and telling myself I am good, kind, smart person who is worthy of love and respect.
I don’t get to take a break from the motion of life to heal. I have to keep choosing to heal and grow every day, keeping time as best I can with the rhythm of this life I love so dearly. This life I have created for myself and for which I am incredibly grateful. I have to keep living it as best I can amidst the ebb and flow of grief and healing.
It’s not my fault, but it is my responsibility.
Son of a bitch.