It's Called Grieving.
Many of you won’t get this. In fact, most of you won’t. That’s a good thing. Because if you truly understand everything I’m writing, it means you have been here, and here is a place no one should ever be. And maybe there will be some you say “I get this!” and then I’ll write another post that completely contradicts everything I’ve said in this post and you’ll want to have me institutionalized. So. You’ve been warned.
I think I try in my writing to end off even the most melancholy post with a hint of hope at the end. What people may not realize is that this is mostly due to the fact I am terrified people will show up to my door ready to stage an intervention if I say completely what I’m feeling in the moment. Often I write after the storm has passed. After I’ve wiped my eyes, got a drink of water, had a nap, and groped around blindly for some perspective.
I’m afraid of writing in the storm. Sometimes what I write in the aftermath is depressing enough. But the purpose of me writing, and more so, of sharing what I write, is so that people can come to understand. Not completely, mind you. But to gain some insight, some awareness, and just some good old empathy.
It’s not something I really thought about before Rory, but now I truly think our society has watered down grieving. It’s like everyone expects you to hop, skip, and jump through all the stages of grieving and voila! In a few months, everything is back to normal, your loved one is in a better place, so everything is hunky dory.
I love to blame society. It’s such a generic and abstract concept. A way to point a finger without really offending anyone. But really, I’m part of the cycle. I don’t know why, but as soon as I step into someone else’s house, I put a smile on my face. I go through the motions, I chit chat, I laugh at jokes, I express interest in other people’s lives. Occasionally the mask slips, and a snide, cynical comment slips through, or an “inappropriate”, inner thought is vocalized – much to the discomfort of others. At which time some people use such openings to talk about Rory, or find the underlying dark humour and laugh, or change the subject, or chastise me for thinking and feeling the way I do.
I sometimes wish my go-to face was a big, weepy, wailing mess. I wish people thought THAT was normal and be pleasantly surprised whenever I pulled myself together to act normal in social settings. Instead, my go-to face is a lackluster smile that people come to expect (though it probably doesn’t fool those who really know me) and even I’m horrified at the thought of breaking down in front of them.
Why? My baby died four months ago. It’s ok to not be ok. I keep telling myself that. I’m not sure if it’s my own expectations I’m projecting on people, or if people really do think I should be fine by now, or if, like Sheldon says, acting like everything is fine and adopting a “life goes on!” mantra is so deeply engrained in us, we don’t even know how to grieve properly in front of people.
Sometimes when I come home, to my safe place, where I can think and say and do exactly whatever I’m feeling that exact micro-second, that’s when I realize it. I realize I’ve been acting all day. I realize I’ve been putting on a brave face. I realize I’ve been on autopilot. And I realize how absolutely exhausting it is. But in the moment, in the moment when I’m just trying to enjoy the company of family, just grasp that normal minute of fun, just trying not to make anyone else uncomfortable, I don’t even realize that many a time, it’s all an act. It’s all for the benefit of others. That makes me sound unselfish. Rest assured, I’m not. I’m as terrified of people attempting to deal with me in my raw, open state as much as they are terrified of having to attempt it.
Well, I didn’t say this post would make sense, did I? And I am quite within my rights to contradict everything I say. Mixed messages, you say? NO KIDDING. You should be inside my head. Mixed emotions is the understatement of the century. That’s the point. Grieving is not a straight line. It is not one step in front of the other. It’s back and forth, it’s zigging and zagging, it’s thinking you are getting better and then wondering how you are going to get through another minute. It’s finding joy in a moment, and it’s finding sadness in the joy. It’s raw, it’s unpredictable, and it’s messy.
So for anyone thinking GET OVER IT (… I’d love to think there aren’t actually any people in the world thinking this…) – No. You get over it. You get over the fact I am not ok. I am not fine. When I say I’m having a good day, imagine your worst day, times it by ten, and there you have it. My good day. Because I am living every moment without my baby girl. And that has affected every single aspect of my life.
I am broken. I am heart sick. I am soul weary. I am disillusioned. I am exhausted.
I’m not saying it won’t get better. It will. I’m not saying the hurt will get easier to bear. It will. I’m just saying in this fast-paced world we live in, grieving is one of those things that cannot be fast-forwarded. You cannot skip scenes to get to the good stuff. I am going through this, take by take, and I won’t color it any other color than it is.
And if I could think of a better ending to this post other than crossing my arms, blowing a raspberry, and saying, “So there!” I would. But that’s all I got. So… there.