The thing I’ve noticed about grieving is that it’s not really a straight path to feeling better. The timetable itself can vary, obviously. It differs depending on the loss itself and it changes from person to person. A coworker of mine lost her father only a week ago. While it’s true that he hadn’t been well for a very long time (and was in the hospital for months), it still surprised me when she said, “I’m fine. I’m strong—I have his personality.” My immediate thought was, “Well, I guess I must not be strong.”
This is untrue; I am both strong and a survivor. That said, I tend to wrestle with grief (or depression, or whatever) for quite awhile before finding my way through it. I get there, but the course is long, and never straight. I take a zigzag route to O.K.
Some days I can get up and make it nearly halfway through the day before I think about my mother-in-law. Then I get slapped with it, and the sting of whatever memory intruded on my temporary peace is sharp. Other days I wake up thinking of her, and can’t shake off my sense of loss. On days like that I’m barely managing to function.
As an emotional eater, I’ve literally been wearing my grief. I keep telling myself that it’s time to get my shit together and get back “on plan” food-wise, but eating nearly always makes me feel better in the moment, even if there’s a heavy (ha!) price to pay at the end. I’m also not terribly stoic, at least outside of work. I spend more time crying than most of my family, and that’s okay. It’s part of the way I grieve, and it’s certainly less damaging than the eating.
It’s been six months since the loss of my mother-in-law, and while I no longer cry every day, it’s still several times a week. Apparently the universe likes to toy with me, because just in case I was starting to feel good about my halting progress toward emotional well-being, WHAM! My former close friend decided to exit, stage left.
When I wrote the previous blog, I was mostly zigging. I mean, I felt heartbroken and awful about her decision, but not about myself. Today I’ve unfortunately taken a sharp zag. I’m questioning everything all over again: my role in her departure, exactly long she’d wanted to cut me out of her life… helpful things like that. I actually had a nightmare in which I’d crashed her wedding and was subsequently caught, shamed and thrown out. In real life I was a member of that wedding. It seems like yesterday.
She was there when I found out my father died, there for the births of both my children… she was in the room when my daughter was born. How the hell did we end up here? My head races in circles and I make myself crazy and miserable with questions that aren’t apt to be answered, and my heart breaks and breaks and breaks.
The memories of her are literally everywhere: clothes we bought on shopping trips together (often the same item, only hers in a smaller size), gifts she’s given me… it’s endless. Separating from a close friend feels as bad or worse than breaking up with a boyfriend. She was in my life for 20 years, and no boyfriend (other than my husband) lasted that long. When someone who has known you so well exits, it makes you question yourself. It seems like after gazing deeply at my soul for all these years, she decided she didn’t like what she saw there. It’s difficult not to let that mess with me. I’m trying not to, and I’m hoping to zig again soon, but right now I’m stuck in a zag.
A large portion of our Facebook friend lists overlap (real-life friends, not the internet-only type), so even when I’m seeking distraction online, there’s little to be found. Her friends—our friends—pop up in my feed, and their posts often have her name attached. More tears, more questions, more pain.
A friend (who actually isn’t connected) referenced the old, “It’s better to have loved and lost” adage, and while I suppose it’s true, I winced. She was like my sister… only thankfully my sister never decided I wasn’t worth knowing. While I knew we’d been growing apart, I never could have imagined this. On top of the grief, I feel betrayed, because she was someone who was supposed to be “safe,” one of the few I could always count on. My notion of safe has been rewritten.
I am in pieces, crying as I type. I don’t know how to do this, but I have no choice. Endless steps forward, but more scars from the journey.
Hey Universe, if you could let me go more than six months without a catastrophic emotional event, I’d appreciate it.