Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Forward, and back.

I now have someone to live for. Lily has turned the volume of life back up. She is music and color and unadulterated happiness to me. She has brought light back into my life and provided distraction from grief that once dominated my days and nights. But I'm not really sure what it means to heal. And we live in a culture where most cannot stand to see others endure sadness and pain. I get it, - it is tough to see the ones you love in distress and so they choose to shortcut seeing others mourn to protect their own emotional well being. OK. But then they should stop there. Because when they don't, you get the comments, the cliches many feel reluctant to offer yet they do anyway, and then that becomes yet another burden to the one who's suffering. I was told early on in my pregnancy – “come on, you had a choice, you made a choice, this should be the happiest time of your life!” – ugh – such ignorance it leaves me dumbfounded at times. People cannot stand to see grief so they gloss over it and dismiss it having never faced it before themselves. And my being pregnant was supposed to compensate for the loss. They say time heals – and I want to say – and? What? What does that mean to one who is heartbroken right now?! Time crept along for me in the months after Alan's passing, and they would still if it wasn't for Lily Alan, so that idea meant nothing to me. It was a test to get from morning to day to night and then day again. I looked forward to getting to tomorrow just so that I could say that I had lived another day. I couldn't read the paper, I cared nothing for the news. I still at ten months cannot read the front pages nor listen to news shows. I lived for our pregnancy and that was it. Days went by where I didn't go outside, or even get dressed. People are desperate to see you “heal” or “recover” and they are uncomfortable acknowledging profound loss. So they look for signs that “you’re better” “you seem perkier today… sometimes I find you just have to consciously change your mood/outlook” – You become the receptor of boundless unsolicited advice. They ask how you are and then tell you how you should be. They want to measure your “progress” rather than just letting you be where you are. You become self-conscious of your response when others ask how you are. You know they want to hear that you're doing "a bit better", so to look at them, being true to yourself and bluntly responding, "not so good" or "shitty" begins your journey of self-criticism where you are constantly evaluating where you are in the survival/healing process. It's taken me months to be OK with where I am. And that was because of my support group. I was surrounded by others who had also suffered profound loss and realized that "where I was" was the norm. It was a horrifying comfort to hear others had been out of work for a year, hadn't gotten out of bed for three days, had contemplated suicide, attempted suicide. It was the one place I felt normal. Because when you lose your other half everything around you is silenced. And life, as you knew it, really did end. You're in a bubble, watching a world of which you're no longer a part, float by. And no one notices. No one knows what you're enduring. No one gets it. Bank tellers, postal workers, store clerks - none of them know how hard it was for you just to step up to the counter. Getting out the door was one step forward, the spontaneous tears on the subway seems to move you back. And then you realize there is no where to get - forward means nothing because the distance is infinite, the loss will always be there, you just learn how to navigate and adjust to the loss. The best friends and family comfort the most when they acknowledge the shittiness - and let you be where you are. That is the truest form of respect and compassion. And I am grateful to have those people, so real and open to unchartered territory, that are comfortable seeing me through the days.

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