One step forward, 2 steps back ?

I feel so confused and drawn in different direction. I feel there is that strength in me again…small and not well steeped, but it’s there. I can feel it again. A baby step towards reclaiming my Self that has been lost since Willie’s death. Yet, like a flame, it flickers and sometimes blows out completely – leaving me crushed and sobbing and feeling like I’ve made no progress at all towards healing. Every time it goes out, I wonder if it was really there at all…whether it will light again… and whether this is my path for the rest of my life. To live with the confusion, the hurt, the yearning and the faltering missteps of a life lived mired in grief.

I see my longer-known friends slowly distancing. As words of encouragement are spoken the contact becomes less and less. Instead of almost daily texts or emails it now is down to simply when I reach out to touch base. I have had a couple of friends honest enough to explain that they simply feel helpless – that there’s nothing they feel they can do to help so they will just “be here waiting” for me when I “return”. The others who have just merely quietly slipped out of my life in any significant way have left hints of the same sentiment. Instead of the usual cajoling to get me to come out if I said I was feeling down I now get “you do what you need to , take care” then no contact for days until I text or email. Essentially telling me that pretty much everyone is done with me being out and about but not being able to be “normal”. A very nicely worded and phrased version of “stay away until you’re better because we can’t help you so you make us uncomfortable…. but soooo looking forward to seeing you when you can be fun and talkative like you used to be”.

I have helpful friends who try to point out that I push people away, that friends get frustrated when I won’t take their advice and help myself to try to get better. Yes, I do push at times…grief and depression may be hard to be around but take my word on this – it’s fucking hell to live with it inside of you. It makes me behave in ways that aren’t “me”. It makes me push people away because I hate myself so much like this I can’t stand the idea of someone I care for seeing me at my lowest. The truth is that I am trying, very hard… and to the best of my abilities. It may appear like I’m not or like I’m just content to stay where I am emotionally but I am trying harder than anyone can imagine to pull my life together and be able to move forward. The scars on my arms from cutting are a testament to that fact. Signs that I chose a non-permanent outlet for the pain when it gets too much rather than what my grief filled mind tells me is the only way to end the pain. I’m not proud of those scars but I am damn proud that I’m still here to hate them.

What doesn’t help is when I have a down day and reach out… to be given the tough love “somebody needs to tell you to put on your big girl panties” speech. Trust me… I’ve recited it enough to myself to know it by heart. I can’t choose to let go of the PTSD flashbacks and emotions that accompany them anymore than I can decide I’m going to have brown eyes tomorrow instead of my blue ones I was born with.

There have also been wonderful surprise connections lately with newer friends who have met me as I am now, and still want to forge ahead with building a friendship. I am very grateful for these friends and for the hope for myself that I see in my beginning friendships.

I am not my grief, yet it is inside of me and it shapes me in a new direction that I can’t quite see yet. I have learned and accepted that it will never go away… I will always have days that I am knocked on my ass and am consumed by the loss of Willie. Those days are part of “me” and whoever is in my life has to accept that as well.

I’ve also accepted that life is still there for me to live and enjoy and experience; something I intend to do fully…something I am trying to do – some days more successfully than others right now. Celebrating the small victories and the little windows of joy that are there. Not beating myself up for a day when I can’t get out of bed and also remembering to acknowledge the days and give myself a pat on the back for when I do what I had to.

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Rollercoaster

I’ve had my therapists explain to me that grieving is like riding a rollercoaster. That sometimes the bottom just drops out from underneath of you. That is entails a lot of ups and downs and varying speeds and degrees. A pretty good analogy I think.

This ride for me has been one with very few “ups”. Yes, there are parts of days that are not bad and I am a master at being “fine” at work. So great at it, in fact, that it’s now become a real issue… how to be not “ok” when I just simply can’t be anymore… like today.

Blind-sided by emotions today at work. Pressures on me to put together and finalize the year end budget and the proposed operating budget for next year has me spinning. On the third draft now and every time I send it off for review it gets returned within minutes with notations and more needed … supporting tables and calculations needed…. demands for more detail or justification for expenses… projected revenue for proposed new contract staff… it just keeps going on and on. Not normally things that would stump me. But right now…. yes. Far beyond what I am capable of delivering. I sent it off yesterday knowing it wasn’t my best and knowing that it lacked but also knowing that it was the best I could put together. Which I noted. Today’s review resulted in hours more work that’s needed and calculations and tables that are just very simply, overwhelming.

The tears that sprang up after I had closed by office door and was alone were surprising. I do not break down at work. I have cultivated such a facade of being cheerful and normal and level tempered that for me to be anything but that is unimaginable. A few of my staff know what I’m dealing with but none know the depth of it or how it really affects me. I have heard a couple of them have conversations regarding the depression that another staff member is dealing with and the opinion has been voiced that you either “pull yourself together” or just stay away if you can’t be ok at work. That the work environment doesn’t need to be “polluted” by a bad mood. I had interjected at that time that depression is not a “bad mood” that you can just decide to make better but that’s the consensus of some of my staff. Little wonder that I put on the happy face and am always “fine”.

Except for today when I wasn’t. Even then I didn’t let on. I composed myself as best I could, gathered my belongs and made a quick exit after mumbling that I was going out for a walk. Once out, sending emails to advise that I would be working from home for the rest of the day.

So now I sit at home… trying to make my mind grasp numbers and details when all it’s doing is replaying the last time I saw my son…remembering the absolute pit in my soul when the police officer asked me if I had a family member named William as he stood in my driveway… remembering driving to tell his brothers that he was dead… work feels a million miles away.

I know I have to finalize these work issues before end of day tomorrow… logic and ration tell me that. The spiral of grief though is like a concrete wall that I’ve hit.

Rollercoaster my ass, this is a wrecking ball that hits you every time you start to get your footing.