The truth is that in order to heal you have to let the pain be felt. The question is how do you feel AND function when the pain is so great that it’s all-consuming when it is allowed out to be felt?
I am expert at keeping emotions and feelings bottled up, to be dealt with “later” when I have time or when it’s convenient. My first thoughts when I was told that Willie was gone were that I needed to be with my other boys and tell them and make sure they were ok. I pushed any reaction other than shock away to do what had to be done at that time; and in the weeks and months that followed.
Since I moved and have been on my own I have found ways to keep emotions at bay and to not face and deal with grief. This, obviously, doesn’t always work and I have spent the last year swinging in and out of depressive episodes and grief-fuelled spirals. Facing the reality that in order to be able to move forward that I have to stop trying to turn away from the hurt and actually let it in and acknowledge it and experience it.
Couple this awareness with well-intentioned people who keep telling me to not dwell or think about Willie’s death and that I need to just put it behind me and you have a recipe for disaster.
The pendulum swings inside of me between the extremes of despair and hopelessness and the public face of “I’m doing better”. I have learned the new art of not trying to be “fine” necessarily but instead letting just enough show so that people will think I’m doing ok. The reality is that inside, the hurt is still the same. Yes, I function better… Yes, I have more “good days” than bad… Yes, I laugh more easily and do have joy in my life again. I’m thankful for all these things and do recognize them. Inside me though is still the pain and the hurt that I can’t even describe because it’s so much and so deep.
Inside and hidden, is the fear that comes with knowing that I’m still taking that hurt and just burying it. That I haven’t grieved… all I’ve done is pushed it down harder and with more resolve to not let it affect me. That I AM moving forward, but not because I’ve dealt with the loss… but because I’ve just managed to figure out how to hide it even better than I ever have before… than I have been able to with anything else before this.
The fear that comes from knowing how overwhelming it is when it does peek out. When a glimpse of what is there is seen and felt… that glimpse brings fear of how to cope with it and IF I can cope with it if I let it out. The panic overcoming me at times as I fight to keep the emotions down enough that I can keep on doing what needs to be done. Panic of whether it will one day just be too much and break the dam holding it in no matter how hard I try. The fear knowing that I need to let it out if I want to heal. A seemingly no win situation that results in me turning away, again, from the glimpse and looking forward more resolutely as I ensnare the loss and pain even more firmly in the grip of ignorance within.