This week has surprised me. I've been seeing a counselor and I shared with her last week that I am very aware of my emotional state most of the time. I can feel, like inside my chest, when I am getting what I have come to call "fragile." That moment, or day, or situation, or worn-down-place where I know the wrong word, the wrong song lyric, the right hug will reduce me to weeping. In those moments, at those times I close ranks, so to speak. I pull back from relationships that might strain me, which to be honest, there are very few of in my life. I pay closer attention to the radio and jump away from songs that I know have nailed me in the past. I pay a different type of attention to conversations with friends to try to keep it steered to safe topics. Since the funeral in April I have only cried in front of three or maybe four people. Like seriously lost it cried. The can't talk kind of cried. One of those people is my mom. Since the funeral I haven't cried in front of any of my other family.
I have only had a few "bad" days. One or two a month where the old weight, the old heaviness, the old apathy show up again. And I struggle to make coffee. I struggle to focus. I struggle to care. But they are the exception. They are still very hard and extremely frustrating because I can't control or predict them. But I can deal with once or twice every month or so if it means the rest of my days feel like most people's days feel. Not weighted. Not heavy. Not apathetic. I can deal with a few days.
I have had a number of people tell me at various points that they are proud of me for how I'm handling "everything." Some have even said they are impressed at it. For the most part I have graciously accepted the compliment and inwardly deflected it. I have said to a few of them:
I don't know any other way to be.
This is who I am,
this is how I've always been.But a very dear friend of mine lost her father two years ago this weekend. She moved away from her home state 7 months prior to that, moved to a 2nd different state weeks prior to that, got married in there, oh, and switched careers. She changed jobs again afterwards.
In the last twelve months I lost a job, made a plan to return to school, Dad got sick, I got a job, I nixed the plan for school, and dad died. Oh, and I dated a dink for a couple weeks.
As someone with a degree in social work, I know that list of major life stressors that can cause all sorts of problems etc. Marriage, Death and Career are 3 of the biggest things on that list. Moving is very high as well. She and I were talking the other day and she said that she was totally not motivated to work on stuff around her house. But then she told me all the stuff she had already done. I told her I thought she was doing great. I forget exactly what she said, but I think I answered with 'there will always be bad days,' mostly because she has reminded me of that repeatedly. At one point I finally said to her:
Considering what each of us has been
through in the last couple of years,
I'm surprised neither one of us
is curled up in a fetal position
on the floor
in a closet.A lot of days I am. I am astounded that I continue to function. I consider that it has been just over 7 months and I've kept down my job, continued to pay my bills, kept my apartment, maintained my friendships, and don't come home crying every night, or even every week. Some days it feels like it's already been years. I feel kind of awful for even saying it, but it almost feels like it's "always" been this way. And, some days, it's fresh and the wound re-opens and the quiet tears on the way home turn into heaving, not breathing, beyond-the-ugly-cry sobbing once i make it safely inside these 4 walls I call home.
Almost a month ago a friend got married. It was the first wedding since Dad died. I cried a few tears watching her dad walk her down the aisle. I cried a few more when her husband vowed to be with her "through every joy and every loss." I cried a lot more when she danced with her dad to the Stephen Curtis Chapman song Cinderella. But, I didn't escape or run away. I didn't cry on the way home. I didn't weep when I got home.
My Aunt and Uncle came to our house this year for Thanksgiving. We have never had Thanksgiving at our house. Ever. But they had their family Thanksgiving on Sunday so that they could be out here with us this year. That touched my heart so much. I decided to try to do something tangible to thank them for coming out. I found out what kind of pie my uncle likes and made a Double Crust Raisin pie. I also made a Pecan Pie in case the raisin one didn't turn out. I took them over tonite because I also made a Pumpkin pie at mom's request and I knew she had made a chocolate cream, and oh my good gawd in heaven there is no way we can possibly eat that much pie if we wait until Thanksgiving to start!
When I pulled into our driveway I saw our family van that we gave them after Dad died sitting in our driveway. That alone almost did me in. I almost sat in my car in the driveway and wept. Almost.
I took all 3 pies into the house and told my aunt and uncle that Suzie Homemaker made a visit and pulled out the raisin pie. Uncle was very excited. One tear escape when I told them I made the pie because I wanted to show them how much I appreciate them coming out here this year. I made it through supper. I made it through a game of Runs and Sets. And 3 games of euchre. But on the way home, Rascall Flatts was on the radio. That did me in.
I've been crying off and on writing this whole thing. When I typed "the funeral" the first time up above a few paragraphs I sobbed myself out of breath. twice. But I came back to this. I kept on.
I go to work every day.
I walk on my lunch hours.
I pay my bills.
I talk to my friends.
I spend time with my family.
I am not curled up in the fetal position on the floor in the closet.
As I write this, on Thanksgiving Eve, I recognize the God-given strength I carry. I acknowledge that until this, I didn't know my own strength. I accept that some consider it impressive for me to be at the place I am, emotionally, mentally, vocationally, relationally, whatever else -ally you can think of. And, if you have spoken that into my life I thank you. I thank you for speaking truth where I didn't see it. I thank you for seeing me in a way and from a perspective that I can't see.
And if you are curled up in the fetal position on the floor in a closet. The only thing required or requested of you right now? Just. Keep. Breathing. Consume some sort of sustenance every once in awhile. Smell fresh air if you can manage it. Let the sunlight hit your skin when you can. And lay all of your weigh and heaviness and apathy and whatever else you struggle with, in God's hands. Allow him to put his arms around you and hug you and hold you safe and protected. He will take good care of you. He will bring you through this. He has been down this path himself. He will not leave you. He will take you down your new "normal" path and show you things you wouldn't have seen otherwise. I promise you, in the end, You will see how everything has woven together and what purposes it all served. Until then, just breathe, just let Him hold you. You will one day realize that you also don't know your own strength.