I deflect beautifully when I have a list of "shoulds." Deadlines inspire me to clean out the closet, mundane errands jolt me into stealing away for a peek at a park, an impending visit from Mom tempts me to put a pillow over my head and avoid cleaning, etc. So now I have this thing. This very big space in my life that is now empty, a phone number I can't call anymore, a laugh I can't hear, advice I can't seek, a constant lump in my throat and fluctuation between feeling bittersweet, moody and numb. How on earth do I deflect? What do I do with this thing that feels so much larger than me?
Every book and website advises me to exercise, spend time with friends, think about Dad and how he'd like me to live my life, take time to really feel my emotions, take freakin' fish oil, blah blah blah. Even Oprah has advice for me on how to live my best life ever.
However, armed with all of this multi-sourced knowledge, I'm getting pretty good at devising ways to just stay in the house, sit in front of the computer and nap. Yes, I'm on antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication and muscle relaxers because my shoulders and jaw won't stop cramping, and I'm seeing a shrink to help with the process...but I'm in Paris for God's sake, and I should be soaking up every beautiful thing this city has to offer, not becoming a shut-in. There are people starving in the world and people who can't get out to do what I am able to do, and yet here I am. Unproductive and flabby.
The American in me is freaking the hell out. I'm not accomplishing enough. I've wasted the month-long subscription to yoga, I should be painting, drawing, dealing with receipts and paperwork, making plans for Mom's visit, organizing dinner parties, turning my body into a well-oiled machine and visiting every street in this beautiful city...but dammit, I don't seem to be able to sustain any sense of motivation. There are too many shoulds for me to comprehend and I feel too inadequate to face them.
There are easy days and tough ones (today's a toughie)...the tough ones seem to come out of ignoring the lump in my throat. But I don't want to embrace the sadness. I don't want to embrace my grief because a part of me feels that if I do that, I'm letting go of Dad. And dammit, I still need him.
Oh thank heavens, I've finally started crying, which is apparently what I have needed to do for several days.
...huh...that just changed the course of this entire post.
Funny. After decades of desperately trying to convince the world that "I'm doing great!," it's profound and humbling to discover that only by allowing myself to feel completely exposed am I able to embrace my grief. Sharing it with others allows me to finally feel rather than deflect.
This is a lesson I guess I had to learn by doing. The fish oil can wait.
Thank you so very much for being here. I hope to do the same for you some day.