My mind is a constant whirlwind; thoughts and emotions being thrown around, to observe. It reminds me of the pictures I’ve seen recently in the news. Wreckage everywhere, yet people are still pulling through the heavy rubble and pressing forward. How do we do that? How do humans keep going despite the cumbersome overwhelm that spreads through our bones?
“Okay, I need to get that paperwork over to them by 3pm.”
“Where would I find a part for this?”
“Broom. I need a broom.”
“I wonder how he is doing in school today.”
“That reminds me of the first camping trip we took…. I can’t cry now. Nope. Nope. Suck it up. Suck it in.”
“I hope she doesn’t think I’m annoying.”
“Did I eat today?”
“I don’t think I can do this.”
“Did they think it was going to happen?”
“I should drink more water…”
On and on it goes. Even my dreams are enervated, projectile heavy emotion refusing to allow me to fully rest. Haunting images of the past. Things I think I forgot. Mazes and yelling for help. Reaching for a faceless person who refuses to answer me. I wake up exhausted, my eyes swollen from crying myself to sleep, puffy and feeling as though there is lead in them.
I don’t have time to cover the dark circles. I dab Preparation H around my eyes so I don’t look like I got in a fist fight, so I can see – my vanity exists only in haemorrhoid cream, in case you were wondering how good I am. It doesn’t matter.
I have to keep going.
Always going. With a purpose.
The constant frantic motion comes with a downside. I’m a ball of nervous energy. I clean the tables and floors at my daughter’s dance studio, because I can’t sit still. I make jokes about it, meanwhile wondering what will happen when I stop. Running errands in pyjamas, my hair askew. In the school, pleading for my son to stay in school, talking him through panic attacks and being gentle with him because I know. I really know. Smiling so people don’t know that if one more person hugs me, I might collapse on the floor. Swinging between the contentment of knowing everything will be okay, no matter what, and the utter devastation and grief that comes with loss.
“This isn’t what I wanted. Ever.”
“Remember when you said you never wanted to do anything that jeopardized us growing old together?”
“Was it worth it? Was this mess worth it?”
Stifling sobs, sucking them back, swallowing them deep like you do when you are about to vomit and you just don’t want to right that moment; you have a meeting to go into, a child to pick up, a person to see. There is no time for mourning.
“How are you?”
“I’m okay. I’m doing the best I can.”
It’s not untrue. I am okay, barely okay. I think I am doing the best I can.
No one wants to know that I howl – in grief, in anger, in utter devastation – in my car after the kids have skipped off to school. Or that that I have broken down on the phone to my Doctor’s nurse when she said he was going to be away for over 10 days. The hidden places I have cried. Or that I am angry, a barely lit fire crackling away underneath, begging to come out at every turn. Because I feel like I failed. Because it seems like I am destined for brokenness .
Everything I love becomes necrotic.
There’s a primal, learned over time from abuse and trauma, urge to withdraw. Retreat, retreat. Hide. The downward spiral of destructive thoughts. Constant apologizing for nothing. Guilt, the damning, and paralyzing feeling of not being enough, not doing enough, not doing better, being better.
“I cannot do this.”
“Maybe I can just go to bed.”
“No one really loves me. They can’t love me.”
“I’m so dumb. I didn’t remember the name of that bolt. And then I didn’t remember to read the bylaws. And then I forgot to call someone back. Or like, I didn’t read the whole form. Of course, I didn’t. I’m an idiot.”
“That’s why he doesn’t want me. I’m too fat. Too dumb and too difficult to love. My mother was right.”
The barrage of constant messages, ones with love and support, ones from people who want to gossip. Copy and paste, ignore. Heart emoji. Thank you.
Then I do something routine while I’m tending to the overloaded traffic in my mind, and I remember that you learn and grow,
You never know it’s happening in the moment.
Coffee beans in the coffee pot instead.
The first time I made coffee, as an Ex-Mormon. When there wasn’t internet readily available at our fingertips. Ground beans in the carafe, hot water sizzling over them directly from the place where the grounds should have been. Wiping up boiling water with towel after towel, unplugging the machine and going to a coffee shop instead. Asking the barista what I did wrong. Explaining why I didn’t know and the empathy that came as we realized we shared a similar path.
I learned. I connected. I kept going. I figured it out.
I have a french press now. And can make steamed milk. I learned.
With some help. On my own. With time.
That’s how we do it, isn’t it? We remember that there is no other way to clear the debris, other than to clear the debris. With the hope in mind, that hopefully, maybe, it won’t always be this hard. That we will be okay.
One way or another.