How is it that my carefree Sunday turned into a heart-stomping fest? With the excitement that followed our football team’s stunningly beautiful win this weekend, my husband and I were determined to do nothing the following day – except eat and drink leftovers from our game get together, and watch football. There was nothing we felt like we needed to do but that, even around the house. We felt the need to continue the celebration with a care-free day and end to our weekend.
Somehow, even though the day started fine and relaxing, at some point for me it turned heart-wrenching. I couldn’t really tell you why or how. I just suddenly felt this overwhelming aching in my chest and sadness in my soul. It just sort of creeped in, until I was sitting there on the sofa, knitting and crying. I had clearly given myself permission to sit and do nothing except what I wanted to do, so why was my body not cooperating. Did it not understand what I meant when I said it was OK to have this day of nothing?
I have been doing so much work over the past couple of years. I have been trying to be kinder and gentler with myself and my life. I have been cutting myself some slack. I have been trying to place myself in nurturing environments, and avoiding those that are unsafe to me. I have been practicing self-preservation and calmness. Recently, I have been doing a lot of trauma work as well, with seems to have helped some with my almost-constant physical feeling of anxiety. I should pat myself on the back. I do need to work on this, as I will beat myself up in a second, but not take the time to give myself praise for the positive things I do for myself. Amazingly, practicing these things and learning to put myself first is incredibly hard. It’s not natural instinct. But, I understand the importance of it, and can see a definite difference.
After all of this, I still feel surprised sometimes when a large wave of grief hits me. We’ve been in survival mode now for some time. You get through the days as best you can. The days turn into weeks and then months. We find ourselves enjoying things as best we can, when we can – which is more often than you might think. Sometimes, enjoyable times seem almost effortless, where we can have fun and almost feel like our old selves (almost). Sometimes, these things feel exceptionally bittersweet. You might be having fun doing something, and be crying, or wanting to cry, and the same time because you can feel that missing piece of your soul. You just feel that emptiness and aching there, even though you are enjoying yourself.
When the grief “wave” hits, the emptiness and sadness become so overwhelming, it is hard to function in our day to day. I know its ok and expected. But when it hits, like it did yesterday, I feel completely taken back by it. Why do I still feel surprised at this? Its not as waves never hit us anymore – they come fairly frequently, and sometimes we feel like all we’re doing is treading water. And it does not hit and go away. I now feel swallowed by it, and expect it to stay for some time. The seasons are changing. The dreaded holidays are coming. This aching, sadness, and emptiness we feel is so freaking hard to function with, it makes me feel like giving up all over again. It will pass at some point, and I will once again try to use that time to amp up motivation and energy to do the day to day things that suffered in my life during the overwhelming time. And then it will hit again and I will feel almost paralyzed again by grief. And the cycle continues. And I know this and expect this. It’s fine, and honestly, I have accepted this as a part of life now. I know this will continue as long as I live in some capacity and frequency or another. I have the knowledge of these things. I have tools to help me. But why am I still surprised?