Earlier tonight, I learned that a friend suffered a massive, tragic, unexpected loss. The kind of loss that puts a lump in your throat and makes you rock back and forth. And by “your” and “you,” I include “my” and ”me.”
I read her status and my body just fell in line. A mind void of recognizable thought yet racing with jolted, out-of-order images, akin to the busted Viewfinder my siblings and fought over in the backseat on road trips 30 years ago. An inability to swallow naturally, not unlike the first time a childhood friend talked about how we breathe without effort and I found myself suddenly needing to focus real hard to continue taking in air. Oddly twitching muscles. Vacant, blurry stare. Distorted hearing.
But, wait… Wait. I don’t understand. How can this be? I don’t understand. We talked and laughed about things over fries a few nights ago. What? I don’t understand.
I am not sure how long I sat on my couch before I realized I was in shock. And that this was not only a response to what I’d just learned; it was my brain processing that and replaying the death of my boyfriend over two-and-a-half years ago. I started hyperventilating and sobbing.
How could this possibly happen? It is impossible. Fucking impossible.
Once I calmed down, I reached out to my friend. I wanted to let her know that she is in my heart and in my thoughts. Then I closed my eyes and did the closest thing I can to praying. I wish there was more.
I am overwhelmed by sadness for her and I am finding it difficult to articulate. I think that’s because I don’t know what’s she’s going through. Not really. I know what I went through. How it was. The feelings I have now. I can relate. But empathy doesn’t feel like enough. Not right now.
That’s where I land though. All I have is my own story. My own losses. My own struggles. My own recoveries. To share with whomever cares to read. Only I’ve done very little of that as of late.
I used to blog. Often and freely. It was part of my routine. Something I was compelled to do, otherwise I felt…off. Unbalanced. I didn’t worry a whole lot about who read my words. I wasn’t consumed by concerns over how my words might reflect on my professional persona. I cared not if airing my stuff might negatively impact my reputation. Blah blah blah.
I think I know exactly when that started to change. I began to shrink. I removed my name from my blog. I tried to disassociate my blog from my Facebook page. I deleted my Twitter account. And then the self censorship kicked in. I was totally self obsessed and consumed by anxiety. What if someone I worked with read this? What if that person then told everyone else I worked with? What if was fired as a result?
It’s funny. I never really followed those queries through to a logical place. Instead, I tried to change. Reconfigure me. Edit my story. And the end result is essentially bad fiction.
Faking it is exhausting. Unhealthy and untrue. The façade, the veil of “normalcy”? Seriously. I am flabbergasted at my own vanity and ego. How could I let myself lapse into this weird, calculated and bogus head space?
I also really don’t want to support the pretense that we get ”over” losses like this. We don’t “move on.” I will bitch slap the next person who utters “time heals all wounds.” There’s no “over” or ”on.” These wounds aren’t paper cuts. There’s so much trudging. Marching. It is beyond exhausting. It hurts. It feels endless. It is incredibly lonely. And to boot, the impossibly possible keeps coming. There’s not enough booze, sex, sleep, pizza or chocolate to keep it at bay. I’ve done my best.
What’s left? I refuse to accept it’s hopeless. And so I can put my authentic self back on the screen. Quit faking and hiding. See what happens when I attempt to reclaim some semblance of fearlessness. Be true.
And with that, all the love and light in my heart goes out to my friend, and to others who are hurting and grieving. I absolutely promise you that you are not alone. That’s maybe the only bright line I know.