I’ve been practicing the art of being mindful. Allowing each emotion to come to surface, state it’s claim and then fade out into the universe. Sounds easy enough, but when the emotions start flooding in, it’s hard not to get swept up in the current. It is hard to be the curious “movie watcher” when your body responds without you knowing, when the tears well up and spill over…wait, I was only supposed to be watching the emotion, I’m not supposed to feel it too.
Someone once told me I looked like a girl who was never allowed to smile, the comment puzzled and upset me at the time. What do you mean I wasn’t allowed to smile, I laughed a lot with my sister and friends. I laughed at inappropriate times. In looking back I realized it was a coping mechanism.
There were days when I would come home from the grocery store with my mom, the house from the outside always looked disarrayed. Plants and shrubs growing wildly, the “mote” to my parents fortress. What was supposed to be home for me was always a very sad place. It was a place of ill health and anger. Though it wasn’t always at attention, it lingered malevolently in the background.
I feared death from an early age. The ultimate “release” was also the ultimate “taboo.” It was the end to a seemingly purposely existence. My mom’s idea of death conflicted with my dad’s. I found myself waxing and waning between Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism and atheism. I found it perplexing that life essence could be extinguished without revitalization as simple as blowing out a candle.
As much as I feared it, I was drawn to it. I was weirdly “attracted” to the feeling of emptiness, loneliness, and the ultimate usherance of “survivor” having survived one of life’s cruelest punishments…death of a loved one. I felt like I identified with the other widows. I was in high school at the the time and the closest thing I experienced to death was the passing of my grandpa. I was 10. He lived in New York and so it was something I heard about on my way to school. I watched my dad crumble at the news and that was my first lesson that even “heroes” get knocked down. That even the invincible winces.
In living life a little more and growing up and having children of my own, my life lived is resurfacing in strange ways. Memories are shining loudly as I try and keep them stifled and at bay. I’ve done a lot of soul searching in a small amount of time and in doing so I’m discovering facets of life that aren’t always pleasant. I’m “rediscovering” pieces of myself that I’ve learned to keep silent.
I reflect on the way “death” has encompassed my life. I think of the emotions that tag along with it, the stages of grieving that perpetually revolve around other “issues” in my life.
My first real boyfriend was hit by a truck while riding his bike. At least that is what his best friend’s sister told me. I still don’t know the truth, but I hoped in a sickening way that he was just tired of me and needed a way to break it off and staged his death. It was amazing how easily my brain could twist facts to suit me. His best friend’s little sister was going along with the act. In a deranged way of thinking, it was better that he just wanted to get away from me, than really being hit by a truck. I was 15 when this happened and it still haunts me.
After graduating high school, I ran into a friend of mine who was recently widowed because her husband was killed in Iraq. I knew her husband and I remembered his goal of joining the marines. I didn’t think he would make it, I hoped he would change his mind, but in the end, his fate was sealed. He died protecting our country from exaggerated foes of destruction. He quickly earned a name at the high school he attended, where he once easily blended into the busy conglomeration of fellow students, he was remembered with fondness as someone who died for our country. It was bizarre how death caused everyone to question their humanity.
Just four months later, I found myself in an oddly similar situation. My fiance was ejected from a car we were traveling in with our young son. He died immediately and I walked away with bruises. To the medical personnel I was intact physically, though a little banged up” I would be okay. No one knew of the toll that had happened inside. No one could see the destruction of my sense of reality. The twisted thoughts that snaked around inside of my brain, the rapid beating of my heart trying to resuscitate an extinguished light. I wanted nothing more than to die with him that night.
I went through stages of grief, anger and denial. Terrible thoughts plagued me about him, about me, about us and that served to perpetuate my grief. I was having a hard time realizing that what I was feeling was normal. It was okay to be angry with him. I forgot that I was living a human life and therefore experiencing a human emotion. At first I was angry at myself for “thinking ill of the dead,” but it was the only expression I could find for the sudden loss I was thrown in. I didn’t want to be a single mother. I didn’t want to go through life alone without my partner by my side. I admit my strength faltered and a lot of it died in the accident. I am still trying to reclaim some of that lost strength…unfortunately life gets in the way.
I once read in a book that we go through “seasons.” We have good seasons and we have bad seasons and these events are timed. The author claimed it changed every 7 years. You get stuck in a “rutt” where it seems like everything is going wrong all at once and it seems to last forever and just when you’ve lost the will to fight, a lifeline is thrown out to you and you catch some tufts of air, signaling survival, the end of a 7 year cycle, the end of a “curse” and the start of life renewed. If what that author speculated holds any truth, I am just beginning the “cursed” 7 year cycle, having just finished a “blessed” 7 years.
I’m slowly learning that I can’t please everybody and so I should really just try and please myself.