My Mom sent me a sheet from a workbook she's been using in her grief share program. I asked her to send it to me after talking on the phone when I was trying to grapple with my fall from the structurally unsound clouds of my mental health. It contained over 100 common responses to the death of a loved one. At one point in my life, I would have looked at this list and rolled my eyes. Not everything you do can be attributed to one thing, I'd say. We have agency over more than just our movements in space, I'd say. A bit dramatic, I'd probably say, somewhat smugly. But having gone through so much processing in these past four years, my sense of explanation is a little worn down. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details of how the world works and why I should know everything. And I must admit that so many of my actions and feelings, my shortcomings and overflowings may indeed be related to the sickness and death of my father.
I have reached this conclusion through a long emotional weather system in which so many of the things I held to be true about myself have been leveled, if not at this point, abandoned. Life has made a fool out of me, and I don't have the footing yet to feel one way or another about it. I've always known in theory that life makes a fool of everyone, and even thought I'd worn the dunce hat a few times myself, but once again my struggle for meaning kept me decidedly on the "he can give it but he can't take it," side of sound advice.
I am learning, though I am a slow learner, to take care of myself. That this blog is perhaps a perfect place for me to grapple with the seemingly ill-fitting duality of my nature. That I can be a deep listener to others and have only a cursory understanding of what is happening with myself. That I can have strong feelings about defending people from their own self-doubts while constantly giving in to my own. And that I can show love and compassion to those around me, but struggle, really and truly to show the same love and compassion to myself.
I have thoughts of, "is this blog the right place to wade through the depths of my grieving?" Followed by, " I can't imagine many people are actually reading this to make it much more than a xanga," then, "this ritual of writing is entirely for my own benefit, so why shouldn't it reflect work that I take on to process my difficulties?" Not to mention all the thoughts of "this writing isn't any good," and "this vague introspection is boring even to me." But ultimately the battle of what to write and where is a version of "what do I do?" which is the centerpiece of my life right now.
Because one of the things on the list my mom sent to me is "struggling to enjoy things." And this has been a huge part of my journey and something I have only admitted occasionally. But here it is. I quite simply don't enjoy things the way I used to. This is no longer such a hard thing to admit, nor does it necessarily cause the nervous self-conscious reaction it did when it was one of the deciding factors of my going home and getting on Anti-Depressants.
It can be so comforting to read something that speaks to you, even if it's something you've known, in some ceaseless, brain-running-in-the-background sort of way for some time. It will not kill me to enjoy things less. Perhaps it is a gradual truth of all people, perhaps it is a periodic disconnection from the pleasures of deeply inhabiting the current moment, perhaps it is deeply associated with grief. But all theorizing aside, I can only say with certainty that I have struggled to enjoy writing this blog since I have come back to NY. I have struggled to enjoy cooking. Eating too. To enjoy the company of my furry beauty queen of a roommate, Bearcat. To watch movies and shows with the same reverence. To find inspiration. And my real mental health thermometer, reading, has been a bit of a chore the past month.
But I am still deep down, hopeful for the future. My father suffered a huge depression after the loss of his parents (I was pretty young, so I didn't notice). But after a few years, he improved markedly and things only got better after that. So why should I be any different? Just because my grieving started before my father actually died, and I might at times think, I shouldn't have much time left before I'm blossoming back into more engagement with my life doesn't mean there is a formula to these complex human being things (despite what dating sites tell me). My four years of going through this may be the first half. Or maybe it will go away so gradually I won't notice a change until I'm 40. Whatever happens, it is my life's journey and therefore I'll try and make the best of it. Get the enjoyment I can out of things and try and stick to places like this blog where I know I have received many highs from filling the page with all these funny, fantastic words. And try and remain patient and not to focus too much on the things I cannot change. Things like "enjoying things as much." One day.
One day at a time.
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