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21 August 2015 @ 12:02 pm
but i always thought that i'd see you again  
grieving sucks.

it combines all the worse components of boredom and chaos. it’s grating repetition characterized by extreme instability. you randomly lose control of both your body and your mind, but not to an extent where you can call out sick. all together way too soon, you must suck it up and go on about things like “normal,” however off the mark that concept might have been for you before the grief-causing event.

just, all of a sudden you’re there at the grocery store, pricing olives and you’re blinking with tears, shaking, hyperventilating grief.

just, all of a sudden you realize three days have gone by and you haven’t even answered an email.

just, all of a sudden standing at the third sink in the museum restroom you can’t stop fantasizing about a deep crevice splintering open beneath your feet and the entire building folded into the swallow, flipped like a switch or dropped down eternity, does it matter?

no. it does not. you are and remain your autonomic nervous system’s bitch, as if you’d ever forget. you can’t even complain about it, because this is how it’s supposed to be, this is healthy, if you don’t experience something like this after a major loss something is fundamentally wrong with you.

contrary to the way i might convey here on the livejournal, i am not incredibly emotionally demonstrative. i mean, i'm very awkward and continually spilling outside of myself emotionally and rarely feel even kind of presentable on the emotional front, but that's a different animal.

i loathe crying. i do everything within my power to stall off on crying for as i possibly can, sometimes to the extent of psychological injury. apparently, the mechanisms i use to express affection and enthusiasm are not sufficient in conversational dynamics with someone who hasn’t been closely observing me for several years. for a long time, i couldn’t startle. a funny joke of several male classmates in my high school creative writing class involved silently charging up on me and shouting alarming things to my expressionless slow blink. ha ha ha, right? i mean, i’ve improved since then: once i initiated some relationships with people i trusted enough to occasionally let down my guard, i got my startle back, but it’s still a mode i can access or just find myself in randomly, especially if i’m negotiating difficult emotions. which, fuck. seems like i’m always negotiating those. wasn’t that supposed to get easier when i hit thirty?

stop laughing.

yesterday we met up at a local bowling alley as part of my partner’s in-house staff retreat to play a game i cannot perform in even a deeply-below average fashion surrounded by finger foods i cannot eat. (pretty disappointed about that, actually. perfectly good tater tots! slathered in crabmeat! most locally bred veg types even make exceptions for seafood because “baltimore” - whereas ben, astrologically the most cancer-the-crab of all the cancer-the-crabs, seriously, sun, moon, ascendant - hates seafood, thank goddess, so we can cash in our cheats on cannolis and campfire s’mores, like you’re supposed to.)

should it seem strange that we live in a society wherein if, as a cis female of breeding age in a monogamous-presenting long-term relationship, after ten minutes of arriving at a bar-adjacent gathering the beverage i have in my hand is not alcoholic, someone is going to nudge me or wink because you know what that means?

first, no. you do not know that. get your mind out of my uterus, it wasn’t invited. second, holy fucking grilled cheese sandwiches, as if i do not expend enough time and resources preventing pregnancy or coping with unplanned pregnancy anxiety, i now have to deal with disappointing the baby lust of my significant other’s otherwise awesome coworker?

i don’t like disappointing people, it’s true. but come on. one can’t even just put it all on the table and say, “no, i’m actively limiting my intake of that form of depressant for the next few weeks as i've had some very specific reactions to it when grieving and do not generally enjoy suicide ideation as a pastime. legalize and de-stigmatize cannabis, toke me at the door and i promise we’d be off in aisle five enacting bowling alley vignettes from the big lebowski within the hour. i call the dude. also, maybe couldja have the kitchen whip us up some virgin tater tots, please?” because that’s overly blunt, and dark, and could culminate in threats of institutionalization of some variety.

side note: some bowling in baltimore is weird. looks like they do it with shot puts. i guttered my way through thirty frames with a properly pearlescent magenta deal sized ‘large,’ thank you very much. i used to love going to the bowling store in cicero with my dad when i was little. he’d go talk to the guy behind the counter about thumbholes while i gazed at the magical bowling store displays. shiny, swirly, psychedelic balls like maybe the wicked witch of the midwest was going to step out of the back and boot one up with flying monkeys for me. fancy fingerless gloves. embroidered shirts and towels. a whole store just about bowling. maybe it wasn’t my gig, but it sure made dad happy and it could mean that maybe there were entire stores somewhere dedicated to things i really liked. prisms. colored glass. japanese art. tiny ceramic animals. various representations of birds and bird-related representations. garage sale jewelry. things that locked. stuff i could hang from the ceiling. glow in the dark stars.

of course after what felt like my thirty-ninth gutter i walked back on my grumpy knee, sat down next to ben, looked at him and said “i am running out of hilarious jokes to make about my relentless inadequacy.” for some reason, saying this was the emotional equivalent of running over an oil slick in no-grip soles. emotionally, i flew three feet into the air and crashed down hard, losing control of both my mind and body. my chest seized up. my eyes blurred over. i felt completely out of control. fuck, i thought, i have stalled too much on crying lately and i am about to do it here, at the bowling alley, in front of the ball return and everybody.

then i thought, no i’m not, and continued to sit there instead of discretely bolting to the ladies room with more fodder for the baby enthusiast. after a beat, ben asked if i was okay and didn’t wait for an answer to walk me away from the group for the bulk of a fresh and thoroughly unpleasant synergy of social anxiety, self-loathing, and grief.

another aspect of grief? it makes all your pre-existing emotional conditions exponentially worse.

the thing about the kübler-ross model is that it isn’t a rube-goldberg style contraption you work in a linear fashion. you don’t get a certification in bargaining, have loved ones snap some pictures of you in formal wear on a lawn, then move on to depression after a week or two chilling at rehoboth beach. i’ve warped through the model over the course of an hour then rewound to the start to drag through it again at horrible length. i think i’ve subconsciously gotten so sick of the depression phase i randomly snap back into rage or denial for a bit to mix things up.

speaking of denial. i feel like a lot of the time, people approaching the model academically miss the mark on what’s happening with it. shock is more the, “no that did not happen what you are saying is simply not true” part of the model. with shock, your brain turns to ice, surfaces don’t meet, information swarms an inch outside of you, trying to get in. denial, in grieving, seems to be something else entirely. with denial, you have, actually, accepted that there is a loss; that information has penetrated. what you are denying is your ultimate supplication to the horrors of grieving.

every single person i’ve talked about loss with describes this moment where they think some variation of: “hey, look at that! that was really very insightful, what i just thought. i’m dealing with this remarkably well. i’ve already transcended this tragedy and obtained wisdom from it without needing to get messy. it’s true that i’m quite sad, but the perspective i just demonstrated almost seems to indicate that i’ve been personally trained in advance to deal with it by the monks of highly evolved spiritual pain management. this isn’t going to be so bad. perhaps i could write a book about my methods. it would be quite helpful to many people, i am sure.”

which is typically t-minus fifteen minutes to kaboom, but trust me on this: you aren’t going to believe me until you’ve experienced it yourself. in fact, you aren’t going to believe me even if you have gone through that exactly, because hey, i’ve gone through it exactly several times and i still do it. you turn away with your head held high. your back turned to the sun. but lord knows when the cold wind blows.

when you walk a cretan-style labyrinth, you’ll find that you get much closer to the center at the very beginning of your walk than you will right before you actually come to center. right before coming to center, you walk the outermost edge.

grieving can be like that.

but don’t count on it.