I am not sure where 3 years have gone, 37 months have passed and I still grieve. I still have bad days; really bad shitty, knock you on your ass kind of days and good, even great days. The good days out number the bad, but winter days seem to be the toughest. The holidays, our birthdays and his anniversary all happen during this miserable season. So, I decided to travel this winter and I realized that every time I take a trip, I take a breath to be able to keep going. I learned that when I leave and go off somewhere, with the kids or without, I come back with a new learning of how to be by myself.
The day, the actual day of Brett’s anniversary I stayed put, I made the decision to stay for the kids, to be here for them in case they needed me, but at 10:30PM as they layed in their beds, I kissed them good night and headed for the airport. I literally chose the flight vs fight instinct. As the airplane was barreling down the runway, as the wheels lifted off the ground, I was forced back into my seat, I breathed relief and we took to the air. I looked out the window, at the lights of the city below fade beneath my feet, becoming smaller and smaller. I realized it was midnight, I turned 41. I was not here and not there. It was perfect…the darkness of the plane, the hum of the engines, I leaned my head onto the seat back, onto the plane’s left side and fell asleep.
For this brief moment I felt peace. This past year was difficult, this past year I learned that I cannot do everything, I cannot do it all, not by myself. What a piercing one-two punch to the solar plexus and jaw of my ego. The type of punches that alone can cause immediate knockouts by making the diaphragm spasm and force the wind out, followed by a hit to the sweet spot of the jaw, jarring the brain with such force that the only response is unconsciousness. I took the blows, got back up and learned to accept. Not to say that I didn’t get knocked out, but, not long enough for them to end my fight. I still try to do it all but it’s ok when I can’t, when I shouldn’t and when I need help. I left the master’s program, I accept the kids help around the house and don’t feel guilty or ashamed that I rely on them or ask as much of them as I do. I ask Jay and family to help pick up and drop off Elle if I’m in the office. So many little things that I used to not even think about before because there were two of us, two parents, a marriage.
It took me three years, therapy and a lot of good friendly advice to find the word acceptance. I had been told to let go, surrender, have faith, let myself be vulnerable, fall into the unknown. Umm…excuse me, what? None of those were words, concepts or definitions that I could relate to. I associated all of those words with the torn up battle field (my life) and me with a little white flag waving at chest level, ashamed of having lost. Acceptance on the other hand , acceptance is something I do. I accept people and situations for who and what they are, why couldn’t I accept this, embrace it and move on? What had taken me so long to find this word, this concept? I had gone an entire three years trying to surrender, trying to get to the point where I was supposed to tap the mat and give up. I couldn’t do it, and the harder I tried the worse things got. Last year in this constant struggle to let go, I found panic attacks. I was hanging on so tight, fighting against myself to find the balance of hanging on enough to let go or let go enough to continue hanging on. Either way it wasn’t working. Luckily I know enough that at onset of the panic I can work my way through them, but boy do they suck. Mine are minor, but are yet another occurrence which leads me to question why, and yet another reason to be more reflective, introspective and open.
This past year felt like that old quote, “the beatings will continue until morale improves”. Well, I hope acceptance is the morale improvement that will stop the beatings. I’ve gone from being numb, watching everything I had dreamed and hoped for fall apart while going through the motions of that first year to being full of overwhelming sadness and insecurity of the second year. Then I found that I completely lost who I was, I lost my identity and I found anger; anger and fear, welcome year three. Many have asked repeatedly why I stopped writing, I didn’t stop. My writing was angry and who wants to read that? You see anger I can work with, anger can push you to do amazing things, but fear? My fear is paralyzing and I was afraid to publish.
This is where my journey of grief, and self-discovery through it, evolves.