And, lo, there it is: the same sinking of the stomach, the same welling of the tears in the eyes, the same weakness in the limbs, the same momentary stall of the heart. It comes as it does, without warning and without regard for whatever I may be doing at the time. Without respect for the remainder of my day. Without regard for whatever mental state I may already be in. And it levels me. It makes me want to hide under the sofa or retreat to my bed, places where I can be alone with the clichéd misery and seething pain that comes with chronic grief. It’s the unyielding, never ending reminder that my best friend is dead.
Five years, two months and one day later, one would think I would have some sort of coping mechanism in place by now. Yet, I don’t. A few years ago I accepted that I never will. There are certain losses from which a person cannot recover. This is mine. This will always be mine.
Today, as I go about the Saturday morning routine of catching up on email, dithering around on the internet, trying to avoid thinking about work, wondering how I’m going to do all the tasks I can’t during the week (and ultimately end up postponing) and cramming in my workouts, I did something incredibly reckless: I looked at the stupid “On This Day…” thing on Facebook because there was an adorable picture of my kid from two years ago. Lured by a picture of my then four year-old son with his face painted like a dog, I started scrolling further down memory lane. And there it was. One of my darker days. The day after I “eulogized” my dead best friend, I was leaving Atlanta. I was leaving behind all future opportunities for shenanigans and high jinks. I was leaving behind my safe place, the place I went when feeling unusually vulnerable, confused about life or exceptionally depressed. The place where I went to celebrate ridiculous things. The place that held over fifteen years of memories in a friendship nearly twice as long. I had, unbelievably, survived the memorial service but it was really time to go, time to move forward and accept life as a darker, lonelier, scarier existence. Oddly, as we were driving on I-75, the old iPod spit out Elliott Smith. I could think of nothing more appropriate (even if Kate didn’t listen to him).
Pain. All pain. All pain, all the time.
Kate’s dad once said something along the lines of “the pain is still present but it’s less acute.” In certain aspects, he’s correct. But there are days when the acuity of the pain is so severe, I feel as if I cannot draw a single breath. There are days I look at my child and think “Only because you’re here, am I.” because that sentiment is true. Be it out of obligation to my child or the fact that he really brings me that much joy, I’m here when I’d much rather not. An anxious depressive who loses her anchor is an anxious depressive who isn’t fighting a battle – she’s fighting a goddamn war. With a fake smile on her face. With a heart that doesn’t want to beat. With a brain that wishes it wouldn’t work. With a spirit that is simply crushed. With a mass of negative emotions she can only lessen with a happy pill or temporary withdrawal from the world around her.
All of this after a dreadfully painful year prior and no immediate end in sight. This landmine that must be crossed is a big one. And, unlike in the past, I have no safe haven in Atlanta. No place to heal. No place to put myself back together. No friend to curl up next to, under a blanket with a giant bottle of wine and massive amount of carbs, and shoulder to cry on. No one to lean on who immediately understands the pain without requiring some sort of explanation as to why certain things bother me as much as they do (and, let’s face it, when one is already upset, having to go into a detailed explanation is exceptionally frustrating).
So, yes. I’m being very selfish today. Whiny. I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m misbehaving. I’m throwing a tantrum. I’m doing all the rotten, shitty things I do when things don’t go my way. And I’m doing them largely alone, as I have done since 19 December 2010. It’s going to be one of those days where doing one nice thing for someone (as Kate would do) isn’t going to lessen the sting, either. Nope. Today is going to be one of those days when the dam breaks, the emotions flood my world and everyone around me has the good fortune of drowning in my misery because sharing is caring.
At some point, I’ll get my shit together and head out for a long walk – my ersatz Kate (coping mechanism, evener of the keel) – stomp out any aggression and hope the mood elevates a notch thanks to a flood of endorphins and some music. Then, I’ll likely find a pile of blankets and stuff my head under a pillow. Days like this, the chronic grief usually wins and everyone else usually loses. No amount of therapy will ever lick that, either.
Today, there simply isn’t any joy to be found.