Because of that, I became a different person, yet conversely the same. The one distinct difference is that I don’t feel lonely any more living in solitude. Well, it does and it doesn’t. It’s not the same as living with somebody who neglected me for their own comfort. It’s not the same as being in the same room with somebody and feeling invisible.
During that time three years ago, I was in a very dark place. I was told by someone I loved that I didn’t need to get help and shouldn’t have been in the hospital. I wanted to die, but my (then loved one) still discounted my experience. I was told “You don’t need to be in here, you’re fine.”
Upon my release, a couple months passed before I accepted an invitation from a friend of mine to visit my now current hometown. I spent time during the 18 day visit from the end of December through January 2020 with people who genuinely showed love and attention to me. Although hesitant, when I returned to Michigan, I decided I needed to get my shit together. I moved back to Tennessee in February 2020.
I was given unexpected catalysts to discover my own self. I did not move because of those but because of the support system that I have here.
It was confusing at first. I felt a deep sense of rejection, but again, not as bad as what I experienced in Michigan with me “loved one.” That “loved one” accused me of abandonment (ironically) with no intention of return, but I DID plan to return if conditions were met. They were not, so I began the permanent transition.
This past year has been horrific with catastrophes such as my car catching fire in February to, most recently, the death of my little dog due to malpractice. It still hasn’t been as bad as the loneliness I felt the entire time I spent in Michigan.
This year has been incredibly painful. I’ve done a lot of deep grieving. I have had legitimate reasons to do this. But, I don’t want to die like I did when I was there. I mean I don’t want to die at all. I just want to be able to live a life. My life. This doesn’t feel like the life I want to live, so I have no choice but to keep going.
My friend said, “The life you want is out there. I’m grateful you’re willing to keep going,”
I contradicted that.
The life I want is in here; in me. I am unearthing a lot of feelings of being unworthy, or a burden, or just too much. I am none of those things, but I commonly feel that way because that’s what I’ve been taught. I have been incorrectly instructed.
I started accepting these things when I woke up at 4AM. I started thinking about the incorrect messages I’ve been given for most of my life. The things I’ve been told and the way I’ve been treated by people who claim to love me. I allowed it because that’s what I knew.
My thoughts were reeling about in my head as I did dishes and swept my floors.
Then it began in earnest. Deconstruction. Revelation. Epiphanies.
It was a lot to take in at that hour of the morning but I think it had been waiting for me. Allowing me room to breathe, hear, understand, and to grieve. I came to understand that the unconditional love I have been shown here in Tennessee has been incredibly difficult to accept. It’s been difficult to even acknowledge.
I’m having complications while learning to accept that from others, but primarily from myself. I know that I am not alone. I know that solitude is completely different than loneliness. I’m not trying to fill my inadequacies with creatures that need or require my care. I’m not seeking to be accepted by others. I’m working on being accepted by myself. This is earth-shattering for me (or maybe ground-breaking) but I know it will be worth it because I am worth it.
One of the things I dislike about my time management skills is that I tend to attend to whatever coal is the hottest at the moment. Crisis in lane three, meltdown imminent! Wherever the smoke and mirrors of daily life are flashing the brightest, I find myself drawn to its spectacle.
And there sits the book. Judging me with not an ounce of its former tree self. I’ve caressed its pages more than the other many books on my shelves lately. It’s hard to concentrate when grief feels perpetual, even comfortable.
I experienced and mostly know what to expect with a normal bomb of grief. I understand that there is a loss of some sort, people get together and feel sad at the celebration of life, then, although time seems to stand still closest to the death/detonation, time continues to move forward whether we do or not.
I’ve been in grieving mode for what seems like decades, but lately, I’ve noticed a shift in how I deal with it. Maybe it’s because more people are experiencing the isolation, anxiety, anger, frustration, weariness, loneliness, and trauma that has punished my existence but now as more people are talking about it as the new normal, I got this.
I’m so familiar with grief’s handshake, that I, considering the pandemic, can only greet it from a social distance which means this is alien grief. This is not the grief I know. This isn’t that familiar.
Oddly, this feels like the moment I’ve been training for all my life. Because I know what it’s like to have your life ripped away because of an event beyond your control. I comprehend the feeling of “differentness” that suddenly sets you apart from everyone else by just enough to feel like an outsider. I really see the ones who think they’ve covered the gaping wounds sufficiently but the shock of life, like now, is just enough different to feel tragic. Almost like an imposition of force against one’s will.
These words aren’t meant to be analogous to any event in particular, but to demonstrate the way I’m hearing the quarantine be talked about regarding mental health. People are struggling to function by feeling the same things I feel every day. I’m hearing people feel hope slipping through their fingers like water. I know the depth of that well and yet I’ve never touched the bottom despite my efforts.
It hurts my heart to know how many that are talking about it are obfuscating the ones who won’t ever or don’t ever recognize the grief that comes from trauma, restriction of life, or the anxiety that comes from the fear that you may become ill among many others; the ones of the silent voice. I know for every voice that speaks, many tell the same stories in their hearts to their secret keepers.
I’m here. I see you. I feel you. You’re not alone. It will get better.
So, the book. I haven’t cracked it open, nor the other. I’ve been dealing with some pretty hefty events both positive and negative as well as inevitable. Things are, in my world, normal. I’m sorry. I’ll do my best. In fact, tonight I’ll bring it to bed with me and read.