I don’t know

I’m tired of being tired. Dragging and dragged over rocks of grief. Realizing the many ways and places this grief is laid out over years of unmet grief.

July 15

My first day back to work. Four hours. Folding clothes. I may not make it, there are updates to online training that need to be completed. That’s easy. I can do those. It’s the floor that scares me.

July 20

Yesterday, day three. I shook. Forced myself through four hours. Kindnesses of staff.

A coworker called me brave. I was negating myself again; fear of change, fear of loss. Berating myself for falling, hitting my head, struggling to heal. Knowing I’m not okay. Missing Jack. Showing up triggers me. Too many memories of waiting for him to come through the doors. Working apart. Not able to go to him. Listening to people yell or complain about petty things. I’m afraid. I can’t go back to listening to it right now. Doing this … staying alive and learning to grieve … it does not play fair. I had no idea.

I live with levels of stress accumulated in decades of abuse. Crisis a daily reality. I thought pain would go when I left my ex, slide back into something others call ‘normal’. I would laugh off that word telling people “normal is just the fat part of the graph. Statistics.” But this is not funny. Dissociation is a common experience of abuse, of PTSD. So are the panic attacks that wake me at 2am shaking from dreams or something I don’t remember. It’s strange how …. thoughts lost.

July 25

I had rough days this week. More than rough. I get angry at myself for them, for their unpredictability, for not being able to control myself or the days. Long hanging silences on calls to the crisis line, then sobbing because I’m frozen in bed, my body a lump of shock, sizzling. Blood pressure high, pills taken, bathroom done, back to bed, lay and shake. And so I call,

“hello, my name is …. how can I help you?”

“I, um I …” my mind and thoughts racing with guilt and grief and disasters past and pending.

The thoughts freeze in my head. Instinct. Fear; of living, being, lost and labelled. Something my ex would say, A negative judgement on who and how I am. And I can’t do it. Getting it out takes a breath, and sometimes that’s where they start. But first I give my name, the basics of identity. Then the call.

I talk and talk, through getting up, getting going, going to work. Even with the fear. A rational irrational place where emotion and action don’t fit the norm, but given the circumstances I understand. Tears or not, I have to go. I push too hard. Don’t overdo. Am warned. Holding myself back from demanding full hours. I don’t want to hurt myself again. The side of my head that hit the floor is ok, but not ok. Numb or tingles at times. Stress?

There is so much I can’t predict, so much I just don’t know. I’m trying to be ok with that; not knowing. Living and being is the hard job right now. The rest will ease in slowly, not smoothly. I hope, but am learning I can’t expect it. My body needs to purge the grief, but also years of pent up grief or things attached to it. Chaos of layers, interwoven connections, years forming. I’m just taking it a day or two at a time. Feeling useless, but knowing I’m not. Telling myself to be quiet when I want to rebuff the kindnesses and compliments of others. Still so much fear letting others in. I understood that far too well, Jack. We were kind to each other’s broken places. Love lingers in the tenderness.

Sanctuary.

Today the Tears

June 30, 2021

Another possible blog post shunted off to the drafts folder, well really, sitting there for weeks. I may come back to it, but today the tears want out. Not hard sobs, Jack, like when I first learned you drowned. These are worn, frustrated, disoriented tears. The kind that shiver through a body too drained for emotion, but ripe with it. I can picture them, tiny trails gasping their way across scorched rock, cracked clay. Winding through evidences of distress or trauma. Ridiculous. Hope filled lines, tiny breaths rushing between scenes trying to avoid excess anything.

I slept three hours again between noon and three. Not true. I set the alarm, but my body fought letting go at the beginning and surfaced confused, too soon at the end. There wasn’t really a plan for the day anyway. Good thing. There was a brief hour or two of clarity at the beginning where I looked at my journal, reviewed some poetry, and made notes for longer writing.

But phone calls. I’m not over remembering the call, ‘silence’, him assessing the wait as I sobbed. Already knowing why he called. “Jack drowned this weekend.” Memory is tactile for me. It’s how I process. I still feel your body warm beside me, your hands gentle, your kisses soft, and one desperate upon my mouth, before you left. Wanting me. Loving me.

It’s hard feeling things intensely. Touch is important. I joked for years that I listen through my hands. They spent enough time with language falling off them. ASL. My smile at your forming ILY and smiling proud you got it. I love you. Those memories I want to feel. But lately, my body listens too hard. It yells over the memories of smiles. It yells loss.

May long weekend. I felt your heart stop touching mine. I felt it going, fighting it leaving. I tumbled with your heart. I felt it go. I begged to be wrong. And words. The call. I hate words. I love them. I want you Jack, your words, love, laughter, and all the joy I had remembering them. Waiting for you to come home. I have the memory, and words telling me you’re gone. They hit my chest in a wave of imbalance, a tug of fear. Shock.

Why is grief so much fear? Loss such a chasm?

It crashes in where it doesn’t belong. The dentist’s office calling. Jacob’s appointment. Another kind voice, explaining, rationalizing, insisting I understand. I do. But the telling, and retelling. Reasons they may not see Jacob, may not keep him as a client, flood over me. I can’t hold memory together. Focus. Listen. Their email bounced back. No way to call. Who do they email? Why they are calling me. No way to reach his staff. Simple. Fact. Context. Clear. I want to hear what they are saying. That it isn’t because they don’t like him, that it isn’t because he doesn’t need them. That they just need connection. But all I hear is the swish and score of water dragging rocks. Heaving me over the edges. My body. My head swirls.

I apologize and excuse myself. Promise to follow up with the group home. Let them know if I can get through. And even though their words say not my responsibility, I’m awash in words on why they called, I can’t hold them separate. They are loss over loss.

I can’t. Not today. Why? I slept. I’m sure I slept.

Did I sleep? I don’t know. And so I sleep again. After the call. After my text. And two or three emails, to group home manager and staff. Searching out clues. Who do I tell? What do I ask? Why is there an email address I haven’t used and dentist said bounced. And the answer comes back. Adamant. The address is right. It’s the one everyone can access. So I try. But it bounces. Flings itself up and over, bounces back without any sense of why. So I email again to the manager and dentist. One note combined. One clear, concise ask – why? I don’t know. It doesn’t work. Why? Apology. I hope they talk.

And all of this means nothing to the day to day I need to heal. I’m working at it. My head. My heart. My job. Go back to work. Jump box to box, work and home, go back to it all. Rocks I can’t miss. My body complains. At more than this drudge of tears that won’t come.

Why is so much of life about disconnecting? Losing and loss.

I wonder if the motions of my day mean anything at all. Shoppers stuffing buggies with mis-labelled essentials. Pop. Chips. Multi-buys of chocolate bars. Wanting baby clothes we used to share. They say things are opening up. I wonder. Logic disappeared months ago in swirls of ideas like water down the drain. I don’t know anymore what I don’t know. I pushed hard the last months, all my best storytelling used up on pictures drawn in the air. ASL categories, this one and that. Grocery and garden centre, front end with online, eventually curbside. Store areas mapped out as claw-hands drop in locations separate but all there. And cell phone, photo at the ready, curbside number to call. Will it still be that? Wipe, wash, story to spin. Swish. Swirl. A rock falls in, dropped from the air. Ideas weighing. Nothing that helped me hold you. Not Jacob either. He went, but isn’t gone.

I want to hold on, hold together. Know my hands are worth more than grasping at air.

There is no guarantee. No one who can promise me what will come. Just me, in the river. Thrashing. Nose above water. Flailing imagination. Covid brought colours and labels like waves over rocks. Bruises piling up. Mapping the years. Last year and this, promise and pain. Have I ever held on? Has anything I ever wanted held together? Why does it feel like so much repetition? Loss. Longing. The distance between. And always I’m reaching for a solution, a way to hold it together.

She’s right. I come back to it. The sound of her voice, rushing like water. Like she said, it’s not my responsibility. But responsibility isn’t what I was trying to hold. I wanted your love. I wanted time. Not these tears. They come and they fade. Evaporate in air.

Breathe. I have your love. I do. That I will hold.