The Aftermath

For the past four months, I’ve wanted to write, and I can’t. I wake up at 3am, and in that dark silence, the words are there, but when it comes down to it, and I feel like I want to do everything, I can’t, and so I don’t. I’ve just plodded through the days, distracted by work and the monotony of routines and schedules and life, alternating between contentment and apathy, and unsure every morning which side the scales are going to be tipped to. I used to like running; right now it’s a struggle and an hour of internal bargaining to get out for 20 minutes. After a few weeks of manic reading and absorption into other worlds, I have almost no mental power to pick up a book. I want to talk to people, but I have no energy to start. Outwardly I’m ‘fine’, but the effort to appear that way takes so much more out of me than it should.

I hesitate to write all that, and I want to erase it, because even though it’s accurate and true to where I am and how I feel, it’s only the out-of-focus background of the picture. Grief is complicated – it mirrors depression, but it’s different. I like my life. I feel loved, and cared for, and stable, and happy with where I am, but when there are these pervasive waves of deep-rooted pain – pain that feels like it’s grabbing your heart and squeezing your lungs and is so intense that crying is no release – it’s too much. There’s something so confusing and contradictory about not feeling unhappy but still feeling so much sadness that has been difficult to wrap my head around. 

I’m fine, but I’m not. I want to talk about it, but I can’t. I want to move on, and I feel like at this point I should just be ‘over it’, but I can’t un-see or un-feel anything. I think I can handle it, but it feels like nothing is safe. I pick up my phone to idly scroll through social media to try to disconnect for a few minutes, and Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have made it their duty to remind me over and over again that I am not actually preparing to have a baby in the next six weeks. I never really noticed how many pregnant women or babies are everywhere, or how much ‘do you have kids?’ is considered small talk conversation, or how many TV shows feature pregnancies as plot lines until I did… and now it’s all I see. I’m torn by the bittersweet feeling of being happy for friends, and angry and confused that it’s not me. I spend most of my current days doing the day-to-day tasks of parenting without the reward, and it’s fulfilling and heartbreaking all at the same time, and it adds an extra layer of hardness on top of it all.

But then… there are weeks when none of this bothers me (or bothers me less), until something hits me that rips it all off to an open wound again. While the frequency of that cycle is decreasing and is going to continue to decrease, I’m starting to realize that when it does hit, the to-the-core grief feeling is never going to be less intense. When it’s not blaring, there is probably always going to be some of the background sadness. 

But I’m here, and like I said, that’s all only part of the picture, but I can’t not acknowledge that it’s there. Life continues to go on in a blur; it’s somehow Christmas and winter, and I don’t know how or when that happened. Sometime in the past four months I repainted most of the house, cycled 72 miles around Tahoe on a gorgeous fall Saturday with two coworkers, bought an actual piano and have learned a handful of new songs, went to DC for a week for work for some quality time with my awesome team and got to catch up with long-time friends, did a few hikes and skied a few times, and all of that has kept me going. There are little (and big) moments in every day that make me laugh and smile, and I’m trying to do what I can to make those dominate. This will all get easier, and I’m trying to be patient with myself and with the process and know that eventually, it will get there.