I haven’t written one of these posts in a while. Part of the reason is that while I can easily think of things to write about tinder or tiling, the arc of my personal grief is a lot more persnickety. If this post could have a thesis, it would be this:
I thought I would feel a lot less shitty by now.
Some days I really am fine. The day will come and go without any major drama. I’ll go to work and ride my horse, enjoy a glass of wine with a friend and it’s all fine. There is still laughter and joy in my life. There always will be.
Underneath the surface of it all though, I constantly feel some degree of empty. Tim is less and less present to me all the time now. When I feel him, it’s a rarity and something to remember so I can hold onto it. People talk about him less. Most of the time he’s there in the background, in a song that I hear or place I remember. He’s started to fade, and I hate that so much.
I can’t describe to you how much I hate that.
My dreams are less frequent, but when they do happen they crash in waves. One night I will sleep and he’s so clearly here with me. The physical touch is so familiar that the line between dream and reality is blurred beyond recognition. The next I will encounter a shadow of his former self. A Tim that is not Tim. This person is still alive and hates me so deeply. “I moved to another planet to get away from you,” he will say.
I wake up, and think that he could be on another planet. If he was, he couldn’t be farther away from me than he is now.
Maybe it’s because I function quite normally on the outside or maybe it’s because many months have passed now, but the people around me sometimes seem to forget what I’m going through. A few weeks ago I had lunch with coworkers, and on the drive back one was talking about “Nurse Jackie” and how he might need to get some opiates so he could relax a little bit. While he blabbed on about different recreational pharmaceuticals, I gripped my hands on the steering wheel and told him “Don’t you fucking dare. I don’t want to talk about this.” Then he remembered.
Don’t think he’s heartless. Later, he came up to me and apologized. “You’re doing so well that I forget,” he said.
On paper I’m doing exceedingly well. I know this, but I still feel pretty shitty most of the time.
Underneath my productivity and goals, there’s a layer of hopelessness. Though I still like to giggle about Tinder and joke with my friends as I listen to their tales of online dating, I’ve deleted the app (and all others) off my phone. Reasonable people kept asking me on reasonable dates, and the only thing I could think of was “How do I… not do that?” My extrovert side and curiosity wants to go out to meet people and explore, but another side of me knows the truth.
I’m not ready, and I may not be for a very, very long time.
What I am ready for is to stop feeling constantly shitty. Different levels of my self are healing, but my core still feels less. All I know to do is to keep pushing forward and keep looking for things that will make me happy. Horses make me happy, so Simon and I are off to a show this weekend. Right now there is so much comfort in knowing that hauling my creatures off for a weekend without any adult decisions to be made will make me smile. Even if it’s fleeting, some weeks all I can manage are the temporary joys.
Eventually they’ll get longer I suppose, and eventually this emptiness will go away. In the meantime I think about my feelings and I write a lot. Some of it’s junk and some of it’s okay. The important thing is that it’s down on the page, because I realized the other night the reason why I feel compelled to write this book.
I write because I can capture him. There are so many little details that are already fading, and I can craft these in stories and struggle. When I write, I can share him with others. I can put him back in the room with me for a little while. Some days I desperately need that.
I write because if I can turn this situation into something, maybe it’s not all pointless. Maybe it’s not just that the people we love die, and then our lives are empty afterwards. There has to be another narrative.
While I wait to feel less shitty, I write and live and drive towards something unknown.