Me vs. Grief

We all walk around with varying degrees of protective emotional gear on.  It is how we are able to watch the evening news, with its horrific stories of local tragedy, and then flip channels to watch the Real Housewives.  It is how we are able to drive past the man standing with the sign at the off ramp asking for money and not keep thinking about him blocks later.  It is also how we are able to get through the speedbumps in our own lives - the disappointments, the heartbreak, the feelings of inadequacy. 

I have always had a pretty thick protective gear - though I am not sure that I knew it.  I considered myself sensitive in that I had deep empathy for big things and my feeling were hurt easily.  But, the truth is that I was still able to live my life - which was full of friends and laughs and adventures.  When Max died, my protective gear completely disintegrated.  There was nothing protecting me and the world felt immediately unsafe, scary, dark and full of horror.

Slowly, the protective gear (or skin) has grown back.  It's still totally inadequate, but it helps me get through each day - some more easily than others.  This past week, it was totally stripped away again - and I am not completely sure why - but finding a moment of peace within my own brain was close to impossible.  It is so scary when it happens because there is no way of knowing when the pain will subside (because it never fully goes away - the best I can hope for is for it to lessen).  In the meantime, I spend A LOT of time trying to think of a way out.  That train of thought usually goes something like this: I need to know that Max's soul still lives and that we will be together again......I need to find a way to believe in a spiritual realm......I should find a new spiritual practice, philosophy, community........We need to move far away - like Australia, or India, or Croatia (Ya!  That's the ticket).......Maybe there is a book I haven't read yet that can give me some answers: about grief, about eternal life, about where my child is!!!!......Will I ever be happy again?.....Will Teddy?......Will I ever see Maxie again?.....How come some people have experiences that they see as messages from their loved ones and I don't?.......How come other people get pregnant and get to be excited and hopeful?....How come some other people get pregnant period? (No, I am not)......Why do I waste time feeling jealous of what other people have?.......What did I do to deserve this?......This isn't about me!  What did Maxie do?  NOTHING!!!!......I am so angry at god!.....Maybe there is no god!.....Then, there is probably no afterlife......There has to be a god!  I am sorry god.  I am sure there is a plan!.......and so on and so on and so on and so on.....until I am sick and dizzy and worn out and even more unhappy.   Sometimes this lasts for a day.  Sometimes it lasts for a week.  Right after Maxie died, it lasted a year!  A WHOLE year.  I feel fairly certain that it won't ever be like that again, but, I can't know for sure.

And then SNAP!  For no reason at all, the looping stops, a thin layer of protective skin grows back, and I am back to baseline me.  Baseline me is still sad but can appreciate the immediate things in life that make me happy on a day to day basis, without as much worry about anything past this very minute.  My snap happened yesterday - and I feel relief.  Like, my whole body (and mostly my poor brain) is taking a rest.  When I am going through the other stuff, I can hardly think of anything else.  The vet yesterday was kind of laughing at me because I couldn't remember parts of our last conversation, I couldn't remember the medications Jake is taking, and I couldn't even remember that he had had some pretty important blood work done a couple of months ago.  Jake is very important to me, but I just couldn't think.  I was in recovery mode and just trying to get through the appointment.

Before you think, "Well, she is just losing her mind", I want to tell you that I am not.  What I am feeling and going through is very common.  In the several online grief groups that I am a part of, I hear similar descriptions all of the time.  We are a very misunderstood bunch.  It isn't even depression (though that can be a part of it too) - it is grief.  And, oh my god, it seriously takes a very serious punch at me every few weeks and I am never sure whether I am going to survive through.

In the latest battle of Abby vs. Grief -  Abby wins.  Wish me luck for next time. 


Bianca said...

It doesn't sound to me like you are losing your mind, it sounds like you are a mom living with the very worst heartbreak and grief. I'm so sorry for that and for anyone who makes you feel like they don't want to understand. oxoxxo

jessica said...

I wish we didn't have to wish you luck at all. I wish you weren't in a constant battle with grief and weren't faced with the continual sucker punches. And, most of all, I wish that Maxie was here with you. I'm so sorry that he's not and that people still don't get it. You, Teddy, Maxie and Mo are in my heart and my thoughts every day. I love you all very much. xoxo

Jayden's Mommy said...

I'm sorry Abby. It's just not fair. Kira

Anonymous said...

My name is Daniel Shelton; I am a social worker and grief counselor for a hospice in Las Vegas, NV. I have a Google Alert set on my computer for grief and grieving and recently your thoughts popped up. I am always looking for personal thoughts and experiences that might prove useful to those I serve and wanted to thank you for having the courage to share your difficult experiences. I wish you the best of luck in your personal healing and if there is anything I might be able to do to assist please don’t hesitate to ask.


Daniel Shelton, LSW, MSW
Family Home Hospice
Bereavement Counselor/Coordinator
8655 S Eastern
Las Vegas, NV 89123