This is going to be a tough read.
Today has been very hard. I have had some hard days in the past several weeks, but today was the toughest. Today was the day the grief dam broke.
But, before I get to that, I need to start from the beginning.
2021 was a shit year. I left a good job for a terrible one, my marriage ended, and before the year was up I had a sinking feeling I was going to lose my terrible job (which I did).
To be brutally honest, in the past twelve years I've checked off nearly every adult rite of passage: death of a parent (two actually, my Dad and Bonus Dad), got cancer, got divorced, and losing my job. These things tend to happen in waves, much like grief.
But I am an avoider. A total avoider - I am an "I'm OK" and "I'll be OK" person. I'm not a dweller on things. I'm not a processor of experiences. Things happen, I might cry for a bit, write a blog or two, start cracking jokes and move on.
I came to recognize today that I tend to fill my life with things to plug the hole so that grief can stay stuck inside, deep in a place that I hope to keep so it doesn't well up and make me feel all the feels.
But until today I didn't see that was my way.
I really, truly, and emphatically believed that I was OK. That I didn't need to just take a moment and wallow in the sadness. More than a moment- I didn't want to take any TIME. Some actual goddamned time to just feel it. Own it. Process it. Deal with it.
But I should have.
So today, the dam broke. And the trigger was something related to my marriage but what it triggered was years of grief.
Grief has washed over me today - wave, after wave, after wave like the ocean relentlessly pounding a piece of driftwood against a rock.
When my Dad died, I started reading the Jason Bourne book series as an escape. Then I started drinking more, as an escape. I ate more food for comfort, as an escape.
I realized that those things were sending me to an early grave like my Dad, so I poured myself into getting healthy and in shape. Exercise became an escape. Obsessing about every calorie ever consumed became an escape. Running races and doing triathlons were an escape.
Then I got cancer and then...I survived it. Exercise, healthy living, and making funny jokes about having cancer on my blog became my escape. Starting a nonprofit became my escape.
I lost every part of my womanhood in that battle and I swore I was OK. That I didn't need to grieve. Oh, but I did. Yet I managed to push that grief down so deep that I almost forgot it was ever even there.
Then my marriage ended. Redecorating my house became my escape. Fixing my yard became an escape. Spending time with friends when I was alone became my escape. Starting my MBA (while for career purposes for sure) became an escape.
Then I lost my job. I was alone, sad, angry, terrified, frustrated, and embarrassed. I decided to start dating, or try to anyway because I didn't want to be alone. And that was another escape. I filled my time with chats, dates, hangouts, and more but all it was really, was an escape from facing the very thing I didn't want to: needing to grieve so much loss.
People: even my 49 apolcalist is an escape!!!!!! OMG.
It is important to this story that I tell you I met someone in the process of dating, early on. I haven't felt that way about anyone in 22 years.
But, he knew, in fact, he told me from the very beginning, that I needed to dwell on my sadness and grief. But I didn't believe him. In typical fashion I continued to try to convince myself that I didn't need to be sad. That I'd always created space to be sad, feel grief, and process losses. But I don't, actually, do those things well or at all.
And he knew. In a very short period of time, this man knows me better than almost anyone else. And God bless him for keeping me in the friend zone, even if I tried to convince him (and myself) otherwise. He is most certainly one of the best people I have met in a long time.
I put a lot on him, while in many ways he's still grieving some things of his own. And today I've spent the better part of it crying so hard my chest hurts and I cannot even breathe sometimes. Sobbing and catching my breath and sobbing some more.
And some of those tears are for him because I think I may have lost him as my friend.
But the lion's share of my tears is grief over many personal losses over the years, plain and simple. But the most recent one I've been avoiding is the crushing loss of a 20-year marriage.
Part of my day today was spent in the car, with my kids, on a day trip. Once again, as the crushing weight of heaviness bore down on me today so much that I didn't think I could carry it, again, I decided to escape. We piled in the car and took off. And during those five hours, I was fine.
But the minute I stepped foot back in my house, the grieving started again. I can't stop it now. I vacillate between sobbing, sniffling, crying, and moments of peace. Rinse and repeat. But I don't actually feel like I want to avoid the grief anymore. There's more crying than peace, but as the grieving stretches out, the peace lasts a little longer.
This is hard y'all. I hate crying.
And, I hate being alone. But they seem to be the things I need to do so that I can truly and finally grieve and not keep finding ways to avoid the hard parts, the jagged parts, the tough to swallow pill parts.
I just need to let it go. I don't know how long it will take, and if you know me that's the worst part. I can't schedule it, pencil it in, anticipate it or plan for it.
It just is.
And so I need to just be.