About 6 months ago (August 2013), I realized that I wasn't just in a position; I was on a trajectory, and I only then realized where the trajectory was heading.
About eight weeks ago (December 2014), I arrived.
One of the problems with the current life circumstance I am enduring is: I have no idea when it will be over. I have no idea what it will mean to no longer be afflicted by the loss I am feeling.
When I was younger, and I lost my last grandparent (it sounds odd to say it that way, but in my family, my grandparents, great grandparents, and great aunt all lived together, so losing this last one of those five was substantial), I thought I was over it, thought that I had moved on from the sense of loss. Then, one Sunday, something like a year after the death, maybe more, I got good news, and I dialed, instinctively, the number of my grandparent's house -- and got the "number has been disconnected" recording, and almost wept, again. I wasn't over it, I hadn't completely (or as completely as I would like) moved into the next phase of life, a life where being unable to talk to anyone at 414-562-2106 was the new normal.
This feels like that, with an additional dimension, one that troubles me because I don't know how to process it. That loss, I could process quietly, alone, and pretend, at least, that it did not mar my human relationships.
I spent a portion of last night with people whom I think of as friends or whom I think of as possible friends. In these contexts, I feel like I did when I was sixteen and I was hit by a cab while riding my bike. I bounced off the cab's hood, my bike was a little bent but unbroken, and I was able to ride away (thank you, helmet!). As I got home, I wasn't sure whether to tell friends and family that I was hit by a cab. I mean, I was shaken, but I didn't want people to treat me differently, to go concussion hunting, whatever.
Do you enter into a human relationship acknowledging that you are wounded?
As I approach times like last night, with these people, part of me feels like I should open with: I was hit by a cab eight weeks ago. If I start acting funny, please tell me. If I am hurtful, I do not mean it; if I should be listening to you and instead I space for a second, it's not about you. It's that my helmet was on too loose when I hit the boulevard.
And yet part of me wants to ignore it, to say: I bounced, I'm okay. Thank you Helmet. I'm okay. Please enjoy my company the way you might have, all the time, anyway. If my eyes glaze, well, I've always had a certain eye-glazey charm.
How do I earnestly and honestly enter into human friendships in this position?
I chose teaching as a career because I like helping people learn to express themselves, and to achieve what is possible when they communicate well. I'm the helper, you know?
But what bothers me most is, I don't get to decide whether I have an (emotional) concussion. Telling people I was hit by a cab doesn't make the (emotional) concussion go away, if I have one, and not telling people that I was hit by a cab doesn't make the emotional concussion go away, if I have one.
I keep saying "if." Surely, I must.
I don't get to decide when I am okay. I am not even sure I trust my own ability to know when I will be okay.
- I feel certain that the minute I feel that my loss behind me, I will feel it, as my friend Michael Gillespie calls it, washing up as waves of anger and sadness.
- Claims that I am okay, at some point, will feel to me like evidence that I am not, that I am trying to force emotional healing that I can't force, can't resolve.
Part of me wants to know when I will be "me" again. And part of me knows that whatever me I will be, when I am through this process, will be unlike any "me" I have been before. I don't know that I have ever lived with this much uncertainty before.