I took last Friday off. In my usual mode of efficiency, I booked a meeting with my mother’s boyfriend to give him the goodbye letter I found in her apartment and a journal she was keeping, I booked an appointment at the MS Clinic for some tests, I booked coffee with the eldest niece who is having a tough go of it, I booked a doctor’s appointment to talk about the clumps of my hair that are falling out (my hair dresser estimates I’ve lost about 25% of my hair). I was so pleased with myself for arranging things that I went from clinic to restaurant and then back to clinic. It was a nice, neat and efficient plan. It delighted my organized soul.
I forget. . .
That I am only human and as frail and given to the sadness and feelings of being overwhelmed that you would expect from a woman who has lived my year. I forget that I have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, been through massive changes and a promotion at work, significant changes in my personal life, that my mother died. I forget that I am changed and am still broken. I rely on strength and fortitude that don’t exist any more. I forget that my well is dry, has been dry for a very long time and I cannot do what I used to. I forget that I need to be kind to me. My ability to gut through things is sadly lacking these days.
I forget that people are used to the old me – the one that kept going, even when it seemed like she shouldn’t. When you are the energizer bunny, or at least people see you that way, they forget too.
They forget to ask if you need to talk, they forget to ask how you are doing. They forget, when you tell them about the facts of the thing – that you met with your mother’s boyfriend to hear about the life she lived for the last 3 years – to ask how you are feeling. They forget that a meeting with the MS clinic means confronting the disease, and that a doctor might overwhelm you and frighten you with all the things that could be wrong with you. They forget to ask what you found out and how you are coping with that. They forget, when you are usually so open and transparent, that hard stuff needs a space for revelation, time where you don’t have to organize your thoughts, time where you can lurch from emotion to emotion with no expectation that you will find any form of closure. They forget that when you have a day like that, you don’t need to hear about how strong you are, you need to hear they are strong and you don’t have to be. They forget when you don’t talk beyond the facts, that is when you most need people to ask.
I forget too. I forget to advocate for myself. To stand up and say “no, I need to talk about this. I need you to listen to me. I need to verbalize this so that I can let it go.” I forget to ask myself if things might be hard and when I realize that they could be, to space them out. To damn efficiency and just refuse to overwhelm myself. I forget to insist that my own voice be heard, to give myself time alone to adjust and to rebuild. I forget that not everything is words, sometimes it is human voice and not typing on a screen or on a blog platform.
Then it all falls apart, which is exactly what happened last night. I stared at another huge clump of my hair in my hand and I simply fell apart. I pushed too far, too long and gave away too much. I am overwhelmed and hurting and I need some time. I need to go and find those who will listen to me, who will understand that I’m lost and broken and I need a bit of gentleness and mercy.
I need to hear not that I am tough and resilient and that I will be ok; but that I am in fact bruised and battered and that’s ok, because I am loved all the same. I am as much loved for what I am not as what I am.
Mr. Spit is gone this week which is a bit hard, but also good, because I can focus on caring for myself. I can let work coast a bit, withdraw from harder places. I can watch movies and eat popcorn and knit. I can, and have, booked calls and dinners with friends who will listen. I can surround myself with the actual voices of people who care about me, and take comfort and love.
I need to remember, that it’s ok to beat a strategic retreat. It’s ok to withdraw for a bit, to tell people if they want to come in after me, in a non digital means, then please do. I’ll be back digitally in a bit, when I have found myself in the real world.