What I haven’t wanted to do was write…
Which is precisely why, I must.
I have spent the better part of the last few days feeling ANGRY. MAD. FRUSTRATED.
And when I say better part.. I mean it.
And anyone who endures this all-engrossing, tight-clenched grip of grief knows… you don’t exaggerate any of it. It feels hopeless at times, trying to describe all of this… because at the end of the sentence you look back and realize, “but that really isn’t even it.” Wrong answer, try again. And again. And again.
Theres not one conversation I have ever had with anyone that I feel, “Whew! That just about covered it! Thank goodness I could get that all out and move on. Woooo-ee!”
I’m beginning to think my mind is coming out of “shock” … and playing catching up with the rest of my stages of grief (oh, those are real). The me that’s finally sitting in realization, logic of 1. he’s not here, 2. the disappointing, and sickening why he is not and 3. the loose ends/feelings/epiphanies that I am confronting and tying up daily because of 1 and 2. They don’t stop. They’re on constant circulation.
I’m starting to feel anger surge more frequently. And surge. And swell up inside me waiting for a release, a resolve thats not on the horizon. Its just not.
I was driving today, on my way to pick up my oldest from pre-K and daydreaming away of running out into a desert, or field… alone, and throwing the biggest bitch fit, temper tantrum my body could muster. I felt a swell of anger in that moment, what do I do with that? Where is that going? I wished, wished I was in the middle of nowhere just throwing myself any which way, stomping my feet, yelling and hollering like a toddler.
This wish, my wish… to release anger and frustration that I don’t, and won’t, ever have words for. Like a toddler. Use the energy to make my body do the talking my mind just can’t.
We forget how honest to our true selves we are when we are young. How raw, authentic and primitive we are. But as adults (well, majority of us, can’t speak for everyone), we are conditioned, suppressed, groomed and “know better” so we often look at tantrums as annoying, damn near savage and embarrassing.
I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life…
After Shayne died, we took him to Nashville (where we met) and onto the panhandle beaches in Florida (where we were married), and onto Orlando (where his family is, and Disney for the girls).
We spent a good amount of time there, visiting friends and family and staying mightily distracted.
One of our day trips was to St. Augustine with some friends.
And here’s the deal.. Audrey and Brooklynn had been in a whirlwind. Lest we forget the stress, anxiety and confusion they had endured and being hauled around the southern United States… That all is not lost on me.
We were all in a constant state of anxious. It wasn’t just some whimsical road trip of funsies.
We had eaten a late lunch at the Columbia and had waited out a late afternoon shower.
The trolly around the city was making its final rounds and Audrey had made a demand, “go on the train!”
Of course. Of course she wants to get on the damn train that stopped running 5 minutes prior to her request.
So we tried breaking it to this 4 year old.. its not happening. Have you ever reasoned with a terrorist, I mean toddler?
Then, no sooner did we break the news, a trolly (one of the last of the day), rolls by and she starts having the most epic meltdown I have ever witnessed from this child.
Losing her damn mind.
I mean, letting the oldest city know who the hell was in town.
Just standing there screaming at the top of her lungs, not thrashing or flailing around, just standing there screaming at us, face turning red, shaking like a lunatic. I’m going to have to Google a synonym for screaming. What is it? Because screaming wasn’t really what was bellowing out of this person.
It was astounding how loud she was, her voice booming and echoing throughout the whole damn city for blocks.
I had two of the most understanding and patient friends with me, one of whom took total control of the situation because I was absolutely dumbfounded, in shock this was actually happening and coming from MY daughter.
She was among other things, (clearly possessed) and inconsolable.
I remember getting down to her level, my sweet friend Kelly had already begun the diffusion of the A-bomb, our hushed voices, trying to remain calm and me, not lose MY shit… and I just looked painstakingly at her face.
And tried not to breakdown in tears.
I saw it. Her rage. Her confusion. Her anxiety. I saw it.
It was all coming out.
And in that moment it all sort of focused, and all I could think was,
“I know. Me, too.”
And I wasn’t angry with her, or mad or embarrassed in that moment.. it wasn’t the damn train. I was looking at her little maniacal face… It came over me, and I felt total empathy.
I know. Me, too.
Thats what I want to do, too. That. RIGHT THERE.
I want to rage, and yell and shake like a lunatic, and let all these fucking people know I AM STILL HERE, and I HATE THIS!!!
YES. Baby girl. Its ok to feel. And lose it.
And do it in front of people. And kind of look like you’re batshit crazy. Thats called, being HUMAN. And getting to know your limits.
But you’re going through something entirely too big for your heart. And my goodness, you have a will of steel. And I’m going to love you through it because I am certain, and confident, this too shall pass. This doesn’t define you. You’re not this moment. And I love you.
She’s done that once. And only once.
Everyone gives everyone permission to be happy, joyful, excited (but not too excited), content, but start trying to throw the curtain down when you let it really hang out.
When that all turns to contempt, anger, frustration, anxiety.
People get bent.
And sit on a trolly, as an onlooker to a situation they know nothing about, and motion that the little girl having a meltdown needs to be slapped. (Yep, that happened. Whoever you are lady, I bit my tongue because you deserved no energy, and you should be especially glad I did. I hoped not a nice thing for you that afternoon). Or even… gossip about you, that you’re giving your daughters bad coping mechanisms, and can’t understand why you’d be so outwardly emotional about things and handling them so candidly is just not how you do things.
Gosh, how dare you widow! Be so external with your emotions!
I’ll tell you whats not appropriate.
Trying to dictate, impress, judge or censor anyone’s process with grief.
Passing judgement about a process in which feelings are surfacing that, reality check: NONE OF US are ever ready, equipped or truly capable to deal with when it happens to us. They die. We’re the ones who have to live with it.
I’d rather go through the hard, awkward, uncomfortable moments with my ladies… let them set ablaze, than try to crack the ice from their hearts later because they don’t know how to express themselves and keep their inner peace because they were never allowed to be free in them and they’re exhausted from trying to hold it all down under the surface, and struggling with and ashamed of being vulnerable.
Thats not what I want for them and their hearts. I want them to be free to feel.
So then there’s the hard part.
Giving and showing myself the same grace, empathy, I would and have given them.
The same empathy I would urgently afford them, I keep from myself.
When I feel anger rising, or in the throws of a bitch fit, I am still trying to figure out how to give myself grace. And not tear myself down with guilt. And feel ashamed.
Because this is uncovering a level of anger I have never felt or touched before.
A very ugly part of me that I have never known until now.
And I don’t know how to give that permission and grace. Yet.
There is no time limit on the stages or rites of passage.
You’re just constantly moving through and back around through and around again, making your way through a maze.
Some days the joy comes and man, every breath you take is giving you so much life, gratitude, you’re making grand leaps and head way. You’re taking 5 steps forward. Those days are breaths of fresh air, wind beneath your wings, all that lovely shit.
Just to have a split-second moment you see his clothes hanging in the closet and question… everything. Every moment you had together. Conversations. Exchanges of looks. It all comes flashing through your brain, as if you could piece together something. SOMETHING has to make this all make sense and lessen the blow.
And thats when you lose all joy. It escapes you. And your 5 steps forward, reduce to 8 steps back. And you’re angry. And the joy you’ve experienced, the joy you thought you felt just hours or moments before, drains out of you like emptying a bath tub. Its depleted. Again.
The tub is empty. And all you’re left with is anger.
And at that point… you’re capable of really, anything.
Showing myself grace and forgiveness and empathy is going to be my biggest challenge of moving myself onward.