Dealing With Losses
For many years, September has been a bitter sweet month for me. I dare to say, more bitter than sweet, but as life goes on, you try to add more sweetener so the bitter is a little more palatable.
On the positive side, I have wonderful people in my life born in this month, as miserable and pig headed as they can be, but I love them just the same.
On the not so positive side, September has been the month that has tested every single ounce of my emotional fiber since 2001. I lost my husband September 23, 2001, my Dad September 20, 2016, my job September 28, 2018 and a few close friends in between those years.
When my husband died in 2001 I developed a different kind of coping mechanism, one of springing into action for everything so as to dilute the emotions associated with having to think about it. I sprang into action and was busy planning the funeral, comforting his family and friends, visiting the 'nine-nights' (never staying as all I wanted to do was just be) and refocusing my energy on all that surrounded me. I hardly cried throughout the process and I usually cry for everything (I am an emotional being with no filters or apologies). I can't tell you much about the processes or what took place between his death and burial, most of it is a blur, I just know I went on as usual, actually more like a zombie who had been programmed to act a part.
And then the melt-downs came. The outpouring of hollering, the likes of which I don't believe I've experienced since, not even when my Dad passed. I remember ever single one of those. The pain. The anguish. The paralysis. My heart literally hurt. It's a feeling I can't describe and I'm sure some of you know exactly what I mean. It's a feeling of one's heart being ripped out, thrown down, stomped on and then some. It H-U-R-T! LIKE HELL! Full stop! Even writing this now is bringing back emotions once thought buried. Truth is, that feeling doesn't leave, it only gets better to manage as the years go by, but sometimes, just one act, just one little thing, can trigger all those emotions to resurface.
I remember his Mom and I went away for a few weeks after and one morning while downstairs I heard her calling to me. For some reason I just couldn't answer her (paralysis). And when she called out to ask if I was ok, the flood gates opened. I mean burst open like the river Nile. I cried for hours on end. Thankfully she had the strength of a woman, a mother, a friend; that despite her own hurt, was able to comfort me back to some level of sanity. That folks was the 1st of many to come, unbeknownst to me, the girl who always thinks she has her shit together and handled, like Olivia Pope. HECK NO! The 1st two years were the worst. I had melt-downs after melt-downs. Some for the simplest things such as, someone asking how are you, or finding a piece of his belongings unexpectedly, or I'd hear a song - to this day I cannot listen to Boyz II Men's - Water Runs Dry.
Then I developed a level of fear like no other when September rolled around. I'd start to get sick for no apparent reason, or rather none the Doctor could find, and I'd go into what I now know was depression and utter sadness. I always took the day off from work, or a week, depending. And I figured I was dealing with it. But I wasn't. Then I started talking about it more and over time it got easier to accept and deal with. However I still got sick every single time September came around, without fail.
Dealing with it...
I remember someone saying to me, 'you need to figure out what triggers this every single time.' But I already knew what it was. However, I couldn't figure out how to stop it. I thought talking about it was enough. That opening myself up to accepting it was enough. That looking back at pictures and reminiscing about good times was enough. But it wasn't.
What I learned was that you have to FIRST ACCEPT IT. Then you need to surrender yourself to it. Surrender yourself to feel every ounce of pain and hurt and sadness. You have to surrender yourself all the way, to feel everything - EXPERIENCE THE FEELING. Then DEAL WITH IT, find what works for you; your coping mechanism. And lastly, just LET IT GO. And it wasn't until I did all of this, especially the last one that I became 'free.'
For those of you who have gone through similar situations, I don't know what your surrendering and letting go entails, but I remember mine quite vividly. I got up on Sunday, September 23, 2012, exactly 11 years after and ironically the same day of the week as 11 years before, and I did what some would say was a 'cow bawling' and purging of the soul. I cried like there was no tomorrow. I felt every fibre of my being explode. I felt my heart burst and I overflowed with emotions. I was alone and invited no one into my space or talked to anyone about this day's ordeal. I purposefully needed to just be. And then I had a long conversation with my God, I told Him, 'I'm done, this is it, I'm moving on, I'm not carrying this anymore.' YUP. Just like that.
What I experienced next was not exactly how I expected it to play out. But I felt a sense of calm that I've never felt before. I sense of quiet relief. I F-E-L-T LIGHT...and I'm a big girl, so you know that's an extraordinary feeling. Just saying.
I have never feared September since. I have not been sick in September since (except for the minor nuisances of daily life of course). And you know what. The Lord knows why He ordained that day the way He did. Cause He knows more shit was coming and I needed to be able to handle it. And come it did.
On Tuesday September 20, 2016 I loss my Dad. I felt it coming. I remember the last day I saw him, the Sunday, he never spoke to me, he never even opened his eyes to look at me...that has bothered me over the years. But I knew he heard everything I said to him. And I made sure to kiss him and tell him I loved him - not something that was openly shared with my Dad and I, but one we both knew and shared in our own special little ways.
I remember when I got back home I said to myself, 'brace yourself...it's coming.' I got home from work earlier than normal that evening and I started cooking. Now I don't normally cook when I get home from work, however when I'm down or can't understand why I feel the way I do, I normally cook or clean. This evening I chose to cook and I did one big pot of chicken and pasta something. Tasted good...or so I was told. I had no idea what I was cooking. I was just cooking. When my brother called and asked if I'm home and what I was doing I felt my belly bottom tremble. And then when he said I'm coming for you, we are going home; I knew before he finished talking. I think my entire neighborhood heard my howling at that point. I let it all out. And when I was done I went into action mode. Packing a bag, packing up the food to take home cause someone is gonna be hungry, thinking about who I needed to call etc. The same way I did when my husband had died. But this time was different. I didn't feel as burdened, I didn't feel as if I was hiding from myself. I didn't feel the sense of anguish and fear. So I know I was gonna be good this time. And I was and have been since.