I am a deadline beast. Give me a deadline, ratchet up the pressure and watch my work! It has been described as impressive…if not a unique blend of chaos. Deadlines keep the pressure and the focus on the work. They leave just enough time to manage the the life side of the work/life balance equation. They don’t leave time for idle thoughts or pondering about the direction life is taking you (when unconciously pondering, it’s almost always life taking me somewhere as opposed to me being the navigator of my own road.)
It’s been just over two years since we lost my nephew Coby and almost two years since my Aunt Elise’s death, both by suicide. The searing pain is gone, but at times what is left is a hazy shade of blur. It’s almost like life doesn’t make sense, even though you are doing what you are supposed to – and some things are working, while others aren’t. I’ll never be able to adequately describe the underlying energy that is like the phantom floaties I sometimes see in my peripheral vision. You can’t shake it, you can’t really see it but you know something is there…or at least was there a moment ago.
How do I know this current is still running underneath it all? In the moments between deadline sprints, life relaxes and things that normally don’t phase me start to creep up on me – emails I know I should have answered a long time ago, friend’s birthdays I’ve missed and shrinking away from grieving friends. It’s almost as if I can’t get my “should” in order. I know I should do these things and that I want to be there for my friends in their time of need. I also know that if I don’t manage things there could be personal and professional consequences, but that doesn’t move me towards action. Honestly it just adds to the sensation of stress pebbles dropping from overhead.
I am so grateful that I can feel any of this. Two years ago I was numb. My heart broken so severely that I didn’t think I would find my way back. Happily my kid has been doing bereavement and general therapeutic work with counselors that has worked wonders. I still maintain parenting a grieving child is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. It is also not something I thought I would have to deal with until one of her grandparents passed (and thankfully they are all still here and kicking!!)
I have faith that this hazy blur will pass in time. How much time? I don’t know. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that social media, along with being a critical tool for my work, had become my release. Sharing thought provoking articles, resources, funny stories and inspiring videos became an escape. The challenge I’ve begun to recognize is that people equate time on social media with free time or time you could be using to communicate with them. I can’t say that I can argue that point. I now also see it has been a way to escape the blur and engage in a way that I can control. The thing I guess I would like people to know is that I am not intentionally trying to hurt them or withdrawal. It really is a coping mechanism. Perhaps not a great one, but the one that has gotten me through.
I think being able to pull back and see the blur, to know that it is symptomatic of the underlying grief felt from losing two beloved souls and to understand that I need to continue to forage my new path is progress. To date I feel like a high functioning imposter. I know there is a storm ahead, but for now the party on the deck needs to be managed. That’s a bit what life feels like two years into this new branch of my life. I miss Coby and Aunt Elsie. Every holiday is a reminder. Every smile of a family member, every belly laugh reminds me of something they did and the little blips here and there challenge my awareness that they are really, truly gone from this physical world.
If there is a blessing in all of this, it’s that they both were such big personalities that it will be virtually impossible to forget them. As I work towards healing the internal wounds I will remind myself to go gently, that work is work – not life, and that most people will be fine without me, while I take the time for myself.
If you’ve felt my absence or if you’ve felt hurt by my time away, please understand that although I may look like it is business as usual, it’s not. It’s a new day. One I’m working to embrace and thrive within, but it takes time, effort and self-care.
For those of you also struggling with functioning during your new day, I encourage you to prioritize your health and wellness. ❤
For more information on Coby and the Fly High Coby Fund:
If you are in need of help please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255