Grief is a tricky asshole. It creeps up on you midday on a Tuesday afternoon… seemingly out of nowhere. You hear a song, you read an article, you have a flashback… something small that makes you remember what you lost. Sometimes it’s the stupidest trigger. Yesterday I was having a normal day when someone sent me a text. It was stupid, it had nothing to do with loss but it set me off. My friend was being protective of me and fighting a battle that I can’t fight alone and somehow it got me thinking about my dad. Before I could even realize what was happening, it was too late. My eyes couldn’t stop producing water no matter how much I tried to distract myself. In the blink of an eye, I became that girl crying at her desk.
This only happens a few times a year, but when it does, there’s no turning back. Everything resurfaces. Anything that pulled at your heartstrings in the past few months comes back heightened. Yesterday I went through every emotion possible – regret about things unsaid, jealousy for those who still have their parents, anxiety over my uncertain future, this one emotion that I still can’t find the right word for… it’s this emptiness accompanied by a feeling like someone is stretching every limb to its breaking point and I’m not sure how much longer I can take it before they all fall off… it’s what I feel when I realize that I’m never going to see my dad again. But most of all, I just wanted to stand up in the middle of my office and scream at the top of my lungs:
I’M FUCKING TERRIFIED!
That was the root of it. I have a lot of pressure and stress in my life right now and it terrifies me. Not in the exciting, thrilling and adventurous way. But in the “Maybe I made a huge mistake by coming out here and life is really fucking hard right now and I’m honestly not sure that everything is going to be okay” way. Whenever I’m that scared, I always just think that maybe everything would be a little easier, a little better, if I still had my dad here. Maybe his advice is what’s missing from this equation. Because honestly, he would know this feeling more than anyone in my life. He took risks and he followed his pro sports dreams and I like to think that he had days where he was fucking terrified. The control freak inside of me is angry that I can’t do anything about it. The optimist inside of me is disappointed that I’m depressed. And the thirteen year old inside of me just really fucking misses her dad. Grief has been a part of 10 of the past 23 years of my life… and I still don’t have it all figured out.
I tried so hard to control my emotions. I was the only one left in my office, which made it harder because I didn’t necessarily need to pull myself together… but still, I was at work and I felt pathetic. So I texted my friend who knows these emotions all too well, and who I would see later. Someone to not only validate my emotions but know that I’m feeling them in case I lost it later that night. Someone to give a heads up to. Then I cut off contact with everyone for the rest of the day. Someone’s kind words could set me off. Someone’s sarcastic remark could fill me with rage. I’d be better off not talking to anyone.
So I went from the girl crying at her desk to the girl crying on the train. When I got to Second City, I basically ran through the building with my head down, praying that no one would see me. Even a friendly hug would set me off, I was just a ball of hyper sensitive nerves. Touch me and I won’t be able to regain the little control I had over my emotions. I grabbed dinner, retreated to a quiet corner and read until my class. Then something interesting happened.
I was headed towards class when I bumped into one of my friends. “HEY!” I said to him, with genuine excitement in my voice. I surprised myself. Where did this uber sensitive grieving ball of depression go? When did I decide to be happy? Why was I now okay with seeing my friends? The rest of the night went like that. In class, I was actually present. During my rehearsal, I laughed and improvised and stayed out of my head. My rehearsal ended in a dance party that I loved every second of. Elated by my happy state, I took the L home with some of my teammates and hopped off at my stop.
About three minutes after leaving my friends, the tears came again. Out of nowhere, escalated by the fact that it was raining and dark out, I started losing my shit. I made it to my bed and cried like a fucking baby. Left alone to my own emotions, I was terrified again. I felt like it wasn’t all going to work out. I was angry because I hate being upset. I JUST HAD A FUCKING DANCE PARTY, HOW COULD I BE DEPRESSED AGAIN? I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do. So I cried myself to sleep.
How do I feel this morning? Much better.
You see, a few years ago yesterday would have been much more complicated. A few years ago, I would be upset for days about this. I wouldn’t let myself get distracted. I would pour over why I felt a certain way and try to figure it all out. But somewhere along the line, I realized that life is much easier if you let yourself deal with your shit. When you’re upset and crying, be upset and cry. When you’re excited to see someone, be excited. When you’re scared shitless, be scared shitless. If all of those emotions happen within one hour, so be it. Stop evaluating how you feel and why you feel it. Just fucking feel. The best way to get through your emotions is to allow yourself to feel them without being apologetic.
But then again, I’m just some girl who cries on the L.
Let her cry, if the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing, if it eases all her pain
Let her go, let her walk right out on me
And if the sun comes up tomorrow
Let her be, oh, oh.