4000 Days of Grief

“Night falls, with gravity. The earth turns, from sanity

Taking my only friend I know, He leaves a lot, his name is “Hope”.

I’m never what I like I’m double-sided.”

~ Twenty One Pilots “Semi-Automatic”

Tomorrow marks the end of three years as a public librarian. While I’m still  staying in the field, it’s odd to be leaving the job(well, one of the  jobs) I’ve worked for the past three years. Combine this with the  approaching 11th anniversary of my father’s death and I’m  just full of feelings. I hate feelings. I think they’re stupid. I wish I didn’t have them. As a result, I have a tendency to not talk about  them. EVER. I have recently been informed by someone who I care about  quite dearly that this is, perhaps, not the best decision I have ever  made. And while I think he is wrong about many things, he may, possibly, have a point about this. However, being emotionally crippled isn’t  exactly something one gets over easily, so I have decided that step one  is to simply emotionally vomit all over the Interwebz as opposed to an  actual person. So, pardon me while I spill my grief all over the page  for a few minutes.

I suffer from depression. I have for as long as I can remember. I am lucky that it is not a debilitating condition, but it has caused me a number of problems over the years. Due to a number of factors, both nature and nurture  related, I did my best to simply ignore this fact until a friend spent  most of our freshman year of college pushing me to get help. It is a  small miracle of some small god somewhere that I listened to him.

A few months later, on the Friday before Thanksgiving of 2002, my mother  called me at 7:59 AM to tell me that my father was dead. And at the  tender and horrifically impressionable young age of 19 my entire world  shattered into a million tiny little bits. Suffering a profound loss at  any age changes you, but that first experience with grief, real and  immediate earth shattering grief, it can break you. It changes the way  you see the world, your ability to trust people, to depend on people.  Suffering from depression makes it difficult to connect to people in  general. Add the death of a parent to that and you suddenly exist in a  world in which it becomes impossible to believe that anyone could  understand the kind of pain you feel. That deep biting pain that hurts  so badly that it becomes physically painful; it makes it impossible to  breathe or think or function. How do you even begin to talk to someone  about that?

So I’ve spent the last 11 years not talking. There  have been a handful of times, easily less than half a dozen, where I’ve  let slip bits or pieces but never anything of real depth. These are  almost always followed by periods of intense shame where I immediately  regret it. I feel bad for bothering people with my problems. Even this  has taken hours to write. The instinct towards silence after this many  years is a hard one to let go of. It bleeds into other areas of your  life and after a while you find yourself not really talking about  anything of depth with anyone. Minor annoyances or hurts, the emotional  equivalent of a knee-scrap, are acceptable topics, good news is always  shared, but the bigger hurts, the emotional broken bones and  concussions, those get swept under the rub or pushed to the side to be  ignored.

When I was a kid, 30 seemed like that sort of magic age.  Like hey, congratulations, you’re an adult now! By 30 I should have had  my career figured out, I should have known who I was, and where my life  was going. And instead, I’m 30 and I pretty much have no idea what I’m  doing at all. It’s like being perpetually stuck at a crossroads at high  noon and someone knocked all the road signs down so I don’t have any  idea where anything leads. I once had a boy tell me he wished he could  be what I needed. At the time, because I’m a fool by nature, I believed him and thought it was sweet; in hindsight, I wish I’d asked what he thought I needed. I always wonder if he could  have come up with a better answer than I’ve been able to.

Grief is this thing that worms its way inside of you and lives there forever.  Some days it just makes things a little bit slower, a little bit less  easy. Other days, even years later, it makes you curl up in the bottom  of the shower and cry hysterically. In the 11 years since my father has died, I have not gone a single day in which I do not have at least a moment of sadness. The pain is no longer as crippling as it was the first couple of years, most of the rage has drained away, and I no longer find myself compelled to write trite and embarrassing poetry. But it still hurts every day. And there are still times that I find myself furious that he is gone. And November is still, by far, the worst possible month for me. The grief, the depression, and the dreary weather seep away my motivation and leave nothing but a deep and desperate longing for something that I cannot seem to identify.

I wish that I was a stronger person. I wish that I had dealt with things better. And I wish that grief had an expiration date. But wishes, unlike grief, do not exist. So I will simply continue to muddle along and attempt to do better in the future than I have done in the past.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “4000 Days of Grief

  1. Carolyn Fern

    I understand every word you’ve written as if I had written them myself. Depression is like a concrete block I carry in a backpack everywhere I go. I need a thing I cannot find, even though I tear across landscapes like a banshee and rip up life after life looking for it. My hope is that we can do some traveling together and find it in us not to feel so ashamed.

  2. N, despite the difficulty with which this was written, it was eloquently composed and expressed.

    There’s this odd dance when we relate to other people; there’s layers of hidden meaning, or not, doubts and insecurities, or not, infused love and understanding, or not. This post is helping me to understand and remember your journey when we interact as friends.

  3. Keith

    I appreciate your frank openness and your courage. These are just my thoughts on the matter, take them as you will.

    One can be forgiven for living a life free of concern for the constraints others place upon you or even those you place seemingly on behalf of others.

    I’m 48 – I enjoy my life, but it’s not the life I’d planned and I’ve not accomplished what I’d intended by this point. Nonetheless, this is my life… mine. And it is I who choose whether to live it or wallow in crushed expectations.

    In choosing to live it, I’ve freed myself enough to reach a few of my goals.

    Remember there is strength in numbers – sharing feelings and goals increases your number and your odds of prevailing.

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