For about 19 months, I have sat in a large orange chair across from a psychologist specializing in PTSD and trauma. Through the use of various therapeutic “techniques” including EMDR, she has walked along beside me on this journey. I have had the opportunity to cry, vent, rage, and express feelings too frightening to share with others. But even with all her experience, all her compassion, all her effort, I have not “moved on,” “gotten better,” or “learned to accept.” Instead, after nearly 19 months, I’ve learned to go through the motions; I’ve learned to fake life more skillfully.
Since Christmas, I have been unable to fully pull myself out of a dark haze that has descended on me. I had thought that as the days got longer, brighter, I would be able to shake at least some of the depression that has set in. Like with everything else, there was no predicting one day to the next. The last few days have been worse.
Although not as frequent, the depth of the grief waves that have been coming is growing. Those feelings of losing my mind and my head feeling like it’s about to explode have intensified again. I’m used to the bodily sensations that overcome: the shaking, the nausea, the inability to breathe. These are all a part of daily life. I’m used to feeling exhausted all the time, ALL THE TIME. I’m used to aches in my neck, shoulders, and back as my muscles tighten with stress. My bodily ailments are only noticeable now on the rare days they don’t appear. Feeling “ok” is not the normal but rather the unique. What I’m not used to is the emotional wave that overtakes takes me and forces me to gasp for breath. The moments that become triggers when only days ago they went unnoticed are the moments I can’t get used to. They not only stop me in the middle of whatever I’m doing, they induce a panic attack, and worst of all, they make me realize that every second, every inch of my life has changed and that I’m incapable of performing the most simple of tasks on most days. From the outside looking in, I seem to be “better,” and I am able to do more than I was a year ago. What hasn’t changed is what goes on inside me. I may look as though I’m moving along this journey; it may look like I’m participating in parts of life again, but in reality, that’s a pretend. I’m going through the motions because I have no other choice. We have to eat; we need clean clothes; we have bills to pay, but all of those are mere motions, actions I preform.
Last week I met with a new therapist. I will be seeing her weekly for a scheduled session of 12 weeks which will be a more structured approach to making me give a shit about life again. I hold out no hope, have no expectations, but I will go through the motions, attend each session. I can’t and don’t believe my life will be any different than it is now other than I will learn to fake going through more motions the outside world expects of me.
When I met last with my regular therapist, she asked me if I ever just let loose what was inside me when the feelings arose. No. I told her that wasn’t possible. I couldn’t fall to the true depths of my misery and pain in front of others because I don’t want to hurt or scare them. I can’t do that to those who have stood by me and who also already hurt so much. When she asked why I didn’t “let loose” when I’m alone, I was hesitant to answer. I knew the reason immediately, but putting it into words and making it more tangible is a whole other thing. I was finally able to tell her that succumbing to the despair alone wasn’t possible because I can’t be sure where it would end. It is still my preference to NOT be here, and I fear letting myself fully feel the grief that swirls around me. Now I can pull myself out of the waves with a great deal of work and focus, but to simply let it envelope me is frightening.
In what are now my normal days, I can stave off acting on the most horrible of thoughts, but I have now assurance in myself that I can make that same choice when I am fully submerged in pain. And that is the purpose of the new therapy treatment. It is designed to help me “realign” my thoughts. It’s a therapy that is supposed to help me reassess my beliefs and values and adjust my thinking accordingly. Like I said, I have no expectations because one belief I am certain of is that my depth of grief and pain is directly in correlation with the depth of my love for Melinda. I don’t want that to change. I hurt this much because I love this much, and that I won’t let go of, move forward from, reassess, or get over.
I suppose we all wonder if and when things might change for us. I’ve been told I just need time. The trick of course is to be able to endure the time until then.
I love you Melinda, and the hole in my heart remains.