Tonight was hard. I’m more-than-ever acutely aware of how difficult I am to be around. And it hurts. Before Rhonda was always the centre of attention. After Rhonda stands on the periphery of a room and doesn’t get invited into the mix, let alone to the centre.
I wish there was a guidebook for friends and family for how to deal with someone in grief over the loss of a child. I make almost everyone uncomfortable, and awkward. More often than not, I evoke a deer-in-headlights reaction from people. There are so few people I feel comfortable with anymore, and I know there are even fewer people comfortable around me. No one knows what to say, or do. They’re so afraid of hurting me they say nothing, unaware that it hurts me even worse than anything they can possibly say wrong. I’ve already lost my baby, anything you say won’t hurt worse than that. I just wish that there was a prescient for this – for all of our sakes.
Afterthought: (Incidentally, I have discovered that someone HAS thought of this – this website has some suggestions.. http://www.glowinthewoods.com/how-to-help-a-friend/)
There’s an elephant in the room. But I’ve come to realize that the elephant is me.
Everyone has gone back to their lives. I’m still here, frozen in time. It amazes me how I have not only become a stranger to myself, but to others too. Family and friends that I always considered so close to me have become strangers, they avoid me at all costs, physically and emotionally. Even when I’m in the same room. I’m not sure if they just don’t have the ability to interact with me without the fear of hurting me, or if they fear I’m contagious – not unlike a leper. Whatever their reason I tend to feel more like the leper. I know their intentions aren’t malicious, but not having them here to support me hurts more than anything they could possibly say. Sometimes all I want is for someone to look me in the eye and ask me, genuinely, how I’m feeling (and not believe me when I answer with my usual, mournful “okay”).
Then there’s those that I would never expect to even speak to me, or be understanding at all – relative strangers to the Before Rhonda – that have come out of the woodwork to be some of my greatest supporters.
I guess watching people in grief does odd things to people.
Darcy and I leave for a vacation in a little over a week. Miranda (my psychologist) says I grimace when I say the word “vacation”. She’s not wrong. I hate thinking of a vacation. I feel horribly guilty with the imagery of vacationing. This isn’t a vacation to me. I hate the thought of anyone, including myself, thinking of me care free on a beach sipping pina-colodas. This isn’t about sunning myself and getting my picture taken with Mickey Mouse. This is about anonymity, not having to constantly struggle to keep up with the social graces of being “that girl who lost her baby”. This is about taking some time to learn who I am now, away from the pressures of what “normal” has become, where I don’t have to look at that closed bedroom door all of the time. This isn’t about forgetting, because I’m not going to forget. I don’t WANT to forget. It’s about making happier memories and teaching myself that smiling isn’t a betrayal to Everlee’s memory, but it’s honouring her with my own living. It’s about learning how to smile again without having to concentrate on the mechanics of making it happen.
It’s easy for me to type that. I just need to learn to live it now. This isn’t a vacation. It’s the beginning of a prescription for healing. I hope.
And I hope being away from people I know will teach me how to be around them again, and maybe help me become easier to be around. And maybe I’ll get invited back into the mix, or maybe I’ll just find a new centre.