Your words take me into your arms, curl around me, help me feel loved despite my imperfections. And hearing I am not the only one who struggles with this helps, more than I could ever express.
Grief is a lonely place. Recovery is a lonely place too. And alcoholics tend to isolate. I did. I mean, I felt isolated, and didn't do myself any favors by drinking and hiding behind a computer. I made the best decisions I could with the tools I had, but they weren't great decisions all the time. I always sided with righteous, yet lonely, indignation. Maybe now I can see that it wasn't so righteous, or all that indignant. It was guided by fear of rejection.
Today an ex-work colleague sent me a message on Facebook. I posted a submission request for still life 365 (we need work, people), and it reminded her that she wanted to write to me. She thanked me for my blog and for still life 365. Though she hasn't experienced a loss, she sent it to the people she loved who had. And they conversely told her that it helped to read my words and to see the art of the grieving.
I forget sometimes.
I forget that I have now been in this community for two years and four months. And that I don't always have to be here. In fact, most days, I don't have the compulsion to write about grief. I think about Lucy every day, perhaps every hour, but I am not floored by her death in the same way I once was. I don't cry most days, or even weeks. But that meant something to me when I was newly grieving. It meant something to hear that it gets better, and that I wouldn't have to be stuck in Bloglandia for the rest of my life. Because that is how it felt some weeks, like I had been exiled to this country of women who grief and write, who are smart, amazing and funny, but are located in a hypothetical place located in a small box that sat on my lap. I couldn't go there. I couldn't touch them. I couldn't hug them. I could only read their stories. I felt simultaneously fettered and free--chained to my home and computer where I was free to be myself. I looked for people with time and experience. I laughed at their blogs. "Look," I thought, "women become funny, wise, kind, normal again without forgetting their grief." Integration. I have experienced integration.
A few weeks ago, I sat with someone who basically read out of the "What Not To Say" handbook. She really hit the big five 1. God's Plan, 2. Have another kid, 3. Try a grief therapist. You are grieving for too long, 4. Are we talking about the same baby? That baby didn't even breathe, right?, 5. Other People Have it Worse. Interestingly, I didn't run away. It was the first time in my grief that I allowed someone to have her opinion about tragedy without making it about how fucking horrible what she said was. My instinct was to nod politely and then never talk to her again. I just calmly disagreed with her, and nodded when there was no response needed. And I called her the next day. I forced myself. And it was fine. We are all people that need to figure out ways to exist in this world, to feel comfort in the wake of destruction and tragedy and absolutely heartbreak. My way is not the way I would recommend for anyone but me. That is something I learned these last few years.
When she started saying, "Other people lose many children, lose their partner of twenty years and leave them with six children alone, (insert horrible tragedy that belittles Lucy's life and death)." It started enraging me, but I stayed silent. Why do I have to defend the tragedy of Lucy's death? I read recently, "Do we have to feel better than someone else in order to feel okay?" No. We don't. But maybe that helps her deal with her tragedies. Who am I to say? My righteous indignation was more like a shrug at the end of the conversation without the rightness or the indignation. I know my grief, and fuck, it wasn't helped by any one of those thoughts. It was only helped by this space, and the space in me that I created for grief. By allowing myself the time to grieve in the way I needed to grieve--the good, the bad and the ugly of it--I was able to come to this place where I don't need this space.
I keep coming here and writing because I want to write here. Because writing helps me process the intricacies of my life, and there is part of me that writes because I hope someone reads something that helps for that moment. I hoped, last week when I weighed whether or not I should share my battles with recovery, that one person might read my words and say, "Yeah, me too. Maybe I need help."
All of this is just to say that grief gets easier. It gets harder before it gets easier, but it does get easier. Not because your child becomes more dead, or because you become better, but just because time and experience help you face situations often enough that you learn how to deal with them. The first time someone said any one of those things to me was a week-long torment of what she said, what I did say and what I wanted to say. I love Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project. God, what I would have loved was to hear those messages when I was a suicidal, goth chick waiting to get out of East Oblivion, Pennsylvania. It would have helped to hear that I would fit in somewhere else. When I read my friend's email this morning, I thought we should have a It Gets Better project for the babylost. People, in all their stages of grief, talking about the ways in which their lives have gotten better, situations that they are better able to deal with. I don't know. It is just something I am thinking. Maybe a day where all of us can sign up with a Mister Linky (I happen to have a subscription, so I can host it.) where we just write a blog post about how it gets better, how grief gets easier to deal with, how we grow. Let's discuss. What do you think?