Tuesday, July 21, 2009

grief n. 1. deep mental anguish, as over a loss: SORROW

My face has opened up like a faucet and I cannot turn it off. My chest feels like a 30 pound weight has found its resting place on my heart, which is being ripped in 2 along the scars of heartbreak past. I don't know what this feeling is. My mind - the one place where rationality tends to (kinda) prevail - attempts to process the state I'm in. My emotions are beyond logic at this point. I'm inside of foreign territory. I'm inside of grief.

I was simply looking at photographs. Old photographs. Tiny rectangles of colors reflecting faces and lives from decades ago. Before things became complicated. Before we knew what would unfold. Is it just me, or did we all look so happily naive and trusting in the certainty of our fates?

For some of us, fate didn't turn out the way we dreamed or expected. Some of us divorced, miscarried children, got sick. At best, we became saddled with the weight of adulthood and parental responsibilities.

I move on to photos of my first born, and the dam releases. I'm choking, sobbing, gooing snot all over myself. I'm emotionally transported back to all the joys and sorrows, and it's all a bit too raw. The little 7 pound girl that entered my life and made me whole. The day she took her first breath was the day that I was born. A happy toddler, pre-diagnosis, waddling around on hunky thighs. Her round pudgy apple cheeks plumping up with her smile that showcases 4 tiny teeth at the midline. There are no photographs of seizures and chest tubes and medications and therapies and autism. There is only a little girl being a typical little girl. Smiling at the lens with joy and trust. We beam back at her with adoration and the paternal hope all of us take just a little too much for granted. We all thought we knew each other and knew what we were in for. These are the "Before Pictures"... Before a strained marriage would reach its bitter end... Before the girl I knew became lost to me.

I haven't looked at these pictures in at least 10 years. Ten years. I can't say why, though I can take an educated guess. And I'm sobbing, which is unusual for me. You see, I distinguish crying from sobbing. I get misted up quite often. With less frequency I'll cry; when I'm touched by a heartfelt story, when I see a sad movie, and especially when I'm fuming mad. I cry when I'm stung by a bee or when I'm really frustrated. But I don't sob. Crying comes from your eyes. Sobbing rips from your chest in uncontrollable heaves and fits. Sobbing hurts. Sobbing isn't cute. Sobbing feels like hysteria. Sobbing is what you do when someone dies or you've experienced such a profound loss that you feel broken beyond repair.

No one has died. Yet I am sobbing.

No one has died I whisper to myself. Thank God, I have not known such loss or despair. But I am sobbing over a loss, and I can't stop myself.

Later my husband will hug me and tell me that I am experiencing the insidious and cyclical symptoms of grief. He's a shrink, so psychoanalysis is free with the numptuals. He reminds me of the things I already know about grief and loss, how it will revisit you though out your life. How it can be repressed, neglected, excused, and ignored. But, like the weeds in your garden, they'll resurface among the beauty of your happy life. For the most part, they won't do harm, but they sure aren't pretty and they're a bitch to dig up.

Grief. Sorrow.

I joke to my husband that I need to box up those albums and never look at them again if this is the effect they have on me! But the truth is, I really should look at them much more often.


Elizabeth said...

"the insidious and cyclical symptoms of grief" -- what a tremendous phrase that resonates with me on so many levels.

I wish you strength as you move through this wallop. You will.

And love to you, fellow traveler...

sheree said...

I know all to well what you are feeling. It is still hard for me to look at pictures from my pregnancy. I was so ignorant, naive, and brainwashed. I hate that.

The good news is, we're here today and we're thriving. Spray some round up on those weeds and move on. Today is a happy day. :)

Smiling Mama said...

We all have the right to grieve for more than just death. There are so many other kinds of losses and they all deserve grief.

Laughing Stars said...

This line -- "the insidious and cyclical symptoms of grief" -- speaks to me, too. Thank you for having the courage to use your writing talent to talk openly about this. My thoughts are with you.

Claire said...

It's weird that I don't cry anymore...I just sort of feel like that was something else, or someone else's life, so many years ago. Like looking the wrong way through a telescope.

Jeannie said...

Those pre-diagnosis days were something, weren't they. Ignorance is bliss for a time. I'm so thankful I'm past that process and know, for now, where my little guy stands.

I don't cry much anymore (the meds take care of that). I'm feeling the tears well up these days as my sister-in-law's sister-in-law lay in a hospital bed dying, with five kids hovering over her lifeless, still-breathing body, in shock and in tears that they are soon to lose their mom, who no longer responds and who's body is shutting down.

Life is not fair.

Anonymous said...

I know.

Sometimes the grief comes without warning and literally knocks me down. But God always sends me something - a laugh from my girl, a tiny step of progress, a verse of encouragement - to lift me up again.

tiffrutherf said...

I always promise myself I wont ask why..I will keep moving froward.. but I guess we have to look back, as painful as it is, in order to truly grasp and deal the present, and for me personally, to forgive myself.

navywifeandmom said...

I still have trouble looking at photographs of me pregnant with Natalie and photos of her as a young baby. It is hard to look at them and know that I had no idea what was in store for me when they were taken. My face is so full of hope and promise in all the pregnancy ones. It is like every photo taken of me with my children after she was about a year and a half has those forced smiles that try to hide fear of what the future is going to bring and I look older than my years from the horrid sleep-deprivation that both my daughter and I suffered due to her condition.

Jeve (aka John and Steve) said...

You are such a talented writer. Do you know that? That was true and 'stung me'.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

That was me last night - sobbing. The magnitude of my two weeks in Nepal just hit me hard. I'm not sure what I was grieving, but it sure felt like grief. Maybe there were lots of other past issues wound up in it, previously pushed down. I've done that a lot over the years.

This is such a great post - and timely for me. Thank you for sharing such powerful writing.

Beth L. Gainer said...


This blog really resonates with me. I love the John Lennon quote from his song "Beautiful Boy," that "Life happens when you are making other plans." It's normal to grieve, and looking at old photos does it.

It's painful for me to look through old photos too. Like I say, "Geez, I had a tumor in my breast and didn't even know it at the time," or I'll see a picture of my ex-husband and cry.

Grief is something that's a universal, as you know, and I have spent much time sobbing -- not crying (thanks for a great distinction) over what I've lost.

But there is so much we have gained, too. Sometimes, we realize that we are overly emotionally sensitive, and it's OK to allow the grief come out of your heart.

You are not alone. We all have our sorrows. The road traveled is not so easy, but I know you are highly courageous.

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