Experiment #13: Gah, Fuck This

So it's been radio silent on the blog for the past month. It isn't that I haven't wanted to write or even haven't had the time to write... but...  but in so many ways, this blog is verbal manifestation of myself, my work, my adventures, my friends, my loves, and everything.  And when the manifestation of myself is a dark, pathetic, and scared (but a very real) version of me,  it's impossible to write even the data science posts. It juxtaposes everything on this blog and doesn't belong here; I don't like that version of me.

I can't say I am making a great comeback or have found the secret to life. This post will probably be much akin to the Hyperbole and a Half Depression Post and I debated for a long time whether to post it, deciding ultimately that I had to in order to remind people that this is what it feels like and to remind myself to empathize.

As I get older, break ups seem to get harder to deal with (exception being the first one). For a while, break up land consisted of a sudden strike of awareness that things were not working and never could be righted, ripping off the band aid, but then the emptiness was swiftly filled with another able bodied male. (Yes, this description is as harsh as it was in real life). But with each repeat of this cycle, it started to become increasingly harder instead of easier - the hopes were bigger, the entanglements were deeper, and the nightmares were more vivid.

The Happy family dream, right?

Why worse? Societal pressure to have babies asap? Sure, I have no doubt that contributed, but the real bite is facing the reality that this keeps happening and may continue to happen indefinitely. I don't find myself saying "I'll never find someone" or "I'll be forever alone". These are choices. Instead, I find myself mourning how much of myself I poured into that person - their happiness, their dreams, and their passions became mine. The older I have grown, the more I pour in, and this time I thought I had found someone that I could pour myself into entirely.

Obviously, that was not true (hence this blog post, right), and so I fought it - I vehemently denied clear problems (Grieving Stage 1: denial). Then came the relentless disappointment, fear, and horror as I watched something that I had told everyone was perfect crumble around me. The ensuing cycle became more of an internal dissolution in my mental cage than external fighting (Stage 2: Pain and Guilt).

Important note: I naively thought that maturity was about recognizing your mental and emotional limitations and growing past them. For example, if you struggle with perfection, I saw the conquering of such a mental monster as a final thing, and as time passed, you became more ensured of your success - a solid wall distancing you from your former problems. I didn't realize it was a wall that when you remove enough bricks, it will collapse and leave you exactly where you started, no matter how much time has passed. Or maybe a pipe bomb gets thrown at it and you never see it coming.

Then of course, came the fighting, the point where all our friends tried intervening for the best, and the vitriol. Remember, the more you care and feel is at stake, the uglier this will be (Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining). This is where the ultimatums appear, the "this is the last straw". Why do we do this? I was even asking myself this in my head as I was saying some of these things, knowing it was useless and you can't bargain for things you need with something you don't want.

Just want to sleep forever
And finally, the break, where we are left to fend for ourselves after some harsh parting words sure to stick with the other person. My beautiful friends and family, I know your first instinct is to shield and protect, but there is nothing you can protect me from. The battle is all internal - watching a constant slide show of memories, collapsing in a bathroom at a grocery store crying because some oatmeal box triggered something beneath the surface - like some sick melody reminding me that I broke something really beautiful. I was happy - we were happy - where did it go? Maybe I could change? Maybe I could fix it? But no ... I can not fix this. It's a we problem, and an "I" can not fix it. We fix. We fight. We break. We fix. We fight. We break. Ad infinitum.

Time slows. Everything slows. I find myself wanting to sleep all the time. I force myself out of bed to go do things and go to work. I force myself to focus on tasks, some taking inordinately long. I'm always smiling or laughing in public because it feels like I can make it if I seem happy (fake it till you make it). I can't go on walks because I just start crying. Friends know I need a distraction and try to cheerfully buoy me. When we're together, it feels like life has purpose. But then we fight and the purpose is replaced with unchecked rage and helplessness. When we're not, it feels like I could die and it wouldn't be like I missed anything (Stage 4: Sadness and Loneliness).

Hope the Violet. The last violet died,
so Hope needs some hope too.
That's about as real as it gets. For days I just felt this emptiness and loss like someone precious to me has died - that our memories together ceased the day they walked out of my life. But in some ways it's worse because he/I/we chose this - we chose to have our memories end that day. It's not that they were taken and I can remember them as a beautiful person; no, instead part of me (right now) hates them for all the hurt.

The next step is supposed be the upward turn, followed by reconstruction, and then acceptance and hope. Hope... it's funny, I bought a violet at the grocery store today and I named her Hope because I needed some Hope in my life :)

Have I had an upward turn? Nothing so drastic. Maybe 10 of the 50 mini turns I need to make the full upward turn, like waking up one morning and wanting to do something. The most cathartic thus far has been writing a genuine apology email to him (and sending it) about how there were things I said and did that I am not proud of. I listed them, I apologized for them - they are things that are not in keeping with my moral compass (extreme anger, lack of gratitude) and I was sorry I did them. They are not things that I can't change about myself... I'm not sorry for those, I'll just keep doing them because that's just me.

This is where I thank all the people who have helped me through this process. You know who you are - whether it was a soulful, heartfelt Facebook post or it was a few kind words when I needed them. Or listening to the whole agonizing exchange in excruciating detail (I'm really grateful/sorry for you gold star members). Sometimes it was the simple and the direct phrases ("you have no relationship at this point") that hit home and helped me take a step toward to moving beyond all of ... what's in my head.

Much love to you all <3 Now go read Becoming a Bike Girl and realize that there was more joy than sadness in this relationship, even including it's fiery end. Maybe that's what hope is.






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3 comments:

Christine Gabrielse Lin said...

Nice post, Lois. Well-articulated, vulnerable, honest...Everything you wrote reminded me of what I went through 6.5 years ago. Wanting to sleep all the time. Crying at my work computer. In a way I was fortunate because I was a grad student at the time, and no one really noticed that I came in late (because I couldn't get out of bed) and left early (because I was crying too much). I couldn't eat, so I lost a lot of weight. I guess I'm sharing this so that you know your experience is normal, however excruciating, and there are those of us who cry along with you because we remember the pain. I'm so sorry you have to go through these fires. Keep letting it out...I read once that it takes dozens and dozens of times vocalizing your grief to start moving past it. And while you're in that stage, it is absolutely okay to allow yourself to feel and embrace the sadness. I'm so happy you have good friends that are supporting you through this. Thinking about you. ::hugs::

Lois Keller said...

Christine, thank you so much for writing in and leaving this post. That's what this is really about... no matter how alone we feel, we're not alone. This process, no matter how deep the grief, is experienced by so many people and for some, multiple times. To some level, I'm aware it's normal and it will get better, but in the lows, it's hard to look up and know that one day it won't hurt as much.

jbortnik said...

Thanks so much for posting this Lois. It was a vulnerable and sincere expression of who you are, and where you're at. I grieved knowing how much hurt you've gone through and are still going through, and remembered (quite viscerally) times in my life when I've also lost sight of hope. Although this doesn't change your current situation or take away the pain, I wanted to remind you (anemic though it is) that there is a community of people that support you and care for you (i.e., us!) and that things will get better ... and in fact, better than better, so hang in there! -J.

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