Monday, December 28, 2009
I´m feeling numb
Originally uploaded by mypurplesky
This afternoon I went to meet with a friend who was in town for a few days. Like myself, she too lost her husband to cancer earlier this year.
My friend was staying at a hotel downtown, so rather than drive across the city, I decided to take the train. It is actually much faster and more convenient than taking my car. As I climbed the stairs out of the underground station, I found myself smack in the middle of hundreds of shoppers and tourists. Going through this part of the city is always a bit intimidating, as it is the epicenter for tourist who are catching the various modes of transportation available her in San Francisco. Going through this mob today was even more daunting than usual.
It's not very often that I venture out of my home these days, other than for work. I find that my preference is to stay in as much as possible. I make it sound as if I am home a lot. The reality is that I am running around, driving about, in many directions during the week. Besides work, there is family therapy, electric guitar lessons for my 11 year old, my therapy, my son's therapy, our grief support group, and my Friday evening drive to pick up my 16 year old from his residential school 45 miles north. Okay, so maybe I'm not at home much at all.
My point is this, although I am a very busy single father once again, it is not that often that I find myself in the midst of such large concentrated groups of people. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I will go out of my way to avoid groups of people, large or small. I'm not exactly sure why this is. It's just part of the phenomena known as my reaction to grief.
Now I guess you could say that I'm not the most social person anyway, but this hasn't always been the case. I think that being so busy with my kids over the years, then often being more home bound because of Michael's medical needs, has led me to socializing or being out of the house less and less. It never seemed to worry me too much, but lately it seems to have taken on a very different feel.
Coming out of the underground, and entering the sea of people brought about an increased awareness of how I see myself as intrinsically different than other people these days. I know it's a theme I've discuss again and again, but just don't feel like I am part of the land of the living. I fear that this is partly from my need for isolation. I don't want to see happy couples together. I don't want to see all the smiling faces. I don't want to be reminded of what it felt like before losing Michael. Right now I don't care to be happy. I don't care to even pretend to be slightly amused. It all just takes too much effort.
I suppose I'm a bit of a zombie, although I'm not much of a meat eater. On each given day I feel either more dead, or more alive. Is my cup half empty, or half full? I haven't lost all of my humanity, I am a very sensitive chap, but I have lost my desire to interact with most of humanity. I do enjoy my time with my kids, but some might argue that they can be less than human at times. It just takes so much energy to be social, unless the social context is framed around my current reality of grief. I think most people understand this, they probably just don't realize how strong of an issue this is.
It's funny, but there was a period of time that Michael and I seemed to watch one zombie movie after another. There was the classic 'Dawn of the Dead,' the hilarious 'Shaun of the Dead,' and the last one we enjoyed together, 'Fido,' a campy throwback to 50's era films about a boy and his pet zombie.
I never said that Michael and I were the intellectual types.
Where was I...?
Oh yes, a social zombie. Half living, half dead. Forgive me, my mind feels useless tonight. My point is this...when I am sitting talking to another widow or widower, I don't need to explain myself. I don't need to look happy. I don't need to seem like I am doing better than I am. In so called "normal interaction," I can't sit and talk about Michael for hours, or talk about my internal pain for hours. Okay, maybe I could, but eager listeners are not exactly lined up at my door. And if they were, I would bore the hell out of them, very quickly. Those of us who mourn probably sound like a bunch of broken records. We need to tell, and retell, our stories. We live in a state of grief for quite some time. We are numb at best, and in misery at worst. Moments beyond this state of being are rare, at least for me, or superficial at best.
Am I feeling better than I was three months ago? In all honesty, I would have to say yes. Do I feel any more alive than I did then? Not really.
I am numb. Numb is the state of my being. It is where I'll likely be for some time.
No, we are not having fun yet.