Uncharted territory: no more denial

I figured I was so “advanced” that I skipped all the stages of grief, when all the while I was stuck in the first one and didn’t even realize it (it’s denial).  The past few months have been fueled by adrenaline and stress and I have not spent much time in reflection about any of what’s happened. It’s catching up to me now.

Yesterday evening, I was trying to put some doors on a new piece of office furniture and noticed that I was repeatedly doing it wrong. I finally had to make myself stop so I could come back refreshed another day. All day I’d been forgetting things and feeling like my thoughts were in a fog.

Today, big feelings snuck up on me.  Is misdirected emotion a thing? I thought I was upset about one thing and then these huge waves of sadness washed over me and I realized that these repressed feelings snuck up on me.  I feel defeated by circumstances, tired, and discouraged.

Immediately after the storm in August, people expressed such kindness and concern. I got lots of hugs and offers to help with anything at all.  At the time, I didn’t know why they were making a big fuss over something I had under control.  I thought that it’s just “stuff” that can be replaced, we are all fine, and there’s much to do so let’s get to it. But there was more that I am only just now beginning to process.

I look around today and realize that my routine is completely different than it was 6 months ago. And I want the old one back! I miss the committees I was on and the people I love at our congregation.  I miss my art room and the time to spend in creative work.  I miss my online classes and connecting with that community of friends.  I miss sitting on my sunporch with my cat. I even miss my old tupperware… or just knowing where things are and what we own.  I can see why people were so concerned… quite a lot has been lost. There’s no more waiting until things are “back to normal.” It’s just simply GONE! What?!

I wish I could have my old house back and my sweet kitty that slept at my head every night and my old routine. I thought seeing the house gone 2 days ago would help me accept that all of those things are gone. I don’t know why this has happened and I seem to be taking it personally.

Different house, different elementary school, even a different cat! Today I am looking around me and thinking, “what the heck happened???”  I don’t recognize my surroundings and I feel disoriented. WHY has all this happened? I am a ‘get-er-done’ person and I never really understood those people who “let the dust settle” before making decisions.  Today I do. I don’t even remember what I was doing before, but currently I’m getting our rental house to resemble a home, thinking and talking ad nauseam about cabinet placement in all the rooms of our future house, working on our construction loan paperwork that does not seem to ever end, and trying to squeeze in everything else where I can.

And it’s never-ending. It’s not like we could clean up after the storm and go right on with life as usual. We embarked on a multi-year project instead! And I am so done with talking about it all the time. It’s not only our own situation… it’s hassles that other flood victims are dealing with too, whether I read about them online or hear about them in person. My point is… this won’t go away!

Everyone processes things in their own way on their own timeline.  For me, my head was in a different place until yesterday. I guess I was doing so much as if I could make it all better. I was doing what needed to be done, one thing after another after another, unconsciously opting to defer the emotion for another time – packing and storage and moving and insurance and lists and decisions and assembling furniture and cleaning and mothering. Phone calls and showroom visits and so many decisions about a future house that I have trouble even envisioning from drawings.  I’ve also spent endless time ensuring that my sweet girl is adjusting and thriving and has everything she needs (including my attention) to do so. There’s simply no time for momma to fall apart.

I guess there’s only so long I could continue this way.   Yesterday I started crying in frustration and couldn’t stop for a long time. Then I felt so heavy with exhaustion and even self-pity. I suppose I was in denial that such an event had impacted me much at all. I had been ok with starting each day and plowing straight through it at full speed until I collapsed exhausted into bed at the end of it. I thought I was taking good care of myself.  I have been checking in with myself to see how I was feeling, but each time I felt pretty much nothing.

Today I made peanut butter toast. This was the first time that Mo didn’t come to me as soon as I opened the jar of PB.  Even last week, when he didn’t feel well enough to come into the kitchen, I took him a finger tip of PB to lick. I was actually wondering why he wasn’t coming today.  Him being gone seems odd.  I’ve definitely been pretending that he’s still here.  The point is, we are going to have to create new routines for everything.  We are already. That is freakin’ exhausting.

I am in uncharted territory without my usual sense that I can create whatever I want for our future.  I don’t know if we are making the right decisions. I don’t have that feeling that it’ll all be ok in the end. I can hardly fathom what has happened. Is this shock? Grief?

If someone else were telling me all these thoughts, I would tell her that she needs to slow waaaaay down and take better care of herself.  So I’m trying to figure out what I most need right now so I can give it to myself.  I usually look at my to-do list and add more things. Looking at it from the mindset of “what can I take off my list?” feels weak and lazy to me. But I realize there are limits and I have not been respecting mine.

I am fortunate to have a lot of family support and friends who would do anything for me.  So I had a heart-to-heart with Mr. B this morning.  I cancelled today’s “plumbing fixtures” meeting and gave myself a day of quiet. But emotionally, what would be best for healing? Writing? Art? Long walks? Over time, I am going to allow myself to think through some of what took place and come to terms with it.  There’s no reason to be angry at this rental house because it’s not my house.

Lots of heavy feelings today. But still… I have this soft kitten on my lap, a cup of hot tea in front of me, and I’m trying to count my blessings. That’s enough for today.

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One Response to Uncharted territory: no more denial

  1. I think you absolutely found the right way to think about it! Imagine you’re the best friend you have ever had, telling yourself how you feel, and you can hit on the answer you need most. You can feel it inside you. I know that if I were in your situation I would also slow down and defer weighty decisions until they feel easier, and I would also go on lots of walks in the bright sunshine. It always helps me feel better, and walking the same place each day makes it entirely stress free. I often find that I’ve decided things while walking, it’s easier to think somehow. Are you getting enough sleep? So important!! Have you read any lighthearted short fiction? I love that, for getting my mind off the hard parts of today. I’ve been feeling so sad lately, having to take charge of my Mom and lock her up as if she were a naughty child. I was re-reading some of my own diaries, years ago when I had a cancer scare, and it was almost like a good short story. You would think it would be sad, but it was cathartic instead. I am OK, I made it through! You can too.

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