Degrees of Immersion

I forget sometimes that other people who were close to Ian have had differing degrees of immersion in reminders of him than I have. From the start, I was buried in reminders. Reminders at home, on my phone, in my music, at work, in my car/routes to and from places, in leisure activities, in pretty much everything, he had been there, would have been there, and left bits of his personality everywhere I was. At some point, you become inured to things like that. For me, it happened pretty quickly. Yes, they still hurt… but it’s a familiar hurt. It’s one I’m accustomed to feeling and weathering.

As one of Ian’s and my mutual friends has started working with me, where Ian used to work, I’m realizing how often I forget that not everyone had that. So when he runs into a case note that Ian made, with his characteristic verbal flair, it’s a brand new gut-wrenching experience for him. One that I’ve already gotten used to. I fear that, due to having already been through that, I am less gentle than I should be, in those cases. I lean toward thinking, “Yeah, been there, done that. It sucks. Get used to it,” rather than being as empathetic as I should be.

It’s something I need to work on. Because to be honest, few people were as immersed as quickly as I was. Maybe no one was. It’s selfish of me to expect anyone else to have the same level of scarring in this area that I do. Just because you have a healed open heart surgery scar from a year ago doesn’t mean that the person who just had their surgery should feel it only as much as you do. And it doesn’t mean that if someone pokes theirs, it will feel the same to them as it does if someone pokes yours.

Emotional scars don’t bleed, and aren’t visible. But it’s the same concept.

As much as it was hell, I can’t help but feel a little lucky that I had all of that at once. That, a year and almost a half later, there’s not a lot that will be NEW in terms of things that gut-punch me out of nowhere. There are definitely things that do hit me out of nowhere. But all of them are familiar. I know how they feel. I know how I get through them. They still hurt. Very much. But I know the pain. And something that’s new and unknown is invariably more disconcerting than something with which you’re familiar.

So, if I’ve been insensitive to you, I deeply apologize. This just occurred to me, and I know I’ve been doing it almost from the start. I will attempt to improve.

Written 7/10/2015

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