There is a really insightful way that I’ve heard my friends with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities describe what their limits feel like. The Spoon Theory is eloquent and wonderful. Luckily for me, I don’t have physical illnesses, I don’t have a chronic condition that limits me physically. However, and this is not the same, but it’s close enough that I feel it’s the best way to convey it, this grief has stolen my spoons of emotional coping.
Let me explain by example.
This week at work, we had some new technology come in that will ultimately make things better, but we were sorely under-prepared for it, and it made the first day of the implementation beyond stressful for me. By 10:00am that day, I wanted to go back to bed. By 3:00pm, I’d cried three times. And for someone who doesn’t really EVER cry over work, that’s very weird.
Here’s the thing, though, I wasn’t crying about the new tech, or anything really to do with work. I was crying over the normal little reminders of Ian that come up every day. The ones I’ve gotten used to. The ones that don’t generally make me do much but sigh or smile or briefly mourn his absence. The first one of these that came up that day had me closing my door, hiding behind it, and sobbing into a tissue. Sobbing to the point where I worried one of my neighbors would hear me. I haven’t done that at work since the first couple weeks after his death.
I like to think I’m pretty resilient. I’ve got a deep well of emotional reserves. My emotional spoons are plentiful. Not that day. The stress of the new technology, the less than well-thought-out roll-out stole my emotional coping spoons. By the end of the day, I was so mentally and emotionally exhausted that when a coworker came to ask me a question, I couldn’t think of the most basic words.
When I went home, I still had physical energy, but I couldn’t think. So I did some mindless tasks, some that didn’t require any emotional fortitude, didn’t require me to exercise willpower. I just couldn’t do anything like that.
It made me realize that this grief thing, it’s limited my reserves. So much of them are taken up coping with it that any time anything is more emotionally taxing than normal is too much for me to maintain my balance.
This has led to me feeling like I’m some insane person who can’t control her emotions. Something I’ve always been very good at, and proud of. It’s difficult getting used to that. I don’t WANT to get used to it. I want to fix it.
I guess it’s kind of funny. I have never been what I’ve thought of (yes, sexistly) as a ‘normal girl’ – one who is emotional and prone to cry. It’s been a pride point. And then I met Ian, and we became close, and I was comfortable enough with him that I could let that control go a little. I trusted him so much that I became more of a ‘normal girl’ to him. And then he killed himself. And now I don’t seem to have a choice.
I’m sure it’s healthier to feel and let those things out. But I’m a control freak, and not having steel control over these things is not acceptable to me.
I have to work on accepting it. I don’t have a choice. Do or die, dearie.
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