Numb

"There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don't seem to help." Fred Rogers




I don't feel anything. I should feel more.
Everything is just kind of empty. Ya know, or maybe you don't know. It may be an odd thing to say but I haven't felt the emotion of anger in such a long time. I cannot even the remember the last time I was genuinely mad about anything. There's no rage just beneath the surface. There's no ferocity waiting to come out. There's no burning desire to burn everything down. I'm fine, and that's the problem. I'm just fine. Not great. Not horrible. Just in the middle of meh. To me it's so clear how fundamentally different I am now. After what happened I've changed. I don't know how other people cannot see it. Who I was before no longer exists. I'm a person transformed by, touched by, and most visibly marked by death. I am bathed in it. I smell of it. It's right behind my eyes that have this new ability to well up with gargantuan tears. I look sorrowful. I am mournful. I'm me but after enduring a seismic quake in the foundation of who I am. I am the reluctant survivor of a tragedy. I have this big secret that's not quite a secret. It feels like sharing this big piece of information that gives people access to me at my most vulnerable. When I tell people there I am bare, naked, and unprotected. From there, it's up to me to serve as a guide to placate them. I can visibly see people shift. Their demeanor changes. They clench up with this subtle tension. They stumble over their words. Sometimes they just say absolute nonsense. Worse - they don't say anything and wait for me to change the subject. The moment for them to say something, acknowledge the monumental impact of the the three words I said, and forge a connection with me passes so quickly. It may be little but I know who to avoid being real with. I know how to play the part of a full person. I'm good at it. I can do my part.



Everything is so hard, and at the same time it's not. I sometimes resent being so capable. I can wish that I didn't know all that I know, especially about myself. I imagine not learning all the things I use to be emotionally regular, emotionally sound, and emotionally open. What if I had never gone to therapy. What if I had never studied human/student development? What if I hadn't been reading about people, about relationships, about feelings, and the like. What if I could give myself permission to be who I was before I knew too much. I can't because I stop myself. I fix myself. I don't often leave work for other people to do with me. Even my therapist wondered why I was there because I would often solve my own issues, and the necessary changes mentally and interpersonally to resolve them. How do you fix a fixer who is always doing the fixing? It's a paradoxical question of epic proportions. I calm myself down when I panic. I can rationalize when being irrational. I know how to pivot from thinking about how wearing a face mask transports me back to the hospital listening to her shallow breathing and reading for civil procedure. I can finish my cry by taking a deep breath, bringing the bass back to my voice. It's asking for help when I need it as soon as I need it. It's accepting help when it's offered. It's separating how I may feel at once with how I interact with other people. It's making space to just be. Turning off the phone, telling people when I'm not feeling talkative, and communicating often, early, and openly. It's journaling, sitting on the phone with friends just to sit, and thinking deeply while cooking, cleaning, or gaming. It's doing the hard work behind the scenes to be okay when on scene, or else owning when I'm not. 

I want to talk to my mom. I want to talk about her all the time. I hate, and I never use that word, that mentioning her is made to feel taboo. I feel like I'm not allowed to bring her up. I feel like I always have to prioritize other people's comfort, their contentment, and their time. There's never a good time to talk about her, and I deserve to talk about her. I am so mad about being made to feel like I can't. Nobody knows how to talk about death, about people called away, and about loss. There's so much discomfort with it. It feels forbidden. I constantly to weigh sharing this deeply personal fact about me, this traumatizing experience, this awful truth that just feels so central to who I am now, but is easily discarded by other people. Either they give a hesitant sorry to hear that which I absolutely abhor. You're sorry to hear that my mom died. I'm so sorry the greatest loss of my life has inconvenienced you. I'm so apologetic that me sharing the thing that changed my life doesn't feel warmth for you. I'm graciously acquiescing to your need to to feel comfortable at all points in time. I'm being dramatic. I know it's a figure of speech, and it's supposed to be a heartfelt gesture of solidarity. Taken literally it doesn't sit right with me. Then there's me always saying that it's okay. It's a reflexive pivot for me to comfort others, and prop them up. It's a quick downplay of the thing that cannot and should never be minimized.

It hurts every single time I do it because it's like me giving other people permission to diminish the most significant happening of my life to date. It's to make them comfortable, and maybe it's for me too. I don't want lackluster sympathy. I don't want obligatory compassion. I don't want disingenuous empathy. Care because you do not because you're supposed to. I don't I really want anything except for people to stop giving meaningless advice. It's unsolicited and unwanted. I wonder if it makes them feel better because I know it does nothing for me. Does it make them feel like good people? Does it help their conscience? I think the time to help me has passed. People failed. Nothing can make that better. It's okay. I don't hold animosity, but what I don't want is to be asked indirectly or directly to absolve people of their guilt for messing up. My conscience is clear. I performed to the best of my ability, all things considered, and am damn proud of how I showed up. Never angry. Never mean. Never cold. I don't have the same needs I did initially. What's left is for me to adjust and make the decisive changes to be more brazen about owning my truth. No more apologizing. 



Sometimes I wonder if it would just be easier to lie. It would be out of character for me. It would feel hypocritical but it would be easier. I wouldn't have to explain. I wouldn't have to mitigate. I wouldn't have to facilitate every damn conversation I had with others. I'm suddenly responsible for my own words, actions, and feelings in talking to people, and placating their own at the same time? Make it make sense. It's not fair. It's not my job. It's really not my job, but that's the thing feeling like you're made to, supposed to, have to do or say things is constructively the same as being forced to actually do them. The outcome is the same. The compulsion to get there is a bit different. Nobody makes me say sorry for adding heaviness to the space. Nobody makes me force smiles, laughs, and general pleasantness while mere moments away from tears, from exhaustion, and from more panic. There's so much panic. My brain has to catch up and reprocess like it's the very first moment I heard the words "she's gone" from my dad on the phone. What did you say? There's no way that can be true? If my mom can go then my dad can go, my brothers and sister can go, and every person I have ever loved can go. I can go. Death is real. Death happened to me. I'm still here. Can my mom see me in heaven? Does she remember me? Will she recognize me? What's heaven like? Will I get to go? How long is eternity? Predestination. Free will. Finality. Absolution. All of it in a moment to get back to where I am and the underlying truth that my mom was taken from me. Then smile. Then be funny. Then be kind. Then be normal. I play the part of a normal person well for someone who has never been anything close. 

Processing through my life like a TV show or movie is both my greatest coping mechanism, and most dangerous tool. Season 26 of the show really felt like it should have been the series finale. There's no point in continuing the story. I think the most complicated feelings are struggling with thoughts of wanting to be with my mom - like now; and the daunting task of having to live the rest of my life without her. That's real. That's terrifying. I have so much more life to live. It just seems like so long. So many years of existing without half of my heart. I'm supposed to graduate once more, potentially be a dad, and possibly get married without her. There's a whole character missing from my storyline. The story is incomplete. The story is not the same. How can I lose a main cast member and be expected to continue the story. The heart of my show is absent. The whole story has to change. I don't want it to. Carrying the show without a central person doesn't work. It can't work. It's not supposed to work. 


It makes me wonder what this major plot point means for me. I know I have been trying to maintain the story but I didn't even know this could even be a possibility for the show-writers to devastate me like this. They went too far. They crossed the point of no return. They did the the unthinkable to kick-off my hero's journey or maybe my descent into villainy. I hate, and I mean that with the most vitriol, when plots use shock and trauma to drive forward the plot. It feels like a trade-off. What was the reason? What was the point? Why was this necessary for me to move forward? I don't want to go any damn where. I want to stay here forever. I want to go back. And I know we have already jumped off from the departure point. It's that duality of knowing everything is different, and still being in disbelief that this storyline was even a possibility. I don't know if the rest of my story is ever going to be as heartfelt as the first portion but I know am I left to do my best. Currently seeing my cast of characters pick up the pieces but where do we go from here? What's driving the plot? Living just to live is not a way to live. 

There has to be more. Until that guiding force, that cruel showrunner, and omniscient voice in the heavens and I are no longer in conflict the plot is stagnant. How do I trust the one that took it all away? If this was supposed to draw me closer to the creator of my show it did the exact opposite. My trust has been shaken. My belief has wavered. My faith is limited. I am too scared to have faith. Last time I did had the biggest heartbreak of my lifetime. How could you? Faith is belief - sight unseen, and I'm supposed to let go and let the worldbuilder go to work but destroying a world to build a new one is undoubtedly cruel regardless of the outcome. The garden of Eden, flooding the Earth, collapsing Job's house - story after story where trauma was inflicted to move the protagonist forward to a glorious end. What if the glorious end is not worth it? Why should I want the end? The one thing I wanted I didn't get, and that's supposed to mean it wasn't meant for me. That's messed up. There's nothing else I want anymore. I don't yearn for anything. What's the point? Who would have thought my show would ask all these existential questions. There's so much to learn. There's growth to come from this. There's a reconciliation that has to be inevitable. It's coming. I'm just not there yet. To be continued ... X

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