If anyone has ever told you that it is possible to have it all together all the time, they lied to you. They were also probably lying to themselves. In the same vein, if you’ve ever been told or if it has ever been insinuated that you are supposed to be self sufficient and be able to fix yourself, that was also a lie.
If there is one thing I have learned this past day and a half it is that going through things alone is miserable and impossible. I don’t know if it is the same for you, but dealing with a loss alone makes me feel like I’m losing my mind. When I deal with painful emotions alone I get lost in them. I lose touch with what is real and true. I have nothing with which I can ground myself and I end up drowning in a sea of emotions alone, which makes them all the more painful.
My grandma passed away on Saturday. I was at Comic Con International when I got the news and I didn’t deal with it. I repressed it, I soldiered on through the convention, and I enjoyed myself. In that moment, there were enough things going on to distract me that I did not have to dwell on the loss. I didn’t have to deal with the fact my grandma was gone.
Then I came back to reality, already exhausted, and the emotions hit. The temptation to return to old habits came up. The desire to curl up in a hole and hide from the world over powered me. I didn’t want to talk with people or share what had happened. The day I got the news I texted three people and that was it. I did not tell the two girls I was with at the convention what had happened. I didn’t tell anyone at work when I finally returned on Monday. I kept it to myself because in a moment of weakness all of my walls went up and I was fighting to protect myself.
The other day I hit a really low place.
There is a place in the midst of isolation where the loneliness is so overpowering the only thing a person can do is give up and give in to despair. Bereavement is an interesting and painful process, and going through it alone makes it even worse. It is in this dark place of sorrow and mourning where one’s only desire is to have someone notice and sit with them in it. Yet very few people are actually willing to do that.
You see, I think one of the biggest problems in American culture is that people run away from emotions. They run away from pain. We drown ourselves in television, the internet, movies, books, and music all so we don’t have to actually feel. We isolate ourselves because we’re raised to be independent and self sufficient. On the flip side, when we see someone hurting our first instinct is to fix them. We don’t want to be people who experience emotions for long because it takes time, it interrupts our schedules, and it is inconvenient.
So when we go through hard times we isolate ourselves because the last thing we need when we’re hurting is to be given five easy steps to fix it. When I hurt I don’t want to be told how to fix it, I just want to know it is okay to be hurting. I want to be able to cry in front of someone without feeling like a weakling. I want someone to ask how I am and actually mean it, and when I give them a real answer, I don’t want them to respond by telling me what I should do to fix how I’m feeling.
Honestly, I just want permission to feel and to be able to sit with someone as I’m mourning and have them be comfortable with it. Yet society does not lend itself well to that. We want to slap a band aid over it and soldier on because processing emotions takes time, and to put it simply: Ain’t nobody got time for that. It is certainly something to work on as an individual and as a society.