Warren and I had a pretty deep conversation before I left for my trip to South Carolina.
It was dark outside. Night had fallen. I had made it through the day, and it had been a good day but at the moment I was sad. I was sitting on the couch in the living room, alone, lost in my thoughts.
He came downstairs and asked if I was ok. I shook my head no. I’ve gotten better about not lying about being ok. Sometimes I’m not, and now, instead of having to call him and admit to not being ok, Warren lives with me and we can have these hard conversations in person. It was part of why he moved to be with me. We both have really hard days and we wanted the “in person” support structure that we couldn’t provide while we lived states away.
I reason I wasn’t ok was because I had another realization. Much like when I realized it’s very likely that I’ll live to the age where I will have known Warren longer than I knew my mom. I had a random thought pop into my head while my mind had been wandering earlier in the day and now that it was dark outside and the day was over, now that I was still and able to think it was eating away at me.
I had the realization that I have faced my biggest fear.
My biggest fear used to be financial instability. Being financially independent was what I had used to mark my entrance into adulthood. There was never a moment where I felt like I had gone through a rite of passage. There was never anything to mark the transition of child to adult for me, so I picked my own and that’s what I chose.
By providing for myself, and in some cases for others, I was an adult. I was self-sufficient. Anything that jeopardized my “adultness” was a bad thing.
Then came the day where I found out about mom’s stroke and all of that changed.
I realized how shallow and trivial my fear of “not having money” was. When faced with the reality that mom could have died my greatest fear changed.
It changed to mom not being there. To her dying and having to face the rest of my life without her. It changed to the thought of losing her.
So… what happens once you have faced your greatest fear and you’re still alive?
Google hasn’t been very helpful with that. I’ve found a lot of Christian / God stuff. A lot of death stuff. A lot of fear stuff.
I haven’t found anything explaining what “should” happen, though. What should I be feeling? And I guess it’s sort of silly to look for things like that. It’s not like the Internet can give me a road map to living my life. I feel whatever it is that I feel. But I don’t know what those feelings are. And I want to know what’s considered “normal”.
My emotions are confusing. Tangled.
I’m angry. Still. I’m angry that I had to face this fear. I’m angry that it was ever a fear. I’m angry that I faced it so soon. I’m angry that mom isn’t here anymore. As much as I’m moving forward with my life I still stumble over silly, trivial things that shouldn’t hurt but make me feel as if my world will shatter all over again.
It doesn’t. My world stays together, somehow. I still make it to the end of each day and each time I survive a “hard day” I’m the smallest ounce stronger for it.
The firsts are always the hardest. Her first birthday where I couldn’t call her. The first trip back to South Carolina and knowing I would never make another trip “home” to see mom. The reminders like the letter about the court date that I got today in the mail.
There’s pain with all of that. Anger and pain. There’s so much of both sometimes that I still scream in my car. I still cry in fury and I still feel weak and helpless because there wasn’t anything I could do to change the situation.
There still isn’t anything I can do to change it. You can’t change death. It’s part of life. This is all part of the cycle and balance and I get that. I want there to be someone, something, to be mad at, though. I want something to be the focus of my rage, and there isn’t.
It’s life. It’s not unfair. The universe isn’t singling me out or punishing me for my wrong-doings. It’s simply life, and sometimes it sucks.
I guess right now, with having the trip “home” so fresh in my mind, with having the letter sitting next to me, those are the two things I feel the most right now. Anger and hurt.
I don’t feel the feeling of loneliness like I used to. I guess that’s a good thing. I don’t feel the soul-crushing, bone-chilling loneliness that made me question how I was going to get through the night. I understand that I’m not alone and that if I really need help or human contact that I can reach out for it. I know that I can keep going because I have kept going. And so I guess there’s confidence underneath everything.
There’s the foundation of knowing I will be ok because I am ok. I didn’t make it to today on my own. I had a lot of people help me through really, really hard days, and I will always be grateful for their help. For their reassurance. For their patience. For the times they took my phone calls and listened to me fall apart and ask unfair questions like, “How do I keep going?” to which there really isn’t an answer to.
My biggest fear was losing mom. So what happens now that she’s not physically here?
What comes after fear?
Am I supposed to have, find, another fear? Was I supposed to have a list? Like a top 10, and so now that number one is gone is number two supposed to get a promotion?
I would say number two would be losing my brothers but to my rational, logical brain that’s a really stupid fear.
Of course I’m going to lose them at some point. We’re all mortal. Everyone dies. Even I will die at some point so what’s the point of fearing it?
Looking at it that way I guess it was really stupid to fear losing mom, too. Maybe that’s something I could go back and tell my younger self. Not to be afraid of life. That everyone is mortal, even mom, and that even when she dies that things will eventually be ok.
I don’t fear car problems. I don’t fear money issues. I don’t fear rejection. I don’t fear injury.
I don’t really “fear” anything at the moment. At least I don’t think I do. Maybe that’s a lack of imagination on my part. Maybe this is a sign of how “not healed” I am. Maybe I’m still in shock or numb over her death, seven months later.
Fear is a response to perceived danger. It’s a survival mechanism which alters our behavior so we don’t die.
If I don’t fear anything does that mean I don’t perceive anything as a threat? Does that mean I’m more likely to do stupid things because I don’t have a sense of self-preservation?
I don’t think so. I have no desire to do things like drink and drive. I have no desire to really drink because I know that will dehydrate me and leave me with a bitch of a headache in the morning. I don’t think I’m being self-destructive and I don’t think I’m being reckless in my “fearless” state. I still make sure there aren’t stupid drivers being thoughtless while I’m biking or crossing an intersection.
I’m not putting myself in harm’s way. At the same time, I’m not wasting energy fearing harm. I’m not fretting over what might, maybe, possibly happen.
It brings me back to the feeling of foundation. It’s like there is a quiet, solid confidence that patiently sits there beneath all of the noise and chaos of the anger and pain. Those emotions are so loud, so volcanic, that most of the time it’s hard to even figure out the why of them.
Why do I feel the anger or sadness? What triggered those emotions within me?
Emotion: Rawr! It doesn’t matter why! Just feel this way because I said so!
Rational Brain: But if you explain why maybe we can find a way to make it better.
Emotion: Screw you! I don’t want to feel better! Rawr!
After the emotion runs its course and I’m left exhausted and spent I become aware of a stillness within myself. I’m normally what amounts to feeling like being face down on the floor because I’ve fallen down, again, but I guess that’s what’s reassuring about it.
The ground is always there. I may fall, stumble, trip, crash and burn in a glorious blaze of fire, but no matter what, whatever trial I’m facing always ends with the ground being there, and me, eventually, standing back up and trying again.
So I guess that’s what is past fear for me. There’s solid ground. There’s myself. My true self. There’s the ground that I keep hitting reminding me who I am. Maybe that’s a depressing thought. The thought of falling, over and over again. The thought of impact and the painful implications. The broken bones and injuries that will need time to heal.
But there’s a consistency there that is comforting to me. The floor. The ground. It’s always there.
I’ve been struggling with the terms grief and grieving. Grief is deep sorrow. That’s the definition Google will pull up. But it’s so much more than that. The word grief seems so hollow, so small. Grief is more than just sorrow and sadness and anger, and that was another realization that I had.
Grief is a process. It’s a period of transformation, and transformation is painful. Excruciating even.
I’m not sure if there’s more for me to find from these realizations. Those are two new truths I feel I have found during this chapter of my life, though. I am grieving, transforming, and no matter what, the ground will be there when I fall.
No matter what fear I face, the fall will end and I will stand back up and things will be ok.