Started writing 05.09.2023
Reading Mark’s recent post prompted me to open up WordPress and type something.
My stepmom Monique died two weeks ago. She had been my dad’s wife for the last 20+ years and a person I really cherished. It was sudden, although she had been ill for years, but stable. In the space of a week we went from “coming home from this hospital stay tomorrow” to “it’s the end”. Although I know there is no right or wrong way in grief, I do not feel like I’m dealing well. I do not want this new world without her.
I had recently found increased confidence and stability at work, after my holidays, constructive discussions with my boss that eased some of the pressure I was putting on myself, and some tweaks and adjustments to my self-organisation. I struggle all the more with accepting that I need to cut myself some slack. I’m taking the measure of how much I pressure myself to perform well – even though intellectually I do not feel like I’m giving in to it, emotionally it is still there.
Over the years, I’ve often dealt with grief by writing through it. But this grief is not just mine. I mean, I am not alone in having to deal with Monique’s death. And this makes things more complicated. I plan to post a written version of what I said at her ceremony at some point, however. But I feel stuck, in many ways,
So stuck I abandoned this post for a week. Picking it up again after stumbling on this post by Annette.
It’s Monday afternoon. Doctor’s orders, these last three weeks I’ve been partly off work. Though I struggle with accepting that, as mentioned above, I can feel it was (is) needed. I’m slowly starting to feel somewhat “normal” when it comes to dealing with daily life, and a bit of (easy) work.
But I don’t have any bumpers, extra bandwidth, suspension, or whatever other image might work to express that minor complications of life see me on the verge of “OMG I can’t deal with this”. I’ve not only lifted my foot of the gas regarding work, but regarding pretty much everything that requires an effort on my part, to give myself space to recover. I’m “OK”, but not my usual OK. My bike fell down this morning (clumsiness) and the onboard computer wasn’t working anymore when I put it in place. I didn’t melt down, but the idea of having to deal with bike repairs (maybe a day or so without my primary means of transport) filled me with dread and despair. Luckily it was “nothing” and a quick stop at the repair shop solved it. It’s just an example. Life is full of such “little-big problems”, and usually one groans and deals with it. In my case, today, I was happy I didn’t end up crying in front of my bike when it wouldn’t start up.
Back to grief. I’m past the “burst into tears at bad moments” days. But I’m still in this weird space where I’m living as if Monique’s death is a bad situation that is going to resolve itself. Like, it’s temporary. Of course I know death is very, very much not temporary, but I seem to have trouble truly convincing myself. I feel like I’m on hold, in some no-man’s-land between shock and a deluge of emotions I really don’t want to have to face. All this is bringing back a whole lot more than “just” my mother’s death, which is the obvious parallel to draw. Details maybe some other time, or not. We’ll see how I process all this.
So, here are a few things I could be writing about but don’t really have the energy for right now. If you’re curious, ask me, and it might give me the impulse to continue, who knows. I could write about the two-week hypnotherapy introduction course I took this summer, and what a life-changing experience it was. I could write about how much time I’m spending at the chalet, and all the hikes I’ve been on, including a recent via ferrata. I could write about being back on track with judo, losing 10kg last year (on purpose) and how happy my (otherwise unhappy) knees are about it. I could write about singing, about making difficult but much-needed decisions, about using Asana, about balancing the need to follow impulses and stick with the programme, about the new boat and taking it out alone for the first time today, about Oscar and managing a support community for diabetic cats, about navigating a multilingual work environment which sends me back to topics I spent a lot of time thinking about back in 2007-8, when I did what I call (in my personal biography) my “Babel Fish Conference Tour”, I could share some poetry and write some more, or write about trying to get a coworking space back off the ground in 2023 while working in another city, even tell you more about how I’m making sense of the story of my life right now (thanks As’trame).
I feel bad about not writing about all this. Frustrated, because I like writing, and sharing, but also guilty-bad because in a complicated way it also has to do with all these things I feel I have to “do for others”. Because I’m good at them. And, again in a complicated way I might try to explain someday, but that maybe some of you will understand immediately, it has to do with the meaning of life. The meaning of my life. And of life in general. Especially when the biological “meaning” of life (to perpetuate itself) is absent from yours.
So here we are, early September coloured by death and multilayered sadness and pain and fear, from the simple grief of having lost somebody I loved to the meaning of life, sitting on my balcony with my cat, trying to keep pressure and others out of the equation of my life for a little moment more.
I’m off to judo.