Four years ago I was having a mini meltdown about turning 25. Fast forward to being on the brink of 29 and I’m just thankful to be here.
Four years ago I was stuck in a job I hated and in a town I couldn’t stand. Fast forward to finding a new job and a new state.
Four years ago I had a sister. Fast forward to clinging to only a memory of what it was to have a sister.
So much has changed, and yet somehow some things are still very much the same.
I started to read some of the comments people were posting on Facebook about Emily. But after the third or fourth “angel in Heaven” reference, I decided for sanity’s sake I needed to turn off the smartphone. (And my cursing was scaring the cats.) I know people mean well… but people are idiots. They say stupid, stupid, stupid stuff. And unfortunately, you can’t cure stupid.
Anniversaries bother me. Not just for the obvious reason, but because there’s a hollowness in it. I miss her just as much on the 1st of April as I do on the 22nd of August.
The ache doesn’t deepen. It doesn’t lessen. It.is.always.there.
But what is unsettling is that I think the 1st of April doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother everyone else. I didn’t change my facebook picture. I didn’t post anything to acknowledge the passing of another year. I didn’t miss her any more or any less than the day before or the day after. I don’t feel the need to mark the passing of time, because it all blurs into one continuous absence.
And this makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me.
It was suggested that I join a grief group. While I know there’s a measure of comfort in talking with someone who “gets” where your emotions are coming from- I’m not on an even enough keel to be in a group setting. Comparing war stories doesn’t bring healing for me. Knowing that someone shares some of my emotions doesn’t help me deal with mine- it just heightens the awareness that there is a whole lot of hurting out there. Instead of sharing my sadness, I feel like I’m absorbing someone else’s. Group therapy isn’t for me. I’m not willing enough to share, because I talk about Emily on my terms. Most of the time, she’s a topic that’s off limits unless I want to talk about it. Is that denial? No. It’s self-preservation. I don’t like it when she comes up unexpectedly in conversation. Sometimes the casual mention of her name is enough to make me want to scream. It’s selfish the way I deal with it- but regardless, it’s the way I cope.
I also feel guilty because I am tired of Emily’s death defining me. I am tired of evading and avoiding the “do you have any siblings” question- because the answer leads to pity. I feel guilty because I don’t know how to honor Emily’s life, because sometimes I want to forget the whole damn thing. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life marking the passing of time, and living under the shadow of my sister’s death. And it thoroughly depresses me that it’s not going to change.
And this too makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me.
I’m not looking for someone to make me “feel better”. I’m not fishing for compliments, or sympathy. I’m not looking for reassurances that what I am feeling is “normal”, or “understandable”, or that there is nothing wrong with me. On the contrary, I have it on good authority that my head is thoroughly messed up. There’s a fine line between messed up and crazy. What’s keeping me on the sane side of the line is the fact that I am well aware I am a mess.
So what do I want? For someone to acknowledge the fact that it’s not normal to feel this way? To agree with me, that yes, Melissa you have issues? (Again, stating the obvious).
No, that’s not what I want either. I have no idea what I want.
Oddly enough- that’s probably the one feeling that doesn’t make me feel like there is something wrong with me.
Maybe there’s hope. But I still miss Emily.