I don’t know if she heard me in the night, or if she just drew conclusions from my puffy eyes the next morning.
“So,” she said. “Why are you still having such bad days? Maybe you should go and get some more counselling.”
I understand the friends and family members who are tired of my overly emotional state, of my wanting to talk about it. I’m tired of it too. Even though it has been a year since my marriage ended, and a year and a half since I was blindsided by the revelation of my long-time husband’s infidelity, I don’t seem to be getting over it. I’m making progress every week, I think, I hope, but still too often I reflect, I ruminate, and I cry.
Grief has its own rhythm, its own life. You think you are doing so well and then out of nowhere it comes back and envelops you. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself: that you are better off, that you are strong and brave, that you have the rest of your life ahead of you. The future you thought was set is gone and your heart is broken. And that is all that you can — not comprehend, not understand– all that you can feel.
I go forth. Life is good, life is a gift. I have friends, old and new, and people who love me. I laugh loud and long and marvel at the world around me. I can make a difference in that world, and I will make a difference. But some days, I wonder if it is worth getting up.
The pain is worse and more constant when I am in familiar surroundings, when I drive down the road I travelled for 18 years on the way home. I don’t turn down the street I lived on, but there is a visceral sense of place that is disrupted when I do not. In my hometown, I visit with friends and family, I eat dinner and chat, but sometimes when I am alone after everyone else has gone to bed, I ugly cry.
And sometimes I think I should stop fighting it. Maybe I should take the medications that are offered, or self medicate. If I start, the temptation of one more drink, and one more, is intense. Pot is legal in Canada, now, so maybe I should try that. Maybe I should deaden the intensity by focusing on reading, or Netflix, or finding some other comfortable routine. Maybe I should settle down, volunteer or go back to work, get some counselling, look directly at those memories and familiar surroundings until I am inured. Maybe I should work on making new memories with a new man who will hold me tightly when I am feeling broken.
Instead, I travel.
I have bad days when I am away, but they are rare. When I travel, I see possibilities, and novelty, and adventure. I am only me– not my history as part of a couple, of a family that is shattered, but the person I had somehow lost touch with over the last 30 years.
I don’t know if it is actually brave, or cowardly. But I continue my travels.