Thursday, December 15, 2011

Disassociation in the Final Countdown

It is the final countdown.  Only a matter of days until Robb has been gone for a year, until Christmas will happen around me, until we will wrap a neat and tidy bow on this neat and tidy year.

How do I feel, as the clock ticks?


Afraid of 2012.  Afraid that the one-year-mark will somehow lead others to believe I am stronger than I am, that this matters less than it does, that time heals all wounds.

Deceived.  Like I'm in the homestretch, the last lap, the end of the journey.  Like December 23 is some kind of finish line.  I am near none of those things.

My therapist says, "Tricia, time to nestle in for a long winter's nap.  Please consider hibernating.  Say no to as much as you can, and stop asking yourself why you can't keep up." 

My doctor says, "Tricia, you are absolutely normal.  And if you wake up tomorrow and you can't get out of bed?  That will be absolutely normal."

I find myself thinking and writing in third person.  I'm learning that it is far easier to think about how to write about this season than it is to actually live it.  It is far easier to think about the story of a widow at Christmas than it is to actually be one.

The professionals call this dissociation, a crucial survival mechanism that protects you during a crisis and afterwards. It helps you stay on task so you can protect yourself. If you are able to function without fully experiencing the emotional impact of an event, you can accomplish tasks until it is safer to face your emotions.

And so I attend Christmas pageants and sing boys to sleep and teach Christmas carols and shop for gifts and hang stockings and fold laundry and live and breathe and do this thing.  And perhaps I will think about it - really, truly think about it - later.

How do I feel about this final countdown?

Fine.  Fine, I guess.


A Complete Thought said...

The one year anniversary of my son's death I fully expected to be apocalyptic. It wasn't. And I was disappointed by that. I thought that a day so life-changing to me needed some sort of heavenly altercation so that the whole world would know that on this day my heart stopped living as it ever had before. The routine of dailyness that surrounded me was offensive. I wasn't prepared for how life kept its rhythm.

There is no healing by time, in my thinking. It's more like a distance measure of days breathed since. Every year's anticipation of the day is much worse than the actual day, for me, at this point of 15 years. I guess I still expect an apocalypse. I won't suppose to think what it will be for you.

I will pray that the day doesn't crush you but instead gives you yet another piece necessary for the life now lived, without forgetfulness to the life once lived.

Anne Bosworth said...

We are counting down to Dec 18 through 30th...the 12 days of Christmas that will never be forgotten or the same since my spiritual/covenant mother lost her son from burns he received in a house fire. Your loss (and that of your family) has become part of each breath I find myself holding, each tear I weep onto the pergo flooring in my closet--my secret weeping/praying place. All I seem to want in the whole world anymore is evidence of redemption...signs from heaven that all of this ripping and tearing opens to something inexpressibly merciful and beautiful for you all from the Lord. I told Him this morning that I am trying so hard to "stay awake in the garden" but am desperate for some hopeful blooms. It sounds selfish, but in my heart I don't mean it that way. The relief, recovery, and restoration of the ones I love (which has come to include you, your children, and your in-laws...all your family, really) just seems like life and hope to me. I cannot just go on with my life like nothing has changed, or like my hurting dear ones will just catch up later. I just can't. So I trek on through the desert and keep crying out to Jesus for us all.

I look on pained for and with my covenant mother--as she remains in a very similar sort of hibernation as what you describe. I feel sorry for myself and my little daughter because we miss her so terribly; we cannot yet be invited into the realm of shared grief, it seems. I keep looking to the Word and pleading with Christ to intercede and light her path with love. It is a little breadcrumb of grace to me this morning to find that you, pretty Tricia, have thoughtful and wise professionals who help you give yourself permission to burrow. It helps me give my dear one my blessing to do the same...even if all I really want is for her to come out.

I have learned, in these past 2 years, what the Scripture means in saying "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." I think as He has disabled me from leaving Him (because there is nowhere else to turn) He has also held me back from leaving your side, and your in-laws' in someway(s). In these facts, I am hoping there is more of Him and less of me coming that you all are getting my portion of His grace along with your own.

Love to you, Tricia. I hope we meet someday.

Bliss said...

I just want you to know that I've been reading this blog since "that" day.
I think your a wonderful, eloquent writer and I can't wait to read your first Novel!
With that said, I would never view this month, or any month in your life for that matter, as closer to the Final Countdown. (Why does that song from Europe keep singing in my head?)
Every month something new happens with those boys, every year that they become closer to being men, I will remember how your feeling and how you are missing the one person who would enjoy being there to share it with you the most. One year or Ten years, I know your pain, in some form or fashion, will still be there. People who love and support you will know that.
I'm praying for you. And I know your family loves you with all their hearts.

Birdgirl90 said...

I am praying so hard for you. I don't pretend to know what you are going through, but I ache for you.
You are in my family's thoughts and prayers this season.

Claire said...

I love this poem by the Jesuit Pierre Tielhard DeChardin. I think it's a re-wording of your therapist's and physician's wise counsel about people who may speak unkind and misguided words to you (the first half) and about your walk in the second half.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God

We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of progress
that it is made by passing through
some states of instability ---
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually --- let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Sometimes the valley is very long, very dry and very frightening. God is with you, dear Tricia.

ricardowill said...

I once lost friend and it takes a long time for time to heal. Remembering the good times helped me through it. Saying a simple prayer to them also helped. Sometimes I dedicated a favorite song to them and cried through it. A good cry helps a lot. Sorry that you are dealing with this. I just wanted to encourage you.

Janeen said...

Ditto these - I too have been remembering you, counting days, and praying that Jesus wraps His arms around your family in an undeniably special way.