Sometimes I come across something I’ve previously written and not published. This is one of those entries. It’s a bit of a rant but anyone who is grieving, or has grieved will relate to this post and those supporting the grieving take note, grief brain is real, real, real.
Once upon a time (during the terrible awful beginning) I was comforted by phrases such as “The world will continue on and you will rejoin it when you are ready” and “It’s early days still. Be kind to yourself.” Now and for the better part of the last year these phrases have angered and annoyed me. I have come so far from those early days so to have others think I still have so far to go pisses me off.
Since my filter has somewhat returned I do not tell them things like “What the hell do you know? You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’m capable of and you have no idea of a) how far I’ve “come” already and b) you do not know what I’m doing right now.” “Please do not project your experiences onto me and skip the inane, say nothing platitudes. They make you look self-righteous and condescending.” Isn’t it grand to be a writer? LOL
Now, don’t get me wrong. Grief brain is real and recovery an intensive process. It is more real that anyone who has never had it could ever imagine. I’ve likened it to my brain functioning at less than 25% and to having ADD on steroids. And once I realized this, it became funny. Not because I couldn’t focus or that I was constantly forgetting what I was working on or that I was so easily distracted but because of the fact that since my brain was working at only partial capacity I couldn’t have cared less. It was a nice neat loop. The part of my brain that worried or was alarmist wasn’t working. “Oh well” as a response may have concerned others but my brain only found their concern to be funny. There was nothing I could do about it. This fact coupled with the truly alarming things I had witnessed made for example, worrying about forgetting to complete something to my previous high standards hilarious.
It is funnier still because if for a moment or two I do become frustrated by not performing at my previous capability level the moment passes due to my brain’s inability to stay focused. Sometimes my brain skips the way a scratched LP or CD does. For example writing wasn’t on my list for today and yet here I am. But, it is the right place to be right now.
The biggest challenge as I fight to find some less stressful place of “normalcy” has been figuring out what to do with this next chapter of my life. The one, not only where my daughter has left to build her own life, but the one where the person I looked forward to spending the coming years with has died. Not only has my life been greatly altered, old habits and patterns no longer work or even exist. And we are creatures of habit and when these old habits no longer work (and with grief brain even the habit of eating regularly needs to be re-established) it feels sometimes like free falling (I call it spinning). This coupled with grief brain as it slowly recedes makes it challenging to re-establish a new “normal” way of living.
I think if we can tell ourselves we have already lived through worse, it can encourage us to continue exploring new possibilities, new opportunities and new people. It is my hope that this will bring me to the place where I will love my new “normal.” Some days this hope sustains me better than others. I wish this for everyone who is living with a brain that has a mind of its own: hope and a sense of humour. To be able to laugh at what is going on, to see the humour, to acknowledge it and to keep on going.
My brain now functions at about 80-90% of what it once did. I no longer need to watch hours of back to back episodes of Storage Wars and my grief induced ADD on steroids is seldom present. The rest I believe I’ll figure out as I go along. In the mean time I’ll just keep laughing as I creatively redefine normalcy. There is only one thing I am certain of and that is that it will never likely fit neatly into any definition of “normalcy” I once held and that this does not mean it is “still early days.” Knowing this and working on creating something new is major “feckin” progress. Cheers!