Something’s gone wrong with me. I’m impatient. Inadequate. Unmoved.
I roll my eyes at people who deserve my patience. My sympathy. My empathy. Where has my empathy gone?
It’s like I’ve suddenly been remade of a very fragile substance. Like I’ve been through the fire and have cooled and turned crisp. Like glass, thin and sharp. Like peanut brittle, but without sweetness. Like dried bones.
Who am I anymore?
Is this what mourning is like? Distancing myself from every feeling so I don’t shatter into jagged bits that will cut someone?
Because I really think I could. Cut someone. If pressed.
I always thought mourning was feeling everything. Feeling it all so hard and so sharp that it stole your breath and left you drowning in a dense sea of emptiness built from never-ending tears.
But me, I’ve only truly cried once. The night I buried him. Cried in a fetal position in the floor of my closet until I thought I would vomit — not just the contents of my stomach, but my stomach itself. Cried until bile ran through my veins and tear ducts. Until my intestines flipped and twisted into a knot and wrung out the tears, said, ENOUGH, and sent them packing.
After that, I cooled.
And backed away. Pushed anything and anyone away who tried to make me talk about it, made me try to feel it.
Leave me alone. Let me alone. Let me.
Who the hell are you to ask me how I’m doing, anyway? Who the hell are you? You have no right to this pain.
I’m not sharing it with you. I’m not even sharing it with me. It is sacred and not to be touched. It is strangled deep inside my sigmoid colon where it needs to stay. Contained. Lest I shit all over you.
Lest I cut you with it, too.
Distance. I need distance. I’ve needed it for the last seven months.
I’ve put everything and everyone beyond arm’s length. So I don’t get touched. Touch. Feel. I can’t handle it.
But I know I can’t stay like this forever. I need to get back to what I do. Teaching. Writing. Motherhood. Feeling.
I’ve always been good at these things. At motherhood and writing and teaching. And feeling.
But I’m still so brittle. So frangible. So far away from who I am.
How do you teach like this? How do you awaken the minds of your charges when you are terrified to reawaken your own?
And how do you write like this? Without digging deep? Without dipping into dark, muddy shit.
And Motherhood. It’s impossible to mother without shit. Without getting cut. Without feeling.
I’m an imposter right now. This is not who I am.
But one-half of the people who made me is now gone. And the person I was came unmoored. And sank. And is buried somewhere in my twisted reality.
And when I start digging for her, I face hard questions. Not the Did you love me? questions. Because I know he did. I truly, deeply know he truly, deeply did.
But the other hard questions. The shitty ones.
The Were you ever really proud of me? and Did you ever really know me? ones. The Did you ever really even want to know me — like who I was, not who you wanted me to be? questions.
All the dark complexities of being a daughter in a patriarchal papa’s world kind of questions.
Will I ever be less brittle? Feel less brittle? Feel?
Will I be able to reignite the flame that got doused, strangled somewhere inside my intestinal fortitude? Get back to the warm-blooded me who is flexible enough to teach my students the way they should be taught? To mother my children the way they should be and deserve to be mothered? To write about the things I want to write about, that I should write about, that deserve to be written about. To search for the answers to the questions I manage to write out, but still can’t write about. Can’t write through.
Is there a way to tap back into the life forces that pull me through this universe when a major life force in my universe has tapped out?
It’s all so complicated… and so different from what I expected.