}

Monday, November 11, 2019

Today I’m okay

Today, I’m okay. Add that to the phrases I’ve already talked about, the expressions that both describe and help me get through this time of grieving, such as, “What I can, when I can”, and its cousin, “Maybe tomorrow.” There’s another phrase that Nigel and I used to say to each other all the time, whenever health issues of any sort got to us, and that phrase described most of this past week for me: “I’m really struggling”. But, today, I’m okay.

Nigel and I used to say “I’m really struggling” whenever we had some illness, or some other health thing, like, in my case, when the medication doctors put me on made my life unliveable. The phrase was our way of sharing our burden with each other, and our usual response was simply, “I know”. In those few words, we’d both share the burden and acknowledge it, a sort of “here’s my challenge” along with “I see your challenge, I love you, and I’m here with you.” One of the last things Nigel ever said to me on his last day was, “I’m really struggling, Bub.” I told him, “I know.” After two and a half decades together, that was all we needed to say in order to say so much more.

Last week I struggled, and despite the relatively good day on Tuesday, the rest of the week was the exact opposite. There was no trigger—nothing happened to bring it on, and there was absolutely no reason for it—nothing apart from dealing with having half of me ripped away, of course.

I realised how awful things were on Wednesday when I got angry at terrible drivers in a carpark in Takanini, used my horn a lot, and even flipped off a woman who was blocking us all because her driving was so bad. Now, to be fair, her driving really was awful, and she probably deserved my primal response, however, it wasn’t her terrible driving that set me off, it was the inexplicable hot rage that sometimes comes rushing out of me like searing, glowing lava.

Anger is a common feeling among people grieving the loss of a loved one, and from what I’ve read, there’s seldom an actual cause or trigger. In my case, I’ve noticed that right now I simply cannot handle any frustration, even including the petty annoyances we all deal with every day—like terrible drivers in a carpark.

I also know that such things are phases to be endured: They pass, as all things do, and I knew that I just needed to ride it out—alone. I couldn’t be around other people, not the least because I knew I couldn’t trust myself to “behave”, but even more because I knew that being among other people would be absolutely overwhelming. The better choice, I knew, was to “hide in my cave,” as I put it at the time. Plus, I had a lot of work to do, anyway.

Staying busy is my thing, it’s what’s always gotten me through any emotional rough patches, especially when I don't know what else to do (and right now I’m in about as rough a patch as there is). Which is not to say that I work very efficiently or quickly—right now especially, I certainly don’t do either—but it does get me out of myself and keeps me physically active, both of which are helpful for me. Other people do different things, and I bet that for some people staying busy would be the worst possible thing to do, but a lifetime of experience has proven to me that staying busy works—for me.

The bad patch started to lift by Saturday morning, just as unexpectedly and inexplicably as it had begun. Sunday was somewhat better again—until the evening.

I was working on my monthly work project on my new MacBook Pro, as Nigel and I had intended and planned, when an external hard drive failed. It was, of course, the hard drive that had all my work files on it, and I was immediately faced with the prospect of losing everything I’d done that week and having to start over, from scratch.

This was exactly the sort of thing that could have sent me back down again—but it didn’t. Yes, I was frustrated, which led me to throw (well, toss…) my reading glasses across the table at one point, but I mainly kept plugging away until I sorted it out which, I was well aware, is exactly what Nigel would have done. That could well be why I was calm. Still, I lost more than an hour, and didn’t finish up until well after 3am, and didn’t get to bed until 4am. Then, a half hour later, the dogs started barking at a cat howling somewhere nearby.

After all that, it would be understandable if I was in a bad patch today, but I’m not. Tired, absolutely, but otherwise okay. I have a lot of things around the house to work on this week and that will help ensure I stay okay.

In addition to staying busy, I, obviously, also think about things and analyse my situation. It’s precisely because I think that I can deal with what I feel. Some people overthink their situations, but for me it mostly provides a rational, logical balance to the often irrational emotional reactions I face right now.

And yet, long-held habits don’t suddenly stop, do they? Not when they help, anyway.

Last week, in the midst of that bad patch, I said out loud to Nigel, “I’m really struggling, Bub.” Now, if I was in a Hollywood movie, I’d have had a visitation, or if I was character in a novel I’ve have suddenly entered an other-worldly state. None of that happened, of course, and the closest thing to any of that was that I knew that if Nigel really could have heard me and responded, he would have said, “I know”. That was really all that I needed because it was all Nigel and I ever needed to say in order to say so much more.

And, today I’m okay.

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