Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The landmine day

This started out as a rough day—no idea why. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep? That’s usually the case when I have an early appointment, as I did today, in this case, to take my car in for its annual service. Maybe, but I’ve been feeling low for awhile now. Maybe being tired was just an amplifier.

At any rate, I was on my way to the dealer, and was stopped at a traffic light. A car on the main road did a U-turn while other traffic was stopped, something that’s legal, for some reason). I suddenly had a vivid flashback to sitting at that same intersection with Nigel when a car in front of us did the same thing. I’d never seen that manoeuvre before, and was taken aback. I’m sure Nigel and I must’ve talked about it.

After dropping my car off, I walked up to Bunnings, partly to look, but also to pick up a couple things. I was wandering around, and was suddenly aware that the music playing was “Everything I Own” by Bread, a song about a father who died, because the chorus seized my attention [WATCH/LISTEN]:

And I would give anything I own
I'd give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again

I really wanted to cry, but didn’t. But I also didn’t stick around much longer.

I next stopped for a coffee and the music was “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus, which is about loving oneself without someone else (because of a bad relationship) [WATCH/LISTEN], but the connection to me wasn’t the song itself, but, rather, that I recently shared an 80s-inspired cover by UK band Deco [WATCH/LISTEN] on my personal Facebook page, and that sharing was firmly in the new life I’m trying to learn.

From there it was lunch and a catch-up with my mother-in-law, which was as awesome as ever. There were no odd reminders, not even the photos of Nigel she has on display triggered anything, which wasn’t surprising: I have the same photos out in my house, too.

The landmines today were jarring because they were totally unexpected, as the strong ones usually are. I have reminders coming up that I’m well aware of: Nigel’s birthday is next week, and the fourth Horrible Anniversary is around four weeks after that. However, because I know they’re coming, I’ll probably be okay when they arrive—so far, I always have been.

The thing is, sudden reminders—triggers, basically—can happen any time, any place, out of nowhere. That’s precisely why they’re so powerful: Our attention is suddenly jolted into full awareness of what’s always been there quietly, in the background, and that can be upsetting.

I’ve learned not to worry about such unexpected reminders, that they’ll inevitably pass, and pretty quickly, too. The trick, I think, is to accept that reality and ride it out—in fact, trying to ignore or suppress it only makes it stronger and last longer.

I’ve learned a thing or two about being a widower, you see. Dealing with landmines is just one of those things.

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