To go in or not to go in.
People have told me that grief has triggers some that are obvious and some that come out of nowhere. I guess I thought I was prepared for this, in a way I have been grieving for a year, since my Mom’s diagnosis. In that year I was so focused on day to day task and helping Mom feel the best she possibly could for as long as she possibly could. I just never really thought about what the day to day would be like without her… empty. The first few days, although I cried a lot, I really felt numb. We had a beautiful memorial party that Mom would have really loved. Family and friends came from all around. And, while I genuinely believe she was there, she wasn’t physically there, I could not hear her laugh, or see her enjoy all the lovely people she touched, or most of all just go hug her. I know some people have trouble sleeping, that hasn’t really been my experience. Every morning for a bit I woke at 5 am thinking I needed to check on her and feeling guilty for sleeping too deeply. After all the family left and things started to go back to normal I started to feel like I was getting sick… physically sick. I was having all sorts of symptoms; body aches, headaches, nausea, fever (like legit low grade fever), coughing, and pressure in my chest. Two days of this and just sleeping. Thomas pointed out that more than likely I was not physically ill but having a physical response to my grief. I was angry with him for a fleeting second, how could he know what I was feeling?! Then the awakening, of course, he knew what I was feeling. I had sat on the foot of the bed while he slept a day away just four months earlier trying to convince him to eat something and changing out his cup of untouched water. That and the fact that (especially now) he knows me better than anyone else on this earth. So I tried to wrap my head around what was going on in my own body, my heart, and my mind.
The next day I woke focused on getting out of bed and getting out of my head. It is not that I didn’t want to feel, it was that I needed to get passed the physical manifestations of my feelings. So I woke, I showered, I packed most of the things that had accumulated in Mom and Gwyn’s guest room over the last year. When Thomas was done working for the day we started to say our goodbyes. It was, here’s that word again, tricky. Gwyn and I had spent the last year working to become what would be a pretty efficient machine. And, now that was done. We decided not say goodbye instead we talked about the next time we would see each other, hugged, and waved as we backed out of the driveway.
Arriving home felt normal at first. We walked around the house plugging things in, seeing which house plants had kicked it, checking the state of the refrigerator (we always forget to throw something out before it starts to be slightly odoriferous). But, then it hit me, I hadn’t checked in. Without thinking I grabbed my phone to send Mom a text…and then the world stopped. She wouldn’t get my text. So I quickly I tried to redirect, I texted my sister and Gwyn that we made it home. Then it hit me, the physical symptoms nausea, pulsing in my head, weakness in my legs, pressure on my chest. Shit, I thought I was passed this. I remember what I used to tell Mom, “Just take short shallow breaths, no pressure”. It always worked. I always thought, why are we telling people to take deep breaths when obviously if they could they would. Shockingly it worked, momentarily.
I wish I could say this is something I have overcome and give you the step by step of how you too can overcome anxiety…I can’t. I had never in my life experienced anxiety or “panic attacks”. My wise husband has many great gifts one of them is to see into the future…well sort of. He can see when I am about to deteriorate before I am even aware it is happening. I am grateful of his existence all the time but none more than I was the following day. I had slept most of the day with netflix going in the background. At some point Thomas came out of his office and said he was done working. We made the call that we needed groceries(desperately). I made a list of all the things I needed to start my Pinterest project (you were afraid I had forgotten what all this was about). Making a grocery list flooded me with emotions and thoughts, what brand would Mom get, she would switch the chicken breast in this recipe to chicken thighs, Mom would have organized the list by department of the store. FLOODED, but I powered on. We packed up our reusable bags and got in the car. We were off…Thomas took one look at me in the passenger seat and gave me the out I so desperately needed, “let’s just go to the beach instead”. Seriously, I have never felt more relieved in my life. The salty air was just what I needed, we had coffee, everything else could wait.
Over take out burgers and fries, that night, we made a plan. We would meet our lovely group of friends the next day have a few drinks and then battle the grocery store. And, that is exactly what we did. I found that talking about my anxiety and irrational fear of the grocery store gave it less power over me. I laughed about it over a beer with friends and then we did it. Just went in, list in hand, and totally conquered that store. Department by department. To put it crudely… I made that store my bitch.