Sunday morning pancakes with peanut butter and nutella were calling my name this morning. I whipped them up while singing along to Taylor Swift blasting (my OG emotional outlet).
Hours before, I laid in bed working through roller coaster feelings about something special to me that had ended suddenly a week ago. I slept in today and felt better than I had been in the days prior. I was waking up feeling exhausted, sad, feeling out of control, in a pool of sweat because of nightmares, having my stomach in knots and overwhelmed with a flood of emotions - like I’ve been missing something deeply..
As my dad's death anniversary is approaching on Monday, I’d notice changes in myself within the days approaching it. This year brings additional stressors to the process; changes in my life, changes in the world right now and the date happening to fall on Easter long weekend.
Time is a powerful tool that supports us in all of our healing journeys. I was mad at it for years for being the cause of everyone moving on, holding the space that my loved ones wouldn't be in anymore. It took me years to see and appreciate how it had helped with my healing. I’m grateful that with time and reflection I’ve seen my own growth with coping and how I’ve navigated my own emotions, treated others, my relationships and myself professionally.
Connection is powerful too and because of that an alarm sets off in me every April since. 9 years later and my body still senses when I lost him, the explosion of feelings that followed and how my life would never be the same.
No matter how prepared you are, what’s going on in your life, how far along you are in your healing or how experienced you are with being filled with these feelings, the grief you once felt initially can appear to come back. This typically came for me in the form of triggers or shifts in my energy around anniversary dates. It looks different for me now than it did years ago, when I was in my early 20's. I was anxious and sad; I would cry days before without fully understanding why my body was doing this. I would be reckless, go out often and try to push my reality down. It would come back up every single time - resulting in me being an emotional mess. That was in the form of me being explosive in my relationships, withdrawing and being upset that no one would come around. It was hella unhealthy. But this was young grieving me. She helped me get to where I am now. I’m proud of her.
There's this emotional tie that stays with you when you lose someone you loved so much. My dad was the first man who loved me and raised me to love myself and highlighted the parts in me that others wouldn't always see. He set the bar very high for who I would let in. I would not let anyone in for years to follow his death. He is such a substantial part of my life- even now. With a bond like that that connected us from when I entered the world it was no surprise that I would feel that emptiness the day he passed on and so strongly around his death anniversary.
Now as I’ve mentioned, in my early years my grief around his anniversary looked much differently than it had in the last few years. I would feel lost, be destructive, have more frequent nightmares, be emotionally exhausted, withhold from crying or cry often (one extreme or the other). I was still learning how to cope and hadn’t even processed the years leading up to his passing.
Last year, I had started therapy and around this time was able to discover that I had been having a challenging few weeks because this date was approaching. As the years go on and life gets busier it slips my mind- everything gets faded. I had support in place and was proactive in taking care of myself. My relationships were healthier, my circle was smaller but I cared less about how many were around me and cherished the ones who knew me deeply. All aspects of my life were going well. My family relationships were being worked on, my job was going well and I had been taking care of my mental and physical health. I was putting in the work.
This year, I would’ve expected it to be the same as I've continued doing the work on myself. Since we’ve been in isolation things have changed. Some of my relationships have changed, my work life looks much different and I don’t have the outlets in place like I’ve been used to having. This is a big transitioning period for many people where they’re discovering sides of themselves they hadn't yet. We all are dealing with losses right now that look different for each of us. I think within the last week I’ve cried four times - like hard cries, I’ve felt lost, agitated and emotionally exhausted. To my surprise I had reverted back to how I had been in the first few years after my loss. I noticed this. This is the power of self awareness and working through your stuff. As I’ve mentioned in my post Triggered and I Know It, all of the work that we do when we are in tune with ourselves gets cashed out during the times we go in survival mode and feel down. It’s inevitable that we have to feel it out - no matter what. I was sensing this and it was clear that with the changes going on in our world and restrictions this takes on an entirely new grieving process- but I had been doing the work. Despite this, I was back at square one.. momentarily.
In the last few days I haven’t liked how I’ve felt so sensitive, sad, alone and not feeling like I’m contributing to my purpose ( we’re all our own worst critics aren't we?). I nervously sat being aware that I was anxious and tried to think of how to help myself. I bite my nails, think and plan. I try to do yoga, meditate, and clean. I want a quick fix it seemed. I actively search for one so that I can go back to feeling good. But there's none. Hours go by, I bite my nails and scroll on my phone. I feel defeated that I have no control over or can change the things that have been happening. I finally take in that this is a new grieving process on top of what I’m going through - feeling the loss of my loved ones in April. I sat with this and affirmed to myself that this was new and because of that I needed to show more compassion toward myself during this. I had to give up control; there was only so much that I could control and stopping myself from feeling sad wasn’t one. I surrendered to the feelings, allowed myself to explore them and to stay in them for as long as I needed. This is what I was avoiding for hours. I needed a boost from a friend to do so and a reminder from my family when I looked up from my phone that there really is such joy in small interactions and being present. I was missing out on that because I had been fighting myself for hours.
It was time to cash out and pull on all of the work I'd done so far.
My day turned around. I gave myself permission to feel all of these ways and cry if I needed to. I gave myself permission to feel good about myself. I planned to drop off a gift to my friend and got myself ready like I usually would. Yes.. I put jeans on! Who knew that jeans would be a game changer! I ate dinner with my family, face timed my friend who I hadn’t seen in months (missed you cuz) and ended the night playing Scrabble with my family. Pain from loss is tough to work through. It takes time and patience with yourself and surrounding yourself with/ finding those people who understand you so unconditionally that they accept you at whatever place you arrive at on that given day. Time, connection and self awareness - thank you for your role in my healing this weekend..
Keep healing and take care.