|But true gratitude can't be forced! (source)|
Oh, it's back.
Some of my previous silliness, joy and ease is back.
Sleeping and I are friends again, but it's a tentative relationship. We're afraid to like each other too much, lest we get too attached. But it's working for now. And for that I am so grateful I want to throw a party.
I'm eating TOO well, and I'm exercising and working more without feeling overwhelmed physically and mentally. I feel more capable than I have since Dave died, because my energy and concentration are a bit better. And of course, when I'm not out in the world glowering and sending everyone vibes of doom and fear, I'm meeting more people and making more connections with the ones already in my life. Shocker.
It's another peak after a valley and it feels so good that I want to bottle it.
The valleys don't last as long and though they feel nearly as deep and hard to claw my way out of, I have better coping skills. I'm guessing that we grieving people will build the biggest coping muscles to get through this. We have to.
But anyway, I'm here now, on this peak. It feels higher than any previous peak because for the first time, I can look around me and feel true gratitude and appreciation and even joy. For the first time the veil that seemed to descend between me and the experiences that used to bring me great happiness has lifted enough to feel. To feel things I haven't felt since before Dave died.
I was driving somewhere the other day and I had a flash of a feeling I thought had maybe died with Dave.
It was this visceral feeling I'd get, say, on a Friday afternoon, when I'd realize that in a few hours, I'd be home, full of good food and ready to sleep in the next morning (I was always so tired after a full day of teaching). I'd feel the weekend stretch out before me in my mind and that would lead to a thought of the next trip we'd planned, or summer break coming up (we were both teachers) and then I'd think of how lucky we were to have each other and how lucky we were to be able to take trips together and have lazy weekends together and a warmth would spread up from my middle. It would fill me until it felt like it ran out of room and built up pressure until it exploded out of my chest. I'd feel a jolt of joy that was almost painful. A wordless gratitude that felt far too big to contain or to begin to verbalize.
I've assumed that maybe that feeling was only possible when Dave was in my life and before I'd suffered this loss that had turned everything upside down, before my mind and heart were damaged by this trauma.
But no, there it was again. Just for a flash. Just for a moment. But it was there. It wasn't quite as powerful but I recognized it. It was the realization that I had amazing friends and family (one and the same to me) to spend time with, money to support me, work that makes me happy, two goofy sweet cats at home who are blessedly still healthy at this point, a choir, my health, a future. A future, for God's sake! It hit me like a lovely, jubilant smack to the back of my head. I felt it. I didn't have to TRY to feel it. I just felt it. No effort needed. It wasn't the knowledge of these things, it was the access to the feeling. The absence of a numbness.
Side note - there is nothing quite as frustrating as trying to make a gratitude list when you're just going through the motions. You know you're grateful, you know things could be even worse, you know certain people you hang out with might say "You just need to be more grateful!" and you'd feel slightly guilty and grinch-like for thinking "I would if I could, but I can't. And I loathe you right now." You repeat your list to yourself in the car or the bathroom, and you wait for the warmth to fill you but there's nothing. Nothing. Except your brain screaming "BUT I DON'T HAVE HIM! And if a forced gratitude list worked, I'd be doing it ALL FUCKING DAY!!!".
And so, as we know well, life will throw more pain in front of me and I'll find myself back in a dark place, but this hopeful, joyful, effortless state is something I know I will come back to me, somehow, even after the very worst has happened. After I'm sure it's impossible to find my way back. It might last for one second, but it's possible.
There's so much comfort in knowing that it's possible. It will never be exactly the same because that life is over. That person who felt that way is gone. But it is possible to feel it in a new way and to experience it in a different life. It's a different version. It's tinged with deep sadness and has no more naivete, but it's a wonderful thing, regardless. It is beautiful enough to keep me going until the next infusion.