Recently, I started using Audible. I have had several friends send me books or suggestions through Audible, so I figured it must be good. The first book recording that I listened to was the year of magical thinking by Joan Didion.
She said, "If you haven't come to this point in your life yet, where the unthinkable happens to you, it will. Just as it happened to me, it will happen to you. It will be the thing that you thought could never happen to you-- but here it is-- happening to you."
That was my brother's passing. Not by accident, or anything I could dismiss as an accident. He took his own life. On purpose. Through months and months of desperation, fighting, and downright being terrified at what was happening to him, he decided to take his out.
None of us knew how to fix it. We couldn't say the right thing, the perfect, or the magical thing to make the events that have now happened not happen.
In her book, Joan talks of spending a calm evening with her husband. She made him a drink, and then he requested that she make him a second. When she returned, he was slumped over in his chair. She thought he was playing a joke on her, he was always joking around, but this wasn't a joke. She called an ambulance. They arrived and took her husband away. When she was summoned to come to the hospital, there was a social worker in the room.
"That's when you know something really bad has happened," she said, "when there's a social worker in the room."
I went to the doctor this morning and what do you know, there was a social worker in the room. After months of visiting the chiropractor, I was referred to a doctor. The doctor said that I was constantly in "fight or flight" mode and that it was wreaking havoc on my body.
"How are you dealing with the loss?" the doctor asked me in a small white-walled room.
I teared up, and then I cried. I cried a lot.
This is "my thing" that has now happened to me that I never thought would happen to me. I never imagined I'd have to face life without the closest person to me.
But it happened.
I discussed this with my sister and I said, "What I'm realizing about myself is I will forevermore refuse to be an adult who must act like all is well."
I spend my evenings reading tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed and Untamed by Glennon Doyle and listening to podcasts with Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah, and other women who have uncovered their pain and are not afraid to speak about it or speak to it. To welcome their pain into their life as if it were a necessary part of the making of art.
It is my understanding, as a twenty-eight-year-old woman on this floating rock in the Universe, that we will all at some point go through something that completely destroys us. This is not the first time I have been destroyed. It uncovers layers of my that are not gentle and not loving and not ones that I want to be uncovered-- but they are here-- and I will choose to display them to the world forevermore because other people who are hurting and broken and needing to be understood deserve to see those parts of me.
Just because I have gone through this trauma doesn't mean that life stops.
Emails still need to be answered, work is still happening, tabs need to be replaced, bills need to be paid, and deer still run out into the road like you're their savior only to be smashed and total your vehicle so you have to find another vehicle in under two days and purchase something that is twice what the vehicle you had before cost. I feel as though I am in the Hunger Games and there are some disgusting government officials watching my life happen and then conjuring up animals and circumstances to take away anything positive that has happened. It just keeps coming.
I want to sit down on the floor, criss-cross-apple-sauce, and surrender.
That's it, I'd say, I am no longer a functioning member of society. I give up my name tag. Emilee has retired from society as a functioning member, she will now be here on this floor sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce, and if you wish to visit her you can't because she doesn't accept visitors.
She is quiet, removed, still as a stone, and there she sits.
But who on earth would that be helping? Who would benefit from me sitting on the floor criss-cross-apple-sauce and refusing to be a functioning member of society?
I can't quit, or cash in my chips, and give up my part. I am still here, and to keep moving forward, I will just live as authentically and honestly as I can. Refusing to ever pretend as if life is okay. Life will change, there will be joy again, and happiness will return just like summer is never too far away, but I will refuse to pretend like winter never happened. I will refuse to pretend like winter isn't here right now.
It has happened to me, and it will likely happen to others, too.
And when it does I will be the safe space for them to go. When their mother suddenly passes. When they're getting a divorce. When their child dies. When they discover that the girl whom they thought was a friend has actually been sleeping with their husband for five years. When cancer comes. When the devastating thing that everyone thought could never happen to them, happens to them, I will simply be the safe space.
Welcoming everyone else to get up off the floor, and keep moving forward with their lives. Because it ain't over yet, and there's more work to be done here-- and the fact that you're standing, breathing, and looking at me, is a miracle in itself.