So many times over the last few weeks, people have referred to me as brave or strong; I so don’t feel that way. I feel as though I’ve been muddling through, just barely holding it together, and only doing what needs to be done. That isn’t strength, is it? Bravery isn’t merely being so sleep deprived and emotionally raw that you simply get through each day and remain alive and standing at the end of it, right?
Each day brings new moments where I think “oh, I can’t wait to tell A that” or I start to text or call that I’m on my way and then reality hits like a blast of arctic air – frigid, brutal and breathtaking. It stops me in my tracks. It feels as if an important part of me is missing – and I suppose it is – but I still feel as though it’s there. It should be there. Perhaps this is what a person who has lost a limb feels that has that “phantom itch” where their arm or leg should have been. We’ve all heard those stories. That’s it, then… there’s an itch in a place that’s so much a part of me that I just cannot reach to scratch and get relief.
I read something recently about grief and losing someone (actually I’ve read a lot about it) that spoke of losing half of one’s heart, while the other half was broken. That’s how I feel – incomplete, yet shattered. One day, some day, I believe I will get “better”, my pain will be lessened and the pleasant memories will outweigh these heavy, grief-sodden, dark ones, but I will never truly be whole again. I will always be a different, altered version of myself – scarred and fragmented, if not stronger.
Being with my husband for so long and having fallen for him so young, my life story is completely intertwined with his. From my choice of college and career, to where we’ve lived, to what kind of car we’ve driven – nearly every decision has been a joint one (yes, even my hairstyle and clothing choices have been influenced by his likes). Do I even know who I am without him? Do I want to? Now there’s the real question…
My kids seem to be worried that I’ve been spending a great deal of time alone since we’ve come home. My mother is concerned that I need someone to talk to. Some experts seem to think this separation is not a good thing – they use words such as withdrawal or disengagement – and perhaps that’s true in many cases. But for me, I believe it may be a necessity. I may need to discover myself again (for the first time?). From my parents’ home to our first apartment – I’ve never been on my own. I even lived at home when I went to college so I don’t even have the dorm experience.
Perhaps I’ll hate it and being alone may mean being lonely. Perhaps I’ll be the same person and “our likes” will be mine, as well, and the only difference anyone will notice is a subtle sadness. But perhaps the person I put back together through this – the scarred, fragmented, new me – may be different and beautiful in a whole new way, much like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. My life with A has been my caterpillar stage, an amazing, wonderful life with all its ups and downs, trials and tribulations. And for now I’ll remain in my chrysalis, remembering and growing, repairing and preparing, and simply waiting for the time when I am ready to emerge again and fly. Maybe that’s where my bravery will come in.
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