We all have certain mornings on which we don’t leap out of bed filled with an eager desperation to sniff the scent of awaiting roses. Most days, to be entirely honest, I’m a groggy cheese-chomping mess if I don’t have caffeine and carbohydrates - in that order, in rapid succession - within thirty minutes of my feet hitting the floor.
What I’m talking about is different. Grief is not pervasive. It has a definite cause. It’s a stabbing sadness that strikes from the innocent shelves of a grocery store, or leaps up from the pavement when we were entirely sure we had it quashed. It finds us out for a run before the day’s risen above 1˚C and in our pyjamas past midday the next. It doesn’t detract from the brilliance of the good moments. It just contrasts them with a faded monochrome, aptly classified by the experts as: “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.”
By virtue of the blog format, I speak from a metaphorical soapbox. But really, these are things I remind myself of every day. I was writing myself a quick note when it became a post. This is for me and some of the people I've chatted to this week. Everyone I know is dealing with loss in some form or another.
The embarrassing moments
When one finds oneself blubbing away in the tins aisle, what exactly does one do?
Society has a remarkable way of giving us maximum privacy in the most public of places. Think of the last time you saw someone leaking from the face on a plane. Or was he out for an angry skate with his music too loud? At a noisy corner table? Screaming at her dashboard in the traffic?
I have a tendency to turn on the waterworks at inopportune moments. I’ve been there. I’ve been that girl on the promenade. Nobody looks at you. They afford you a kind of blissful bubble of isolation, and if you put your earphones in, they’re suddenly your backdrop. Impromptu music video - thanks folks.
At some point, you'll face it alone
Who do you call in those moments? This is something I’ve had to address since I left. When you’re in different time zones, explaining what is happening in yours to someone else requires a formulated text that serves the the sole purpose of launching your personal conundrum into their self-stabilised sanctuary. It feels contrived summarising a problem to someone else under these circumstances, no matter how invested in your wellbeing they may be. Some would argue that if we refuse to talk about loss, there is no hope of confronting it. However, grief is sometimes the bucket and there is no answer Liza could possibly give to plug it. There comes a point where there is little comfort in making someone else acknowledge the unshiftable weight of a situation. It's a Catch-22 that leaves everyone feeling a little flatter.
I’m in strong favour of leaning on friends. But when you’re separated by an ocean and then some, and you find yourself falling short on supportive shoulders at crunch time, I’m also all for pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.
Do it for yo'self
I mentioned icy morning sprints. Those help. So does sleeping in.
There really is no right way or quick way. There is a wave, and when it’s washed off you do as the old rhyme goes: pick yourself, brush yourself off, and start all over again. Try not to wallow in Youtube’s recommended slow mix too long. Try to exercise. 2018 seems to be the year of #SelfLove.
Because grief is caused by a shocking change, there is no guessing or preparing. Surely, of all people, the person who should surprise me the least is myself? Not so, apparently. Our consciousness likes hide-and-seek. I still grieve for people I lost before I reached adolescence, and the intensity is unique in that it never dulls. Sometimes the wrong song comes on the radio on the wrong day.
And I don’t mean clothes or goals. New people. New places. The most nerve-wracking thing I did was try to befriend the Parisienne dude who owns the crêperie down the road in the hope of practicing French. On my third attempt I gave up on account of his brusqueness, but I learnt a lot about crêpe suzette. Every so often there's that heady kick of authentic interaction that comes when we look out rather than down, or forget to charge our iPods. It helps to find joy in the kid singing on the bus.
It comes down to choosing to do a new route to work. A new exercise plan. A new sketch pad. A new breakfast cereal or wall colour. Not a ‘new you’. That's not the issue here.
If there are reminders of those times, don’t throw them out. You’ll grow from holding them to your chest until they’re back in perspective.
I'm still perplexed by this life thing. It takes the form of a weird buzz of collected events that only seem significant in retrospect. So we ride it out. That’s where I reckon the growth and living is. Forget this Facebook Feeling pursuit. There is no mystery euphoria we’re all excluded from.
Bit by bit. Brick by brick.
If we can't get sniffly during the commute home, is there any benefit to traffic at all?