The last few weeks have been understandably difficult.
I guess difficult is an understatement. My life has been completely turned upside down. I'm no longer trying to eat normally, because there's really no chance of that happening. I have been very gentle with myself around eating though, acknowledging that my emotions are ...complicated. What I have done with the whole eating thing is that I've decided I will only eat things I want to eat, when I want to eat them. That's sort of what I was doing before, except I was trying to have regular meals of things I wanted to eat.
I've gone back into the habit of only eating a few different kinds of food. Cheese and gluten-free bread in various incarnations. I've taken to counting the different kinds of food I've eaten in a day. Since I began grieving, the highest number has been 7. I've been eating out a lot too. I know more than a few people who would criticize me for that, but at least some of them are happier that I'm eating at all.
Sadness comes and goes. Different emotions crop up along with memories. Riding my scooter for the first time. Learning how to ride a bike. The day my mom and I came home to find a present from my dad on the doorstep (this was right after they had broken up); it was Play Doh. And then I become overwhelmed with emotion because I try to imagine just how much he loved me, and how much it hurt him for us to not be together all those years.
When it finally hit me, that this time saying goodbye was for real and I would never see him in this world again; I felt like I would never stop crying. There was an amount of shame associated with losing my shit like that, and I tried to hide in the living room, rather than crying in bed with Ten next to me. I know he wanted to comfort me, but I have been conditioned over the years that there is a time and a place to have an emotional breakdown: alone, in the car, listening to Yes. I'm sure it's not healthy to stuff my emotions like that (or at least that's what I tell other people when they stuff their emotions), but the role I have taken on in my family has me convinced that being stoic will help my siblings to be strong.
I'm sure that's bullshit. Vulnerability is what strengthens families, not shielding your emotions in order to avoid the appearance of weakness. But it's hard to allow myself to be vulnerable. Even with my partners and friends (unless I've been drinking), whom I'm normally able to share those feelings with. I will sidle up to Ten and use meek body language to ask for a hug; or curl up in Capt Jack's lap; I've asked both of them for comfort too, which is kind of a big deal for me.
My dad, wherever he is, wants me to stand tall in my grief, not be too proud to cry. Grace doesn't look like what you think it does, and stoicism is manufactured and disingenuous. Despite knowing this, and that my body is manifesting my grief through physical pain, I can't handle being seen in my grief.
All of this is part of the process though. My feelings are normal and okay, and I will improve. I still have happiness and joy, and I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other one, leading my family to a safe place. My chosen family have been invaluable in this process, and I love them all. What I have learned in the last 8 months has helped me too, and I'm no longer interested in any kind of destination with the internal work I've been doing. Just the journey. Just the moment. Even the moments that hurt.