Don’t Tell Me

It’s the Monday after Mother’s Day and I managed to make it through somehow. I woke up this morning with a strong urge to remain comfortably in bed, but here I am swilling coffee and planning on how to make it through this week of work and everything else I have to get done. But yesterday wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared it might have been. I eventually became emotionally immune to Mother’s Day sales and the FTD reminders; my situation certainly didn’t require me to complain about others still celebrating with their mothers–why harsh everyone’s buzz? I can’t imagine anything more narcissistic than insisting everyone else calm down with the Mother’s Day stuff because it was hard for me. Next year I’ll know what to expect and will be one more year removed from the loss; time has a way of dulling the aches and pains and slings and arrows life hurls at us–all things become easier with the passage of time. A friend was in town yesterday and I joined him for a rather late lunch. I had a beer (!!!); a local IPA that was actually quite good–I’ve always only drank trash beer, and never really got into beer as an experience rather than as a method of alcohol delivery. (I also know nothing about wine.) That was a nice break from working, and last night we started watching The Consultant, with Christoph Waitz, on Amazon Prime. I don’t think we’ll continue. It’s well done but it’s very strange; it’s based on a Bentley Little novel, so it’s probably more on the horror end of the spectrum, but it didn’t really engage with us very much? I suspect we’ll be looking for something else to watch this evening after I finish working.

And because I never made a grocery run over the weekend I shall have to do it tonight after I get off work, which is hardly an appealing thought. I also have a ZOOM call tonight–I should be able to get home in time for it, I think–or maybe I don’t; it’s not on my calendar which is unusual, but there’s no meeting at all on my schedule for the month of May, which is very odd. I’ll have to dig through my emails to see, but I’m pretty certain it was tonight. I’m actually rather amazed that I remember that much, without it being on my calendar. I know i had some things I needed to do before that call, too–so that’s going on today’s list of things to do. MUST BE DONE.

But I feel like there’s a lot less on my shoulders this morning, which is also kind of weird. Was Mother’s Day that subconsciously brutal on my psyche that I was able to keep it out of the forefront of my mind while still carrying the load and only being slightly aware? My brain’s ability to protect itself (and me) from things I don’t want to think about or deal with at the moment is pretty uncanny; but I’m not sure if that’s entirely healthy. There’s a lot stored away in the dusty back corners of my mind that I’ve never processed or dealt with–watching It‘s a Sin on HBO MAX back whenever it was that first aired, for example, brought a lot of memories back that I’d not even considered, let alone dealt with and processed, since it all actually happened to me in my life. I said recently to a very young gay man lately (early twenties, so born in either the late 90’s/early aughts) “back then we just all figured we were all going to die before anything would be done about it” and he recoiled slightly from me, saying “But that’s terrible” , to which I shrugged and said, “that was our reality.” I’d never really thought about it much because it was the reality; and yes, it was indeed horrible. But I’ve blocked that all out so much for so long that it does sometimes seem like it was distant history, like it all happened to someone else, or that it was a book I wrote long, long ago and barely remember. The loss of memory from that time is no different, really, from the loss of memory of the times and years after Katrina or how all the pandemic/COVID years kind of jumble in my mind and I can’t remember timelines or when things happened or how they happened. Scrambled brains, I suppose, is the easiest way to say it; trauma and PTSD scramble our brains.

And even as I reread that last sentence, I am, as always, inwardly rolling my eyes at myself, So dramatic, my inner critic is sneering. You’re not the first person to lose a parent. It is funny, when you catch yourself being nasty to yourself and then start unpacking where that negativity and self-loathing came from. Childhood, of course, which is where so many of the scars were inflicted and lessons learned that have almost proven impossible to unlearn as an adult. There are no guidebooks for life; only experience and learning hard lessons. As someone who prefers a bit of structure to life, not knowing how I am supposed to handle things like grief and so forth inevitably results in me being harder on myself than I should be. How long are you supposed to grieve? How long before it stops hurting, before I can think about Mom without getting deeply emotional? Am I supposed to keep this to myself, or am I supposed to share it? Do people get tired of hearing about it and grow bored with me talking about it? I know I get bored with myself–and then wonder, is that self-abuse? Should I be kinder to myself? I never have been, really; so that would be a novelty in the first place. When does it cross the line from normal emotional response to wallowing in it?

I really hate that my parents lost my user manual so many years ago…

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. It’s a Monday, so take it as easy on yourself as you can–we can make it through yet another week of challenges and excitement, can’t we?

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