I have always scoffed at cliches and generalizations. You can’t lump a life’s experience into a few simple catch phrases, and you can’t assume anything about anyone else’s life, minimizing their joys and pains to something that can be more easily digested by others who probably have no clue how you really feel.
But occasionally these very arbitrary socially acceptable nicknacks can help you stay afloat when life’s circumstances are too unimaginably painful to look straight in the face. Like losing a close friend, a parent, a child, a beloved pet, your home.
So here’s a couple that have been swimming around my mind that I have accepted as true for me, right now.
It’s the little things that count. There are only little things. That’s most of what life is, I find. Little changes that accumulate to become significant shifts as time goes on. I realized this last night when I reached for my head massager that’s always on my nightstand, right next to my box of tissues. The tissue box is the closest thing to my head as I sleep, but last night, when I took up my massager for the first time in a dog’s age, I switched both of them around. Now, the massager is closest to me. It’s a small thing – just one of a small avalanche of changes that are probably taking place that I pay no heed.
Tissue box = always crying = living in continuous pain and grief. Head massager = relaxation = relief = closer to peace, and now, physically closer to me. This little thing has some significance, and I only recently noticed it, and I accept it as an important event.
Fake it ’til you make it. There is no.way. I will ever be okay with my child being dead. Never.ever.ever.ever.EVER. I could choose to stay and wallow in my misery. I’d be within my rights if I never left my house again, never saw friends again, never tried at life again. I would also be within my rights to never smile again, never be happy again. But that’s not how I am. Despite this shit storm, I’ve managed to laugh with honesty, smile with sincerity, and find moments of happiness and contentment despite living in a veritable, unbelievable hell. These moments don’t happen every day, and normally, I would find this catch-phrase a dishonest way to go about life. But I’ve been drawn to it, I seem to be hearing it everywhere, and I can see how it could be good advice in some situations.
How faking it until you make it works.
Most days, I am sad, irritable, unhappy. But I’m starting to feel ready to push myself just a tiny bit, at my own pace, and i see an opportunity to really test how this will go with Christmas not far off. While I’m nervous about the holidays, and have nothing to celebrate this year, I’m going to fake it. It’s an important time of the year for my partner and his family, so for Tyler, I’ll put on a brave smile and go through the motions of happiness and celebration. I’ll choose not to forsake the living for the memory of the dead. I’m still going to be sad. Very sad. Which is why it’s called faking it. It won’t be sincere happiness. It won’t be genuine laughter. I’m going to be artificial, shallow, and just do it to get it over with, but then maybe, over time, my fake emotions might convince me that I might actually be having a good time. Or maybe not. We’ll see.
Time heals all wounds. This is very similar to what I just wrote about faking it. I’ll never be truly happy, for reasons that are obvious to me. It hasn’t even been two months since we said goodbye to Henry, but I’ve managed to crawl out of bed to feed the bunnies, eat because I was hungry, and shower because I knew it would make me feel good. I went for a massage, saw a clairvoyant, and ate chocolate because I liked it and these things brought me comfort. I actually craved comfort. This is only possible with the passage of time – bringing me both farther away, and closer to my son. My pain feels less raw, my wounds not as fresh. I’m gently pushed along as the days pass by. If I had the choice, I would forever be in the delivery room, holding my child, but that’s not the way things work. I’m here now, feeling less fragile over time. It’s not a staircase of progression, though – it’s an evolving circle, so I know I will revisit misery. It’s just becoming a familiar, Everest-sized bump in my healing journey that gets less devastating to re-climb as time goes on.