This month marks a year since I started recovery/weight gain/living again and next month will mark two years since my mum died. Recovery has been like a kind of rebirth. It should be called ‘The Learning to Live Again Season’ since that’s essentially what it involves – learning to be/reconnect with myself and others, learning about myself and others and learning to live with the highs and lows of life.
I should (??) (I don’t tend to believe in ‘shoulds’ in life), I think, feel a sense of pride about how far I have come with my eating (not as dodgy as it was) and my recovery in general but the overwhelming emotion is sadness which then bleeds into an already fractured appetite – for life, for sustenance. I guess the sadness is that my mother is not here to enjoy any of this – the good me/the better than I was me/ the less disordered me. This is why the end of my first year in recovery was filled with tears rather than celebration. I’m still glad I chose recovery and still grateful for those who have helped me make it this far but celebrating is the last thing I feel like doing.
Everytime someone tells me how much better I look now or how well I’m doing now, it stings and it hurts like hell because all this, my ‘betterness’ was meant for her, not for them. And everytime I’ve achieved something or done something new, a ‘hollowness’, a sense of emptiness, has been the accompanying feeling. Even my laughter has an echo.
Those who say time heals, are not speaking to me. I don’t think time heals. I think it simply shifts the shape of things. It turns circles into squares and then into triangles or rectangles or hexagons or your shape of choice. Whatever the case, the length of the thing still stays the same.
Save for one post (which I highly recommend to those whose parent(s) are still alive), I have avoided writing about or speaking about my mother’s death because it feels like this:
A failing heart
A herd of elephants sitting on my chest
I’m starving but have no appetite
A lifetime of writer’s block, a permanently blank page
Screaming but hearing nothing back
A permanent echo reverberating inside of me
A silent earth
There was no Before, only After.
Sometimes, I watch something on TV and a person is at risk of death and I hear them say ‘I don’t want to die, please don’t let me die’ and someone says, ‘don’t worry, you’re not going to die or we won’t let you die’ and I laugh because the truth is, we are all going to die at some point and so will the people we love. It’s a sad truth.
Death is not new. Grief is not new. I am not unique or immune in this sense but I guess this experience still feels very new. Uncomfortable. More than uncomfortable. It feels like strangulation. But some days, the hands around my throat release their grip and I feel just fine. And on other days, that grip is tightened once more and I am struggling to breath. I am never sure when those hands will loosen their grip or finally let go. Or when I will distance myself from those hands and let go or break free.
The death of a loved one, our own eventual death is part of the process of life. It’s something we all have in common or will have in common at some point and yet it is so hard to speak about. I can comfortably speak about death in an abstract manner but speaking about it on a personal level is still very difficult for me to do.