Honest, notes on grief

The shame of falling apart

I don’t remember when I told him this but at some point I told my pastor, that my room was a direct reflection of my mental health. And it’s something he remembers and every now and then will ask me how my room is- asking me how I’m doing in a different way.

My room has been in disarray since August.

August was when I came back from first surprising my parents in Kingsburg (I left with a sense of foreboding that it would be the last time I saw my mom alive) and then had been in Hawaii for a friend’s wedding for about a week.

I was emotionally drained and on the edge of absolute physical shutdown. It was during that week in Hawaii that I realized I had to quit my job, I needed to make the leap, move on and try to breathe again.

I needed to try to find myself in what felt like the chaos I created.

I’ve talked about this before, but I started to breathe again.

I emptied my closet out to go through it, I was beginning to piece by piece put myself back together.

Then my mom died and the chaos stayed.

The effort it feels like it’s going to take to put it all back together still sometimes feels absolutely overwhelming.

I feel as if I had a perfect storm of grief, burnout, teaching in a pandemic, anxiety and so many other things. And I have to remember something in all of it:

It’s going to take more than a few months to heal.

Today in church, I was reminded by someone that I was important and that I needed to take care of myself.

Woof.

And right now, all that’s trying to run through my head are the ways I’m horrible at taking care of myself. All the ways I’ve been a bad, absent friend. The giant pile of clothes in the corner of my room, the fact my calendar still says January. The ways I’m incapable of doing enough. How I’m unable to do what people need me to do because I am fearful of crashing again.

But, if I sit I can also see tangible ways that I am taking care of myself and I have to remember that.

The pile of clean clothes means that I am doing laundry.

The plate on my bedside table means I have eaten today.

My cleaned off desk that now houses my vanity and makeup means that I am taking time to sit and do my makeup and I had to buy more moisturizer today because even if I don’t wear makeup, everyday I sit in my chair and put moisturizer on.

I had to scrounge for shampoo because I ran out, so I’m showering.
I had to refill my water bottle because even though I usually suck at it, I am drinking water today.

And the tears currently running down my face remind me that I’m still allowing myself to feel.

I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t take care of myself. I’m well aware that I’ve not been doing well.
I’m well aware of all the ways I don’t feel like I’m showing up for the people around me.

But with all that I have to remember the ways, even in the midst of the bad days where I don’t feel like I’ll ever feel whole again, that I’m still moving forward, I’m still creating habits that take care of myself even in little ways like putting moisturizer on my face or listening to podcasts while I get ready..

I have to remember that it wasn’t just my mom dying. It was also the end of a time of life living in high stress. It was living and teaching kids in a pandemic. It was friendships ending.

It was a lot.

So, if right now, if keeping my bed and my desk clear and my floor mostly clear is all I can do, so be it. If for this season my white board calendar stays on January and I just use my google calendar, so be it. If I mostly eat bagged salads and bagels and frozen things from Trader Joe’s, so be it.

Taking the shame out of the things I don’t feel capable of and putting the focus on doing what I can to be human, to live and to move forward in my day.

This is hard to even say but I think I am actually proud of myself. I’m proud that I show up. I am proud that I’ve realized I actually have to eat in the day.

I’m proud that I’ve found new ways to self care.

I’m proud that I let myself cry,

Because I am important and I need to take care of myself.

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