How do I accept the unrecognizable life? How do I embrace that which I don’t want? How do I reconcile reality with expectation? If I let myself mourn, will I ever stop?
I’m afraid to seek answers to my own questions. I’m struggling to accept the reality of my life, stripped bare of dreams and expectations for improvement. This is my life. The totality of it. Changes may come, but they’ll be minor. This is it. When I force myself to look that closely, I usually want to go back to bed or to eat something. Maybe both.
This can’t be all there is to me! But it is. Look closely, I tell myself. Don’t turn away. Really look at what’s in front of you and gather it close. This is what years of your choices have left you with. Not what you expected, but what is. You can cry anytime now.
My sister says we need to grieve our losses. Let ourselves mourn. I’m not sure I can. When we buried our parents, we buried the last illusion of family normalcy: the gatherings and celebrations for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries; the sibling connections; the big extended family carrying on generations of traditions. We scattered. I see my cousins’ families doing all those things with their children and grandchildren, and I think, “They got it right. What happened here?”
I happened here. I’m the one insisting there’s a right and wrong, and since our family doesn’t match that picture, it must be wrong. It’s not. But my feelings about it all don’t accept the difference. Still I don’t mourn, but I grieve. (For me, mourning is external, letting it out, showing the world how I feel. Grief is internal, deep and private and dark.) Grief has gripped my heart and won’t let go. It grabbed me before my parents died, as my children reached adulthood and the truth of their lives and my expectations collided.
The truth of my life. My life, not theirs. My expectations, my desires. How many times I had stood up to life and declared, “I choose love!” only to be hit in the face with a cream pie while the universe pointed and laughed. I’ve been a fool over and over again, always trying to find the best in people and situations, until there was nothing left to find, and I had to admit that everything I believed about who I am, my role in life, and my contribution to the world was a lie. The truth is here, around me, in the everyday: I’m alone, friendless, and unemployed. I chose love. Whatever for?
Grief lives in me now. It permeates everything I do, but I don’t mourn. I don’t let it out. I keep it locked tight away in my heart. It colors every contact, every moment. It’s a reminder not to trust, not to believe. Love is a lie. I can live with grief, but if I let myself mourn I’ll never stop.