Today I cried at the grocery store, which is odd because I am not one to show my weaknesses and emotions to people I don’t know. But, there I was standing in front of the cake lady who looked uncomfortable trying to pretend not to notice the tears welling up in my eyes. She asked me again, “Would you like us to put ‘Class of 2018’ on the cake as well?”. I wiped my eyes quickly and tried to convince myself she hadn’t noticed. “Yes, yes please,” I responded, my voice wobbling. She started telling me that this is her son’s last week of grade school, breaking any delusions I had that she hadn’t seen me get emotional. She looks the same age as me. My daughter is months older than I was when I had her and now she’s graduating from High School.
I finished ordering the cake and walked out to my car. Before I placed the keys in the ignition, I lost all capability of holding in my emotions. To calm myself and quit the tears I focused on why I was crying. The best way to control things is through understanding them, feelings and reactions included. I was never the emotional mom, I never went in and took pictures on the first day of school, never cried when I dropped my kids off for their first day of Kindergarten. So, why was my first-born graduating sending me into unexpected emotional overload? I spent the rest of the afternoon at my desk thinking of all the possible reasons for my reaction.
I’ve concluded that I am sad that I haven’t lived up to my expectations as a mother, I feel sorry for the loss of abundant opportunity to create more traditions and memories that comes when a child lives within the household. I spent eighteen years striving for structure and stability. Every year telling myself, next year I’ll get it together, next year I’ll have the money and time to do more together. When they’re walking, when they’re talking, when they’re teens, on and on it went, and now those opportunities to give them the childhood they deserved and opportunities to be the mother I hoped to be are dwindling. I do not fear the loss of my baby; she will forever be my baby. I fear the loss of opportunity to share that with her every day, see her grow and learn and change every day. I am sad not to be a part of that process every day like I have been for eighteen years.
“A thousand times we die in one life. We crumble, break and tear apart until the layers of illusion are burned away and all that is left, is the truth of who and what we really are.” Teal Scott
I have read this quote many times and think to myself, if we are capable of hypothetically dying a thousand times in one lifetime, we must also consider that a portion of those deaths were suicides. The tearing apart of oneself in the hopes to be born wiser, better and assumedly happier, means that our other lives were taken by some form of our own “new” being. I cannot help but wonder how bad our former selves, or thoughts, or situations must be to want to become a new person by crumbling, tearing and breaking. How can someone get so far off track that they would rather face the pain and uncomfortableness of killing parts of who they are, to become who they want to be?
Although I support the “grow, be better, reinvent yourself and educate yourself” topic the quote above implies, I am having a hard time convincing the train wreck that has become my post-death yet not entirely reborn life, that things will get better. While I am on the topic, this status fits quite well. I have gone from being a perfectly capable, sure, confident and responsible adult to be a reckless, confused, needy and repressed adult-child who can’t quite jump back on the responsibility train without needing to breathe into a paper bag and then sleep off the anxiety; or run away from it all together. With each significant passing death, I have become smarter and have felt closer to my purpose; but I have grown exceeding worse at managing the rebirth and growth stages. Starting over is hard and extremely painful, and I know that to build a new life, the old one must die but the grieving process never gets more comfortable and the heart never fully recovers without a sense of fear and uncertainty.
Though I cannot tell you which death I am now recovering from, I do hope it is closer to the last time than it is to the first. My heart is tired, and my nerves are raw, no matter how hard I try to avoid the end of the looming “grace period” extended to me by those around me I am simply just not ready to take those crucial first steps. My terror grips me, and my knees buckle at the slightest reprieve. I am not prepared to put myself back together for fear of finding out I not only fall short but that I am not even close to being improved as I had hoped to be. I fear that my insecurities and self-doubts will become verified as fact rather than eradicated. The more I see others around me so sure of themselves and their skills, the more self-vilifying and afraid I become. This fear and uncertainty have made it harder for me to leave any space, real or false, that provides me with even the littlest comfort and acceptance; or at the very least releases me from any judgment from another person.