It is very rare that one particular emotion takes the forefront of my mind for any longer than a few days. In general, there is a veritable melting pot of thoughts occurring at any given moment, ranging from sadness to joy and everything in between. Fear and confusion are tempered by confidence and determination.
Of course, there are periods where certain emotions boil over and persist. Obviously, the first few months after Megan’s death were filled with overwhelming grief. The “busy” times of year at my work are always stressful, and it shows, even when I’m at home. There are times when my “give-a-damn” appears to be busted, and times when worry about the future pervades. Excitement and joy one week can easily give way to doubt and malaise the next.
Approaching three years since Megan took her last breath, I can truthfully say that I’m openly wandering.
And that’s a good thing.
Wandering in my emotions means I experience them all to their fullest extent. It allows me to adapt and evolve and harden myself. The next time a “trigger” occurs, I can validate it, have my thoughts about it, wipe the snot off of my face and move on. When something is exciting or joyful, I can live in the moment, and allow it to be experienced with the attention it deserves. There is a beautiful, yet ruthless efficiency to it all.
Being “open” with others, from talking to Sarah, to writing here, to counseling, to my family, to social media creates an internal environment that is just as open and honest. I am learning myself just as much as others. Those around me are my “journals”. I may not have my own written words to record the day’s thoughts, but through the magic of “TMI”, others who care about me archive the day’s theme.
Perhaps it is why I have never really been disciplined about journaling in and of itself. To me, a journal is something to remain private, and that very thought means that the words and thoughts I populate the pages with are compromised. Since I know it is not going to be shared with anyone, they would come out as antisocial and dishonest, as if they were something to be ashamed of.
I have a good memory. Not exactly photographic, but I tend to immerse myself in wherever I am at the time, and remember it vividly. I don’t attend concerts through a phone screen, nor do I take pictures of my food as a way to “look back”. I remember it. I share it with people. I write about it here. While I remember the good things I’ve experienced, it also means I remember the bad. I don’t suppress the image of Megan lying in a hospital bed any more than I suppress the image of her lying on the beach sunning herself. I have no qualms about telling others how I felt, or the images I saw as she faded away. They are nothing to be ashamed of, and not something to remain private. Nor are my own feelings today.
That is why writing on here has been such a godsend. Yes, I can share my experiences, emotions, and thoughts with others, in the hope that it may help the reader make sense of something they themselves are experiencing, but also, it helps to keep me honest with myself. Sometimes, a “me too” is all that I need in order to know a feeling is valid. Other times, having a weekly schedule is a good way to ensure that I don’t suppress and emotion just because it “doesn’t feel right” or makes me, well, sad.
That lack of suppression? Well, it prepares me for triggers when they arise. I can weather the flood of emotions on her birthday that much easier, because thinking about it isn’t a one-day-a-year occurrence. Of course the anniversary of a significant event like that is always more thought-provoking, but just the same, the next day, I’m back to an equilibrium, back to being July 25th. There are often times when stressful or grief-filled thoughts of “God, I miss her” quickly give way to “Hey! Now I have something to write about!”.
You see, my favorite days to write, counterintuitively, are those days that I feel I don’t have anything to write about. I actually said it this morning, to Sarah. The “man, I don’t know what to write” sentence. It means that I haven’t let the busyness and work and dead wife and bills and traffic become an overwhelming theme in the past week. As things arose in the past seven days, I processed them, had my thoughts, shared them, and moved on. I remember them, yet don’t dwell on them. Right now? It’s tuesday morning. I’m at work. There are some things popping up here and there that I have to take care of…each thing a small moment of stress that is quickly dealt with. One of these days, I’ll have to share a “day in the life” of my job, just to laugh with everyone at how mundane it really is.
And that’s the thing. No matter how mundane life is almost 3 years since Megan’s departure from it, I still think about her all the time. I wander from missing her to being excited about halloween to worrying about bills. I wander from preparing for meetings to being bored, waiting for the work day to end. I wander from the stress of paying bills to the anticipation of the weekend to the knowing that the actual anniversary of her death is in about 40 days.
All of these different emotions run through my head on a daily basis. None of them seem particularly overwhelming, but on Tuesday morning, I am given the opportunity to examine them and make some sense from all of it.
And none of it has been “TMI”.