I realize that I have been avoiding the next piece of this story. I’ve written it and set it aside. I hovered over the “edit draft” button many times and then moved on to other things, other topics – other spaces in my mind. It still feels incomplete and it still feels painful, but the first step is letting go of it. So here it is … I am letting it go:
The more I continue to write down this story, the more I notice that it is painful. There are moments when I remember that my own heart is not the only reason that these words are manifesting themselves. Two years ago when I wrestled with guilt, I wished for someone else’s words to find me; I hoped endlessly that someone would be able to tell me that what I was feeling wasn’t wrong. I longed for anyone that knew what it felt like to come across my path.
It never happened.
I met other survivors and each time I walked away thinking, “Her story is not like mine. He doesn’t understand. My situation is not the same as theirs.” I don’t want to talk about it anymore, now that the fog has worn off. If someone asked me for advice today, I don’t know how easily I would be able to formulate the words. My dad’s final days were a comedy of errors, you could say. Nothing went as planned; we were all butting heads – my dad, our friends, his caregivers, my then-spouse and his family. And that, my friends, is the most painful part: we were human, and we acted like human beings; human beings with flaws, and with opinions and ideas that clashed. Stress is a funny animal – when you’re under great deals of it, you aren’t very agreeable. When everyone involved is under a great deal of stress, agreements are very hard to come by.
But I don’t want to talk about that today. Like I said, this is the painful part, and I want you, dear reader, to know that it’s okay to set it aside sometimes. Sometimes it’s quite alright to let things go and move ahead. Sometimes you have to admit to yourself that certain things make you feel like hell, and then allow some other things to make you feel better. There were a host of things that I could have been angry about, but I could not focus on them all at once; in fact I can barely stand to focus on them now, more than two years later.
Let me tell you about painful things that are in the past: they are in the past. At some point I needed to make a conscious decision to stop thinking about the catastrophe that was my dad’s in-home care. I had to stop thinking about how I felt wronged and hurt by the people that I had no choice but to trust to care for my father, because it was in the past and there was nothing I could do to change it. Trying to find some semblance of justice didn’t change a damn thing. I didn’t make me feel better. In fact, dare I say, it made me feel far worse. I needed to let that go.
Since I made the decision to stop feeling guilty, to stop feeling wronged, and to stop dwelling, I have been able to find a happier place for my mind. I can focus on being in the present moment; I can experience joy. It’s not easy. It takes time. And it takes some effort to know that processing is not the same as understanding. I realize in retrospect that I ran into a block where I wasn’t healing; I couldn’t stop grieving because I was trying too hard to understand. It is important to realize that sometimes you can’t understand. And that’s okay.
I remind myself constantly to be in the present moment. To just be. And this is quite alright.