This is the story of a season I once had. It was a season wherein I was always crying. Ever had one of those seasons? The reason didn’t matter as much as the fact; and the facts were these:
- I was always crying.
- I didn’t know how to stop.
Grief filled my bones the way air filled my lungs—constantly, and needing very little help. Like it belonged there. Like it settled into a rhythm of existence: in and out, in and out. Gone and back again, over and over, until I was too tired. Of the grief, of breathing.
But there was no quitting the sadness, nor the breathing. Life has no off buttons. It has no pause buttons, no rewinds or fast-forwards. You can’t turn up the volume as you choose. You get what you get, in life. And what I got was what I had: a whole lot of grief.
Sometimes, it turned into anger, irrational as it was. I became what wasn’t me; my pain snapped back, fired shots and shot fires that no amount of gentleness could put out. But the people around me don’t know that. They don’t see my pain, they only see me. Irrational as I was. In my self-awareness, I pushed them away; so that I wouldn’t have to deal with accidentally hurting them, I hurt them on purpose. (Irrational, like I said.)
Sometimes, my grief turned into something cold. It’s not an “off” button, not quite. More like a faulty circuit, cuts off your electricity when you need it the most. Turns off the music, lights out, power gone. Life is knocked out of you, you turn to stone. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t care. It kind of feels like falling down the edge of a cliff, and parts of you crack open just because you craved a few moments of freedom that normal people don’t need. My grief—that soulful heaviness that came from so much caring—caused me to give up all respect I had for taking care of myself.
But most of the time, my grief was that undercurrent of missing people, always. My grief was a lot of questions. My grief was that entire Oh Wonder album I can no longer listen to. My grief was “13 Reasons Why” episodes eight onwards, the ones I could no longer watch. My grief was me, praying to God to save me from the disaster that I couldn’t help making of my life. My grief was five minutes, just five minutes, and then I’ll get myself together. My grief became my bed, my morning routine, my memories. My grief became me, when I thought it had become all I had, as grief is warrant to make someone think.
I had two handfuls of grief, and I remember that I didn’t know how it was possible to feel so much pain. So much pain. I had no idea what to do with it, really. I needed both my hands to hold all of it, and I couldn’t let go. Because that was me, I was my grief. I had become it, no more and no less.
But that was a lie. Of course I wasn’t my grief.
No one is their grief. No one is their pain, their bitter disappointments, the things they’ve done or the things done to them. No matter how much we feel otherwise.
During seasons of intensity, when we start to believe that all we have become is all that we feel, we must remember the seasons past. While winter may feel endless while we’re in it, it’s not endless. No season is. So one day, I decided to fight my grief, to end it. I was tired, and I needed to rest, and by rest, I meant return to my regular state of being.
Gradually, I took small steps. I spoke with people, processed it with a mindset that could tell the difference between lies I wanted to believe, and the truth that I didn’t feel. I started eating too; nothing like good food and wellness to get you back in shape. Sure enough, I gently slowed my intervals of sadness, until it became just a small part of the whole of me. Until I remembered to live a life outside of the pain.
There will be things in our lives that we can think are a part of us, but are not. I learned to break up with my grief then, and break away from the notion that I had no choice, that this was the only kind of existence I could have. I made a choice, to have a choice, and so, removed myself from a feeling that ate at me. Because sometimes, that’s all it takes. We must make a choice to remove from ourselves the things that we no longer should live with.
I still feel sad sometimes. But only sometimes. I still go back to it, though. I remember that season, and try to remember it fondly, so I can tell others what I’ve learned during such a trying time.
Remember what you are and what you’re not, and have the courage to fight for who you want to be.