I’m both good and bad. People keep asking me “how are you?” and I finally lost it a few days ago. There’s just no right way or even feasible way to answer that question. Even if I’m having an awesome, everything-is-great day, it’s still shitty because my mom is gone. I can’t tell her about the awesome things. I won’t have her love and support and be able to share my happiness. I get that people don’t know what to say, but “how are you” is a placeholder, and it seems insincere, like they want me to say “I’m fine” so they can wash their hands of it. Because really, what happens when I say “shitty”? I’m supposed to tell them how to act, what to do, or validate what they say…but really, all I want is comfort. A friend said she kept asking me how I was because she wanted me to know she cares, she’s here for me, and that I can talk to her…why the fuck don’t people just say that? I want to know people care, and that I have people in my corner. I’m sure I never knew what to say before either, but I know for me, I’d much rather people ask what they can do to help, or say they’re sorry, or say something about my mom if they knew her, or even just say they care about me and are here for me. That’s all it takes, folks.
A few things are even more difficult than they maybe should be, because apparently I was more reliant/dependent on my mom for some self esteem boosters that I thought. I knew my mom was my ‘first call’ for happy news, because she’d always be 100%, genuinely happy for me and proud of me, and she was vocal and enthusiastic about those feelings. Successes felt more like successes after I’d told them to her. Things felt real when I had her reaction, it validated my accomplishments. I got an award at work last week, and I can’t tell her, and it feels like no one cares. With my mom, I’d get gushing for minutes with all this positive affirmation and love, and it made me so happy to make her proud. With others, I get a congrats, and while genuine, it doesn’t feel the same at all. Similarly, if I was feeling sad, I knew I could call her and she’d talk about something to distract me. She loved me unconditionally – no matter my mood or reactions, she still showered me with affection and gifts and love. She had her down moments – she was manic and bipolar – but overall, she was an amazing mom. Anyhow, I don’t know how to handle my happy moments now. I don’t know that I have anyone else who will care about me as much as she did. My dad and sister love me, and I know they’re happy if I succeed, but it’s just not as effusive or enthusiastic. I don’t know that anyone will ever have that level of unconditional love and enthusiastic support that my mom provided me with. That’s the loss I’m really struggling with. That’s why when people say, how are you, it actually makes it even worse if I’m happy because when I’m happy I want nothing more than to call me mom.
I’ve been staying incredibly busy since the Saturday of doom. I realized then that many hours alone right now isn’t good for me. I struggle most at night, before bed, when I think about her, or on my commute. I’ve had very few hours to myself in the last two weeks, and it’s shaping to look like that in upcoming days too. I’m trying to keep some routines, stay relatively productive at work, and watch my diet and fitness like I was before her death. People at work that know what happened seemed pretty surprised I was back so soon, but I can’t let myself get in my head. I think I’m perpetuating a denial of what happened, in a way, because it keeps me from crying and totally losing my shit. I know it’s a matter of time, though, before it all caves in, at least in some fashion. I’ll be doing my things and being busy, and the second I have a down moment I reach for my phone to call my mom and realize I can’t. It’s so difficult.
I’m debating reaching out to a therapist, or trying some form of counseling. I don’t really know how to handle grief. My boyfriend pointed it out best – I’m the type of person that enjoys being happy and strives to keep a positive outlook, so the fact that I’m unhappy and sad makes me even more unhappy. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that can be resolved. My surviving family is all at a distance, and that makes it even harder. I worry about my dad. I worry about my sister. I am sad that I feel like the person that worried about me is gone.
I know people care about me, and I’ve had some amazing friends throughout all of this. Some people have truly been incredible. Still, though, I know that in a lot of ways, the impetus is on me to reach out because people don’t want to intrude on me before I’m ready, but simultaneously I feel like I’m imposing if I reach out to someone when I’m negative/sad. I also feel like I’m sort of a shitty friend right now because I “take” positive energy from folks and am sort of draining, and I have a lot less to “give” than I normally do. I can’t give advice and comfort about everyday or serious struggles as well as I normally could, because I’m using so much of that energy to hold myself together right now. I know on the surface people apparently think I’m doing great, because I can converse and laugh and make plans…but inside, it’s a constant battle.
I feel a bit selfish, because a lot of the things I talk about missing about my mom focus on me. On what I took from our relationship. Realistically, though, I miss being with her more than anything, hearing her voice, talking about anything. I want to hear about her day, even trivial things. My mom knew everyone, and I liked hearing about all her friends and distant family and people around town; she was connected in a way no one else in our family is. I want to hug her and cuddle. I want to watch cheesy hallmark movies and abc family shows. I want to plan recipes and pick out restaurants. I want to go shopping and get her input on clothes. She was the life of the party, and things were never dull when she was around. It feels like a huge energy force just dropped out of my life, super suddenly, and I don’t know what to do with the empty space.