Going to bang this post out quick because guess what? Life hasn’t stopped. In fact, life on the outside is totally the same. My dad and I were estranged, so I wouldn’t see him or talk to him anyway. On the very rare occasion that he did call, I would seize up in fear, breathe, pray, and (most recently) pick up the phone. But the day-to-day of my life is same old, same old.
I had several days last week where I soared through. This might be another post, but I started a Whole30 on Oct. 1 because I felt like I just couldn’t handle the bad feelings around my eating in addition to my father’s death. For the first time in my life, I consciously chose to attempt to control my food because everything else felt pretty out of control. If I could just have peace in this one area of pain…
And here’s my experience. I stayed high on my diet and the feeling of goodness for being able to stay on a food plan for little over a week before the “off” feeling began to creep in. A couple days ago daily tasks got hard again. I started to feel rageful whenever a family member reached out to talk about memorial planning or really say anything. I don’t want to have to think about any of them because that means I have to think about the suicide. I feel like I fare much better when I’m pretending that none of this happened or filing it away behind a cinder block wall in my brain. Denial, right?
The good news is that I must be exactly where I’m supposed to be. In the initial aftermath, everything felt super fucking real. Now the shock has worn off and it seems like this will be the slogging through.
Yesterday I struggled with the eating. Nothing “abstinent” tasted good. I spent a good amount of time fantasizing about all the things I might specifically eat in the future (just not today). I had an out-of-focus, off-in-the-distance thought of a drink. Didn’t I use to drink Manhattans? I wonder what wine tastes like now. I went to a meeting.
I’d like to check out and be somewhere other than here. Disney World would be nice. But life hasn’t stopped. I have lunches to pack. I mistakenly volunteered to manage the school’s yearbook. We screwed up our taxes and now there’s financial mess to wade through… I might need to get a job. I have ballet and hip-hop classes to watch. I have a memorial to plan.
I didn’t know grief before this. I had a loose empathy and reverence for it because of my dear friend Mished-up, but I just didn’t get how it overtakes you. And, let’s be real, although my father left this plane in a tragic, violent manner, we’d been almost entirely estranged for several years and on a surface level I had accepted that I had lost him to alcoholism shortly after getting sober myself. I grieve, and then I grieve some more when I realize how others must feel when they lose someone that they woke up next to every day or tucked into bed every night.
He’s been gone two weeks now. The insomnia/flashbacks from viewing him at the mortuary subsided within a couple days. The crushing early-morning wakeup call of heartache and tears left after about a week. The early-morning anxiety and feeling like I need to do something about all this (memorial planning, obituary writing, etc.) is still here. So I usually paddle downstairs before everyone is awake and stare at the computer screen and feel lost. The day-to-day is easier. I don’t feel entirely sad. I sometimes feel numb. It’s easier to fake that everything is okay. It’s easier to not think about it. I can smile and laugh. I danced with the kids at a school event last night. I only want to watch comedy on TV.
What’s not easier is concentration. I’ve had trouble helping the kids with homework. I signed them up for the wrong swim classes. I outsourced the obituary to my mom because I felt like I didn’t know how to put the words together. I can’t really read too much. I’m generally forgetful (i.e. forgot both my mother’s and husband’s birthdays this week.) I’m hoping this gets better and am trusting that it will.
I started this blog to help myself recover from alcoholism and disordered eating. I guess now it’s also to recover from my dad’s suicide as a result of alcoholism. As I type that I already know that they are entangled and in some ways one and the same. Because what I didn’t know is that after my dad’s suicide I would hate myself. I don’t want this to be true or admit it to you. But it’s there. And I’m embarrassed by the amount of time I spend thinking about how gross my body is while my family grieves. I feel selfish. Like a monster. I mean, who cares about fat when he is dead.
But this is me being honest. So that it can get better. Because I’m the child of someone who hated themselves and that has not worked out well for any of us. One of the first overwhelming feelings I had when he left was that God had perfectly forgiven him and I just wished he had known that. I also had the thought that if God loved him so much, then he must love me, too. And you.
Unfortunately that grace subsided and what has come up is a voice that tells me I’m disgusting every time I look in the mirror. Fuck.