This man, Kevin Black, put into words so well what this experience is like as a man right here: http://www.grievingdads.com/the-unsociable-one/
I’ve spent a couple weeks pondering how to put that exact idea into words. I know that I’m used to sailing right along, and I simply don’t (yet). I thought that I’d borrow his format and personalize it somewhat. Hopefully, this helps somebody along the way…….
1. The unsociable thing. I’m normally pretty approachable, but I tend to find that hanging out with people is even lower on my list of things to do than it ever has been. Part of that is that I’m a month or so behind, and I really need that time. Another part is that conversation is just so awkward. I tend to be different from most people I spend time with anyway. The experience of Doria’s death is just so awkward and different that spending extra time with people is low on the list of things to do. Also, I normally get tired after tons of time with people. Now I’m tired most of the time, anyway. It’s hard to set a goal for being more tired.
2. Projects: I have no idea. I’m so far behind that relating to people about projects is embarrassing. It’s still a good thing to do, and that people time is productive and puts things together for me. But I dread it, and that’s a new experience. (That said, I’m grateful that I’ve had to do it two weeks in a row. I wish I’d had more to offer.) I hate admitting that I’m not what I used to be. I want to excel. Then I don’t. Then that bothers me. After Doria’s death, I live in a strange and conflicted place of apathy and hatred for apathy. Sometimes I just don’t care, but I hate not caring, and I hate that attitude. It’s a nice circle going around.
3. I’m so glad that he said what he did about memory. I can’t remember anything. If I write it down, there’s a 10% chance that I’ll have a clue later what that note meant. If I don’t write it down, there is no later. That idea or to-do is gone without a chance of being remembered. For example, my wife and I took my mom to a volleyball match. In between sets, I went to get a pop for mom and some popcorn for me. At the stand, I already had no idea what I wanted. Pop turned into nachos, and they just don’t drink the same.
4. Performance—It’s such a big thing as a guy. We’re goal-oriented, and we’re supposed to be. The only real goal I have for myself anymore is to get by. If I can do enough to get by, and if I can help my students excel, I’m more than happy. I don’t have that resentment for my job or my studies that he described. I love those. I just don’t like anything. It’s like I’m 3 years old and the world is a piece of broccoli.
5. I’ve always been an easy-going guy. Most people I know assume that I just roll with everything. Little do they know that I’m either nervous, angry, or outright scared almost all day. If I’m not in class, I’m a wreck. It’s like this:
a. Nervous: I don’t have the guys to plan anymore. I don’t believe that things will turn out OK. I used to assume that. Now I don’t assume it unless I’m completely in control. Then there might be a chance. Normally, I would pray at that point, but the last thing I prayed consistently for was my daughter Doria, and she’s dead. That’s not a confidence builder. So I set goals without ever believing that they will turn out well.
b. Most people don’t know me as a tremendously angry person. Today, I spent hours wishing that 2012 was a person so that I could punch it in the face, or tell it to hit itself until I get tired. I hate this year. A gigantic roller coaster that crashed all the way down. It’s horrible. I’m more agitated. I’ve rediscovered words I used before becoming a Christian that I thought I’d forgotten how to use. Apparently, that ‘skill’ sticks around a lot longer than I thought possible. Being nervous ticks me off. It reminds me that (right now) I’m not who I’m used to being, and that’s because things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. I don’t like it one bit.
c. When I think about getting my hopes up for something, I am outright scared. I think of all the other tough times, and I remember getting back up off the mat. I also remember that it hurt even more the next time, and it’s harder to get up. I’ll probably be committed after writing this, but it’s just an emotional reaction. There are points where it seems like getting up and fully driving on is just asking for the next one. If the next one hurts even more, this is already bad enough. I’m happy with my current level of pain. I don’t need more. In the spirit of Christmas, I’m willing to share. 🙂
I miss the easy-going me. I hope whoever emerges from this has some sort of resemblance to that guy.
6. He mentioned the thinner filter and an increased bluntness. Amen. I find that I don’t look forward to some consequences, but then I compare them to Doria’s death, and I don’t care. What is anyone going to do to me that tops that? Bring it on.
That said, I don’t go looking for a fight. I’ll correct anybody in seminar discussions, because I just don’t care. I’ve got nothing to lose. I can say blunter or odder things, because I really don’t have anything to lose. If someone doesn’t like a joke or comment, I really don’t care. I have other problems.
After all that, my wife is still my best friend, and she’s still my hero. I’m carrying on for her, not for me. It will get better, or less bad, or something. Right now, it stinks, but that’s supposed to happen.
I’m thankful to be surrounded by amazing people. I have good family, good professors, good colleagues, a great church, and good friends. I have the best position that a person can have in a terrible situation. I’m not going to stop being thankful for that. I wish they didn’t have to be good or great like this, but I’m glad they are.
There you go. That curtain is pulled back. It’s a less beautiful mind, but it’s what I’ve got for now.