It has been a long time since I sat down to write, because it has been crazy here. The nice part about that is that it’s the best part of crazy, because it involves more ways of bouncing back from losing Doria, or maybe to say it better, bouncing forward.
I took some time during this last week of winter break preparing for an amazing spring semester class, and some time thinking back on all the steps to build this life after loss.
I remembered thankfully the time when I could get some help and get back that ability to read that a grad student in history needs. I remember getting past those times of worry and panic, and getting some stability back. I remember getting the ability to go full speed for a while, too. and what a blessing that was.
Towards the end of summer, there was one more step to bouncing back ahead. Every time I would make real progress towards my doctoral exams, another setback would happen. I rescheduled them twice, but at the end of summer, I found that I just had to ramp up one more time to get it done.
There was a problem there, and it was one that I never faced before. I didn’t want to. The wild ways that the brain can work was combining memories of loss with the bother of repeated setbacks to convince me that it couldn’t be done, so maybe I should just go ahead and quit. Since I hate quitting and I hate losing, that didn’t sound good. Since I really love and respect the people I study with, I really didn’t want to face them and say “I’m done. I just can’t ramp up again.” Most of all, I didn’t want my part of Doria’s story to be a failure story, too. There was no point putting myself through all that just to quit, and spend the rest of my life thinking it all would have worked if Doria had just lived.
So I remembered back to when I started grad school, when I didn’t have the grief weight and I had all the energy in the world. I decided that this all worked better when I was in shape and under control, and it was time to do that. Through a weird (really, it was weird) series of things, I looked up a program in town that combines kickboxing and resistance training, and declared to Becky that I was in. So far, it’s been a phenomenal few weeks, the energy is back, the doctoral exams are passed, and I can keep up all day with a toddler who doesn’t stop. On the other hand, it led to the words “unhinged enthusiasm” appearing on my student evaluations this semester, which may or may not be concerning. The main point, though, is that getting things under control this way helped me to bounce back and bounce ahead.
The whole point: If you’re a few months away from the immediate moment of loss, a couple years, or even more, and still suffering setbacks, that’s as normal as can be. The good news to it is that there are ways to bounce back and bounce on ahead. Just don’t give up!