**Thought I’d post an excerpt from my memoir this week. This chapter touches on the fact that there is no right or wrong way to grieve ( maybe healthier ways albeit), but it’s all just crazy messy grief. We try our best, in our own ways to wade across that arduous lake. However the trek to the other side can be easier if we use our support system as a raft or paddle. But many, like myself, are stubborn and try to struggle through the deep parts alone. Moral of the chapter: let people in, who want to help you. I hope this excerpt makes you think and maybe make you laugh**
Crying and thinking, analyzing and reanalyzing every night, made for a mentally debilitating bedtime. I wasn’t trying to suffer in silence; I was trying to ease any added worry on my husband. He hated to see me cry and if he could help it, would never let me cry alone.
Memories were like a stick of dynamite, something would spark one and there would be an internal explosion of emotions. So spontaneous it would catch me off guard. I became good at holding it in long enough to excuse myself from the table or couch and go upstairs to cry it out. I prefer a small dark space to myself, to let loose the inevitable ugly cry. I’m like a grieving cat, who takes to her walk-in closet when times get tough.
My husband learned of my habits and would listen to my feet when I went upstairs. He knew if I went to the far right of our bedroom, I was in the closet and if a few minutes passed and I hadn’t moved, that was his cue to send in the troops. I tried to convey to him I didn’t want an audience to witness my red swollen eyes and free flowing snot. Didn’t matter though, he just couldn’t allow me to cry alone. He would sit on the closet floor beside me, sometimes we would talk, and sometimes no words were needed. I always fought his company, but in the end I was glad he was there.
In time, stress weakened my immune system, and I acquired a head cold. Nyquil became my friend to soothe my sore throat and calm my cough so I could rest. Soon, I realized I was getting sleep. There was minimal thinking and crying involved when trying to fall asleep. My little friend stayed in my nightstand well after my cold left. My husband would turn over to sleep and I’d lean over the bed and take a Nyquil nightcap. It was quite a wonderful affair while it lasted.
The jig was up when my husband caught me throwing back a shot of Nyquil one night. No need of a measuring cup, I just put my lip to the bottle and threw my head back. I had become a pro at this, or “addict” if you asked my husband. Apparently he had witnessed it another night and didn’t say anything. He noticed a pattern of me taking cold medicine with out a cough or sniffle to be heard. We were lying in bed near eleven PM one night, when he attempted his intervention.
“Why are you taking that?” he calmly asked. In my guilt, I felt I was being interrogated and immediately became defensive.
“It’s for my cold.”
“Cara, you haven’t had a cold in weeks.” He gave me a coy smile (as if it would calm the Nyquil addict).
“Well, I still get congested at night.”
“Don’t confuse your snoring with congestion. I know I don’t.” He laughed. This only inflamed the situation by insinuating that I snore (which I don’t).
“I don’t snore! I can’t help it if my cold has settled into my chest. My God, get off my back!”
“Give me the bottle.” He instructed, with seriousness, as a concerned husband would do. I grabbed “my precious” tighter and possibly snarled as an addict would do when someone threatens to steal their fix.
“No, I need it.”
“You don’t need it. You don’t have a cold, sweetie…. Let me have the Nyquil!”
“Shut up and go to bed! You’re such an overprotective freak. I know what I need. You don’t understand.” Cue my tears.
“Ok, well help me understand. There’s no way for me to understand, unless you communicate it to me.”
Emotionally spent, I didn’t want to “communicate” because I preferred to steer clear of my feelings. Never mind having a discussion about it. Why couldn’t he let me have this one vice? I didn’t smoke and rarely drank. I could’ve slapped myself for becoming too sloppy in hiding my liquid escape. I’m not sure if I caved because I knew he was only trying to help or the Nyquil was kicking in, pulling the fight out of me.
“I can’t sleep. I can’t just turn over and in 2 minutes be asleep like you. I lie here and think. Thinking leads to stressful thoughts. And stressful thoughts lead to tears. Tears equal no sleep. I just want to not think.” I sniffled.
“You cry at night? I never hear you cry.” He asked, sadness hanging in his voice.
“That’s because I try not to let you hear. I cry into a pillow. I don’t need you worrying any more than you already do. I’m tired of crying. You have to be tired of listening to it.”
“Sweetie, you need to tell me.”
“ Alright. I’ll try.”
“ Okay… You know its just cause I love you, right?”
“ Yea. Good night Honey.” I said as I rolled over.
“ The Nyquil bottle?”
With a loud dramatic sigh, I jerked my drawer open and huffed when I handed it to him. Then rolled over again. My thoughts weren’t sad that night, but more along the lines of plotting against my husband. Luckily, my drug of choice had hit my system for the last time and knocked me out before I got too creative.
” Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ~ Viki Harrison