I usually feel them coming in the core of my chest. It's a tightening. A shortness of breath.
When the relief doesn't come, when I don't sit and write and find out what it is I'm supposed to be saying, the pressure takes to my throat.
Then it just feels like I'm constantly sucking back tears.
Words have always been a way of release for me. When I was younger, I'd grab my journal and cry the tears of disappointment or frustration or confusion and write to my heart's content. And when I was finished, when my wrists were cramping and my nose was runny and I was choking back the halted breath of finding myself in the way words form, I would close my eyes and rest.
But lately, I haven't wanted to go there.
I have stories from these past few months, I just don't want to share them.
Because if I share them? Then I have to go there. And I don't want to—I don't want you to see my messiness. I don't want your vision to hone in on the vacancy sign blinking in the background of some of my relationships. That's too raw. It's too broken and I've yet to find the holy.
I sat across some friends these past few days and they listened as I hemmed and hawed about writing and voice and lack of wanting.
"I'm so done," I said. "I'm tired of the fighting and the bickering and the pointing fingers and yeah...I'm just tired."
A friend looked at me and smiled. "But you'll still write. You can't not write. I know this."
Grief bludgeons down the sharp edges.
The vacancy sign will still blink and I'll have the ache in my chest of wanting to do something but the vitality is missing. The wherewithal to get up and move so friendships are salvaged goes where the sun don't shine and I'm left with wound upon wound because I'm nothing if not consistent.
And I think of the voices telling me I'm believing lies and taking them as my truth and I remember—faintly—the sassiness of maybe I have fight in me yet.
But then I look at the closet stuffed to the brim with a crib and changer-dresser and swing and baby boy clothes and well...the fight just leaves because if I don't have the answers about that, if I was so wrong about that—where else can I be wrong?
Grief tangles you.
You think you're okay, and then you remember something and suddenly anxiety sucks the air out of your lungs. You can't breathe and you don't know why and you realize it's just your brain playing tricks because surely you can't be making such a big deal out of (fill in the blank). But yet you can't get a grip on things. No amount of baths, walks, journaling, painting or crying will help you level out.
And when you do? When your heart-rate levels and your vision clears, grief is waiting.
Because that's when you realize what really happened. Schedules don't negate the hurt. Vacations won't erase the memory. And you'll find yourself sitting in your therapist's office, heaving and snotting and exclaiming and sighing because what the fuck. Why.
Why and how and when and all of the words but yet none of them because nothing really describes it or comes close to capturing the pain and confusion and messiness of this and that and the monster waiting over there.
And yet, with all the bludgeoning and tangling, grief has a way of refining.
It doesn't always feel that way. Most days the manic laugh is right under the surface, waiting for the question of "how are you? It's been a month for you guys, huh?"
But occasionally, and usually when you least expect it, you'll gain the moment of clarity.
Mine came in a coffee shop across from a friend, when I realized I didn't fit the mold and I was more than okay. I'd rather be a warning on someone's lips than stuffed into a box where I can't even breathe.
And here's where I wrap everything up and lay out my Ebenezer for you to see.
You see, I'm learning to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. And I'm embracing this skin of artist and mystic and I'm the happiest-yet-saddest I've been in a long while.
Here I raise my Ebenezer.
Grief bludgeoned and tangled and burnt away all the pieces that just don't fit. And some of it still hurts. And some places will have scars.
But I'm done being the poster-child for anything other than what I know He's called me to do. And so I'll write and I'll breathe and I'll love and I'll hope and I'll mother and I'll whisper push-push-push when it's time for your own words to have their birth.