Friday, 31 October 2014

Coping in the now

Suicide is said to affect everyone differently. I discovered that I am very much an 'in the now' kind of person. I am devastated by the loss of my father, of his friendship and support. However in the now there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, and this has had a huge effect on my grieving process.

In the first week I was a mess. I clung pretty desperately to my partner, who did a brilliant job of preventing me from stopping and facing things. I hiked, I played board games, I snuggled my partner and my cat, and I suffered a pretty serious case of verbal diarrhea. I also broke down crying any time I stopped. Sometimes it was desperate gut-wrenching tears that made it impossible to breathe. Other times I would just sit with tears running down my face staring into the distance.

After seven days I went out and interacted with friends. My derby team gave me a care package, a bottle of booze and more hugs than I could have believed. After a ten days I went back to work. I had only told one co-worker, and I got to spend a day pretending nothing was wrong with the world.

A month later I returned home. After a couple of days I could walk past the spot where I found his body without pausing. Life seemed to pick up where I had left it. Home was a lot quieter, and a lot emptier but everything else in my life remained the same. Home, work, derby.

I got a new job, working 9-5, Monday to Friday. Suddenly the rituals I had shared with my father were impossible. I couldn't sit down at 5:30 with a cup of tea and a biscuit because I was never home at 5:30. My 'now' was to come home late, eat dinner, read or play games and then get up the next day and do it all over again.

Everyday I focused on what I had to do today and seven months later I realised that I'm an 'in-the-now' kind of person. Part of me is devastated over the loss of my father. I had so many plans for the future, and in all of them I pictured my father there with me. My father would have been a brilliant grandparent. He would have helped me fix leaky pipes in my new house and been properly smug when I tried to paint without asking his advice and dripped on the carpet. We would have had Sunday lunches every week, and dinner at less-than-spectacular restaurants every birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Easter, New Years and token public holiday. But now we can't. And that's not okay.

It is spectacularly not okay to go through life without someone. When grandparents pass away, it's unpleasant, but after so many years of life it is okay. It's unpleasant, but it's okay because they have experienced everything. They've had years. When someone takes their own life in their middle years, it's not okay. They have so many connections, so many opportunities, so much potential. So many people picture them in their future and depend on that, whether they believe it or not. It is not okay.

But when you lose someone. You cope. And you learn how you cope. Others cope by holding on to treasured memories. Some people cope by raging, screaming, weeping, letting their emotions flood out in terrifying bursts before wrapping themselves up and continuing on. I cope by focusing on now.

Now, I have a job, a partner that really does feel like 'my other half' and a cat who won't leave me the hell alone. Seven months and thirteen days ago, at approximately 2:00pm I found the body of my father and wondered how I would move forward with my life. Now I am preparing to play in the A-Team for Adelaide Roller Derby. Six months ago I wondered if I would ever be able to trust the people who mattered to me, if I would ever trust that they wouldn't pick up and walk out of my life.  Now I'm looking at buying a house with my partner. A seventeen days ago I had my first breakdown in weeks. Now I'm writing a blog and watching Doctor Who.

What happened in the past sucks. A lot. I can't change it. And like everyone, I've had my share of 'what-if' moments. But knowing that I can't change the past (even with a time machine, that would be a paradox) makes it easier to cope with now. And it makes it much easier to look forward without guilt or trepidation.

Beyond Blue - 1300 224 636
Lifeline - 13 11 14.

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