At first it is as if I am underwater. Everything is muffled and I feel as if I am wrapped in a thick blanket that is making me too hot. But I don’t want to unwrap that blanket for fear of what is lurking outside, ready to lash out and sting. It is easier and by far preferable to keep my eyes tightly closed against the reality of whatever that ugly creature, that mammoth being is waiting to show me.
This creature called Grief is massive and looming over me, sucking most of the air out of the room, leaving me only enough to gasp and inhale its noxious odor. And it reeks. It reeks of fear and unwashed, unhealthiness. It reeks of loss and despair. It has the smell of the rotten, the gangrene of waste and bile. It is waiting to smother me in that smell.
For now, it is easier. Easier to remain locked away and wrapped up in my self-centered blanket of refusal. Refusal to believe that one of the things I most dreaded has come true. I had pushed away this reality for so long that now as it sits on my doorstep, as it permeates the room with its malevolence, I shudder and cringe in the corner, sure I will not survive.
“The loss is not that bad…” I tell myself. “I have plenty to be thankful for… What am I really worried about? Do I not see the potential good here or where others have had it worse? Why am I cringing on the floor, in the corner, in my bed? Why do I act as if this is something I didn’t choose for myself in some way, by even getting into the relationship to begin with? I knew endings are always part of beginnings. You can’t have one without the other.”
The monster breathes its hot breath down onto the back of my neck and I cringe at the gagging odor and how close the foulness. It has taken up residence and appears quite content to stay. What if it never leaves?
Others come into the room and try to talk to me. Others move in and around my realm of presence and for a few brief moments, here and there, I can look up and acknowledge them and what they are saying. I can see in their eyes, however, the fear that I will make them uncomfortable. Or I see my grief mirrored in some memory in their eyes. My words and movements, though slow, cause them to reflexively jerk as if my proximity is contagious. Most don’t stay long. Most nod, murmur something expected, and move on. A few radiate pity, but I hate that as well. I don’t want to be pitied. I don’t want any of this.
The malevolent being does not leave. Maybe if I ignore it, it will become bored. Maybe it will tire and shamble off, looking for another victim. That is horrible for me to wish for, that someone else should experience its foul breath, but I just want relief. I don’t want to stay hunkered down here sure that at any moment I will either succumb to its foulness or be consumed by its greedy need. If I move and work and get things done, maybe it will see I don’t need it here. But then again, movement could attract its attention even more. The paralysis of trying to decide makes the decision for me. If I just remain still…
And surprisingly, as someone who has always wanted to move and do, to enjoy the accomplishment of my days, trying to remain still is not as hard as I initially feared. The energy required to ignore or rebuff Grief makes me so lethargic. Getting more than one or two things done in a day is monumental. I try to keep it at least to those one or two. More might rouse Grief’s interest, even as it sits and never seems to alter its gaze from me.
The fear of its gaze and what it could mean if it consumes me feed the paralysis. The paralysis confirms the fear. The cycle seems complete and I cannot escape the never ending back and forth, see-saw nature my thoughts, stifled though they are, as they swing on this pendulum. To only have the two choices, fear and paralysis, and yet knowing I am, in reality, inhabiting both, feels like the ultimate hell.
I search in front of me for some escape, some way to leap away from this being. There is only one ledge in sight, where all the others seem to be gathered, going about their daily lives as if nothing has changed. That ledge is too far away. I could never reach it from here. Do they not see me here? Do they not see the being behind me? Do they not understand the gravity of my situation? Maybe I am the one who is deceived. Maybe my situation is only in my mind and not in reality. Maybe it is only another figment of my imagination and choosing. Why would anyone choose this?
I know I will have to do something. I will have to move at some point. The tension is becoming unbearable. I cannot live on this precipice, in this prison, waiting for this being to choose my end at its leisure. The torture is too much and is becoming unbearable.
I pray for relief. I pray for guidance. I pray that someone will come and extend a hand. But I remain alone here in this darkness. Alone except for my tormentor. Alone with these feelings of worry and fear, hate and despair. No one seems to want to reach out and who could blame them? Who would want to come into the presence of such a beast? Who would want to risk consumption by this mass of greed and despair? Who would want to be part of this wretched place?
Or maybe, because of the darkness, I just can’t see if anyone else is here. Regardless, the loneliness of the dark and my insulating blanket are suffocating. Maybe, just maybe I need to unwrap a bit to see if I can find an escape.
But no, if I unwrap Grief will smell me even more and I must not lose any hope for safety. I must instead sit, thinking about escape, longing for escape, scared of escape, sure I don’t deserve escape, convinced there is no escape. Always round and round…