Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear Dad,

Today was a day of revelations. Or maybe revelation, singular. Today I got knocked off of a very unstable, very poorly constructed high horse and landed on my ass on the concrete. Hard. It was jarring, for sure. But also highly necessary. I went to see my therapist after not seeing her since the end of 2008. I was really busy in school last year and not quite swimming in money, which was my main excuse for not seeing her at all in 2009. But I think, or rather know, there was more to it than that. 2009 was pretty much entirely consumed by school. In some ways, I think this was good for me. Only months after your death I found myself making a major change in my life and giving 11 months of my most intense focus to pursuing this new career. I had something to focus on other than the shitty job I left and something that made me feel a great deal of joy, pride and accomplishment as I pursued it. And I was often so exhausted by my long days at school that I would come home, veg out in front of the TV, eat some takeout and go to bed. And while I didn't consciously avoid thinking about you and your death, I wasn't allowing a lot of time to do so either.

In therapy today, I talked a lot about you, naturally. I talked about how no matter what seems to be a struggle for me, it always feels like it's the result of how everything in my life is cloaked in my feelings about your death. It's like a piece of paper you spill a bottle of ink on: the paper is still paper, but it is now saturated and dominated by the presence of the ink. It cannot be a piece of paper separate from the ink anymore. When my therapist asked me to try and sum up the major theme or feeling I have about your death right now I said "Basically, I feel like I am in some kind of denial." I talked about how I logically and intellectually know you are dead. But because so much of our relationship over the last decade was conducted over the phone, it's like my emotions can be tricked into thinking we just haven't talked for a really long time. It hasn't sunk in to the core of my being that you are gone, even though I rationally know you are.

My therapist then said, in a very non-accusatory way, that she feels my year in school, while good in many ways, served to delay my processing and accepting your death in a way I would have if my life didn't take such a major turn away from its ordinary workings. And I knew this all along, really. It was there, hanging out in the corner of my mind holding it's little sign that read "Stop trying to pretend you don't see me over here!" But I kept pretending. When she said those words I felt a physical sensation run through me that only ever happens when someone voices a truth I have been holding inside and trying to ignore. I knew all along that she was right, but having her say that to me really made the connection. We ended the session discussing next steps and making a plan for future sessions where we can begin to "roll up our sleeves and start dealing with this more directly."

One thing I realized though is how much of a major support you were for me in my life. In a way I never realized when you were alive. Or I took it for granted. My relationships with other people since you died have all felt a bit off kilter or confused. I've noticed myself pulling away from people and feeling more vulnerable about how people relate to me in ways I haven't since I used to be more mired in depression when I was younger. But in talking in therapy today I realized that what I've been saying all along is really accurate: the world is different without you in it. And, as a result, my place in the world has changed too. It doesn't feel the same as it did and it probably never will. So now I have to start dealing with all of this more honestly and start figuring out where I belong in this new world. I won't be beating myself up for not getting to this sooner. I think things happened the way they needed to. But my previous coping methods aren't really serving me well anymore, so I need to figure out some new ones. The hard thing is, this would probably be something I'd talk to you about if it were anything else. But I guess I'm still telling you about it here. And that helps a little bit.

I miss you Dad. And love you.
xo C.

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