Thursday, 31 March 2016

secret: forgetting, and the weight of it

I'm really struggling with the imperfection of the human race at the moment. Y'all are driving me up the fucking wall. I'm realising my idea of appropriate human behaviour is different from most other people's, and mostly that is fine, but there's a few bones I have to pick.

The disclaimer is that I am still working on practicing what I preach, that I'm not addressing anyone in particular, and that I'm really just having a less-than-excellent collection of months at the moment. Which is actually what I want to talk to you about.

I hereby acknowledge that us humans tend to keep our own personal worries at the forefront of most things we do. That it takes extra effort and love to think outside of this, particularly when we have our unique and special collection of things we're dealing with. I know that. Damn it's a fine line.

Out with it: the thing that's really making me crazy is how quickly we all forget about other people's pain, grief and struggles. I'm fairly private about these particular treasures, so if I've told you that my aunt passed away, or that I kept getting dealt these mini-blows at work when I'm working so hard to further my career, or that I broke up with my boyfriend, I'm officially trusting you enough to share my shit with you. I've tried my best to tell people I like and care about these bits of news. Sometimes I've even told people I like but don't particularly care about, or even people I don't care about or even like that much.

People are very good and sometimes great about sympathising appropriately when they initially hear this news, whatever it may be. People are quite good at doing a follow up check-in on things the next time you see them. People, after that point, well, they mostly forget about the bad thing, and wonder what the fuck is wrong with you.

The thing is, the bad thing still happened. Even if it happened months ago and it's old news to you, it's not old news to me. It might come and go, but particularly in the case of losing someone you love, the mother of someone you think of as your sister, this sadness doesn't have an expiration date. This sadness can pop back up for any and all reasons, and maybe it comes with a smile too, but that's what grief is.

Do me and other humans who might be sad a huge favour and be a little gentle about it. Give us a little space - don't assume it needs to be talked about, but don't pretend it's not there, and don't assume I want to be cheered up. I'm here, aren't I? Wearing pants, as is socially acceptable; holding a drink and shooting the shit; I've even laughed at your jokes. I can still laugh, I just might not be staying out so late or drinking so hard. I'd rather be at home with my Swedish wife watching Gilmore Girls. Keep that in mind and appreciate my effort by knowing, even if you don't say it, that I'm doing the best I can.

Actually, I will go one further: if you can possibly bear it, don't call me, I will call you. By this I mean that I far prefer my own company to the company of most others. If I am in touch with you it's because composing and sending a text message is a burden I can bear that day. If you don't hear from me, it means I just can't even. Don't be offended. Don't be offended if I choose group social settings instead of a one-on-one catchup. Don't be offended if I have a one-on-one catchup with someone else but I do not choose to catch up with you. Don't be offended if I don't write back to your text messages. Remind yourself, please, that even if it doesn't look like it to you, this is actually the best I can do. If you have a sad or hard thing of your own you want to talk to someone about, it might not be in your best interests to speak to me about it just now.

I'm not saying I'm just unavailable forever, but I have to be honest with you: the people who have managed to understand this situation are the ones I'll be calling to hang out with, on the cloudy days and on the sunny ones.

I know it is much more convenient to almost everyone to be happy and filled with jokes - to be quick and witty with a pretty dress on is the goal. I know how infinitely preferable that is. Maybe that's because you're suffering from something sad too, and my sadness is not a thing you can bear. I am going to try my very best to keep that in mind.

I'm not saying you ask me "How are you dealing with your family member's death?" or "How's that infinite well of existential sadness today?" or "Is there anything sad and heavy you'd like to talk through at this noisy bar?". I'm saying continue your business and your life as usual, but when you can, remember there's a few things that have dropped me in some mud I have to trudge through, and I will do my best to do the same for you.





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