I Made it Through Mother’s Day
Truthfully, it might be the 11th, but I have a hard time doing math with time. She died ten years ago as of September. So this September is the 11th year. Does that mean this was my 10th or 11th Mother’s Day without her alive?
I don’t care. It’s been a long time.
Today I mostly feel a constant urge to throw up. I’ve learned with time this is how I feel when I am very sad. When I am very sad I want to heave everything deep in the center of my body — which is a center that feels much, much deeper than my true physical body.
I want to heave everything strongly and firmly out of my body, and then come back in like steel wool on a dirty pan that has been soaking, scrape everything out clean. Empty. Clean. Empty.
I’m not sure how to do that, metaphorically, physically, emotionally.
In a book I recently read (Come As You Are), I read about completing the stress cycle. You can do this with exercise, with meditation, with Feeling Your Feelings. That’s always the advice: just allow yourself to Feel your Feelings.
You cannot do this with binge watching an entire series on a whim (like I did with I Am Not Okay With This last night, going to bed a full 90 minutes later then I intended to and thus being further upset with myself).
You cannot do this with alcohol (like I did, in a small way, pouring one normal and one small glass of pink wine because my mother drank pink wine and it was cute and sometimes makes me feel closer to her, or like I am celebrating her or cheers-ing her, but yesterday it felt like an obligation, it felt like an expired pink salve on a large wound, not enough to even cover the surface, not feeling better but hopes that positive thinking — a thing I don’t believe in — might make all the difference).
You cannot complete the stress cycle, either, by being dismissive and cold to people that love you (like I did, filling first with irritation, then with anger, then with absolute dread at the texts I received through the day: the people thinking of me, sending real love and emoji love, people I truly love and appreciate so so much but wanted nothing more than to text back a swift Fuck You).
You must just Feel the Feelings. I am not sure, does feeling the desire to throw up for an hour or a morning or a day qualify? Does it meet this requirement? Does curling up fetal along the length of your dog for a minute, an hour, a nap, qualify?
I thought that maybe, for once, not forcing myself to call every or any member of my immediate family might be me giving myself permission to Feel my Feelings. I listened to a podcast with Alicia Keys & Brene Brown that reminded me of Taylor Switft’s Netflix documentary — two very different woman saying a very similar thing: I was raised to be a good girl, and I want to stop living into this strange manufactured expectation of me.
I feel that I should / am supposed to / is the caring thing to do if I call the people I expect to be the most pained one by one. Check in. Talk about a memory or don’t. You reach out to show awareness of grief. You acknowledge the thing we hold in common. You acknowledge how heavy or light or bright or dark it is on that day. You talk about time. You talk about what you once had.
But what happens if I do not make that call? Is it my job to make that call? Do I enjoy that call? Do I feel solace from voices over lines talking about a shared topic?
I didn’t call anyone.
I ran seven miles with friends and thought, perhaps, that might complete the cycle for this year. And I did live through the day, drift to sleep under blanket and sheet, woke up at 7:30, sat with coffee through meetings.
I made it through Mother’s Day and didn’t realize it would be this day after that would be the harder one. That living through the one just set up the next to be a bit worse. Waiting for the iron to be hot, attempting to delay the inevitable.
Perhaps those calls are for me, afterall. Perhaps not. Perhaps quarantine has made this “worse”; perhaps not. I have so many mothers; I have no living mother. Some have it “worse”, some have it “better”. Some fresher, some more extensive, some more tragic. Pain is pain is pain. Grief is grief is grief.
Today my heart is with my own heart. Today my capacity is a little less. And I forgive myself for this. I am filling it with my mother.