I wake up this morning determined it’s going to be a good day. I spent the entire weekend cleaning. That good kind of cleaning where you’re unsure if you’re going to have furniture by the end because you decide everything has got to go. I lit incense, I set intentions; it was a good purge.
Even knowing I have to leave work early today to go to the DMV doesn’t damper my mood. In fact it makes me want to repeat positive affirmations because the DMV can be an awful, awful place.
I brush my teeth and attempt to curl my unruly, almost-dry hair. I’ve even managed to make myself a cup of coffee which is rare these mornings. I seem to have fallen dependent on drive through coffee. I’m putting effort into my make up since I’m taking a picture later.
I am driving in an unusual amount of traffic for a Monday morning. I decide to put on India.Arie’s song, “Video”. It’s my go-to, feel-good song. I recommend it if you ever need to just love yourself a little more than usual. At the red light, I glance down and see, “Heart of the Matter” and I want to hear it next.
As I sit in traffic seeing red light, after red light and cars all around, I let my mind wander off. Before I know it, I’m sobbing and I can’t stop. It’s been seven years. It feels like a lifetime and just yesterday all at once. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” I whisper over and over again. I can’t catch my breath. It’s OK, I’m telling myself, breathe, Alex. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry” I can’t stop muttering it.
A friend and I recently talked about trauma. How it’s passed down from generation to generation subconsciously (a curse, maybe). You don’t even realize it’s there until you’re left feeling broken in the middle of Monday morning traffic listening to one of your favorite songs.
Instantly, I was brought back to this week seven years ago. So lost, so confused, so unsure. I was pregnant and my ex boyfriend who I still very much cared for and was on again, off again, wanted nothing to do with the pregnancy. When you’re in your early 20’s and living at home, it’s hard to remember or feel like an adult and feel as though you are in charge of your body and life. I was pressured into ending the pregnancy and then continued on with a not so healthy relationship. I felt as though I didn’t deserve to grieve or work through it because it was something I chose to do. I let that grief and resentment and anger fester. Years later when I realized that I was allowed to grieve this, it was awful to wade through. It was as painful as I imagined it to be and then some. I never thought I would come to a place of peace and yet, here I am. Kind of anyway, right?
I pull into the work parking lot and I give myself a pep talk about how I can do this. I told myself it was going to be a good day, and that means it HAS to be. I pat my cheeks dry, take a few deep breaths, and walk into my office.
It only takes about an hour before I have my first challenge at work. An irate (adult) student is mad that they didn’t pass a class. As they’re crying, they start to raise their voice about how hard they’ve had it and how they don’t deserve this. I can feel my heart start to race. My face is getting hot. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT’S LIKE! NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. DO YOU GET IT? NO. THIS IS HARD AND YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! NO ONE UNDERSTANDS HOW HARD I HAVE IT!” I can feel my hands trembling and I’m getting angry. “It is not fair for you to speak down to me or punish me for not understanding something you’ve refused to tell me. You are not in a place to speak to me professionally or respectfully, so if you’d like a few minutes to step out and bring yourself to a better place, you are more than welcome to. I would love to understand you and have you understand me, but we will NOT continue this conversation this way!” I say as my voice trembles. The student walks out of my office crying. My hands are visibly shaking.
I have a hundred thoughts swirling around in my head. I am exhausted. I am worn out. “How can they say I don’t fucking understand? How can I understand?! Do they understand that I’m crying on my way in about my abortion SEVEN goddamn years ago and now I have to get yelled at by them because they’re pissed about suffering the consequences for cheating on a test?!” I think to myself and then have to remind myself not to make it personal. This literally has nothing to do with you, Alex. Just breathe. Let it go. I’m finding it hard to focus and bring myself back to my work.
I arrive at the DMV and it’s still the early afternoon. I’m anxious. I don’t understand how the process is supposed to go and I’m confused. I wait until I’m called and the woman that helps me is a mess. She messes up my name on my drivers license, and has to have me repeat everything we’ve done. I’m on the verge of tears and I’ve managed to take the worst picture in the history of driver’s license pictures. I don’t care. I just want to go home and never return to this location ever, ever again.
Target cures everything so I pop in to see if I can find something that will cheer me up. You know, self care and treat yourself. I find a little something and decide I just want to be in my clean, newly organized room.
My room mate is lovely. I text her to let her know what’s going on with me. She asks me if I want anything, if I need space or if I need her to keep me company. I feel like I just need a moment to “chill out”. To relax. To let my brain think but then to let the thoughts slowly drain out of my head. Like a bathtub that’s slowly draining the bath water until you hear it gargle the last of it. I assume my bathtub will be draining all week long until it’s back to being empty.
I read something a friend told me about my pregnancy, “You didn’t lose her forever. But she helped you become the mom she needed for the future”. It calms me.
I realize that grief lasts forever. It shows itself differently as time passes and it’s how you deal with it and that time that determines how your life plays out. Sometimes I have it all together and sometimes I don’t. It’s funny how I can work so hard to “get over” this and yet instinctively and subconsciously my body and the Universe knows that this was the week seven years ago. And it creeps back into the forefront. The last couple of years weren’t nearly as bad which is why I think today has taken me by surprise.
“You are here, Alex. Be present. She will be back.” I tell myself this evening as I sit on my chair typing this. This is year seven and it’s going to be just fine.
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