I’m on a plane to L.A. and I'm uneasy.
In two hours I will be with my brother, D~, for the occasion of his film school graduation. I haven’t seen him since Christmas. Tomorrow, we will be joined by my mother, father, father’s girlfriend, and two more brothers, J~ (whom I haven’t seen in a year) and A~.
With one exception, since my husband left me, I’ve never been in the presence of even two of my immediate family members at the same time. It’s not that I find it horribly difficult to be around them, it just hasn’t happened. With divorced parents, and siblings engrossed in their own busy lives all over the country, there just aren’t many occasions that we get together. It will be amazing to be so thoroughly surrounded by people who I know love me and will love me no matter what.
It’s just that I’m afraid I’ll fall apart.
The thing is; these are the people who also find me to be self-centered, rude, and overly emotional. It’s true, when I’m feeling raw, I can be all of these things. And I am definitely feeling raw these days, at least some of the time.
I think I’ve gotten past the shock of my husband’s departure, past the initial grieving pain, past the sinking in yes-this-is-real acceptance of reality. Lately I’m hitting what I can only characterize as an after-shock. I’ve been crying several times a day, struggling to keep on track with the basic details of caring for myself.
I keep flashing back to the unrelenting nausea in the first few weeks after A~ left. I recall all the times I had to abandon plans because my gut was so knotted I literally couldn’t stand up straight to walk across my apartment. I remember balling up in the fetal position on the floor of my shower, weeping uncontrollably, my forehead against the wet porcelain, water streaming into my nostrils.
It took weeks before I could get through a shower without breaking down. I think it had something to do with the basic ritual of bathing, of caring for myself so simply, which made the sadness really hit home. I had no idea I could ever experience this kind of visceral, devastating emotion. And I’m sure what I went through was nothing compared to the pain that others experience in the world.
It all seems so precarious all of a sudden. I can’t help but thinking, I could get hurt again. I might feel like that bad again one day.
It seems like I’m supposed to suck it up in the meantime, to be present physically and emotionally for others again, to keep on functioning in life as if this day-to-day stability weren't as fragile as I now know it is.
I suppose what it comes down to is this: we’re all doing our best to navigate the landmines, to heal from our wounds and bravely carry our scars. I’m doing my best, will do my best, will likely enjoy a great deal of this four-day visit, though possibly not every minute. My family will support me to the best of their ability, if it turns out I need it, just like we all do for each other. And if it isn’t enough, there’s always a walk apart and a cell phone call to someone who can listen. Barring that, I can write in my journal. Worse comes to worse, there’s always the shower. And that is, in its own way, good enough, and therefore beautiful.