I haven’t really figured out how to cope yet. But I’ve been pretending.
I’ve been doing everyday things; immersing myself in the mundane and the routine. Anything to stay distracted. And through it all I’ve been reminded just how incredible the human body is.
This vessel that we model every day has one job: to keep the wheels turning. Even when I’ve completely distracted myself from my healing, my body keeps doing it anyway. In fact, I’d argue that it purposely keeps me distracted so it can do all the background work in peace, something I think happens naturally once you hit the pain threshold. After all, the body only allows you to feel a certain amount of pain and then no more. It protects you and keeps you going until the very end, so long as you give it the signal and nourishment it needs to function properly. So through all of my pretending, all of my distractions and fake busy-ness, underneath the everlasting euphoria from my relationship and the heightened spirituality and faith, I really have been coping.
Maybe even flourishing. And I didn’t have to do a thing.
This is the beauty of our bodies. We take more than 15,000 breaths per day and have never once had to tell our bodies to breathe or to send the oxygen to our lungs. Our blood travels more than 60,000 miles through our bodies on a daily basis, and we have never had to tell it to flow. We spend about 10% of our waking hours with our eyes closed and have never had to think about when to blink. We don’t have to know which muscles to use to produce speech or to digest our meals or to walk or to smile. We never have to figure out what internal response to trigger to fight off a foreign substance or how to clot an open wound or how to rid ourselves of the poison we received from an ant bite. We don’t even know how the majority of our body functions on a daily basis, the kinds of things it does, or even what it’s comprised of. We just know that it does. And every day it performs its best for us as we go about doing the few things that we can tell ourselves to do: like going to work or using our mobile phones. Everything else, 96%-99% of what we do, think, and feel is subconscious. Organic. Natural.
This is what I’ve been experiencing.
I used to wonder all the time how people manage when they lose a sibling or a best friend or a parent… How do you function? How do you continue on with life? Now I know. Something beautiful happens inside. Some sort of emotional white blood cells rush to the scene of the pain and clot the open wound for us until it heals. I can’t help but to thank my body for its grace and mercy every single day. It never lets me fall too far before it physically stops me from crying too hard or feeling too much of that emptiness in my chest that makes it hard to breathe. Some people might just call it strength, and I cannot deny that I am certainly a lot stronger than I was in years past, but for me it’s bigger than that.
In this giant energy field of existence, somewhere, there is someone balancing out my pain. It could be someone I am somehow connected to, or someone far away who I have not met in this life. But someone is crying my tears. They’re probably empty cries, I hope, a lot like the ones I had for two years after Alex passed and never really understood. At the time I couldn’t really fathom why his transition seemed to affect me so much, considering I was not that close to him in life, but now I understand it as part of the balance. Those tears weren’t my own. I was crying for all the people whose body went into numbness to save them from heart-wrenching and perhaps unbearable pain. Like mine has now. I was crying for his brother and best friends and cousins.. I was crying for the girls who held him close to their hearts.. I was crying for his parents who outlived him. I was playing my role in the circle of life. Now, there’s someone playing that role for me.
Though I still have days where I let out therapeutic wails of liquid heartache, and not a day passes where I don’t think of him, most days I function OK. Some days are better than others, of course, but I’m no longer missing days from work to stay home and hurt. Instead, I practise gratitude and an appreciation for the circle and balance of life.
The brunt of the pain will always be mine to keep, of course. And he will be with me in my heart for all of eternity. But to whomever out there is bearing some of my pain for me, and perhaps not knowing why or what’s happening… I just wanted to say, thank you.