Two years on from the day we lost Abi (10th February) is approaching and I feel like I’m spinning in an endless cycle of grief. One minute I’m fine, the next I’m not. Over and over and over again. I’ve come to realise that as well as grieving her, the girl, my first-born, I’m grieving for the life I had and am confused about the life I have left.
I thought perhaps two years on I’d feel more acceptance, but I’m nothing but a shadow of my former self.
My drive to achieve has vanished. I was always driven by a need to succeed in every aspect of my life. I had to work hard to get myself out of the poverty trap. I worked hard to get the experience I needed to achieve independence and a level of income that would give me the choices I wanted in life – and I’m not talking fancy holidays, I’m talking a nice home, a reliable car and treats for the children. While we’re far from wealthy, I’m content knowing that I don’t have to watch every penny. I suppose I’m officially ‘grown up’. But I’ve lost that drive to ‘better myself’, to set myself goals like I used to. Working was so important to me, was part of me, but I no longer seem to care.
My self-motivation is gone, which isn’t great if you work for yourself. I’ve considered finding employment again ‘out there’, a new focus, people to mix with in the day, but there’s nothing I care about enough to bother. I was fascinated by communication. I worked in an advertising agency and then in publishing. I loved all that.
I could get another job. But now I’d not care enough about either the work I was doing or the business I was working for. Even the office banter I’d find hard to keep up with, people complaining about the trivial. It’s incredibly unsettling and I wake up each day and pray that it’ll come back to me.
I feel little joy. I can laugh and feel a fleeting moment of happiness, in a silly moment or with my children, but it’s still a surface emotion. I’ve lost the deep joy I once had. People contact me on my blog, asking, pleading, if the joy ever returns… I find it hard to be honest with them, I suppose this is my answer.
My baby has brought joy to our family, and I love nothing better than waking up next to his cheerful face, but the joy isn’t really mine. Sometimes I look at him and feel guilty as I know he wouldn’t be here if Abi still was. I don’t allow myself to feel the joy, replacing it with worries and anxieties instead.
I have many privileges, and the material stuff that would have given me some sense of satisfaction in the past no longer touches me. We’ve just had installed the kitchen of our dreams, something we’ve wanted for a long time. Yes, it’s lovely; yes, it’s better, but I don’t feel any joy or pride in it.
It is what it is.
Wood and metal.
I carry around with me the handle to a cupboard in our old kitchen that Abi touched the most (the treat cupboard of course!). I’m mourning the changes, despite the pleasures I take from them.
A long-term savings policy just ended. I started it just after I found out I was expecting Abi, 15 years ago. The letter came that the money will be sent next month, but I just feel ‘that’s nice’. There’s no room for elation, more a strain at the thought of spending it without Abi here.
I feel vulnerable in this crazy world now, rather than part of it. I feel vulnerable to illness, loss of income, marital strain, the stress of life. Vulnerable to the dependency on me by others.
I’m scared. Scared of living. Scared of dying. Scared of my own shadow. Scared for myself. Scared for my husband and children.
We’re all scared to one degree or another. Living together with our own insecurities, once secure now just fearful. Ready to pounce at any moment.
And I’m angry. Angry that life has dealt us this terrible hand. Angry that I can’t ‘get over it’. Angry that I allow certain people to upset me. Angry that I have lost control of me.
I realise this is all very understandable, but just because something is understandable doesn’t make it any easier to live with. If anything it’s harder, as I also have to live knowing that I should feel like this because of that… There’s no switch to turn it off.
People want to take your pain away. They try to cheer you up or distract you. But it’s momentary. One day I can be quite upbeat, having given myself a good talking to, the next I’m on the floor missing Abi like nothing else, feeling guilty for even trying and needing to hide and lick my wounds.
And oh, these wounds of grief have scarred me far more than any stretchmark or burn. They are slashes on the inside of my skin that cut right through to my heart.
Not knowing how I’ll be, how we’ll be, how life will be is a strain. There are so many reminders, so many memories, and no hiding places. I feel exposed.
Life feels a pretence. We’re pretending it’s all okay. We’re cruising along, just about. Yet we know that in the end, nothing matters, because we’re incomplete.
So, two years on, if you find yourself here, I’d say don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re back to square one. It’s this crazy rollercoaster of grief we’re on. Try not to fixate on the anniversaries; each day is painful enough as it is, you don’t need to put more pressure on your weary emotions. Just ease off on stuff, switch off, pad around the house or go for a slow walk. It too will pass.
Two years on, I don’t feel further from my girl, I feel closer to her because she’s ever in my thoughts.
P.S. Yes, I’m ‘talking to someone’ and my posts will record, in part, what comes out of that. I was fascinated by this. I’ve spent so long in a mental muddle, so it’s helpful to see exactly what the feelings are. It’s not pretty, or cheery, or sunsets and rainbows, but it’s a tiny step closer to acceptance and finding a new way to live.