An Unwelcome Change

This is not the post I intended to write next. I’ve been avoiding this one but it’s finally overflowing. I can’t focus on anything else and this can’t continue. I understand that trauma changes us. I accept this as a fact of life. But I never realized how much until I started taking note of my emotions after therapy. I’m not sure I like what I’m experiencing. I willingly accept some of the changes. I’ve managed to make the best of much of the negative experiences I’ve had and I am, overall, a better person for those efforts… But there is one change that I struggle with, it unsettles me and I have yet to determine what, if anything, can be done about it… Or even if I want to do something about it…

I used to be a crier. And I mean I would cry for everything. Just me, by myself. I didn’t need anyone to know it was happening. But, that has changed and it makes me feel…broken. One of the things that used to affect me deeply was death. Anyone, anything, anywhere, anytime. I would cry over roadkill, sob uncontrollably at the death of strangers and would be all but inconsolable if it was a family member, friend or anyone I was acquainted with.

Things started to change in 2012 when my mother died suddenly. At least, that’s as far back as I can track it. In the space of 2 years I lost 3 people who I was close to; 2 suddenly and one to a very short, unexpected illness. It shook me. I think the experiences switched something off in me. I don’t have many tears anymore as it relates to death. Not like I did. The deaths forced me to put a lot of things into perspective. My life. My choices. My beliefs. My plans. My needs and expectations. All were brought very starkly into the forefront of my concerns. Then in 2015, another loss rocked me to my core and this one hurt in ways the others didn’t because of the tragic circumstances. My blood pressure went insanely high, high enough to prompt blood tests and months of monitoring, and still hasn’t quite returned to normal. And there, I think, is where the real disconnection began…

Things changed gradually and I only started noticing it about 2 years ago, that I process death differently. It doesn’t hit as hard as it used to, neither does it affect me for as long. I don’t grieve the way I used to and I’ve been trying to figure out why. It took me years to get to the acceptance stage of the grief process after mommy died. It was an incredible struggle and I still deal with the residual guilt from the manner in which everything transpired. But I eventually got to the point where I accepted that she is gone and that there is nothing I can do about that. For a number of years, I cycled through anger, terrifyingly irrational periods of bargaining and finally acceptance before regressing all over again. It was as if I was stuck in a loop and nothing I did seemed to be able to break it. The subsequent losses only compounded this, and now, it feels like I’m stuck there, in that acceptance phase no matter what else happens around me….

And I’m torn. Because while I’m not entirely comfortable with it, I’m also not sure it’s a bad place to be. I just don’t feel the same way I used to about death. I’m not sure if it’s different now because all the ones prior to 2012 made me worry about the mortality of those closest to me and worry about their inevitable passing. And now that they’re gone, I’m not so emotional because I no longer have that fear to contend with. I think this may be it. I didn’t value the lives of the newly departed any less. It’s not about how much I love(d) the person or how close we were. It’s not about how the loss will affect me and those around me. It’s as though having survived what I consider to be the death that will affect me the deepest, (since I have no spouse or child) my spirit seems to have become resigned to the inevitability of everyone else’s passing and I just don’t feel them as deeply anymore…

This makes me feel guilty and I think it’s the guilt that bothers me the most because I don’t know if people will understand why I’m so apathetic to the most recent losses. I do my best to offer comfort. But I still feel like they know that I’m not as affected and I worry that it adds to their sadness. I remember wanting the entire world to stop and grieve with me  and now, I’m unable to give that same support to others. But I also don’t want to go back to the mess I was when everyone’s death felt like my own.

This may be one of the few posts that I have no conclusion for… I don’t know if this is ‘normal’ or even if anyone else feels this way. I don’t even know if I like feeling this way. I don’t know how to make it go away and if I could, if I would want it to go…

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