On grief

I've started so many things over the last few months only to quickly abandon them. Some things are as silly as posts from Maui (May 2021 is a great distance for the brain to traverse memory-waves) or grabbing that recipe card for that bridal shower. Others indicate a quiet-but-ever-present fatigue or dullness, like the hole in the drywall I began patching 3 months ago but have yet to sand and repaint. Others, further, are blunt signifiers of truths I feel powerless to change.


I listened to Maya Shankar's Slight Change of Plans podcast while walking my dog this morning, the episode featuring Nora McInerny (from Terrible, Thanks for Asking.) The discussion around grief and McInerny's personal, vulnerable story forced me to pay attention a bit - it spoke to loneliness and misunderstanding. It highlighted that very real-yet-unspoken truth about mental health ailments rendering a person like a child. When we're children, we're often without words or context to process what is happening around and inside of ourselves. It takes a few years of a variety of trusted adults and instructors and guardians and loved ones saying "this is because your feelings are hurt, and sometimes our feelings get hurt. This is what jealousy/pain/loss/heartbreak/anger/fear feels like for me - is that what's going on with you?" for it to really click. It takes years before our brain goes "wait a second! I've been here! This is that doom feeling like those other times," and develop any sort of standardized method.


Of course, I believe we fully codify and standardize what we've been socially told to do given our surroundings. If we didn't know the "five stages of grief," would we try to ascribe seasons or phases of our life after cataclysmic events to them? I know there's a lot I grieve that doesn't really align with any of those phases. Or, maybe, I just constantly cycle through them at no consistent pace, like the velocity of the coins in those massive spiraling bowls. You know what I'm talking about, right?


Regardless, I've often grieved the loss of my childhood. Or maybe my girlhood. Maybe both? Without spending time on that nuance, Greta Gerwig's Little Women really spent me into a bit of a tailspin as I sat in the theater, nestled between my sisters and the matriarch of our family. Fresh into my break from my second semester at grad school, but unknowingly about to cross a line with a then-young relationship that would truly plunge me into a dark place for years to come (important note: I do not assert this blame to the boy or his personhood here, but the relationship, truly).


***

As with any distracted, tired, hermit-phase of the artistic introvert's life, I found myself cleaning years of digital clutter. I wanted to order some prints for wall art, of course, and really spun out into the depths of hard drives - internal and external (literally. Does anyone know how to recover the data stored on an SSD when the pins to it are broken? Darn Samsung!). I found myself looking at one of the very first of my photos from 2019 that were categorized into some random LightRoom collection... because if your collections aren't a disaster, I don't believe you really have a true LightRoom catalog... kidding... sort of.


I came across an old photo of myself, and I have a lot more to say right now, especially about the nature of self portraits and what we capture and what is revealed, but it is late. But I grieve the loss of this girl. I grieve so many losses I've experienced since I was this girl. I know she was sad then and I'm still sad, now, but I see the freedom that she has and I am jealous. I am envious. But mostly, I'm just overwhelmed with tears of grief. This is a girl who is free from an undercurrent of the stream of subconscious doubts. Her face is not wracked with the deep thoughts of avoidance, prevention, and true mental battle that plague me at night now.


I haven't met anyone who talks about grieving themselves, and maybe that's out of self-preservation. Perhaps this is the most self-centered view on my current world and life. I don't think I'm alone in grief over loss of girlhood, innocence, and general safety in the world. I don't think I'm alone in grieving true hope and faith for loving, kind, patient, respectful, and romantic courtships. But I know that I am alone in the specifics of grief for this girl, and I don't know how to resolve that.

Anyways, goodbye, gone girl. I wish I were there and that you'd never wind up here.