Already/Only

Clock

I’ve been thinking about the concept for this blog post for a while. Time has been moving a lot differently in 2020. It’s somehow flown by and stopped this year. (Shoutout to Kayleigh for that quote.)

With Monday having marked 3 months without my Dad, I often find myself thinking about it two ways:

  1. How has it already been 3 months? Didn’t this just happen like yesterday? The pain sure still feels pretty fresh.
  2. How has it only been 3 months? Are you sure I’m still only 27? I feel like it’s already been a couple years and I should be turning 30 any day now.

I mostly settle on only as my operative word, because already has another implication: that a lot of time has passed, time to move on. (Nope, not happening.)

I’m already so deeply exhausted from my grief and trying to continue working at a normal capacity, and as Mom recently pointed out, we still have a whole lifetime of this.

As I mentioned in my last post, people say that it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger. And much like working out to get physically stronger, the work that you have to do to get through your grief and become emotionally stronger and more resilient is hard. It’s tiring. I don’t always want to put in the effort.

Because right now, I don’t feel strong at all. I feel very weak, sad, and powerless. I think I feel worse now than I did when he passed away. 

Dad was always the strong one and I was his little girl that he had to protect. But now he’s gone and there’s nothing I can do about it.

And while I would love more than anything to curl up and just sleep for a month, life is forcing me to move on even though I’m not ready.

Because unfortunately, work doesn’t just stop when you lose someone. Sure, most people get bereavement leave and can take PTO on top of it. And when it first happens, people understand for a few weeks and give you space, but then they expect you to go back to normal almost immediately.

People ask what’s wrong even though it feels like the answer should be really obvious: I’m mad/sad/whatever else because my Dad is gone. A small annoyance at work becomes a huge thing, because it’s amplified by the grief. And it’s only been 3 months; I’m still adjusting to my new life.

But that’s the thing: coworkers and friends outside your immediate circle don’t see that, because in their minds, already is the operative word. It’s already been 3 months, things should be normal again.

And in my case, because I’m working remotely, no one seems to notice during Zoom calls (or at least is polite enough not to mention) the dark circles under my eyes that won’t go away no matter how much eye cream I use. Regardless of how much sleep I manage to get each night. Because the grief and anxiety that I’m feeling won’t let me fully rest.

So the expectations rise again and I find myself trying to work at the same capacity I was before to keep up with everything else. I can’t really change the workload, but I try to set better boundaries for myself and do what I can to find work-life balance, so I don’t burnout as quickly as I’m prone to.

I lean into cooking and fall activities for self-care. I think about the next time I’m going to smash something to release some anger. I try not to drop a coffee mug or plate, because that’s not how I want them to be smashed. 

Most of all, I think about all of the fun memories and good times that I had with my Dad, and how incredibly lucky I was to have him as a father and how lucky I am to have someone that I miss so much.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. – Winnie the Pooh.

I let myself be okay with the only and try not to let myself get too caught up in the already, the expectations of returning to complete normalcy. I try to find peace where I can. It’s all I can do.

I actually found some peace and comfort watching the “Haunting of Bly Manor,” of all things. Hopefully this isn’t a spoiler for anyone, but there’s a line in the show that says “Dead doesn’t mean gone” and there is an overarching theme about how people that die are still with you, so they never really leave. I love that. That’s how I feel about Dad. I see him everywhere. I frequently feel his presence. I know that he’s gone, but not entirely.

Published by allisonljensen

Marketing professional + event planner, grief and self-care blogger.

One thought on “Already/Only

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