Sunday, November 18, 2018

11/19/18—Feeling The Fourth Season

They say you have to go through four seasons of grieving before you can move on.

Of course, that doesn't mean you necessarily "get over" things after four seasons. And it also doesn't mean the thing you get over is the death of a person. There are many things in life to grieve.

But let's say you broke up with your lover of five years. You were going to get married, but it all fell apart. Even if you enter into another relationship soon thereafter, a spring breeze will remind you of that camping trip you took together. A hot summer's day will transport you back to that time you tubed down a river. Fall's leaves will inspire memories of a romantic night enjoying a fire outside. Winter's cold will comjure that time you got snowed in together. And all the memories will be bittersweet. All the memories will stab you that place that was once so comfortable and right.

The seasons and temperatures and breezes and sounds and other mnemonic triggers help you tap into what you've left behind. So you have to go through all of them before you can truly move on.

The same is true, even if you're leaving unpleasant things behind. Last year at this time was the last time I was able to go grocery shopping. I'd been having a hard time getting around the store for a while, but the Thanksgiving shop was nearly the death of me. Literally. I kept looking for a place to sit and rest and couldn't find one. I was covered in sweat. Completely out of breath. Weak. Exhausted. It was a bad scene. When I finally made it back to my car, I sat there and cried, wondering how I'd get the groceries into my house. Worried about how I'd get groceries—or go to any store—in the future. Blaming myself somehow for this physical hole I'd gotten into, because all the doctors seemed think my issue wasn't medical.

As winter approaches, I worry that my memories of last winter may taint the season's status as my favorite. All three times I was taken by 911 last year occurred in the bitter cold, late at night. It was cold and snowy through all three hospital stays and snowed during my weeklong nightmare in rehab. From November through April, there wasn't a night I went to sleep that I wasn't worried about dying or having an emergency. I had PTSD about all of it for months after my valve replacement...all the years of suffering, all the fear, all the misdiagnoses, all the being told I just needed to lose weight, all the close calls, all the hopelessness, all the suicidal thoughts and all the mistreatment in that rehab.

Winter last year was the absolute worst time of my life. Worse than the winter my mother slowly died before our eyes. Worse than the late fall my father's murderer was acquitted. Worse than the winter we learned my brother had lung cancer. Worse than everything.

And now I brace myself for what this year's bitter cold days will trigger. Will a picturesque snowstorm remind me of feeling trapped in that rehab with caregivers who steal my pills and won't give me my pain meds? Will feeling extra cold remind me of being laced into a gurney with just a cotton sheet over me as I struggle to breathe? Will a late season light snow remind me of being rushed to Arlington, lights flashing, on the anniversary of my farther's death, hoping it wouldn't be mine, too?

At least one person in my life will say, "Tierney, why do you put yourself through this?" First, I can't control spontaneous thoughts that creep into my mind. I can choose not to acknowledge or indulge them, yes. That is commonly referred to as denial. The four seasons theory suggests that I have to experience those feelings as they come naturally in order to move through them. That makes sense to me.

You wouldn't expect someone to just forget about a past love, a deceased loved one, a divorce or other major life change. Those are things you have to feel your way through. And so is this. By next spring, my memories will be of the return of hope. But there is darkness to go through before I get there.

And, for me, this isn't about major surgery. It's about the years of decline I suffered. And the medical neglect from doctors. And the head job they did on me, making me doubt what I knew to be true about my health. And the feelings of being alone in this. And the way the walls of my life closed in on me. And the debt I've incurred. And the many thoughts I've had about rather dying than continuing to endure. And all the times I threw up or was too drugged and weak to function. And how I had to go back to work immediately just to earn money.

I can be grateful about the resolution and all the good care I had during that time, the way certain people came through for me and the way I feel now. I can be grateful for myself at the same as I'm grieving for myself. I've had many gifts come from this experience. I could focus only on that, but I need to heal the other part. So I have to focus on that, too.

So, here I sit in my favorite time of the year, at once excited and intimidated by it. In one way of thinking, I have a new body and have to experience the changes physically, too, as the seasons progress. I can already tell you my feet get colder faster than they have in years. Same with my body. The inflammation I had for so many years from the faulty valve seems to have kept me warm. So I'm appreciating socks more than ever before. There's that...haha.

Usually when I dread something it turns out to be less of an issue than I fear. Maybe by this time next year, I'll be remembering the breakthrough that came this winter as a result of all my past suffering and fear and I can share that with you instead. Let's hope that's the case! :)

No comments:

Post a Comment