On resilience

Remember  when I said I was setting out to be happy? Well, I’m going to be perfectly honest:

Today was not an especially happy day. Not that it was exceptionally sad, but for many months, bubbling beneath the (usually) composed exterior, I have been profoundly sad. It doesn’t come all at once, it just lies under the surface waiting for even the slightest reminder, a provocation so that I suddenly find myself heartbroken again, like I was a little over a year and a half ago.

At the beginning, it began as sadness and anger. Anger, resentment, confusion all rolled into one confusing and complex and difficult ball of emotion that I was nowhere near equipped to handle. But I did, I did because I had to and because there was no other option and because despite what my grief-stricken mind expected, life kept going.

It felt like it shouldn’t and like everything should stop and I wanted nothing more than to crawl under my covers and hide until everything got better. More specifically, I really wanted to crawl my childhood duvet that looked like the ocean because it would make me calm and I was anything but.

Yes, I inched slowly forward and I stopped weeping and staying up until well into the afternoon. The summer ended, I went back to school, I started classes, I went back to work. I wrote my thesis. I interned. All the while, I was still lost and heartbroken, but I went through the motions and I tried to claw my way out, or at least to the top of, my grief.

Yet, no matter how hard I pushed and continue to push, it comes back. Unexpected, unannounced, it just rushes and bursts forward, sending me careening off into terrifying and heart wrenching territory that I otherwise try to avoid at all costs.

What was it this time? My sneakers. My sneakers from middle school, a birthday present that at the time made my heart soar and my happiness burst to the brim, barely contained. Looking at them now, I still, in full detail, recall my happiness seeing them in their box in the shopping bag as my mother handed them to me. My utter surprise and delight, and her thrill to see just how happy and shocked I was. I forget for a moment my sadness, only to recall moments later.

Then the rude awakening.

To this day, there is some forgetful disbelief lodged in my mind that makes me forget only to remind me in the cruelest way possible that I will never see that smile again, that it is gone and in its place only the bittersweet memories and picture frames remain.

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