Delayed Reaction

Recently, I was hit by an emotional bus. It came out of nowhere and blind-sided me.

In truth, it came out of ME. It had been buried, hidden, stomped down and denied. But after inviting it to resurrect two days in a row, it reconstituted fully and kicked me hard in the heart.

Last Tuesday, I had a meeting with another entrepreneurial woman. We had met a couple of years ago at a business women’s group. We had talked about working together, but at the time, her needs and my strengths were not a perfect match, so we drifted off in our own respective directions. I stayed on her email list and followed her progress. I saw that she had changed direction recently, and I reached out to see if there might be a new opportunity for us to work together. We met for lunch.

As we caught up, I mentioned my hellish year dealing with my mother’s condition. I talked about the difficult situation surrounding the sale of my parents’ Florida apartment and the disposal of their copious quantities of stuff; dealing with the remnants of their life; acknowledging the cost of their indulgences and lack of understanding of the consequences until it was way too late. I talked a lot about my quest for knowledge regarding health, fitness and the food we eat. My colleague is a fitness coach, so we had a lot in common on this front, and we agreed that the future likely held some mutually beneficial opportunities.

Wednesday, I had a telephone consultation with another entrepreneurial woman, a career coach. This woman helps Fortune 500 companies and small business owners to strategize growth. We talked a lot about what I want to be when I grow up, and how I’ve grappled with this problem all my life. I’m good at a lot of things. I love to sing, take photos, draw, paint, design, write, make videos. I told her about my small business marketing concept, helping develop YouTube channels. She thought that was a winning idea.

Along the way, I mentioned my passion for health, nutrition and educating people about these important topics. I told her about my failed business venture, where I had formed a video production company with two partners to promote Ayurvedic* principles to the American public. She asked me what kind of shape I was in.

I told her in no uncertain terms that I am in excellent health and had spent the last year prioritizing my own well-being. I started to relate the story of my trip to Florida to sell my parents’ apartment. Suddenly, I connected with a torrent of feeling I had not permitted myself to experience before. The pain of dealing with the disposal of all of my parents personal effects, artwork and accumulated detritus; the sadness of saying a final good-bye to the place where my folks had spent the happiest time of their lives as a couple; the realization that all of that was now officially gone forever.

Tears filled my eyes and I fought to keep talking through my sobs. The coach was understanding and she handled it well. But I was more than a little surprised at my delayed reaction. I thought I had just dealt with this. I thought I was done. I thought I was moving on and growing up. But there was clearly a whole lot of pain I had not processed that was just now bubbling to the surface, demanding to be felt.

We concluded the session on a positive note and I told the counselor I would pursue the idea and try to gain some clarity on how to proceed with it. I would also think about engaging her professionally to help me formulate a plan to carry the idea forward.

For the rest of the day, I felt terribly blue. Once I had taken care of as much business as I could handle, I made a point of doing a demanding workout. At this stage in my journey, it usually makes me feel better.

Still fighting profound sadness and not knowing what else to do with it, I began to writing.

I couldn’t help but think of my father, who could not cry when he’d lost his first child at the age of 18 months to spinal meningitis. Only when he lost his mind did he begin to experience that long-denied sorrow. He allowed himself to recall Andy and cry for him at long last, 50 plus years after the fact. He had to lose his ego to allow his soul to express his terrible grief.

And now I get my turn. Again.

Now that the tasks surrounding the dissolution of my parents’ material life are passed, I am faced with finally grieving that loss. Just as I began grieving the loss of my father a year before his body passed away. I lost the man and friend my father had been long before his physical death.

No wonder I’m so fucking sad. I’ve lost so much, and having been in crisis mode for such a long period, I had kept the grief at bay. I suppose I should be grateful for having had so much to lose in the first place. Or maybe I have the right to have myself a good cry and hope I feel better tomorrow.

Boy, this grown-up stuff sucks.

*Ayurveda is a holistic school of Indian medicine focused on health through diet and exercise (yoga)


About traceysl

Digital Artist, creative technologist, problem-solving lover of life. Having cared for my mother, who died on April 14, 2015 after a long fight with dementia, I have refocused professionally to helping others through my experience. I have started a company called Grand Family Planning to provide unique Family Support Services. In this way, I share my knowledge and give meaning to the tragic turn of my parents' journey through the misery of dementia.
This entry was posted in aging, caregiving, depression, Family, life changes, yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Delayed Reaction

  1. It’s called anticipatory grief and I have been experiencing it a lot in the past several months. I’m told it can and will re-occur as my mother’s health continues to decline. I am losing her. She is somewhat frail and suffers with moderately advanced Alzheimers. I am her primary family caregiver and she lives with me. As well, I am an artist and I am, perhaps foolishly, resisting the impingement of my caregiving emotions on the mood of my art. Perhaps I would better make it through this if I let myself express my despair through at least one of my art forms (these include but are not limited to Dance, painting, bead weaving…).

    On the positive side of the scale, I’m told that my grief when she dies will not include any guilt about not being there for her or not doing all I could. Because I am and I have done.

    Good luck.

    • traceysl says:

      Thanks for writing. Grief is a very personal experience, and there are many varieties. Yesterday was the eighth anniversary of my father’s physical death, but I’ve been missing him for much longer than that. It’s a process. I hope you can find creative ways to deal with your grief. I think we all need to express it in order to cope, and by sharing we can help others as we help ourselves. Best wishes to you and your mother.

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