If you’ve been following me for any length of time, I apologize for the dramatically long pause in my posting. If you’re new here, then welcome… and buckle up. I know 2020 is hard for all of us, but after a long break from most of my online family, friends, and writing responsibilities, I am finally ready to share and discuss how it affected me.
The last time I sat down to write on here was just after school had started. I’d abandoned my blog over the summer due to lack of internet while taking care of my father. I was on the verge of basically a mental breakdown. I felt out of place. I felt alone, even though I was back to my “normal” life and surrounded by people (friends, coworkers, family) who loved me.
I felt a general sense of malaise and I was NOT processing it well!
The knowledge that my father was going to die left me very aware of a void that would soon exist, but on some level had already been there for some time. I’ve had the sense for some time that I don’t fit anywhere. I’m different than my family, I think differently, I feel differently, I engage with the world differently, and so I had chosen to get as far away as I could, but still easily be part of their life when needed…
Which is exactly what happened when the pandemic started.
I went home, and I was needed. I was part of something for the first time in a long time, and I remembered what it was to be myself again. I reconnected with my family and my roots.
Then Dad got sick, and I went seamlessly into the role of caretaker. If there was ever a sign that I have entered the phase of the Mother, this would be it. It felt so natural to take care of him, even though he was my father and not my child. I found myself feeling protective of and responsible for him. I even, occasionally, got frustrated with him when he acted a bit childish… which my father has always had a tendency to do anyhow.
Coming back to school caused a shift that I wasn’t ready for. A shift made worse because we literally found out the day before I came back that he was terminal. I mean, we knew. The signs were there, the way certain doctors acted suggested it to be the case, but it wasn’t until the day before I came back to Houston–came back to work–that it was officially confirmed that my father was going to die of this disease.
The result was that I was back, but not really. I spent the next couple of months going back every other weekend, and feeling guilty on the weekends I couldn’t go back because Dad would ask about me.
We had that special bond that Daddies and Daughters have… kind of. He thought we did, and I guess we did, but it was an emotional stressor for me trying to bounce back and forth between those two lives: my teacher self and the daughter-turned-caretaker self.
It was not easy. I felt like there was a constant cloud following me and I had to not burden other people by showing any weakness. I needed to be the strong one, but that didn’t keep the rain from falling when no one else was around.
He died on September 29th, my nephew’s birthday.
I posted a bit about it on Twitter because I had to completely stop my chat while I figured out the next steps, but I didn’t really say much else about it. I basically disappeared from social media… and life to some extent. I quit watching the news. I kind of quit talking to anyone except my family and the occasional message from the random boy.
But I think I’ve made it through. There are still bouts of sadness, where I’ll be doing normal, every day things and just burst into tears, wanting to apologize to my Dad for not being there more for him, but for the most part, I’m okay.
In fact, I’m actually doing better than okay in a lot of ways… which is part of my occasional feelings of extreme guilt.
It’s also part of why I needed to reflect today.
See, as sad as it was, a lot of really beautiful things have come from Dad’s death. It brought my family closer, and we’re all taking better care of ourselves. It kicked me into gear to get back into my own place. It even spurred on some creative writing to help me deal with the mix of emotions I was feeling.
Nothing particularly good, mind you, but it has been nice to write just to process things. Usually just a few lines on a napkin or a notepad. Maybe some brainstorming about possible (terrible) story ideas.
Getting back into my own place has been really good for me… even though I’ve only been in the new place for a week. I’ve been cooking my own food again, and relatively sticking to my diet. A week of my own cooking (and climbing the stairs to the third floor multiple times a day), and I’m down six pounds already.
And I’ve been working on getting myself back into a normal routine. This reflection is part of that. I’m trying a new thing where I align my weekly routines with the astrological influences each day of the week (I’ll do a more in-depth post soonish). Monday, being ruled by the moon, is a reflective day, meant for self-care, meditation, and reflection.
So, here I sit, on the balcony of my new place, with a cup of tea and my laptop, watching as the sun goes down, and reflecting on the past few months.
They’ve been hard. I lost my Dad, the stress from work has been intense, I’ve spent an ungodly amount of money to get myself into a new place… but I do feel like myself more. I feel more at peace. I’m eating better. I’m sleeping better. I just overall feel better.
And I need to stop feeling guilty about that. I and my family experienced a tragedy, maybe even a trauma (more so for my mom and brother who were there with him when he died… it was not a good way to go they tell me), but it led to some really good changes that I needed to make.
Dad would be proud of some of my changes, like my new apartment. He’d love it… except for the stairs. Death is a part of life, but I believe he is in a better place, and no longer in pain, so it’s time for me to start LIVING!
A quick side note, a bit of this feeling of peace, I think, also comes from the election results. I normally keep my political views to myself in public (being a teacher seems to mean I’m meant to be conservative), but I felt such a relief when they finally announced that Biden was the projected winner that I cried. It was the same feeling as when I really came to grips with the idea that my Dad wasn’t in pain anymore. It was like the country wasn’t in pain anymore either… though I know we’re not completely out of the woods yet, Biden’s win gave a lot of people hope.
I mean, when people ALL OVER THE WORLD celebrate the fact that Trump lost, it should be a sign of just what an awful choice he was in the first place… but what do I know?
What I DO know is that my world feels like it is shifting for the better. I hope it’s not just my world, but the world in general. 2020 has taken a toll on all of us, and things need to start looking up.
Or in my case, they need to continue looking up.