Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Dispute not with her...

Last month Nick told me that he thought it was weird that I'm still so upset about my dad.

Actually, he didn't say weird. I can't remember exactly what he said. I just remember feeling like what he meant was weird. I'm weird. I should be over it.

It's been five whole years, he pointed out.

He said he knew the news about Robin Williams would really upset me. Which is true. I started crying and couldn't stop. I cried and cried and cried. And he just thought that maybe I wasn't dealing with my grief well.

His dad died last year, and he's not still grieving.

Why am I still so upset?

Hell, I don't know. I just am sometimes. I still miss him and it still hurts.

I know I'm not the norm as human beings go, but in a Venn Diagram, I believe the Lisa circle would overlap at least a decent amount with the Normal People circle. I'm pretty sure anyway. I don't even strive to be pure normal. I just...want to be able to be normal-ish. I want to not be weird.

But it is not hard to make me feel aberrant. And I tend not to appreciate it. In a very large and stabby way.

Plus, dude! If anyone's supposed to make you feel not-weird, it's your spouse, right? If they're telling you you're a freak...you have to wonder if you really are.

So I stewed on it for a bit. As this was The Summer of Our Discontent, I mentally filed it under Things I Currently Hate About Nick. It wasn't a big file. Small, in fact. Just deep and caustic.

I walked around muttering, "Weird, my ass!" Which, uh, well, make of it what you will.

And then a couple of days later, we were out for dinner with a group of Nick's colleagues, and it turns out that one colleague's new girlfriend is a therapist. And so I asked her if I could get her opinion. I set out my scenario with my dad's death, very briefly. And asked if it was weird to still be upset.

She responded with two things. One, her father died - not by suicide - in 1998, and she's still upset about it. And two, does it prevent me from functioning in daily activities?

No. Not usually. Just sometimes I still get very sad.

Her boyfriend suggested that men and women might also process grief differently. And men might get past the emotion faster.

This is certainly possible. I don't know.

But armed with this validation, I gave Nick what-for. My grief is valid. I AM NOT WEIRD!

He didn't even know I was stewing about it. He didn't recall saying I was weird. "But," he said, "you talk about missing your dad so often. You're sad about it so much."

"So often? So much? When do we talk about it?"

And then it dawned on me: so often in person? Or so often on the blog?

"On the blog. I read every post. You talk about your dad so much lately, and it's been five years."

I said, "You do realize that the blog isn't an entire picture of who I am and our whole lives, right? Like, if you only read my blog, but didn't know me as a person, would you know everything that was going on with us?"

My blog is my head, and my blog is my place to process. Sometimes it's real life action stuff, and sometimes it's my frets, and sometimes it's my pool of tears. It's my journal, just online.

But it's not a 360 view. I'm never going to be all, we had chicken for dinner and then we watched Game of Thrones and then we took our sheets out of the dryer and made the bed and went to sleep at 11:00.

Why would I write that when I can work out my gut-wrenching emotions or fret about rabies or talk about putting raisins in Nick's anus?

So then he was all, "Oh. Well, in that case, no, you don't seem excessively upset about your dad. And I don't think you're weird."

But my takeaways are thusly: You cannot fuck with someone's relationship with their parent. You especially can't do so if said parent is dead.

And grief is an odd beast. As my cousin Lyrae pointed out, grief is not linear. It loops at unexpected times. It's not like when you head north on 95 and every mile closer to Maine is a mile farther from DC. If that makes sense.

Also, even though I totally did say that in public about the raisins, I'm not weird. I swear.


  1. You are not weird. You are lovely.

    I also think that grief becomes even less linear and more unpredictable the more fraught the relationship with the parent and death are. Stable relationship and time to prepare make for a very different experience than when those things are not as present, I suspect.

    1. Good lord, Jess. Has anyone told you recently how brilliant and perfect you are? You are.

  2. My dad died decades ago and I still get sad. It was a sudden death and he was way too young and it's painful to think of all he missed. There are no rules for grieving a parent and there is no "normal".


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