Well-adjusted (adjective, of a person): Mentally and emotionally stable
My grief sits so close to the surface, still so close to every other emotion. It may always feel raw.
Yesterday I was humming and bopping along to some music, and I thought “I’m doing it! I’m being normal and happy again! I’m going to list this as my joy for the day!”, but then having realised that, I immediately felt sad and got choked up, knowing that it’s not yet the same as it once was pre – or with – Summer. I stopped dancing.
The truth is, the grief is never really very far away. If the change in emotion wasn’t so scarily extreme, it could almost be deemed impressive. It manifests in a number of ways, but most commonly for me: deep sadness and all-out rage.
Both the ferocity and suddenness of the emotional onslaught often leaves me feeling unanchored. I said to my counsellor: I just don’t think I’m a particularly well-adjusted adult! It’s this emotional change that makes me feel unhinged, it’s the frequency of these feelings that make me feel I’ve lost, not just my identity, but my mind.
But, I was chatting to a friend about this recently and a new analogy came to me, one that sort of makes sense. So I thought I’d blog in order to explore it further, because I’ve started to feel proud of the attacks of emotion, because I think I’ve finally identified what it is:
It’s my mother’s love.
- I’m not a mum
- I’m a caretaker, a curator of the memories
But here’s something new:
- I’m also a lioness
I’m emotionally quick to respond, because something is being triggered, some carnal instinct about Summer. It’s sort of like a lioness defending her cub. And believe me, no one is allowed to slight my little lion cub!
When people fail to acknowledge Summer, I feel angry, outraged. The claws come out. I don’t mind so much people treating ME badly, but when they ignore Summer, those emotions are something else. You know how some parents get really precious about their children? Well, this is me, getting really precious about mine.
“When a child is born, it is the mother’s instinct to protect the baby.
When a child dies, it is the mother’s instinct to protect the memory”
And when we get a pregnancy announcement or see a baby bump, my little cub starts purring. My heart breaks a little and my eyes get full. These aren’t irrational responses, it’s the natural way to respond: it’s the circle of life.
The lioness analogy helps me to feel a lot prouder – and a lot less crazy – about what’s going on here. I don’t know why, but it helps me to picture it like this. I’ve always described myself as a fierce friend, a passionate person, so it’s no wonder that something like this resonates.
Rather than labelling grief as emotional volatility, anger or sadness, I’m picturing it now as a little cub, sitting just behind me. This cub needs defending and is worthy of all the love, sadness or whatever you want to throw at it. Instead of letting the emotions define me as weak, I feel strong, in awe of the response.
So yep, I am a lioness. My cub sits with me, she is never far away.
It may be raw, so hear me roar: Summer is part of my pride.
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