My Watershed Moment

Is it normal to be able to pinpoint your turning point? A pivotal, traumatic, life-changing thing that comes out of nowhere and just fucks up your entire world?

I didn’t realize mine right away. Well…I’ve had several. But this one, the one that’s been heaviest lately, took me a few months to really understand.

It was so momentous and terrible and heartbreaking, and the effects haven’t stopped. It’s been almost two years.

I was trying to figure out why and when my life changed. It was confusing because it was such a huge change, and yet in so many ways it took me weeks to really realize the extent of the damage. Shock, probably. Shock does incredible things to a person. It can make you numb; it can make your entire body ache. It can save your life or it make you wish yours would stop. It is deafening, in its loudness and in its silence.

I lost my very best friend almost two years ago. Of course I knew my life would be forever changed, but there are certain changes that I didn’t see coming. The first month was the shock. I didn’t understand how I was still breathing. Why was I still alive? His heart stopped beating and he left this world for a new one…and he took mine with him. So how was it still beating in my chest? I wanted to go with him. Such a huge part of me wanted that so badly. But beside me, on the floor in her car seat, slept my two-month-old daughter. If not for her, I fully believe I wouldn’t still be here.

I knew he was getting old; he would leave me soon. Had he held on just to make sure I’d be okay? Had he waited for my baby to arrive, let me watch him love her; gave me those memories to hold onto…and then decided it was time?

Sometimes there is so much pain everything single thing, that I wish I could just sleep and not have to feeling it all the time. Not even just my own pains, but the world’s. Everything is getting more and more fucked up; there are people and animals suffering–brutal suffering–and no one is coming to their rescue.

This eats at me.

This new pain, the loss of half of my heart, grasped onto me like an invisible vise. The lungs that I secretly wished would just give out were instead inflated with the heaviest air. My skin hurt. My body ached. My shoulders could not stay back; the posture of an ancient woman in her last days. I was sinking into nothing.

I could not cry hard enough to make it lighten. I couldn’t breathe deep enough to flush out the weight in my chest. I had nothing to say. How do you speak when everything in you is busy feeling? Feeling devastated and angry and empty? There are no words to describe that desolation. You just…survive. Even when part of you doesn’t want to.

If I hadn’t had my daughter, that pain would have engulfed me whole. My scarred wrists would have throbbed with the longing to be opened. My full heart would have burst. My throat would have closed off, allowing neither liquid nor solid to pass through.

I lost such a huge part of myself that night. The piece that left with Him was filled in with a darkness that I still haven’t found how to brighten. Memory is the most powerful thing my brain can do.

I find it so ironic that most painful thing in life is love. Love is so all-encompassing. Why would it not leave a hole the same size when it leaves?

I am forever changed, because of grief. It’s addled me over the years, through the blackness of my childhood and into the instability of teaching myself how to live; how to let people in. (I still suck at this; about as useful as screen doors on a submarine.)

His passing caused me to turn further inwards. Not turning away from my daughter, but from everyone else. Grief is not something that can be shared. You can try to understand and try to be there for people and offer your love, your support, your casseroles. But ultimately, we are alone. We feel alone. We suffer alone. I was taught that from a very young age. Help does not come, even when you ask. Until you learn how to help yourself.

Maybe things get better from here. Maybe blackness lessens and learns to take in some light. I’ll wait.

My watershed moment is having lasting effects. I can see it making cracks in everything I thought was solid. I can see the possibility of losing certain things; certain people. It’s there, unless I find a way around this.

I’m asking myself to learn to breathe with water in my lungs.


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