What is it about going back to work? How can it really be that hard? Why can’t it just be a “distraction” like so many people keep telling me.
Right before I lost Simon my job was cut at my school. I had been there for 5 years. I have some amazing friendships from my time there. A support network in good times and bad. Just weeks before he died I was out interviewing for new jobs. I thought my biggest complication was going to be getting hired while 9 months pregnant… or finding affordable child care near my new school. Little did I know…
Over the past 4 months I have developed a pretty substantial bubble. A bubble of complete isolation and safety. Only those permitted and at times that worked for me entered the bubble. I have experimented and founds things that work, and things that don’t. If they don’t I haven’t even attempted to try them for a second time.
So what’s working? What is my bubble made up of? Alone time. Quiet time. Time for reflection. Time for meditation. Extra time with Nolan. Exercise. Nature. Walking. Conversations with one or two people at a time. Avoiding strangers at all costs. Acupuncture. Counseling. Child loss support group. A slow pace. Few transitions throughout the day. Planning and scheduling. Few surprises. My network of other loss moms. Writing. Blogging. Reading blogs. Wine. Reading about grief. Cross stitch. Advocating for my needs. Support and thoughtfulness of family and friends. Yoga pants. Coffee. Sharing Simon and Simon’s smile.
I feel pretty lucky that I have experimented this much and found this many things that work for me. I’m not fixed. My situation is not fixed. It doesn’t mean that I am no longer trying to survive, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day. What is does mean though is that I have found some activities that will guide me in a positive direction. Things that are “helping.” It means that I haven’t been waking up without huge bags under my eyes as frequently. I have been moving throughout the day and sometimes with purpose.
Well… That bubble. It just burst. It burst wide open. It shattered into a million pieces. It feels like I’m right back at the beginning again. I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. The fog is thick. I don’t know how to cut through it.
How can you avoid strangers when everyone is a stranger? Quiet time? That unheard of at an elementary school. Alone time? I share a classroom. Exercise? Who has time for that? Nature? My room doesn’t even have windows. Avoiding large groups? There are at least 30 people on our staff. Slow pace? There is nothing slow about being a teacher. Acupuncture? No time for that. Surprises? I have no idea what one day to the next will look like. Wine? I still have to wake up at the crack of dawn. No more “sleeping in.” Yoga pants? “Professional” clothes? What the hell am I going to wear? My maternity clothes? Less talk? Kids talk all the time. Teachers talk all the time. How do I get away from all of the questions? All of the banter?
And the worst. The worst is Simon. I want to talk about him. I want to share him. I want the world to know about him. I want everyone to know about my son. I don’t have one child, I have two! I sent an email to the staff and one person has mentioned my loss. One. But not one person has acknowledge how hard it was to walk in that door. No one knows that I spend the entire drive to work bawling. He is supposed to be in the back seat. My “professional” clothes are supposed to be stained from his drool. I am supposed to hear his voice in the back of my car. No one knows as they park alongside me that I have my head down wiping away my tears.
I was finding my way. Little by little. Bit by bit. Regardless of how small, it was something. Bits and pieces that were helping my day go a tad bit smoother. And now. Now that has all changed. I find it hard in this new world to embrace change.
I’m a ghost in a world that I no longer understand.