What a year.
My last post was in May 2019, when our family received my mother’s cancer diagnosis and things began to unravel from there. By the start of isolation due to Covid-19, I had already been in grief for months and I had stopped working a week prior to the Stay Home orders that shut down most everything. I was spending my time in hospital with my mother. Something I also had to stop and felt a loss over.
This May, we are beginning the conversations around opening back up and beginning to see each other again in person with lots of anxiety-producing regulations around how we will manage that. Which has me thinking along these lines:
Reintegration (noun): the action or process of integrating someone back into society.
Grief (noun): intense sorrow.
How do you return to society following intense sorrow?
My only answer is by showing up. The inclination to continue to isolate serves a purpose but will hinder long-term personal growth. We grow through experiences. When we control all the variables, we feel safe. When we react to unknown variables, we learn.
You can mine down deep into your own psyche, taking that journey inwards, but until you venture back out you cannot apply your knowledge of self. It is how it stands against outside pressure that refines it.
This process is energy consumptive. There’s a saying that the price of anything that threatens your peace is too high, but I would argue that peace needs to be threatened to be defined. What I guard is my energy. It is exhausting to feel this much and take the time to understand it. I will not be filling my days back up quickly.
The latest disturbance to my peace was someone saying, “Oh, we’ve never met you,” multiple times upon my entry to the hospice that cares for my dying mother. I experienced immediate defensive anger at this person seemingly questioning my devotion. However, the only person that needs to know anything about my feelings and actions is my mother. I am writing her a letter to make sure I know that she knows how I feel. I cannot control perception; how my message is received. I can only put it out there to be interpreted.
I am much more at peace now that I’ve addressed my concern, brought to light by my anger at a stranger. To the actual person, I said, “Nothing like getting shamed at the door.” Which felt very underwhelming to the magnitude of feeling I was experiencing and experienced later when I swore her out in the privacy of my own home. It was the unsatisfying nature of speaking venom out loud that made me dig deeper.
I don’t want to be the person that swears out a stranger or emotes on an unsuspecting victim. I’m ultimately glad I restrained my response in the moment. I want to be the daughter that writes her mother the note that describes why and how she loves her. I get to be that daughter this Mother’s Day.
I get to define how I show up in the world. This is how I will begin to reintegrate into society.