Most of the time I am doing one hell of a job faking it. I can’t tell if it’s a good thing or not. I go out in the world and I smile at my people and I make jokes—usually really morbid, sad ones, but they’re levity of some kind. I pull off what looks like a good mood, and if not upbeat, at least I come off as something not utterly heartbreaking. Hey, so it’s all a big fat lie. I don’t know though if it’s better to put on a smile and fool people or to do what’s more honest and tell everyone that I couldn’t possibly care less about what they’re saying and I’m even a little irritated that they aren’t as depressed as I am.
I wasn’t all that social before Jim died. I’m so much less so now so as to be antisocial. I don’t know how to talk about anything not-Jim. That’s not true. Cameron and I can talk about yoga postures for hours. But other than that, nope. Even then though we talk about Jim in between yoga stuff. I’m grateful when I learn that I’m not the only one who misses my husband.
It’s simultaneously shocking and deadeningly heavy that he is for-real gone. Like, really. Like the I’m-serious-and-still-can’t-believe-what-I’m-saying type of gone. How did I, at 34, lose the best thing that will ever happen to me? You can try to tell me that it’s not all downhill from here, but I’m uninterested in bullshit. Jim was the pinnacle. He was my trump card. When comparing myself to others, as I can’t help but do because I’m a girl, the inevitable inadequacy couldn’t beat me because I had Jim. You might be beautiful, but I get to go home to Jim. You might be smart, but I get to go home to Jim. Even if I couldn’t be the things I wished I wished I was, I could be to Jim the things he saw me to be. It was plenty. Being loved like I was loved was more than enough.
When you’re polite, and I like to think I was polite once, you talk to people about them and the things they care about. I can do that barely halfheartedly. 80% of the time as I’m saying the words that sound right I’m thinking, “ . . . I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care . . . ” It means I barely know what’s coming out of my mouth and don’t remember the conversation later. But I feel like I have to go through the motions of being a decent human or I will make myself permanently irrelevant.
It’s different when I’m teaching yoga though. Then I’m doing that being-present thing quite adeptly. I can focus on my students, and really, I adore them. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes where I can give a damn. I think I use up all my caring about others during that time and don’t have any left for casual conversation or optional social interactions. So I elect not to engage.
I suppose the fact that I can teach at all indicates some kind of progress in my process. But progress toward what? It’s all empty future without him. Okay sure, I’ll find some kind of happy someday, but I want the happy I had. It was fulfilling and unreal. And not just retrospectively. It was unreal when we were in it, ending in confirmation of the concept that if it seems to good to be true it probably is.
People used to tell me that our relationship gave them hope. Hope that they could find some kind of beauty for themselves, that when things seem all loneliness and dark there is potential for a turnaround. What I want to say after August 30th is this—sorry, but no; it’s all awful. Best I can give you is to say that you need to love your people full-on and ferociously because your version of Good can literally go up in smoke—flames and black smoke falling into an RV park and DOA—and all you’ll be left with is whatever memories you’ve created. So save the love notes, spend money on experiences, take photos of the mundane, blow off what only seems critical to be with your loved ones, and focus less on surface achievements and goals so that you can indulge in the luxury of having someone to love.
That’s the most positive stuff I can say. Everything else I have to offer is drenched in despair and outright intended to make people feel bad.
I do remind myself that other people are dealing with shit or have things they want to talk about that are interesting to them, but my response to my own reminder goes like this, “Oh, I don’t care.” So rather than go out and be an asshole, I avoid social stuff as much as I can. It’s poor manners to be with people and spend all your time sulking in a corner mumbling, “None of this matters, you know.” I run into real problems though considering that I have people in my life I love and appreciate who want to be there for me, who want to help me and the kids, and they don’t know how. I don’t know how to tell them how, and I don’t have the social fortitude to make up the difference between their love and my selfish sadness.
I often wonder why i keep the house tidy, why I don’t eat myself totally fat, why I go to class or teach class, why I voluntarily interact with anyone at all. It feels pointless when Jim isn’t my reward. The Whys I come up with are habit and fear. Fear that I’ll just make it all worse. That did not, however, stop me from sitting at my kitchen table tonight roasting marshmallow after marshmallow with the blow torch and squashing them between Oreo after Oreo. It’s what I had to work with since the preferable option of sitting on the couch tickling Jim’s head while he fell asleep on my lap was pretty well out of the question.