Tuesday, November 8, 2016

OPTING OUT

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.

3 comments:

Tiffany DeLong said...

Hi Megan, I don't know if you really actually read your comments on these beautifully terrible (terrible as in the sadness you feel portrays vividly in your writings to where I feel pain for you , just no where close to your pain obviously l) blogs you do. I don't know if you remember me but you were my Sunday school teacher once upon a time. My favorite at that becaus of the fact that you did let the word shit slip out a few times and it was the best part of church. Anyways, I just wanted to tell you something that I heard from one of my favorite TV shows that though it's unrealistic about Vampires and Wearwolves, what the character said is more true than anything I have ever heard. One of the characters lost his pregnant wife with twins at the alter to her being stabbed to death by her brother.. Gut wrenching to watch. I balled like a baby (and they're characters) anyways what another character says to him, It says:

"You're going to think that the pain will never end, but it will. But first you have to let it all in. You can't fight it. It's bigger than you. You have to let yourself drown in it. But then eventually you'll start to swim. And then every single breath that you fight for will make you stronger. And I promise you, you will beat it." I don't know why that stood out to me to tell you, but it did. However, if what happened to me happened to you, I would 100% become the biggest anti-social asshole on the planet. So I will let you get back to eating Oreos and marshmallows and being antisocial, all of which you well deserve.

Jeannie Shmina Greenwald said...

I'm so sorry, Megan. I loved reading about you and Jim and your palpable joy. Now, such incredibly sorrow. Life's not fair. You'll find your way again as people do and I know you'll always miss him. I hope you feel the love of your family and friends and readers from afar.

Cam Stolz said...

Dear sweet Megan, You are warm, beautiful and loved. The love that made you Mrs. James Shirl Elliker is a love that is forever embedded in you. The tragic, horrible, series of events that took Jim's life from you, his children, grandson, mom, sisters, friends, co-workers and everyone who his all too brief life touched are changed. Selfishly I grieve, I try to believe it isn't true, I grieve, and I then smile when I think of how happy you two were together. His love lives in you. None of us know what the future holds. But right here, right now, you are loved, by Bill and I for sure.