I’ve spent the last two weeks in a fugue state of non-specific fear. Fear about politics, fear for my children, fear about my health. Fear that so many people seem to think it’s okay to be horrible to others. There are so many things to be scared about and I feel so powerless about them all. I am paralysed about the future, both on the micro and the macro level.
On top of that, I’m spending a lot of time feeling guilty that I don’t have the get-up-and-go to get out there and make the changes I want to see. I feel that I should be standing for the local council, or marching with a placard or canvassing for my local non-evil political party. Add that to my general feeling of being overwhelmed, and I’m flat, like a pancake. A pancake made with too much flour and very old eggs.
However, in the last couple of days, two things have happened. The first is that I came across something in a book that really resonated with me. I’m reading Darien Cox‘s series ‘Guys On Top’. In the second book, ‘Guys On The Side’ there’s a part where one of the protagonists tells someone else that when you are dealing with grief, it’s okay that everything else seems trivial.
“What you’re feeling right now,” Angelo said, “looking at the stupid billboards and the things that don’t seem to matter, you’re actually seeing things clearly.” Mercy wiped her nose. “How do you mean?” “Well, right now you’re seeing the world as it truly is. Those things don’t matter. All of that exterior noise has been stripped away from you, and you’re left only with love. And pain. And the pain is because of the love. But eventually, maybe not next month, or even another three months, but eventually, the pain will fade into the background. It will still be there, but the love will be the crux of what remains. And you’ll stop noticing billboards, stop noticing other people going about their day, and wondering, how can this be? How can the world go on? You’ll stop seeing things that way. But right now, it’s all right to see the world that way. It’s real.”
I had to stop and have a cry last night when I read it. Because I am grieving all the bloody time. It’s a kind of preemptive grief, because I know my child’s health is deteriorating and there’s nothing, nothing, than anyone can do about it. It’s just the way it is. We doggy-paddle along from day to day, dealing with tube feeds and incontinence and medical professionals and the children’s hospice. And it’s not until we stop and look round that we realise how overwhelming our life actually is, as a baseline. On top of that, add a gender-diverse child and the health issues of OH and I; and we’re not waving but drowning, most of the time. We’ve got a good circle of friends and all the support we’re entitled to. But still. On a day to day level, it’s an achievement if everyone in the family has their teeth brushed on the same day. It makes everything else – Trump, net neutrality, Brexit – all those things – seem trivial. Because what matters is getting us all up, getting us all clean and getting us all fed. And I don’t have the energy to deal with the rest of it.
Then the second thing happened. This morning someone gave me permission for that to be okay. She said that because of all the overwhelming stuff we are dealing with on a daily basis, it’s okay not to engage with the big stuff outside our immediate circle of influence. That I can let other people hold the light for me out there for a while. Let them write letters to bastard MPs and march with placards and knock on doors to explain why voting Tory again would be such a bad plan. It’s okay for me and OH to just be here with each other and the kids for a bit. Instead of making the change, I can be the change. I can be kind to people I meet, I can nurture my friends, I can make biscuits and give them to random people on the bus. I can smile at people in wheelchairs and say hello instead of ignoring them. I can make my house a safe space for my children’s friends.
My grief is enormous. But I can’t fit the whole world in to it and I’m going to stop trying for a while.