Session the 14th: I Don’t Know How the Hell the Rest of You Live Here

It’s been a while. Lots of time elapsed between this and the previous appointment. That was a really stupid thing to do.

Anyways.

When I was much younger, during that stretch of time I usually refer to as my hilariously abusive childhood, a favorite aunt of mine died because a paramedic had been a little bit overenthusiastic with some kind of heart medicine. Kind of awful. I didn’t grieve, even though I already knew by then what death meant.

Fast forward to some years ago, during some of the initial excitement when my parents were stalking me and knew where I lived, and the death threats, and all that, a friend of mine died in a whitewater rafting accident. It was rather awful. I didn’t grieve. Isn’t that awful all by itself?

And in the intervening years spent on the run and then finally spent here, there have been a large number of deaths of authors and actors and people whose work I very much appreciated and touched me, and I didn’t grieve.

This weekend Kage Baker died. And I am grieving. And I don’t really know what to do next. I’ve spoken to several people, apparently not knowing what to do next is sort of normal, or something.

I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be grieving, because I didn’t know her, not like friends know her. But I loved her books, and as much as Pratchett or Gaiman or Rowling, they were an escape hatch during some pretty awful times. For whatever reason, her death hit me hard. (And then there was all the other excitement over the weekend, which didn’t help.)

So anyways, it’s probably a good thing that I now have mental space to feel this kind of stuff that I haven’t been able to feel before. Like grief.

Grief sucks, man. I’d say it’s like being sad, but it’s not totally that. It kind of feels like falling. I’d almost say it was a little bit like some of my PTSD episodes, except that I know it isn’t. I’m not really sure what the hell it is.

What is going to happen to me when the rest of the authors-whose-works-got-me-through-hell die? Worse, what’s going to happen to me when my actual friends now die? Hell, I don’t even know now what’s going to happen if I ever hear word that my parents are dead. There was a time when I knew, very certainly, that I wouldn’t feel very much, if anything; and now perhaps that’s all up in the air.

What else is going to happen? What else is there? For instance, am I going to feel actual love, real actual love, instead of some kind of pale imitation of attraction? I’ve read Shakespeare, man. I know that sucks too, and what little I’ve managed to feel in life so far is still painful.

I knew where I was 20 years ago. It wasn’t pleasant, and it definitely didn’t have a good future, and it was frankly a psychotic existence, but it didn’t have this grief or love or whatever other horrible thing there is to be felt here. I have no idea how to deal with any of it, and a large part of my general social fear now, online or offline, is that I’m going to end up hurting people even more than I already have.

I don’t know how the hell the rest of you live here.

What really worries me is that isn’t even a slightly facetious statement.

So the sessions are going to pick up again. Gods know where it’s all going to go. I feel so awful, and sometimes I wish the PTSD would come back. Although knowing how my years usually go, it most likely will in a few months. I’ve only known respite in spring, and now I don’t even have that.

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8 thoughts on “Session the 14th: I Don’t Know How the Hell the Rest of You Live Here

  1. Feeling for the first time is rough, and it seems so wrong and out of proportion. It’s not, it just takes getting used to. I’ve been making that transition from not feeling to feeling for about 8 years now, and I no longer think I’m going to die every time I feel something, but I still have to stop, breathe, and consciously ask myself if I’m having a normal human reaction, because I’m not sure what those are.

  2. Hello Sherri,

    That’s good to know. Thank you for sharing that. Makes me feel slightly less scared of the possibly upcoming roller coaster.

    I think the only feeling I know the full measure of is fear. Even under anti-anxiety medications or some of the more medicinal teas (brewed to at least double-strength), all they do is make the fear manageable. People say things like, “Ah, when I took that, I was totally out of it, and whee!” But I don’t get that reaction. The best I get is, “I’m afraid, but I don’t care.”

    Good thing I don’t drink. Gods know what kind of drunk I would make.

    Maybe every other feeling I’ve ever had was some type of fear, or defined by it. My relationships, more or less, are defined by what kinds of fears I have about the people involved. But I’ll let the bartender help me out with that. It seems very complicated.

    I feel like a child at times. I can maintain a service with a complicated code base that withstands a million hits per day and hasn’t gone down for five years, but I have problems with “what does friendship mean.”

  3. The kind of drunk I made was a numb one. That’s how I kept the fear at bay. I’ll have been sober 8 years next month.

    Since then, it’s taken a lot of AA meetings, a lot of therapy, meds, and just time. One old-timer at an AA meeting once told me that the first year of sobriety was like walking around in the world without any skin, and that’s pretty much what it felt like for quite a while.

    It will be a roller-coaster, no getting around that. But whatever feeling you have, it will pass. Just keep breathing.

  4. Sherri,

    Wow. Congratulations on nearly 8 years of tee-totaling!

    Walking around without any skin, hmm. Well. It’s nice to know that feelings will pass.

    I know there are good feelings too, of course. I wonder what those will feel like. I know I’ve never been happy all my life (even I don’t count “I briefly nearly don’t feel afraid” as happy), so this will be something to look forwards to.

  5. You know when Pratchett (sorry to mention him, but) talks about how people selectively ignore the awesomeness of the world so they don’t just sit around going “dude, wow!”?

    The fear of loss is like that.

    Also, you’re allowed to grieve whoever you feel grief for. No grief police, or if anyone says they are, they are wrong and to be pitied and/or despised.

    • Kate,

      I don’t mind mentions of my favorite authors who are going to… um… get better. Because science is advanced. And medicine. They will get advanced enough in time. Totally. And then everybody will get better. Yes, indeedy.

      I don’t understand what fear of loss means, as you refer to it. I know I can feel afraid of losing people quite keenly (and in all different shades thereof). Is grief fear of loss? If it is fear of loss, why does it continue after, well, the irreversible loss?

      I haven’t seen grief police, I don’t think. I just have this feeling that it’s wrong. I might’ve absorbed that from somewhere in the media—a large part of my framework for dealing with people wasn’t taught to me by my parents, but, well, basically set up by sitcoms and other sorts of TV shows. From the 80s.

  6. Sorry, no, I didn’t mean to equate fear of loss and grief, one is prospective and one is not, as you say. I just meant that if you were wondering how anyone ever got past the fear of loss to actually love someone, that’s how. Mostly.

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