Self-care and Grief

I haven’t felt like writing, how could I?  Or talking, why would I?  I see grief wears differently on everyone.  Even me.


Some people freeze and can’t move at all.  Some people go into overdrive and can’t stop moving.  Others push, while others pull.


I can say that without diligently practicing spiritual principles in all my affairs leading up to this, that I would be somewhere in all of the above and everywhere in between.  I’ve never been much of a freezer – I prefer to do, and do hard, fast, and a lot.  I’d definitely fall into the “there’s no way I can consciously handle this, so what do I need to do to not feel this ever?” camp and unconsciously pummel my way through more.  More work, more training, and more activity to prevent the enormous pain that this has been.  I’d probably have pushed some people away, by not letting anyone close to me get closer.  I’d probably vomit my pseudo vulnerability to the internet, instead of braving this wildnerness that is grief by myself with the people that deserve my time.  And space.


My entire recovery has prepared me for this.  Overnight I knew who my people were, and who they were not.  The number of hands extended has been nothing short of awesome, but today I know that just because you extend your hand to me, doesn’t mean that I have to take it.  I am never rude, but I am no longer interested in entertaining just to entertain.  My bandwidth shrank overnight, and I am enormously grateful to not have any desire to change that.


At the service there were faces I hadn’t seen in a while, and faces I see all the time.  Some broke me immediately, because they know my love for Matt, and they knew my fear.  Others didn’t create a reaction, but gratitude that they posted.  For all of us, not just me.


I have shown up for this shit every single second.  I have had my moments of “doing” but noticed almost immediately.  I have had my moments of irritability, but knew underneath was really sadness that at times I am just utterly sick of feeling.  I have had major mirror smack – I see a much bigger person than I know lives in this beautiful body that continues to show up for me.  I had many days of staring into the abyss, emotionless.  I’ve had other days when I have to say out loud that it’s OK to stop, and it’s OK to rest, and it’s just OK.


I have done the next thing right.  And then I have done the thing after that right, too.  That has meant I have followed my measured food plan every day, for every meal.  Years ago, I would never have survived this experience without binging and purging.  I would have restricted my way into numbness, then binged my way into shame.  I’d be unavailable for my parents, God, and Alison.  I’d be on the hamster wheel playing catch up, swearing every morning that I was going to do it differently and every night crying with remorse wondering how I got back to this place.  I’d be scrambling, dying, and nowhere near available for this experience that I really do want to have, even if it sucks.


The day after Matt died, I knew I wasn’t safe without my food.  I had gone to my parents’ as quickly as I could get there safely and didn’t pack it.  It’s not that their house is polluted with crap, but I know my disease.  And I know my disease LOVES any opportunity to get me, and if there ever was an opportunity, it was this.  So, Mike brought me my food.  And I haven’t looked back since.  It’s allowed me to show the fuck up, fully.  It’s allowed me to know that the mirror smack isn’t real, despite how real it feels and looks, and I swear is.


I have discipline in spades, and now I know why (witness my mom) and am also so very grateful.  Having a foundation of routine and doing the next thing right for myself has allowed me to function.  Not over function – I have taken time off work, canceled meetings and social events that I didn’t feel up to, but shown up for myself.  I haven’t missed a day at the gym even if the workout didn’t feel like Alison.  It’s my grounding place and where I connect and how I do right by me – every day.  It’s not to burn calories, but to tackle the hardest part of my day first and exceed my own expectations of what I’m capable of.  It helps lessen the anxiety and get underneath.  Fast.  Plus, Matt loved to train when he was able to so why wouldn’t I continue to do something we could share?


I’ve gone to my parents’ every week, and every week it is hard to leave.  They are suffering.  They are grieving.  They are missing a part of themselves that they never imagined having to miss.  They don’t know how to do that.  And I don’t either.  I don’t pretend to know or pretend to be able to make it better.  All I can do is show up.  I gave them my 18-year coin, decorated the house and sleep in Matt’s old bed in the guest room.  I yell at their dogs and pester them about whatever and share myself and my space.  We call or text or both every day, and always say “I love you”.  Never has that been more important, or underrated.


Years ago, I would’ve tried to make this different for them.  I would’ve tried to make this different for me.  I would’ve buttoned up the tears and forced myself to be in a place different than I am.  I would’ve starting smoking again, gone on another diet, added running to my already stacked training plate, and answered the phone every time it rang.


But not today.  Today, I am just doing what I do.  I’m taking care of myself.  I look good every day because looking good reminds me that I’m worth it.  My hair is “done” (aka super messy but amazing all at once), my nails and toes are done, my massages are booked once a month and staying on the calendar, my clothes are bright and sleek, my food is on point and my friends are the closest they’ve been.

And Mike.  Mike … has my entire heart.  He has been perfect throughout this pain.  He has shown up every day by either doing, listening, or just being here.  He has helped my family, supported our grief and shared a space with me I never thought I’d have to share.  Or would want to.  Being with him has allowed me to process this grief in real time, because he makes me feel safe.  I’m not afraid to say something that sounds stupid or is.  Because nothing is stupid right now that I feel or think – it just is.  I’m not afraid to cry first thing in the morning or need a hung for a minute longer.  I’m not afraid to say, “not today”, or “can we please go do something?”  I’m just not afraid.  He gives me strength, courage, and peace.  Because I know I don’t have to be anyone other than Alison with him – ever.  I don’t have to apologize or thank.  I do thank, but I’m trying not to apologize.  How can you apologize for something unimaginable?


Thank you to those of you who have been supporting me.  People have asked what they can do, and I have let them do it.  Even if it’s just checking in.  No more façade of, “I’ve got it, thanks”.  Because I don’t.  I don’t fucking have this.  This is bigger than anything I’ve ever done, felt, seen, or shared.  So no, I do not have it.  I am OK, while I also need all of the support I can get.  The cards, the flowers, the texts, the hugs, the doing things and the “it’s OK to not do the thing, too”.


Thank you all.  While this is awful, it is getting better, and I wanted you to know that no matter what, you can absolutely handle anything that comes your way.  If you start practicing today.

2 thoughts on “Self-care and Grief”

  1. I’m so grateful you have a deep connection with HP to hold onto these days when you need it most. It reminds me that I have this relationship of my own to build on for when shit goes down, and it will inevitably go down. And that’s ok.

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