It’s Friday afternoon and I’m exhausted. My job requires a degree of what I can only call “presentness”; the ability to be highly alert and focused and analytical while still seeing beyond the details to grasp the full picture. I’m not cutting it. A colleague mentioned that I looked to be having an out-of-body experience. I agreed, and took off for home.
In the course of an average week I am asked to negotiate, mediate, facilitate, mentor, hector, consult, instigate, invigorate, and inspire. When I’m alone at my desk, I’m supposed to create and manage the myriad of tools used to track progress and document status; project plans, charters, risk plans, process flows and more. At any point in time I am expected to jump in and be ready to discuss any facet of any project to which I’m currently assigned.
In normal times, I like the unpredictable and multi-faceted nature of what I do. It’s rarely boring, and never predictable. These aren’t normal times. I don’t feel normal.
This afternoon I was looking through other blogs tagged grief, and read something written by a woman about a friend of hers. Seems her friend’s husband died recently and this women was upset that her friend didn’t want to see her and kept brushing off her offers of socialization by saying she was too busy, or too tired. The blogger was hurt and angry, and wondered how something as minor as raking a lawn could make someone tired.
Grief is exhausting, mentally and physically, I would tell this blogger. Yes, your friend’s lawn isn’t large; but I bet that every pass of the rake drives home the fact that she’s doing this alone. So many little things seem terribly challenging. I’m starting to go through the seasonal switch in clothing. While I’m doing this I’m trying to clean out some of Rick’s clothes as well. This isn’t exactly heavy lifting work, but it’s taking me forever and I’m dragging after spending 10 minutes looking at his clothes. There are 7 (I counted) burnt out light bulbs in the house. All I have to do is get the ladder and change them; but I can’t manage to summon the ability to do that. It seems too hard.
Before all this happened, Rick and I went out every Friday night with a group of friends. Sometimes we’d stay and have dinner, sometimes we’d stop for a single beer and go home. It was fun. I’m still invited, but I don’t go. It’s too hard, too sad. It’s another Friday night, and I’m exhausted. I spend all week being focused and on target, looking professional, paying attention, doing my job. When I get home, there are evenings where I just sit and stare at the computer for hours, doing nothing but playing games. Or stare at the TV without even being aware of what’s on it.
I have friends. I see them, sometimes. Other times I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t care about them; it’s just that sometimes being with other people is just too damn hard. The blogger ended her post in a righteous anger at her friend; she’s not going to contact her anymore. I got the impression that her friend’s husband died very recently, maybe 2 or 3 months ago. I became a widow 8 months ago, and it’s agonizingly difficult, each and every day. I go up and down, back and forth. April was a terribly hard month; now I’m feeling slightly better. Soon I’ll be reliving the memories of our last few months, going through the awful downward spiral that started in July last year and ended in Rick’s death in August. In just a few months, I’ll be remembering what that final month was like when every day brought more bad news. I’ll get to relive our final wedding anniversary, 6 days before he died.
I won’t be the most socially adept person this summer. I may not respond to FB events and emails, and may forget to return phone calls. There will be times when I go out to do social events and (as has happened over the last 8 months) do nothing more but sit and stare until I decide to just go home.
I hope that my friends who care about me get that when I act this way, it’s not about them. I hope my friends are able to see past any unintentional snubs I give them and have some patience and empathy for me. And, if the blogger whose post I read sees this, please, don’t write off your friend. Be patient. Keep asking her to do things, and understand if she doesn’t want to. Give her some time to grieve the way she needs to. My friends have done that with me, and I’m grateful.