The Unglamorous Art of Surviving

Dear Reader,

You asked how I function; how I get through the day. You asked how long it took for me to accept that my loved one was gone. You asked for advice.

Well, here are words:

You have recently lost a loved one, and I am so deeply sorry for you. It has been four years since Andrew died, and I still occasionally find myself sobbing about it, having nightmares, or feeling intense rage at the injustice of it all. Reader, you need to let yourself grieve. Remember that everyone grieves differently. Feel what you feel, seek comfort, be patient, and take care of yourself. Sometimes I just need to gorge on ice cream, spend a whole day watching TV in bed, punch things, or whatever. Is this particularly flattering? No. But I let myself do it because I have to be my own friend. I have to tell myself that I cannot change the past. I can only work with this moment.

Sometimes I have to play make-believe with myself. Because of my anxiety and depression, I often feel that I am not worthy of happiness; that I am a burden to everyone around me. I have to pretend that I am not my wretched, pathetic self, but a friend who needs comfort. When I pretend I’m someone else, I am much kinder to myself.

Sometimes when I’m out driving at night and I have a strong urge to kill myself, I assign myself to “robot mode” (this is when I detach myself from emotion and mindlessly follow instructions) and tell myself I have one job: get home. I know that once I’m with loved ones, I will be safe.

Surviving isn’t glamorous. It isn’t pretty. It involves random cry sessions, plenty of self-hate, regret, fear, and other crap. My Facebook page may present a smiling, successful young woman, but that’s because I don’t post about my mental breakdowns, my uncontrollable sobbing, and my intense but manageable urges to bleed out in a bathtub.

Maybe this is more than you wanted to know. I don’t even know if I answered your questions. How I function: take it one moment at a time. Remember that you are loved. If you forget, find a friend who will remind you. Keep holding on. Sometimes life sucks but you just have to keep holding on anyway, and I promise you it will get better someday. No matter how bad things look, I’ve come to realize that happy moments eventually come. Peace will come. It may seem impossible, and sometimes I am too weak to have faith, but I find little reasons to live and breathe and move forward, and those carry me until the next time I feel true joy.

I am so sorry you lost your loved one. I understand a piece of your pain. You may feel weak, but you are strong. I know you can make it through this, even though it sucks beyond words. Darling Reader, it may not yet be time for you to “move on.” Love yourself like a friend, and please remember that you are not alone.

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