A year ago this week, everything changed. I knew it was a momentous change, but I couldn’t imagine how losing my Dad would impact me.
I’m still surprised.
A year of firsts, birthdays and anniversaries and events and holidays, without him. Some days have been harder than others.
One of the things that continues to surprise me are the range of emotions that I’ve experienced. Most unexpected is this feeling of aloneness that keeps showing up.
My new friend aloneness.
It showed up this weekend, the first anniversary of his death, in a big way.
There are two things I’m discovering about this particular emotion.
The first is that there’s truth and not-truth to it.
It’s true that my dad is not physically present in my life anymore. And it’s true that sometimes I am physically by myself. It’s true that we are, each of us, alone, even when together, in relationship.
And the not-truth is that I am not really alone. I have family and friends and neighbors and colleagues and clients and the person at the cafe that knows my order. Besides that, my dad lives on in my memory and my dreams. He’s really just a thought away. We are all, inextricably linked in ways it’s sometimes hard to explain.
The other interesting thing, is that at some point, when I wasn’t paying attention, this feeling of aloneness stopped saying anything about me.
It’s not about me.
There was a time when a feeling like this would be just the beginning; an engine pulling a string of cars full of bad feelings with it, the train cars of “and it’ll always be like this” and “I’ll never get over this”. The cars get more tangential the further they get away from the engine, devolving into, “I’m broken” and finishing with the big giant caboose of “I’m not enough”.
But somehow, this feeling of aloneness, has just hung out by itself.
There’s been no catastrophizing, no throwing fuel on the fire of emotion keeping it alive beyond it’s natural lifespan.
That doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t deep and the sadness doesn’t feel devastating at times, because it does. But, it does mean that I can safely feel those things, without getting taken on a crazy ride of it being about me and my worth as a human being.
It also allows me to have my full range of feelings without shame. I can be sad and brokenhearted one minute, and laughing and full of joy the next. I can keep working and playing and exploring and being present.
Do you have emotions with a whole line of cars attached? Are there some situations or emotions that are separate for you and others that trip you up? I’d love to hear how you navigate these.