I am very aware that my writing in this blog is like a roller coaster. There are days of silly giddiness, then days of complete despair, sometimes some anger disguised as mockery, a lot (I mean A LOT) of self-centeredness and no discernible editorial calendar or rhythm.
Friday, when I was at a very, very low grief-addled point, I wrote a blog that left me feeling exposed. I really wondered if any of my 19 readers were talking about me being crazy or broken or depressed. And I don't think I am any of those things; at least not in a homogenous sense or an all-the-time way.
It is not that I am paranoid, it is just that I know people. I've walked into rooms before and the conversation has stopped. (and I am sure I've stopped a conversation when someone has walked in). I am an endless analyst of people's behavior and motivations. We all talk. We all judge and we all draw conclusions with the information we are given.
And that is okay, it's how we grow in our relationships to one another.
But, in my head, I became worried about what people would think of me; especially people who haven't seen some things--and haven't reached the point in their lives when they realize that broken exists in parallel with whole. We are neither one nor the other; but a mixed bag of shattered and smooth, of centered and spinning, of happy and sad.
The trouble is when the sharp bits rough up the smooth bits. I don't think grief is a sharp bit--I think grief is a smooth bit. Grief is born out of love; love is what makes us human and grief over anything or anyone we loved is one of the purest expressions of love.
But, self-loathing is sharp as a knife. My pain over the loss of my brother is driven by so much self-loathing. Why didn't I let him live with us? Why didn't I get to the hospital sooner? Why haven't I avenged his death? Why didn't I tell the first house how unprofessionally they behaved? Why haven't I written to David's organ recipients? Why didn't I visit him more? Why can't I grieve with my mother? Why didn't I monitor David's accommodations more carefully? Why didn't I keep in better touch with his caregiver? Where was the moment that David's fate was decided and how did I miss it?
I hate myself in the moments I ask these questions. None of these concerns come from a place of self-love or forgiveness. There is not one thing I can do to change the outcome of what happened. There is nothing required of me now that he is gone. And even if I felt there was something requires, that is a simply a lie. No one is angry with me. No one is waiting for an apology. The universe is not looking for another sacrifice.
I spend hours a week hating myself for something I didn't do and for things I have no control over.
Saturday, after being at my very lowest, I found some new awareness of all of this. It came in a Pearl Jam song (Present Tense) which feels a bit silly and frivolous and simple to say. But, I do firmly believe that God speaks to us in words we understand and voices we listen to. There is no mistake that I was at that concert and no mistake I let that song take me away from the unforgiving voices in my head.
(And I am pretty sure Eddie Vedder is an atheist; which will forever make me laugh.)
I don't totally forgive myself, yet, and who knows if I ever will. Right now, I am tempted to delete all of my self-loathing questions, because I am engaged in this loop of self-loathing over exposing my self-loathing. Thinking to myself: Why can't you be stronger? Why can't you be quiet? I won't delete what I wrote because I think the first step to forgiveness is admitting what you've done. What I've done did not lead to the death of my brother.
Instead, I need to forgive myself for listening to the noise that takes me away from the beautiful memories of him.