I haven’t been able to write, because I haven’t been able to feel. For the past few weeks I’ve felt numb. Detached, dazed, unable to accept the reality of what has happened. Perhaps I’ve helped this dreamy unreality by self medicating. Perhaps not; when I’ve gone days at a time without I feel no more attached to the world than when I’m floating above it. I’d also put forth the argument that the anti-anxiety medication I’m taking makes me drifty—but again, I go days at a time without taking any (sometimes I don’t need them; sometimes I withhold them from myself, forcing myself to breathe through a panic attack in case I might feel something when it’s over) and the sensation that I’m playacting my life persists.
I can’t feel your spirit, no matter how hard I try. I haven’t wanted to look at your picture; I haven’t touched your blankets or ached over your ashes. Half the time I haven’t even worn the little blackbird pendant that I say represents you. It’s like you never were.
It scares me, this detachment. It isn’t just you; I feel like I’m not really a part of this world. It’s as if there’s a blurry filter between me and everything else. Work feels like a daze; being at home feels like a dream. I can’t really keep track of time anymore—not just the minutes and hours, but days and weeks. Is it really Autumn? Has it been two weeks, or three?
Sometimes into this misty unreality drift thoughts—big, scary, existential thoughts. Or lack of existential, I suppose. Terrible thoughts that would make me weep if I could actually feel them. I thought that being an Atheist protected me from losing faith, but I was wrong about that.
Until lately, I’ve believed so completely in that Other-Place. I believe(d?) wholeheartedly in reincarnation. In the fact that there was some reason for everything. Not necessarily some Divine plan, some hand of a god steering us; my beliefs have been more along the lines that we each come into this world with a to-do list, and that we all agree to work together during our time here. The closest thing I can compare it to is the movie Defending Your Life—only less judicial and more cooperative. And I’ve believed that the spirits of our loved ones watch over us.
Nearly everyone in our family believes these things to some extent. Your daddy told his parents that he’d chosen them to be his mother and father when he was little. When I was about the same age, I identified a picture of my grandfather—who had died while my mother was carrying me, and whom I’d never seen a picture of previously—as the man who came to play with me when I was alone. I’ve been able to feel the presence of spirits around me my entire life.
I don’t know what I believe now. We talk about how you died because all your work on this earth was done. We talk about what you taught us—the perspective your life inside me gave us; the way you forged, strengthened and tightened the bonds between people. Your daddy and I are closer than I think we’d ever have been without you. Our circle of family and friends has grown stronger and closer. Our patience has grown, as has our gratitude—we strive not to take things for granted anymore, to be truly grateful for everything we have.
And I believe all that still. I can see and touch that. There are letters, phone calls, hugs, conversations. Things I can quantify.
But I feel like I’m just paying lip service to my belief in anything that isn’t easily quantifiable. The worth of my life. That you exist (or even existed) beyond the imperfect body I made for you. Sometimes I can’t even believe you existed that much—often the dreamy detachment makes me feel like I was never pregnant. That this is all an elaborate game of pretend. Not just you, either; I feel like your daddy and I aren’t really married, that we’re just pretending somehow. That I’m going by this new name that I don’t really deserve. And the things I do to honor you—wearing the necklace, holding your blankets—all feels so empty that I feel ridiculous and absurd.
And the future—the future is so misty and dreamy that I actually can’t picture much of any of it. Anything more than a week or so away is unfathomable. The only thing I can picture at all is occasional flashes of having another baby—and that makes me feel vague stabs of guilt.
Yet I think of you almost constantly, and miss you so often. I don’t even know how that can be, when I feel like you aren’t-and-never-were. I miss you but I can’t cry; I think of you but I can’t accept that you were, that you are. I write to you but I feel like it’s just whistling in the dark.
I almost miss the anguish. At least that was real.
This doesn’t feel at all like depression, either. Depression feels like my heart being replaced by a floppy ragdoll. It’s a fine distinction to draw—when I’ve been depressed, I’ve felt like there’s no point to anything because there’s so much sadness. Now I feel like there’s no point to anything because nothing fucking exists.
The strangest thing, to me, is that I still have a full emotional palette. Happiness, joy, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger—it’s all there. Most of the time I feel normal—“fine” even—but like I’m not quite awake. Or that I’m awake for the first time and realizing that nothing is real to begin with.