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Sep 20

The Fear that Binds

I am afraid. I read something this morning, talking about how grief makes it frightening to go into the grocery store because you are reminded of your loved one at every turn. This was but one example, and it’s true. I think at first I just felt that it made me sad. Now I realize that I am afraid it will make me sadder. I am sure that I was afraid before, and just didn’t recognize it. My previous self-work tells me that this is true, because our psyches will protect us from feeling all sorts of hurtful emotions if it can. We lie to ourselves about what is and what isn’t.

I am afraid to go out – anywhere. I’m afraid that when I get there, I will have reminders of Erin. In fact I know that I will. And if I don’t, I’m afraid that I will be sorry it was never somewhere we shared together. I’m also afraid of seeing you (the collective You). What if you don’t know and you ask me how she is? Or what if you do know, and you ask me how I am? I know neither is your fault, but both touch me in ways that cause me to cry.

I am afraid to listen to the radio. I’m afraid I will hear a song Erin and I used to listen to together. We listened to a lot of “my music” and I tried to introduce her to all sorts of things (age appropriate of course). So it’s not like I can just avoid some kid’s group, the whole radio is upsetting to me. Or what if it’s something that she would have liked, if only I had ever thought to play it for her? And then there is the category “I would have played this when she was old enough to hear it.” Oh, there are also songs that she didn’t like, but that I love, and maybe she asked me to turn them but I refused and made her listen through because I was enjoying it so much. Yeah, that bothers me too. So I usually ride, now, with the radio off or down so low I can’t hear what song it is.

I’m afraid to watch TV. I only watch a very few shows right now, and never anything she liked. I’m afraid that I will think of her, and I will cry. I’m afraid that I will be so sad at watching new episodes of “her shows” that I will break down. I’m afraid to watch anything that has kids in it, and heaven forbid the kids are ill. Shaun and I both recently skipped an entire episode of Supernatural in Season 1 because it was about kids being put into comas. It doesn’t matter that it’s not real. It’s the memories that it invokes.

I am afraid to look at my pictures from the Star Trek museum in Riverside, IA. That was our last tourist stop of Erin’s life. I was so excited that she was able to experience that with me. We were almost done with I think season 2 of TOS. I wanted to watch it all with her, but in order. I was excited for her to watch the TNG and the others, and get to know the series I love so much. Now I can’t even watch it. I can’t wear my arm band that I got at the museum, and I can’t look at the brochure. I’m afraid I will be sad. I’m afraid that Star Trek is ruined for me too. And Star Wars. How can I watch them again?

I’m afraid to play my old video games. I’m afraid that it is a disrespect to Erin, I think anyway. I spent a lot of time away from my family playing games by myself. I love games. Well, I loved them. I’m not sure what I will be saying if I take up playing them again. I’m afraid of it. It was what I did “before Erin’s death” and now I am no longer that person. Hell, I’m not sure what I’m afraid of but I am afraid to even open them on my phone or the computer.

I am afraid to go into her room or playroom. And I’m very afraid to open the blind in her room. That might say that someone is home, and no one is home. Who is it saying that to? Me I suppose. I’m also afraid not to go into her room. I don’t want to ignore her.

I’m afraid to get out and walk around my block, or the yard for that matter. I have very nice neighbors. They are perhaps the best neighbors on the whole that have ever lived on my street. But if I see them, they might talk to me. I’m afraid of that. I saw one two days ago. She did talk to me. But it was OK. Well what if there is more than one of them talking to me? What then? I can’t run – that would be rude.

I am afraid of touching my husband. I am not talking about sexually if that’s where you went. If I sit next to him, or hug or touch him, then that is too close. I’m afraid it will hurt. So I guess I am now afraid of the very definition of intimacy. I am aware that I have a very big, invisible barrier around myself. I am afraid to be touched, period. I might hug you, but I probably won’t let you inside of that bubble.

On that note, we share something very intimate. We share our daughter’s death. We held her hand while she died. And I’m afraid to talk about it with him. I wish we did not share that, although it was right that both of us were there with her of course. That is something no one should share in their relationship, yet there it is. It’s like the elephant in the room for me. I’m afraid that elephant will sit on me and kill me one day.

I would say that I am afraid that I will never get over this, and that I will never heal and never move on. But I think it’s more accurate to say that I have accepted that this is the way it is, and that I am now broken and damaged. The fears above, I will have to find a way to get past or I will become non-functional at some point. But the trauma, the circumstance, will stay with me forever. I am resigned to it and I foresee it. If I had the energy I might even be angry about it, but I believe I have just accepted it.

I am, however, afraid of how many years this condition of life will last. I am 43. I could live a very long time after today. I am afraid of a lifetime of imprisonment. Because I am truly living out some type of sentence now, and it’s one I will never escape. It’s something that will always be inside of me, always in my heart, always in my mind. It weighs down my spirit. I hope that one day when I shed this body, I will be free of this. Death – that is something I am no longer afraid of.

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