Grief Has No Statute of Limitations
No on really tells you how grief works. There is not some class you can take and you know how it will affect you. Sometimes grief sucker punches you out of nowhere. Or it slaps you in the face because you forgot to acknowledge it.
And as I've begun working through my depression--which is a daily process--I realized there was something I never grieved. Something I never let truly settle in my spirit.
My mother Faith Melody Woods died when I was born. I am not writing this post for you feel sorry for me. But, I do want to talk about it I want to get really real as the kids say these days.
I never knew her, but my two sisters did. They were six and three (i think) when I was born. they had some type of memory of one day their mom was there and the next she wasn't. I can imagine my sisters sitting at home and my dad returns with this baby and no mother. I could not fathom the hurt they felt. Who was going to do their hair? Read to them? Tuck them in? Teach them that girls can be smart and pretty?
They did not know, but what they did know was there was this new little baby girl who was now their sister.
Maybe I was a symbol of what used to be and what was lost. Maybe for a quick second, there was some hatred or at least annoyance with my presence. I don't know the pain my sisters or father felt but I do know the pain I feel.
When people find out that my mother has passed, they always apologize. My response is always: "It's okay, I didn't know her and that was long ago." But as I sit and think through things: it is not okay. And that's the first time I've ever said those words.
I grew up surrounded by people who knew and loved my mother. I was always reminded. Oh, you look like your mother. She would be so proud. My favorite--but also the hardest to hear--that you sound just like your mother when you sing. It became too much to bear and I actually don't enjoy singing anymore.
I was compared to this lady that I never knew but somehow loved. I felt guilty loving her. I felt guilty in general. A cloud of guilt just hung over me. All the times I thought about ending it all in the past, it all came back to that. Maybe they didn't want me, maybe they rather have my mother instead. I know they will say thats not true, that they love me and I know they do; however, a long time ago that thought may have crossed their minds.
My father named me Joy Melody because he was able to find Joy in such a terrible situation. But having the name of such a great emotion-Joy-is a heavy burden. Everyone expects me to be happy and joyful. And I can remember vividly someone as someone asking me something along the lines of why are you even depressed? Your name is Joy? You should be excited and blessed you are alive!
And that is exactly why I am depressed. My mother died and I lived. My mother died. I lived. Who wouldn't be fucked up about that?! But I was not allowed to properly grieve and now I am twenty-three it is messing with me.
Am I making her proud? Are my sisters resentful? Do I deserve to be here?
There is a piece of my heart that is empty. And I know some will tell me that "God can fill that void!" And yes, He can but shut up! That is part of the problem we run to the church and pray but never go through the process grief.
I am twenty-three, grieving a woman who gave me so much. The woman who is the inspiration of my strength. The woman who breathed her last breath so I could breathe my first. I never met her but I am allowed to grieve that death.
Grief is a funny thing. It reminds me of when you eat tuna for lunch so you chew a piece of gum. Even with that fresh minty green scent, there's a slight linger of tuna. Even when you try to cover up you are hurting and broken, grief still lingers and sometimes only you notice it.
It has no statute of limitations. I really wish I did. Although, I also believe allows you to become who you are. Grief reveals those cracks in your foundation that you have been ignoring because you didn't want to pay to get them fixed.
It looks different in everyone. But it surely affects everyone--even if you are just grieving the end of a relationship.
I am giving myself permission to grieve in whatever way that looks and how ever long it takes. Hell, I have been ignoring it for twenty-three years so I feel I have quite a bit to unpack.