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Merely Existing

Have you ever gone through your daily activities without thinking? Totally thought free. Not just around the house on a Saturday, but work, hanging out with friends, running sound, and all the other things that can fill a day. Have you gone weeks without one fully developed and coherent thought?

“I realized, as all survivors must, that being alive isn’t the same thing as living.”

Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins

Maybe some live this way or have times like this. I have never experienced such a thought desert. My normal is a head full of competing thoughts, all wanting attention now, sometimes screaming, and always with a song in the background. Except lately.

This is the first time I have been able to write anything in over four months. I could not even read something I had written months ago, much less polish it for a post. I could not force that train of thought.

I am now convinced this is a grief response.

The Thought Desert is one symptom that I am merely existing. Another symptom is my lack of goals. Where do I want to be in five years? Ten years? I used to plan, work on those plans, and push toward the next thing. Now, nothing. Every plan I had in 2018 died with Caleb. For example, we love camping and need to get away on certain days of the year for our mental health, but we could not plan any camping trips this year until last week. This is super late in the season so we did not get great spots because of it.

Another symptom comes from grief pushing the people around us away. I am not saying the griever pushes them away, but that grief exists makes many pull back. Someone navigating life with a set of friends that suddenly pull away, avoid contact or limit contact, it makes one feel less human. Less present. Merely Existing.

The last way I Merely Exist is the hardest. Most of life passes by like I am in a fishbowl. I cannot interact with the world nor it with me without extreme effort. If I try to think about going to an activity, my anxiety shoots up. Even going to hang out with friends. Is someone new going to be there? Will they ask me about my kids? Even asking how many is a gut punch. Where can I step away if I need a quiet minute? Am I able to slip out politely to leave early? I rarely leave my house other than to take my child to school or get groceries or go to church. Soon my daughter will drive herself, Amazon delivers most things to the house, and church is becoming increasingly difficult – but that’s the subject of another post.

Merely Existing; I am alive, but not actually living.

Published inGrief

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