On the average day, I feel a LOT of feelings. I usually wake up with a deep dread, wishing I were still asleep because in that reality I don’t feel like a failure – oh and there was also that velvet couch I was eating covered in frosting. I then do a meditation and perhaps feel a moment of calm inspiration only to be punctuated by stress the second I open my eyes. I drive The Munch to school looking at her sweet face in the review mirror and feel like, “aww look at all that hope in her eyes that has yet to be crushed by the knowledge that Trump has raped her of a future.” This then transmutes into the drive back home where I start to wish the day were already over, only to sit at my computer with a mixture of creative energy and crippling self doubt… and its not even 9:30 am.
By the time I’ve gone to bed at midnight I’ve gone through maybe 14 cycles of “life is okay,” and then “holy shit what is all this for besides facing the eternal misery of my futility playing the stings of my heart with the violin of delusions I call an existence.”
Everyone goes through this right? (Insert nervous laughter)
Yet if you were hanging out with me I don’t think you would say, “That Toni is one moody mother fucker,” because I keep most my emotional ebbs and flow buried deep inside, much like a dog with their bone. But instead of the fleshless carcass of an animal to chew on, I instead gnaw on the skeletons in my closet that I’ve come so accustomed to dressing up.
That’s normal right? (Insert anxious hand wringing)
The reason I try not to let myself get too carried away in my emotional self is because I know that feelings are ethereal wisps of wind that blow in and out of your consciousness like dandelion seeds. You can feel one way for one moment, and then the complete opposite the next. Although feelings are important and crucial aspects of the human experience, they are also somewhat absurd because of how unpredictable and illogical they are. As such, my internal world is much different then how I project myself to others. In the outside world, I come off as very unemotional. I don’t cry very often, I’m not quick to anger, I’m patient, I don’t overreact, and many think I’m easy to talk to. I keep a safe distance from my feelings because I don’t want to take them out on others. Of course all my close friends know my shadow side – I’m manic, compulsive, bossy, particular, controlling, excessive, and overwhelming… but because I mostly keep myself in check their overall impression is that, “Toni’s chill, and a good friend.”
There is this dichotomy between how I feel and how I act because I ultimately want to be an emotionally mature human. It’s not that often that my feelings overtake my behavior, so when it happens, no one really knows what to do with me. I’m not really used to relying on others emotionally, so when the darkness comes, the black depths of my being is confusing to others. I’m not approachable when I’m upset, and therefor not that easy to comfort. Mostly I just want to be left alone to drown in my melancholy.
I know we all have primal sores of our childhood, and there are plenty I have as well. Yet I feel like I’ve come to terms with most of them. Sure there are moments when I can access the sadness of my socialization, but I don’t feel ruled by it. I’ve tried to face my conditioning, forgive what hurt me, have empathy for the adults that disappointed me, and let go. I’m SURE there are aspects that still influence me greatly, but I don’t feel controlled by my past pains.
Except for my open wound.
When my best friend Bitty died, a piece of me died with her. Last Sunday, June 11th, was the 17th year anniversary of her death.
17 years is a long time to have passed. They say time heals all wounds, but in truth time just means you get used to the pain. It doesn’t go away, but rather becomes a part of you. Like roots of a vine growing around your soul, the pain of loss entwines your spirit and tangles into your psyche.
The tragedy of Bitty’s death affected everyone who loved her. It bonded us in a web of mourning. An entanglement that can’t be escaped because holding onto the pain is also holding onto her. I can think of Bitty and remember the happiness of our relationship and feel a certain sense of peace for her spirit, yet that doesn’t take away the core loss. There is a bottomless yearning that I feel because I can no longer look into her eyes, see her smile, or watch the way her lip curled when she was angry. I’m still her friend and our love is just as real as ever, but I miss her physical presence in my life and nothing can change that.
I miss her.
I miss her so much.
The day of Bitty’s funeral, I couldn’t leave the graveyard. Everyone slowly made their way to the lunch, but I stayed. I stared at where her body was buried, still in total disbelief that this was really happening. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t turn back time and have stopped this from happening.
I wept at her grave that day as the tears that over took me. The anguish was consuming. Possessed by regret that I had spent any time away from her. If I had only known all I had was 20 years with her, I never would have left her side. I would have sewn myself to her so as not miss even one moment. I would have given anything to see her again.
There was this senselessness to her death that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Why? Why did this have to happen? The mystery of misfortune was plaguing me. There are so many disastrous things that happen every day, and those that live through them are just left with the question of why. Our brains want to solve puzzles, yet death is one that we can never decipher. Yet all I wanted was something to ground this horrible event.
I made a promise to Bitty that day. I swore to her that I would live for the both of us, and that I would make my life meaningful to some how make her death make sense. I opened up myself to her, and invited her into my body. I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted her with me, and I needed her to know that I was still there for her, even if I couldn’t stop her from dying. I blasted open my being so she could find a home in me. I knew her soul had traveled on, but there was still the human energy of her, I could feel it. I embraced it.
I’ve tried to maintain inspiration from Bitty’s death because that’s the only way I know how to honor her life. Because of Bitty, I believe in magic. She is the guiding energy of my life. Every moment of coincidence, synchronicity, positivity, I see as Bitty. I feel her talking to me, looking out for me, guiding me. I attribute all the beauty in my life to her, because she changed me. Growing up I was never artistic. Bitty was the artist. Everything she did was creative. She drew, she made clothes, she made jewelry – her room was an explosion of her unique aesthetic. Yet since Bitty’s death, the artist in me was born. I don’t see that as random, and I am so deeply appreciative of that.
Bitty’s death destroyed me, but it also awoken me. It connected me to the spirit world, and everything mystical. Without Bitty’s death I wouldn’t be who I am to today, and I’m so grateful to her. She’s been such a good friend even if she’s no longer on this earth to share time with me.
But I miss her.
I’m starting to forget our memories. I don’t have her to go through them with me anymore. As I grow older, my brain gets filled with new memories, making the ones with her harder to hold onto. I would trade any memory I have had of the past 17 years without her for one more moment of our time together. My memories of her are everything because they’re all I have.
This is my open wound. One that is not always so raw, but when it is, it’s like my skin has been peeled off and all that is left of me is vulnerable organs unable to defend themselves against the elements. There are times when I can talk about Bitty and I feel almost nothing, because I can’t let myself. Yet there are moments when just the thought of her makes my soul scream so loud it’s deafening. My head filled with echoes of my heart crying in despair.
This Sunday was a hard one for me, and I couldn’t escape it.
But it’s okay. It’s okay that I go through this, and I always go back to the one and only therapy session that I’ve had in life. It was about 2 years after Bitty died, and I was still crying daily. Waking up thinking about her, going to bed thinking about her. People were worried. I was consumed with grief. The therapist asked me one question, and it was all I needed to hear.
“How do you think Bitty would feel about the way you’re reacting to her death.”
I thought about it, and I know everyone was telling me, “she wouldn’t want me to suffer,” but they didn’t know Bitty.
She would be happy I was this upset!! She was my best friend! If I just moved on easily or wasn’t tormented Bitty would be like, “What the fuck Toni!!!”
That realization gave me permission to feel, and I keep that with me. The universal spirit of Bitty that is all one with the cosmos of course wants the best for me, but the human Bitty that I knew also thinks it’s totally reasonable I’m this broken up about her death. I loved her. Of course I care this much. That’s just what happens when you lose someone you love. You never let go, you never get over it, and you always miss them.