Introducing You to a Part of Yourself

Every morning I walk by a man doing Tai Chi in the park near my apartment. He’s probably in his late 50s or early 60s. He has shoulder-length grey hair and a good sized beard and is always in some sort of grey/navy sweatshirt and sweatpants combination.  He trucks along at his own pace, in his own little world, morning after morning, moving through space.

This morning there was a younger man with him. It looked like the older man was trying to teach him… I liked the idea that the new one had seen him in the park like I had day after day and one day asked to join him. It made me smile; watching them. The younger one was self-conscious and unsure of himself. The older obviously gave no fucks. I hope I can be more like him one day.

* * * *

I’ve always had an affinity for sad things. Sad songs, sad books, sad movies. One of my very favorite movies is Moulin Rouge, and I could listen to “Fix You” by Coldplay on repeat for hours (which is ironic because I despise Coldplay). I love listening to the soundtracks from The Holiday and Love Actually over and over again. I could watch P.S. I Love You every week, and one of my favorite musical scenes is the part of Act 2 in Miss Saigon where we see Chris forced to leave Kim behind in Vietnam. Yes, all of these things make feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest, but there’s something about them that makes me feel alive and makes me feel seen, you know? I can relate to those feelings and it makes me feel like I’m not alone.

I love the divisive ending of LaLaLand that sees the two protagonists break up and go on to lead different lives and then heartbreakingly run into each other and imagine what their life might have been like should they have gotten their Hollywood Ending. I like real stories — because so far in my life, that’s what I can relate to. I’ve never had my Hollywood Ending. In any area. And that’s okay, I’m still young. But it makes me more interested in seeing stories play out in a “realistic” way.

I was reading Taylor Jenkins Reid’s magnificent new read Daisy Jones and The Six last week after I started musing about this post, and came across this line:

“…which is what we all want from art isn’t it? When someone pins down something that feels like it lives inside us? Takes a piece of your heart out and shows it to you? It’s like they are introducing you to a part of yourself.”

God, I love that. I feel that. THAT is what I want from art. All the time.

I’ve found in my journey with grief that the arts have played a large role in helping me mourn. I’ve lost myself in books (some good, some God awful), I’ve watched and rewatched my favorite movies, I’ve gone to the theater, and I’ve compiled playlists filled with songs that make me feel alive. And that also make me sob in the cereal aisle at Met Foods. But they help: They introduce me to a part of myself that I may have known was in there, but didn’t recognize, and they help me say things I didn’t know I needed to say.

The holidays have been hell on earth. Which really sucks. This is normally my favorite time of year. I love the lights, the giant trees all over the city, the snowflake banners in my little neighborhood in Brooklyn that hang in between the traffic lights… It all usually makes me feel warm and fuzzy and thankful for everything in my life.

But this season, all I can think about is what is missing. It’s hard to get past how incredibly sad I am all of the time. I went to see The Favourite last week (which if you’re a woman who enjoys period pieces & comedy, go see this movie), and while Olivia Coleman’s character is talking about the children she has lost, she says something along the lines of “When your child dies, part of you also dies.” And that really struck me. It feels like I’ve lost part of myself with the passing of my mother, and I haven’t known how/known that I needed to mourn that. How do I even do that? Where do you begin? How do you grieve for yourself?

I guess I have to start with being honest. For the past 4 months, I’ve kept moving forward and pushing through. I haven’t wanted to acknowledge that I need to slow down and give myself more time to process. Not to say that I was running away from the event, because I really don’t that’s what I was doing. And is somewhat disrespectful to this whole process/myself as a person. It was just how I needed to cope with it. I need to move on with my life and figure out what normal was going to look like before I was able to fully grasp the situation. And now that I’ve taken a few months to settle in, I’m finally able to let in the pain. And lemme tell you, it has not been fun.

I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to hang out with friends. Sitting on the couch with my roommates mindlessly watching Hallmark Christmas movies is about all I can handle right now. I drink a lot and I eat shitty food. I don’t have the energy or motivation to get up and go to the gym in the mornings. And usually am too tired to go at the end of the day. It took me 3 weeks to tackle cleaning my room which was about to marked DO NOT ENTER: WAR ZONE by my roommate Lexi. It’s just all hard. It’s hard to wake up in the morning, it’s hard to get on the subway and go to work, it’s hard to keep myself from crying while at my desk or on the couch or in the grocery. It’s just HARD.

And I’m trying to accept that fact that this is all okay, and that it’s not meant to be easy. I know that it was never meant to be and never is going to be easy. But knowing and accepting are very very different things. People can tell you that the first Holidays without them are going to be a bitch, but until you’re there and in it, you don’t really understand it.

That also makes me think about all of the people who say to me, “Oh but she’s not gone, she’s with you. She’s always with you/in your heart/watching over you.” For fuck’s sake, yes I get it, it’s a lovely sentiment, and regardless of my beliefs about it, it gets stale. I’m so sick of hearing it. It doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t bring my mother back. Sometimes I swear I want to punch people in the face when they say that to me. But I get that they don’t know what else to say, and then I feel like an asshole for getting annoyed with them in the first place.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how much my mom would have loved my blog. I don’t think she knew that I could write. She was always open about her “gift” with writing. I think it was the only thing she felt came naturally to her, and she was unabashed about how good she was at it. I loved that. I loved that she did not apologize for it. I think that’s rare for women. So I think that if she could all of this, it would make her smile… Some of it would make her sad, and most would garner a text with some sort of cheeky comment. But I also think that I wouldn’t ever have had the courage to write if she were still here. I’d be too afraid of what she would think. So I guess when I think about it, this blog is actually one truly good thing that has come out of all of this. Something that’s made me feel positive and productive. Who knows, maybe she’s up there right now with a smirk, judging everything that I’m typing.

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” 

― Franz Kafka


2 thoughts on “Introducing You to a Part of Yourself

  1. Fuck yes. Girl, you are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like she would be so proud of you–you’re a fantastic writer, Ailsa!

    Liked by 1 person

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