I was basically in a cocoon for four days. The step counter on my iPhone counted 35 steps for Saturday. My time out of my unkempt, empty cocoon was spent standing in front of the open refrigerator knowing I had to eat but couldn't because of enormous inner triage. That and obsessively plucking my eyebrows into vain symmetry. As the days continued, they got better. But my nights grew into nothing short of lunacy ("moon sick.") I couldn't control any tears, any sinus build up from said tears, or any sort of shaking accompanied by the word "why." My double-digit blood sugar levels became credit scores and my to-do list became a to-try list. I had successfully succumbed to heartbreak of my own doing.
I've been digging my nails into the future to resist backsliding. Physical and electronic purging seemed easy at first. Sigh, toss, sigh. Deep breath, walk away. I couldn't listen to music (still can't) because I didn't want to cry more than I did the night before. I opened Spotify at one point and saw what I had been playing recently and every artist connected back to the center of our alt rock universe. That was our little universe inside my car, the one complete with air drums and imaginative lyrics. I feel like it's a vacation spot I can't return to alone because it took the two of us to create it. So I can either cry or listen to new music I'm anxiously unfamiliar with.
Kitty knew something was amiss. Like me, he is never really active during the day. He has his place on the topography of my comforter, usually white with tummy fur. I'm sure in some aspect he was thrilled I was spending more time in bed. But usually when I turn off the light, he nestles into his spot by my feet. I can tell he's there because he lets out the smallest of sounds when I wiggle my feet. While we were cocooning, he always made sure to have at least one paw on me while I slept. If I tossed or turned in the middle of the night, he temporarily resettled himself and then resumed contact. One night he slept completely on top of me. He sort of crept into the small of my back and just stayed there. He made these cute little snores while I fell asleep.
A lot of people had suggestions for me about how to accept and cope with my grief, most of them included stereotypical twenty-something endeavors I do not take part in:
- Mani/pedi. I don't see the need to spend money on something I can do at home by myself and save $50 each time I do it. Also I fucking hate people touching my feet. HATE it.
- Bath bomb. Like a mani/pedi, turning a relaxing soak into a color science project didn't seem like the proper aquatic treatment to soothe my collapsing soul.
- Bad movies. If I watch a bad movie in a bad mood, I just get angry. Remember in Seinfeld when Elaine was watching Weekend at Bernie's II? She's upset because not one person realizes Bernie is dead. In a similar vein, it's kind of like trying to rationalize a storyline meant for children. A squirrel with a southern accent would never acquire a dome underwater and become best friend with a sponge...unless this place called Bikini Bottom was actually located in Bikini Atoll and had been exposed to nuclear tests and were a result of catastrophic radiation levels...
- Writing. In progress.
- Retail therapy. Most of the time, I'm pretty good with money. I have enough money to go out to dinner with friends and fill up my tank without having to pinch pennies from under the floor mats of my car. I usually calculate my spending to the end of each month and factor in every paycheck. But every once in a while I'll find an inflatable t-rex costume on Amazon and throw all of my monthly calculations to the side.
- Hanging with girlfriends. I rarely hang with friends, let alone girls. Once a week I have a standing lunch/dinner date with three friends who do stand up, but it's nice to get away from the politics of the Seattle comedy scene and know each other as actual people and not sociopaths. But I rarely hang out with more than one girl at a time. I hang out with my mom and the occasional woman who resurfaces after some time away from our friendship. My best friend is on the east coast and I miss her dearly and I hope to see her sometime in the near future. But for now, we text each other purple heart emojis and talk about gross girl things and boys.
- Wine. Hahahahahahahahaha. Let's be real. If I'm going to relapse, it's not going to be on pinot grigio in the bathtub; it's going to be on Old Crow in the garage.
You go dumb during a break up, almost as if you reemerge from a coma, trying to figure out what happened right before the accident. You start to remember these minuscule, captured figments from the infancy of the romantic atmosphere: what song you were listening to the last time you drove down a particular road, the little nickname he'd call your pet, the tattoo you wanted to get but now feel weird about remembering it at all, the awkward motion of someone who made you both laugh, those times before bed you would laugh for no reason, the texts you'd wake up to, baseball tickets and movie stubs you hid in your room, that one selfie that turned out perfectly so you didn't have to turn it into black and white to hide yellow teeth or spend money on an app to reduce the red eye...it's like slowly waking up from surgery only to realize no one is there to greet you or ask to see if you're okay. You have to do it alone. But I'm not alone. I'm just lonely.
In the last few days, my routine has become less rocky. I got back on stage for the first time in over two weeks for my audition for the Seattle International Comedy Competition. I found the first apartment I'll be living in all by myself, a building I've driven by thousands of times since I was able to develop any sort of infantile memories. My relationships with my family have tightened, and my sense of responsibility is morphing into something of which I can be proud. As a result of this..."growth," I'm beginning to feel like a real person. I still wince at the appearance of some things: a beverage he liked, a story that reminds me of him, a mismatched sock unintentionally abandoned underneath my bed, the bracelet I nervously removed from my wrist, a nail polish color he liked, a baseball radio announcer's particular cadence, a word he had trouble spelling, the social and political issues we'd playfully argue about, the reoccurring dream of malicious laughter, the jokes we told to ourselves and others...
I've eaten ice cream for breakfast a few times in the last week. A few of those days, I also had ice cream for lunch. I've tried to follow really vague self-care guidelines, and turning vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup into frozen soup seemed like the only valid options at the time. I've caught up on sleep, started a new book, bought new pants, and mostly stayed on top of my work. Grief is scary; that's probably why I drank my way out of most of the grief I've ever experienced. Not caving and going to the bar over the last week has been incredibly hard, but a lot of people reached out to remind me of where I would be had I awoken my dormant addiction.