When strong emotions catch me off guard, it still surprises me. I’m not sure why. I know it’s expected with grief. I guess it’s because I like to think that I know how I’m doing and I try very hard not to put myself into a situation that I feel like I won’t handle well. So when I’m overwhelmed with sadness that seems to come from nowhere, it only compounds the emotions. I’ve never thought of myself as being “unstable,” but grief sure has taught me otherwise. Grief is the great “humiliator.”
Chad and I needed to drive to Greenwood the other day. I never really gave it a second thought as we started driving in the Jeep. We usually cut through the country to get to the interstate and as we were approaching the entrance ramp to I65, that’s when the fist lump in my throat suddenly showed up. My mind suddenly replayed what felt like hundreds of scenes all at once of trips to and from the hospital. Suddenly, I felt all of that weight and pain and I lost it—just because we were on I65. I realized that I hadn’t really gone that way, since Sarah had passed. I’ve been avoiding it I guess. After she died, driving home was the absolute worst. I’ve never cried like that before. It was all so raw.
Before cancer, we had driven that road so many times, but during cancer, it was like I could put the Jeep on autopilot and it would just take us to Riley. There were trips where we were so scared about what we were going to learn, once we got there. There were trips where we were so hopeful- that we were going to be victorious over the cancer. Most of the trips took a lot of courage for Sarah. Mentally, she was so strong. She would crank up the worship music and we would sing our hearts out the whole way there. Coming home after long stays, were always the best. She’d usually ask for fast food from somewhere. She was excited to see the Culver’s being built at the Franklin exit. I remember thinking, as I drove her to the hospital the last time, she may not get to see it finished. She didn’t. How am I supposed to drive by that Culver’s and not have that memory every single time? That’s grief and trauma working together in my head. Somehow, I need to capture those thoughts before they attack me. I’m still working on how to do that. A couple of weeks later, I tried driving I65 by myself. I still cried. It may have been worse than the first time. However, I refuse to let it master me. I may choose to drive a different route sometimes, but eventually, I need to just “go down that road” and let myself feel and release those emotions. I don’t want to have areas of my life that I avoid because the trauma is to painful.
EDIT…Less than 24 hours after I wrote this blog, I did it! Little did I know that a friend would be needing me to take them to Indy for an emergency situation. Although, I’m sorry that my friend needed a trip to the eye specialist, I’m not sorry for the opportunity that I had to conquer this challenge. God knew when I was writing this blog entry that He was going to work out just the situation that would require me to drive I65. I know it will probably take more trips and especially, if I’m alone, it may feel differently, but I’m celebrating this emotional victory. He’s always up to something.
What about you? Is there an area that you avoid because it’s connected to your grief? Did you recognize that early on in your grief journey or did it surprise you?