Friday, July 29, 2011

Different wavelength

I'm leaving the country soon, and the other weekend I met with the women from my support group to say goodbye. It's so strange now. We have so much light, but there was a point where we had nothing but darkness, and they are among the few people who can understand the darkness still in me. Even though I'll be able to stay in touch with them through e-mail, losing them scares me. I have so many dark memories that most people just can't relate to:

Detectives pulling me into the dean's office. The picture that went online of my dad on a gurney before I even knew they were dead. Photographers hiding in the bushes. Strangers slandering my family. Signing the cremation order for three of my family members. My first visit to the house to see my life drowned in soot. Sleeping on a deflating cot by the kitchen. My mother's blood stain in her bedroom. The outline of my brother's body in his own blood. My dad's bloody hand-print on the lid of a box of my baby clothes. The autopsy photo of the coroner pulling apart my brother's buttocks to see if my dad had raped him. All of the autopsy photos: naked bodies, open eyes, ribcages cut out, brains removed. There's nothing like seeing your mommy naked, eyes and mouth wide, cut open on a sterile table surrounded by strangers.

The flood of e-mails from people I barely knew. The lack of e-mails from people I cared about. The incessant news stories.

The loss of my survival instinct. I was a zombie for a long time. I felt nothing. No happiness, no sadness, no pain, no turmoil - just numbness. I remember how mechanical my movements were, my smiles. It was awkward to smile, like I had just learned how.

A friend of mine went through a bad break-up this year, and she chooses me as a confidant. I recognize in her many of the stages of grief that I went through, but the nature of her trauma makes me feel extremely isolated. I try to tell myself that I should be able to relate to her stages of grief - and in a way, I do. But I feel like an alien around her. She told me that part of what makes her feel so alone is that he's still around, but she can't be close to him. Logically I understand, and I try to empathize. But it's very hard to connect with someone whose trauma is your secret wish. To know that my mom, dad and brother were somewhere still alive, and that I just couldn't be close to them, would bring me so much intense relief.

I find myself becoming closer and closer to a friend of mine whose father died of cancer when she was a teenager. I've always loved her, but it seems like now we operate on the same wavelength. With nearly everyone else - I truly feel like a different species.

Last night I was talking about my move to the UK, and about how I want to invest in an open-ended return ticket so I can come home on a moment's notice, even if I've run out of funds. Everyone I was with started to joke: "haha yeah, you'll be calling your parents: mom, dad, please buy me a ticket home!".

No, actually. I won't. I have to do this on my own.

Why can't there be more people who understand the darkness and emptiness that I feel? And why do those of us who do have to feel so attacked and stigmatized by everyone else, so that we feel we shouldn't talk about our traumas?

I'm terrified that, once overseas, I won't be able to find someone that I can confide in about every terrifying little detail of what I feel, without judgement or fear. I'm terrified that I'm going to once again feel completely alone.


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