Sunday, 5 April 2009
The Korean Bathhouse.
Grief is like a virus. It controls you. You can't choose whether or not you catch a virus, how long it will knock you out, in what way it will knock you about, and whether or not there will be any long term damage.
The stress of this last failed cycle has been building. While I haven't been ignoring it entirely, I've been treating it with caldral - to continue the flu metaphor - patching up the symptoms and soldiering on. I talked with my psychologist last week about the number of things I've been forgetting, the things I've let slip, "Trauma. You've been through so much. So much death. So much trauma. It will do that to you." and it peaked Friday night when we got home at 1am to find that i had left the house 12 hours ago with the front door wide open.
Yesterday, yesterday it caught me. Catatonic is the only word I can find to describe that state of grief. Not awake, not asleep, but lying immobolised, staring, staring, staring. Any thoughts that were occuring were happening too deep for my conscious to catch on to. Submerged... buried.... unreachable.... unknowable ........ unbearable. Unbearable. Unbearable.
I had felt it coming but hadn't flagged it with my husband. I saw the panic in his eyes as he watched me disappear, again. Shouting and anger weren't enough to rouse me, to bring me back. Without a word I pulled the sheets over my head and stared at the underside of the sheet.
I have felt this before. The day after Maya's funeral. I lay like this in bed for 17 hours. Reliving. Inhabiting the memory, dreaming her life. The Dreaming. But real, but not at that moment. The past in the present.
I knew that this was something I had to get through on my own. I dragged myself out of bed and for some reason, I knew I had to go to the bathhouse. I don't know why I knew, I've never been before but I rang and booked myself a scrub and massage. Yes, hard please. My back, directly behind my heart.
The coldness has been spreading. Starting as a small, smooth, round, cold stone behind my heart. Over the weeks it has spread, petrifying my shoulder, my spine, across to the other side of my back.
Nakedness is compulsory in the bathhouse, but I was already stripped bare. I lay in the hot pool and let the water hold me, thank god for the water, for I was lost to myself. More staring. Hours of it. At some point I got into the ginseng pool and then the cold pool. The cold water bringing me back to myself. I held my breath underwater and put my face to the current. Like a cool stream, mountain water. I stayed there, surfacing sometimes for air, seeing how long I could hold my breath there. I felt the water move around my body, over my skin. Undisturbed by this large being in it's path, moving gently around me instead with a little song.
The therapist used her elbows in the middle of my back. Too hard, too hard? No. ....... No. I could barely feel it, I was so numb. Even after hours of soaking, I still felt numb to the core. But gradually, something started to shift. Break down. I washed the oil off my body, dressed and lay in the sleep room. I thought of Maya. I held my hand over my heart remembering how she felt when I lay her there. The size of her head, and length of her. I felt her. Eventually I got dressed and went onto the street to find a meal and a coffee.
When I got home, the tears were starting to come. I did not want my husband to see me. I know that he can find my grief too much to bare. But he sat with me, held my hand through the sobs, through the silent sobs, a pain so great, and from so deep within, that my wailing could not find a voice. Silent, wracking, sobs.
I think this might be the tipping point. The beginning of the end.