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.

21 comments:

Lisa DG said...

I a not sure really what to say other than this powerful post of grief hit me right to the core, as though you are describing that horrific feeling all deadbaby mamas must bear.

I wish I could make it better for you. Know that you are not alone and that I am sitting with you as you grieve.

Mrs. Spit said...

I wonder if we have to get to the beginning of the end, to get to the beginning again?

I'm sorry B. Sending hugs and wishes for comfort.

B said...

I think so Mrs Spit. If we are to truly honour this journey.

mrsmuelly said...

Oh B! What amazing feeling...and emotion. It pains me to read, and yet I understand. I know that deep, dark place that I stick everything. I don't let it out, and try not to let DH see it either.
I'm so very sorry that this is overwhelming. I wish that none of us had to go through this. I wish that it was all easier. I wish you had Maya in your arms now. So, very, sorry.

Coming2Terms said...

The emotion contained in this post made me sit with it for a while...you've captured the intensity of grief with such rawness that I could feel the coldness and nakedness and the numbness.

You have to feel such intensity, to fully surrender to the grief in order to find a way back out.

S said...

That state of catatonia...I know it well, unfortunately. You're absolutely right, no one can save us from that state but ourselves. ... I'm hoping so bad that "I think this might be the tipping point. The beginning of the end" refers to grieving and letting go of this cycle and moving forward to the next plan.

Sending you some hugs. Because I'm not sure I could comfort in any other way. xx

Virginia said...

Sending hugs, and hope, your way.

Phoebe said...

Your post brought me to tears that I desperately needed to shed.

mlg- believe-n-miracles said...

B, I am chilled to the core with reading this post, it is just so unfair. I wish Maya was here with you, I understand when you say how you remember every aspect of her, we will never forget, to the point where we almost feel them.
Much love to you dear, I am so so so sorry. I wish I could fix all of this.
I am so glad that your husband was able to hold you, when you needed him most.

luna said...

this so is heartbreakingly gorgeous in its eloquence.
I think mrs. spit is right. the only way out is through, and you're in it.

sounds to me as if you had a very cleansing experience. I believe it will be a critical part of your healing process. even if you can't feel it now.

sending you love from across the pacific, and abiding with you.

Lori said...

B. B. B. I am holding your loving, feeling, beating, hurting heart in my heart.

{{{{{{B}}}}}}}}}

Michele said...

How many times Peter has seen me, stuck in bed, immobile... Or worse, having a complete and utter fit, screaming, sobbing... In the last 14 months... I cant count them. It is hard for them, to not know how to help us.

I'm glad that you felt Maya with you. Sometimes that is the only thing that saves me, that feeling of them descending into my arms... That warmth... Their smells... It's so perfect and right.

I cried reading your post. Sometimes you give words to my own grief in a truth that I cant give myself. I'm thinking of you and Maya today, and hoping that you feel your little girl with you, and that she makes some of the unbearable bearable again.

Kami said...

Such a beautiful and heartbreaking post. I am with you in spirit and sitting with you in your grief.

S said...

Hi B, not sure if you got my email response to your "how are you" which was a lame "Hi mate... not too shabby. Too early to tell and trying to be realistic. Off to rainbow beach tomorrow bright and early for camping, with family. oh joy. I've packed a ton of books for that antisocial effect :)"

How are you doing? I'm thinking of you, wondering if your cycle grief has come full circle like it does with me most times. If only we could control whether we'd get there or not... such a cliche but a crystal ball would be a good start... xx

jess said...

My heart breaks for you. I'm so, so sorry.

tonya said...

Your post is so vivid, so real. I am so sorry for your losses, and hope you find some way to break through to heal, in time.

Panamahat said...

I can only agree with the many other comments that came before me, about the rawness of your post, the depth of grief it touches. Finding that core of pain. The layers of loss-related grief continue to be shed, over the years, like an onion being peeled. But do we let go of the last tiny kernel? I am yet to find the solid, grounded, unwavering sense of peace I think might come with that. I hope it is possible for all of us, someday. Soon.

S said...

B - how are you holding up? The grief in this post was terrifying but so familiar, like a comfortably cold hand in my chest. I'm thinking of you. xx

S said...

p.s. I know you said you'd be away for my beta...thank you for the luck! I sho need it!

take care mate

xx

M said...

Thanks for your comments. As you saw, I had already linked back to you. I must tell you how much you have helped me on my IF journey. You are a truly incredible woman with a gift for words. I often find myself nodding along in agreement while reading and it is such a huge relief to finally have someone be able to express the things I would like to say.

What an odd world this is where I feel so close to people I've never even spoken to (until now). My husband came home while I was reading your post on 3/16 and asked why I was crying. I said that my friend is having a tough time... I've been thinking of you a lot these past two weeks and hoping that you are starting to move out of that horrible immobilized grief shadow.

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