On a day like today,
no other words would do.
Keane, “On A Day Like Today”
It’s like a repeat of last week.
I woke up early today exactly as I went to sleep last night — angry at the world with a sob ready to break free at any second. Still, I checked on the clothes in the dryer, spoke a moment with my mom, walked the dog as usual before leaving for work. Except today maybe I held fast to him a little while longer as I hugged him goodbye, trying to hold onto comfort for as long as I could before I faced the day.
I wasn’t ready for today.
I felt the tears burning as they spilled down my cheeks, as I drove down familiar streets to my work. I said a silent prayer for emotional strength, telling myself to act my age, for goodness sake, just get it together. Telling myself that there was no reason for sorrow or anger or fear or any of the other emotions that were coursing through my body at that moment.
Telling myself to just hang in there.
Without really thinking, I waved a guy on in front of me in traffic, surprised to see the Bernese Mountain Dog that panted back at me from the backseat. Well done, Universe, I had thought, but though my heart was smiling at the fact that this comfort has always been there whenever I’ve needed it, a sign of love and happiness in hard times, I couldn’t bring myself to do the same on the outside.
At work, I got right to it, determined to do my duty, do my job, and put everything else out of my mind. I laughed with co-workers, I organized my files and planned out the day, and I focused on the tasks at hand. Still, tears threatened to spill as time passed until finally, they did.
My mom and my colleague — who understands exactly where I am having been here herself, who provides friendship and support when I find myself needing it most — both urge me to be patient, telling me that it will take time. And maybe it’s true that I’m on my way to being better, as everything levels out and I get back to the strong, adult Susan that I know is buried there. But right now, in these moments, I’m on a sudden roller coaster ride of chemical-driven emotions where I don’t give a shit about anything and I care too much about everything. And those conflicting emotions, coupled with the actions that they lead to, make me feel embarrassed, ashamed, and nothing like the adult woman I was on my way to becoming.
Frustration manifests itself in anger and aggression, and once again I find myself lashing out at the people who matter most to me before I recoil and hide under the covers where I cry myself to sleep. Then I cry again when I get up. Then throughout the workday, where I slip into the restroom with a stock of tissues and sob it out quietly there as well.
There’s no reason for it. None.
And yet, I know the reason for it — for these other emotions that come up out of nowhere and break through whatever barrier of strength I’ve upheld to form a flood of tears and subtle upset. These emotions that make me feel like a stranger to my family, my friends, to myself. It might be that my body is trying to heal itself, trying to figure out what’s normal, but this isn’t normal. Not like this.
Especially not now, during a season that’s supposed to be about love and cheer and family and friends; especially not when these emotions finally recede and I experience a sudden sense of calm before it gives way to that love and cheer that really is so natural to me, but that feels so strange after being absent for so long.
Little by little, day by day, they say. Soon you’ll have more good days than bad, soon you’ll find yourself back to your old self, full of hope and wonder, willing to take chances, waiting to step outside and embrace the world.
And I believe that.
I’ve felt that.
I’ve had that glimpse of my old self these past few weeks as I felt myself slowly returning, healing — from everything. Smiling. Laughing.
Still, though, maybe it’s hard to acknowledge those good days when I feel stuck in a day like today. But maybe that’s exactly what I need to remember.
Maybe I do need to have a little patience; maybe I need to remind myself that I’ve only just started to get better. Maybe I need to remember that those good days will outnumber the bad and that, someday soon, those days will fade to an hour, and that hour will become a moment. And soon that moment will become merely a memory, wiped away with a smile, replaced by hope, without a trace of having once been there, like the tears that have since dried.