Going Through The Motions / by Madalyn Rowell

Grief is a hell of a drug, and the so called 5 stages of acceptance are total bullshit. I don't think there's any way to really do this whole thing correctly, and I am certainly no expert or psychologist but I'm going through it and I can only hope that my stupid life can help us all feel "normal" during this bullshit process. 

So here are my personal stages of grief this far, almost 3 months after the death of my fiance, about 89 days since our last kiss, the one where I tried so hard to breathe life back into his body, 2108 hours since our last exchange of "I love you" over the phone, 11 1/2 weeks since I sat in a Catholic church wearing a black veil sobbing as I looked at his urn encased in flowers and a 1990's WWE Ultimate Warrior replica championship belt, laughing through my tears.

 

Holidays Are Dumb, 2016

Holidays Are Dumb, 2016

I'm going to call this phase Shock, which is the best phase and I miss it dearly. When your body is in Shock, you don't feel anything and that is just the best. There is a vice like clamp on your lower intestines at all times and you can just forget about sleep. But there is a blissful ignorance about this phase I long for, nothing could harm me at this stage because the worst had happened and my skin was thicker than ever. I returned to work after a week off, kept going through the motions like it was nothing. The amount of attention I received during this period was, overwhelming. It just happened to be around the holiday craziness so I was never alone. Christmas eve, my parents took me to my uncle's annual family party and it was great for about an hour but then I was just emotionally exhausted. My parent's didn't want me to be alone Christmas eve but I was happy to be dropped off at 9pm that night. I think everyone expected to be a hot mess but I actually relished the alone time, I did laundry and watched White Christmas and Grease 2 (talk shit and I'll fight you about it) and I didn't sleep all night. But as I lay there I remembered all the things Jono and I had done for each other the 5 years of holidays we had together, all the ridiculous Mac Tonight memorabilia we collected on Ebay for each other, the dumb fight we had one year because of family conflicts, the fact that he loved to decorate but also trusted my taste enough to let me take control of the ornaments. So this Christmas eve, my gift from him was that I felt ok alone and happy with the memories that danced like whatever holiday euphemism you want to imagine. 

 

Life is Ok but Bed is Better, 2017

Life is Ok but Bed is Better, 2017

The next stage of my grief process is all about that large, sexy hot piece we all have in our bedroom, the one that calls to us with promises of relief: the bed. And I mean, look at this fucking thing! You have to hop up to get into it so may as well never get out! Cats, bed and tv was how I spent my days outside of the few evening hours I worked, and don't be fooled like 2 of these hours were used for sleep. The rest of the time idly slipped by while the X Files or the Office played in the background as I surfed Reddit for hours. The internet and books make it so easy to stay in bed. I Googled "how long does it take to form bed sores" more than once, because while you're grieving you can forget about focusing or remembering anything. I started drinking frequently so much of the time in bed was spent hung over. Bed phase is very lonely but you don't feel guilty or sad about it yet, Shock is still there but fuzzy around the edges and your situation becomes more real, but you lack the energy to fully comprehend it. Being in bed makes your mind wander but mostly on banal stuff like "when is it too soon to masturbate?" or "is that smell me or my garbage or the litter box or what?" and you still get to avoid/compartmentalize the real shit, the deep feelings just get shoved out of the way by an intense apathy. Also it would be advised to keep a roll of toilet paper next to big sexy bed because even in apathy your going to cry, a lot.

I'm So Wet, 2017

I'm So Wet, 2017

I've never cried this much in my life, at least my conscious life, maybe when I was a baby I cried more but who knows. And this is like, deep, intense euphoric sobs, all the way from my butt hole to the top of eyebrows which throb when hot tears and snot pour out of my face holes. Taking this photo was incredibly difficult because 1.) I was sobbing, and 2.) it felt so ridiculously self-indulgent I really didn't want to take it, like how dare I use my art to feel better, what a bunch of vain bull shit. I want everyone to think I'm a tough ass bitch and this is me at my most vulnerable, which is why I cropped out my eyes, it was too personal. This whole blog is too personal but sometimes you have to make yourself SO UNCOMFORTABLE in order to heal or whatever. ANYWAY this crying phase is so stupid I hate it, and it will never really go away, I took this photo a 6 weeks ago and I had to leave work tonight because I was about to cry all over my customers.

When I was a teenager my mom always said "It's ok to cry, it gets the sad out of you" but I hated that shit and can count on one hand the amount of times I have cried from ages 13-18. I used to relish at how strong I was for not being a lil' cry baby,  but now realize it was immature and I was denying myself my right to feel, so instead I did crazy shit like drugs and shop lifting (sorry mom) to feel something. There are two people in the world I feel the most comfortable calling when I'm crying, my oldest sister Kelly and my best friend Jessica, and thank whatever you believe in that I have them to just listen to me sob and try to make me laugh in between my gasps for air. Thank you ladies for letting me feel comfortable enough to take the defenses down even for just ten minutes and still thinking I'm a strong person. Because that's what everyone tells me, "you're so strong" but they don't have to live in my head everyday, they aren't there when I break down because I keep that as much to myself as possible, but it does happen and more often than I'd like to admit. But even now I can admit, finally, it's ok that it happens, it's ok to feel shit, even the dumb stupid gross stuff. 

 

I Don't Know Who I am Anymore, 2017

I Don't Know Who I am Anymore, 2017

I'm in this phase currently, and it's dumb as hell. I've read all the existential literature and still am not as prepared for these feelings/whatevers as I thought I'd be. I feel that I've always had a strong sense of identity and who I was for (most) of my life, but I'm doing things and feeling shit I've never done before. One plus to this is my courage to finally be direct with people (especially dumb idiot people with penises). Which started out great! I told myself I'd be direct rather than passive about my feelings for once and it has only back fired on me... well, almost every time. But I'm actually really happy with my new found honesty, it's another gift Jono gave me. I hate to think some silly guy was what I needed to feel good about myself, but Jono without a doubt made me feel like I was so capable and talented and encouraged every endeavor I took on (even the ones he was jealous about). So I was in this incredibly warm, comforting soft cushion of a relationship and then suddenly I'm on my own again and all the insecurity bees are stinging me all over whatever bit of confidence I had left. 

Also now that Shock has completely subsided, I'm feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS AT ONCE HOLY SHIT FUCK YES NO AHHHHHH!  Like did you know that grief can make you so horned up you decide hooking up with a guy just for just sex is a good idea? As if you could possibly emotionally detach yourself from anything in this phase? Even though that is so out of character for you but hey who cares you just wanna feeeeel good. And it does feel good (even though he reminds you of one of your exes because he loves Dinosaur Jr. and ass play,  but who cares?). And then he leaves, and the hot snot tears come back, but he still talks to you for a week and you enjoy his company but MAYBE THIS IS ALL A FARCE AND YOU DON'T FEEL SHIT FOR THIS PERSON BUT ARE ONLY PROJECTING LEFT OVER FEELINGS FOR YOUR DEAD FIANCE ONTO THIS POOR BOY. And then he stops talking to you and you remember how shitty dating is and how fucking stupid boys can be and how good you had it and god damnit why did he have to die on me? Why do you ALWAYS get dumped? You are a hot ass queen b, what the fuck is wrong with you that the one relationship that works ends in a horrible ridiculous tragedy? It's probably because of all the bad shit you did as a teenager. Wait no, that's crazy, you did plenty to absolve that. You'd feel better if you started playing guitar again! You love music so much! But what if people just laugh at your music? Or your photos? Or your dumb blog where you're probably being too honest but you're trying so hard to be direct and honest now! Shit now you're crying again. No fuck that, you got this, you got this, I. Got. Dis. 

And this is what happens on the daily now, or at least every few days. I'll be up, up UP then so down my cats are clearly eye balling me, waiting to see if they can start eating my face yet. I'll go out every night and day to shows or band practice or photo shoots or work because you can't feel anything if you're constantly busy! But that's total bullshit, and the feelings come up in the most inconvenient times, like at work or in Target while shopping for toothpaste. So then I'll stay in a few nights with just myself and my guitar, pissing off my neighbors learning the chords to all the Neutral Milk Hotel songs because I'm the saddest sack on the planet right now. And I can't even feel too bad for myself because there are so many people in the world going through way worse shit and I'm being a little baby. But I find comfort in knowing I'm not the only one who has to just go through the motions, who is also second guessing every action and reaction, because together we are just gunna have to fake it 'til we make it.