I probably should be cleaning my kitchen, doing laundry, or mowing my yard. Instead, I'm cueing up three or more episodes a night (that's a lot of TV, people!), getting lost in Fiona's world while mine goes on without my presence.
When I was married, my husband would come home from work and immediately turn on the TV. He rushed through dinner to get back to watching and most nights, fell asleep on the couch with CSPAN blaring through our living room. I took his binge watching as a personal offense. Why doesn't he want to talk to me, spend time with me?
If I tried to have a conversation with him, he might mute the television and half-ass engage with me, but after a few minutes, I would see him looking over my shoulder; more interested in what was on the screen than what was coming out of my mouth. More than likely, what I was talking about was mundane, but I was dying for his attention. He was dying to escape; escape from my incessant chatter, from life in general. He was escaping from his depression, just as I'm doing now.
This revelation hit me last night as I was fast forwarding through the opening credits of episode number four. I am not watching this show because of it's riveting storyline. I am watching to distract myself from the depression that keeps threatening to over take me.
These last few months, I have told myself, 'If I keep myself distracted, I won't think of Noelle being dead. I won't think of my failed marriage.' That was the plan anyway, but there is a part of my brain telling me, "Nope, you have to sort this shit out. Putting it on the back burner doesn't work for you.' My brain is such an asshole sometimes. So even though I am trying like hell to distract myself, Noelle's face will pop into my mind. I close my eyes and try to push her deeper away, but her face is like a flashing neon sign-ACKNOWLEDGE ME! ACKNOWLEDGE THE PAIN YOU ARE EXPERIENCING! My brain knows that pretending I don't have a problem doesn't make it go away...no matter how much I want to be one of those people that can live that way.
I asked a friend of mine for some PTSD coping skills and he gave me a good analogy: When you experience something traumatic, your brain does not know what to do with the information. It's like trying to send a letter to someone without having their address. When you talk about the event, your brain slowly creates a PO Box for the event and the next time you experience a trigger, your brain recognizes and knows where to send it. The hurt does not go away, but now you have a place to safely store it. You have an address.
I spent a lot of time in the months after Noelle's death talking about her, detailing my grief through writing or conversations with friends. I created an address, but recently, I misplaced it. I said to myself, 'It's been a year, maybe I shouldn't talk about this so much. People are going to get sick of hearing about it.' I forgot there is no time frame for grief. I have tried to bury (no pun intended) her death in order for me to move on with my life, but in doing so made things worse for me. I tried to conform to what I thought was expected when I should have known that I have to live by the way my heart guides me. I have to continue to allow myself to cry, I have to continue to allow myself to be sad. I have to continue to talk about Noelle and how her death still effects me. I am no good at pretending.
I also have to talk about my divorce. I have not yet created a PO Box for that event. The problem is, I don't know how to productively talk about those feelings. I am angry and hurt, but there is so much more to it. I have a year's worth of letters stacked in my brain with no address, and frankly it's getting pretty fucking cluttered up there.