Picture this: Me, dressed in a leotard and leggings, faithfully saluting the sun on my $12 K-Mart yoga mat. And crying.
Cut scene. I’m on a tram. Scanning my myki. And crying.
Poaching eggs. Examining that weird pimple that’s been on my arm for like, four months now. Checking realestate.com. Taking my vitamins. All things. At all times. Endless tears.
The thing no one tells you about grief is that it’s fucking inconvenient.
Oh sure, we all discuss the Five Stages (incidentally, apparently they’re totally misapplied) and we say wonderful things to each other about how it doesn’t wait, how we just have to feel it. All bullshit. All wank. All really, uncomfortably true.
What no one has ever been able to explain to me is how to get a shop assistant to not stare at me like a crazy person because my eyes started leaking while she was bagging 6L of almond milk for me. Oh, don’t mind me. It’s mostly hormonal. Reuptake of serotonin and such. I can see her eyes narrowing in confusion, mouth slack while she contemplates whether she needs to call security, an ambulance or someone’s Nanna to make me a cup of tea (I’ll take all three).
I used to have a thing about crying in public. I have learned over the past three months that having ‘things’ is a luxury I do not have. At this stage I’ll settle for the sobs stopping long enough for me to actually breathe.
Because see, I have shit to do. I can pencil grief in between 11 and 11:15 tomorrow, maybe, if there are no house inspections to attend (which, by the way, there definitely are. Always. An endless parade of dingy overpriced flats). I have real estate agents to impress with my levels of responsibility, preferably from behind extremely large sunglasses. I have people to look after and boxes to pack. At some point I should eat something, drink something, take my meds. Two of the geraniums have potentially contracted root rot due to my over-zealous watering. I’m so glad Clive the metal peacock statue is happy with a quick pat on the head every day or I might find myself over-committed.
Which is, I suppose, why I find myself gulping in air on every sob as I shift from cobra to downward dog. I keep pencilling it in, or whatever, and of course, runaway emotions give way to literally nobody. When you’re going to break, all you can do is get out of your own way.
There’s no revelation here about making time for myself. If I had time to give to myself, I already would be. In fact, over the public holidays I’ve had more time to spend on myself than I’ve had in months, and all it’s given me is a tendency to cry inconsolably while lying on the floor by myself instead of in public. I was assured that making time for myself to cry without other responsibilities weighing on me would be cathartic and relieving. It was neither. It felt, for the first time, like wallowing, like I was trapped in an emotion and couldn’t find my way out.
Meanwhile, smiling hello at the tram driver while hastily wiping the sheet of water off my face feels weirdly productive, in an uncomfortable and unavoidable way. The sheer ridiculousness of the picture I present, big glasses and too many bags – always too many bags – it does something to me. As does the knowledge that if there was any physical way to prevent that water from making a run from my tear ducts, I would be employing it. Seriously. Would cauterisation help, perhaps? I should look into it.
The inevitability and slight humiliation of being forced into expressing an emotion I would much rather be private? Well, it feels like very effective multi-tasking. Like i’m just making use of the time I have between inspections. The discomfort of house-hunting and the discomfort of my mourning can both be achieved in one, and that is the kind of efficiency I can get behind.
Crying alone feels like being trapped in a very small box. My whole world narrows to the pinprick of the present moment. Change or improvement seem impossibly far away. Crying while moving, on the other hand, feels like part of something bigger, part of the point to this whole stupid topsy-turvy experiment in self-reliance. And just as I found a job, and I will soon have a house, and everything else will slowly fall into place, my mourning might just run its course as well.
Like maybe, grief is a process that might have an end, sometime.
And in the meantime, I am about to get real, real comfortable with crying in cafes while drinking overpriced hot chocolate. Just for a change of scenery.