I didn’t have anything to say. I didn't have anything to give. I didn't have anything to spare.
I’m still not sure I do, but it’s time I give myself a little push.
This was a case of survival. But isn’t that what we’re all doing every single day—just trying to survive? I’m not unique. I don’t need or want (or deserve) pity. I just needed and wanted (and deserved) to take care of myself in the best way I knew how in the moment.
And I needed a break.
So, I took it. It wasn’t well thought out. It wasn’t expected. It certainly wasn’t part of the plan. But it’s what happened. And while I beat myself up to some degree every day for not doing everything I thought I should be doing, I don’t regret it.
There were days I did nothing. There were days I read and cooked and worked out and felt normal. There were days I cried. There were days I laughed. There were days I simply treaded water. And there were days when treading water seemed like an exhausting, never ending battle.
This is grief. It’s messy and personal and it doesn’t give a shit about your best laid plans. It’s selfish and greedy and suffocating. But it’s perfectly normal and imperfectly part of life.
I’ve done a lot of thinking over these past several weeks of public silence. About love and how these past two years have been the happiest of my life because of my relationship with my husband, Marc. And about loss, which has made these same past two years the hardest and most complicated of my life. We lost a piece of innocence two weeks after our wedding when my father in law and then my dad were diagnosed with cancer six weeks apart. We then lost these incredible men, first Marc's dad one year later and then mine five months after that. We lost the world and life experiences we knew with a global pandemic and then experienced a (much needed) racial reckoning that has rocked the core of where we came from and refocused who we want to become. We’ve lost faith in a political system that is failing those it is supposed to protect. And we lost the potential growth of our family with not one but two failed rounds of IVF.
It has felt like the hits just keep on coming and I long ago lost any means of defending myself.
And so, my only job became getting through. One day at a time. No plan. No expectations. Just survival.
Sometimes you just need a break. Even though we live in a society that tells us to always be hustling, to never give up, and to just keep going. Well, I call bullshit on that. Giving yourself the time and space you need is the most powerful act of kindness and strength in the human experience. We are all going through something. There are no competitions about who has it the worst and who’s concerns aren’t quite enough to warrant sympathy.
If you feel it then it is real. And if it’s real then you have the right to acknowledge it and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
My life is good. I have my health and my strong, incredible family. I don’t have the fear of leaving my house and not knowing if I’ll return simply based on the color of my skin. I have a safe home with food on the table every day. And I have a husband who looks at me like I am the reason he was put on this Earth.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t be in pain. It doesn’t mean my grief is smaller than the grief of others’. And it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to give myself the space I need to be able to keep going.
I just needed a break.
So, I took it.
And that’s okay.
Photos by Marc Fowler
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