It just feels different, you know? As if I’m not me, but I am, but I’m not. I find me unpredictable. I don’t know what’s coming next, or how I’ll respond, or when I’ll suddenly feel like I’ve fallen through the ice without being aware I was on it. I often feel old. Irritable. Impatient. And I can’t sleep.
It’s unsettling, feeling like you don’t know yourself. Like something happened to me, but I was distracted. I missed it. I’m lacking details, a thorough understanding, an ability to analyse and diagnose and make necessary adjustments. And now I’m left to feel the world differently. Life feels different.
Experts say that the bereaved can become more empathetic, which to me implied sympathetic. I expected to feel ‘sorrier’ for others, to have more patience with my step-kids, to have more time to sit and listen to other people’s problems. That’s not what happened. At all. Instead I’m left navigating what feel like unfamiliar emotions. As if there is a new level or layer of situations and events that trigger a deeper and rawer response. Like a child, I can struggle to identify how I feel and am easily overwhelmed. I have to take a break, reflect, and then attempt to understand what just hit me from where and how. And why.
A couple of weeks ago we went to the movies. We saw a film. I enjoyed it. Then halfway home I went from excitedly debriefing to heartache. I wanted Jason to get away from me, to stop talking, to leave me alone. In a heartbeat I switched from comfortable and content, to solemn and anxious. The tears started to well and I struggled to keep it contained. Jason kept staring at me with recognisable concern. I wanted to punch him in the face. Or run away. Or both. “I don’t know!” I snapped. The tears started to roll. He paused, “I think it’s injustice.” What? What in the world has that got to do with my mood swing you confused, annoying man? Apparently everything.
At the end of that movie, everyone you’ve grown attached to, connected with, entered the lives of, dies. Well they get killed. All of the good guys (and some of the bad ones). How unjust. Okay, so what Jason? This is an example of what feels different. I feel injustice now. Not anger, or sadness, injustice. When I watch or hear or think about lives lost in unfair or unjust circumstances I’m sensitive to it. It hits me hard. It hurts. Just like Carlin didn’t deserve to die and we didn’t deserve to lose our baby. So as we drove along and we chatted about the movie, I subconsciously processed their deaths. And I was not okay about it. It wasn’t fair, they didn’t deserve to die, and I thought about those left behind. Is that empathy? Is that intuition, improving the ability to be present and to engage with your most inner thoughts and feelings?
Whatever it is, I like to think of it as a super power. A sudden, new found ability to connect and perceive the world differently to many. Like most super powers it’s intense, it takes some time to learn how to manage it, to understand its true capacity and how to be comfortable with it. While at times it feels like a hindrance, a weakness, it’s actually an incredible source of strength. And one day soon I hope to emerge from the smokey shadows with some powerful music and a slow motion stride, and the confident decision that I can use my new power for good.