He wrote her “You opened my heart, it was closed and had turned cold, now I can feel it beat again”
She replied “I love you, I fall more in love with you every day”
He responded “I know, because we are real”
Around this time last year, we exchanged these words. With each changing season I long not only to feel his heart beat again but my own as well.
I wouldn’t say that my heart is cold, but it is numb.
Grief has given me many faces and I admit I live my life now with a mask on. Rarely will I share my pain with anyone close to me. I still don’t completely understand why I do this. I just know that allowing people to see my vulnerabilities in person is something I have never been comfortable with.
I decided to go back to work only two weeks after he passed away. I have been with the same company for over ten years and my employers are like a second family. At the time this decision was made on the influence of my family and the thought I need to stay busy. Looking back now I don’t think this was the right choice for me to make.
Less than a handful of colleagues knew of my loss and almost ten months on this is still the case.
I remember those first days back, walking into the office not speaking a word to anyone. Not even to say good morning. I would sit at my desk in silence, giving short and cold instructions or not bothering at all. Taking trips to the bathroom to cry almost hourly then proceeding back to my desk as if nothing was wrong. Gradually I began to let my work slip into the hands of others. I was living in a fog of grief and although it is no longer as thick, it is still there even now.
Before grief I was probably the most sociable, passionate and happiest person in my workplace. Constantly encouraging my colleagues, I loved my job and the company I work for.
The day his heart stopped beating though was the day my heart went numb. The person I once was at work is no longer there. I really miss her.
I miss the fire and the passion, the drive and determination that I once had. Naturally I feel guilt for no longer giving it my all. I have fallen into a rut of no longer caring. Last week I was pulled into a meeting about my performance and the mask I thought I wore so well was ripped off.
“You don’t talk to anyone, you’re distracted. The general feeling toward you is that you’re cold and unapproachable.” I knew all of this, it was all true but hearing it out loud and in person was painful. “It needs to change” they expressed. The reasoning why I no longer talk to people is simple, I don’t want to be asked questions like “How are you?” “How was your weekend?” and “How is the family?” Of course I didn’t explain this to my employer during my embarrassing breakdown, I only agreed that I know I need to do better and told them I would try.
Yes I live in a constant fog of grief, but I cannot lose my job. I’ve lost too much already so as this week came around, I decided I’ll fake it till I make it. I walked into the office with a new face and joyfully said good morning to each of my colleagues for the first time since December. I refuse to stop for small talk yet, but saying hello is a step forward. I sat at my desk and wrote a note on my palm that reads “What would he say!!!” Living in a fog of him is impossible to escape but I can change my thoughts from thinking of him and the life we had, to thinking about what he would want me to be doing.
I have to say since doing this I have had the most productive work week yet. I’m nowhere near 100% yet, but I’ am confident that I will get there again. I cannot change the numbness I feel but I will disguise it with a new face and maybe with time that mask to will fall away and I will be real again.