I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for my stroke, I’d be graduating from my MFA program right about now. Instead, I took a leave of absence and now face an additional Fall semester ahead with mixed feelings–the refreshing point of being in a program where I now know very few people…and the sadness of potential loneliness.
I’m feeling a bit left behind, and I’m not sure what to think of that, as I read plenty of emails these days with graduation announcements, and graduation news. Happy for my friends! Happy for you! Happy graduation! I’m grateful for the semester off, resentful of why I have to take this time.
In some ways, it’s a huge blessing that these weeks are incredibly busy for me, full of work and family responsibilities. I’m exhausted, craving afternoon naps (a previous rarity for me) and fantasizing about remote vacation locales, but at the same time I haven’t had a lot of time or energy to wistfully glance at the happenings surrounding “graduation time.”
But alas, I do feel a little out of sync. The things that distract me are not outright joyous things–and I wonder if I hadn’t had my stroke if I could handle them better. In fact, I feel downright emotionally constipated; I want to scream but somehow I cannot, not without ruining the delicate balance around me. Everything feels so precarious.
As a result, I am utterly exhausted, these trapped emotions inside of me are like a lead weight pulling me to the ocean floor.
While I drown, I compose my face so that I look as serene as possible, in order not to alarm and upset the ecosystem around me. Other people are trying to swim, too.
In the interim, I try to dream (the figurative kind of dreaming, not the literal kind–I haven’t remembered my dreams since the stroke)…what could I do to help myself? Could I go on a trip? And where? What could make me feel better?
I’m having a hard time trying to soothe myself these days. Where have all my coping skills gone? I’m going nuts, I am holding my breath, I am waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for my mental capacity to return to 100%, waiting for the grief to pass over this family, waiting, waiting, waiting!
As a writer, I create characters, and encourage them to have eventful lives. I do not let them suffer too long by themselves in a house–that kind of lonely suffering doesn’t make for a good story. So, as a character in my own life story, what could I do to move my narrative along?