What I have learned while grieving my mother in my emotional blackout (a term I stole from my niece)…

Though I have little to no recollection of what I have done, what I have learned is an invaluable lesson about myself. When I was in the peak of my emotional blackout, I was unable to care for anyone but myself. For me, that’s HUGE. 

As a born over-functioner and caregiver, saying that is unfathomable. I was born, raised and praised to take care of others. It was a pattern that was NOT always in my best interest. I am sure many other people can relate with this concept: a real people-pleaser, empath, whatever you want to call us. It looks good, but doesn’t always feel good.

So back to my emotional blackout. I feel like now I am more in a brownout, but I recognize that I may look back a year from now to recognize the whole year was a blackout. Right now, present moment, I have clarity to share.

My emotional blackout has been a gift.

Sounds fucked up, I know. My mother died during a pandemic; how is that a gift? During this time, I have had no choice but to sit still. For the first time in my life, I had no feeling of guilt or anxiety related to other people’s needs. I floated, I flowed. I did what worked for me.

I walked and walked again. I slept in the middle of the day. I binged watched Little Fires Everywhere. Sometimes I spoke to other people in my house. Sometimes I showed up and made dinner, but not out of obligation or concern — out of choice. I took long baths, and I laid on my bathroom floor and sobbed.

This grief thing is so powerful. It gives me no choice but to be in myself, and by myself, it has given me freedom to choose me when I need to. For that, I am grateful. So as the curtains are drawn (who hated that when they were younger and your parents came in and pulled up the shade), I am feeling the creeping of emotions again.

They’re emotions that don’t feel good: the anxiety over not being there, or guilt over not doing the right thing or making someone happy (because I have become very skilled at that). I have a new awareness. I now really get it when people speak of self-care; those that have genuinely nailed it know what I mean.


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