Whoa, what did July ever do to you? It has the freaking celebration of America and freedom and bald eagles and beer and stuff. Chilllllll.
No, life, you chill. July was rough.
I’ll spare the long, dreadful details and sum it up: Loads of loss in various departments of life. Some big (Shadow), some small (keys to car and apartment), mixed with anger, frustration and a steaming pile of grief. “Goo” feels an apt description for the onslaught of emotional wear and tear.
But that’s life. Shit is going to hit the fan; sometimes in small sprinklings, and others, in steaming heaps. And how you choose to deal determines the outcome (duh).
For once in my now allegedly “mature adult life,” I’m dealing in a healthy manner. I used to be the Queen of Compartmentalization. Read: Let’s take these uncomfortable emotions, throw them in a box, and shove it under the metaphorical bed, forgetting about it until later, when we’re near bursting at the seams with all these unresolved feelings that we like to pretend don’t exist because we’ve “handled” them.
But now Shadow is gone. And I knew it was going to be tough without him. I knew. And yet, somehow, I didn’t really know.
I massively underestimated how much support he provided. I knew he meant more to me than anything had in my short twenty-six years of life, but woof. This grief is just the pits.
Being in Iowa City involves regularly encountering all the places we went. And we did nearly everything together, so, it’s been complete shit. Add the other nonsense crap emotional things that happened in July, and I’d had enough. It’s rare that I’m angry without immediate cause, edgy without immediate reason, and teary without immediate provocation (I’m not a big crier.)
I felt stuck on an emotional loop-de-loop, and I was beginning to feel sick. As my mom put it, “You’ve had a lot to deal with. Loss of your dog. Loss of trust in someone you thought was true. That has to take a toll.”
I needed a mental break right about the time Cheesehead (obviously not her real name) wanted to go home (Wisconsin) for Packers training camp weekend. I rode along, and the weekend was the exact space I needed from a city now smothered in recurrently painful memories.
So we’re in Neenah, Wisconsin.
We woke with the sun and waited forever to watch the players pedal by on children’s bikes (actually really cute). We picked the wrong end of the field to pitch camp, so we spent most of practice watching the players from half a football field away. Hanger struck and I ran to the car to grab leftover cheesy popcorn to subdue my Hunger Bitch, because she’s mean and also the worst.
We ate burgers and half frozen cake desserts in a dive diner with doorbell buzzers attached to the booth walls. We spent an entire afternoon hiking steep trails at High Cliff State Park, pitching ladder hammocks under a fallen tree.
I refereed twin fights, walked around Neenah at night to the little lighthouse where hundreds of people were literally camped out (lawn chairs and everything) for what looked to be a fireworks show (turned out to be a gathering of Pokemon hunting). We sat by the lake and talked about growing up, involuntary sex tapes, beliefs in something larger than ourselves, and relationships of all varieties.
It was the best weekend, and while I know returning home means returning to grief and sadness, I feel refreshed. Sometimes, physical space is the right prescription. Great friends and glamorously unspectacular trips are the best pick-me-ups. While the struggle is still real, it feels (slightly) more manageable.
Take care of your feels, people. I know we’re taught to suck it up, but if ya don’t feel what ya feel as it comes along, it gets much harder to deal, and ain’t nobody got time for making things harder. Like waves, let feels come and go.
Be kind to yourself. Spend time with people who love you. Go hang in a hammock.