At times, my mind is completely blank. A black vortex of nothingness. Under different circumstances I would probably enjoy the silence.
Other times, the sludge is too thick to wade through but too overwhelming to ignore. Thought after thought rushes in and becomes stuck on a loop.
I have little desire to write. I have less desire to cook, clean, or even shower. I do the things I’m supposed to do out of a sense of responsibility and loyalty. Thankfully, those two sentiments are stronger than my own need to sit still in the dark and stare into space.
I feel bad because I don’t feel worse about this weird lack of feeling I’m caught in. And then I’m caught by surprise when the nothingness becomes sadness or anger.
John Brownstone and I visited his sister a few days ago. She looked worse than she had a few days prior. She looked as if she was shrinking away to nothing. It’s stage 4, incurable, cancer. That’s exactly what’s happening. But even in our bleak realism, we are not immune to hope. Maybe the next chemo treatment will help a little. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer last week, early stages – at age 50. She has a remedy. Mastectomy with reconstruction. Caught early enough, we all have plenty of hope. With the treatment plan of choice, she won’t need chemo or radiation. My mother and I agree if we’re ever faced with the same diagnosis, it’s the choice we’ll make too. Cancer, especially breast cancer, runs too rampant in the women in our family. I’ve always known my mother or my aunt would be diagnosed eventually. I still wasn’t prepared for it.
I gained three pounds last week. Out of everything, that is the small detail that bothers me the most. Stupid, huh? It could be the cancer ravaging family members. It could be the fact that John Brownstone can’t sleep, smiles so little, and is weighed down every moment of every day. Have I become so used to all of it, that the small inconsequential things somehow affect me the most? Or is it because this was the one thing I should be able to control and I can’t? Hell if I know.
I could call myself sad or depressed or stressed, and yes, I feel those things. But I feel almost nothing most of the time. No desire to think, talk, or act. It doesn’t last forever. Once I’m caught up in something else, my attention wavers from the feelings of nothingness in my mind. I laugh, I do, I am present. Until I’m not.
Sometimes I cry at night. Not for me, rarely for me. What do I have to cry about? No, I cry for the pain I sense from John Brownstone. I cry for the inability to fix things. I cry out of fear that illness might take him too. I beg the Universe to keep me healthy so I never put him through this kind of stress again. I don’t want anyone to die, but I wish there was an end to all of this.
Words fail me when I try to explain the strange blankness in my mind. Everything is blank and dark and quiet, until it isn’t. Then the thoughts swirl round and round. Later, they’ll be stuck in the miasma, something I imagine to be thick, goopy, and sticky.
I tell myself this too shall pass, because doesn’t everything?
I tell myself that it’s the downside to being a little empathic, especially with the ones I love so much.
I tell myself to just exist and drift through all of this, eventually, I’ll find the shore again. Eventually, I’ll have solid ground under my feet.
I tell myself to buck up, buttercup, that other people have it so much worse. That’s the funny part, though. I don’t feel down about myself. Just an overwhelming darkness, sadness for the pain around me, worry over the stress that I can’t alleviate.
I used to escape into my work when I felt this way. Now I escape into reading. I’ve read 14 books in three weeks – and somehow still managed to earn a few dollars, write a few words, and feed small children. Even as I sit here, typing this, my book is calling to me. I fall into the stories and forget about time and space for a while. It’s a relief, but it can’t last. And, like I said earlier, my own sense of responsibility overwhelms me. I can’t neglect my family – it would hurt too much.
There are no solutions. I simply have to wade through the miasma when I can, and do my best not to let the blankness take hold for too long. I guess all you can do sometimes is let yourself drift until you get to solid ground again. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.