31 on 13

My mum is dead 10 months today. Just like that we are in double digits, and for some reason it is getting harder as the days go by. Isn’t it supposed to get easier? I thought time heals everything. How much time does time want me to give it?

Yesterday, 303 days after my mum died, I went to see a therapist for the first time since January. I had a therapist I was seeing all of last year, but have not seen since the beginning of the year. In January I took the whole month off as unpaid leave. I could not see myself going back to work so soon after the death of my mum. And I did not want to use my leave days as I planned to travel this year so I opted for unpaid leave.

I used the time off to focus on myself. To kick-start the healing process. I could count on both hands the number of times I had cried since my mum died. I had gone through anticipatory grief earlier on, spending most of 2014 and 2015 in tears. But that was not an adequate explanation for why I had barely cried in the weeks following the death of my mum. The most earth shattering event I have ever experienced and I had run out of tears? Impossible. So I went to see my therapist. I was fully aware of all the emotions I was feeling, allowing myself to go through each one. But I was not crying. And I had to figure out why.

The first few anniversaries passed by relatively okay. Some months I remembered the 13th, others I did not. The first emotional gut punch was the six month anniversary. That was a difficult day and my reaction was dangerously unhealthy. I did not notice July and August 13, but September 13 was difficult and I could feel October 13 was going to be overwhelming as well. I decided to go see a therapist because I needed some help dealing with today.

My therapist helped me realise that anniversaries are going to be difficult, irrespective of how much time has passed. 10 or 15 years from now the 13th may still be a difficult day for me and that is normal. But by hurting myself through the unhealthy choices I make out of grief, I am regressing in my journey to healing. Grey’s Anatomy taught me that just because someone is not there does not mean they are gone. My mum is still watching over me. It must make her sad seeing me like this, and that is the last thing I want.

We had a two hour conversation with my therapist that I obviously cannot do justice with a paragraph or two. I will explore our initial and subsequent sessions in various posts as we go along. But the one thing I can say is I have put my foot down on the unhealthy ways I process my grief. Obviously I am not magically cured after one session. It is going to take a lot of work, and I may slip up from time to time. But I have decided this double digit anniversary is start of a new era. The write era. Which is one of the healthy ways I have chosen to process my grief. I have challenged myself to write a minimum of 31 posts by the end of the year (not including this one). I settled on 31 because it is my age as well as a mirror image of 13, which is today’s date.

Initially I was going for 31 posts, no matter the content. Meaning posts like my book ratings would count. But now I have decided on 31 creative writing posts, which is a big scary goal. But you know what they say about big scary goals … Let the writing begin!

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