I write when I’m upset, when I’m searching for something, when I need to lay my feelings out bare and sort them into some kind of sense. I haven’t written anything in awhile because I’m doing okay. In my therapy session before the most recent one, my counselor asked if I was ready to be done with therapy. She said I seemed to be coping well, that I was prepared to handle the inevitable downward turns that lay in wait further down the road. I told her I didn’t know if I was ready to end therapy just yet and we scheduled another session. In that session, she asked again, and said that I should view therapy as any other medical appointment. You make an appointment when you need one. She followed that by saying she didn’t think I needed another one at this point in my life. I know that there will be pitfalls in my journey. I know that I will fall into dark places again at some point in the future. I also feel like I have the tools to lift myself back out of them. So I gave my counselor a heartfelt thanks, and agreed that I would call to schedule something if I needed it down the line.
Cinco de Mayo was last week. In addition to it being an excuse for Americans to drink margaritas, it was also the anniversary of my father-in-law’s death. I didn’t really get to know the man, as he had already had a stroke and was on the way to the end of his life when I met her. He was on life support at the end, and the family decided to pull the plug, and tell her they did so, while she was driving up to see me. I’m not sure why they chose that moment to do it. Maybe they thought it’d be good for her to have me there to comfort her. Maybe they thought she wouldn’t want to be there when it happened. Maybe they didn’t consider her feelings at all. I, however, have always hated it. I’m glad that I was available to offer comfort, but I always wish I’d been down there with her, and the rest of her family, when that happened. We weren’t married, or even engaged, at that point. I was just her boyfriend, and was not ready to help her through that pain by myself.
Anyway, I was thinking about that last week, and how she was probably thinking about it all day long. The eighth was her birthday, and I found myself thinking about her then, too. Here I am, the person who has never really focused on ‘morbid anniversaries’ doing exactly the thing I’ve thought was pointless all my life.
Somewhere between those two days, I logged into the HBO app on the television to find something to watch, and got the message that my profile no longer existed. The other profiles were still there, along with a new one for our niece, but mine had been removed. Maybe she removed it… maybe it was the niece or one of her brothers. I’m sure that none of them have a high opinion of me, so I can’t blame them. I sent her an email asking if she had done it herself and, if so, did that mean she wanted to stop sharing the other streaming services. She still hasn’t replied, but I’m sure she had an emotional week so I’m not going to jump to any conclusions. I am, however, dipping into that therapy toolbox and changing myself. I’m not going to remove her access from any of the other things, but I did get my own HBO subscription. I also went through my calendar and removed all the morbid reminders that peppered the year: the death of her wife, the day they found out she had cancer, the death of her father. Those days are days of pain for her, and she doesn’t want my comfort, so there’s no reason to remind myself of them any longer.
I am guilty of causing her pain, and I’ve been ashamed of it. The difference between shame and guilt is that shame carries a humiliation along with it. I acknowledge my responsibility, and I am genuinely sorry for it. I cannot, however, change it. I can’t take it away. I can’t reduce it. I can’t build a time machine and undo it. I can, though, focus on the journey ahead and learn from my mistakes. It’s time that I let go of the shame and move forward with the guilt, using that guilt as a teacher. It’s time to be a better me for whatever lies ahead.