I’ll be honest. I really don’t want to write this, but I know it will help me once I do. The one year anniversary of my dad’s passing quickly approaches. Of all days too, he passed away on Halloween last year.
It crept up in my mind going back to August. Halloween decorations slowly pushed their way onto the scene next to the back-to-school specials. It didn’t overwhelm me, but it was definitely a passing thought that I quickly took awareness to.
A few weeks passed. Naturally, it popped up here and there with pumpkins sitting on doorsteps or the memes flooding my Facebook feed about it being “spooky season.” At that point though, it was easy to accept the acknowledge the occasional reminder and put it to the side.
Towards the end of September, while in the middle of my own therapy session, my therapist (who I love to death) had the audacity to ask something along the lines of “Have you thought about what you’re going to do about your dad’s one year anniversary coming up?” I rolled my eyes and let out a huge sigh. Not a sigh of relief, but rather an exhale of getting metaphorically punched in the gut. I was honest with her. I thought about it, but I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.
Like I said, I love my therapist. There is a reason I continue seeing her every week over the last four years. However, that question brought that shit to the forefront. I compartmentalize like a motherfucker, but it wasn’t working anymore. Within just a few days, I regressed. Emotionally, I didn’t feel right. I felt disconnected but I wanted to feel connected. If you know me or read my past posts, you can likely guess where this is going. I reverted to old, maladaptive habits. i withdrew from my social circle and diverted most of my energy towards trying to get a “quick fix” of intimacy. I felt sexually aggressive with the intention of feeling connected briefly to someone. I spent hours hitting up old hookups and scrolling through dating sites.
Thankfully, nothing problematic came of it, and I caught onto what I was doing pretty quickly. I talked to a few friends and family members about what was going on, and this helped right the ship temporarily. I got around to my next weekly therapy appointment, and I brought her up to speed. My therapist didn’t seem one bit surprised and for good reason. This was my first time facing this anniversary head-on. Dealing with the a significant anniversary of someone’s death is hard enough. It’s even harder when this person was one of the few you unconditionally loved, considered your best friend, and confided in wholeheartedly. Then, throw on top the fact that it occurred on a major holiday where there are constant reminders.
That session was last week. It has only gotten more difficult since then, and I am not excited to see how I will feel as Halloween approaches. My therapist brought up some good points though. I cannot expect myself to be at my best during this time and to lower my expectations of myself temporarily until it passes. It is also beneficial to nip the thoughts and feelings in the ass as they come up to prevent a snowball effect. It really comes to acceptance and rolling with the punches over the next few weeks. Literally, one day at a time.
-The Caring Counselor