But today, I needed to wallow. I needed a whole day. As it turned out, I got about ten minutes while I was in the shower.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has five different definitions for “wallow.” I found each somewhat fitting in its own way for my state of being during those ten minutes in the shower:
1: to roll oneself about in a lazy, relaxed, or ungainly manner
2: to billow forth: surge (e.g., my tears, snot, and saliva pouring out of my eyes, nose, and mouth)
3: to devote oneself entirely; especially: to take unrestrained pleasure: delight (e.g., allowing myself those few awful moments to do nothing but fall apart completely and practically relishing the terrible accompanying release)
4a : to become abundantly supplied: luxuriate (e.g., becoming awash in waves of grief that I so often have to shut out)
4b : to indulge oneself immoderately
5: to become or remain helpless
During the days and months just after Hudson died, I remember so well the physical pain that I felt in my chest every day. I would tell Ed that it felt like someone had their foot planted right in the middle of my chest and was just pressing and pressing and pressing down. During last night’s drive down to Chapel Hill, where we will spend Thanksgiving, I felt that feeling again for the first time in a very long time. And then the traffic was terrible and we didn’t get home until 2AM. And then Jackson woke up and we couldn’t get him back to sleep until 3:30. And the only way we could get him to sleep was in the bed with us, which meant I slept only very fitfully on about one foot of mattress. Then he woke up again. Then he woke up for good at 8AM. Then he was fussy from being too tired. Then I couldn’t get him to nap. When Ed finally took a break from working around lunchtime today, I snapped at him for the first time since I can remember. Being the kindest man on earth, he overlooked that and took Jackson from me. And I got in the shower. And wallowed.
I could sit here and list off all the things I am missing so much right now, all the things that feel like a thousand tiny knives poking me all over, all the things I imagine we’d be doing with Hudson during these days, all the things we’ll never get to do with her again. The list would be so very long and so very sad, and it would all sound so very familiar to you by now—only the details would change.
But what I have been feeling most this past week, what has made up the bulk of the foot pressing into my chest last night and this morning, is resentment. I resent all of you who have never had to feel this awful. I resent all of you for whom these days are filled with nothing but the shimmering, joyful anticipation of the coming holiday season. I resent all of you who get to spend these days with a totally intact happy family, all of you for whom every family photo is complete, all of you who get to hug all of your children tonight before bed. I love all of you, too, but I resent you. And I’m so sorry.
This resentment isn’t new. I’ve written about it here before, but back then I called it jealousy. Jealousy sounds so much more human and so much less awful. But jealousy and resentment are really just two sides of the same coin.
I don’t want to resent you. I don’t want to resent anyone. Even acknowledging that resentment is what I really feel is hard for me. Especially during this season. But as I have said so often, it is what it is.
But I don’t want to live in that place all the time. Or even a little bit of the time. I want to “like” your holiday photos and be happy for the birth your child’s new little sibling and not cringe when I read what your almost-three-year-old is doing.
And so I wallow. But not for a whole day. Not even for an entire hour. No, just for ten minutes, in the shower, alone, where the scalding water will mostly hide the evidence. For those ten minutes, I roll about, I billow forth, I devote myself entirely, I become abundantly supplied, I indulge myself immoderately, I become helpless.
I wallow. And the foot on my chest lifts. Not forever, but for now.