“I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate….
….I have my books
And my poetry to protect me,
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain,
And an island never cries.”
In my 7th grade English class my teacher, who left an indelible mark on me, used the lyrics to “I Am A Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel as an example of great poetry. She was SO hip and cool and this sealed the deal. I remember sitting in class and thinking in a very overly-mature way, that this was a song I could totally relate to.
Those who know me are probably thinking, “Oh please, you wear your heart on your sleeve,” but those who know me BEST have experienced my arms-length reaction from wanting to dig too deep.
I still have not cried over my mother’s death by suicide. I’ve had thirty years to try, and it hasn’t happened. When two days ago word came of my best friend’s suicide, I couldn’t cry. They paralleled each other in that their lifelong struggles really couldn’t have led to any other outcome. In making the many phone calls to spread the word of my friend’s death I envied those who sobbed instantly. I felt cold and deficient in some way. For those of us who didn’t cry, we understood each other completely.
What’s interesting to me is that when a year ago, one of the men who lived in the halfway house where I worked died of an overdose, I crumbled to my knees and sobbed. Maybe it’s because I had seen him the day before and laughed with him over lunch. While watching as my father died, feeding him through a straw, I had to leave his bedside so he didn’t see me with my head in my hands crying like a baby. I didn’t cry at his memorial and I haven’t cried since.
People have described me as the “laughing on the outside, crying on the inside” type, but that isn’t entirely true. I laugh because I’m a really happy person and my inside feels deeply but isn’t drowning in its own tears. However, there are places that my head still cannot visit, the pain too palpable for me to explore.
I do mourn, and I mourn deeply. Grief is wrapped up in many different packages and forms and there is no right or wrong way. But most of all, I am numb.