The advantages to being home when dealing with a personal crisis, is that the people surrounding you are aware of your circumstances. For moments, some lasting longer than others, you can forget that your world has been turned inside out. The pain can be turned down to a trickle instead of a steady gushing stream. There are no questions. There is limited pity. Strength seems to overcome sympathy as the needed shoulder to lean on.
Eventually though, people need to move on with their day to day lives. Head back to work. Head back home. You find yourself left alone and your options start to narrow down to silence. I love silence, but in this situation, with silence come the thoughts. That’s the worst part for me. Not just getting into my head, but remaining there. It’s like my brain wants to squeeze every memory out, and look over it like a beautifully polished stone. Admiring the flaws and the beauty of the memories. But when it’s time to come back to reality, I don’t want to. So my head? It’s not a healthy place to remain.
I decided to come to the office. Some think it’s too soon, but I can only do so much laundry, or clean my house so many times. I suspect staying at home was beginning to feed into the sadness, which for me can quite easily become depression if I am not careful. I could almost feel myself getting a tad agoraphobic at the idea of venturing out for anything.
So this morning I put on my best face, refused to adorn myself in all black like an old grieving Greek woman, and drove to the office. The worst about the drive, is that I sort of don’t even recall how I got here. Just auto-pilot. Which in Southern California can be a blessing. I figured – I hoped at worst I could work half day, and maybe immerse myself into a few reports, therefore stepping out of that dark cave of mourning.
I came in to find a beautiful arrangement of flowers from my department. I knew about it ahead of time, because a close friend and co-worker asked if I would mind. I said no, that I enjoyed flowers, and would appreciate the gesture. Our department can be very cold in times of sadness. This meant something to me. They were simple and sweet; Daisies, mums, carnations, and roses, tied up in a beautiful vase with a white bow. Nothing about the flowers screamed sympathies, bereavement, or death. They almost looked like they could have been birthday flowers, or maybe even a sent from a guy.
But with flowers came what my co-worker feared; Comments from others not in my department. Not in the know. I’m weird about what work people know, versus the rest of my world. I like work to stay separate from everything else. So, for as much as I post about life publically here, this situation was something I didn’t want my entire office knowing about.
Or so I thought.
“Birthday?” … “No!” I snapped, never intending to sound rude. I just wanted the person to stop. To go away. I immediately felt remorse, but she was gone. Moments later another comment of “Oooooo … who’s the admirer?” and all I could manage was “I don’t want to talk about it.” And before they could utter another word, I repeated myself, “I DO NOT want to talk about it.” And they too scampered away, probably wondering what bug crawled up my ass. When the third person came up and sweetly asked, I simply grabbed the vase and said something about how these had to go, leaving the girl with a stunned look on her face as I raced out the door, tears in my eyes, running down the stairs to place the flowers in my car.
In retrospect it felt dramatic. Like I drew more attention to myself with that temporary exit, then the flowers just sitting there did. I feel guilty that the flowers will wilt in the warm car before I get home, and that the money invested by co-workers was a waste. I feel bad that they tried to do something nice, and it back-fired.
Most of all? I hate to be rude to co-workers. You spend more time with them then you do your family. I’m already misperceived as not the warmest, fuzziest person in the entire world, this confusion just cements things. So I asked a close co-worker to please extend my apologies, and to go ahead and explain my circumstances. Just let people know I don’t want condolences or sympathies. I know it’s in our nature to feel like we must extend some sort of warm wish or thought, but truly, sometimes it’s best to just let the flowers be flowers, and the thoughts be thoughts.
Damn I just want this all to go away.