I recently lost my grandmother. She passed the day after Thanksgiving and changed my world forever. Her death was sudden, and unexpected, and I still can’t fully grasp that she’s gone. I still dial her phone every so often because I’m so used to our frequent conversations…and then realize no one will be answering my call…ever again.
My grandmother was more to me than most think of when they think of their grandparents. Her name was Virginia, same as my middle name, and she was ever so much like a mother to me. I didn’t have the warmest upbringing, to put it lightly, and so my grandmother stepped in selflessly to try fiercely to raise me right, every chance she got. And she sure was fierce. Nicknamed, ‘The Boss’, she commanded attention no matter where she was, and kept a long list of friends and close acquaintances over the years, even holding onto high school friends all the way to 92 years of age. She was a one of a kind woman, with one of the strongest personalities I’ve had the pleasure of being around.
My grief from losing her has been so devastating, for almost 3 months I was physically sick, and deteriorating rapidly with each passing day. I cried so many times my face began to look like someone I haven’t seen before. My weight has significantly fluctuated, from losing 12 pounds from not eating, and then gaining 8 from gradually eating again, and then losing 6 again. My emotions have been at an all time heightened sensitivity high; I literally cry at almost everything now a days. A movie that I’ve seen before can have a sad or happy moment occur, anything that stirs emotion, and the tears are rolling without warning. Admittedly, I’ve always been an emotional person, but never to this level.
Although this has been a tumultuous time for me, to say the least, I have found that I am somehow becoming a stronger person. In ways that I didn’t expect. For instance, I’ve always cared so much about what others think of me (unnaturally so), and suddenly that seems so insignificant. I am a chronic over-analyzer and so every interaction used to plague my psyche. I would replay every glance, conversation, response…to the point of exaggeration. I’d go grab a cup of coffee from the local coffee shop, and if I wasn’t feeling secure that day, I might spend an hour after finishing my cup of caffeine analyzing how the interaction with the barista went. How insane is that? I don’t know if this is normal for some, but if you’ve never experienced this level of analyzing, I can assure you it is time consuming at best. Suddenly, though, as if in relation with the death of my beloved grandmother, the need to excessively overanalyze every human interaction is lifting, and I am beginning to worry less about what people think and care more about each experience instead. I’m discovering things about myself that I never truly realized or accepted (more likely), and it is unbelievably empowering. Especially the negatives. I am welcoming all of the negative aspects of myself with open arms, and I feel for the first time as if a weight has been lifted and I can step outside freely.
I believe when you can begin to understand yourself, flaws and all, it can almost quash the fears surrounding others’ judgment or the discovery of those flaws. The more I warmly embrace my own shortcomings, the less it matters to me whether someone else wants to point them out…
And now, after 4 months of grief, panic, and sadness, the overanalyzing begins to dwindle. The negative whispers inside my head have begun to quiet, for good. I am not sure how positive inner changes could come out of a time where I lost someone so important to me, when I was convinced I’d never be able to shop for groceries again because my anxiety was so out of control, but here I am. It has taken almost 30 years to get here, but maybe the loss of someone so significant made me realize I don’t have enough time on this earth to be focusing on the things that ultimately don’t matter.