I started crying in my last therapy session (this happens in most of the sessions) and my therapist said, Why are you sad?
And I said, I don’t know.
Which doesn’t really count as an answer so I explained how for a while after my Mom died I had this uninvited but frequent narrative flowing in my brain—what things would have been like if she hadn’t died. It would, of course, light up most during times when she would have been central to the activities happening: holidays, family gatherings, a (grand)child losing their first tooth, etc.
Alternate narratives. Not memories. Not reality. Just a stream of what-if idealizations.
Over time, those faded. I didn’t do anything to make that happen. It’s just that every day we were busy living.
New memories slowly crowd out the old.
Not that you lose the old memories, or value them less; but you have more, a bigger library. And in the process of building that bigger library, I guess you adjust to what reality is—and to how the new reality, in which you’re making the new memories, isn’t the same as the old reality. You adjust, and accept it as normal, and then I guess you don’t need that alternative narrative to lean on.
Cuz that’s really what it’s about—finding a way to balance. A big change just throws you off. The alternate-narrative stream is a crutch, a support, something to lean on while you heal enough to stand on your own.
I said, Sometimes I just land in one of those moments that doesn’t look like it’s supposed to, and it throws me off.
He said, What’s it supposed to look like?
I said, It’s supposed to look the way I imagined it.
Ah, he said. So the reality doesn’t match the fantasy. And it’s hard to let go of the fantasy.
Yeah. It is hard. But the reality I’m letting go into? It’s beautiful, too.