It turns out that I’m in denial land

People always talk about “the 5 stages of grief,” though I’ve recently heard that those 5 stages are actually for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, rather than coping with losing a loved one. I’m not sure what I think about that but I’m not inclined to believe it.

Anyway, I am really clearly living in a land of denial right now…big time.

I had another very productive day yesterday. The weather was finally nice after weeks of rain/cold/sleet/ice. And even though my car also needs an oil change, I decided instead to take J’s car for a car wash, oil change, and to top off the gas. It still had a half tank of gas but it hasn’t really been driven since December, so I thought it was important to get some fresh gas in there.

So now the car is all ready for Chloe. I scraped off the “Texas A&M Dad” sticker from the back windshield and got his watermelon ukelele out of the backseat.

And I felt absolutely nothing about any of it.

I also ran some other errands too and picked up dinner from a new Tex-Mex place that opened up by our house recently. It was exactly the kind of restaurant that J would have loved back in the day, before chemo destroyed his tastebuds.

But again, I felt nothing.

I do physically feel much, much better now that I’ve gotten the secret of J’s childhood abuse out in the public in a Medium post.

My MIL still claims that I’m lying and says she’s going to sue me for slander, even though she apparently doesn’t know the difference between libel and slander but anyway.

I know that it makes J’s sister very uncomfortable that it’s out there. She said she feels “trapped and exposed” and like she might become a raging alcoholic to cope (which is especially significant because she doesn’t drink at all.) But I’m standing by it. I have no reason to believe J would have lied about something so big, especially when I lived with all the lingering ways that it affected him.

I know what she did. My kids know what she did because my husband told them. And SIL is probably starting to realize that she too knows what her mom and stepdad did and she doesn’t know how to cope.

She wants to have a relationship with her mom. Unlike J, who lived most of his life away from his parents and rarely talked to them, SIL has put in quite a bit more effort to appeasing her mom. I truly don’t think she’ll ever try to go no contact with her mom.

I’m genuinely empathetic and feel compassion for her. Her Christian beliefs say that she has to forgive and she had found a way to do so until I brought up all these memories.

I am sure she has to be doing all kinds of mental gymnastics now that she sees how her mother just completely disowned me and the kids. I am sure that my SIL is not okay with that. But she also doesn’t dare stand up to her mom.

Amy and I are taking bets on who’s next to be disowned by Sue. We both think it will be SIL’s second son. He broke away from his churchy upbringing several years ago. He has a septum piercing, a full sleeve of tattoos, and he works as a director for a homeless shelter for men who have AIDS.

I’m willing to bet lots of money that he also sees Sue’s dysfunction and crazy. I mean, he has a social work degree—I don’t see how he could not see it.

But anyway, I thought I was feeling too good the past two days, and I thought maybe it was just that I felt relieved not to have to hide anymore.

I think it’s actually more than that, though. I have gone far beyond numb. I see pictures of me and J and they don’t even look real, like I don’t recognize those people at all.

I think I’m probably in denial super, super hard, because I just feel nothing at all. I’m sure that’s a protective mechanism and whenever it stops, who knows how I’ll feel but I would bet money that it will be much, much worse.

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