I’m finally learning something about grief: You always feel a little alone.

I remember this happening when I lost my first pregnancy, too. Vividly. It’s that sense that no one quite gets it, that no one knows exactly how you feel. This is true, of course — we never feel the same things, or think the same things, and if we did we’d have no way of knowing it anyway. It’s one of the dangers of being an individual, I suppose: Since no one else can really know how it feels to be inside your own mind, you’re inherently somewhat isolated.

You can try to communicate what you’re thinking or feeling, but sometimes just the depth or enormity of it is embarrassing. You let it out as your conscience and sense of security will allow. It’s an ongoing battle between your need to be understood, and your need to show a little discretion. Because let’s be honest, even the people who love you most don’t know how to handle constant outbursts of unfiltered emotion, no matter what sort of emotion it is. You worry you’ll come across as weak, high-drama, needy, or (at worst) shithouse nuts. And even when you know people will be extra understanding and cut you plenty of slack, you still don’t want to be seen as weak, dramatic, needy or nuts. So you try to control it as best you can, and let out as much as you think you can afford to let out.

But that means that some things get left in.

And I’m finding that these things are chosen to stay secret for a reason. They’re the most intense thoughts and feelings, the ones you hold deepest, the ones that could make you most vulnerable. It could be anger or fear or even love — anything at all. You cling to it, but you bury it, and the price you pay for this extra security is that in the end, even the people you love most, who love you most, end up falling just a little short sometimes… in large part because they didn’t realize just how much was happening beneath the surface.

‘Course, it doesn’t help matters any if, every once in a while, you unload on someone and don’t get much in response. Should I not have said that? Is he angry? Is she too hurt? Did that sound too melodramatic? Do I sound selfish and wrapped up entirely in my own head? Should I make more of an effort not to be so self-centered? Does he wish I would just keep this type of thing to myself?

So maybe next time you don’t say anything. Or maybe you do, and it just doesn’t come across accurately, or doesn’t have the impact on anyone else that it has on you. Whatever the outcome, you’re reminded that you’re always a little alone.

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