Sunday, May 04, 2014

On Tears

Here’s one that was going to go into my file ‘Unpublished Blogs’ but what the hell. I have no pride at the moment and maybe some experiencing the death of a loved one can use it as a cautionary tale.

On Tears

I’m still struggling with Caroline’s death and recent events have brought that home to me. Those reading this blog will know that after a few months abstinence I’ve had a drink or two in the local kafenion and elsewhere. No more ... well, for some time yet. On two previous occasions I’ve started blubbing while on the sauce. Next, on Easter Sunday, I walked down by road to the village of Lithines for dinner with friends. While there I had a beer before dinner and some white wine with it. When the two couples there proposed playing cards I had to politely excuse myself (too much history of card games with Caroline and others). I walked back to Papagianades and with little regard for past experience polished off half a bottle of bourbon and topped that off with some raki.

The next day was a write-off. I felt very ill and depressed and was even incapable of going for a walk. The hangover and depression then lasted most of the following day but dissipated by evening. I should have heeded this warning.

On the Wednesday I went down to the kafenion to use the Internet where I drank a half litre carafe of white wine and ate mezes. Returning home I then dropped in on my Belgian neighbour and had a bottle of retsina and topped off with more white wine before stumbling home to bed.

I woke at 5.00AM deeply depressed and with seemingly no resistance to some thoroughly vicious and self-destructive part of my mind hauling up for my inspection ... well ... you know. I think it was at about 6.00AM when I started crying and it lasted for 3 hours. Did you know that grief can be an actual physical pain? It’s like you’ve been punched hard in the guts and something has burst, causing a fluid build-up and an intense cramping. The only relief from this seems to be through your tear ducts, and they’re just not big enough. Oh, and I spent the rest of the day wishing I was dead, but aware that I only needed to hold on for a day or so for things to get better.

Subsequently I made a deal with my Greek neighbour (Anna who is teaching me Greek) to lay off the booze for 2 weeks, else I have to pay her €20. The fact that I will probably save much more than that over two weeks of abstinence is irrelevant, it’s the commitment that counts. So no more alcohol for Mr Cry-Baby; it is now the improbable masses of teabags I guiltily smuggle out of the house, rather than the empty bottles.  


daniel ware said...

grief can strike at any time, maybe rather than looking at the alcohol-induced confrontation as a problem side-effect (though i'd worry about you if it became too much of a habit), maybe it opened up something you're obviously avoiding dealing with for now (for obvious reasons).
All you can do is give yourself time and know that people do care about you :)

Dominic Myers said...

I've always had a somewhat ambiguous relationship with tears. Guess that's down to being English. I could count on my the fingers of one of my hands the times I cried between 16 and 40. Having said that I've blubbed as much over the last 2 years as much as I did before.

And that thing about tears being cathartic... sometimes I agree sometimes less so.

Keep on at it Sir! It's never going to go away but you might learn how to live with it.

Nick Gregory said...

Grief can be a physical pain, Neal. It hurts in ways you can't explain. I have stopped drinking, and not had an alcoholic drink in eight weeks. I will not drink as long as you don't, Neal, and save my money for new editions of your books that I foolishly lent out. Know there are people who care.

joshua said...

No doubt about it, grief and loss are a tough thing to get through. Sadly, it takes time, and sometimes a long time, to get by- so keep at it, you've got plenty of support here if you need it.

iwsmith said...

Thank you for sharing this entry. I didn't lose a loved one, but I don't live with my children any more because of separation and I feel grief for not seeing them most of the time.

Hope you win the 20euros.

Neal Asher said...

I'm not avoiding dealing with it, Daniel. I am dealing with it in the only way that seems possible, which is to fill up my life with activities that stop me thinking about this January gone, and the months prior to it.

Dominic, I've never really cried much. Sometimes crying can be a choice, unfortunately the way it has been hitting me lately it simply isn't.

Thanks Nick. I am going to test the 'water' this Saturday. If the result is bad then I'm abstaining till well into the summer.

Not just time, joshua, but activities that make that time something other than a throw away memory - something other than what your mind files as 'been there done that' and fails to record.

iwsmith, there ain't no shortage of people suffering grief in one way or another. Suffering it yourself raises your awareness of it in others.

Hypermagical Ultraomnipotence said...

As I said on your FB link, I'll say it again, because I think it's all I can say to encompass such loss:

My condolences, I can't imagine the pain. I won't say trite phrases or shit like that, just: my condolences. And thanks for the blog, as raw and real as it was.

Hypermagical Ultraomnipotence said...

Further: I don't think you're avoiding the grief, that's obvious that you're not, you're just trying to cope with it as best as you can.

I hope it gets better, but I won't say it gets better, because that's painful.

Mason Loring Bliss said...

Neil... Yeah, the grief of losing a loved one is actual, physical pain, and it's not metaphoric. In addition to that, there's a sense of unreality, as though the real was what happened prior to your loved one's passing, and now what you've got is this artificial, fake world you're experiencing without them.

Condolences suck and are mostly more comfort to the person giving them than receiving them, but I have two practical notes.

First, consider that alcohol will totally blow your low-carb diet - and you know how well that works when you stick to it. Second, take care of yourself as a way to honor your wife. She would want you to live well, because she loved you - that's why she married you. Cherish yourself the way she cherished you, because then the love she felt, which she valued very much, still lives. This is the best way you can continue loving her - treat her husband well.

Kirby Uber said...

mr. Neal

as i think i have mentioned to you in other media? i lost some one i was very close to. keeping in mind that relationship was a mere 5 years in length. you are a much stronger man than i. perhaps i mean a smarter man.

i spent two years after my friends death (note: it was his wish, should his death ever be remarked on, it should be correctly labeled suicide.), not working, wandering around south east asia, and almost literally drunk the whole time.

it simply never occurred to me i should react any differently.

and in closing, and here is where you thought you dodged all my literary suggestions:

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don't really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man's life. I was happy before I ever met H. I've plenty of what are called 'resources.' People get over these things. Come, I shan't do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this 'commonsense' vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.

On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos. Maudlin tears. I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it--that disgusts me. And even while I'm doing it I know it leads me to misrepresent H. herself. Give that mood its head and in a few minutes I shall have substituted for the real woman a mere doll to be blubbered over. Thank God the memory of her is still too strong (will it always be too strong?) to let me get away with it.

--excerpt from A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

Kirby Uber said...

"In addition to that, there's a sense of unreality, as though the real was what happened prior to your loved one's passing, and now what you've got is this artificial, fake world you're experiencing without them."

yes. that.

Kirby Uber said...

er, the above was to Mason Loring Bliss.