How to Cope with Loss – Part 2: “Supposed to” Days

In Part 2, I find myself starting to adjust to the idea I won’t be going to USDC, although it is still surreal. But the event hasn’t even started yet. This coming week is full of to-do’s and supposed-to’s that are no longer part of my story. But they remain, like cruel calendar reminders that pop up when my mind starts to relax and forget that plans have changed.

Read the whole How to Cope with Loss series here.

Even though the major depression was starting to lift on Friday, that night my body started to show physical symptoms of the emotional stress I was experiencing. I went to bed earlier than normal (before 9pm) and fell asleep quickly. But then I woke up around 1am to the sound of one of my dogs coughing something up. Not wanting a mess on the carpet, I got out of bed to check on him. False alarm, no mess, he was apparently just clearing his throat. Back to bed I went. Back to sleep? Nope.

I was AWAKE. I felt tired, but my eyes wouldn’t stay shut. I read a little, which made my eyes feel sleepy, but then I’d feel wide awake again after I turned out the light. My normally comfy pillow felt like it was making my neck tense up. I didn’t have a storm of thoughts or anything specific running through my head, just that general melancholy empty feeling.

Eventually I must have dozed off because when I woke up again, it was about 3am. Great. And I could feel a headache coming on. Even better. As someone with more than enough experience with stress headaches, tension headaches, migraines, just because headaches, etc., I knew I better pop a couple Advil to squelch it. While I tried to find a comfortable position that might relieve the tension building in my neck, which was triggering my headache, I allowed myself to think about what had happened and how it was affecting me. I thought about Teacher too and what he must be feeling, and I felt deep sympathy.

It may sound odd, but it was a good sign for me. To be able to feel, not just think, sympathy for someone else meant a small step forward in dealing with my loss. Depression in general is a self-centered condition. Your personal pain is so much that you don’t have the capacity to feel sympathy, or anything else, for others. Of course, I had thoughts of concern and sympathy for Teacher when I first found out what happened. But I was too numb from trying to process the impact on me to actually feel.

Once I finally fell back to sleep and woke up at the semi-normal hour of 7am on Saturday, I had a full-blown headache threatening to turn into a migraine. Awesome. Time to break out the Excedrin.

The pain dulled and stayed dull for the rest of the day. I decided to take a drive to the studio to drop off the dress I had rented for USDC. It was taunting me, hanging from the back of my bedroom door. To my surprise, Teacher was in the studio! And he was teaching! His arm was casted up past his elbow and suspended in a sling, but he was there. I hung out until his lesson was over so we could chat and catch up.

He gave me the whole story of how it happened and what he did after and what the doctor said. The cast will gradually be cut down in size and be completely removed around the end of October. So for us, that means Ohio is still a possibility.

As I wrote in Part 1, it takes me awhile to work through a loss. I’m already hypersensitive to disappointment, so I’m always cautious about raising hopes. Even more so right now. So I don’t feel safe yet to hope or plan for Ohio, even though Teacher is committed to getting us there. First, I need to make it through the “supposed to” days for USDC.

This weekend, I was supposed to pack and plan my meals for the week. This Monday, I was supposed to get on a plane and check into the hotel in Florida. Tuesday, I was supposed to go to a grocery store near the hotel to buy food. I was supposed to start an Instagram series on the clever, cheap meals I would make in my hotel room with the iron or the coffee maker.

Wednesday, I was supposed to compete for the national titles in bronze and silver smooth. In case you were curious, my gut tells me that I would have taken the title in bronze and placed 3rd in silver. Some awesome friends might insist I also won silver, but my gut likes to be realistic in its fortune telling.

Thursday and Friday were supposed to be days of celebration spent with family and cheering on Teacher as he competed in his professional event.

There are a lot of things I was supposed to be doing this week. Anyone working through a loss has these. You make plans based on the people and things in your life, but when life decides to take someone or something big away, plans have to change.

The icing on this crappy cake is the fact that others’ plans have not changed. Isn’t it a little cruel that USDC is still happening without us? How can they hold the event when the pro-am team that was supposed to win the bronze title in smooth won’t be there? While I wait for the reason this happened to be revealed to me, I think maybe whoever ends up winning instead needs it more than I do. Maybe her year was harder, maybe she has her own struggles and this victory will give her the boost she needs to get to a better place. Or maybe not. But it’s a nice thought and it’s helpful to believe that there is a reason behind all this nonsensical pain. Maybe there is something else I am supposed to do; I just don’t know what it is yet.


2 thoughts on “How to Cope with Loss – Part 2: “Supposed to” Days

  1. ballroomchick says:

    I’m so very sorry about this … (I guess one good thing about dancing in a franchise is that you have buddy teachers who can step in — in case something sad like this happens) 😦 totally sucks. I will hope for Ohio for you!


    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      A few people asked me if I could just dance with another teacher, but it just isn’t feasible 1 week before the comp. A substitute wouldn’t know my routines and I wouldn’t be able to dance my best with a lead I wasn’t familiar with. Plus I’ve come so far with Teacher, I wouldn’t have wanted to win a title with someone else!


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