Someone on Twitter recently asked me what the hardest thing I had to do while writing my memoir. And I responded – keeping the tears from smearing the words on the page. Then, I had to concentrate on the writing and now on the marketing, leaving any emotions I have about Paul’s death outside the scope of my work. So, I have become a master of compartmentalization.
Now besides being a mother whose son died by suicide, I’m a survivor. I’m a strong woman. I’m an advocate for erasing the stigma of mental illness, of putting a face on suicide, of telling my story so others can know it’s possible to heal after the death of a child.
Next Tuesday I have another radio interview where I’ll be asked to discuss Paul’s and my story – how can I get through that on the radio? The other parts of the interview won’t be as hard. But going through what we went through especially during his years with bipolar disorder will be gut wrenching. I hope I won't fall apart. And next Saturday I’ll be reading from and signing my books almost all day at Barnes and Noble in Long Beach. I’ll be on my feet and wearing a big smiley face most of the day. How do I do that?
The answer is being able to compartmentalize, and that may be no different from my thoughts about playacting one year after Paul died:
It’s a year, they say,
time to stop mourning for your dead son,
get on with your life.
Okay, I will, I reply.
Look – I work, I work out, I write, I travel,
I read, I go to movies, I make love, I eat out,
I enjoy the company of friends.
And – I nurture myself with new hairdos,
makeup, massages, and manicures.
After all, Paul took his own life a year ago
He didn’t take mine
At least not completely.
What they don’t know is
my life now is just playacting
meant to fool others as well as myself
into believing that I can move on
and begin to live my life again.