I don’t know where or when I learned that I needed to curb any narcissistic tendency I might feel, even in grieving, but I most certainly caught on quick.
"I don’t know where or when I learned that I needed to curb any narcissistic tendency I might feel, even in grieving, but I most certainly caught on quick. I recently found a diary I had sporadically written in the year following my mom’s death. It makes my nerves itch to read it, not because of what it says, but because of what it so actively and assertively avoids saying. Even in the privacy of my own pages, I didn’t let myself wallow in my loss. I wrote about everything except it. I wrote about the boy I was fixated on, about reading Melville, and—this is as close as I got to the truth—about how I was feeling a general sense of malaise.
It’s no sin to be obsessed with dating and crushes at nineteen. I should give sad nineteen-year-old me a break. But then there is also a repeated refrain throughout the journal that seems impossible to believe at face value, and if I hadn’t been the author of it myself I would be tempted to call it fake. In these pages, my younger self keeps wondering why I can’t just be “happy.” I keep wondering if art will be my path toward this elusive happiness, or if continuing to study literature will deliver the clap of inspiration I felt my life was missing. I wrote entry after entry confused about my sadness, as though the reason weren’t right in front of me: I’d lost my mom and was trying to live on as if it was not so big a deal. I was pledging a clueless allegiance to a happiness script even in the gloaming of my grief."