Coping With Loss – Chapter 4 : Memories

I currently live in my mothers house, something I inherited after her passing. I had been living there for a while before her death, and the hardest thing in my day to day life is waking up in it. Everyday is a constant reminder that she will never sit in her recliner again, or walk through the doors from work. I can’t walk into the living room and tease her about watching crappy television or lazily relaxing with the family dog on her lap. It is an insufferable struggle.

I currently sleep in her old bedroom, and it is still in the same layout it was when she was alive, partly because I am too lazy to move furniture, but partly because it feels comfortable. I want to keep it the same in case she comes back home, and that mindset kills me inside. I know she will never sleep in her bed again, sit at her computer desk and reply to emails or ask me to help her set the bedsheets. Most nights I lay there, staring at the room and telling myself that tomorrow I will move the room around. I never follow through with it.

I always grab a piece of furniture, and tense up. It feels wrong to move it, to change a room that isn’t mine. Is there an acceptable time before it goes from a coping mechanism to just plain creepy? I’d argue there is, and that time is coming soon. Upon my sisters request, I tried to keep most of the house exactly as it used to be for almost a month, but it was unbearable. I couldn’t keep walking into my own home and feel a sense of dread as I saw the spot she used to sit at vacant, the quiet hum of electronics running in an empty home. Everything changes, but not always immediately.

I find myself sometimes wondering what retorts she would have to the state of my home, would she complain about it not being clean enough? Would she yell at me for waiting until two in the morning to take down the trash cans? Would she dislike how I rearranged the living room? While the answers are always just figments of my imagination, they are sometimes subtle reliefs from the constant stress I feel. There is this tinge of expectation I feel to keep things in order, the house still welcoming, the floor-plan still easy to navigate and the bedrooms relatively untouched. Over time those expectations will fade, and I will re-organize the home to exactly how I want it, but I feel that a similar appearance in nature brings comfort to those who visit.

There are days when I feel beyond lonely, even though I am surrounded by friends. It is a feeling that usually occurs when I think about how at the end of the night, everyone will be gone, and I will be left alone, with just the family dog, to lay in bed and eagerly await when my body loses consciousness. In the beginning, I assumed that the lonely feeling could be cured by having someone else to focus my needs for affection on, a significant other. For those who know me, this is a rather humorous statement. I have currently been single for roughly two or so years of my life, after a string of terrible relationship after terrible relationship. Most of them failed due to circumstances out of my control, others failed due to poor compatibility. Realistically, I am just not suited for romance. While I am generally the most doting and romantic person you will meet, I am also the most selfish and stubborn.

I don’t really agree with the notion that relationships are about compromise. I like doing the things I do, and doing them when I want do. I don’t want to sacrifice my happiness to make someone else happy, it just isn’t a fair trade in my opinion. Thus I am left with a conundrum, sacrifice my happiness to cure my crippling loneness. I rationalized it at first, maybe I really didn’t need to do the things I loved in the amount I did them in, so I slightly placed my feet in the dating pool and found a slight problem. Apparently, I am either the most boring person on paper, or the worst looking person in pictures. After countless attempts at trying to contact people I was interested in, and getting no response, I tried leaving it up to women to contact me. Spoiler alert, I am still single. Not a single offer for a date, not a single option to get to know someone beyond ‘hello’. I somehow walked into a situation with loneness and walked away with loneness and depression.

I immediately gave up on the idea of romance afterwards. If I can’t cure loneness with love, then I will just find another way. I bought video games. Sure, you could say that escapism isn’t healthy, or that my social awkwardness is due in part to my overwhelming consumption of them, but here is the truth; they made me happy. When I played games, I was able to focus my frustration, fears, loneness and sadness and ease them in the limitless virtual world. For all the negative feelings people have towards gamers, the one thing that always upset me was the assumption that video games ruin lives.

Anything can ruin a life; debt, illness, insecurities, depression, and loss; to name a few. Just because something has the potential to ruin a life, doesn’t mean it is inherently bad. Video games have always been there for me, since childhood I can fondly remember them being there. They were a way to cope with the world, regardless of how bad it got. They reminded me that there will always be parts in life that seem so hard to deal with, but in a few years later, are embarrassing to admit were a struggle. Haven’t you ever played a game where you were so lost or weak, that no matter what you did, progression was never happening? Most of the time, people just give up, saying the game is too hard and walked away. Others however, took a step back, focused on learning why they can’t progress and found a new solution to the problem. This, is a very rare, but very useful parallel that games and the real life have in common.

You can’t just start a game and win a fight with the final boss, you have to learn how to play, acquire some skills, maybe level up a few times. Once you are sufficiently ready, you can take a swing and see how you fare. If you lose, it is alright, you go back to training and try again later. For me, I was stuck in a position where no matter how many times I tried to deal with the loss, I would always fall back into a pit of depression and loneness. I decided that while moving on is the best thing to do, maybe I am not actually ready to do it. Maybe I still want to wallow in misery, or get mad about the powerlessness I felt trying to fix her ailment. Sure they may not be healthy emotions to focus on, but it is equally as unhealthy to force yourself to move past something you aren’t quite ready to.

So I spend my time playing games, conquering my problems by reminding myself that no matter what, I will always have a place I can go to. A place that makes me feel good; taking away my focus from stressful issues or terrifying realities. We all have something we do that makes us happy, and in such a crucial time as loss, those are the things that will keep your head up. Also, video games are a great way to pass the time, and anyone who says otherwise is just jealous they are terrible at playing them.