Coping Mechanisms

It has been almost 10 months since I lost my dad. Before then, spontaneous journal entries have always been my thing. Whenever I had an experience or an awakening of some sort, I would eventually write about it. So, when I was asked to write a blog post, I flirted with other topics but I always knew what I was going to write about. This is not so much about grief, more so about the changes that have come along with it, the constant before and after comparisons and the inevitable anxiety of what’s next.

So far the biggest change we have had to undergo was our home. We had been contemplating a move, but our initial sentiments had us intending to stick it out due the numerous memories we shared with him in that house, however the thought of living with daddy’s ghost became daunting. So we upped and moved. In hindsight it sounds like a no brainer, but in that moment, you are thinking about 16 thousand other things that your immediate surroundings become irrelevant. It was only until we moved, I realized staying in that house would have elongated the grieving process. The countless memories counted for very little considering the main source of those memories had been taken away from us. The last few weeks in that house was like watching a family member suffer to a terminal illness. And once we left, it felt like what I assume it feels like when said family member has finally succumbed to their condition, an uncomfortable combination of relief and sorrow. The new home represents new beginnings, maybe unwanted initially but now very much welcomed, considering.

The new beginnings also come with new dynamics. Many of which I am still coming to grips with. I must admit I have seen an increase in my general anxiety, which I think is normal given the circumstances. I have been told acknowledging it is the first step to overcoming it. My new fears revolve around responsibility, the wellbeing of my loved ones and ensuring I am ok mentally. I am learning to calm myself down with and without any of my preferred coping mechanisms. This leads me to my talking point.

My main coping mechanism has been Lota, my beloved girlfriend who has been a gem especially in the last few months. She came to visit me in February 2020 for a couple weeks but ended up getting stuck due to the pandemic. This blessing in disguise meant we got to spend some quality time together, which would have otherwise been a myth. It also enabled us to break the ice and introduce my parents to the concept of their son accommodating his object of affection in their home. Safe to say it was rocky at the start, but I think all involved did their best, which is all a young nigga can ask for. Lota and daddy did hit it off. We eventually basically moved out to a small flat but would check in on my parents from time to time. One Thursday night we stopped by and it was only my dad in. He and Lota had a lengthy chat and we ended up staying the night. She could not have fathomed that that would be the last time she’d ever have a chat with him. So naturally, it was a tough loss for her too. She has recently moved back home for a bit; another change I have had to welcome. It has been tough, but the silver lining is absence makes the heart grow fonder. And we now get to plan cute little trips.

My second (or joint top) coping mechanism has been golf and I must say it has helped a lot. Most of my life I have been a staunch football man, playing, spectating and working. I had always been intrigued by Golf, but never explored it. Daddy too went through a phase and had tried to spread the gospel to me, but I was not ready. After he passed, the urge became much stronger. I had read on some grief forum that taking up a hobby or new interest can help. I considered getting back into Horse riding or gym; or learning a new sport. My main considerations were Golf or squash; the latter being the sport of choice of my late uncle Tony, who I lost the same week I lost my dad. In the end the allure of Golf was just too strong. A good and dear friend of the family gave me a set of clubs, hooked me up with her instructor, and I have been hooked since my first lesson. It has helped me to channel all my emotions into something. It has helped me to zone in and focus on what’s important (hitting the ball purely 😉). I used to play football weekly. I have played no more than three times since I started golfing. It is almost as if I have learned a new language, and my first language doesn’t seem as exciting anymore. And ever since I have become conversant in this new language, I have been welcomed and applauded by many friends of my father, who now recognize and approach me to extend their greetings and well wishes (for anybody reading this with no context to social culture in Nigeria; somebody considerably older and richer than you will never approach you unless you owe them money or offended them).

Another coping mechanism or something I have taken pride in has been taking care of Trump, my dad’s dog. We became more attached and shared a sense of gloom missing our Oga at the top. However, it seemed Trump was very gloomy, and a bit more withdrawn than before. He sadly passed away whilst I was on holiday. It was another painful loss. I cried the whole morning. It was sudden and unexpected, déjà vu really. And like I have had to do for the last 10 months, I could only console myself with the fact that he is now at rest and reunited with daddy. Rest well Trump. You will be sorely missed.

As we have entered the second part of the year, this now means we are a few months away from marking the first year without daddy. I don’t know what to expect, or what emotions will come over me, but I am looking forward to whatever is to come. Ultimately, as scary as the future might be, bring it on. Life is a roller coaster and as a kid I loved roller coasters! My sisters and I will pick the most intimidating rides and get on then spend the whole night reviewing it. And so shall it be, enjoy the thrill and look back on it when convenient. Live and learn.

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