I have always made a point of looking people in the eyes when I was speaking to them, or they to me. However, after Danny died I found that I couldn’t do it at all. I would look off to the side, at something out the window or some distance away. Almost as if I were taking myself to that distance…a safe distance, at it were. I felt myself doing it but could not stop.
I did it unconsciously but I can now see that it was because I was so broken, so fragile at the center or myself, that it was all I could manage, to get up, get dressed, pay my bills, buy groceries and other very mundane things. Anything might set me off and the tears would come and couldn’t be stopped; a song on the radio, a certain model of car driving by, a tractor sitting in a field, driving by a school.
I never knew what was going to trigger the crushing weight of sadness, regret, guilt , despair or helplessness so I had to be very careful to hold all the broken pieces together, gently, and one of the ways I did that was to avoid eye contact. I also had to avoid things that were very beautiful. I couldn’t handle great beauty, especially beautiful music or writing. It would instantly break me wide open and leave me crumpled into a heap of sorrow.
Now that more than three years have past, and I am much more solid and stable, I have begun to work on looking people in the eyes again. It is more difficult than I thought it would be, reestablishing the habit, but I like it.