Who Am I?

Talking with a friend over the last couple days, and she said to me.. “You’re really lost, aren’t you?”

Because for 14 years, but especially the last 5 or so and particularly in the last 2 1/2, my life has been about Mark.  I relate my life in terms of “Mark & Jane”

How it will affect Mark.

How it will affect Mark’s health.

How it will affect Mark’s self-esteem.

Whether or not Mark can do it.

Whether or not Mark can watch the kids while I do it.

Whether or not I can do it because Mark’s having a bad day and the boys are too much for him.

What career choice and how far will it go based on what we need because Mark’s never going to work again.

How active of a social life I will have based on how comfortable Mark is with other people.

How late we will stay at a party because he’s done and needs to go home.

Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t resent it.  I had complaints some of the time but I loved him, was IN love with him, to such a degree that I enjoyed his company and was happy to spend most of my time with him.

He supported me in my goals/plans/hobbies.

He loved me enough to give me the opportunity to fly.

He pushed me, encouraged me, supported me, was the perfect complement to me.

But now he’s gone, and I’m “just Jane”

I don’t know who Jane is anymore…  I don’t know what *I* want.

Remember the movie “Runaway Bride?”  She became whoever her fiance’s wanted – because she didn’t have a strong sense of who she was or even how she liked her eggs….  I feel a bit like that.

I know how I like my eggs, but I don’t know who I am when I’m not “Mark’s Wife”  I wanted to be a wife from the time I was little.  My marriage wasn’t how I envisioned it, but I adjusted, I flourished, I made it the best I possibly could.

But now I’m not Mark’s wife – I’m his widow.  And I don’t want to be known as just “Mark’s widow”  I want to be Jane… and know who she is.

I’m tired of being a chameleon.  I feel it happening in any social group I’m in.  Put me in a big group though, and I’ll get quiet and hide in a corner (or on a deck) watching people because I don’t know how to chameleon with multiple groups of people and have it “work” and be comfortable.

I relate to people on a lot of different levels.  It’s not deceptive when I chameleon – its a matter of just relaxing into that part of my personality and minimizing the other parts of me.   The problem with this, is that I never get to truly be ME.

I could, and did with Mark.   Around other people though? I would stifle my opinion on something if I thought it would offend them.  I would not “agree” so much as not disagree with someone – the implication being that I did agree with them.

So now – I get to figure out who I am on my own.

I’ve had a beautiful life with Mark.   I’d go back to it in a heartbeat if that was an option. I miss him more than words can express.  My heart aches at all the things I don’t get to share with him and he doesn’t get to be a part of as our children go through their lives.

But I get to figure out who *I* am. Me.  Learn to live on my own.  Learn to make (and follow) my own rules.  Figure out how I like my eggs (scrambled, dry thank you very much).  Figure out what things turn my crank and how far & fast I can crank it because its’ just me and my life, and I get to create a life that works for me and my kids.

I have two choices in becoming a widow.   Get lost in the past and wallow in my grief… or try to move through my grief, create the life I want, that Mark would be proud of and that our kids can look back on and say “Hey – life was pretty good. ”

Right now, I’m feeling pretty good.  I went for a walk with my friend Sarah today that pushed me a bit and I enjoyed myself.  I have good endorphins going through my body and I’m feeling positive about life.   Sarah helps me with that.  She’s pretty awesome that way.

I want to know who I am.

Vacation

I’m on vacation with my boys.   A couple different people offered me getaways…. and I took them.  My goal for this summer is to make it memorable, and not just because Daddy died… I want them to experience LIFE because without the joys, Daddy’s death means nothing.  He would not want me to be sad and hiding in the bedroom, isolating myself and the boys in our house.

He would be encouraging me to get out, do new things and see people.

We took a co-worker of mine up on her offer to go to Bowen Island.  This was the view from the place we were staying at:

And this was the view as we headed out to see the fireworks at the Celebration of Light festival.  (ON A BOAT!!! ZOMG THAT ROCKED!!!)

 

My boys got to go swimming in the ocean:

 

And then we had a lovely ferry ride back to the mainland:

 

They got to go out on a boat, drive the boat, play in the ocean and ride a bunch of ferries.  Overall, the first 3 days of our trip were pretty darned good.

And yet, I’m sad.  I’m weepy, I’m full of emotion.

We got to Victoria today, and went to a bbq with our hosts.   Everyone there has someone.  Except me.  I was incredibly lonely, even though my friend pretty much stuck by my side the entire night.  The best part of the night was the hug she gave me.   Oh, and the grilled pineapple with spicy peanut butter some random guy named John offered me.  He plays a mean guitar – great duet/jam session with the accordion :p

But we get home, get kids settled in, and I’m sad.  I want to cry. I miss him sofa king much. It’s a physical pain, how much I miss him.

I plan to make the next few days to be fun and exciting for the boys.  Tomorrow we’ve been invited to visit with a school friend, and swim in her pool.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be the Bug Zoo and a Maritime/Navy museum on the Naval base in Esquimalt.

Tuesday night will be a night out doing karaoke.

I was hoping to connect with my cousin and meet his babies, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Either fatherhood has him really really busy or he’s just not interested.  Either way, he’s not responded to my messages.

I don’t feel like a very good guest.  I’m sorta quiet, moody, and brooding.  I don’t mean to be, I just am.

I wish he were here with me.  We had planned a trip to Victoria with our boys… and this trip isn’t *the* trip – but its still bittersweet.

I miss him.  I hope for the boys that I am making good memories with them.  I know they miss him too – but I want them to see that life is to be enjoyed – even when we’re super sad… *sigh*

 

 

Commiserating

It’s nice to be able to talk with someone who gets it.

It’s nice to be able to cry with someone who gets it.

It’s nice to be able to just sit and listen to someone who’s telling the same story.

It’s nice to be able to tell my story and they understand.

It’s especially nice if its a lovely summer evening on a deck overlooking the ocean.

It’s nice to be able to just be… emotional, teary, honest.   And not worry if you’re upsetting the other people.

 

I miss you Mark.  With all my heart…. I miss you.

Ready When You Are…

I’ve been told that things will happen when I’m ready.

I think about removing my wedding ring (NOT EFFIN LIKELY) and my heart constricts.

I think about moving his clothes, and my gut aches.

I think about going into my craft room, where all his fishing gear is, and it’s like a physical barrier – I can’t get past the door, I can barely look in the room.

I think about trying to finish that cross stitch piece, and I want to vomit.

So when I’m ready, I’ll be able to look at these things.   I’m not ready.  I don’t know when I will be.

But those things are waiting for me.

 

Anxiety Attack & Want to Vomit

I do a craft night every Wednesday.   Tonight’s craft was to finish the cross stitch piece I had been working on while Mark was in the hospital.

It’s the Leisure Arts “Footprints In The Sand”

I’m simultaneously having a panick attack and I want to vomit.

I really want to finish this.  I NEED to finish this.

I want to throw up.  This is the first physical reaction I’ve had like this.   I don’t get this physically responsive to stress.

I manage nausea by barely breathing.  I manage anxiety attacks by deep breathing.  This is a bit of a connundrum for me.

And in the end – I think I’ll end up crying.

I miss him so much 😦

About A Nurse…

One thing I’ve learned, having gone through 22 1/2 weeks of ICU, is that nurses who work in ICU are the same as people everywhere.

There are good nurses.

There are bad nurses.

There are indifferent nurses.

Then there are the great nurses.  The ones who touch your heart, make the ICU a place that is bearable, who treat you like a person, not just a “patient” or a “patient’s family” regardless of how much or little they see you.

Those are the nurses who are truly amazing.

The ones like Margaret, who knew how important it was to keep me updated and up to date on all the info she had.

The ones like Ellen, who I never actually got to have as our nurse although she took care of my husband overnight several times – she took the time to say hi, check in and see how I was doing on her day shifts.

The ones like Patricia, who when he was going for an angio/stent procedure, popped out every few minutes to update me as to how the procedure was going.

The ones like Robert, whom I was blessed to have as my husband’s nurse for 11 days, plus the final night. (and I don’t know how many night shifts that I wasn’t there).  He just made the whole experience so amazing.

The ones like Patricia (different nurse) who was there for us when Mark made his decision.  And was our nurse when machines were shut off.  And was there for us through out the entire day.

And other support staff like Tracey – the PAC.  She was there all the time, it seemed.  She would always stop in and say hi to me, to the kids, and generally make the place a brighter one with her smile and attitude.  I still need to teach her how to crochet.

No one should have to spend 22 1/2 weeks in ICU.  But it’s because of nurses like the above, that it was a place that was bearable, almost enjoyable.

When he died, I lost not only my husband, my partner, my best friend, not only the father of my children, but I lost a world that I had been a part of for almost 6 months.  I lost people who were a part of my daily life.

I’ve kept in touch with some of them.   Some of them are such amazing people, that I want to stay in touch and be a part of their lives and have them be a part of mine.   They’re just that awesome.   I miss them, chatting with them, seeing how their lives are going.

So to Robert and Patricia and Ellen and Tracey… thank you.

The Dime

Someone on my Facebook sent me the following message:

One thing that has helped me is something that my friend told me about, this will help you too and give you comfort. When you find a single dime, that is from Mark, it is his way of communicating with you, save the dimes. You will not have to look for them. Mark will make sure you find them.

And I sorta dismissed the thought… after all – that worked for her, that was her thing – not mine.

And tonight, I’m feeling especially sad and missing Mark, and I get up to go to the bathroom before I go to sleep.

There on the floor – where I swear nothing was before, was a dime.

I remembered her message to me, and immediately thought of Mark.  He was letting me know he is around.

Just a dime… but it’s worth to me is so much more, now.

 

I love you Mark.  I miss you….

 

 

Disassociating.. or OK?

I see a psychiatrist as well as my family doctor.  I will, in the near future, see a psychologist as well.

I saw the psych on Monday – he told me that I seem to be doing well in my grief, that I’m in a “normal” place.  That I’m not getting “brittle.”

I saw the family doc today – he reminded me that I don’t ever get brittle.  I disassociate.  I do things that will keep me from processing.  For instance, I will drink too much.  I will eat too much.  I will stay up late until my body can’t function anymore and then pass out in exhaustion.

It’s interesting because in the past 3 days, I’ve had 3 separate conversations about my sleep patterns with 3 different people.

Person 1:  What would Mark want you to do?  (Mark would tell me to get my ass to bed, close my eyes and let my body relax even though I say I’m not sleepy – and then laugh at me the next morning because I fell asleep so fast)

Person 2:  What is your normal rhythms?  (My first yawn normally happens around 10-10.30 pm – probably the time I should go to bed)

Person 3: My doctor and the conversation noted above.

Which tells me something.  What it tells me is that sleep, and taking care of me, is very important.  That if I choose not to pay attention to my body and I choose to ignore the signals, I’m setting myself up for serious failure.

I crash, and end up needing long long naps during the day.  Not every day, but enough for it to be noted.  I notice that I’m unable to function and that’s not a good thing.   I need to sleep.  I need to be mindful, and present.

My doctor reminded me that I need to move from the reactionary frame of mind into the present frame of mind.   I need to, using the tools I have, to create the life I want.   The life Mark would want me to have.  The life that we should have had.

And get some good sleep.

Numbing Out.

It’s been 4 weeks exactly since he made the decision.

4 weeks ago, I had an amazing nurse with us, who did everything he could to make us comfortable.

4 weeks ago was my last night married to my husband.

4 weeks ago we had an amazing, intimate night where we got to say everything that was needed.

4 weeks ago I got to say good bye.

4 weeks ago a light went out in my life…

I’ve spent the last 4 weeks doing my best to numb out.  I believed at the time that I was ok, still feeling what needed to be felt, but I was numbing out my emotions.

Alcohol doesn’t make me weepy, it makes me numb.  It makes me forget, if only for a moment, a night, how broken my life is.

I almost did something the other night that I would have woke up regretting.  I wanted desperately to…. and sobered up enough to realize how badly I’d feel the next day if I did.

I’ve had a couple drinks since then – but literally one drink on Friday, one on Saturday, nothing last night, not enough to numb out or stop feeling.

The result?  I’m crying more.  I’m more emotional.  I hurt more.  I miss him more.

I also started eating more.

Apparently I will try to numb out subconsciously.

None of it will change the basic facts.

I am a widow.   The love of my life died 4 weeks ago.  The man I thought I would grow old with, he’s gone.  He made the choice to stop fighting.  I supported that choice, but dammit, I miss him horribly.

I am a widow.  No amount of numbing out will change that.