Widow

Widow is defined as “A woman who’s spouse has died and who has not remarried”

By that definition – I am a widow.  By any definition, I am a widow.

I’ve taken my ring off my left hand, moved it to my right.

His ring is on his urn on the shelf.

He died – I have not remarried.

But when I go to Facebook, a place that means nothing, is nothing, just a time waster… and try to set my relationship status as “widow” it just seems… wrong.

I don’t want to lose the connection to him.   Every where there are threads breaking.   Every where there are connections being severed.

I go to the *edit* and see his face looking back at me and I don’t want to sever that last connection.

But I am a widow.

Do you have kids?  Remember when they were babies and just before they learned a new skill they’d get all cranky and irritable?   You couldn’t figure out what was going on and then suddenly they could roll over or stand on their own and suddenly back to their normal smiling selves?

That’s how this feels.   I feel like the angst and the arguing back and forth is a precursor for something to shift internally.    Since the “widow” thing is on my mind… that’s probably it.   I might be surprised.

But forever, in my heart, I am Mark’s wife.

Mark in Fruitvale

Residual Effects

I’ve got some pretty serious fears and anxieties now that I’m a widow.   They hit me at unexpected times.  I will be happily going along in my day and then *WHAM* they blindside me and I’m gasping for air.

I’m not the only person who has been affected.   My boys have been affected as well.

Every night, I send them to bed.  Every night the same questions are asked.

“Can I sleep in your bed?”
“Can I sleep on your floor?”

And when they are in their beds (or mine) if they don’t hear me moving around there’s the oh so familiar..

“MOM????”

“What?”

“Never mind”

The query is to make sure I’m still here.  To make sure I haven’t left.  To make sure that I’m not going anywhere.

I don’t know how to combat these residual effects… or even if they are something to be combatted.

Perhaps they are something just to learn to bend with.  To allow them to drift past as a part of each night until they find security in their lives again.

They’ve lost that security… so as frustrating as it is to me to hear the same call every night… they need me to reassure them.  Every. Single. Time.

I’m not the only one who lost someone… I’m not the only one who had life ripped apart, tossed in the wind and now I’m trying to make sense of it.

The boys need me to keep them safe.    I will do that to the best of my ability – all the while remembering that patience, while not my strong suit, is something that I desperately need to learn…and learn it well.

In the meantime, I need to practice being gentle and kind and loving, regardless of how frustrating they can be.

They need it.

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Who Are You?

Once upon a time, a little girl lived in a chaotic, stressful, uncertain home.  Her mother was alcoholic (although the little girl didn’t know it at the time) and her father was relatively absent (for reasons unknown).

The little girl had dreams… of being a vetrinarian, a model, an actress, a lawyer.   Dreams of seeing the world.   Dreams of a happier life.   Mostly, the little girl dreamed of a life where love came without conditions, where it was ok to BE, and of escape.

The little girl dreamed of the white picket fence around the house where she was a wife and mom to 2.5 kids and the world was … perfect.

As the little girl grew, she discovered she had control over some things in her life, and with those things came power, and with that power came attention.    That attention drew her to the possibility of escape.

Escape came for the little girl, but the white picket fence did not materialize.   Her escape routes were fraught with more chaos, more uncertainty and more conditions on the love that was offered.

One day, the white knight showed up.    He offered her the world.  He offered her the white picket fence, the 2.5 kids, the opportunity to be rescued and have that “perfect” life she had dreamed about.   She became a wife and a mom in the ways she had wanted as a little girl.

The white knight, however, wasn’t perfect.  He had flaws.   He DID give her unconditional love, he DID give her the kids, he DID give her stability and security… mostly… but he had his flaws.   And so they had an imperfectly perfect life together.

The girl continued to live her life as she had dreamed.   She and her knight made plans, made adjustments for his flaws (not to say that she had none, just that his required major life adjustments) and planned a future that involved touring around on motorcycles when the kids had grown up and moved away.

The girl explored areas of life within the confines of those roles.  The girl would reach out to the world and try to fit in with different communities, always mindful of being the “knight’s wife” or the “children’s Mom”  but never just as “The Girl”

And so the girl, happy in her life, defined herself through those roles.   She didn’t stop to think about who she was outside of those roles.

One tragic day, the knight was no longer there.   He succumbed to the worst of his flaws, and was suddenly gone from her life.

The girl lost half of her identity.   She was no longer the “knight’s wife,” she was just the children’s Mom…  and the children were growing up.   They were moving towards independence and autonomy and figuring out who they were in the world.   The didn’t need her quite so much.    Before, this was okay as the knight was still there and the girl was still planning her future with him.   But now, with the knight gone, the girl was left with an uncertain future.

Leaving the girl to ask… “Who are you?” whenever she looked in the mirror.   She was not the knight’s wife anymore, and wasn’t sure if she wanted to be ANYONE’s wife ever again.

And so the girl spent her time wondering… who are you?   And as time moved forward, as it does, she found herself looking at the world differently.   Not a wife, not looking to be a wife, wondering what communities she fit into, letting go of some of those that no longer worked for her, she was in flux.  She was in a time of uncertainty and insecurity as she tried on different worlds that had fit her in the past, but seemed to have grown out of.

Who are you?  What excites you?   These are the questions that face the girl now.   Not the quest to be a wife, not the desire to be a mom, but who are you and what do you want to do?

For the first time, the girl is taking the time to look for the answers to these questions…

Comfort-Zone

 

 

But she wishes the knight was here with her…  The magic they shared was a different kind of magic…

Group Support

Not my thing.

I went.  I tried. I was seriously uncomfortable.

Not uncomfortable in a “step out of your comfort zone and good things will happen” way – but uncomfortable in a “WTF am I doing here??” way.

Lovely people… but not my thing.

I got more comfort and support out of the 1/2 hour conversation I had with a friend after I left than I did while at the group support.

I think because I have such an amazing support group of friends that I don’t need the support that would come from a facilitated support group.

I tried.   I can say I honestly tried.

Now – I’ll reserve Monday’s for my kids and move on from there in healing.

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Grief Support Group

I haven’t been to one.  I’m supposed to attend one tonight.

I want to go… sorta.  But at the same time I don’t.   I don’t want to go somewhere I don’t know anyone and talk about my husband’s death.

I don’t want to be the youngest person there.  I don’t want to be the only one still raising kids and have to explain what it’s like.

I don’t grieve publicly.

Ok… y’all can stop laughing, snickering and giggling now.  I grieve through this BLOG, but I don’t grieve in person, publicly.   I cry in private.  I get sad in private.

I will write a heartfelt, raw, emotional blog, bawl my face off in my bedroom and then go out and smile at my kids and friends.

You, dear reader, do not see me.   You read, you get insight into my mind, but you don’t see me.  You can’t touch me.  You can’t look at me with pity.  I won’t hear from you “I’m so sorry”

The “I’m so sorry’s” in person are way worse than the online ones.  The empathy and sympathy I get online helps me to realize I’m not alone, but allows me to be private and insulated.

I don’t do well in groups – but I love talking one on one.  I love to connect with one person, maybe two, in person and have a coffee and chatter.  With two other people, I have a tendency to stay quiet and let them talk.  Any more than 2 people and I become a wall flower… I stop talking.  I clam up unless someone directly asks me a question.

So group therapy?   My anxiety is going through. the. roof.

So much so that I’m contemplating taking a pill.  So much so that I want to hide in my bedroom.  So much so that I can’t think of much but how to AVOID going there tonight.

Another widow suggested I go – that I can always quit if I don’t like it.   But I won’t be able to LEAVE if I’m uncomfortable.  That’s the flipside of my anxieties.  If I go somewhere or agree to do something then SHOW UP… I have to follow through – I can’t leave.

Stupid freaking anxieties.

Stupid freaking husband dying on me so that I’m forced to confront shit like this.

Dammit.

I’m probably not going to go… the idea of going makes me want to throw up.  It might do me some good – but not if I’m vomiting all over the place.   I am doing rather well with one on one counselling I’m getting with my psychologist…

I hope it does some good for the people who go there… I have connected with other people…and I think I’ll be ok without it.

Grief

‘Verseraries

Why are they so much more…. painful… than other days?

What makes the 6 month, the 9 month, the 1 year worse than 6 months and 17 days?

Why is Mother’s Day and Father’s Day so much worse?

New Years? Christmas? Thanksgiving? Easter?

Why is it that we place so much importance on those days?

He’s dead.  He’s not coming back.  He’s going to be gone whether it’s Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or July 10th.

He’s always going to be gone.

But they do hurt more.

In a few days… February 1, is our anniversary of when we got together.   It would have been 15 years.

Holy. Fucking. Hell.

In a chat on Widowed Village someone mentioned that her anniversary was coming up and she was going to CELEBRATE IT…  and at the end of the day, release a balloon and a handwritten note.

I love this.

15 freaking years.  15 years he’s been my Love, my life, my best friend… 15 years since he first called me up and said he wanted to get together.

I miss him.  I miss his presence.  I miss his strength.  I miss being able to talk to him.  It might sound strange – but in everything that’s going on with George – I want to be able to talk to him, get his feedback…and I can’t.  He was the one who was always there for me, always had my back and kept me strong.

In 5 days, another first will go by… largely unnoticed by anyone but me.   February 1 will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart.   It will ALWAYS be a day I remember…

Last year, he was waking up out of the drug-induced coma, and he was relatively awake on Feb 1.  I came to the hospital, saw him… and the first thing he said to me was “Happy Anniversary my Love”

Best freaking anniversary ever.

It’s still so surreal that he’s not here…

On February 1, I will go to his favourite spot on the river, and I will release a balloon for him…

Anniversaries of any sort hurt.  But there’s good memories, too.

I Miss You

Seven Months Tomorrow

Seven Months.

It’s been over a year since he went to the hospital.

My life has been thrown into the wringer, flipped upside down and twisted out of shape.

But I’m still here.

Tonight, I’m mostly at peace.  I am feeling mostly ok.  Almost forgot what the date was… but was reminded in a chat.

The world hasn’t ended.  I’m as in love with my husband as I ever was… I miss him so very much… but we’re going to be ok. I’m going to be ok.

Seven months… I was talking to my sister-in-law today about how much changes in a year… and the world will look very different to me in a year.

My world has changed in so many ways… and so have I.

I miss you Mark… more every day….

Christmas 2011

 

But slowly the cracks are healing…

Kintsugi Broken Heart

Breakdown = Breakthrough?

I have this friend (yah, you know who you are) who likes to talk about a breakdown being necessary for a breakthrough to happen.

I always thought… yeah… sure… ok… but breakthroughs can happen without the breakdown.  You can build and grow by making choices.   There doesn’t HAVE to be a breakdown.

And then I fell in a hole.

A deep, dark hole where I couldn’t see anything but the pain of losing him.  I couldn’t see anything but the loss.  I couldn’t see the beauty or the blessings.  I could only see the blackness.

I broke down.  I locked myself in my bedroom in the dark with my pain and my tears and let myself shatter.

It’s an interesting experience…laying broken on my bed.   I had read this article before and thought it was interesting but didn’t really give it much thought beyond.. “hey.  cool.”

And then I found myself lying on my bed, broken.

… now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?

I’m a control freak.  I like to plan my moves 3 or 4 a know what’s head, and anticipate all the moves.

It was pointed out to me that life isn’t a game to be won or lost.  The point isn’t the end of the game – its playing and enjoying and savouring the journey.   In order to do that, I have to let go.  Let myself break down and just *enjoy* the journey, however it may look or where ever it may take me.

I broke down.  I shattered.  I lay on my bed sobbing for a lost love, a lost future, a lost plan.  I broke and didn’t know if I was going to be able to put myself back together.

A funny thing happened though… I didn’t.  I’m still broken.  I’m still lost.  I’m still incredibly sad.    But I’m at peace.

I hit the lowest point I’ve ever hit during the past year this week.  It got low, then it got lower, then it got still lower…and I’m still here.  I didn’t die.  I’m still functioning.  And I’m still here.

I have so much to learn about who I am, who I want to be and where I’m going to go in my life.  I have wonderful years ahead getting to know my boys as the young men they will become.

I want to learn to live in the brokenness, in the confusion, in the uncertain.   I want to be at peace with insecurity.  I want to be comfortable in what life brings me, without expectation of how that looks.

I had a moment in blackness… and I’m still here in the light.

Peace

Do Broken Bones Heal Stronger?

The jury is still out.

A quick google search says that yes they do, no they don’t, they do but then they break easier, or in general… who knows?

But the saying, the old wives tale, the myth, is that a broken bone is stronger at the healed point than anywhere else.

I wonder if the same is true of broken hearts?

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandise the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

This quote from Barbara Bloom describes Kintsugi, the Japanese practise of repairing precious but broken objects with gold. It’s a beautiful concept, related to the Japanese concept wabi-sabi.

I’d like to think my heart will be repaired one day.  I wrote about how I died the other day – how the love and support from my friends is what’s keeping me together and moving forward.

It would be nice if the scars could be repaired with gold.  Beautiful, brilliant, shining gold.   Creating something stronger and more beautiful than it was before.

The ability to have loved with the depth and intensity that I loved Mark with… it causes the grief to take me to a dark, black hole of despair now that he’s gone…

A friend said to me tonight… You know you have the right to dwell there, you deserve some time there, but you are still needed in the real world.

And she’s right.  When I’m able to, soaking in the darkness, dwelling in the intense sadness is something I can’t avoid.  But  I am needed in the real world, and I need to come back to the light.

Every time I bring myself back from the darkness, another crack is repaired with gold.  Another scar shines as a testament to the love we shared.

Some days, the holes, the darkness is worse than others.  Some days, it’s barely grey.   But I keep coming back.  I keep repairing the cracks and the scars with gold, so that one day I’ll be able to shine again.

Kintsugi

I Don’t Want To

I don’t want to be this person.

This angry, out of control, frustrated, spinning, seriously sad, depressed, mad person.

I don’t want to be the person everyone looks at and says “Hey- there she goes – that woman’s husband died and then she lost her mind and now she’s mentally ill and kinda crazy… watch out for her”

I don’t want to be the person who can’t handle life.

I don’t want to be the person who’s brain tells her one thing and then another and then another.

I want to be me again.

I want to be strong.

I want to be confident.

I want to be in control.

I want to be self-assured.

I want to be loveable.

I want to feel right in my skin.

I want to be comfortable with me.

I want to be me again.

I lost me.   I died when he did.  I want me back.  I hate the feelings and thoughts that come out of my brain and permeate my consciousness and colour my perspective on life.

I want to feel cohesive again.

I want to feel safe again.

I want to know that my family is still my family and I didn’t lose them because I lost my husband.

I want me back.

Lost Without You