I needed to write tonight as I am quite shaken to my core over the loss of a friend and the path my friend and her girls find themselves on. There have been moments over the past 36 hours that I have not wanted to share what I am experiencing because it truly does not compare to the pain they are experiencing. However, I decided to write because this moment I am in, will be experienced by other widows at some point in their life. The wounds will reopen while we hold those dear to us up, in their darkest moment. It is in these times that we must revisit the moments that gave us strength and hope. This is one of my most powerful moments:
In a little over a month, eight years will have passed since the day I lost the love of my life, my best friend, my everything. Right now, more so than other times, I feel completely alone. Life these past eight years has been a struggle for me with glimpses of it not being a struggle. Right now, I am struggling. I’m so bitterly disappointed in so many things and there are times when I simply do not understand why people are the way they are.
Over the past month, I have stepped away from Facebook, except to keep track of political things. I have maybe posted two times but otherwise, I have kept far away. I’ve done this before for other reasons but this time, I realized that the majority of my interactions with people and friends was only through this means of social media. I was not cultivating relationships outside of it – not really.
After my husband died, Facebook was a way to connect. It allowed me to form relationships with other widowed people and friends from near and far, would post supportive things and follow my life and the changes as the years went by. There were a handful of individuals that took this a step further and sent me books that helped them through tough times, or dropped by my house and left flowers or little goodies, or called me up to check on things, or even went out to dinner with me. But the majority – the majority of my interactions, my sense of belonging, was through a screen.
Over the years, I found myself trying different things, setting out on my own business doing life coaching, going back to school to potentially pursue a degree in Chinese Medicine, volunteering for various things, getting in and out of relationships – all in the name of belonging. When we moved to the PNW two years ago, I was determined to make every effort I could to create community for my son and I. I began volunteering where I could at his school. I did things with a friend and her family who lived out here, I reached out to others that I had known when we lived out here before. It seems that everywhere I turned, something strange would happen. That friend had marital problems and the husband thought it would be okay to text me to ask if I had a spare room he could stay in which was beyond inappropriate as I also was doing work for my friend (his wife) and her business. Trying to stay completely out of it, I never told her about this and I think that it has hurt our friendship (and business relationship) as I don’t trust him one bit (they are back together) and would not put it past him to talk negatively about me. Then again, I don’t know that we were meant to be friends as they just might not be my kind of people and I’m not their kind of people.
Then the school volunteering things were just weird. We are definitely not a good fait for this school as my expectations are much greater but the parents…good lord. It is so very hard to even feel a sense of belonging there. I stopped trying and got involved with outside activities. Again, even though I really want to stay involved – this past spring season made me not want to have anything to do with the sport or the people there. People definitely surprised me with their actions, especially the outgoing leader.
Each time I searched for ways to feel that I belonged – I was met with some weird shit. Believe me, I’ve looked back and saw things that I could have changed but for fucks sake – asking me to stay at my house with my son and I barely know you? What the fuck is wrong with people? It has been stuff like this happening not just these past two years but for the past seven or so.
Which has made me realize that I have got to get off this crazy train and simplify and make things count. Wanting to belong is one thing. Belonging to the wrong things is another. This is why I am no longer on Facebook and I am taking my time and cultivating friendships the old fashioned way. Reaching out, having face-to-face in person conversations, and learning more about them through our interactions in real life – not from what they post online.
The past seven, almost eight years, has had times of purging. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Recently, I’ve realized that I depend a lot on what others think of me – or what I think they think of me – and worse, what I imagine they think I should do. I have made some seriously bad decisions for this very reason and it stops now. This has been something that I have struggled with all my life but now, at my age, no. Almost eight years ago, I was thrust into a life where I was the only one making all the decisions. I lost that one person who was my confidant, who stood his ground and discussed things with me, and kept the big picture in mind while still allowing for a lot of fun to happen. I lost the person I could talk to about my fears, my anxiety, my hopes, my wants, and my dreams.
For almost eight years – it has been me and it has been lonely and it has been tough. I think that this has been one of my greatest struggles and it has been one of the greatest lessons. Right now, I feel like a ship without an anchor, a ballon floating through the air. I feel more alone than I ever have in my entire life and it is in this moment that I believe that my true self is emerging and I just have to hold on and believe.
This frightens me and at times I just want to disappear but it also gives me hope. I’m finding my voice and I’m finding myself.
My writing here has been sorely neglected as I have been slowly finding me. Much of my life has been sorely neglected, not something that makes sense to do when you are trying to find yourself. I think much of this neglect of myself, as I find myself, is from fear. From not wanting to discover what I may discover. So, I have been existing and existing is not working out so well for me. I say existing and you may picture me only doing the bare minimum but in fact, I do take showers regularly, I eat fairly healthy, I went back to school to finish my degree and am in the process of applying to grad school. I have been managing my life and making sure that my son is taken care of. Through all of this though, the existing while doing things, I have felt more empty. I have filled my life with activities, responsibilities, business, learning – and I feel more empty than I’ve felt in a very long time.
It occurred to me this morning that my entire life, I have worried so very much about what others think of me or needing validation for every decision I make. The funny thing is, is that I think that if you polled most people around me, my friends and family, they’d all say that I’m one of the most independent people they know and that I always do exactly what I want. This isn’t the case though. I’m wracked with feelings of inadequacy, of not being enough, of the pure primal need to have people say I’m doing it right and I’m an inspiration, or go-getter, or perfect in every way.
This leads to disappointment though when I’m constantly searching for this besides what should matter most in my life being neglected. Be it my true self or my son. The first time in my life that I felt whole, that I felt I could make mistakes and I would not be rejected and told that I am not enough, was when I met my husband. Besides my son and his love, this is the best gift he has ever given me. I remember when I was at a family wedding and on the program, ithad some poem that was about “finding my best friend”. I was sitting by one of my Aunts and she said something about how ridiculous this was. That a husband should not be a best friend. That best friends need to come from outside the marriage…this thought lived with me for most of my life. Until just recently. I thought that never would my husband be my best friend. I wish I hadn’t kept what she said as something to live by – from a woman with a less than stellar marriage and a person that has turned into more of an utter bitch than she was before. But at the time, I thought she was something more or at least, honestly, I wanted her approval.
If I have a regret in my own marriage – it is this. That I did not make him my best friend or think of him in that way. He was though. No matter my thoughts on the subject. He was my best friend. We always talked about how right our relationship felt – that we were truly meant to be together. Soulmates. But never best friends. His death has taught me that he was indeed my best friend. It may be seven years later…but he was my best friend and my soulmate and as I try to find Me, I keep those feelings close to my heart and my brain The feelings of being accepted and loved for all my good, my mistakes, my neurosis…because finding Me, sucks.
Recently, in a class, I was struggling to come up with a research topic. I’ve been neck deep in writing papers about trauma and neurobiology that I am simply tired and even though this is fascinating to me, it has certainly taken a toll on me the past three months. My instructor told me that I needed to come up with something light hearted, something fun, something that I was interested in. She asked me what my interests were…I replied, with tears in my eyes, “trying to survive the day”.
Trying to survive the day.
That was a sad moment. How have I found myself here, simply trying to survive the day. What. In. The. Hell. This isn’t why I am going back to school, to survive the day. This isn’t why I’m looking at grad school, to survive the day. This isn’t why I am alive, to survive the day. And this is when it struck me – I don’t know who I am anymore if I am simply trying to survive the day. No matter what, even when seeking approval, or needing other people’s input, surviving the day was never part of my world. Sure, surviving moments, set-backs, those sort of things but never surviving the day. I knew who I was to a certain degree…
Now, I don’t. Finding Me is not about finding who I was years ago or even last week. Finding Me is bigger. It is creating and loving the person I have become, letting the person I am, come out, bigger, better, more beautiful than ever – and embracing that person. Not asking for feedback. Not asking for approval. Knowing that this the Me emerging is doing just that – emerging. Emerging and reflecting the beauty that is my past and reflecting the beauty with what is to come.
A friend recently wrote a blog reflecting on her writing and how she tends to write more when things are not going so well. She then writes less when things are going well. What she said got me to thinking about my own writing and the fact that I have not been writing even remotely close to how much I used to write. And it is silly! I look at things now and know that now is the time to write – when things are going well and changing and stressful and new and wonderful – the time when I am putting into practice the lessons I have learned.
This is the time to write.
Another friend of mine has spent the past two years writing about being single. She has set up interviews with people she does not know and gets their take on being single in the city, their hopes and dreams. It has been a wonderful avenue for her to explore her own life and take steps to put herself out there and try new things and meet new people. This year, she has decided to write about cooking, which I completely love. I also love how both of these individuals shared their stories, what they were doing now and what they had come across in writing (or not writing) at the same time I was struggling with my own writing and direction.
Here I am. With a plan. I have some amazing and wonderful things going on in my life. New opportunities, new relationships. Learning to navigate this new chapter in my life – this new novel really.
This is the first time, in a very long time that I am ready to write…and the ideas are flowing. You’ll be hearing a lot more from me…
Its been a difficult time over the past few weeks. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with emotions, figuring out how to support my son, settling into our new surroundings, worried about a sick kitty, trying to figure out my life path…overwhelmed.
A few weeks ago, after realizing my eating habits were lacking and I needed a jump start to get back into the swing of things, I signed up for an 8-week “I Quit Sugar” plan. Yesterday was day one.
With this, I decided that there were going to be other changes. My son is struggling right now in school as it is a big adjustment and they just don’t know him very well yet – he’s a perfectionist and can also get overwhelmed by surroundings – especially since this class size is almost triple what he was in last year. He’s still finding his way but I can see he is feeling overwhelmed as well. So, in addition to quitting sugar…we’ve started morning and evening rituals. Just simple things to keep homework and additional work going, getting things done around the house and also getting him to start doing more things for himself – or having more responsibility. This is such a fine line to walk right now because his frustration is on the surface and so I am constantly making sure I’m aware of giving him the success that he needs. Oh my beautiful, compassionate, perfectionist child…
Our rituals are both getting things done and calming the mind. We both do the things we need to do, focus on homework and learning as well as quieting the mind and just some good down-time doing whatever it is that we want to do. The rituals are nice.
Another big change is that over the next 8 weeks, we are not buying any unnecessary items. I’ve done this before but haven’t stuck with it for very long. When I have done it, oh wow, what a difference. My mindset is on saving for trips or experiences and I come face to face with why I think I really need something…So, over the next 8 weeks, zero unnecessary spending and I’m sure that it will be longer. I even talked to the little guy about all of this and he’s in on it for now…and I know, he will love those gifts that he does receive on special occasions even more. I want him to appreciate what we already have and appreciate the things he does get, even more.
I’m excited for the next two months (wow) and to see the changes that are made during this time…more than ready to get back to “center” and tap into (and hold on tight) my source and to teach my son to tap into his.
I’m just so tired.
I’m so tired of doing it all.
I’m so tired of being the only one to worry. The only one to contemplate decisions. The only one to plan for the future. The only one to pay attention. The only one to work on homework. The only one to clean and cook and paint walls and get out in nature and go for hikes so our time isn’t spent always inside. I’m tired of the only one in the stands cheering my son.
I’m tired of shitty in-laws and relatives. I’m tired of equally shitty friends. I’m tired of trying and trying and trying some more. I’m tired of reaching out. I’m tired of being alone.
I’m tired of seeing other people happy and wondering what the fuck is wrong with me. I’m tired of this “widow community” that really isn’t a community at all…unless you are in the “in-crowd”. I’m tired of hearing words of support followed by inaction…
I know so much of this is due to all of the changes that have been made in the past 2 months. The Big Move had my summer and life held hostage by real estate agents, inspections, deals, packing and movers. I’m so glad it all happened and part of this tired feeling is because I’m doing it all…and feeling utterly alone.
I’d love for someone to come up to me and say “you know you are incredible? Through tragedy, you have raised a beautiful, thoughtful, loving son. You have moved forward with your life, exploring possibilities and always trying to see the beauty in the world. You sold a house that had become a home to move two thousand miles to a place you love and felt a connection with. You packed up all your belongings, your animals, your son and moved across the country – BY YOUR FUCKING SELF! You are an incredible person and you should be given credit for doing something that most people would never dream of doing…”
I’d also like a date. I’d like someone else to plan dinner, to take me out, have an adult conversation…actually, not an adult conversation…I want to talk. I want to talk with someone and feel comfortable, like we’ve known each other our entire lives. I’d like to feel safe and taken care of once again. I’d like to share in hopes and dreams, successes and failures.
Its tiring doing all of this alone.
A year since I’ve written here…
So much has changed. I reread some of my previous blogs and how true so much of it is – and how much has changed.
What I thought could be a wonderful Chapter 2 – was indeed just another chapter in a book. Since then, I’ve taken to the thought that it isn’t about writing Chapter 2 or that the first line in Chapter 2 needs to be centered around finding another person. I’m a bit against that really. It doesn’t sit well with the fiber of my being. Honestly it never has as I just do not believe that Chapter 2 has to be defined as meeting someone new after the loss of a spouse…
Instead, I’m on Book 2. And no, it does not include a significant other (yet). But damn, the opening chapters are amazing.
I sold my beautiful house, packed up all of my belongings, loaded my son, three cats, two birds and a Nanna, into my car for a 3 day journey across the country to our new home. I didn’t move because of a job. I didn’t move because of a significant other. I moved because I wanted to. I moved because I miss being able to get into nature, to drive a short distance to the coast or the mountains. I moved because I wanted to provide my son with more than what I could give him in KC. I moved because I wanted more. I wanted different.
And boy did people think I was crazy. Here is a 40 year-old widow moving with her child across the country away from “support” and “family”. Yup.
As I sit here and write this, I too am a little shocked that I did this. What the hell was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that I needed my life and I wasn’t getting that back in KC. I wanted to leave a world that I grew up in. I wanted to create something new for myself and for my son. I created a life here in Portland with my late husband and it came with challenges as I had never lived away from what I had known, before. However, it also came with amazing opportunities and I grew up so much and we grew up and became ‘adults’ here. I didn’t move back here in search of that life as I know too too well that there is no recreating…and I don’t want that. I deliberately found a house on the other side of the city from where we lived – well – not completely the other side. I’m still on the same side of the river but the area is unfamiliar to me and that is exactly what I wanted. Even with being deliberate in that way, maybe for the sake of what other’s thought, still being close to and surrounded by the things we loved about living here, has unexpectedly been a gift. A huge gift to both myself and my son. For the first time in his short life, I see him light up when I show him where his Daddy took him for his first slide. I see his heart open up and a sense of “so she didn’t make this shit up”, when I tell him that his Daddy and I hiked this same trail when he was a baby. He’s finding joy in really knowing that his life started here.
I’m finding joy and my heart filled as I feel like I have come home. This place, this place is truly where my life started. It is a place where my life took a turn. it is a place where I have always felt a deep connection with. It is the place where my Book 2 has started.
I am beyond excited to see what I write and where life takes me. My time here, now, will be vastly different than what it was before. There is so much more understanding of life, of living. And believe me – I plan to live.
So welcome. Welcome to Book 2 of my life. You’ll be seeing me here a lot more.