Monotony

January 31, 2011

I was talking someone today and she said something that struck me as true.  I was talking about how my parents still come and stay with me every few weeks and how it is nice to have them up.  She said it helps break up the monotony and that is exactly how it feels.  Every day is not just painful and overwhelming it is monotonous, devoid of joy, and just like the day before.

I wake up, like a robot.  Turn of my alarm, shuffle to the shower, follow my routine.  The routine gives me enough momentum to keep going through the morning.  So in many ways, while the morning was the worst at first, now I am just numb through it and can get myself to work ok. 

I sit at my desk alternate between bursts of trying hard to focus, being distracted by things that don’t require thought, meetings where I have to pretend I care, and moments of trying to get through the grief.  Then eventually, my time at work ends.  I want to leave because I am tired of being here and have used my energy.  Deep in my subconscious I remember the days of racing home to be with Chris or to be at home to greet Chris, so that reflex is still there.

Once I am in my car and driving home and I don’t call him and he doesn’t call me to see what either of us is doing, I remember.  I don’t have anyone to go home to.  I don’t really want to go home.  So often I will drive around, run errands.  Make stops. Most of them completely useless.  For the first time since I moved to a traffic plagued area, I don’t want traffic to move quicker.  At least when I am in my car I don’t have to be somewhere, find a way to fill the time, my restless spirit is occupied by being  on my way somewhere. 

Then I get home.  Depending on how cold it is, I stay in my car for a while to adjust to the quiet.  Outside it seems easier.

Then I walk into the house and am overwhelmed with the hours that stretch ahead of me.  Generally I waste them watching tv, wandering around from small task to small task.  Sometime I am more productive. Sometimes I schedule a class, a dinner, something to do with friends, and it is a way to fill the night.  But that is all it is, a way to fill time.  The cold, gray, gross weather doesn’t help. 

That is one of the biggest changes for me since Chris’s death.  I no longer have a life I enjoy and am grateful for. I have a life I am just trying to fill until its my turn to die or I enjoy it again, who knows what will come first.  I wish I were in my 80s, then it wouldn’t be so hard to fill a few years, but at 29 the weight of 50ish years to fill is nauseating. 

Monotonous.  Yes.  Feeling like I am stuck in never-ending postapocalyptic like despair.  Absolutely.  But I keep waking up and going through the motions, I don’t have much of a choice.  There is enough of the old me to want to still pay my bills and is too restless to lay in bed all day and that if I keep going through the motions, they will carry me to a day when I want my life again.

Ugly emotions

January 25, 2011

There are a lot of ugly emotions associated with grief and I have been overwhelmed by them this past week.  It is draining to try to handle them the way I want to: acknowledge them, experience them, and try not to be consumed by them.  

Another of my friends got engaged this weekend.  I hate that it upsets me so much but it does.  There are so many complex emotions surrounding these types of situations that it is overwhelming.  It causes me pain, because I remember that happy time in my life and know I will never be there again.  Even if I do fall in love again and remarry (the main word being IF) it will never be as exciting and wonderful as the first time around.  I am too different.  I will never be that carefree.  It reminds me of all the plans and hopes I had with Chris which have now died with him.  Honestly it makes me want to give up.  It takes me back to those very dark first months, where there wasn’t a moment I didn’t beg God and Chris to take me away.  I don’t feel that way all the time now, only when I am at my worst.

This pain makes it hard for me to be happy for my friends.  I guess it isn’t that I am not happy for them, but its hard to be excited. It’s hard to listen to it, to pretend I don’t want to pull all my hair out. It’s hard to watch as others’ lives go on and live a life like what I wanted with Chris, while I struggle to find a reason to live.  Its hard and I hate it.  I hate that I have to work to rejoice with my friends in their happiness.  They did it for me when Chris and I were engaged and then married, even when their lives were not ideal.  It is a struggle and it is exhausting.  It is only going to continue given the phase of life I am in.  Late 20s and early 30s is all about engagements, marriage, buying houses, and having babies. I was a part of that, now I am not, nor will I be. 

But I try my best.

When I feel that deep pain from the reminders of a life I will never have now, I get angry.  Very angry.  And I find that I am mostly angry at Chris.  Whether it is fair or irrational or whatever, it is overwhelming. It is unfair that I have to do this without him. It is unfair that I will never have one wedding anniversary with him, much less the 50 we hoped for. I am fucking angry at him for leaving me .  If he showed up on our doorstep, I would punch him and throw things at him for putting me through this.  He was supposed to be with me until I was old and gray, not leave me when I was 28 to try to care about my life again, to try to live without him. 

I was perfectly fine before him.  Independent and happy, traveling and hanging out with friends and family.  Then he came along and he showed me a new kind of happy, a kind of joy that can not be felt without him. He persuaded me to give up my independent ways and I adjusted to a partnership and planned a future. I could never go back and he left me before we really got to enjoy it. 

Sometimes I think I would have been better off never meeting him.  The pain and devastation of his death far outweighs the joy of our time together right now.  Maybe if we had been married for longer and had kids, I wouldn’t feel this way. But I sometimes wish he would have left me alone.  I know it’s not fair to him, as he doesn’t deserve it and didn’t “do it on purpose” , but the emotions are there and I have to feel them.

I know many widows don’t like to say this, in many circles being this angry at the deceased is sacrilege.  I am not proud of it, he was an amazing man and loved me more than I deserved, but I am angry.  And he is the one bearing the brunt.  But he can, because he is in Heaven now and he loves me.

Another part of the struggle.  This is where I should do my metta meditation exercises right? 

I am a work in progress.

Meditation

January 18, 2011

So in an effort to not talk about the pain all the time, I think I will throw in posts about things that have been helpful to me.  Maybe they will be helpful to others.  .

I have never really meditated before.  Anyone who knew me before Chris died would probably think it was the last thing I would do.  I was more of a watching basketball, swilling beer kind of girl.  But of course everything has changed and I am in a lot of pain.  For those of you who have experienced a life changing loss, you know how the pain (and anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, etc) can be overwhelming and I really felt like I needed to find a way to make the pain more manageable.

I have gone to two one hour meditation classes at a nearby yoga studio.  They were good.  It is, if nothing else, helpful to have an hour to not have to worry about anything, and be quiet.  At one of these classes, they advertised a meditation and mindfulness workshop for this past Sunday.  I have been reading a book about mindfulness (Grieving Mindfully http://www.amazon.com/Grieving-Mindfully-Compassionate-Spiritual-Coping/dp/1572244011/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295370175&sr=8-1) and it is a concept that my grief counselor and I had discussed early on and it really helped me get through those first months when it was a struggle every minute of everyday.  Here is a link about mindfulness if you want to learn more http://www.mindfulness.com/ 

 So I decided to go.  I didn’t have anything else to do, so why not? It was four hours of learning how to meditate in different ways: standing, sitting, laying down, walking.  The instructor helped us with posture and helped answer questions.  I generally found it very helpful as an introduction to meditation. 

At first I was feeling pretty good.  I knew that all I had to do was relax and breath for the next four hours.  We went through several different meditations and I felt like I was getting the hang of it.  I could focus on sounds and sensations and let the rest of the world and my problems take a backseat to just “existing”.  As I went along thoughts creeped in.  Tears fell on and off.  My thoughts right now are generally painful.  Actually I should say unpleasant.  You are supposed to look at your thoughts and feelings that come up as you meditate, experience them and term them pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.  So I will say my thoughts are generally unpleasant.  So I cried, but it was dark, so it was ok. 

As we neared the end of the seminar I began to get anxious again, know that my time was over and I would have to go back to the noise outside.  I wanted to stay there where it was peaceful and manageable. So it started to affect my concentration.

When we worked on one last type of meditation, it was hard to give it the same energy.  The meditation we worked on is called metta (loving-kindness http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/metta.html) meditation.  It is about “opening and softening the heart”.  A part of me feels very angry, bitter, and robbed by Chris’s death and resents everyone else whose lives haven’t fallen apart.  It is there, I don’t like it, but it is there and it is ugly.   This type of meditation is supposed to help address these kinds of emotions, to stop the negative thought process that fuels them.  While I was there I resisted it, I could feel my mind resisting the effects of the words you say to yourself.  It just made me frustrated.

However, I used it today and it worked.  I found out my dear friend got engaged.  While part of me was genuinely happy for her (I want her to be engaged and happy, I just want to be married and happy too), a larger part of me was in pain and bitter and envious.  I felt awful all morning, these two parts fighting with each other.  Then I tried a small metta exercise where I repeated “I am full of love and kindness” over and over again until I could actually feel the bitterness melt away and could feel the love wash over me.  The pain is still there, but it no longer holds me back from celebrating my friend.

I don’t want to be a bitter and angry person, incapable of thinking of others over myself.  I want to be truly filled with love and kindness (I know cheesy, but sincere).  I definitely think metta meditation is a practice I will incorporate into my daily life as a way to help me be the person I want to be and not let the pain dictate who I am. 

So, for those of you who are looking for something to help, I think meditation is a good idea.  There are all different types, try them all and see if they help.  I think it takes some getting use to, but I think it is worth the investment. 

Anyone else out there find meditation useful?

It has been a long week

January 17, 2011

It started out with another loss.  My grief counselor left, she moved on to another job and I will miss her more than I expected.  Having our last session was very sad.  I didn’t expect it to be so hard.  It may sound silly, but I had been seeing her since about a month after Chris died.  She had been there for me since the early days.  She always had an open, compassionate ear.  I feel she knows me better than anyone else.  It affected me more than I thought it would. 

I admit it, I have abandonment issues now.  Whenever anyone I love leaves I get upset.  I remember oh so painfully how I said goodbye to Chris on our doorstep, as usual, and never saw him again alive.  So having to lose my counselor’s support, has sent me down another path of feeling like I have nothing I can rely on or count on.  She was the one person I knew would understand, not judge, not try to fix me, but would listen and empathize and validate my feelings.

We were both very upset and cried when we said goodbye.  I will forever be grateful for her.

I met with someone she recommended for me. I am not sure about her.  We will see.

On top of that everything else has seemed very exhausting. I have been trying very hard to take care of paperwork and  trying new things that might help and I am tired. Sadly I have to work tomorrow and have a very busy day.

Plugging along.

Coming home

January 11, 2011

I pulled into the driveway today after my day and I sat there, as I often do.  I watched the sky, cloudy and gray, watched the trees, watched the squirrels jump from branch to branch and sat in silence.  Sitting there was easier than walking in the door.  So I sat for a while, thinking about how much has changed.

Last winter, my baby waiting for me on the porch

I hate coming home.  I hate it. It is not a home.  It is house, where I stay.  But it is empty and cold and depressing.  I hate walking in day after day knowing that I will never walk into him waiting for me again.  The pain is so great I want to howl, I do howl.  But I can’t howl loud enough to scare the pain away. 

Where is the feeling of peace and relaxation I use to get?  Where is the reaction of my body instantly relaxing when I walked through the door?  What happened to living with Chris for the rest of my life?

Some people think if I move, it will be better.  It might, but it doesn’t change the fact that I will be walking into a house where Chris isn’t living.  Some people think I should get a roommate.  That might help, but they aren’t Chris and I want Chris not someone else.  They won’t know our jokes and routines.  They can’t give me the amazing unconditional love, the true security and realiability, the happiness, the joy that Chris did.

I am so lonely I am choking on it. 

There is no solution.  Chris can’t come home. 

All I can do it feel it and greive his loss.  All I can do is cry and howl.  All I can do is close my eyes and imagine Chris and God holding me up as I do.

I love you so much baby.

M

Baby,

I was getting to a point where I had been able to convince myself that its ok we never had kids, that without you I am not interested in them.  That I could find a way to have a meaningful life as a widow without children.

Then I was walking out of the gym and I saw a mom and her daughter.  The girl was chattering on about something about dogs and was very cute.  I smiled genuinely at them, trying to convey how heartwarming the girl was.  Then as I passed them, it hit me again, like a sucker punch, that we will never have that. We will never get to meet our children.

I sobbed as I walked to my car.  Sobbed as I got in and closed the door.  What would our daughter (Juliet? ) have looked like?  Tall and slim with dark hair like you? Would she have your athleticism and charisma?  Or would she have my studiousness and humor?  What would it have been like to hold her and watch her (and any siblings) grow with you by my side?

I am so sorry I didn’t get to give them to you.  I wanted to give you children with all my heart.  I am so sorry baby, I wish I could fix it.

I love you

M

Stranger

January 8, 2011

I look at the people in these pictures and I dont’ know who they are. 

On a hay-ride

Faint echos of laughter, kisses, jokes float in my mind, but it is like watching a movie.

Abstractly I remember being with Chris and the things we did but I don’t feel like I remember his presence.  What it was like to have him around.  His laugh.  What he would say about things.  Do I even know him anymore?  My brain seems to have pushed him out in order to survive.

In some ways I am grateful.  I have realized that my brain knows what it is doing and how much I can handle.  Clearly I can’t handle much.  Those few moments where I fully realize and feel the loss of Chris (my Chris, the man who would wag his tail like a dog when I got home from work) is dead, gone forever and it makes me sick. The pain is so great I nearly vomit. 

It also makes me heartbroken to think that our love, our marriage, the beautiful intimacy of two people who love each other above all else, can be wiped away so easily.  It makes me scream at the injustice. 

But maybe it is more than just my brain, maybe its me.  I have changed so much, been through so much, felt so much on my own and not with Chris.  This version of me isn’t settled and happy and loved, she hasn’t known the amazing feeling of coming home to your soul mate.  She has grown, gained strengthened, grieved deeply, and become her own soul mate. 

How can my old life with Chris seem real after all of this?  It doesn’t.  Chris is not my flesh and blood

I love you

husband, he is a memory.  Maybe that is what it is, it is merely my adjustment from Chris as a person to a memory.

I guess this is where mindfulness would come in handy.  Just let it be what it will be. 

****

Baby,

I love you.  Our life was torn apart and we have gone our separate ways.  Even though you feel distant and unreal, I chose to love you everyday, as I promised on the day we got married.

I love you,

M

Holidays Schmolidays

January 5, 2011

I survived. I am here.  The last few months have been so draining, starting with our anniversary October 17th, through my dad’s birthday, my niece’s birthday, Chris’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, Chris’s nephew and brothers birthday on top of Chris’s favorite holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  We use to call it our “busy season” now it feels like a season of doom.  I hadn’t realized until yesterday how much more stress all of these days added to my daily life, if you can call it that.  How much energy it sapped to be continually planning ways to get through these days and bear the weight of his absence. 

Waking up Saturday morning was hard.  To know that it was a year Chris will never be a part of was gut wrenching.  But I did it, the best I could and I am living to tell the tale.

Am I relieved?  Maybe. The past few days I have been feeling more fed up, tired of being miserable and in pain all the time.  The past few months have been so intense my body and soul is tired.  A different tired from how it was the first few months.  Now it is more weary than exhausted.  But yesterday between my support group and grief counselor I was feeling more inspired. I have been feeling more interested in making something of what I have.  I don’t know what it looks like, but the spark is struggling through.