I am back

February 22, 2011

It has been a while since I posted since I went on a trip to visit a friend of mine in Argentina.  It was a good trip.  Chris and I had decided to go once we knew our friend would be moving there so I decided to go anyway. I went with some friends and generally was able to enjoy myself.

I had some hard days, I missed Chris desperately, thought constantly about him and how he would have loved the trip, missed being part of a couple.  But I was able to laugh, really laugh for the first time since he died.  I ate delicious food and enjoyed amazing scenery (picture seeing the Andes from a hot tub on the roof of a hotel).  I was able to basically ignore Valentine’s Day (whew) and get a bit of an escape from “being Chris’s widow”. I was just myself again for a while and I think overall it was good, it was healing.

I was in such a bad place before I left, that it  came at a good time I think. 

But coming home was hard.  It always is.  The little part of my brain that pretends that Chris will be waiting for me gets sucker punched as soon as I walk into the door.  I desperately miss being in his arms.

So now, I don’t know where I am.  Well I know where I am but my heart is all over the place.  One minute it  is numb, one minute it is trying hard to find something to be happy about, then it is angry, then it is stuck in a flashback of that morning in the hospital.  It is all over the place and it was exhausting. 

It makes me want to run away to go somewhere and pretend my life isn’t complete shit.  Sadly I don’t have enough vacation time to run away. So I guess I have to get back into finding a way to live with what I have.

The rollercoaster continues.   

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I just cried on the way back to my car, in my car, on the way back to my house, on the way to work …

I went to get permits for my newly decided upon renovation.  It went fairly well at first, I was nervous as I don’t know what I am doing and in general it is very emotionally charged to do these things without Chris, but I was feeling a bit empowered as the first part went ok.  Then I saw that Chris’s name as well as mine were on the permit. 

Ugh.  He is still on the deed, so I guess I should have expected that, but I thought it would be what was on the application.  Then I was afraid that I was going to need Chris’s signature as well for something and then be delayed and have to take more time off work to get the deed changed, etc etc etc stupid paperwork.

So I go to the next station, where they look at the plans.  Right off the bat the guy says “Your husband made you come down here and pull the permits instead up him didn’t he?”

<Gulp>, breath being knocked out of me, little whimpy whisper “No”. 

“I bet he did”

Silence as I try to keep from crying, decide not to set the record straight and try not to think about the fact that Chris would have insisted on doing this himself  and then I would have insisted we do it together and then go out to breakfast or lunch as a way to celebrate.  Or that if I had in the end gone without Chris I would have joked around at Chris’s expense lovingly.

I manage to shove it down.  Answer his questions, remain pleasant, whatever I need to get this guy to approve the plans so I can checkout and be done.

As soon as I check out with my permits and walk out of the building, bam tears.  Streaming down. 

Thank God for sunglasses. 

This is why I have “social” anxiety.  This is why I don’t want to make certain phone calls, this is why I haven’t gotten my haircut since before Chris died (well over 9 months), this is why I don’t want to go to the dentist (last time I was there I still hadn’t changed my name to my new married name and had to listen to the congratulations) and why I avoid meeting new people unless it through my widow world (support group, foundations, online, etc).

Vomit, it makes me want to vomit.  A simple conversation with a stranger who might ask about my life (perfectly normal and 9 months ago I would have been perfectly happy to talk about my life) is filled with ticking emotional time bombs and I don’t have the energy to deal with them. 

I was hoping to escape that this morning, should have known better. 

But I got the permits.

Decisions

February 9, 2011

I finally decided to renovate the basement.  We started the renovations last year and had hoped to have it finished by the end of the summer.

Chris measuring our basement

Clearly that didn’t happen.  Once Chris died I cancelled the schedule we had planned (an electrician was going to start working the week after he died).  I ignored it for a long time, not willing to move on without Chris.  It was our project we were going to do together.

But about a month ago, when I was feeling relieved and energized after making it through the holidays, I decided I wanted to try to stay in our house.

This is a big question for many widow/ers.  To stay or not to stay?  I had many opinions offered, mostly of the “move back to where the other 20-somethings live”.  It was hard for many to understand, but I did not want to just move back to where I lived for 5 years before Chris and I moved in together and got engaged.  I didn’t want to pay rent after having owned a house, and I didn’t want to go back to apartment living.

The idea of just going back, as if Chris had never happened, as if I had never been married and was just another single 29-year-old, wasn’t appealing.  In general I don’t feel comfortable around other 20 somethings (bars, trendy events, etc).  I just don’t relate to them anymore.  So moving closer to the city seemed so unappealing to me, if I moved I would rather move further out where it is more peaceful, less crowded, and maybe less high-speed.

But I hate moving. I moved all the time from freshman year of college until now. Chris and I were both so happy to have a house, a place we could settle into, and possibly never have to move again. 

But the real reason is that I didn’t want to lose more of Chris than I already have.  He loved our house, he was so proud of it.  He use to walk around the yard brainstorming.  He called it surveying his domain.  He was so damn adorable. 

It isn’t fancy.  It is a strange little ranch, but it was ours.  The idea of selling it breaks my heart too much. It is a lot of work to clean and do yard work but what else do I have to do with my time?  

So in an effort to make it not so painful, I am trying to make the house my own.  So redoing the basement and making it a nice media room to entertain (not that I really do that yet, but someday) with a nook for puzzles and reading and knitting by the fireplace will help.  It will force me to rearrange the rest of the house and it will all look different enough that I think it will take the edge off, but still keep the echos of him in the house.

Chris surveying his domain from our porch

I hope I can stay for a while and this change helps.  At least until “the next phase of my life”.  That is what my father-in-law called it.  Ugh, the idea of it makes me want to rip my hair out.  I don’t want another phase. Blech.

Broken emotional bones?

February 7, 2011

I am broken without you baby

I have been wondering why it is so hard for me to do simple things: schedule a hair cut, meet up with friends, call friends back, do laundry, walk in my door, etc. …

I think it is because I am broken and it is painful to do pretty much anything.  People in deep grief should be compared to someone who has broken every bone in their body, torn every muscle and now has to heal these wounds, learn to use them again (sit, stand, walk, run) and do it all while experiencing great pain.  Would we expect this person to be able to walk normally at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 2 years?  How long does it take to gain back basic functioning?

I feel like those around us would find it easier to understand the physical version. They would recognize the pain and that you are severely damaged and healing will take years and that you will never quite move the same. Their expectations would be different, more realistic I think.

As it is, I think it is hard for them, and me, to understand to the depths that my heart and soul have been damaged and how much I have to learn about the new me, the new life, the new world I am in.  That I can’t be expected to run a marathon (emotional equivalent: go to a friend’s wedding?, be a superstar at work?, not be continually overwhelmed by life?) or even walk a mile.  The fact that I am standing and I dressed myself should be considered a miracle.  That I have moments where I can laugh and enjoy my family and try to focus on how much Chris and I loved each other should be considered extraordinary.

I crave an external sign of my pain so that others can see my wounds and I don’t have to find a way to struggle to communicate to those who aren’t also broken by grief.

So there is snow on the ground here in DC from last weeks ridiculous storm (how I survived that is another post).  My niece was in town this weekend.  She and I are very close and she and Chris were very close.  I wanted to go to the cemetery and check on things but she hadn’t been since the burial.  I wasn’t sure she would want to go, but I remember liking going to my grandparents graves when I was her age and she didn’t protest so we went.

As I have said before, Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed the winter last year, full of sledding and snowmen and snowball wars.  So my niece and I decided to build a big snowman and make snow angles on Chris’s grave.  She seemed to really like it and wanted to make it look nice.  I tried to not think about him buried under all that snow, cold and in the ground, and tried to focus on the fact that Chris would have really enjoyed our playing in the snow. 

On the way to the car, we started a snowball fight with my parents.  She thought that was very cool.  I tried to imagine Chris throwing the snow balls with us (actually my aim was unusually good, maybe he helped out a bit).

Once we were back at my house, she and I sledded in the yard, like Chris and I did the year before.  She told me how she had so much fun and she was so happy she came to see me.

I really tried to focus on just enjoying time with her and think of just how much Chris would have enjoyed all of our playing.