Jordan

June 7, 2012

Petra + me = Love 4 Ever

I just got back from a mostly great trip to Jordan! One of the reasons for the break in posting.  I have always wanted to go to Jordan and see Petra (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  Some friends of Chris’s told us they were moving to Jordan before he died and we decided we would go visit them. After Chris died I went back and forth about whether to go or not.  I tried to find someone to go with me, but didn’t have any luck. 

There is nothing I find more frustrating than feeling like I can’t do something because I can’t find someone to come along. I felt this way before I met Chris, but it has gotten even worse now.  It highlights how much I have lost.  So one particularly bad night in April, I said fuck it and booked a plane ticket and a few weeks ago I traveled to Jordan.

It was awesome. Petra (picture of me in purple to the left), Jerash, the Dead Sea … it was amazing to see these sites and check something off my bucket list.  I enjoyed seeing my friends and they were great hosts.  There were times where I was on my own and rather than just hang around their house, I ventured out on my own. 

With the help of a hired driver, I went and saw the ruins in Jerash and a medieval castle in Ajloun.  It was the middle of the week and neither site was crowded.  Often I was the only person in a particular ruin, exploring. It was kind of cool. I felt almost like Indiana Jones. The picture below is a ruin I explored on my own. It was so quiet and peaceful.

Temple of Zeus in Jerash

But like a lot of things with grief and widowhood, it is a double-edged sword.  The independence gives me strength and confidence, but it highlights the loneliness. This is an experience I will never share with someone. There will be no joint retelling of what we did and what it was like. If I don’t remember it, no one will.  It is a strange and sad transition from my life with Chris.  

This was exacerbated by the fact that I know Chris would have loved this trip.  Seeing the site, eating the food, spending time with his friends. It would have been a trip he remembered for the rest of his life.  So there was significant sadness tingeing the edges of this trip.

But I did it. I traveled to the Middle East by myself and had a memorable trip.  I have thought for a while, that if I can just get to a point where I don’t mind traveling alone, then I can do this. I can live another 40, 50 years on my own and still have an adventure filled life.  Maybe even one that has more adventure than if Chris were alive and we had started a family.  I don’t know.  I go between the loneliness and  hope.  For right now I am hopeful and I will take it.

Changes?

April 24, 2012

So I haven’t posted in a while.  Probably for many reasons, especially because as I said before I have been stuck.  Falling into the pit of dispair, lying there for a while, slowly pulling myself back up, just to fall back down. It made it pretty hard to do anything other than function, like writing this blog.   What energy had I used to try and make small changes in my life.  These changes have helped some and given me some momentum that I hope is pulling me along.

Change number 1:  Still in progress – going through Chris’s stuff.  On New Year’s weekend, which was shitty anyway, I started tearing through his stuff.  Clothes, coats, old pictures, everything got pulled out and categorized.  If you have seen the Iron Lady, there is a scene where Margaret is sitting admist all of her husbands clothes and things sobbing.  That was me.  It was hard and I still have piles that I have to decide what to do with.  But in many ways the several bags and boxes I have given already make me feel so much lighter. I had felt for a long time that I was drowning in his stuff and I could no longer breath.  That has lifted a lot and my fears, that I would lose more of him, have been wrong. I haven’t lost any more of him than I had before and in many ways has freed me to feel his presence more strongly and with less static.  If that makes sense.

Change number 2: Ongoing? – focusing on new things and new people. I have made an effort to spend my time on doing new things and meeting new people.  Just living in my old pattern was trapping me in the pain of my loss, so I joined new organizations, took a photography class, and made some new non-married friends. People who share interests and want to talk about things other than being married and having babies.  I went to Widow Camp East (http://www.campwidow.org/) this past weekend and felt at ease and more myself than I have since Chris died.   For you other widow’s out there. If you can swing it, you should go.  I was a little terrified of going, not knowing anyone and generally being an introvert. But it was amazing and inspirational.  All of these activities have gone towards making me feel a little more in charge of my life and like I have regained some of my independence.  It opens up hope for a future full of adventure.

Change number 3 – complete – I cut my hair!  It is about shoulder length now.  I haven’t had it that short since 7th grade.  It might not seem a big thing, but I just felt like I needed to look different. It was weird to continue to look the same so I just went to the salon one day and had about 7 inches taken off.  It felt good. I felt lighter and it takes so much less time to dry and style. 

For me some small steps have helped.  I still have lots I could do, should do, need to do to try and make my life easier and new.  Some times I don’t have the energy for it and just sit at home and watch TV.  That is ok too.  Those are my recharging days. A few of those and I start to feel like I can take on another change, however small.

Music from my past

November 8, 2011

For a long time after Chris died (about 14 months) I avoided music.  It was just too emotional and painful.  Recently I have been rediscovering music, but mostly from my pre-Chris days. It was part of my attempt to re-explore things I enjoyed BC (before Chris) which I posted about here: https://widowedowl.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/some-new-realizations/   So I am going back to childhood, high school, and college and have identified some new anthems that help with various moods or help me move through emotions as my subconscious pushes the worst of it away a lot.

So here are some of my new go-to songs

For anger/anguish/the need to scream out loud … I go back to my teen years (pre-teen too).  I once loved “alternative” music.  I went through a rebellious phase.  You wouldn’t know it to look at me now as I wear a suit most days.  I didn’t listen to this kind of music as much with Chris, it wasn’t his favorite and I didn’t identify with it as much as I was happy.  But now, the pain, the anguish, the screaming it really helps me out.  This includes music by Lincoln Park, Nine Inch Nails, Chevelle to name a few.  The main anthem right now though is Burn by the Cure from The Crow Soundtrack.  The chorus really expresses my anguish at losing Chris.

“Don’t look don’t look” the shadows breathe
Whispering me away from you
“Don’t wake at night to watch her sleep
You know that you will always lose
This trembling adored
Tousled bird mad girl… ”
But every night I burn
Every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again

“Oh don’t talk of love” the shadows purr
Murmuring me away from you
“Don’t talk of worlds that never were
The end is all that’s ever true
There’s nothing you can ever say
Nothing you can ever do… ”
Still every night I burn
Every night I scream your name
Every night I burn
Every night the dream’s the same
Every night I burn
Waiting for my only friend
Every night I burn
Waiting for the world to end

“Just paint your face” the shadows smile
Slipping me away from you
“Oh it doesn’t matter how you hide
Find you if we’re wanting to
So slide back down and close your eyes
Sleep a while you must be tired… ”
But every night I burn
Every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again
Every night I burn
Scream the animal scream
Every night I burn
Dream the crow black dream
Every night I burn
Scream the animal scream
Every night I burn
Dream the crow black dream

Dreaming the crow black dream…

For my loneliness … I have a random song from the 80s and a lovely band named Whitesnake.  I was with Chris for almost 4 years before he died, but before him I really didn’t have any serious relationships that lasted longer than a 5-6 months.  So for the 25 years BC I was single.  After I went to college I never lived at  home again.  I spent a summer working in Belgium, moving there on my own without knowing anyone.  I did a lot on my own.  I was very independent.  I have felt that if I can regain that sense, I will be able to make it ok.  In many ways it already feels like being with Chris was the exception, not the rule in my life and that maybe I was “born to walk alone”.  So this song really captures all of that, in its great hairband glory.  

I don’t know where I’m going
But, I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time
But, here I go again
Here I go again

Tho’ I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh Lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

I’m just another heart in need of rescue,
Waiting on love’s sweet charity
An’ I’m gonna hold on
For the rest of my days,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

But, here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go…

An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time…

But, here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go,
Here I go again…

When I need to gain strength and serenity…. I go back to college days and the summer I lived in Brussels (mentioned above).  It was an amazing summer. I gained so much and had a great time.  There is so many euro-dance-techno songs from that summer I love, that bring me back and awaken those feelings again (hey I can be happy without Chris).  One in particular is Breathe by Telepopmusik.  The lyrics aren’t particularly complex, but there is something about the beats and the lyrics and the singer’s voice, that after my angry music, brings me back.  Almost like a prayer.

I brought you something close to me,
left for something you see though your here.
You haunt my dreams.
There’s nothing to do but believe.
Just Believe.
Just Breathe.

Another day,
just believe.
Another day,
just breathe.
Another day,
just believe.
Another day,
just breathe.

I’m used to it by now.
Another day,
just believe,
just breathe.
Just believe.
Just breathe.
Lying in my bed.
Another day,
staring at the ceiling.

Just breathe.

Another day.

Another day,
just believe.
Another day.
I’m used to it by now.
I’m used to it by now.
Just breathe.
Just believe.
Just breathe.
Just believe.
Just believe.
Just breathe.
Just believe.
Another day,
just believe.
Another day.
Another day.

Some new realizations

October 3, 2011

I feel like grief is a continual attempt by my conscious and subconscious to figure things out.  There are so many adjustments that have to be made to your life after losing a spouse that everything changes.  Your daily life, your hopes and dreams, your fears, your habits, your emotional state and mood. Nothing is familiar, decisions are harder to make.  I try to make plans and I usually find that what seemed ok, a day later seems like a terrible idea.  I was never this variable before.  It is a huge adjustment for me, to realize that I have to always have an escape/back out plan, that I can no longer depend on myself to be consistent.  It makes me incapable of following through with anything … when I have the energy to even attempt it. 

I have also realized that I need to develop a new social circle.   I had always thought that I would be able to continue with my friends, who have been wonderful since Chris died, picking up new hobbies and patterns, but my friends were my friends.  But now I don’t think that is true.  Not because of how they act or how they treat me, but because my life path is no longer theirs.  They are married and starting families and I am widowed and on my own.  They are planning and building, while I am breaking apart.  For me it is too hard to watch.  Chris and I wanted to have started a family by this point and watching others who we were close to continue on that path is excruciating. 

It makes me feel so ungrateful for all they have done for me, but I can’t handle the pain of it.  It would be easier if I lived on the other side of the world and all I had to do was send emails from time to time and send gifts, but living 20 minutes away and having to stand by while their lives go on is awful.  It’s not that I don’t want them to have it,  but I want it too.  I want Chris to be alive.  I want to wake up next to him, I want to be going to sonogram appointments.  Instead I have panic attacks, deciding whether to get rid of his phone number, and flashbacks about the worst parts of his death.  The gulf between us is too great right now.  I can’t pretend that nothing has changed. Everything has changed.

So now, I realize, I need to make new friends.  Ones who aren’t married.  But how do I do that?  I don’t want to join a “singles” group.  Dating isn’t remotely possible or appealing.   So I guess I will just keep trying to find groups to join and hope that some of the people are not married.  Do I have the energy for that? I don’t know.

So far I have come up with some ideas, many of them are based on rediscovering things I enjoyed long before I met Chris:

Volunteering (various groups are possibilities Habitat for Humanity, Hospice, Museums)

Community Theater (use to enjoy theater in High School)

Archaeology (started volunteering so far, it’s a good way to spend time, people are generally in college or older and married, so no luck on that front)

Book club (through the library?)

Hiking club

It has been hard facing these facts: I am no longer married, I am no longer getting ready to start a family, I no longer belong to anyone, I am on my own.  It is gut-wrenching everyday.  But I get up, and go to work, and come up with ideas of something to do.

The comfort of anonymity

September 22, 2011

Thank you for the comments after my post.  It really does help.   It is amazing how people you have never met, will likely never meet can give you the kind of comfort no one you know can give. It makes it easier to say things, to acknowledge the truth. To put it out on “paper”. That and therapy.   Going to a therapist once a week really helps.  I feel much better after my session last night.  The pain, anxiety, despair are all a little less so I can breathe easier.

So what do you do when you are feeling a little better?  I try to be productive and go through things.   Chris is was a packrat (still make the present tense slip) and it is taking a long time to go through his stuff.  I only really started in earnest this summer.  I have given away books, and sporting equipment.  Going through his stuff is awful.  It makes me determined to simplify my life and limit the amount of stuff I have so that when someone has to do this after I die (that is sad too, not knowing who will care about my stuff when I die as I “belong” to no one).  I have done a will and intend to set up an account sheet that will make it easy to deal with the finances. Knowing what it is like to have to clean up after a sudden death, I don’t want to leave a mess for others.

Morbid, yes.  Practical, yes.  One of the many new perspectives I have gained since Chris died. 

 

 

How does one hold on to or find passion again after losing the love of your life?  I don’t have the answers to that, but I do think it is a key part to being able to live again. 

I was struck by the article (http://sports.yahoo.com/tennis/blog/busted_racquet/post/Frenchwoman-Razzano-competes-eight-days-after-de?urn=ten-wp872) of the French tennis player who recently lost her fiance.  8 days after his death, she played in the French Open.  What was I doing 8 days after Chris died?  Sobbing my eyes out, wandering around my parent’s house.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that either).  I just admired her gumption to do something so painful and hard for her.  Her statement too struck me, not just because I understood her feelings of loneliness and fragility, but that she could see a way to gain strength for life through her passion for tennis. 

Do I have a passion for anything?  My main passion use to be for Chris and our life together.  So now what do I have?  I have family and friends who are loving and supportive.  I have developed new hobbies (knitting, horseback riding, volunteering, gardening) I am rediscovering old ones (sailing, hiking, reading).  I can see a possibility for them to become a passion someday, so I do them, even if I don’t feel like it. I find knitting, riding, hiking, sailing buddies to do them with, even if I want to go home and get in bed.  And I do think forcing myself to do these things has helped, even if it is only for a few hours. 

I guess for me it is the promise of developing or rekindling a passion for something that gives me some momentum.  I think it is a bit like physical therapy after an injury. It can be painful, but you have to keep doing it to heal and regain strength and the use of your body.

So I will keep trying and maybe some spark, like my old spark, will come back.