Happy Halloween Chris

November 1, 2011

Hi Baby,

Halloween isn’t the same without you. We both enjoyed it so much, another of the myriad of things we had in common.  I remember when we were first dating and you told me of the traditions you had with your dad and your brother.  I loved you then.

I decorated the house a bit without you.  I handed out candy too.  I felt very alone though. Very vulnerable.  Kind of like my lonely pumpkin out on the porch by itself.  I realized how clear it is that I am here alone. 

Chris as a creepy zombie in 2008

 

I miss you, even though it is painful to remember.  I miss you and our life, but I am getting use to my new one. 

Blech. 

 

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So I went into my email to check it this morning as usual and I got an email reminding me that Chris’s birthday is coming up (next week) and here are some gifts I could get for him.  Ugh.

This just makes me so sad.  My niece pointed out a couple of months ago that we don’t get Chris presents anymore because he is dead.  Yes, niece, that is true.

I posted about the same damn reminder last year https://widowedowl.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/chriss-birthday/   I am deleting it now.  Another set of gut wrenching actions, deleting/closing/removing things that were part of your spouse’s life that they no longer need now.

Having just gotten through our “anniversary”, I am not sure I can handle his birthday.

What should have been our second wedding anniversary was last Monday.  I survived it.  Last year’s anniversary was terrible.  It would have been our first and I never believed it would actually come.  That God, Chris, the universe, whatever would let our anniversary come and go without Chris being there.  I had a nervous breakdown, broke out in hives, and generally just had to focus on getting through the day second by second.

This year was better in some ways.  I didn’t have a nervous breakdown and did all I could really to just treat it like any other day.  I went on a trip that was good and relaxing and not at all related to my life with Chris.  Minus a panic attack when we stopped to help a car that had flipped, it was overall a relaxing weekend. 

In other ways it is worse.  For me it feels like there is nothing positive about our anniversary.  Honestly, I don’t even want to call it that since well we didn’t make it to a full year of marriage.  There is no marriage to celebrate. There is no “we made it another year together and are happy and still in love” sentiments.  There are no years of memories or traditions we created for this day.  All it brings up is our wedding, which is still just a jumble of painful memories.  For me our wedding, in fact anything involving weddings, is part of the trauma of Chris’s death. It causes anxiety and panic, depression, all of the darkest parts of grief.  Sometimes it is easier for me to just forget it or escape it. 

So I went on a trip to the desert.  Where I stayed at a ranch with a few friends.  I did a lot of riding (more on that later).  Went to the spa, knit, read and tried to focus on the time I was having at the moment.  The past is over, our anniversary is now just another day, and I can’t live in it if I am going to survive. The past is too painful and there is nothing I can do to bring it back or make it less painful. 

Once again, I find myself (the widow’s creed) saying “I survived” to another shitty 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 Seasons

September 26, 2011

The change of the seasons has always been something I have looked forward to and one of the reasons I loved living on the East Coast.  We had four full season, with distinct weather and foliage changes.  

Fall of course was a favorite.  The beautiful leaves, the crisp air, Halloween.  It is one of the reasons we decided to get married in October.  Now it just makes me sad.  But all of the seasons make me sad.  There are so many painful memories attached to them.  I had been hoping one of them might be easier than the others.  I think I was wrong.

Winter – our last full season together, where we got snowed in together for a week.  We had so much fun and it represents the happiest time of my life. Last winter was hard to get through, it was very lonely.

Spring – brings back Chris’s death.  He died in April, right as spring was in full bloom.  Easter was our last holiday together.

Summer – I thought would be the easiest, but this summer was so hard. My birthday is in the summer and it went downhill from there.  The long days searching for activities to fill it.  The nights not spent grilling, walking the neighborhood, and going to the pool with Chris were brutal.  Plus we had hoped to start a family by this summer. 

Fall – so I had been looking forward to fall as a  change and maybe a regaining of energy.  It hasn’t materialized yet.  But the sadness is here. The dread of having to go through our second wedding anniversary alone (I guess that is all I know since we never got an anniversary together) and the holidays and Chris’s birthday. 

I just feel like I can never get a break.  Is there a time of year or a type of weather that won’t be painful or sad?  I think maybe once I get to a point where memories of Chris aren’t painful and I am more at peace with being widowed rather than married with kids  I will get a break.  But when will that be? It has been almost a year and a half and the memories are as painful as ever.

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. 

 

 

I think I need this blog again

September 21, 2011

So I went on hiatus.  Many people do for various reasons.  I felt back in the late spring that I needed a break; that writing on this blog was too painful for me. 

Now, 4-5 months later, I think not writing on this blog is painful for me.  I am not sure what changed or when it changed.

So hello again.

I have had a terrible week.  One of the worst in a while and I feel fairly alone.  Mostly in the sense of being able to express where I am and how I am doing.  Part of it is my fault.  I am not good with spoken words.  I really can’t get out what I am feeling. I have always been better on “paper”.  Where I can think and switch and replace until I feel like what I want I have down is what I mean.  No one tries to add to it and I don’t alter it for the audience.  It is purely me.

It has also been made clear to me recently, that many can no longer deal with my pain.  It is very disheartening because I try very hard to keep the worst of it to myself and God.  I don’t complain and whine and cry for hours. I generally try to focus my time with people on that time, what we are doing.  I felt so demoralized to hear that my efforts have been wasted.  Why do I bother?  It makes me want to retreat more.  To simplify and minimize my life to a nice little controllable box.

I have spent so much energy trying to keep engaged in life, even if it is different. I volunteer, I have a few new hobbies, I plan things to do on a somewhat frequent basis.  I go to work. I support myself.  I am still alive.  I think I have done fairly well considering the trauma and shock and grief of Chris’s death.

I just feel very sick about it and the most helpless and ready to give up I have felt in a year. 

How do I pick myself back up again?  Well I thought writing about it might help.  Since speaking is so hard.

I know another problem I have that makes it hard for me to share, is that I am an independent person.  Chris is the exception to this.  Outside of him, I have never really wanted any inputs in my decisions, any opinions on how I look or feel.  As time has gone on, with something as personal and deep as my grief for Chris and our family that will never exist,  I have stopped talking about it with those I am close to who have a stake in my life (family and friends).  I just can’t handle their input, at any level.  What do they know of being widowed at 28, only 6 months married? 

I have always been a grin and bear it kind of person (when I did one of those silly online quizzes, my guiding philosophies were Stoicism, Utilitarianism, and Realism).  So my internalizing of my grief from my family and friends feels comfortable to me, like an old wound that is flaring up (not that the wound from Chris’s death is old).  It is easier to share with people outside these circles.  I share with my support group and I share with my therapist, I share with God, and now with this blog again.  For me, this is the most comfortable, the most bearable, the most palatable. 

You do not have a stake in how I am other than a general support and well wishing.  You do not care about my moods or my approaches or my habits.

I am struggling and I am trying to find methods to deal with it that suits my personality so I can survive.  For me it is more in the written word not the spoken.

Thank you for reading, those of you who do.

So one of the myriad things I miss about living my life with Chris is watching tv with him.  During the week, we watched tv more than we probably should have, but it was what we did.  We came home and raced to the couch to cuddle and relax.  Our last night together this is what we did. 

We loved discovering new shows and watching them together.  Making jokes about them and silly traditions around them.  It makes me so sad to watch our shows alone.  It makes me sad to start watching a new show and not share it with him. 

It seems so silly to me intellectually, but my heart hurts over it. It highlights the loneliness that is now my constant companion.

I can’t talk to him about how Lily is finally pregnant on How I Met your Mother or talk about the crazy season finale of Castle.  Some shows, like West Wing, I will never be able to watch again without Chris. 

I guess the good thing to take from this would be to not watch so much tv.  That hasn’t taken yet, I can’t handle the quiet of the house, so I leave the tv on most of the time. 

I would give anything to be laying on the couch with him right now.  Watching Franklin and Bash for the first time.  Spooning.  Talking about whether we like it or not.  How Mark Paul Gossler will always be Zach Morris.  I would give anything to have that back.

A stranger

June 1, 2011

I went to dinner with Chris’s folks tonight.  It is always nice to see them and catch up, but it can also be hard.  I don’t know how to explain it other than being with them reminds me of a life I will never have.

They talk about Chris and he sounds so real. They knew him for longer for his entire 30 years. 

I feel like Chris is so unreal to me.  He is a figment of my imagination as if I made him up to hurt myself.  Like we were never together, never married.

Chris to me was the daily things.  The phone calls, the tv shows, the books, brushing teeth together, talking on our porch.  Without those daily connections, I don’t know who he is.  I don’t know who I was with him. Our relationship is gone, it is over.

For me, the moments of peace, of heaven on earth were just being with him.  Just sitting or laying next to him, feeling him close.  Without that, I don’t have him.

I have spent the last 13 months without Chris. It is still painful to talk about him.  The happy memories are still drowning in pain.  I can survive the day.  I am function.  Walking, with no direction, but walking.  In many ways I don’t want to dredge up the memories, I don’t want to remember my old life, the life I always wanted.  The pain is too much.  I have finally carved enough space to get through the day.  The wound has a slight healing and I don’t want to open it up.  The pain is too great. 

It is like my heart has put up a walls between Chris and I so that I can keep going.  It makes me sad. It makes me ache, but I learned over the last year to trust my heart and my brain.  They know what I need to do to heal.

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.