The house is on fire...
Man - these last few weeks have been rough. It’s just life in general. When you’re “unmoored,” as my therapist likes to call it, anything that is unsettling (even when it’s not pertaining to your life) becomes very hard to navigate, manage, and grapple. I drove home the other day in tears because I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I had no one to share the burden with. I guess this is the “growing pains” of learning how to “fly solo” when you’re used to being a party of 2. It’s a lot harder than I thought (even for an independent person like myself). I’ve gotten so accustomed to sharing my life with you that it’s hard when I have no one to share my life, stories, and “gossip” with. Even if I call all my family and friends and “share” with them what’s going on, it still doesn’t really help that much. Don’t get me wrong, it helps, but it’s not the same. I still feel like something is missing when I can’t tell you about it. The bad days are hard since I have no one to comfort me or make me feel better, but ironically, the good days are even harder. They bring me to tears faster and worse than the bad days. Every accomplishment or achievement feels like a slap in the face; a constant reminder of the big hole in my life. It makes me think about all the things you’re missing out on and aren’t here to witness anymore. I still have days where the thought of you never coming home makes my heart skip a beat or two. Then there are other days where I feel like our life was the fantasy, like it never happened, and it was just a dream, a figment of my imagination.
For awhile now, I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. A life that is no longer mine. A life that I no longer fit in or feel comfortable in. I think I’ve sense this for awhile now, but I wasn’t willing or ready to admit or accept it yet, so I kept myself super busy and distracted. I traveled a lot and made lots of plans on the weekends, so I wouldn’t have to be home by myself the entire day. If I didn’t have plans on the weekend, I would get anxiety that I would have to stay home the entire day by myself with nothing to do (even though there’s plenty to do at home, like clean out your closet and konmari my stuff) so I would start calling people to fill up my calendar. I also kept myself really busy at work (with extracurricular activities from the women’s group) so I would have things to do when I got home in the evenings.
I guess “avoidance” was my way of dealing and coping with the realization that I was mentally ready to step outside of the “middle room.” But, I guess my heart wasn’t ready for me to leave the “middle room,” so it found ways to keep me distracted so I wouldn’t have to deal with the tug of war. Remember, the tug of war that was raging inside of me when I was getting ready to leave “grief” and enter the “middle room”?? That period was rough!! I guess I didn’t want to have to go through that mental and emotional turmoil again, so without realizing, I closed my eyes and made a mad dash through the door and out of the “middle room” (I guess, subconsciously, this was a “rip the bandaid” kind of step for me). I just closed my eyes and sprinted out of the “middle room” as fast as I could. Maybe my subconscious knew it was the only way I could survive and get through this part of the journey. But, in my mad dash to get out of the “middle room,” I didn’t do the relevant or necessary work I needed to prepare myself for the next part of this journey. I didn’t pack or put forth any thought into figuring out what I wanted to bring with me. I just ran out of the house frantically like it was a 5 alarm fire. I didn’t have time to grab anything but the clothes on my back.
I literally closed my eyes and jumped off the cliff. Now that I’ve landed, I realize I’m naked, exposed, and ill equipped for the next phase of this journey. I don’t have the proper gear to keep going. I guess I have to do some backtracking (ain’t this journey a B****!!). I guess this is where you would say, “SY, haste makes waste!!” I know I keep trying to sprint to the finish line even though I know there’s no finish line on this journey, it still hasn’t stopped me from wanting to reach that non-existent finish line as quickly as possible. This isn’t a marathon either, so pacing myself isn’t going to work either. I keep wanting to outrun my widowhood status, but what I really need to do is learn to how to sit and be comfortable with it. I need to learn how to embrace it and accept it because it’s never going away. It’s a part of me. It’s a part of who I am now. It’s a part of my story, BUT it doesn’t have to define me.
P.S. Do you remember how you would sometime introduce me as “your other half” or “your better half”?? I always hated when you did that. It really bothered me to the point where I would always ask you “Why must you always introduce me as only half a person?!” It never really sat well with me and it always bothered and annoyed me to the point where I literally had to tell you to stop doing that?! I always thought it was something you did because you saw it on TV, but maybe you knew something that I hadn’t quite grasp or understand until now. Yes, I’m all grown up now, I’m able to admit when you’re right! I love you babe...I miss you so much it hurts!
It’s your 16th month deathversary!! 16 months ago, I could barely breathe, let alone ever think that I would survive this trauma and be able to function in a world where you didn’t exist. Before, everything seemed like it was standing still and time was passing by at a painstakingly slow speed. Now, everything feels like it’s whirling by and moving at the speed of light. There are times, where I feel like I’m chasing after time and can’t keep up. But, as we all know, time moves at the same speed. It never changes. It's constant.
I’m sure you’re wondering what I’ve been up to lately since I barely write. Well, to be quite honest, I’ve written you pages and pages of letters in my head. The words and stories have never stopped. We’re chatting everyday, but now our conversations are in my head. I try to write, but the words just don’t want to come out anymore. I remember reading Option B where Sheryl Sandberg says that you write until you are done, and you will know when you are done! I don’t know if I’m done. I just think it’s progressed to a different level where the grief process has extended beyond just the pain and sadness, so it’s more difficult to write when you have no clue how you’re feeling or what’s going on in your life. I’m in the part of the grief process where I’m trying to figure out who I am without you and where I want to go next without all the eyes staring and watching me, even though I know more than ever, I’m still living in a fishbowl. Even if people want me to think they’re not watching anymore, they are. Everybody is still watching and even more curious with what’s going on with me. Is she “really” okay? Will she be able to move on? When is she going to start dating? (Even your mom was curious about the last question. Apparently, so is my mom. She told my sister that she hopes I start dating soon so I’m not so lonely by myself up there were her exact words.)
I think people want some sort of marker or sign that I’m better and ready to move on with my life, and somehow that marker for widow(er)s is dating. But, what people don’t understand is that there’s no such thing as “better” or “moving on” from widowhood. Your death isn’t ever going to leave me or go away. To my dismay, I’m starting to learn there’s never really going to be a “better” and I’m never going to “move on” with my life. There’s no such thing, even if I’m dating or get remarried. I don’t think people really understand that there's no finish line in this journey unless they’re a widow(er) themselves. Even I have a hard time accepting that there’s no finish line in this journey. If anything, I feel like I'm always trying to rush to the finish line myself. Your death and my widowhood journey has essentially become a part of who I am. It's my story now. It’s in every breath I take. It’s forever changed who I am and all the relationships around me, even the ones that started out without you and / or didn’t even involve you. There are even friends who will be changed forever as a result of your passing. We have all forever changed, whether they know it or not and even if they all go through their lives as if nothing has happened. We’re different. Our perspectives have changed. Our value system has been disrupted, turned upside down, and changed. Who I am now is not who I was when you were alive. I will never be the person that I was when you were alive. I know I’m still far from “becoming” the person I’m meant to be and I’m still undergoing my metamorphosis, but even the person that stands before me in the mirror is drastically different from the person I was when you were alive. I don’t know, maybe you might like this SY better!! 🤣😂🤣😂 She’s finally becoming the person you’ve always wanted her to be. She may have resisted when you were alive, but now she has surrendered to it. Sometimes, it takes a traumatic and earth shattering event to put things in perspective and truly understand and see what’s important in life.
To a certain extent, I am “better” but not in the way people think. Better in that the pain and sadness no longer consumes my life, even if it hurts the same today as it did 16 months ago. I’ve gotten better at coping and managing the grief and not letting it take me down or slow me down. With anything else in life, there’s a learning curve with coping and managing pain and grief. It doesn’t get better with time, you just get better at managing it and not letting it affect you the way it used to when it first happened. You get better at putting on a show for the world to see and gracing the world with this “I’m okay” and “grief ain’t got nothing on me” persona, but when the curtain goes down and you’re at home in the quiet of the night, there’s a different persona that emerges; one where there’s still great pain and sadness in your heart. Where you still long and ache for your dying husband to come home. Where you still sleep on your side of the bed and stare at his side, wondering when he will come back. Where every moment of happiness you experience is even harder, sadder, and more painful than the pain and grief you’re going through because you’re not able to share it with your person. You feel even sadder and more alone than before because the world thinks you’re doing better than you really are and you can’t really tell anybody that you’re really not that “better” since you’ve worked so hard to make sure the world thinks and believe you’re better, so they would stop staring at you, but later you figured out that even if they’re not staring at you like they did before, they still haven’t really taken you out of their line of sight yet. Instead, they’re watching you from afar and at their peripheral. They’re still watching and curious to see what you will do next and whether you’ve really landed on your feet or not.
I wish I can say I’ve picked up the pieces of my broken life and somehow put them back together. I wish I can say with confidence that I am “better” or “strong” or “so put together after such a tragic experience,” but, in all honesty, nothing has been picked up or put back together. I am not better and I’m definitely not strong. And obviously, I’m very good at faking it until I make it. If anything, I’ve been distracting myself and closing my eyes to all the pieces that lay broken and scattered all over the floor around me. (I’ve come to learn that avoidance is one of my best coping mechanisms.) I don’t even know where to begin or how to start picking up the broken pieces of my life around me; let alone sorting them into logical piles so I can start making sense of it all and put them back together. So, the broken pieces lay scattered all over the floor while I carry on with my life. I've been closing my eyes and walking over them on a daily basis. I figure when I'm ready, I will know and there’s no need to force myself or set some sort of timeline or schedule of when they need to be done or in what order they should be done, especially since the timeline and schedule just adds undue and unwarranted stress and pressure. So, let’s see what still needs to be sorted and “catalogued” in my life:
Even though most of my life is still one big fat question mark...there are a few things that I know definitely to be true so far on my journey.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.