I think the best place to start with this post is to begin with an apology. I apologize ahead of time for the disorganization of the writing I am about to share. I also want to apologize for the hiatus. COVID-19 entered our worlds and boy did it shut me down. I haven’t written a single word since it all began though I feel like I have had a lot to say. So I am writing again. I am going to give it another go to get back to what makes me feel good and what I feel I can do to truly help others.
That is where I will begin this writing….helping others. I have always felt like my purpose in life is to help others. I have a desire to make a difference in others lives and though the way in which I have thought about doing these things have changed, I still believe that is what I am here on earth to do. I used to think I had to be apart of something “bigger” than me in order to make a difference in this world. I wanted to be apart of some big movement, or make a global impact and that is how I was going to make a difference. Then after I lost Pat, I felt like I was going to make a difference with other widows. But I unfortunately had to make a living and support my boys and get a job to pay the bills. I have been a high school counselor for the past four years and this has taken me away from my trying to help widows, though it has also filled the need to make a difference in peoples lives.
You see, these kids that I work with struggle with so much. I want to make it better for them. I want to take away their fears, their pain, their sadness, but I can’t. I can’t fix it for them. I can’t tell you how many times I go into my administrator and ask for a magic wand. A magic wand to make a difference in these kids lives, a real difference. There has to be something I can do to change the environment, or culture, or toxicity that our children are growing up with in this age of social media. I want to fix things for my own children as well. I want everything to be smooth for them and for them to genuinely be happy, good people. I don’t care about academic accolades or monetary success in life. I want them to simply be happy. Whenever any of these people, my children at school or my children at home, are in pain, I am in pain. This is who I am and how I am; for good or bad. My point of this is that I always want to help others.
The problem is that I struggle with helping myself. My life has changed so much since Pat died. It has been 6 1/2 years and yet there are still so many wounds and so much collataral damage that came from the whole experience. But I don’t want to admit that. I continue moving forward and being strong and handling things as it comes. When inside I am boiling over with emotion, confusion and anger. None of this I want to show to the world, and sometimes not even to myself.
Before Pat died, I was always an emotional person. I would cry at Kleenex commercials and Family Feud when the families won, but I had control of my emotions then. Since he died, and really probably from the time he was diagnosed, my emotions have grown stronger. I feel so much more now than I ever did before. It is something that is difficult to explain to people. I feel people’s pain and their happiness and there is no controlling it. I feel their happiness, I feel their sadness. I feel connected to others in a way I can’t explain. Every emotion is just larger than life. I have been ashamed or embarrassed by this because I thought it meant that I was weak….something I NEVER want to be considered. It’s not a weakness though. It is simply part of the new me and it is who I am. This affirmation or acknowledgement of who I am doesn’t make things easier though.
This has become a problem simply because in feeling everything so deeply I am often left feeling as though I am not helping anyone. This goes against everything I want and everything that I am. I feel like I am wasting all that I have to offer others and a little bit insignificant. Nothing I do is helping and the pain keeps coming and I keep getting overwhelmed with emotion that I can’t release because I am afraid to show what I am feeling. A vicious circle that needs to stop.
As I stopped for a moment to reflect on why I was feeling so empty, useless, and beat down, I went for a walk. As it has happened in the past, I ended up walking and crying throughout my neighborhood as I realized what I was feeling, wanting, and needing. And here it is… losing Pat has left me feeling that I HAVE to do certain things. I no longer have the priviledge to go out and do something I want to do without having consequences. I have three children to support, I have a home to maintain, I have a future to save for. I do not have anyone else to fall back on or push things onto. I am doing this alone. I am not complaining about this, just making it clear, that I am a solo parent who has to provide for the family. This limits me in my choices. And sometimes, well often times, I feel trapped. Not having choices or options can leave you feeling pretty isolated and alone. Nothing that I used to do that made me feel good matters anymore. I don’t write, I don’t read, I definitely don’t go out with friends, I’ve stopped exercising, or even watching t.v. I start and end my day wanting to go to bed.
First thing in the morning, I am counting down until I can go home and put on sweatpants and crawl back into bed. When I get home, I want dinner to be over so I can clean up the kitchen and head off to bed. Not a real exciting way to live. I have lost any enjoyment in my job, for it has simply become that, a job. I am counting down to retirement ( many years away ) and wishing for a vacation all alone by the beach ( not happening). None of this is what I wanted for myself, for my children, and definitely nothing I promised myself after Pat died.
I promised to live my life that I was blessed to have. Live the life he would have wanted to live, or wanted for me to live. I didn’t want to take a single moment for granted, or waste a breath on this earth to anything that did not fill my soul. Life is too short for that and “somedays” don’t always arrive. I wasn’t going to sit around and just pass the time so that someday I would have what I wanted, or to go after what I wanted in this life. And yet, 6 1/2 years later, here I am.
I have tried so many things throughout this wonderful grief process in this world of widowhood to make things better….to fix it, but I have arrived right back in this spot anyways. I think I have been trying to live the life that “I” think is right for me instead of doing what God has planned for me. I keep thinking I can do this all on my own. I should know by now that that does not work. So as this year is coming to end and a new year full of hope and possibility is on the horizon, I am going to take a new approach to things in my life. I going to try to live the life and walk the path that God wants for me. I am going to listen to my heart and to my gut to make my decisions rather than my hard headed stubbornness that I usually rely on. I need to change something or else nothing is ever going to change.
So its my approach that I think I need to change. I am going to stop worrying about “somedays” down the road… Easier said than done…and I am going to start taking care of me now. Right now, where I am in the moment and listen to what God is telling me. He will lead me to happiness and joy even if the path doesn’t make sense to me in the moment. I have to believe that. I am not one for resolutions, but rather I like to look for a FOCUS for the year; something to works towards. This is what it needs to be…I want to take this year for me; to follow my heart, my instincts and find the happiness I know I deserve. I can’t continue down this same path I have been going because I have found nothing but sadness going that way. This is where I am starting in 2022 and I can hardly wait to see what comes my way.