Posted in grief, widow

Barely Breathing

dandiI try.  Every single day I am doing my absolute best to hold it all together.  But I am not doing so well.  I feel trapped.  I feel like I am suffocating.  I am barely breathing.  I’m unsure as to how this has happened.  Somehow my life took a turn that left me completely out of control.  I feel powerless to all that is happening to me.  I feel stuck in a place I am unsure as how to get out of.

All day, everyday, I keep it together.  I put on a happy face and I do what I have to do.  But the second I head home, I break.  The mask comes off and the truth is revealed.  Unhappiness overtakes me and I cry.  I’ve done a good job at holding it together, but it is getting harder and harder.  I am unsure how to get out of this one.  I don’t know how to escape the pain; the confusion.  I don’t even know what the problem is.  I just feel so lost..so alone.

When will it all end?  When will I find my way back to a life of happiness?  Is this even possible?  I can’t do it anymore.


I wrote this some time back and just recently came upon it again.  I was in a bad place.  I was not happy with anything that was going on and I was basically pissed off at the world.  I was lost in my own mind and in my own world and it left me feeling utterly hopeless.

Hope is something we all must continue to have in order to fully push forward in life.  Without hope, without a chance of there being something better, the future seems bleak and meaningless.  I know this feeling intimately.  Sometimes we get so caught up in all that is swirling around us that we stop to see where we are.  I do this all the time.  I get lost in the midst of the daily grind of life.  I get caught up in the discomfort of my world and lose perspective.  It doesn’t seem like it is all just flying around me, but rather that I am being thrown about with the mess and out of control.

hopeBut I have hope.  I honestly believe there is a reason I am still here.  I know that tomorrow will bring me something new as long as I keep reaching for it.  Hope is what keeps me getting up and doing what I have to do each and every day.  Hope is what motivates me to try again and again and again.

I hope for so much.  I hope to find my place in the world again.  I hope to find peace and comfort and joy.  I hope to find love and happiness.  I hope to find my purpose and feel the passion that comes from living that purpose.  I believe it is all possible.  I believe that as long as there is air in my lungs and blood pumping through my veins, I have a chance at an amazing life.

Widowhood changes us.  It changes our view of the world and everything that goes on, but what I am finding to be most important is that it changes our view of ourselves.  I think this can be one of the more difficult parts of the grief process.  For some reason if we face the loss of our spouse head on and go through the darkness of the tunnel and somehow manage to come out the other end, we can find acceptance with their death.  Not closure, not forgetting, not letting go, but acceptance that they are gone and that is how it is.

I grieved the loss of Pat.  I understand that he is gone and I have been heartbroken and sorrowful and miserable.  But I have found that acceptance.  I understand the reality and although it absolutely sucks, I have come to terms with that being a part of my story.

But what I have not done is to face the grief towards the collateral damage that came along with his death.  I am not the same; my life is not the same; my dreams are not the same…everything changed.  And even though I can roll with things and see that it is different and try to make a new life from the pieces that are left, I have not faced the anger and disappointment and grief that I feel towards losing the life I had and the life I had planned.

This is my main focus now.  I have always used the phrase moving forward rather than moving on because moving on sounds like once you have dealt with it you forget about it forever.  I will never forget Pat and our love…hence moving forward.  But what is holding me back now is something I think I need to move on from.  The anger, the disappointment, the resentment towards people, things and circumstances that are far beyond my control.  I need to face them head on and then let them go…and move on with my life.  Otherwise I may stay stuck in this place forever, and who would want that?

hopesI am happy with where I am now.  I read what is written above, which was written not that long ago, and see how far I have come; how much I have grown.  I have a plan laid out for my future; for the things I want to do and things I will do.  The darkness isn’t as blinding as it once was.  I see the way to what I am looking for and I know it is just a matter of time.  Each day, each positive thought, each moment of hope brings me closer to the life I never knew I wanted.

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

Tomorrow’s happiness does not erase the past

double heart

I love Pat.  I have loved him since I met him at the age of 21.  I spent half of my life with the man.  I fell in love with him, I married him,  I carried his children…I took care of him when he was sick, I held him as he took his last breath in this world, I love him still today.  These are the facts and there is no denying any of them.

But time keeps ticking.  Life continues on.  You have a choice to continue to live without your love beside you and search for a new path…a new future, or you can choose to sit in sorrow, missing your late spouse forever feeling alone, lost, confused and desperate.

I have decided to live and find a new path.  I opened my mind, and more importantly, I opened my heart.  I took the risk and put myself out there and I found someone to let in again.  I didn’t think this was possible.  I didn’t think I could ever open myself up to someone or be able to have loving feelings for anyone else…I didn’t understand how this is possible when my heart is filled with so much love for Pat.  I have read about others having what the widow world calls a chapter 2.  I have heard others stories about being surprised by falling in love again.  But I couldn’t possibly wrap my brain around how this could actually happen.  I didn’t believe it.   I think that is what people who haven’t lost their spouse thinks as well.  It doesn’t make any sense…until you are there, living it and then it all makes sense.

 

replacing

I read it somewhere that loving again is like growing a second heart.  I get that now.  Loving someone new has absolutely nothing to do with loving Pat.  It is absolutely amazing and so hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it.  A new love is completely different, completely separate from the first.  It doesn’t replace the love or erase it or mean you are even healed.  It simply means your heart is still beating.  You are still alive and capable of so much.

 

I believe that the meaning of life is to love, as simple as that.  To love and grow and share it with others.  Without love there is no reason for anything.  There is no purpose greater than to love.  I have love in my heart and have enough room in there to love more than one person without taking anything from either one.

I don’t believe that my past defines me.  And I don’t believe that my work towards having a new path in life erases anything I had with Pat.  My future can’t take away anything from my past.  Everything that has happened to me, and everything means Pat and his love, has led me to this exact moment and place in my life.  It has brought me to the door of new possibilities and new love.

Some say it is too soon.  Some say I couldn’t have really loved Pat if I could find another.  Some say I should be alone and in mourning for much, much more time.  Some say a lot.  But the reality of it all is that I am not some.  I am me.  I am living this.  This is my story, my life.  I have experienced it.   They don’t understand…they don’t understand anything, even though they claim they do.  There is no way they could possibly.

letting go

And I am happy that they don’t understand.  I wish on no one the pain and loss I have experienced.  I believe it is time for me to find some happiness.  Let me have love,  let me have my life.  I don’t need to be weighed down with judgments, or thoughts, or opinions.

 

I am tired of trying to make others understand the unexplainable.   This is my chance at tomorrow’s happiness and it does not in any way erase my past.  It only adds to my story.

 

Posted in grief, widow

What a widow means when she says “I’m fine”

I’m fine, I say, smile and look away.  This is the way I have answered people hundreds of times since Pat has died.   Fine is the staple of my conversations and my go-to answer.  Fine makes people feel better.  They receive the word fine as meaning I have gotten it together, gotten over the loss of my husband and I am moving forward.  Unfortunately, fine means none of these things.

What this widow means when she says the word fine is:

  • I don’t want to even begin to try to explain to you how I am feeling
  • I have no words for the struggle I am going through
  • I am exhausted from the physical act of getting out of bed this morning
  • I will figure it out on my own
  • There is no way you could possibly understand how my world has changed
  • My universe has come crashing down around me, but I am still breathing
  • I managed to have a shower this morning and show up…physically at least
  • I have only forgotten three things I was suppose to do today because I can’t think straight
  • I have fifteen things I am suppose to be doing right now
  • I don’t want your pity
  • I am lonely
  • I am scared
  • I am lost
  • I am holding it together for the moment
  • I miss my husband
  • I wish my world could make sense again
  • We are making it through the day
  • We don’t have any major catastrophes happening
  • There are things happening behind the scenes that you will never understand
  • I can’t take my children’s pain away from them
  • I wish I could go back in time
  • I don’t want to do this anymore
  • I don’t know what to do next
  • I want to crawl back into my bed and wait for my world to get better
  • I’ve got this on my own
  • I can only count on myself
  • You don’t get it
  • You never will
  • I am all alone

I am sure there is so much  more that is behind those three little words.  There is pain.  There is sorrow.  There is confusion.  There is loneliness.  It is being completely alone and it is feeling isolated, not understood and lost.

I say I am fine all the time.

I say it’s fine, I’ll figure it out…because what else is there to say?

I am still here.  I am still trying.  I’m fine…honestly I am.

Posted in grief, widow

He is not on a trip, he is dead

There have been a lot of articles written about how widows get upset when people call themselves “football widows”, “racing widows”,  “hunting widows” or complain about how hard it is when their spouse is gone for the weekend and they are on their own.  Widows, like me, get upset by this because these people have no idea what it truly means to be an actual widow.

Yes, they think they can understand because they take care of things all on their own for a few days, or a few weeks even, but everyone knows it is not the same.  I think they even know it is not the same when they say it….they just say it.

What I have found to be even worse than this is the fact that people in my life, even after almost three years, think that my life has just continued on the way it was and the only difference is that Pat is no longer here.  Like he is out-of-town on business or something.  According to them I have always taken care of everything anyway, so therefore it really isn’t all that different now.  He just isn’t here.  Life should be continuing on just minus one.

Let me tell you, everything is different….EVERYTHING.

From the outside, I may have been the one who ran the house and took care of the children, but I couldn’t have done any of that without my backbone for support.  Pat always had my back.  He was my partner, my best friend, my support system.  He was the one who picked up the pieces when I fell apart.  He was the one who helped me get through the tough days, make tough decisions, and be the tough guy with the kids.   I didn’t do it all on my own.  Every step of the way  he was there.

I chose Pat to spend my life with.  From the age of 21, I built my life with him and around him.  Everything was done together and in hopes for a long life together.  The plans, the dreams, the day to day…everything we did together…just because others didn’t or couldn’t see our relationship from behind the scenes, doesn’t mean they know how and what our relationship was.

I am not angry with people… I’m really not.  Maybe they say these things because they don’t think things through before saying them, or maybe they say them because they honestly think that is the way it is.  They don’t understand the lives of widows.  They don’t want to understand.  I don’t want them to understand.  I think it scares people, or reminds them of what could possibly happen to them too.  So instead of just letting us live our lives or help us, they pass judgment or make assumptions based on nothing other than what they “think” they would do, say or feel.  As I have said before…they have no idea.

I do get upset when people complain about their husbands, or the fact that their husband is out-of-town and they can’t wait for them to come home because they are tired of going it alone.  Of course I do.  I don’t show it, but I do.  I don’t have that luxury and I am envious of the fact that you have it all and don’t even realize it.  I wish he would be coming home again to help me out.  But I have to go it alone, everyday.  I have to do it alone with no break, with no help, with no chance of a day when he will come walking through that day door again to help me out.  My support system is gone.  I am alone in this and that is the end of the story.  I am left to pick up the pieces, figure it all out and find a new path for me and my boys….no Sunday night homecoming when the trip is over.  That just isn’t a widow’s reality.

I have come to terms with this reality and I have basically learned how to go it alone.  I am not angry, though I know this post may sound a bit angry.  I am simply sorting through the multitude of emotions I have experienced these past three years and some I am more passionate about than others.  This happens to be one of them.  It is a tough road that I wish on no one, but I do it everyday.  I am sure there are widows and widowers out there who understand what I am talking about.  It just gets to me sometimes.  That’s all I am trying to say.

What I honestly want is for anyone who has someone to love, to actually love them.  Be thankful for all the little moments and all the little things you have with them.  All of that…everything can be taken from you in a blink of an eye.  And then you are left like me, wishing he was on a trip, and not dead.

Posted in grief, widow

A widows need

As a widow I have been given the gift of realizing my own personal strength.  I had no other choice but to be strong for my kids.  That is what we widows do.  We do whatever it takes to protect our children and that involves finding strength we never knew we had.  So in these past few years I have had to learn how to handle everything it takes to run a household…finances, home repair, yard work, education decisions, daily activities, transportation, the list goes on and on.  I have had difficulty making some of these decisions because I never had to do them alone.  I don’t fully trust my decisions without having my partner there to back me up; to support me and have my back no matter what.  But whether they were the right or wrong decisions, I have learned to do it all myself.  It’s just another “benefit” of being a widow.

But we do what we have to do.  We put our head down and face whatever the day brings us.  In the beginning it is literally minute by minute.  But as time goes by it becomes a day-to-day battle, just trying to make it through without any major catastrophes.  Each day I go to bed knowing I did the best I could do today and that is all I can ask for at this time.

With this new-found strength came weakness as well.  And this is where the need comes into play.  Unfortunately I am not the superwoman I try to appear to be.  I can not do it all on my own.  And God do I hate that.  I hate feeling weak and I hate having to depend on other people.  To need someone again means I have to put myself out there and trust someone again which means I have to open myself up to the possibility of being let down or hurt.   These are things that as a widow I try desperately to avoid.

I need help from people and I depend on people, though I hate to do it.  There are people who drive my kids to school, and watch my dog and kids so I can get a breath from time to time.  There are people who help me with yard work and home repair when I just can’t do it all myself.  These people do it for no other reason than the fact that they care.  They don’t expect anything from me.  They just want to help.  I can’t express my appreciation for these people enough.  They save me everyday.

I need these people.

But at the same time I want to continue to crawl into my own little world and focus on getting through each day.  I don’t want to depend on anyone, but myself.  Sometimes I need to be left alone.  I need my space.  I need my independence.  I need to feel like I’ve got this and I am doing okay.  It is such a mix of emotions and needs.  I hate feeling like I want to be alone and I feel bad for isolating myself from my friends.   But it is comfortable in my own little world and it is where I can handle things on my own.  It’s the only place I feel like I’ve got this single parenting thing.  A place where people who don’t understand or who don’t get it, can’t place their judgment, opinions or pity upon me.  I definitely DON’T need any of those things.

I am sure these feelings of mine are normal in the world of widows.  I am sure those of you who are walking this path understand what I am talking about.  I am also sure we will all figure this out and find our place in the world again.  We have survived the unimaginable, we have grown in strength and wisdom and we will find happiness again.  This is my hope and my need.

Posted in grief, widow

Breaking ground

My foundation was broken when Pat died.  As I try to rebuild, I can’t find the right pieces to use or when I do find pieces, they aren’t strong enough or I am afraid they won’t be strong enough to hold me up through out my life.  I had a strong foundation once…the whole fucking architecture of my life was perfect.  I thought it was bullet proof, unbreakable.  I had it all.  But it wasn’t indestructible.  A crack in the universe caused my whole world to come crumbling down around me and I was left standing in the rumble of memories and sadness.

But time has passed.

The wound has healed.

But the scar remains.

I have been thinking about where I am right now in my grief process and I realize I am at the rebuilding stage.  I have made it through the agony and daily crying spells.  I have made it through the why me’s and how can I go on period.  I have made it through who am I now and what am I suppose to do time.  Now I am standing at the building site of my new life.  Staring at it trying to picture what it is going to be like.  What my life is going to become.

It is an empty lot right now.  Actually, ground has been broken and some basic work has been done, but the real design hasn’t started yet.  I have started to lay the foundation.  I need a strong foundation, maybe even stronger than the first one, in order for me to feel safe and secure.  I know there is no such thing as 100% guarantee of protection from hurt and harm, but I am trying to safeguard against the unforeseen and unknown because I know it is out there and it is a possibility again.  I know the damage it can cause.   So I am working on building a strong one that can always be reinforced and improved upon in the future.

For one…I have developed a new relationship with God and have reconnected with my faith.  It may not look to others like a typical relationship, but it is my relationship and an amazing support system for me. I have also given myself the gift of time to heal and to get acquainted with my new self.  I have learned about who I am and what I want…more often than not it has been what I don’t want.  I have developed new friendships that are strong, healthy and secure.  I have taken the negativity out of my life and anyone who added to it.   I have opened my heart to allow for more love and I’ve opened my mind to new ideas.  I have tried new career paths and I have been forced outside of my comfort zone…in fact I feel like I live there almost every day.

All of this is the beginning to a strong foundation for the new me.

So what is next?

God I wish I knew.   I stand in this spot trying to take the next step.  To put that cornerstone in place and move on with the reconstruction of my life.  But I am scared.  I am always so scared.  This is another added bonus of losing Pat.  I am so scared of everything…of it being the wrong thing to do at the wrong time.  So unsure of my decisions.  But what I have recently come to see is that my fear is ridiculous.  It is holding me back from what I know I need to do or at least need to try to do.  I have been living my life as if I was in living in Groundhogs day…I keep going around and around and end up in the same place, or someplace very similar, which is safe and predictable, but leaving me unhappy and unfulfilled.  Fear is the only thing making me take this cyclical trip to the land of miserable.  It’s time to break free of this pattern.

I know this.

We all know this.

You can’t keep doing the same things expecting a different outcome.  Pretty sure that is the definition of insanity.

But I have to let this go.  I need to place the cornerstone of my new life down and begin building something new.  Something that will make me happy and bring me the peace I am so desperately searching for.  It’s a risk.  But it’s a risk I have to take, ready or not.  I’ve tried and tried to keep going the only way I knew how.  I’ve decided that I need to try something I don’t know how.  I have figured this widowhood and single parenthood thing out so far…There has to be hope that I can figure this out too.

I can’t keep complaining about the way things are if I am not going to try to make a change.  I hope my new foundation is ready for this because I believe this new life of mine has the potential to be something amazing.

 

 

Posted in grief, widow

More

Today is October 4.  Today is the day he should be celebrating his 47th birthday. But Pat didn’t get to reach this milestone.  He never got to have his mid-life crisis.  He never got to experience the joys of aging with gray hair and wrinkles.  He never got to do so much.  Time ran out on him and he didn’t get to do any more than 44.  When I met Pat he was a young, care free, concert going, party loving man.  He worked hard so he could party hard.  He loved his friends, he loved his music, he loved life.  He wanted to go out and take on the world.  He had dreams of turning his love of music into his life career.  And then he met me.  I always felt like I took that from him…the dreams of the night life.  It seemed like he always wanted more than the family life.  But he said no.  He said when he met me his idea of more changed.   After he met me, more meant a family, and love, and growth and a future.  It no longer meant more nights out and parties to attend.  And so more he got.   He married me and he got more and more love every day.  And then the love overflowed when we added more to the Mahoney crew…First Seamus, then Quinn and finally Aidan.  With every more he encountered, he was happier, more grounded, more complete.

But then the day came when he got sick and all he wanted was more time.  26 more years was what he prayed for.  For some reason he thought living to the age of 70 would be enough for him and so he tried to compromise with God for those years.  As it turned out, 70 wasn’t his number.  But he did get more time.  He got six months to live where he could say more and love more.  He said all he needed to say and he had peace with his life and his death.   This man gave me more love than I could ever imagine.  He brought me more joy and more laughter and more meaning than one person deserves.

I still wish I had more.

More.

We always want more.

What am I going to do with my more?  I have so much more to give and do and experience.  I want to honor Pat by living a life that I am proud of.  Not worrying about what makes sense to others, but living the way I truly want to live.  This is what I want to do with the more I have been given.  I am not sure how much more I have, so I want to give it my all.  So instead of wanting more materialistic things, I want more living, loving, and laughter.  Because on this day of remembrance of the birth of an amazing man, friend, brother, son, husband and father…I want to celebrate the gift of life I have been given and the chance I have to make more of every moment.

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Happy Birthday Pat Mahoney!