Most of the time I feel like I am doing okay. I am out in the world and living. But the thrilling part of the grief process for me is that at any moment and for any reason I can fall into a pit of despair. I usually know when it is coming on and feel as though I am “slipping”. I can catch myself, refocus on what I need to do and continue on. It may take a day or maybe two, but I can catch myself before I find myself curled up in my closet or sitting in the shower crying.
But there are timeswhen I can’t help but fall. It isn’t an all of a sudden a fall, but rather an endless slow motion fall into nothingness. It begins with…well actually it usually begins with nothing. Nothing really has to happen. A thought, or a word or an interaction with another can do it. The spiral begins. My head doesn’t know how to shut down. I can’t turn it off. Trust me I wish I could if even for a short period of time. I think and think and think. My brain has to analyze everything from every angle. I question my thoughts, my feelings, my decisions. I’m sure it is the result of feeling so out of control and unsure of what I am doing. I want to know that I am not crazy. I want to know that I am okay…that I will be okay. So I try to be sure that I am not just fooling myself on how I am doing. In doing this, my brain goes round and round. I think until it has driven me farther into the pit. At that point the feeling of just wanting to disappear into it comes over me. Sometimes I don’t want to keep getting up and moving forward. Sometimes I want to be left alone and wither away. I know it is okay for me to sit in my feelings of pain and loss for a moment, but this is different. This is a more permanent residency of pain.
It is kind of like the desire I have to want to be in the world of the living again. I truly want that for myself. BUT…I really don’t. I want to find my place in the world again, but I don’t want people in my business. I want to share in relationships with people, but I don’t want them to input their opinions or to even to try to understand. Selfish right? I am truly blessed to have people who care about me and my boys and want the best for us. They want to be a part of our lives and they just want us to be happy. I know that. But I am grieving. Grief rears its ugly head again…and so I want to isolate and go it alone. It’s easier that way sometimes. The most I can do is focus on what I need to do at that time. Trying to deal with other people’s dramas or opinions doesn’t fit into my world at this time. I want nothing to do with it. So what I do is retract from the world of the living. I step out into it for a bit, and then quickly right back into my bubble. I am happy there. I feel safe there. Perhaps that is where I need to stay for a little longer. I hope people will still be there when I am ready to return.
So this endless pit of despair sucks me in again and I fall and fall downward in a spiral hoping to be saved from this pain. I then remember there is no one there to save me…I have to save myself. And so that is what I do. I will keep getting up and I will keep trying to climb out of the pit and I will eventually step back out into the world. I wish I knew a quicker route than the one I am on.
A widows fog. A phrase I never knew existed until I was thrown in to the world of widowhood. I didn’t have to read about it, I experienced it. From the moment he died I had the immediate understanding of what it was. It’s a hard thing to describe to someone who hasn’t walked this path in life, but for those of you who are on this similar path, I think you know exactly what I am speaking of. Most of the time it is a simple haze I am walking around in. My peripheral vision is blurred and I can simply focus on what is in front of me. I can take care of the one thing I am focused on at a time and then move forward to the next. This leads to forgetfulness. Not the usual forgetfulness you think of as you age or when you have too much on your plate. It’s a repetitive, annoying, drive yourself crazy forgetfulness. If it’s in your head, it’s there for just a moment and then it’s gone…sometimes for good. I recently remembered that I forgot the birthdays of two family members months ago. I know when their birthdays are; I am sure I thought I need to send them a gift, but then it was gone. It didn’t resurface until almost 5 months later. This is small in the world of fog. I never…and I mean never know where my keys or my phone are. I can’t get out of my house. Without my trusted babysitter, I am not sure I would have made it to work all year. She would check me off with all my belongings. Some days I would return home two or three times to pick up things I forgot. I can’t remember the countless times I arrived at work without my computer. And paying bills is a constant struggle for me. I tend to either completely forget to pay a bill or like what I’ve been doing lately, paying the same bill two or three times. These are just a couple of examples of how crazy I have felt in the past year or so.
It’s more than all that though. The fog is overwhelming. It is distracting. When it is thick and all-consuming (and at times it is just that) – I can find myself stuck. Stuck in one place. Not thinking of anything. Not doing anything. Just stuck. Hours go by before I start to rise out of the fog. It’s almost like a black out and yet I am still conscious. Daily, the fog lies low all around. It interferes with all that I do. It’s almost like zoning out, but it is happening simultaneously with my daily life. The fog takes over my thoughts, intereferes with my conversations, and makes focus on life difficult.
They claim it won’t last forever. I think it is there to help ease the pain. I think in the beginning the fog is there to blanket the wounds of loss. To keep some of the pain at bay. For if you felt it all at once, I am sure it would end you. I don’t think we as humans can handle that much pain at once. As time has gone by, I think the fog is just lingering as I adjust to my new life. I wish I understood it. I wish I could make it go away.
Maybe it is keeping me grounded or focused on what NEEDS to get done. All the little things don’t really matter anymore anyways. Maybe it is there as a reminder that I am not truly okay yet. Maybe it’s just the lingering reminder that I am alone. I don’t know what it is. I just know that it is. It leaves me wanting to be alone; to disappear into my mind and find my own way. It leads me to revert back to the early days after Pat’s death where I need to consciously remind myself to get up, take care of the boys, do something. I am still here for a reason. I have no idea what that is just yet, but I have to keep reminding myself that I am here and I need to keep living. I hate that it takes a constant reminder to do this, but it does. It still does.
Perhaps one day, the fog will lift and I will come out on the other side happy, healthy and confident. I will fully engage in life again;no longer dipping my toes in the pool of life, but rather jumping in with a cannonball; Making a splash that will rain down upon me bringing me the comfort and security of my new life ahead. Maybe…
It is springtime. A time when a lot of people are doing a clean out of their homes; trying to get organized and to declutter to start the new season. I have taken this on as well. I need a fresh start; a new beginning. I am not simply meaning the stuff in my home, but also a thorough cleansing of my body, mind and soul. This has been one hell of a year. So much has taken place and so much has changed. I am left with remnants of emotions, pain, uncertainty, fear, anxiety and doubt. I have all the dreams and hopes for the future life I thought I would have, and who I thought I was. They all still linger around me holding me down. Physically I have everything left from my life with Pat. All his belongings, his things, his stuff. They have taken over my garage and my home, my thoughts. I need to make room for the future. But still they sit because they are his. They are his belongings, all that is left of him physically on this earth. But they are not him. Getting rid of these “things” is not getting rid of him or the memories of him. They are not our love or our life together. All of that resides in my heart and mind and they can’t be taken from me. Some people in my life are having trouble with the idea of me letting go of the “stuff” in my house that I had in my previous life. That’s what I call it. It’s not my life anymore. I am not that person anymore. Just as so many do, I thought my life with him was the life I was going to live forever, but that just ain’t so. Trying to keep living that way is pointless and painful. It only leads me to heartache and loneliness. I need to keep moving forward and moving forward means into my new life. I am growing into that new life. I am forging new paths and discovering new things and laying out a plan of what I want out of life now. Pat was the love of my life; my former life. That can’t be changed, or erased, or forgotten. It will always be. But this is my new life. My second chapter. He isn’t gone from me, but yet he is not the co-author of this new story. This one is on me. The page is blank and anything is possible. I know he will be there to guide me along this new path, but I know this path is going to bring me others who will help me write this part of my story. They already have. That doesn’t erase him or my love for him. It’s just a different life story now. We hang on to so many things we don’t need: papers, clothing, books…stuff. What we truly need is to live. Live the life we want and share it with another. Love is the true foundation to happiness. Getting rid of the stuff, doesn’t get rid of him. So I am okay with letting “stuff” go. By doing this, I know I can let go of my fears and doubts and press on towards something that may be even more amazing than what I had before. For losing Pat has brought me the realization that the simple things in life are what matters most. I am grateful for all this world has given me and I want to embrace it all with an open heart. I am setting out on this new adventure and I can’t wait to see where it takes me and what is waiting for me down this path.
Four months have come and gone without Pat and I feel I have come so far in such a short time. I haven’t sat in the face of fear and sadness and just let it envelop me into nothing. I took the pain. I felt the pain. I embraced the pain. It is all part of him and all that we had. He loved me completely with his entire being and losing him should hurt in such the same way…completely and throughout my being. It aches, it burns, it cries out in despair. It’s everything you could imagine about losing a part of you and so much more. It’s nothing I would wish on my worst enemy, but it’s not the end of me. I am here. I have a life ahead of me and to sit and wallow in pity and sorrow is not in the cards for me. Pat wanted more for me. I’ve said many times his death will not be in vain. I don’t think I really have known what I meant by that, it’s just something I felt. I now think it is that I am not going to just lay down and die with him. He didn’t fight until his last breath for me to give up. He didn’t give up and he wouldn’t want me to give up either. I think that’s where that thought has come from. I need to embrace the pain and use it to continue on. To push forward and continue the fight he began. I need to live the life I want to live and live it to the fullest…whatever that may look like. This is the life I have been given at this point in time. I didn’t ask for this new life or new perspective on the future, but it is what I have now and I need to use it to my fullest potential. That’s what I am trying to do.
Sometimes it is difficult to move forward in this life with the voices and noise that surrounds me. The opinions, whether voiced or perceived by me, of others can hold me back from pressing on in the direction or with the desire I would like. With the best of intentions for me, people can say some of the stupidest things where it seems they don’t really even understand what they are saying. It could be clichés or things they have heard somewhere, or maybe even what they think should be said, but it is received as judgment and disapproval of how I am grieving. This also happens when people choose not to even speak of Pat in my presence as if that will make me forget what has happened. If I don’t think of him and speak of him its as if everyone is forgetting him. He lives on in us and through us. We need to remember our loved ones and not be afraid of speaking their name or sharing our memories. And with that, we need to remember them as they were…imperfect. When people tell stories or speak of Pat as if he was this “saint” or perfect, it’s as if I don’t even recognize him anymore. I loved all of him, which included all his flaws. That is what made him mine and made our love real. I want to remember him exactly how he was and who he was. That is the way I can honor him and his life. He wrote the words once and I couldn’t have said it better….”God dammit, Patrick Mahoney lived and I am so proud to have known him.” I hope he is proud of how I am living and honoring him. He wanted nothing more than me to be happy. That is what I need to do, for him and for me.