Posted in widow

Monster of Doom

It’s been a while since I have written but I do have a good reason.  I have been working hard on something that has sat in front of me as an obstacle, an excuse and a fear for many, many years.  You see, I graduated with my Masters in Counseling back in 2006.  Since then my life has taken many twists and turns and lead me down many different paths.  I never took my national boards for counseling after I graduated.  I had just had my third baby and was recovering from bacterial meningitis…life was taking over.  Time just kept going by and I continued to put it off.  It soon became this giant monster standing in front of me and I formed an irrational fear of it.  I didn’t want to take it.  I was convinced there was no way in the world I could pass this test, especially after all this time.

When Pat first got sick and we were spending the majority of our time sitting in the hospital, I decided I would give it a try.  I figured I had time just sitting to study and I could use the distraction.  But as we all know, nothing can distract you from cancer and death.  Son I continued to put it off.  Five years have passed since that first half-assed attempt.

Pat died and my world has been turned upside down and I totally lost direction.  Everything changed for me and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life anymore because I didn’t know who I was anymore.  It’s been a quite the journey.  I have taken these past three years to try to figure all of these things out.  This year, I got a new job which I though would simplify my life and bring me some peace.  I thought I wanted a job that was just a job, something that I could leave behind at the end of the day, but it hasn’t turned out to be what I had wanted it to be.  I have spent a great deal of this past school year complaining about the position I am in and wanting out but I didn’t do anything to fix it.  I hate that!  I hate when people complain and do nothing about it.  If you aren’t going to try to find an alternative or a solution, than stop complaining.  Either fix it or deal with it.   And here I was doing that exact thing.

I took a little get away; a break from the kids, the job, and life in general.  I went away for a few days and thought about where I was in my life and where I have been the past few years.  I thought about what I wanted my future to look like.  I started weighing my options and what I may want to do.  When it came down to the foundation of all the things I thought I may want to do, it led me to the same place.  It seemed like the one thing I really needed to do was to take the NCE and finally be a fully licensed counselor.  Oh my God, did this terrify me.

But I took the first step and signed up.  I paid the money which I knew meant I was going to work my butt of to prepare for it because I hate wasting money.  This was a little step, but for me a huge leap.  I had put into motion something that scared the hell out of me.  I waited a bit before I set the official test date and made myself a study schedule.  I tried to take each step slowly and think it through.  I studied and studied and studied for 5 months.  The day finally came and I was so scared.  I can’t even explain to you as to how scared I was.  The morning of the exam my anxiety was through the roof.  My hands were shaking and I could hardly breathe.  But you know what?  I did it.  I sat there for two hours and when I hit the button DONE, I simply held my breath and said “It is what it is.”

No matter what the result was, I had done something that scared me.  I had done something that I had been putting off for 12 years.  I did something.  I took a risk, a step in a direction and waited to see what was going to happen next.

And I am happy to say, I passed that test!  This giant obstacle that has been looming over me for so long is now officially gone.  What a flippin’ relief.  I cried tears of joy and happiness.  It felt so good to have set a goal and actually do I it.  I am so proud of myself.  Not that I passed the test, but that I did it.  I put my mind to something and actually followed through.  I did it without Pat pushing me to do it, though I know he was cheering me on from above.  I did it without giving an excuse as to why I couldn’t.  I did it without anyone else helping me.  I did something for me, about me and all by myself.  I didn’t back off or run scared, like I usually have done since Pat died.  I stuck it out and that is what I am proud of.

But now what?

That is where I land now.  This obstacle, this monster of doom, my excuse is gone.  I can’t use that to stop myself from moving forward anymore.  It has left me with many more decisions to make and directions I can go in.  It makes the next step easier, but also a bit tougher because I actually CAN do these things now.  There is nothing holding me back except for me.  I am now that monster of doom standing in the way of where my life will take me.  This may be scarier than that silly test!

 

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Posted in grief, living forward, widow, year of self-care

A year of self-care

2017 came to an end.

I was given a gift of a two-week vacation from school and work. I had hoped that I would have felt recharged, refreshed and ready to start 2018.  I wanted to use my two weeks to reflect and refocus on where I am, where I’ve come and where I want to see myself this year.  Unfortunately, the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 brought my a cold and sickness that I just couldn’t seem to kick.  I came into the year more exhausted then I left the last.  I knew I wanted 2018 to be a bit more about me then the years that have passed, but after the way the year started I now know that it is a must.

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I have been reflecting on the past 2 1/2 years since Pat died and all the different places I have been and the crazy thoughts that have gone through my head.  Looking back is way easier to see what I was doing then when I was actually living it, hind sight is always clearer.  A friend told me that my first year after Pat died would be the year of Denise.  That I would  need to do whatever I needed to do.  I thought that sounded amazing.  I thought that was what it was.  But it wasn’t.  It was a year of survival.  It was a year of grace.  I had to learn how to make it on my own,living in this deep fog that we widows experience.  I had that year allowing myself to be in the pain and the grief and just put my head down and go through the motions.  It wasn’t about me.  It was about survival…for all of us.

The second year I then thought I was ready for a year about me.  I even quit my job and took some time to learn about who I was know that Pat was gone.  I am definitely not the same person as I use to be, but I had no idea who this was.  I had time but it didn’t turn out to be about me either.  It was about learning how to run the household…how to take on all the new roles and responsibilities that were left in my hands.  It was also a year about the kids.  Taking care of their grief needs and school needs and everything else that comes with raising three boys on my own.  It was a year of learning, not a year about taking care of me.

This third year has been about getting back out in the world and finally coming to this new normal everyone has been talking about.  I went back to work doing something different from my past jobs and tried to find a new path for my life.  I have slowly started to get a handle on the finances of the house and making plans for the future.  It’s been about getting the boys back out into life and active with their friends and school activities.  This has led me to devoting all my time and energy to them.  I understand this is what parenting is all about, but I am utterly exhausted not having a tag out to someone, anyone at anytime.  This is 100% on me and boy am I feeling it.

This has led me to my focus on a year of self-care.  I want to change the perception that taking time for yourself and putting yourself from time to time is not selfish…it is necessary.  You can not be good for others if you are drained.  You can not pout from an empty pitcher.  You need to provide yourself oxygen before you can help others reach their oxygen.  It isn’t wrong to care for you…it is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

I realize this is an intentional act I will have to focus on everyday because being a working parent I am pulled in so many directions that I can lose track of where I am headed.  So I am mapping out a plan for myself and I hope others do the same.  This year has to be a little bit about me.  I have to take care of myself; body, mind and spirit.  Everyday I need to take at least five minutes to focus on me.  This could be for meditation, or reading, or walking, or sit ups or writing or anything that I want to do.  Everything else can wait for five minutes.

I am also going to work on letting guilt go.  My kids do not need everything they think they need right when they think they need it.  I am going to give myself the gift of not feeling guilty for not giving them everything.  I am going to put some of my needs and wants ahead of their demands (because they aren’t typically needs anyways).  I am going to schedule some me time to do what I need to do for me.  Not what I need to do for them.  I will take care of me, even if it seems stupid to others and give myself some time to reboot, recharge and refresh my spirit.

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This is hard.

This is so hard with three demanding boys standing over me asking to be driven somewhere, or to buy them something or to make them dinner.  But they can wait.  They can wait for me to get my head together and take a deep breath and remember what life is about.

Life is about love.  It is about finding happiness and peace and love in the smallest of things.  It is not about having the most, or being famous or having the busiest social life.  It is about finding your place in the world and being at peace with where you are.

In order to find this, you have to look.

In order to look, you have to take some time for you.

If all the focus is on others and at the end of the day you are emotionally, physically and mentally drained, you will never be able to find the peace you deserve.  The peace I deserve.

So this is my challenge to you…make it a year of self-care.  Make an intentional effort to be about you, just a little bit and then let’s see where we are in year from now…or even a month from now.  I’m ready for some time to discover me and do what is best for me.  I believe that if I am happy and settled in my life, then everything else should fall into place.  I will be a better mom, a better daughter, a better friend, a better employee…just better.

It’s a worth a try, at least that’s what I think.

 

 

 

Posted in widow

The reasons for my tears

This path of widowhood is an ever winding road with quick drops that can bring you down.  But there are highs that feel amazing too.  We go through everyday doing what we do, trying to heal and move forward with our lives.  But the truth of the matter is, we take every step with tears in our eyes or at least in our heart.  tears2

I found myself this morning crying…I’m not sure the exact reason behind the tears falling down my face, but they kept coming anyway.  But what I found amazing, was that I just kept going.  The tears started in the shower, and continued for some time after.  But I continued to get dressed, and get ready for whatever the day was to bring me.  I just kept pushing through even thought the tears were trying to pull me down.  I had moments where they took me down to the ground, but I got back up.  I always do.
But the today’s tears made me think about how they could still  keep coming after all this time.  I didn’t think I could cry like this anymore…especially without not knowing why they were falling.  It made me think about where I am.  Why am I crying today…Here is what I am thinking.

It seems that my post-Pat life has been filled with one day feeling good and the next day not understanding why I am where I am.  It’s been a confusing roller coaster of trying to navigate this new world.  I shed a tear for not knowing why I feel the way I do.

I have found a little piece of happiness and I want to hold on to it.  I don’t want to lose something that could be amazing.  Yet I don’t want to force it to be something more than it is.  Just because my perspective on life has changed and what I want from life has changed, doesn’t mean everyone else’s has.  And I have no right to expect that from anyone.  So I shed a tear for the thought that I am going to lose something important to me.

My boys are challenging for me.  I don’t know what I am doing with them most days and I am absolutely sure I am screwing them up permanently.  I love them with all I am, and still I am constantly yelling and screaming at them.  I feel out of control in my own home and I am lost as to help make this a smoother ride for us all.  I shed a tear for being a solo parent.

I have chosen to make some drastic changes in my life the past two years, but even though they were of my choosing, I still feel a loss.  I still feel that I lost a piece of my identity and my place in this world.  I know that my place has changed and there is somewhere new for me to be, but being without a holding spot is lonely, scary and a bit isolated.  I find that I am lacking direction most days and on an unknown road, that can be terrifying because I am not yet completely out of the darkness.  I see the light ahead and it is shining pretty bright, but it’s still a little too dark for comfort when I don’t know where I am headed.  A definite tear or two for feeling lost.

Underneath it all is my broken my heart.  I believe my heart has healed over but that scar remains.  That scar will always be.  I lost something that can never be replaced.  The loss took everything from me and rebuilding is exhausting, and painful.  All my tears stem from this loss and the damage that it has caused.

I should be thankful for the tears and the sadness…it means I am still here, I am still alive.  The fact that I can feel sadness over something other than losing Pat means I have been able to open my heart again and take the risk at pain.  That’s a good thing.  So I guess I should just let the tears come and use them to wash away the pain and the darkness.  I am so ready to step into that light ahead.

 

 

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow, widowhood

Ready to Walk the Talk

I recently read a blog about walking between your two lives after the loss of a loved one.  It clicked with me and has left me thinking about where I am walking in my life right now.  The idea of the blog was that as a widow, as she is one too, there comes  a time when you are living with one foot in your former life and one foot in the new world you have made for yourself.  You have to try to balance the two and wait for the right time to fully step into your “new normal”, your new life.

I am finishing up my second year as a widow and I am amazed at how the journey of grief has gone so far. The beginning was all about surviving the pain and shock that came with Pat’s death.  It was about helping the kids adjust and understand.  It was simply forcing myself to get through each day.  By the time the end of the first year rolled around I thought I was in a pretty good place with things.

I was wrong.  The beginning of the second year was rough…on all of us.  It came at us without expecting it which may have made the hit feel even harder.  We were thrown off kilter for a bit but then settled back in.  Most of this second year was about trying to figure out who I am now in this new world of mine. Trying to figure out what to do now.  I accepted the loss of Pat and the fact that life will never be the same again.  I learned that I am no longer the same person and what I want and desire in life is no longer the same.  This has been my main focus for some time now.  I am getting there.  I have learned a lot about me and I have decided what I want and don’t want in life.  The details aren’t completely mapped out just yet, but who’s life is a perfect plan in action?
Now I am finding myself in a new place.  The feelings that go along with it are different too.  Living in the end of my second year and seeing the third year heading towards me leads me to a place of let’s get up and get going.  I think I have done a hell of a lot work for years now.  I have thought about everything.  I have analyzed, critiqued, adjusted and improved myself.   I like who I am.  I like where I am at…basically.  The place I am in now is one of being ready to move forward.  I have talked about the need to continue to move forward and in my mind I have.  I have prepared myself mentally and emotionally for the move.  Now I am ready to do it.  I am ready for action.  I am ready to step into the new life.  It has come that time for me to say goodbye to that in between place we widows live in for a while.  I have dipped my toes into life multiple times and retreated back to my safety, but here I am…ready.

actionI think the fact that I have been writing like crazy shows I am back in the game. My book is coming along nicely and I am ready to begin the process of starting a non-profit.  I am sure I will still be hesitant about things, but I know that now I am ready to get going on with this thing called life.  It is time to start putting my words into action.

Walking between my two lives is sometimes quite a balancing act and it is mostly done in order to make others feel comfortable with things.  People have their own opinions as to how we should live after the loss of a spouse.  Even though they have never experienced it.  It is okay.  I get it.  I didn’t know before I was one too.  I thought I knew what it would be like or what I would or wouldn’t ever do, but you never know until you live it.  I understand that people can be uneasy with me finding a happy life after Pat.  It’s not that they don’t want me to be happy…they do.  But it needs to be on their timeline…when they think I should start being happy and what that should look like.  So I walk that line.  I don’t want to hurt people or make them think I didn’t love Pat or our life together by finding happiness again.  I want to be considerate of others feelings and ease them into the new me.  All that I have now…happiness and my new life honestly has nothing to do with the love I have for Pat.  It is two separate things.  The amazing thing about the heart is that there is room for more than just one love…more than just one life can bring you happiness.

There is no way in hell I would have believed any of that 2 years ago.  But now that I have lived this life, I know that it is.  The heart has an abundance of love to give.  Just because you love another, doesn’t diminish anything you had with the first.  The love goes on.  Just because you find happiness and peace doesn’t mean you are “over”  anything.  I will never be “over” losing Pat.  The pain is just something different now.   The wound has healed over, but the scar will always remain.  My love with him and my life with him will always be with me.  I will always have that.  And I am proud to have that.  Having a second shot at life and finding happiness or love or peace in life doesn’t take that away.  It is different, but it can be amazing.

So as I am entering this next chapter of the grief journey I am ready to take the next steps necessary to ease me out of the waiting room and back out into the world.  I have come to that point where I am wanting to get up and do something.

I hope you all stay with me on this journey.  I can’ wait to see what keeps coming my way. It has been quite an adventure so far.  I never thought I would make it to this point and find my way out of the fog of grief.  I don’t only see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I can finally feel the warmth of it shining down on me.

Posted in grief, inspiration, living forward, self confidence, widow, widowhood

Again

So I’ve been sitting here all morning trying to figure out what is going on with me.  My head is a mess running wild with thoughts and worries and confusion.  I am feeling unmotivated, disillusioned, doubtful and basically scared shitless of what lies ahead.  I am not sure how I got to this point.  I’ve been doing so well.  I feel at peace with Pat’s death.  I am into a good routine with being a single parent.  I have accepted the new Denise and I am enjoying being her.  But there is something pulling me down.  I feel lost and scared and I have been driving myself and probably everyone else around me crazy this week trying to deal with it.  I am not sad.  I am not mad.  I am not even confused about what I want in life.  I know what I want.  I know what I need to do to get what I want.  I just have this loud, obnoxious voice in my head that keeps screaming at me and I can not shut her up.  I don’t know how to get rid of her or at least shut her down for a bit.

Fear.  Fear has taken over all I am and it is holding me hostage in this in between life stage I am in.  I want to move forward.  I see a path, I see a plan and an opportunity, but she won’t let me go.  And because of her pushy demanding ways I am stuck doing what I am doing…which is nothing.  Of course I have a million excuses as to why I can’t get going down this path I want to take.  We all do that.  But why?  Why won’t I just do it?  Just take
that step…it’s not even a jump anymore.  I feel like I have taken the big jumps that I needed to move forward, without looking I must add, and I so far I have survived.  I wanted to jump and see where it takes me.  But serious, Is this it?  It is going to take me nowhere because I am so stuck in my head with the voice of fear keeping me right where I am?

So now what?  That is where I am right now.  I love that feeling when I figure out what my problem is.  It is at that point I can begin to make a plan to make a change.  Even though I don’t exactly know what to do, it is a better feeling than not knowing what the hell is wrong with me.

I know what I am doing to myself by making up these crazy things that could wrong.  Of course things could not work out the way I want, but in all reality what has gone the way I have wanted in my life?  I never in a million years thought I would be an unemployed 42 year old widowed mother of three boys trying to start life over again.  But here I am.  And I am enjoying most parts of my life.  I see that it can actually be a better life than I had before if I could just get out of my head and take the first step down the path I want for myself  I know I could really start feel like I am living once again.

I feel like I have been in this spot before, like a hundred times, back at the beginning,  Starting over and making a new game plan.  Sometimes it feels hopeless because it doesn’t seem to work for me, but its the only thing I know to do.  Make a plan, find a way to fix the problem and get going.  I get down like this, as I think everyone does from time to time, but I refuse to be a marinator…one who sits in the pain and confusion complaining and not doing anything about it. me That is not who I am…ever.  I will give myself sometime to feel what I am feeling.  Think through my craziness.  Cry a gallon of tears.  But there is a point where I say enough is enough.  Get off your ass Denise and get going.  Today is that day.  I am giving myself this past week for what it was worth and I am ready to start again…again.  As long as I keep getting up and trying to move forward I think I am heading the right direction.  As for the voice of Fear screaming in my head, I am ready to shut her down.  If I fail at what I am going to try to do, then I fail.  It doesn’t make me a loser.  It simply makes me someone who wants to live.  Living is about learning and loving.  There is nothing more I want to do with my time here then to learn and love.  So bring it on.  I’ve survived worse and I am ready

……again.

Posted in grief, inspiration, Uncategorized, widow

It’s only stuff

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 stufflife.  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.