My Sh*t is All Apart

I feel tired lately. In a subtle, general sort of way. I feel worn out by life. Something in a book I was reading this morning made me remember a person I used to be. The man described his wife as this energetic, vibrant, confident woman. And I wondered suddenly, where has that woman in me gone to? The one who was excited about life. Excited about new adventures and exploring and learning and growing. The one who always felt hopeful and - even in the midst of fresh widowhood - fucking determined to make a good life for herself still.

After five years of trying to figure out how to build a business with my art, and five years of crawling and fighting for this new life without Drew, I feel lately like the only place I have gotten after all of this effort is just more tired. And that’s where that woman has gone to… the one that used to be vibrant and energetic and hopeful. She has given every ounce of herself to trying to figure out this new life.

Endless amount of energy are spent daily trying to fulfill everyone's expectations of this new chapter of my life... expectations that my life is so happy and full and beautiful just because I have a new partner. Expectations that my business is flourishing and thriving and even some expectations that my artwork to be "happier" now because I am apparently happier (um, what!)

Then there is the enormous and completely new expectation of being a mother figure... and constantly trying to be "enough" in that role to make certain that everyone in Mike and his late wife's family are pleased with me being here. To make certain that no one ever doubts me being in this role in his daughter's life. There is even the expectation of being a good enough partner to Mike, and a good enough friends to all of my friends now that we live so far away from each other. With the exception of a few people's dumb comments, all of these are in my own head. But it's enough to leave me totally depleted after 2 years into this new life. 

Somehow with all of that, I actually feel like I shouldn’t be this tired. I feel like I should have all of it more together. That things should all be running more smoothly than they are. That I should be more financially successful with my art business. And that I should have energy and be vibrant and alive like I used to be. But when I type that out… I realize how completely insane that expectation sounds.

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Rattled

To be honest, nothing much rattles me these days. I think I used to get more wound up about things before Mike died. I was younger, and lacked perspective. And there is something to the idea that I have gone through such a difficult experience, losing him, that nothing much compares, so I take things more in stride.

 

Losing my house, planning a move to a place and on a timetable yet undecided, meager finances, starting a new career, going through the catastrophe of my dad’s condition last year…people often ask me how I am dealing with it all. I just shrug. What can I do? Why get twisted? It does no good. Grief is plenty enough. Worry is a completely wasted energy. That was something Mike was always trying to teach me. Well, I think I finally get it, at least for the big stuff.

 

I was just remembering that book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and chuckling to myself. This was a week of comparatively small stuff. 

 

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A Widow Summer~

How did I widow this summer? 

I was…I still am, til the middle of August…working at an opera camp in the Ozarks.

Students come from around the world to perfect their art.  Orchestra comes from around the world to play for the students when they present their operas.  Staff brings their talents/gifts to teach and guide the students.

Carmen.  The Marriage of Figaro.  Susannah.

These 3 operas will always ring through my mind and my heart now, as I connect them with a summer spent learning and doing things I never thought to learn or do.

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Life Getting in the Way

It’s not exactly a secret that sometimes, I just can’t foresee a good subject for my weekly writings here.  I’ll pine over ideas to see if they spark something, thinking about if there were any milestones, anniversaries, or triggers in the past week.  More often than not, I’ll find a nugget of something and expand upon it, and sometimes, a halfway decent writing comes out of it.

But sometimes there just isn’t a good inspiration.  I’ll “pocket” some ideas for later, like Megan’s birthday (next week) and our anniversary (three weeks from today), knowing full well that the emotions, and subsequent words are going to flow easily at those times.  Still though, it leaves me sitting here on some Tuesdays asking myself the following question.

“What should I be thinking and writing about right now?”

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How Are You?

I have struggled with this question since the moment Ben received his diagnosis.  Those are usually the first words out of someone’s mouth when they see me, and then a look immediately crosses their face and I suspect they are thinking one of two things:

“God.  That was a stupid question to ask.  Why did I ask her that?  How the Hell do I expect her to be doing?  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I’m so embarrassed.”

 Or …

 “Please don’t answer me honestly.  I was just asking out of habit.  Please, please, just say “ok” and keep going.  Maybe if I keep walking away she won’t really answer.  God, I don’t want to hear her answer … it ‘s probably sad.”

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Grief Lessons in Nature

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This past week, in between various errands and chores and work tasks, I took an hour or so to go for a walk at one of my favorite hiking trails nearby. It’s been on my mind ever since, for a few reasons. I don’t really take time to myself out in nature anymore like I used to. Life is so much busier now and there just never seems to be time. More like I always seem to find 50 other things I “should” be doing. So it was a real treat to spend a few hours just going for a walk.

I walked a short way down the trail before returning to my car, which happened to be parked at a little pullover on the side of the road, just in front of a creek. There’s a bench I know of, just past my car, that sits overlooking the creek. I went to sit for a while, and discovered a little painted stone someone had left on the bench. It was gold, with a smiley face painted on it, and the word “Happy” written clearly by a child. It brightened me even further, feeling like a sign or confirmation that I need to do this more for myself… get out in nature on my own so that I can truly connect with it. Little did I know there was an even bigger sign in front of me, with a beautiful lesson...

 

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Grief Travels

Next week I am flying interstate to visit another widow who has become my grief sister. I have been so excited for this trip, and I still cannot wait to see her. But this morning when I woke, for the first time in a while, I woke full of fear. I woke and wished that John was coming with me. I wished I could join him. And for the most part since I woke, I have been consumed once again in memories of him. Memories of our last holiday together.

I wish that John were here to meet my grief sister, but I never would have met her if he were. I wonder and hope that he will be with me, I can picture him laughing with us. I know this trip is something he would be proud of me for doing. But thinking of being there in just a few days, being away from everything that reminds me of him, gives me an odd feeling. For so long I have tried to escape reality. I have wanted to get away to a place with no memories, and now that it’s happening I wish that he were here to create more memories. I feel lonely at the thought of being somewhere without our memories.    

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The Meaning of Teeth

Sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I’ve had that recurring thought/feeling quite often recently. It will hit me when I’m doing routine tasks like brushing my teeth or vacuuming. Like a big internal sigh. It all seems meaningless sometimes. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on that feeling. How to describe it without sounding suicidal (which I am definitely not). 

 

In a few hours I will have to brush my teeth again. In a day or two I will have to vacuum again. Why bother? I know teeth and floors need to stay clean, using those tasks as examples. For the same reason. Hygiene. But they both just get dirty again. Dogs expel hair, we eat more food. 

 

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What Remains

Filling in for Alison today...she will be back next week!

 

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As a young woman entering into adulthood with lofty goals, sterling ideals, and great hope for the future I could have easily created a long list of my personal beliefs. This list would have included ideas about both the tangible and the intangible; broad concepts and specific ideals; God and mortal beings. There would probably even have been a mention of death and eternity...but only in the abstract because my beliefs about death were untested until August 31, 2005. 

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(Not) Every Day is Special

July is here.  Megan’s birth month.  Although her birthday isn’t until late, the 24th, just the fact that it’s this month serves as a near constant reminder.  Every day in July, I consciously wonder how many days it is until the 24th.  It’s a passing thought mostly.  “It’s the 7th.  Hmm...17 days until her birthday.  Oh, it’s the 11th.  13 days I guess.”.  

It’s not a trigger fest.

Yet.

 

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