I think grief is an even trickier thing as time goes on. It becomes more infused with your new life and sometimes it’s hard to even know when struggles are related to your grief or to other things. I’ll be honest, I think I’m still holding on to some resentment that this other life I wanted to have will never happen. Even if 99% of me wants everything I have in this new life. Even if I had to choose between these two lives, I truly could not, there will always be that part of me that just wants to know how the other story was going to play out.
I know Mike has this feeling too. We both wish that we could see how those stories would have played out with our first person. Lately, I’ve started to wonder if maybe I’m feeling more resentment over that unfinished story than I knew.
I think it’s part of the root of my struggle to adjust since moving to Ohio. I will never get to know what my wedding with Drew would have been like. Or if we would have had children. Or where we would have moved to for his flying jobs. I think moving and beginning a life somewhere so new and different with Mike has unknowingly made me even resent that I never got to move with Drew and do all of this.
It's so easy for that to creep into current life. I know a lot of other widows who struggle with this same thing - feeling like they over-focus on the negatives once they truly begin to build a new life. It can cause you to want to resent even the littlest things. For me, mostly, it’s small things about moving here. Like how the roads in my new town are so confusing, or how it takes so damn long for winter to be over. Or why the stupid plants we started a month ago for the garden aren’t growing a single inch. If I’m not careful, I can end up busying my mind up so much with those minor little resentments that I miss the beautiful things all around me.
A morning hike this past week reminded me of that. I rarely go for hikes in the morning, I don’t know why. We have beautiful trails just minutes from the house here. Yet I scarcely go. After dropping off Shelby at school the other day, I just randomly turned left instead of right, and headed for a nearby favorite trail in this big gorge. The morning light was all I needed to be reminded… this isn’t a place that have to be. It’s a place I get to be. I get to live somewhere totally new. I get to have new love in my life. I even get to have this amazing little ten year old girl to help raise… probably the biggest privilege of them all when you really think about it.
During my hike, I realized that sometimes that resentment for missing out on another life does get the better of me. Sometimes, I over-focus on the stupidest little things that I don’t like, because a part of me is still just pissed off about this other really big thing I don’t like. The thing that I cannot ever undo. The person, and the life with that person, that is gone.
I haven’t focused much on what this new place has to add to my life. Instead, I've focused on how inconvenient it is to live somewhere so new and different. I used to love new and different. I used to love adventures in such a deep way. But ever since he died, I guess every new and different thing is now also a reminder of what will never be. Even if I don’t think that in the moment, I’m guessing subconsciously, that it’s part of the complex underlying grief I deal with. It’s shitty.
I’m not the silly, lighthearted person I used to be long ago, before all this happened to me. I hate that Mike doesn’t get to know that person. I hate that there is this added layer to me that sometimes is not fun to be around. This negativity that creeps in about small stuff.
At least this week I got a little bit of a perspective shift, just by getting out and taking a hike. Since that hike, when the small stuff has started to get to me, I just tell myself “I GET to be here”. I also am writing this post, because another important part of dealing with resentment or any tough emotion is to talk about it out loud so that it doesn't build up. To own it, and to accept that it exists even if you wish it didn't. No point in resenting resentment after all.
Sometimes, after all that’s happened to us, resentment is going to creep in I guess. It's important to talk about those emotions. I probably haven't done such a good job of that lately, for fear of what people will think I guess. But it feels good to air that out, and I think leaves even more room for me to look around and appreciate everything that is still here and everything still to come.