I suppose no matter who you are, if you have a chance to escape, take a break, travel, take time off…that moment when you return to your regular life (assuming it was a good break of course) can be a bit of a letdown. For me, being widowed, my recent trip brought up so many additional feelings I think I will be sorting them out for a long time.
I am a strong and fiercely independent woman. I always have been. When I was 18 years old, in 1990, I left my comfy small town of Groton, Massachusetts, to attend college and live in NYC. I wanted to be a performer, actor, comedian, writer, or anything that got me out of that boring and predictable suburban life. I wanted more. So I went out on my own, leaving behind my wonderful family and all my relatives and friends, hoping to make new friends and a life for myself. And I did. I lived in and around the city for years. First, at college. Then, getting apartments with friends in Brooklyn, Queens, and ultimately, New Jersey, just 10 minutes outside NYC. I was 5 hours away from family, and often lonely and scared.
But I never had a problem doing things for myself and by myself, or not being in relationships for years at a time. I was never one of those girls you see who always has a boyfriend or has to be with someone. Nope. In fact, I was usually not with someone at all. I carried my own groceries up the stairs or across multiple streets, lugged my own heavy suitcases, figured out ways to try and keep myself feeling safe on those days I had to come home late at night on the subway by myself. I did all of that for years. Alone. By the time I met Don, and by the time he finally moved in with me so we could start our life together in 2005, I was exhausted. I was so beyond ready to have a man in the house, or, apartment. I am an independent woman, but there is something to be said for what a man brings, what a man gives, and what a man is - in a relationship. It's now been 4 years since my dear husband died his sudden death, and once again, I am exhausted. I'm exhausted from being a woman, who no longer has a man. And at the end of the day, there is something to be said about that.Read more
As this posts I will be on my way back to my little grass shack in Hawaii from my adventure in the UK. I planned to have things posted so I needn’t worry about posting from who-knows-what wifi I will have while I am away. But I can only imagine what I will be thinking about when I return.Read more
Rebecca’s post here a month or two ago sent my mind wandering into yet another metaphor…again I will apologize in advance for my perhaps overuse of this device. It just seems to be one of the ways I deal with the grief; it’s how my mind works, trying to find a way to make sense of it all.
Before Drew died, I was not the softest person. Sure I was kind and loving and generous, but mainly just with him – the one person I trusted above all others. I honestly rarely gave anyone else my heartfelt genuine love – because I did not trust people. I always kept everyone but him at arms length, but did I good job of disuising myself as kind and giving from the outside. My whole life this has been something I've struggled with. Something I haven't liked about myself. And something I have not known how to move past.
After he died, somehow, miraculously, I did the opposite of this. I didn't close off from others. I didn't mistrust or question or hold back. Instead, I opened up to everyone completely and in a way I never had before. I exposed every fear, every tear, and every irrational, over-the-top outburst, to anyone who would listen. In conversations and phonecalls and blog posts and artwork and hugs and embarassing crying fits. I didn't think about it - it was survival. It is what I had to do. It still amazes me today that being this broken was the thing that broke down lifelong walls inside me that I had been yearning to get past for years. It was oddly the best and worst year of my life.
It was the worst for obvious reasons. But it was the best because it was the first time in my life that I truly opened myself – not just to one person – but to everyone. His death softened my heart. After a lifetime of trying to protect myself from the world – I finally put down my armor, looked around, and saw that I hadn't been keeping myself safe from harm at all. I had been keeping away love and laughter and connection and support...Read more
This weekend has been amazing. Challenging, scary, exhausting, sweet, beautiful, silly, and bursting at the seams with love. Mike and Shelby have been here now for 3 days and this afternoon they head home back to Ohio. I can scarcely even put into words how amazing and terrifying all this has been. After countless hours of Skype calls - to meet her in person for the first time. And for it to be so effortless between us... I don't know how else to say it except that I have the same feeling about her that I did when I met Mike at Camp Widow: it is as if we have known each other our whole lives and much much longer even. It makes it hard to believe anything else except that the people we love and lost somehow put us together and know exactly what they are doing.
Here we are - an eight year old girl who lost her mother last year, a 32 year old woman who lost her own mother at about the same age, a 34 year old dad going through the same thing my own dad went through with me... Inexplicably connected by loss from 1400 miles apart on a chance meeting. Perhaps it is more than his wife and my fiance, but also my mom who put us together...Read more
I am fortunate to have many beautiful family and friends in my life. Today, though, I feel moved to express just how important all my widowed friends are to me. I know I would not be able to walk through my own life now without them.
I had an all-out breakdown a few days ago. The kind I haven't had in at least a year. I am chocking it up partly to hormones and the damned full moon, but also to everything else going on.
Nothing is settled in my life. Most of the time I am used to this, and I ride the waves well. But sometimes it piles up. My career as an artist is sort of like hanging off a cliff on one finger right now. Every now and then I get a better grip, a few more fingers on the ledge, but yeah... this whole entreprenuer thing feels trecherous. All the time. I constantly have no clue what I am doing. And just keep trying my hardest to hold onto the ledge of blind faith sometimes faith is all I've got
Next week, Mike and I will have known each other for 6 months. He and his daughter Shelby will be coming down to visit for a long weekend in just a few more days. We've spent countless hours on Skype, but this is the first time I will be meeting her in person. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous about that. I'd be lying if I said it didn't begin to trigger all kinds of future thoughts.
Suddenly here I am, in the midst of so much change I barely know what happened. This time, it's good change, but that doesn't mean grief isn't still part of it or that it isn't still scary and hard...
The other day I went into Sports Authority looking for something - it’s not a store I need to go to very often but it was one of Mike’s favorites. He was so excited when we heard a big sports store was coming to our little island town all those years ago. As I was walking around I was hit with a flood of memories of being in there with him. I was totally not prepared for it. I was so focused on the task at hand and crossing my errands off my list.
One of the most surprising things to come out of Drew's death for me has not only been to find someone new, but for that person to also be widowed. This isn't something I ever expected to happen, and it's given me the unique opportunity to be on the other end of widowhood in a way I honestly never imagined I would be.
For a long time after Drew died, I was terrified of the idea that I'd be too difficult to love. That my whole situation would be too complex and that I wouldn't be able to find someone who could handle it all. That they would have a hard time understanding my love for him or allowing room for it. Being on the other end of this has given me a different set of eyes though...Read more