Do you want to know the best thing that happened to me since my husband died?
Meeting other widows.
When I realized I was a widow…the day he died…it floored me. It felt unreal. Surreal.
I am honestly not even certain what this has to do with being widowed, but it sure as hell has to do with death and loss and trauma and fear. Often times, I begin writing not knowing what will come and find that what needed to be cleansed comes to the surface on its own. I suppose, as someone who is learning to mother the child of a widowed person, it may relate for someone out there. I hope so. Either way, it seems this is what my soul needed to say today.
These past 2 years, I’m learning to mother a young girl who lost her mom a few years ago, and all the while I’m working through my own fears and the ghosts of my own past having lost my mother young as well. Maybe this is all coming up because we just had Mother’s Day and Mike wrote this heart-wrenchingly beautiful post last week about my role in Shelby’s life. Either way, I guess this is what needed to come out for me this week...
I had no idea just how much having a child in my life would bring up all of my own unresolved stuff from my childhood. It makes sense now, but I was truly and completely clueless when I first stepped into this shit (I am imagining every parent smiling right now). To say the least, it is both an incredibly healing and immensely painful process of unraveling pieces of my own heart day by day. Pieces that have been dormant for many years. Some of this stuff I didn’t even know was there.
Letting a child in has proven to be the very scariest kind of openhearted vulnerability that I’ve ever attempted. Guys, this shit is HARD. And it isn’t hard because she is a difficult kid. She makes it so easy on me. It’s hard cecause of course, you can’t really get by with being half-connected or faking it. Kids know. And I know deep down, I have to try my hardest to push past my not-so-great coping mechanisms and my own past trauma to be there for her.
This week, on an animal sanctuary in Southern Spain, I am surrounded by rock, and the nude, bare earth echoes the inner emptiness I feel. In England, all that green and growing doesn't match my insides. Here, this rock, this heat, this rugged blend of pine and desert wildflower, poking up from parched earth, speaks to my spirit. Here, amongst this rock, my heart feels at ease.
I awaken at early light and walk the dirt path to the pig run, and enter their space. Carmella comes to smell and nudge me with her snout, and I place my hand upon her coarse, bristled skin. I sit in the dirt and wait for her to realise that I will not hurt her, and, after a few moments, she lies down next to me. I stretch my legs around her so that I can rub her belly, and she rolls on her side so that I can get a better reach. She grunts her pleasure and closes her eyes. I breathe deep. I slow my breathing to match hers, in rhythm and depth, and I rub her until she's had enough, awakens from her brief slumber, and rises, moving on toward the back of the pen. Our encounter is a healing balm for us both.Read more
I'm filling in for Kelley Lynn today, she will be back next week! This post was written about four years after Phil died. It's amazing how the written words mean the same thing literally, but six years later their figurative meaning has shifted yet again.Read more
Something I feel many people don't understand about losing your partner is that there are many, many subsequent losses. It's something all of you understand, or will come to. Like aftershock from an earthquake, they continue to shake our foundation for YEARS after the initial tragedy. It can be the smallest things, like the first time you have to take out the trash or eat alone. Or the really big things like first holidays without them or moving from the place you called home together. But it's also the joyful things, like landing a new job or winning an award, making new friends or dating someone new. Every single event or change in your life from the moment they die is another loss - another layer of having to come to terms with the fact that they aren't here and aren't coming back. Another small step of letting go in order to move forward. Not letting go of them, but letting go of what would have been to make room for what is and will be.Read more
Even while I'm engaged in various activities, my mind's eye, my heart's eye, is searching for something that will ring a bell of recognition within me. Something that will make my heart say oh, that's what I've known all along and didn't remember I knew! That something that will ease some of the devastating ache of my soul and heart and body. That something that will bring light back into my life, that will help me not only believe but help me know that Chuck is still with me. That he is around me in ways that are in no way as he was but in a way that may, that will, help me feel less alone and less without him.
I'm not a Christian. I believe in a Higher Power that was forged in AA but everything I ever believed in went up in flames the night Chuck died and since that time, any belief I have is intellectual more than something felt. My brain seems to know so much that does me no good at all because I can't connect to it emotionally. Emotionally, all I feel is the pain of grief or numbness. The missing-ness. If Chuck were here, he'd tell me to get out of my head. I don't know what action to take to implement that, is the thing.
How to get out of my head...Read more
Another number away from the "2012" in which Ian died.
One thing I read late last year was people doing a 'word' for the year, not New Years Resolutions, which seemed a far more sensible way to go than dragging out the perennial resolution that never gets stuck to.
The word that stuck out to me at the beginning of the year was Faith.
Not religious faith, but ...
It's been a few weeks since I shared about going on my first date with someone since my fiancé died. I have been through every wave of emotion imaginable since then. I have cried buckets of tears for how much this experience has made me miss my fiancé. For how much all of this is bringing up old familiar memories and joys I shared with him those years ago. For how much it makes me miss the safety and rock solid trust that I had with him. I have felt paralyzed by the fear of being vulnerable with another man in ANY way. Of allowing any man into that space in my world again - the space where I cry, the space of allowing myself to be comforted. The space my fiancé has held so powerfully in my heart all these years. His space.
I have also felt joy, and butterflies in my stomach, and a giddiness that has been so delightful. I have felt excited by the idea that someone is thinking of me in this light. And I have enjoyed thinking of them in this light too. So all of this, both extremes, have been rushing through me at the speed of light.
Somehow it ended up that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day all fell on Thursdays this year, my day to write. It is the season so I know it doesn't really matter what day we write or what, if any, religion we practice - holiday time in general is hard for us widowed folk, but it certainly rings very clearly that I'm posting on days that are meaningful to many of us.
It makes me search for something special or meaningful to write about, but there isn't really anything particularly insightful that comes to mind. I'm just surviving as best I can, this second year without Mike, this time around at my parent's house almost on the other side of the world from my little house in Hawaii. Here in Virginia the air is crisp and cold, memories from my childhood stir and wobble my brain, old dear friends are revisited, and my house, dogs, new guy and "normal" (for what is normal anymore?) day-to-day life are very, very far away.
I went to a Christmas party the other night. A year ago, there is no way I could, or would have been able to socialize like that. And I was going alone, as my guy works evenings. So I know I have made vast strides this past year. This time around I found myself really looking forward to it. I felt happy to have been invited; it felt nice that someone had thought of me and asked me to join in, as invitations from people Mike and I met here together have really dwindled since he died, other than a few dear exceptions. This hostess is a beautiful person I met this past year who lost her husband about six years ago. Well, re-met, actually, since after a couple of conversations we realized she had taken Mike’s last class session before he died. That happens a lot around here, running into people who remember him. Which is nice.Read more