My Two-ish Selves~

I oftentimes read posts/blogs of people who are grieving who speak about how they feel, after some time has passed, as if they present themselves to the world in a way that isn’t real but that they feel is required of them.

In that, they don’t show their grief to the world.  For many reasons, of course, but they feel unable to show who they really are.  Which I totally understand.

Our world is unforgiving of grief that continues on for more than, say….6 months.  Okay, maybe a year, if you find some really empathetic people.

Other than other widow/ers, I mean.

I do get that argument.  We have to function, right?  Life goes on and we have to return to jobs and parenting and, I don’t know…everything.

And you just can’t be in a fetal position on the floor, or sobbing in your cubicle, or at the lunch table.  Or anywhere in public.

What I would argue is that those of us who present “The Face” to the world aren’t being fake.  We really aren’t.

We’re being functional.

It’s all still in there, bubbling right below the surface, humming along our veins as our blood pumps from our hearts to the rest of our bodies.  It isn’t that we’re stuffing it down, really.  I liken it more to the idea of applying pressure to a wound in an effort to keep the blood from spurting out.  We apply pressure to hold down the grief so that we can get our days done, our responsibilities…stuff and such.

We smile because we’re engaged, we laugh if something is funny, we engage with the people we meet throughout the day.  Because that’s what life is and we’re still alive.

What I’ve found, for me at least, is that I can be all of that I just described, during one of my days.  And every bit of it is authentic.

It’s just that, since Chuck died, even while I do all that, I’m also dying inside.  Missing him.  Wishing him.  Wanting him.  Sharply feeling his absence.  His gone-ness.  Even as I smile and engage with people, the hum in my blood, through my veins, with each pump of my heart, is….he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.

I am two people since Chuck died.  Here and not here.  Smiling outside and crying inside at the same time.  Paying attention and hearing you and listening to my own inner conversation at the same time.

Both of these me’s are real and both show up daily.

This may freak out those of you who have never lived in this widow world, but I’m strangely okay with it. in my world of nothing being okay.  And honestly, I can handle this dichotomy, because I’m a Gemini. 

I’m one person and I’m two people at the same time.  I don’t stuff any of the grief down.  It’s just that one of the me’s is the functioning out in the world person, and the other one is the me who is….I don’t even know. 

But both of these are real in every way.

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  • commented 2016-10-18 23:14:05 -0700
    Ahh.. this post spoke to me. I hang out with friends, I laugh, but in that laughter is pain. My happiness is now trickled with sadness because the love of my life is no longer here. It hurts. Even to speak sometimes to others is painful. I have days were I wish to hideout in my room and let the time pass so that I can be with him once again, but I know I have to keep living. So I do, but I can’t help but feel as though the face I now present to the outside world isn’t real..
  • commented 2016-09-18 16:46:16 -0700
    I read these blogs to reassure myself I am not going crazy even though inside I feel like I have gone off the deep end. No, I take that back. I don’t just feel like I’ve gone off the deep end, I have.
    The missing of him is getting worse. Much worse. And I am functioning in this universe, not all the time at a top performance level but adequately enough that if i force myself to quell the inside me I can get through a lot of a day. But inside, inside I am even more broken than I was.
    I don’t want to do this anymore. I am tired of pushing myself to perform perfunctory duties to prove to the world that it isn’t that I am mentally ill or that I cannot pretend to stomach this world. No, I just don’t want to do this anymore. I am tired of the pain of missing him. I am tired of living some sort of plastic life because I should want to. It’s nothing without him. But I have no solutions. None whatsoever so I keep waking up every day going through the next best motion.
    Whether to eat or not, whether to try and sleep or not, whether to do that next best thing or not.
    I was so happy with my life. Why did it have to come to this crash? To this place where I am so damaged inside and look fine outside? And to think I am not alone in this is even more disheartening. Just tired. Very, very tired.
  • commented 2016-09-15 16:59:31 -0700
    Great explanation of what life feels like everyday. I too can handle it most days as I am also a Gemini, but others days I’m just a mess. Thank you for sharing.
  • commented 2016-09-14 18:50:40 -0700
    Alison: Just yesterday I was thinking again that I just do not feel the same way in my body since my husband Jeff died. it’s the feeling you described, the hum in your blood. I feel a vibration in my body that was never there before. Your description of all of what we feel is so on point. Thanks again for sharing and putting into words what some of us feel but cannot express. safe travels
  • commented 2016-09-14 17:36:59 -0700
    I so understand, living that same double life, here and yet not really here. When I’m told “you’re doing so well” I look at them in wonder, guess looks can be deceiving, can’t they? I’ve become accepting of this, aware that it will always be, that’s just how it is. You’re oh so right…“he’s gone”.
  • commented 2016-09-14 09:52:44 -0700
    This is totally me. I funtion because I have to, not because I want to. When people ask me how I’m coping, or comment that I seem to be coping well, my answer is that I’m ok as long as I’m around or interacting with people. I’m not sure if they really get what it is to come home to a now empty house, have to cook for one when I used to cook for two, talk out loud to someone who is their only in spirit and to visit the love of your life at the cemetary as I do each morning.
  • commented 2016-09-14 06:24:37 -0700
    I can totally relate. Especially with two kids, I try to appear super functional so people won’t think I’m unable to care for my kids. The other grieving me lives in a tightly contained box but threatens to burst occasionally. I do let that me out in well controlled instances. Its really difficult because others who have not walked this path only really want to deal with the functional me and don’t realize that grieving me smolders under the surface always. After 4 years those around me think I’ve moved on. I don’t like to be the one that brings the rain to anyones day so I usually suffer with emotional days on my own. I’m okay with duality mostly but there are days when it all gets very overwhelming. But it what it is… We all find are way in a manner that we can tolerate, function and maintain. I appreciate your insight.