There was a day last week where I had a really good day.
I woke up early and walked Tango before work. I was able to leave to get there early and there was not much traffic either. I had so much extra time in the morning that I was to finish my personal work for the course I’m taking before anything else. I made applesauce with the kids at school that day and it all went really well. They loved the process, it tasted great, and we had some great learning. Another teacher had extra time and covered my class to give me extra time to do some other work. After work, I went to my tutoring job and that also went really well and the girl I tutor was successful in what we were learning. I got home to a surprise that David had passed by my house between job sites that day. He left a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my kitchen table with a note. I then had time for a hike with Tango in warm weather with pretty, colourful fall leaves. Then I met up with one of my girlfriends at the gym and had a really good workout and talk with her too.
It was a really good day. I was feeling really good.
That’s when 2 things happen.
First, I wonder if it’s too good to be true and start to be extra cautious in anticipation for the “bad” thing that must be around the corner. Second, I feel slightly guilty that maybe I’m *too* happy.
I hate both of these reactions. They try to take away my happiness. I try to take away my own happiness. I self sabotage. I know logically that both are such unnecessary ways of thinking. It does not stop anything bad from happening. Usually, nothing bad happens anyways. And I didn’t do anything wrong that I should feel guilty over. The thinking just ruins my fun. I ruin my fun.Read more
Our wedding song playing.
Someone else playing our wedding song as part of their shared memory of a completely different circumstance.
My boyfriend’s family’s memory of our wedding song as part of their memory of his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary.
Sitting in my boyfriend’s parents’ living room with his whole family watching his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary video play to our wedding song.
Jolted from the present moment. Torn from my daydream of what a possible future might hold for me now. Back to the past.
All consuming emotions. Hard memories of a life that never was. Missing Mike. Missing sharing our memory together. Alone.
Paralyzed in frozen silence. Hoping no one notices. Wishing to disappear. Hard swallow. Dark room. Silent tear.
Recently someone reached out to me asking me how I do this life and how they find it so difficult to not be where they want to be or thought they’d be. Turning 30 this past week has made me think about some of the same things so I thought I’d share my thought process.
Is this where I thought I’d be and what I thought I’d be doing at 30? No. It is certainly not.
Is where I am and what I’m doing not good? Is it less of a life? A definite no to those too.
I think it starts with acknowledging feelings of what I thought my life would be. I don’t think stifling emotions is healthy or helpful. So yes, I did not think I would be where I am at 30. In my original plan, I thought I’d probably have a family by now. I thought maybe I’d have a child or maybe two. I didn’t think I’d be living on my own (well, with a roommate now) with my dog and dating. That was never what I pictured or what I planned.
That being said, I acknowledge that lost future when it pops into my mind but I also work on letting that life go. That’s not where I am. Sometimes it’s more difficult than others. But as much as possible I try to be present in where my life currently is so that I can enjoy that. Living in the “would be” or “should be” robs today of all that it is. It doesn’t make my life any better thinking of what I am not doing or what I don’t have. It actually makes my life worse because it makes me miss all the things right in front of me while still not having what I thought I’d have. Double loss.Read more
So it's been 7 years since my beautiful husband left for work one morning, and never came home. Seven years since his shocking and sudden death. Seven years of living this life in the "after" of painful and life-changing loss. It's a long time, and it isn't. It's forever, and it's also ten seconds. In all of this time living with the death of my husband, I do get asked one question quite frequently. People often ask me if I feel guilty for being happy. Do I feel guilt when I experience joy or joyful moments? Do I feel guilty for falling in love again?
The answer is no.
Guilt has certainly been a big part of my grieving and healing process. I felt guilty on my first two birthdays after Don died, because he would never get to see another year or enjoy another birthday or another year older. I felt guilty on New Year's Eve for years, and I refused to do the countdown to midnight, because it felt like a countdown to more time without him on earth, and another year that he won't ever get to be part of. I felt guilty for being asleep in our bed, while my husband was collapsing on a hard floor in a Petsmart, and going into cardiac arrest. These are the types of things I felt guilt about, and the types of things I worked on for years with my grief counselor, and came to better terms with.
I have never felt guilty for feeling joy. I have never felt guilty for falling in love again. I have never felt guilty for laughing so hard my sides hurt, or for feeling euphoric about something incredibly awesome or awe-inspiring. Maybe it's because I know for a fact that the most important thing to my husband, was my joy and happiness, so I know that me being happy would give him incredible peace. Maybe it's because I so fiercely want to LIVE, because my husband does not have that choice, so I look for and cling to moments of euphoria wherever I can find them. Maybe it's because it took me FIVE years and a hell of a lot of processing and therapy, to get to a place where I was even able to find love again, so why spend one second feeling guilty about it? I don't know what the reason is, but I have never felt guilt for feelings of joy or love.
What I HAVE felt is this:Read more
Another school related story today. So much seems to come up at work. One more week and I’m on holidays though so this might be the last one for now!
Our last unit in Math is on probability. The expectation for the grade ones is that they need to understand and identify scenarios that are certain, impossible, likely, and unlikely. Do you see where I’m going with this? Right from the start my mind is preoccupied with the likelihood of being widowed at 27. Unlikely. Yet it happened. Not impossible. But when I think of the word unlikely I don’t frame it in terms of things that might happen. I frame it in terms of things that probably won’t happen. And when I think of things that probably won’t happen then I pretty much stop thinking of them because, well, it probably won’t happen. That makes sense to me and apparently many others as well since when you look up “unlikely” in the (google) dictionary the synonyms that come up are: implausible, unrealistic, inconceivable, far-fetched and the list goes on. Unlikely events are simply dismissed because it is thought that they won’t happen. However, that also doesn’t sit well in my brain now. Because then where does that leave my thinking when something that is highly unlikely to happen, so unlikely that you don’t think of it, actually happens? Again, I know that the actual outcome can be different than predicting the probability but still, that’s not how I thought of it.
What I do think and feel is cheated. I feel like “unlikely” was actually supposed to mean close to impossible which it certainly does not. It never did mean that in the first place. It was just made up that way in my mind. It feels like unlikely meant almost impossible for me but maybe slightly more likely for someone else that I don’t know somewhere off in a distant place. It also does not mean that. It means exactly as it is presented - not likely to happen but it still could. I had just cut out the last part that it could happen.Read more
I struggle tonight with what to write here. Not because I have no words for my pain... but because lately, I have been... happy. And I am struggling to write about that. Lately, my new life has become one I genuinely love. It may not be the life I had with him - but it is rich and full... and to be completely honest, it is actually far richer and more full than the life I had when he was part of it. I am a deeper, healthier, more open hearted person. I have deeper relationships with everyone I am close to now and have kicked the unworthy ones to the curb. My artistic career, although very challenging and still in the fledging stages, is meaningful and fulfilling for me. While I still have my bad days and occasional triggers and there are still certain aspects of my life that I am working to change... for the most part, I have a very full and fulfilling life.Read more
I have been thinking a lot lately about something Michele Neff Hernandez, our editor, said in a workshop over a year ago about finding new love. Back then, I was nowhere near wanting new love. But I knew someday I would want it. So I attended this workshop at Camp Widow in Tampa, and listened to what she had to say. The thing I remember most is her explaining that her new husband is the perfect fit for the new Michele. And her first love was the perfect fit for THAT Michele. She was two different women, and there was in fact a perfect match for each of them.
I've held onto this bit of wisdom a long time. I like the idea of it, although I have not been able to grasp just what that feels like until now. How right she was.Read more
Well so far, 2015 is not going as planned, as I came down with a yucky head cold on New Years Day and have spent the past few days in bed, wishing Dan were here to fuss over me.Read more
Today is a very big day. In just a few hours, I will be loading up nine of my large framed photos and delivering them safely to the local hospital for my first solo art exhibition. It is a lifelong dream come true. And mostly, it has been incredible. I told my counselor the other day that it feels like a dream… that it feels like I got dropped into someone else's life all of the sudden and that I got really lucky, because their life happens to be all the things that I always wanted my own life to be. Like, hey, I could get used to this!
But of course, it's not ALL the things I wanted my life to be. We all know that. He is not here. I may 100% believe that he can see everything I'm doing and he is working overtime to help align things and forge this new path for me… but that doesn't change the fact that he cannot stand next to me for this moment.
It's been a long time since I could say without hesitation "I feel happy".
In the time since Dave died, I've laughed and enjoyed myself, but always I felt that underlying layer of sadness and shock that dampened everything. It made even laughter a bittersweet act. How could I laugh when he was gone?
Lately, though, I've felt happy. Not tinged with despair, not lost in a fog of numbness, not laughing through my pain, just simply happy.