The Agony of Defeat

Lately, I feel as if there are no more words left in the universe to properly describe how I feel. The words and phrases just don't exist, or I've already described them multiple times, or I'm tired of describing them, or it's repetitive and nobody wants to hear about it anymore anyway, or it's just incredibly exhausting to constantly try and explain this grief crap. To explain WHAT THIS IS, and how its just ALWAYS there. Always, always, always.

Even when you think it isn't there anymore, or you think: "Wow. I have done so much progressing!" Or your life feels happy or joyful for awhile, or something new happens or comes upon you and its a nice thing. Still, even then, that thing .... that thing of grief that I no longer know how to describe ... it's there. It's just there, and it always will be. 

I suppose that once I learn to just accept the idea that the "grief thing" will always be a part of my life, that my life will be a lot easier to shift through. And honestly, I do accept that I am forever changed by the life and the death of my beautiful husband. How could I not be? It's just that, on some days, in some weeks, during some months, it all just feels like too much to handle. Life just overwhelms me for long periods of time, and I find myself back in that place where I'm just too exhausted to put the effort in. I slog along through the days, not feeling inspired and not feeling much like inspiring anyone else, and it's all I can do to not fall apart. Still. After 5 years. Does that feeling ever go away? Im guessing I already know the answer.

Wednesday, July 13th, was the 5-year mark. I did my usual Pay it Forward for Don campaign, and went out with some good friends that night and toasted to Don's life, to love, and to friendship. It felt nice. But since coming home that night, I have felt very "blah." I have felt very lethargic, very lazy, very much like a hermit who could sit here alone for days and days and days and not really mind. July is killing me. July is my enemy, and its really doing a number on me this time around. I have seen friends. I have gone out here and there. But I have to force myself. Its not helping that I lost my summer teaching job back in May, so Ive been temporarily without work. It's been extremely frustrating, and Im spending most of my days on the computer or out trying to find work. Im scraping by lately, and whenever I barely have enough funds to get through the month, it always makes me feel like I have failed somehow. Like, this is NOT what Don wants for me, to STILL be struggling this way. He wanted so much more for me, and so do I. 

I have been toying with the idea of leaving NYC. Staying with my parents in Massachusetts, where I wouldnt have to worry about rent or bills for a few months, and finally finish the book I have been writing for over 3 years now. I wouldnt stay there forever - maybe for 3 or 4 months - and then I would either come back to NYC and start over here, or I would maybe try a different city entirely. Maybe Chicago. Maybe the area of Florida where my husband used to live, where I feel closest to him. Is that crazy? It might be. But I feel crazy lately. I feel like I need something different. Something else. I would be leaving my teaching job if I did this - the one I have had for 16 years. And I would be leaving NYC. And that would be VERY hard. These are big decisions, and right now, they are only in my head. I havent decided anything yet for sure. But my brain is very tired. 5 years of making every single decision , without a life partner to help, is extremely daunting and hard. I wish I could rest. I wish I had the type of life where I wasnt always struggling, and where I could just jump on a plane and take a vacation from my own life. That's what I need. But I dont have that luxury. And so I'm tired. And I no longer have words. 

Except to say this: it feels as if I have been defeated. It feels as if, for now anyway, grief has won this battle. Im too tired to fight or put up my fists right now. I just want to sleep, and I dont mean that in a "permanent" way. I just mean it literally. Lately, I just want to sleep and lie in my bed and not do much of anything. It's not a great feeling, but I also know enough about myself and about grief, to know it will pass. Eventually. But until then, I feel beaten up by life and by death, and the defeat is agony. 

Showing 10 reactions

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  • Kathleen McKilla
    commented 2019-11-24 06:26:21 -0800
    I am so sorry for your pain. I know I have a VERY long road ahead of me; I’m not even at the 6-month mark yet.
    But thanks for sharing. All I can say is “Hang in There”, and just go one day at a time. If that doesn’t work, then just go one-hour at a time.
  • Lynda Birmantas Beam
    commented 2019-10-11 05:02:16 -0700
    Sending you a virtual hug, because I think that’s what I miss most about my husband :’(
  • Vartan Agnerian
    commented 2019-10-10 17:36:32 -0700
    You are so right’ This is exactly my present physical’ and mental state ’ after a year of getting the widow title – very lethargic’ very much like a hermit’ could go on sitting alone on the sofa’ for days and days and not mind – couldn’t care less if somebody called or not’ if somebody visited or not’ couldn’t care less for taking part in organizing any family gatherings and socializing’ Just passing through the days’ meaningless and purposeless ’

  • Patricia Sun
    commented 2016-07-29 16:26:33 -0700
    Kelley, 2 and 1/2 years for me. I’m trying a new antidepressant, and I hope it works, because so far all it’s making me do is want to sleep and watch MSNBC (what will I do now that the conventions are over? The
    Olympics, I guess). At the same time I crave people contact. Two days ago I sat all day though a meeting when I didn’t have to just to be around people. I know what you mean about always being tired, about no one to discuss your day with, about no one having your back.
    Right now what scares me most is not losing my past but facing my future. I feel incompetent already, and as I get older, I see me becoming worse, not better. And I dread the losses to come. Since Andy died, one of my sisters died, one of my beloved dogs died, and now my best friend is dying of cancer at 50.
    I admire you making it to 5 years and sharing so much of yourself. I’m only out half as long and I’m so tired, too.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2016-07-25 11:20:21 -0700
    Kelley you’ve described so many of my own thoughts so well here. Daunting, to have to make these decisions and possible life changes alone. Feeling defeated because we’re not “making it” the way we thought we could, or would, if our husbands were still here to support and encourage. To know the grief thing is permanent. And how to move forward with all of it. Sending hugs. Wish we were not in this slog.
  • Flo R
    commented 2016-07-24 06:06:18 -0700
    Yeah, I was where you are at five years. You are not alone, not that that’s a lot of comfort, I know. Even at eleven years out, when grief has lifted ( it does), there remain these immovable facts, the ones you’re talking about, and movable facts. Separating the two is the job of my lifetime, given that my personality which is prone to emotional reasoning plus wanting it all. :-(
    Hugs to you, Kelley. Hang in there. You’re worth it!
  • Judy Kaan
    commented 2016-07-23 19:48:03 -0700
    I totally get this. Dealing with struggling to find a job and trying every angle in which to do that – with my 5 year post loss creeping up on me. Tired – extremely tired and trying not to give up hope. You express so much how I feel. You have not been defeated. I know one day you will make it – your book will sell well when the time is right for it to be finished. Thank you for writing this – it makes me feel that I am not alone in this.
  • Cathy
    commented 2016-07-23 05:24:41 -0700
    You are not defeated, Kelley, you are just moving on and dealing with lifes challenges. If Don had not died you would still be dealing with life, in a totally different way, but there would still be challenges. I so understand, been doing this a bit longer than you, and keep getting hit with more losses. Each one takes me back to all the others, and I feel like it is unending. And, as you said “always there”. Sleep gives me a bit of an escape, altho sometimes it is elusive too. You do what you gotta do, and you know yourself best.
  • Sharon Wall
    commented 2016-07-22 22:00:38 -0700
    Yes, yes, yes!! Defeated is the perfect word to describe how I’m feeling. A year ago I had hope and optimism. Where there hell did that go? I’m tired – so very tired. Maybe we’ve been working so hard at moving forward/moving through that we need to rest right now. I have no clue – just grasping at straws…..
  • Penny Sharman
    commented 2016-07-22 18:54:00 -0700
    Hi Kelley: My sister was telling me about a novel she’s reading about two sisters who are dealing with the death of their brother who died 15 years before. It sounds like a book I might eventually read but what really caught my attention is the line she quoted “Grief is a mystery to be lived through, not a problem to be solved” and followed it up with her observation that she was sure I could relate. She said it brought out some raw grief in her (her 15 year old son was killed in an accident 18 years ago). I immediately thought of that quote when I read your post today. I think you’re right – the grief never goes away. It will be two years for me next month and there are times when I think I’m doing okay, good even, and then there are times when I am just blindsided with the intensity of my grief. Wish I could be there to give you a big hug and tell you its okay. Empty words at a time like this but heartfelt nevertheless. As you say, it will pass but right now the defeat is agony.