The Meaning of Teeth

Sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I’ve had that recurring thought/feeling quite often recently. It will hit me when I’m doing routine tasks like brushing my teeth or vacuuming. Like a big internal sigh. It all seems meaningless sometimes. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on that feeling. How to describe it without sounding suicidal (which I am definitely not). 


In a few hours I will have to brush my teeth again. In a day or two I will have to vacuum again. Why bother? I know teeth and floors need to stay clean, using those tasks as examples. For the same reason. Hygiene. But they both just get dirty again. Dogs expel hair, we eat more food. 


I think back to when Mike was alive and I did those same tasks. It felt like it had more meaning then or something. It had a purpose. I was creating a happy space for my marriage - nice breath, and a clean house. I was happily motivated to care for both my teeth and my floors. Now, not so much. I still clean them, but the motivation is gone. The big internal sigh is always there. Always.


I am lucky to have so many wonderful widowed girlfriends. Well, maybe lucky is not the right word because I don’t wish that state on anyone. But I am grateful to have these ladies in my life because we can communicate certain feelings to each other, put things into words, that nonwidowed people might not necessarily be able to explain, or understand. A few of us have decided to continue an email circle which started to support one of us who spends part of the year off island in a remote place in the world where she is very much alone in a big house - the one she shared with her husband, and has had other rough developments on top of all of that. But we find we all appreciate hearing about how the others spend their days, and enjoy the banter. Several of these ladies have a wit that really gets me smiling, and our remote friend has a talent for photographs that is really quite stunning. 


One of these ladies shared a text from another of her friends who was widowed recently who said, “Sometimes I just feel like I’m putting in time…for what I’m not sure.”


That really resonated. It put into words that feeling I’ve been having, of going through the motions, and it feeling purposeless. And I wasn’t alone in that thought.


I work hard to find purpose in my days, to try and avoid that feeling of meaninglessness. This week I had three days off in a row from work (yay!) but it was also a week when there was no new lesson from my school. Let me tell you, that feeling of purposelessness was strong. I realized that staying busy is more important than I thought. I created purpose by shopping and cooking and cleaning. At least that was what I tried to do. But even those tasks felt empty. Like why bother? I find I let things go more than I did when Mike was alive. I don’t cook nearly as much - there is nearly always a to-go container from the restaurant where I work in the fridge. Thank goodness the food there is so healthy and fresh. And I often let an extra day or two go by without vacuuming because I just don’t care. 


I don’t let my teeth go though because my dentist put the fear of God in me last time I was there. Said my gums had receded too much. So I do floss every day. I even went out and bought an electric toothbrush and some of those weird little plastic dental toothpick thingies to scrub between my molars. I don’t want to lose my teeth. So I guess there is that. That must mean there is some kind of purpose. Not wanting to suffer dental decay. If I have to be here, even without Mike, I’d kind of like to keep my teeth.


Big internal sigh.


Showing 8 reactions

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  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2017-07-15 23:22:33 -0700
    Indie, you nailed it….being loved brought great meaning, and without it…busy is just not able to cut it, though we do try. I am glad you are here at Soaring Spirits, community and support is so important, so many caring and loving people here. Big hug.
  • indie
    commented 2017-07-14 19:31:32 -0700
    From day one I asked anyone who questioned my grief: I cannot find a reason.

    Four and half years later it is the exact same feeling. I have no reason. Like you said I did it then because I wanted to have clean teeth, a clean house, a job, a few good friends and an interest in the world and nature. But most of all I was loved and loved back. Now, nothing.

    I have stayed so busy in order to combat the weeping it builds up and then II breakdown. Less often now but more intense (if that’s possible). And the breakdowns are never far around the corner. Going three days is still a big deal.

    Whether I am suicidal or not I don’t think it matters much to me. No children, siblings far flung, halfway through my 60’s and having had the most important person in my life for 35 years of marriage, 55 years of knowing him, I’m tired. I’m ready. In the interim I work only to make money to pay bills. And I do that with a vengeance.
    Just isn’t the universe I want to live in anymore. And for me, that’s ok.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2017-07-13 18:49:22 -0700
    Thanks everyone, I guess I stuck a chord. Though not a very happy one, I know. Joseph, grief is indeed hell, and we are all seeking new purpose now, with difficulty, after losing our loves. Lisa- “until it’s my time”- get that totally. Susan, I find I am grateful for my little job right now, it does serve to bring some purpose to my days, and like you said, brings social context. And many of my friends are now “new” since Mike died, that thing that pushes away the ones we knew with them. Sharon, it does feel like our own little islands doesn’t it? Nice to have a place to connect once in awhile here though. Hugs to you all.
  • Sharon Wall
    commented 2017-07-13 17:40:02 -0700
    Yes, yes, yes, Stephanie! Once again, you nailed it!
    As I read the other comments, it struck me that we’re each on our own little island feeling the same way, despite important supports like the blog, the work of SSI and a ton of other support options. This stuff is just freaking hard! I want a magic wand that will fix it all.
  • Susan Anderson
    commented 2017-07-13 14:21:30 -0700
    So true, so REAL! I am still working, because I need the $ and because work is my social context. I feel like I have no friends, can’t identify with my friends of 30-40 years, can’t really tolerate their lack of interest in how I am feeling or coping…that we don’t talk about it and I still have to put up with their foibles. I don’t have a vacation planned, as much because I cannot see myself traveling alone, don’t care to go anywhere now that I am a widow. Life does seem somewhat pointless and task-driven.
  • Joseph Kearney
    commented 2017-07-13 08:36:07 -0700
    Only existing while trying to find new purpose is very difficult. In time most say you find new purpose but it is elusive especially when you get the grief trigger. Grief is hell!!
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2017-07-13 07:03:18 -0700
    I think all of us are screaming a big internal – YES!! THAT’S IT EXACTLY!
    I put in my time and it kind of feels like “until it’s my time”…. I’m trying hard to find new purpose but it is so elusive. Sigh
  • Joseph Kearney
    commented 2017-07-13 06:31:40 -0700
    “Sometimes I just feel like I’m putting in time…for what I’m not sure.” Ding, Ding Ding, we have a winner!! What I’ve been trying to say for the last 2 months and these are my feelings exactly. Thanks for posting!!