One Year

Matt was a handsome, intelligent, friendly, quiet, and amazing man. He loved me immensely. I was his other half, we were a team, we were the best of friends. Our relationship started off as colleagues, roommates, and best friends before it grew to be love. I know this is why we were so successful for so long at being together and sharing our lives. We were opposites in almost every way possible. But we shared common morals, family lives, and loves like reading/eating/beer/sports/smoked meats/friends. I cannot fathom that it has been a year since I have tasted Matt’s amazing smoked tenderloin on the grill. How has it has been a year since we have held hands or embraced? How has it been 365 mornings without him on this Earth. How have I survived this intense loss?

I lost my best friend one year ago. Oct 21st 2017 is when I know he passed away. His certificate says Oct 22nd 2017. I have reflected a lot on the loss of my husband over the past year. I have looked at his passing from every angle possible. Trying to understand why, how, when, and what I may have missed. I have gone to therapy and went through EMDR for my post traumatic stress. I have shared his story one on one, on the blog behind an anonymous shield, and in countless support groups for Widows.

One thing that I have not done been is publicly open about the circumstances of his loss. I chose to wait to reveal this publicly for several reasons. One, I was still processing everything myself. Two, Matt was an extremely private man and I was very concerned with revealing what is his biggest secret. Three, I wanted to be sure when I posted this that I was prepared for the people who will ask for my help, ask me tons of questions, find themselves in this story, or find their loved ones in this story. I am telling his story today because Matt loved good people and was always there to help someone in need. This may be the best way Matt could help. Telling Matt’s story will help to erase the stigma, create a safe space for men and woman to discuss mental health, and maybe even save someone else.

This is not something that will be easy to read and I urge you to consider passing by his story if you do not wish to know what happened to Matt or feel that the story may be too upsetting for you. I feel that telling it today is the right thing.

For those that follow the blog this is a reposting of October 23rd 12:30 AM:

It was a normal busy week filled with work, business trips, meetings, etc.
We had just moved into our dream house. He had a new position he was very excited about. My flight was a little delayed and the bags simply would not come. Saturday evening turned into Sunday morning, as I excitedly drove him to see my husband and fur kids waiting for my arrival. The entire day I had tried to reach my husband on the phone sending calls, texts, and pics. He was not the biggest fan of the phone and often left it in the car or did not hear it. Nothing of concern just a normal day for me.
HAPPY

I came into the driveway the house was pitch black with no lights on outside either. I thought this was odd being that I was coming in so late at night/early in the morning. I quickly got my things from the car and unlocked the door announcing happily “Honey, I’m home!”. SILENCE, Dogs barking excitedly outside at this hours… strange… screen porch door propped open… strange. Cell phone on the counter. Next came 30 minutes of blind panic, running through the house yelling his name. As each moment passed the fear became more real, the worry escalated, I was certain someone took him. His keys, car, and wallet were placed in their proper places. I raced inside and outside looking and screaming. PANIC and FEAR

After 30 minutes I entered a very dark attic that I thought to enter at the last moment. What I saw I will not describe to you because I feel like it is a trigger for others with PTSD and Trauma. Suffice it to say my husband had taken his own life. I did not realize at first what I was seeing… my body left me and something grabbed hold of me to propel me forward. I was screaming what are you doing in here this isn’t a funny Halloween joke. And then I touched his hand and I knew. My heart stopped, my life changed, my love was gone.
HORROR and LOSS

The rest of the early morning had me giving directions to lost first responders while trying to keep myself from sinking deeper into the floor and the corner that I was now melting into. I answered questions, wrote out a report, and immediately was asked to give them a funeral home. I am 35 alone with no family in the state he was my family. Funeral homes are not something I am aware of. The police needing to take care of business while my entire world had crumbled to the ground was very difficult to understand. Thankfully by then we had woken a dear friend and she came to sit with me and helped.
I just wanted to turn back the time and it not be true. It was not true was it?
SHOCK and BARGAINING

Recounting this to you here has me crying very badly but I am no longer paralyzed by fear and panic when I retell the story.
EMDR and THERAPY

My dear husband took his own life after suffering from an unknown depression. He was in a pain I did not know about for what I now suspect was a very long time. Hindsight is 20/20 and there are things I now see with the knowledge I have picked up over the last year. Through working with a medium to speak with Matt after his passing, reading books, talking with my therapist, and a dear friend who has lived through similar pain; I have an understanding of what he may have been feeling, going through, thinking, or not thinking of. My husband was not selfish, weak, crazy, or abnormal. Matt was anxious, depressed, concerned, in pain, closed off, and tired. I do believe that Matt was doing all he could to self medicate, be ok, cope, and move forward with his life. I do believe that he wanted so very much to live and feel pain-free. I do believe Matt felt that my life would somehow be better without him. I do believe after working with the medium that Matt now realizes that he was so very loved by all who know him, especially his wife. I do believe that Matt has clarity as he has crossed into Heaven and he has awareness of how amazing he truly was, and how much we needed him.

Please if you feel that you or someone you know may be suffering with depression reach out for help.

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

Matt will live on in our hearts, memories, pictures, and videos. But he will also live on through my crusade to erase the stigma that keeps people with mental illness from seeking help. There is nothing wrong with a man (or woman) crying, asking for support, needing medicine to cope, or requiring therapy.

I hope me sharing the story of Matthew will encourage others to speak with their children, family, friends, about suicide, mental health, and the importance of kindness.

I love you Matt. I miss you. Thank you for watching out for me. I see you in the birds, I hear you in the songs, and I know you are encouraging me to continue forward and be happy. With love, your Wifey.   10-22-17

She grew calm

I am the calm in the storm:

I do not really think I feel anything anymore. I really just allow the hard moments to happen to me and I go along with the punches, waves, bends, and curves. I do not care what happens to me.

When the Narcissist happened I literally watched it unfolding doing nothing to protect myself from the danger and the signs. It took a persistent and unexpected friend to really get me to act on what I knew and walk out.

When the latest thing happened and I should have reacted in some fashion negatively, I did not. I sat calmly and waited. My date even asked me if I was in shock or ok. He looked at me with concern for how chill I was. Dead husband hanging in a rafter of my attic was my reply. I have not shouted, cried, or freaked out yet about it. I suspect I will not.

Old me would have been more crazy, more frantic, more enraged and cried and screamed. I think it would take a lot to get me to respond emotionally again to anything that happens. I hate shock and surprise but I also no longer allow these unlucky occurrences to shake me. I have no choice because the emotions just do not come.

I cannot hardly cry anymore. Maybe a brief 30 second outburst into the fur of my dogs. But beyond that this widow is growing colder, quieter, more worn down. She is reserved, beaten down, and expecting nothing but unfortunate events to continue to find her.

Luckless:

luck·less

adjective

  1. having bad luck; unfortunate. synonyms: unluckyunfortunateunsuccessfulhapless, out of luck, cursed, jinxed, doomedill-fated

I recall saying to my husband once how unlucky I was typically. How bad things seem to find me. I always felt I was a good person, striving to be my best self while being helpful to those around me. Honest, kind, considerate, and giving. He used to say I was selfish sometimes. Maybe I am a little bit. I do not think I am a bad person overall to warrant such circumstances, but that is hard to self judge. I had no idea all this could happen to one person/family. He and I are both luckless.

Brief encounters of Joy:

Things make me smile sometimes or laugh out loud. I try to surround myself with those things first and foremost. I have a couple of good friends that I swear take away the pain by lifting my spirits and making me giggle. It is during this laugh out loud comedy over google chat or Facebook messenger or a bottle of red that I feel like there is life still in me. I have some new friends that I love to visit at the coffee shop. We share our life with each other and those moments I think maybe I will be ok. I see their strength and try to grab hold and learn how to be stronger, wiser, and more assertive.

My joy however is muted by grief:

I wish I could just throw caution to the wind and truly enjoy moments more. I know I am probably damaging a potential relationship right now because of my inability to handle uncertainty, grey areas, and letting this evolve. I know that is because of grief.

This calm widow requires consistency, certainty, understanding, space. She craves joy, laughter, and passion. I think I do a good job hiding the cold side. Maybe you do not even know about it?

If you know me you may be wondering why I need to be more assertive, me the Type A, me the strong coworker. It is in my personal relationships with guys and friends that I allow myself to be walked all over, hurt, and used. I am of two minds it seems.

  • Work: Strong, firm, spirited and feisty
  • Emergencies and conflict: calm, balanced, unemotional
  • Dating and sometimes in Friendship: do not say no enough, not as assertive, sensitive, uncertain, people pleasing

I continue to take to the waves and when they knock me down I simply stay calm… almost debating if they should drown me or I should float with them. The old me would have swum them, ridden them to see where I would end up. The old me would thrash and fight if the waves started to swallow me.

11.5 Months

I guess I am checking in on myself a bit but also trying to be there for others.

I am just under two weeks away from the one year anniversary of losing my best friend to suicide. It is still inconceivable. There one day and gone the next. On a phone call that morning and then gone that evening.

This week I travel for business for the 3rd week in a row. Next week I am home. The following week is dreaded. I still do not have a plan for what I will do and where I will be.

I have been busying my days with work, adult beverages, online dating apps, and chatting with my close friends over the computer.

As I close in on the year without him. I am trying to put into words how much I miss but it simply is bottled up. I miss his kindness, his presence, how much he loved me, his friendship, him all of him. I cannot dig deeper because when I do I flashback to seeing him. The flashbacks have been much more frequent lately. Trigger words like rope for example send me into tears. I am not avoiding thinking of him but thinking of him brings a lot of pain along with it. It is not easy to explain. When someone you love so much has brought you  both joy and immense horror how do you deal with that?

Reflecting on the person I am today. I am a shifted person. Instead of spending my time rescuing dogs I am instead trying to be there for people. Whether it be support groups, private messages with other widows, writing this blog, or lending an ear to a friend or family member in crisis (depression or otherwise). I am trying to be a better person, listener, support, and friend.

Suicide, depression, and anxiety are extremely important topics for me. I have had several friends talk to me about these topics as they relate to themselves, siblings, friends, etc. My eyes have been opened up to how pervasive depression is. I am grateful to those of you who have come to tell me your stories. To help me to shed light on what my husband may have been feeling. Those people know I will be there to help them if they have a bad day. It is now on my radar, you are on my radar, you matter, and you are loved.

If you are wondering if you may be suffering from depression please contact your doctor and get a therapist referral. Here are some of the signs of depression from Mental Health America. The hyperlink below will open up the website for you. I hope that we will continue to erase the stigma on mental health issues. Talking about it saves lives.

What Are the Symptoms of Clinical Depression?

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night or early morning waking
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

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October 1…

The waves are crashing in.

I woke up yesterday to my dog jumping heavily on my chest. “Wake up Momma!” she was saying. “It’s my big day” she screamed.

Understanding crossed my face as the Facebook newsfeed showed me my memories. It is my youngest pups birthday and she wants to share it with the world. (Note to self pretend like you did not forget her presents and rush out and get them asap!)

October 1. The start of the month I have been dreading for 11 months. 

Introspection continues but has turned more toward the negative.

  • Alone. Me, the girl who has parents that have over 50 years together in marriage. I am alone.
  • He left without a word, a note, or even a thought for or of me.
  • I was not enough to keep him here.
  • I missed signs.
  • He did not feel like he could tell me.
  • You think I am the wild widow.
  • Judgment is typical of our type. Between my new wheels, my new dating apps, my new body malnourished from lack of hunger but toned. I know you think I am a mess, vulnerable, and easy prey.
  • I had no say in losing my husband to suicide.
  • I had no say in the next situation either when the man took advantage of me.
  • There is no certainty of tomorrow
  • I cannot reach out to be held when I need it, because the person I would have reached for is gone. When I tried to find someone to reach for after he passed, I was naive and vulnerable which resulted in a severe kick to the heart by a master manipulator.
  • Now, if I even think about trying to reach for someone again, I feel like there is an electric collar around my neck to zap me.
  • I have very few single friends to do things with.
  • Seeking single friend to do things with. To get me out, to lift weights with, to eat with. It has to be someone who understands. This person is hard to find at age 36! Most people already have their core group by my age. Most are married and making babies. 

 

  • No one who has not been where he is can understand him. 
  • No one who has not been where I am can understand me. 

Be Here Now. Live Every Moment

Can I have a pass but keep the lesson?

I have rarely played the card. You know the one I am talking about folks. The dead husband card. The he died by suicide without any knowledge of issues card. You know that one that means you get out of something, you need to sit down, you need a nap, you need a break. I can recall on one hand how many times I pulled the card since he passed away Oct. 22nd. The number of times is 1. I had a day and I put myself to bed. I texted my boss and said I need to go to bed. He was truly surprised because I never say that.

So I ask you the reader, me the spouse who has been through a rough year, and my late husband too. Can I have a pass on this? I have internalized the lesson, identified the red flags, and know I will not fall for it again. I have learned. I do not want it to be the reason that good things don’t come my way, people stay away, or people judge me (including myself!).

I spent 5 weeks with someone I should not have spent more than 1 day near. Being that I did take so long to figure it all out I feel a little dimwitted, but really he was GOOD at his game. A true master of his craft. It took time to understand and figure out the truth. He is a uber charming, manipulative, chameleon so it took me some time to think through everything.  In that last week however I know and have been told by my friend that I should have gone the week previous. I know that now.

A few things I learned:

  • What someone says while drinking should not be given a pass but rather be considered as what they truly feel without the filter they usually have during sobriety.
  • When someone says the worst thing about you that you have ever had said in your entire life; you ma’am walk the hell away with your head held high. You do not allow anyone to apologize for that.
  • The idea of being alone again after being widowed will make you stay longer than you should in bad situations.
  • Being alone again is not so bad. Hell you survived finding your husband dead alone in the dark.
  • If you are with a guy who does not allow you to tell your story completely, he is not that into you. It is NOT him being considerate. He simply does not care.
  • Do not ignore all the bad things in the relationship, because a few good times does not outweigh the bad.
  • If the guy hates dogs. RUN!
  • If the guy seems angry even in the first couple of days. RUN FASTER!
  • If you ask the guy if he is trying to break you and if he is a narcissist and he does not reply… RUN FASTEST!

So I am asking for a pass. Call it vulnerability, call it loneliness, call it an aneurysm, call it whatever you want. I am asking can I play the card?

Don’t call me tainted, don’t say I am ruined, don’t think I am weak, don’t judge me for being less intelligent than you know I usually am. Don’t let this define what you think of me. Know he is a master at the craft, so do not think you would have seen it sooner. Know that this was NOT a real relationship but a lie induced interlude of lust. Know that now that it is clear that it was a fake relationship and I was being used it no longer means anything to me. It is like it never was.

What I hope for the future is to make an amazing friend who over time develops into something more. The two guys I had the best relationships with (husband and 1st boyfriend) were my best friends first. True feelings and love take time to develop. Being friends first allows you to get to know each other before the emotions and brain chemicals take over entirely.

Truth:

I worry that I will be taken advantage of again, or judged for my past, or be alone forever, but I cannot concern myself completely with these potentials very long. I must live every moment and be here now. I must meet people and develop the friendships I have been so lucky to have. I must continue to be strong and utilize my independence even more than I have.

The narcissistic sociopath has been blocked, deleted, and removed from my life entirely. So can we pretend it never happened? Do I get the pass and a clean slate? Can we pretend it never happened but with the clear wisdom to pick out these flags right away next time? I can.