I am still writing about support systems but I wanted to hold off on that next post a moment to reflect on today the 4th of July. Every 4th that I can recall was filled with friends and food. Smoker meat and grilling out. Pool time, sprinkler fun, fireworks, togetherness. I mentioned the other day that I had gone through all the firsts without my husband but this one snuck up on me.
I am of a couple of minds these days. One side of my brain is “faking it until I make it” while the other side is “keep being independent you got this down you are doing fine”. Maybe I am not sure which is true sometimes but I also do not think it matters. The goal of both sides of the brain is to keep living and keep moving forward.
I think the way you get through the firsts is to honor what came before but live for now in your new normal. Reflect on what you had and lost but do not spend your day wallowing there. I find that a lot of my time is alone and needs to be that way. I think some people surround themselves with loads of people during their worst grief days and I am probably the opposite. I push myself to be alone because in the end all we have is ourselves. Next year no one will even be around on those big days so rip off the Band-Aid now I say!
So I am getting my coffee on this morning. I am grabbing my dog C and we are going to go on a hike just her and I. In the past I would get worried doing things like this alone. I am afraid to get lost or that someone creepy will approach us or something. I am without fear anymore. I jump in more now. I saw the most horrifying thing and it gave me perspective. Even if someone approaches me negatively I won’t be as afraid and it won’t be as scary as what I already have lived. If I get lost I have a phone and there is a park ranger. So today I will embrace my new normal, my aloneness, enjoying the day and celebrating the 4th of July with fewer people than the past and that is ok.
I hope that someday I won’t have to go it all alone because the right person will see me as a fiercely independent, strong, self reliant, healthy woman (without being intimidated that I actually do not NEED anyone). The fact is though, I cannot make someone see what I am. I cannot control someone’s feelings towards me. I cannot continue to live for what may come in the future. I can control now and the present moment. This girl is up for hiking. She is ready to jump in the lake.
Happy 4th of July!
I hope you live and are free today. Thank you to all those who keep our country safe and allow us to enjoy this lovely day.
When he died I would not touch the stuff. I barely ate the first few weeks. The only drink I consumed was a full week after he passed away. I just worried that if I started I would not stop. I also did not wallow in unchanged bed sheets for that same reason, or put myself into his worn clothing for comfort. Instead I stayed sober and alert and ask my mom to wash all the sheets and clothing immediately. I know that not everyone would have done this. It was not me being less sad it was literally a survival mode that kicked in. Some days I wish I could be the person who laid in the filth of days old clothing and sheets and smelled of him. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to keep his scent around me. But I promise if I did I would not be where I am today. I would not be coming to you in your living room on a blog about grief waves and resiliency. I would still be there wallowing because it would have felt so safe to be amongst his things.
Does any of this sounds like you?
At home you have monitored your intake. You want to be sure you are not over indulging alone in your house. You are conscious of each bottle you drink, how many drinks you have. You know for a while you had a bit more than you should have. But then you have that support person sending you happiness via text, call this person Distraction. You notice your intake is down to barely nothing. You have a person taking your mind of the sad loneliness for long enough to make you forget to have a drink that night. You are thankful.
Fast forward to the time when you start to attempt a new life for yourself outside of the confines and safety of your house. At the bar or out at a concert you fall into the fun of the crowd and the dream that your life could be like theirs (less complicated, more fun, happier). You watch in somewhat envy at the time they are having, their biggest worry may have been who will watch the kids, or who will drive home if we all drink. (By the way you are not so self-indulgent that you think none of them have issues but in this moment you are not considering those because they look like they are having the time of their lives.) In this new life you are now considered SINGLE. You are thrust into the scene you thought you were done with. You enter the bar and you immediately are hit by the share number of people having a wonderful time. You too want to have that kind of evening. You tell yourself you will have one or two to loosen up. But sometimes two turns into more and you start to sway with the music, socialize, and live. Then it hits you hard and fast. Alcohol is a depressant. After that initial loosen up moment you start to feel lively and then you start to feel sad shortly thereafter. You have had too much. There is no turning back to the happy side.
When you crash into sad mode you start to cry, feel sorry for yourself, and soon after despise the person you are even more than when you walked into the bar. You may be with people, you may be alone, but either way you need to go home. Home to the quiet again. You are embarrassed by your silent tears. You just wanted to be ok and have fun.
Then you Facebook message your friend to confess you messed this night up (again). You say “alcohol and grief don’t mix”. Reply “Alcohol & many things don’t mix in a good way”… That is true. You decide that you will be on guard even outside the house and strongly consider not drinking anymore at all. Many people do it of course and it sometimes seems like they have less drama and complications. You decide you will limit the nights out entirely and be kinder to yourself and give yourself more time in terms of social situations.
When you are trying to avoid stormy waves, Alcohol needs to back off.
This is going to be a short one today. It is pretty simple to express. It is not something I feel every day and I had been feeling really great for the last 7 weeks or so until this week. This week I am weaker. This week I felt like I got another blow to my heart. This week I feel ALONE.
I feel loss of him most when I come and go. When it’s really good or really bad.
I feel it most when I have work business travel. When I land and arrive at my destination no one cares I’m safe. When I come home no one cares that I did. No one to tell.
When I am sick or need medicine or my inhaler fast there is no one to help me anymore.
When my work day is successful or I have good news to share. There is no one to tell.
When I see something cool, something frightening, something interesting. Who do you tell?
I feel ALONE. When I say no one that may sound harsh because of course people care. But no one is here to tell anymore that is my go to. I feel like I tell my brothers, my text friend, and my family, and friends. But it is not the same at all. I am still learning which people to get which support from. (another topic for another day and difficult to navigate as again no manual). I really screwed up this week on this one by the way.
The room can be filled with people who love and care for you. But without a person who loves you truly like a spouse would after all these years of being together… you do not feel anything but ALONE.
Sometimes I worry I will get hurt or die and no one will know for days. If I did not reach out to people and say how I am they really would not know. I work from home and I could literally disappear and no one would be the wiser.