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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Opening back up...

I am writing again these days and it feels good. It's almost like exercising after a long break. It hurts to do it but you know you should, and when you're done you feel proud, and lighter, and better for it.

I took some time off because frankly I was tired of grieving. Tired of hurting. Tired of exposing my inner most thoughts and feelings to the world. I quit reading other widow blogs for a while too. Staying connected to this circle of loss felt too heavy and depressing. I needed to nurse my own wounds for a while and protect myself after having been so exposed for so long. I needed to focus on happy things and moving forward. I needed to force myself to have some fun and look towards the future. And I did those things, I continue to do those things, but I still continue to grieve as well.

So I'm back now. Back to writing. Back to following others. Back to processing some of which I purposely avoided for a while. I usually am not inspired to write unless it comes from a place of pain, anxiety, or the need to process the many sides of grief. I find that coming back to this circle is like a warm blanket. I read other blogs and again am wrapped in the comfort of relating to their words. I am cocooned in safety because there is in fact someone else out there who I can relate to. I find that writing and sharing in this format is cathartic and healing.

A lot has happened over the past few months in which I have chosen not to share every detail of my life as I once did before. I have found that some things are worth protecting and keeping private. But I'm ready to let you all in again on how my life is shaping up, but more importantly I'm ready to open myself up to the support you all give me.

The journey of grief never ends and as my life continues I find it only gets more interesting and complicated. Each new step I take in moving forward has to be reconciled with the person I used to be and the life I used to have. The struggles now are not so much about accepting that he is gone (I get that part.  I live every day without his presence), but about accepting that he won't ever be here again, which actually are two very different things.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Take a step...

“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

This process is a constant struggle of moving forward and letting go. And in the moments where I’m forced to recognize that I have to let go a little bit more I get scared and emotional.

I can’t believe that it was almost 2 years ago already that Andie and I bought the land to build our dream house on. And almost a year ago that I did the consultation with the builder about how to site the house and what trees to clear off the land. A year ago I thought I was ready to jump in full force and build the house. But after that consultation I got scared again because moving forward and building the house we had planned without him felt like too much to take on by myself at the time. So I put the project on hold for a while.

But I’m feeling the itch again…there is so much I’ve had to let go of since he died. I’ve let go of the title of “wife” and given up the idea of having more children. I’ve lost the dream of reaching a 50th wedding anniversary with someone and traveling to all the destinations we said we’d go to for each decade we made it through. I’ve had to let go of the life we worked hard to establish, the friends we had as a couple, the dreams we had together. I’ve had to rebuild a new circle of friends, a new way of life as a single parent, and I’ve had to create my own dreams about how my future will look without him in it. And every step of it has been painful and heartbreaking.

But the house is the one last thing we had together that I just can’t let go of. I want to build the house to fulfill something we had. I want to build it as a way to honor him, to acknowledge that while my life has to go on without him, there are still parts of him and what we had that I don’t have to give up. Moving on doesn’t have to mean letting go of everything. And it doesn’t mean forgetting him. I think that’s what I’ve been afraid of. That if I move on, his memory and his legacy will be forgotten over time. I don’t want him to just fade away.

I’ve struggled with how to keep him as a part of my daily life while building a new normal for me and the girls. I still think of him throughout the day, and most nights I talk to him before I say my prayers and fall asleep. And what I’m realizing is that I can mesh the life I had with the one I want to create. I don’t have to give up one to have the other. And more importantly, I can do all this at whatever pace I want to set. If I wait until I’m “done” grieving I’ll never move forward. Cause the truth is, I’ll never be done and it’s not fair to me or the girls for me to stay stuck in this place of pain just because I’m scared.

So I’m going to move forward in the direction of building our house.
Only, I’m going to have to do it by myself.
I just have to take the first step...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Throw momma from the train...

Last night I freaked out. Totally, overboard, off my rocker, freaked out. I’ve been in this relationship for about four months. Long enough for us to discuss the future and see ourselves together in it. Long enough for it be (in my crazy head) time to be making out a timeline of when things might happen. I don’t do well with unknowns. I think this is something a lot of widows struggle with, especially when the loss was sudden and felt out of our control. We want to control everything else so we don’t ever have to be blindsided again. But, I readily acknowledge that this is also just part of who I am at the core. I like plans. And goals. And knowing what’s around the bend and what I’m up against. The problem is there are a lot of uncertainties in both of our lives right now that can’t be rushed. And it’s not that I want to rush it. It’s just that I want to know a general idea of how it might all play out.

This stems from my insecurity and fear of loss and abandonment, I know. I worry about letting my guard down, giving someone my heart, and possibly getting hurt again or God forbid, going through loss again. Some days it seems it would be easier to stick to what I’ve got. It’s not the most fulfilling, but at least it’s what I know and I’m comfortable with it. I’ve spent 19 months doing it my way, on my own, without anybody else’s input. It’s hard to think about letting someone else in on the routine, into my space, into my head, and mostly into my heart. Relationships of course take lots of compromise and I haven’t had to compromise for quite a while. Change brings disequilibrium. I want my equilibrium back.

So I started freaking out. Maybe this really isn’t what I want. Or maybe I want to rush it too fast and jump into something before I’ve given it due time- I worry this will scare him away. What if I’m making a huge mistake? What if we disappoint each other and get hurt in the process? What if, what if, what if…

I feel like I’m on a train that’s headed to a great destination. Or so I think. The problem is I can’t see what’s around the bend. I can’t tell if we’re gonna crash and I’m gonna get hurt. So maybe I should just jump. But that’ll hurt too…so I have to hedge my bets. I’ll definitely get hurt if I bail out now and lose such a great man. And I might get hurt if we go around the bend and there’s an obstacle in the tracks. Maybe if I continue to be this difficult, and overanalyze and worry too much about things that are out of my control it’s going to push him away and he’ll actually end up throwing me from the train. Or maybe, with a stroke of luck I’ll round the bend and utopia will be waiting for me. Only time will tell. A concept I despise.

When I share all of this with him he is the epitomy of perfect. He listens, reassures, empathizes, and validates. I’ll spare you the “he said”, “she said” of it all, but I will tell you that after he hears my neurotic and over-analytical musings, he says something to me that strikes me deep inside. He saw right through me and called me on it. Not in a bad way, in a way that showed me that he understands how my mind works maybe as well as I do. He’s only known me 4 short months and already understands how I think, how I feel, how I process in ways that only my best friend understands. He’s got an intuitive sense about what I need from him on an emotional level and isn't afraid to provide it. He truly gets me in a way that nobody ever has and it shocked me. My normal course of action would be to dodge and weave when I feel like someone’s seen all my cards, to divert the attention to something else. But all I could do was acknowledge that he was right. That he hit it square on. And it felt so good to let someone see me for me, and know they still accept me that way.

So when I tell him that I feel like jumping from the train and calling it quits to save us both pain down the road, he says he’s not letting me jump.

He’s holding on tight and gonna keep me safe.

And the cool thing is...I actually believe him. :)

Fall-Winter 2011

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Thursday, January 12, 2012


The daycare called me today and said they wanted to run and idea by me. They wanted to see how I felt about separating the girls and allowing Addie to move up to the next class. She is now potty-trained, and developmentally and cognitively ready to be challenged a bit more. Allie is not yet potty-trained (one of the requirements to move up), and her language is still a tad bit behind Addie's so she's not quite ready. I obviously have mixed feelings about this. It's a BIG decision in the twin world, whether or not to separate the kids, and especially when they are this young.

Later in the day, I ran all this by "the boyfriend" (sounds so silly at this age to say boyfriend). He listens as I explain what the daycare told me and then is silent. "Do you have an opinion?" I ask. "Yes." he replies. I wait through a long pause before saying, "Well, are you gonna share it with me?". He smiles and begins to talk. We discuss the topic, both offering opinions on the matter, discussing the pros and cons for each girl, and come to the conclusion that I should let Addie move up. It's not fair to hold her back from progress just to be with Allie, and furthermore, Allie can move up as soon as she's potty trained. Plus it may afford them some independence and help them not be so nit picky with each other in the evenings if they haven't spent the entire day together at school.

As he and I are discussing this, a HUGE realization hits me...actually several realizations hit me.

1. The first being that it is so surreal to be talking to another man about my children as though they are his. Asking for his input and advice as though we are co-parenting. Actually it's weird to be talking to anyone about major parenting decisions. My normal course of action is to make the decision myself then talk it over with those I trust to see if they agree...never I have done the reverse to try to come to a joint conclusion. I never got the opportunity to discuss a parenting dilemma with Andie- he was gone before any major decisions had to be made for them.

2. I realize that I have made a HUGE step in the trust department if I was actually willing to let my guard down and consult him in this manner instead of doing it all myself as a single parent. It was such a relief to include someone else in the decision making instead of shouldering the pressure and burden alone. More and more I realize I am letting him into my private world and it actually feels good. I want to share the load with someone. I'm really comfortable with it. And so is he.

I share all of this with him...that I think it is a big step for me to include him in this discussion rather than just make the decision myself as it shows that I am opening up and trusting more....he says he knows this already which is why he chose not to offer his opinion in the beginning until I specifically asked him for it.

That's when realization 3 hits me...this guy really gets me and understands how I tick. He knows me so well that he knew he couldn't cross that boundary with me until I offered the invitation. He respects the limits I have and doesn't push me outside my comfort zone. He just supports me where I am at the moment.

That is a level of trust, communication, and respect that I am proud to have in my life, and excited to have in my relationship. I guess this one's gonna be a keeper. ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fill the hole...

I’m halfway through the second year. I still can’t believe that much time has passed already. They say the second year is harder and in some ways I completely agree. There are still so many little things that are like a slap in the face and remind me that the life I had is gone.

The other day I was filling out some paperwork and the marital status section didn’t have “widow” as an option. I used to hate checking the “widow” box but this time I felt incensed that I didn’t get the choice. I am not married. I am not single. I am not divorced. I do not identify with any of these and I felt irritated that “half of me was unexpectedly stripped away without my consent” wasn’t an option. So I scrawled “widow” in and moved on.

I also had to fill out some medical information sheets for the girls. I got to the parent information section and under “father” I write “deceased”. The next half of the page remaining blank because I do not need to fill in his address, contact information, insurance data, place of employment or any other mundane detail about him that no longer exists. The blank page staring back at me is like a metaphor for my life…everything is going just fine and then there’s a big blank spot all of a sudden where he is just not there anymore. Like the moments when the girls do something remarkable or funny and I think, “Andie needs to see this,” but of course he doesn’t because he’s just not there.

I got my yearly renewal policy for my home owner’s and auto insurance in the mail. I open it and see that they hadn’t dropped his name off of the documents even though I called them months ago to rectify this situation. I call and re-explain that he died and it is just me now. They are embarrassed for the mistake and offer condolences. I find myself trying to make the lady on the phone feel better because she feels so bad. This happens often…I find myself saying in these situations, “No really, it’s okay.”

I get some form in the mail from Social Security that wants me to document how I’ve spent the benefits I receive for the girls. Frankly, I feel it’s none of their business. Parents receiving child support don’t have to answer to anyone regarding how they spend their money…why does the government have the right to pry into my life in such a manner? The money he earned and contributed to Social Security is rightfully mine to do what I want with it… though of course if they must know I spend it on exorbitant child care costs consisting of both daycare and a nanny in the mornings to get the girls off to school because I can’t manage to do the carpool by myself and still get to work on time. I spend it on food, clothing, medical care, and shelter for my children- things they need to survive. I spend it on family vacations in the hopes that I can create some happy childhood memories for them. I spend it on maintaining some semblance of a normal life for them.

I struggle with this hole in my life, this absence of him, this blank page to fill. On one hand I’m sick of having these little moments keep bubbling up to remind me of what I’ve been through. But on the other hand I don’t want the alternative, which is to fill the spot, to check a different box, to let go...

The dilemma of wanting my children to experience a family unit and have a father figure versus wanting to eternally preserve this sacred spot for him and not allow someone else to fill that role is almost a constant struggle. It’s hard to let my guard down and imagine that I could love someone like that again and run the risk of going through all this for a second time…

But I'm learning to let someone new in, and each day a piece of that wall comes down and I see the hope and joy of what it could be like to actually fill the hole...