Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Today marks 2.5 years since Brian died.  30 months, it's been.  It seems like an eternity, and just yesterday at the same time.  I'm halfway to five years out.  THAT seems like a long time, but still....I know it's not that long.

How am I doing at this stage?  Well, okay.  I have gotten praise for being "so strong," for being "brave" enough to move and start over, to forge a new relationship.  Yet I feel a bit like a hypocrite.  I purposely put a positive spin on my writing and try to focus on how to handle the challenges, and sometimes I feel like I don't share all my struggles.  I don't write every time I cry, every time my past makes me aware of how different I am, every time I struggle to decide how much to share with people I meet, and when. 

Most recently, I chose to not write about another step in my recovery.  I wanted to give it time, to think long and hard before sharing this publicly.  A message from a fellow widow yesterday that asked simply, "How do you stay so strong?" made me realize I need to share what's going on.  My blog is nothing if not a documentation of my journey, for better or for worse.

My "secret" is this:  I have started individual therapy.  Also, I'm planning to start participating in a grief support group here in San Antonio.  Two and a half years out, and I need a little help to work through some things.  This is the ebb and flow of grief, and this is how it can last, can effect people, how it carries on.

Right now, I am getting help because I'm feeling aftershocks -- the effects of so much change all at once (admittedly, a lot of this is by choice -- I chose to move, to change careers, etc.).  I am adjusting to a lot of change, struggling to accept some of it, grieving the loss of the life I used to know, making the most of the life I have (I'm doing okay with that), and searching for clues or signs about where I should be going in the future, while at the same time, trying to deal with a strong fear and apprehension about planning for the future, because, well, look where it got me last time, getting ahead of myself and planning a certain life and a certain future with a certain person.

I am feeling pulled in many directions -- I have my family, Brian's family, and Sheldon's family.  My friends, Brian's friends, Sheldon's friends.  It's hard to feel like I'm doing a good enough job filling all these roles -- daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, girlfriend, etc.  Compounding that is the stress of a new career that demands at all times -- nights, weekends, etc.  Every time I have gone on a family trip, something comes up for work.  Not to mention that I try to make sure I'm paying equal attention and visits to the parts of my family -- mine, his, and his.  I worry that my family will feel slighted if I visit Sheldon's family too often, or that Brian's family will feel like I've forgotten them.  I worry that I'm not being a good girlfriend if I miss special events like milestone birthdays and weddings, and I want to become a part of that family too.  And of course, all special events mean another weekend of not doing an Open House or setting client appointments.  It's hard to build a career like that.

I have had one session with a therapist so far.  We talked about a lot of things in just that hour.  Survivor's guilt, my feelings of worthlessness and frustration that I haven't made my career into something more self-sustaining and profitable, my desire to see everything in life click into place, my inability to plan for the future, my deep-seated fear that everything will fall apart again, my apprehension at realizing just how much is out of our control, my intimadation and cripping indecisiveness when it comes to how many avenues are open to me in the world.

Currently, I'm transitioning.  This is hard.  I'm mourning the fact that some things will never be the same, and that goes way beyond my home life with Brian.  I'll never have another Christmas season where I get to see all of my family and all of Brian's family over the course of a month, like we used to do every year.  I'll never have a Wine Club with the same friends it started with, the regulars with whom I there was such familiarity that hardly anyone even rang the doorbell before coming in on Wine Night.  I'm adapting to a new life, with new friends, new family.  There are a lot of wonderful things in my life, to be sure, but it is also difficult to realize that the old life is no more.  I have to let go of the past.....and I think I'm holding on a little bit.

On top of the transition, I am dealing with complex emotions and thoughts that stem from being a widow.  There is the guilt of being the survivor, the one with the life insurance money that pays for things like dental surgery and trips home.  There is the neverending feeling of wanting to "justify" what happened by doing something great with my life, something to fulfill what I perceive to be some greater calling, though I don't hear the call.  I wonder why things happened like they did, what the plan for my life was.  I'm searching so hard for that path, that maybe I'm not allowing myself to just find my own way.

And how would I find my own way?  Since I was a teenager, there was one plan -- grow up, become a lawyer, marry Brian and (maybe) have children together.  I had a one-track mind for years, and I never thought about any other options.  I had a bit of tunnel vision for my life, but Brian's death was TNT that blew the shit out of that tunnel.  The tunnel now longer exists.  Now, I'm in the wide open, recovering from the blow, and it's scary.  The possibilites before me are never-ending, and that is overwhelming.  I don't even know where to begin, but I know I keep finding shrapnel in my skin. 

So that's how I'm doing at 2.5 years out.  I've accepted that Brian is gone....kind of.  I still wonder why him, and not me.  I'm still looking for answers that I probably won't find in this lifetime.  I guess I'm over the pain of missing him day-to-day, and now I'm stuck in bigger questions.  This is why I'm getting therapy and why I think it will help to talk to other widows again.  I am a little bit frozen, stuck.  I need a little help to get over some things and get moving again.

I keep trying to remember....the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.  Sometimes I get so bogged down trying to chart out the whole course of my life, when I should really focus on taking one step at a time.  That's new to me, just like so many other things I'm getting used to.

Still, "new" isn't bad.  There are a lot of things about my new life that I genuinely love.  Focusing on those things helps me so much.  Now, to learn to let go of the past, and of negative emotions.  That's what is holding me back.

1 comment:

  1. Really great post. Yesterday was three years since my husband passed away, and I can identify with so much of what you wrote. I find it so hard to reconcile all of the good in my life when there are also really tough things going on in the back of my mind. It's a really weird space, and I always feel like my writing is either "too happy" or "too melancholy." I'm glad you decided to go through therapy. It's something I've been wanting to do for so long and just need to get on it. Thinking of you as you continue to take each step, one at a time. - Jessica