This week, I’ve had several conversations with different individuals each essentially inquiring where I am in my journey of healing, and, like I tend to do often, I’ve mulled over my replies long after the conversations are through. While truthful, at least to a certain extent, my responses don’t tell the whole story; it’s really hard to properly convey all the emotions and thoughts I’ve got going on all the time, to someone who has never been “here“.
So when I tell you I’m doing “OK” or “better than yesterday” or “as well as can be expected”, those are certainly truthful statements, but they don’t tell you everything that’s bubbling under the surface. I’m telling you those things to help you feel better because I don’t want to make you feel helpless, or awkward, or uncomfortable about what to do or say next.
In many cases, there really isn’t much you can do. I’m still trying to make sense of my “new normal” (a phrase I’m genuinely starting to hate… I want my old normal back!) and spend a lot of time and energy trying to simply get through the day without too many steps backwards.
I’m also very conscious of not radiating my negativity out into the world (because let’s face it, there is far too much of that already). I don’t want to make those around me feel down, so I don’t let them see how deep the pain truly goes at times. I suppose this is similar to the way a parent sometimes hides his or her true feelings so as not to frighten their children (saying things like “yes, honey, everything’s going to be fine” while hurricane force winds pummel the house and they’re not certain the roof will survive the onslaught).
It occurred to me, however, that each day is sort of like the grief version of Groundhog Day (the movie with Bill Murray, not the rodent-mascot holiday). Each day is very much the same with me trying to learn something that will make the next day easier and help me to become the best person possible with the (second) best life I can have. (It will never be the life I truly wanted, because A isn’t in it… but I want to make it as good as it can be.)
Much like the movie, I’ll learn some coping mechanism today and try it tomorrow and it won’t have the outcome I was hoping for. So I’ll make an adjustment or scrap that idea altogether and try again then next day. Each day generally has a bit more success than the previous one, with more smiles and fewer tears, but the hollowness still remains. And there’ll be an occasional day that is just horrendous where nothing seems to go well, and I can’t wait to get into bed to pull the covers over my head and try again the next morning.
That’s all this is, you know… a learning process. I’m not only learning how to live without the only man I ever loved, I’m learning simply how to be alone, something I’ve never really done as an adult – at least not for any length of time. I’m making decisions completely on my own for the first time in more than 30 years, not just the important financial ones, but the mundane ones, as well. I’m trying to learn who I am, not as half of a partnership, or as a mother, but as an individual; it has been a long time since I’ve really contemplated that and I’m sort of trying on different personas to see which one fits me best.
I have rearranged my bedroom no fewer than 3 times in 3 months, for no real reason I can understand. Some people tell you not to make any decisions for at least a year after a major loss such as this, so perhaps I’m making some decisions that have no long-term impact; whether my bed is against the wall or the window or the tall lamp or the short one is plugged into the one connected to the light switch makes absolutely no difference in the long run. So perhaps it’s a “safe” decision to make, if I need to make one at all. I’m not sure why that arbitrary time frame of one year was chosen because I’ve heard people say it was too long and others too short – I imagine it’s one of those things that differs for each person and the year is just a guideline, much like the timeline for children to learn to walk and talk – there’s a wide range of “normal”.
My mother has mentioned several times that I should cut my hair, insinuating both that someone of “my age” shouldn’t have long, blonde hair, and that my style isn‘t fitting for a widow. (She told me that my wardrobe isn’t fitting for one, either, explaining that – I kid you not – I “should no longer be appealing to anyone”… but that’s an entirely different story altogether.) It seems to me that cutting my hair would fall under that “rash decision” category she so often preaches against, and since it takes longer for my hair to grow than a corpse flower to bloom, I’ll leave it as is for now, thankyouverymuch.
For now, I’ll just keep making baby steps and trying to move forward, hoping to one day get it all “right” and be done with this torturous, repetitive day.
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