Sunday, March 14, 2010

Silver Lining

Silver Lining
Originally uploaded by

Why is it that one day's optimism can, the next day, turn into what feels like physical labor?

Yesterday I was feeling like I had a good grip on my emotions, meaning that I could see the silver lining. Then last night I had one of those nights where I don't seem to allow myself to sleep. I choose not to turn out the light. I choose not to turn off this computer. I'm not really focused on anything, but fight falling asleep. Eventually, around 2 am, I decided enough was enough, and I turned everything off and attempted to sleep. I think I did sleep for most of the night, although I had some strange dreams.

At this point in the day I don't even remember the dreams themselves, only that I had them. I am aware that the content of the dreams made me restless, and even caused me to wake up a few time. In the morning I tried to catch up on some sleep, but in time made myself get out of bed. I didn't feel rested, and I'm sure I didn't look rested. I felt unsettled, maybe dissatisfied. I'm not even sure what I was feeling dissatisfied about. If I could only remember the content of the dreams, I would have a better understanding of my mood today.

I remember this morning, while still feeling a bit groggy, thinking about the many people that were in my dreams. I know that my kids were there, and various family members, but I couldn't remember if Michael was there. It has been exactly 6 months now since he died, and I don't have any conscious recollection of him ever appearing in my dreams. Actually, I don't have any real recollection of any dreams during these six months. I want so badly to experience Michael's presence in a dream, hoping that it will bring me comfort. Yet, it doesn't happen.

I worry that the dreams I am having are set in a time that predates my being with Michael. My life today feels very much like before we met, yet with greater sadness and depression. I am always aware that I have lost him, yet in my day to day life, it almost feels like he was never here. For this reason I have chosen to not fully participate in my life right now. I don't make much of an effort to do anything for myself. I don't really look for opportunities to enjoy life. That's not to say I don't have enjoyment, I do. I just don't try to make it happen.

I think that the initial months after Michael's death were dominated with a sense of detachment from my world. My reality seemed so foreign to the reality of those around me. I suppose it still does. Yet I find that it is evolving a bit, causing me to feel more unmotivated, and just living the life I once had. The life I had before meeting Michael was not a bad life, it just wasn't as fulfilling or rewarding. Living the life of a single parent, you have to do a lot of self talk. You have to weigh out your decisions on your own. You have to find a way of letting go of those things you cannot control. And, you pretty much have to do this alone.

In the years past I was fairly good at being a single dad. I think I still am. I know I could do better, yet my grief limits what reserve I have on a given day. What used to refuel me, is no longer there. For the past 3 1/2 years Michael was what refueled me. Before him my focus on healthy eating and exercise is what fueled me. These days I don't have either of these. I think back to a prior post, which was a commentary on effects of grief on my body. More and more, I don't like what I see when I look in the mirror. I don't like how I feel moving around in my world. I don't like the unmotivated person I have become.

I'm not quite sure what it is going to take to change this. I'm hoping that something sneaks up and catches me off guard, and I find myself moving is some particular direction. It's almost like I am passively waiting for my life to change. I'm waiting for that silver lining that is supposed to come with great tragedies. Each day some layer of grief should be peeling off, helping to reveal the silver lining I seek. For awhile I thought it was my blog, or something grief related. Maybe it still is, but I find myself questioning if I am putting too many expectations here.

So far, the only thing being revealed as silver, is my hair. My days are no longer completely dark and bleak, but they are definitely shades of grey. Grey is not bad I suppose, in fact I love the color grey. But I can't help but feel that my life is devoid of the many colors that make it more interesting and joyful.

All this makes me think of the 12 step motto, "one day at a time." For me, I suppose I'll just take it one hue at a time.


  1. your losing Michael, as all of us who have lost a spouse knows, is like losing a limb. the loss is an enormous adjustment. i know you know this but knowing is one thing. dealing with all the myriad of ways grief makes you feel and think is something else. it is my belief that the blog helps only to connect with others rowing the same kind of little boat. it has not "advanced" my grief in and of itself. it has given me you, and Suddenwidow, and others like you two who have befriended me and helped me with commissions and support and the awareness that i mean something to a few people.

    there is an old saying, "if you expect nothing, you won't be disappointed." i hope you continue to expect things, good things, from continuing to allow us to share this path with you. sometimes good things take time. our grief is supposed to lessen in intensity and bring us to a point where we are accepting of the loss and no longer trying to fight it. we are supposed to arrive at this nirvana and live on our memories and the love we shared with our spouses. i expect it will happen to me like that. i hope it happens for others. like a painting of a beautiful place we'd like to see in person, it is an expectation of something positive.

    three cheers for your tolerance of grey. grey is a lovely color, especially its cooler values on the spectrum. my own blonde is getting the glinty threads of what i hope is my mother's silver. silver and white like the moon. that's what i'm hoping for. i'll be easier to spot under the full moon that way.

    peace to you always.

  2. before matt died, I had let go of a lot of my old plans and interests. It was sort of a mid-life crisis without the crisis part. Matt was taking over financial support of our family so I could just "not know" for awhile. We were so excited about the new adventures we had coming, the big changes with his son turning 18, and our move. Didn't know this was the big change, the new adventure.

    People say to go back to the things you enjoyed before. I was happily fallow and loved "before." I leaned on us; I had my team with me while I didn't know what interested me. My team has gone invisible, and anything I try to do seems exceptionally hollow.

    And, I am not that person - certainly not the the person I was years and years ago, and not even the person I was when we got to the river that day. I want to still be the person Matt loves, that I loved - full of faith and laughing and goofiness. Just am not that now, and I can't make myself be interested in things that are not true for me.

    Having been ripped open, having everything I knew to be real and true and beautiful just disappear in those few minutes, there is very little to me that does not feel arbitrary or ridiculous. I wonder if there is a way to have "nothing matters" as your core philosophy, and say it with love and beauty, instead of disappointment.

    My current favorite guideline for life (at least my life) is: only kindness matters - everything else is arbitrary.

  3. I've noticed that other widows seem to dream of their husbands from time to time - often rather nice dreams, although some say their husbands don't recognize them (seems a common theme). In the almost 19 months that have passed, I have had just a few dreams, and most of them were of being in hospitals and trying new treatments - often macabre ones - to extend Don's life. I had a few in the couple of months after Don died, then they stopped while I was in Bisbee last year. When I returned to our farm to get the place ready to sell last spring, the morbid hospital dreams began all over. I took that as a message to get finished and get the hell out of there! I was on fire to finish the house and go to Nova Scotia to look for a place -- you know that story. Then I became exhausted. I was very tired while traveling last year, and this winter I've been quiet and sleeping a lot. However, just recently, I'm feeling a little like my old self -- the old self I was before things began spinning out of control about 3 years ago this summer. I guess maybe I've just been worn down to nothing. Now, I'm in the process of buying a real old beater of a house to restore - out in Nova Scotia (remember, you read it *here* first!). I feel different lately. Not much happier, but as though I am feeling a bit more interested in.. well.. existing. It's just a low key thing though, and I realize how hard I am pushing myself to feel anything. Maybe it just takes time to begin to feel interested in living again.

  4. I was at yoga training this last weekend and the instructor talked about times when she feels stuck and that she simply has come to the place where she doesn't force herself past it. She lets it happen, knowing that eventually it will work itself through.

    I thought there was a lot of truth in it as far as grieving goes too. Sometimes we feel that we should be doing something really active to push ourselves. And sometimes we should be. But there are times to just ride it out and not worry so much about it. It is what it is for the time being.

    I drifted from month six to about eight. I found it frustrating at the time but I look back and realize I needed to just be. Feelings need rest just like our bodies and minds.

  5. My partner came to me in a dream, but I couldn't hear what he was saying. I guess that's the way it works with dreams. But he was smiling, so I guess it was a good thing. I liked your comment about the colors being drained, and WomanNshadows about losing a limb, for me its like a big void or hole. Will it be filled? I don't think so, not for me. Life has changed. I can understand the sleepless nights, too. That must come with this new territory, though I experienced that more in the weeks and months closer to my partners' passing.

    But, yes, I do like gray, too. :)

  6. "I was at yoga training this last weekend and the instructor talked about times when she feels stuck and that she simply has come to the place where she doesn't force herself past it. She lets it happen, knowing that eventually it will work itself through."

    Yes, this reminds me of design studio, first year in architecture school. Same remark from my studio professor, when I was "trying too hard" on a design. This is difficult to describe, but it worked that way, to "let it happen" or let the process work in the background somehow.

    Very good advice.