Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bitchy Old Queen for a Day.

Stop complaining.

I'm feeling very disconnected today. It's like my mind and body are not in sync. Or is it my heart and soul?

Some things are coming together, like reining my older son back in, and feeling like were headed back on track. Like making significant progress in building trust and affection with the stray dog, who has now become my shadow. Like having the presence of mind to get my younger son focused on his homework for the week. Yet other things have me feeling completely different.

I went to my younger son's Back to School Night. It was more difficult emotionally than I had anticipated. I sat there in the auditorium feeling like I have no connection to anyone in the room. There were plenty of parents there who were alone, but I had a sense that their spouses were at home tending to the children. I looked around the room, and wondered if I would ever get to know any of these people. We then had to follow a very short schedule of each of our kids classes, listening to presentations by each teacher. It dawned on me that none of these teachers knew Remy's academic, or emotional, challenges. I started worrying about my inability to get them all informed, or to keep up with all that will be required of me to help my son along this school year. I came home and found that my son Dante had gone out on a run. I panicked because it was dark out, and I don't feel like I can trust his decision making ability right now. I kept telling myself to calm down, that Remy had said that Dante just left, and I knew that he never lasts too long while running. Yet this logic didn't do much to calm me.

While at the school this evening I found myself fighting back tears. It's not like Michael participated much in school events, it's just that I am feeling so alone without him, and worrying that I no longer have what it takes to be a good parent for my kids. I rarely cook anymore. The laundry has really piled up, and I haven't followed through with some fairly important correspondences that have been piling up on the table. Maybe my emotional response to the one year mark is starting to hit me again. After all, I had to quickly pull it together with the various teenage crises this week. And because of the problems this week, and the school event tonight, I haven't been to yoga in over a week.

Tomorrow's my last week day of "freedom," since I start work on Monday. I had previously been looking forward to this, but now I'm wondering how I am going to manage. To be honest, all day my mind has been drifting back to thoughts of what this life is all about. I started to ask myself if it is even worth the effort. Funny to say, as I haven't seemed to be putting much effort into my life lately anyway.

I feel bad that I haven't returned the few calls I have received in the past few days. I feel bad that I haven't responded to Facebook messages from concerned friends either. I also have to say that it has been difficult to accept that the anniversary of Michael's death has gone by seemingly unnoticed by those that knew him. I received so much support from all of the grieving community, and from a few friends that reached out to me, but I kept waiting to hear something from more family members, or old friends of Michael, and it didn't happen. I know that there is no reason that people should remember the date. While many definitely felt his loss last year, his death didn't change their everyday life. And even though I get this, it still hurts.

I sit here looking at the little stray, lying in the bed I provided for him. He is fast asleep, looking so comfortable and vulnerable at the same time. Each time he opens his eyes he immediately searches for me. He sees that I am near, and that I am focused on him, so he closes his eyes once again, and goes back to sleep. He and I are a lot alike, only when I open my eyes, no one is there.

I start to wonder when this will change. When will I feel like my life is worth living again? Oh, I know. I was doing so much better not that long ago. What happened? It would be so nice to have someone come by and say, okay Dan, lets get busy doing...whatever.

It's scary how quickly my mood, and outlook, can change. I'm not feeling like a whole person right now. I'm not feeling like a very good parent right now.

Maybe I just need to hurt some more. Maybe my one year anniversary mourning got side tracked, and now I'm actually back on course. My father left me a message last night asking how the anniversary went for me. I immediately realized that after this month, I have our wedding anniversary to get to. Last year I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary without Michael. I never really got to have a wedding anniversary because my husband was dead.

How fucked up is that? Now I look at all the wedding anniversary cards in the stores, and realize that I never got the chance to even receive one. I likely never will. I've been cheated.

What's the first year anniversary gift anyway? Paper? Well, I did get a death certificate. So maybe I should stop complaining.

Sorry, I'm being a bit dramatic now. Feel free to roll your eyes, and wonder why the hell you are reading this anyway. I sometimes wonder why the hell I am writing this. Okay, I'm going to shut up now. I don't think I am getting anywhere with this. I'm just acting like a bitchy old queen.


  1. Excuse this long reply - so long that it's going to be in two parts as your blog tells me that my comment can't be more than 4,096 characters and I'm too lazy to edit this down. (-:

    To be honest, all day my mind has been drifting back to thoughts of what this life is all about. I started to ask myself if it is even worth the effort. Funny to say, as I haven't seemed to be putting much effort into my life lately anyway.

    Actually, you have been putting *lots* of effort into your life, but maybe you just aren't seeing how much. One piece of advice -- try to get to your yoga class again whenever that's possible. I think it's good to have at least one enjoyable or restorative constant happening in your life regardless of how messy the rest of it seems.

    As for the thoughts of what this life is all about, I believe that any thinking person who has been thrust into this position - of losing the person we most love and who loved us - wonders about this pretty often. I know that I do. The last few days have seemed quite depressing for me in spite of having a visit from old friends. Perhaps that actually triggered some of the depression as they have been together for years and knew both Don and I - and they're still both here, but I am alone. I often feel like half a person when I'm around couples. I know that's not the case as I'm strong and capable in so many ways, but there's always this feeling that I'm going around with some visible and psychological part of me missing. Although I'm more comfortable with that feeling - it doesn't make me angry or sad as much as it did - it's still present, and my guess is that I'll feel like that for....who knows...perhaps years...or forever.

    Trying to get ready for this year's departure - closing up the house - packing clothes and camping gear - taking care of the details such as canceling phone service here, etc.. seems to be taking me forever. I am constantly reminded of how much work this is when done *alone*. Don and I were one of those couples who happily and naturally divided all of our work between us. If he were here with me right now, he'd be getting the van in top shape for the trip, arranging our travel health insurance, and a bunch of other stuff, while I worked to close up the house and pack and provision us for our trip. We both had our strengths and divided our work accordingly - and we cared so much for each other that it didn't seem like work - we did these things as we wanted to make each other's work seem lighter. Now all of that is gone and each day feels more like a struggle than just living. I'm sure you're feeling the same way about dealing with paperwork, going to school meetings, doing laundry and cooking, etc...


  2. part 2 (embarrassing as that is).

    Here's some practical advice - just dumb stuff that I'm sure you've already discovered, but that I think we need to remind ourselves of from time to time:

    When you're on the upswing, try to take care of as much stuff as you can handle (paperwork, food preparation, whatever). When you're on the downswing, don't beat yourself up for feeling like you're slipping behind - just do what you can manage. One thing I've found is, there *will* come a time when you'll feel like dealing with all of that mail that is sitting on the table. When that time comes, don't igore it. Make hay while the sun shines and get it out of your way.

    When you can make yourself cook - make a couple of big batches of stuff that you can reheat for several meals (that's about the only way I can survive at the moment). I have about a half dozen things I can stand eating for days and I make batches when I'm in a cooking mood (rare and weak as that may be). I'm not sure about this strategy for feeding kids, but there's probably a way to make it work. Maybe there's prepared food that the kids could help heat up - stuff from Costco, or whatever. I figure it's like that old saying goes -- any port in a storm. Whatever works.

    Look for practical solutions for things - like Dante going out for a run. Have you got walkie-talkies? The range on even cheap sets is pretty amazing now. Get a pair and leave them in a charger by the door and no one goes out running within taking one along. I find myself having to think of practical solutions to dumb problems, like getting a bell to put on Sabrina's collar as she has gone deaf and won't come when I call, so if she wanders off, I can't find her now (doh!). I'm looking into something electronic that I can use for finding her more easily while we're on this trip as I can see a problem looming ahead.

    Yes, it's annoying as hell that we're having to deal with all of this shit alone, but if we can just get past these feelings of persecution (and that's really how it feels to me sometimes), I think we can use our brains to solve some of the "stuff" that makes our lives difficult.

    Btw, the second anniversary of Don's death passed with nary a nod from anyone other than the people who read my blog. I guess I've come to expect that. When he died, I just received two phone calls in the month after he died, asking how I was. However, my closest friend came all the way from the west coast to help me during that month, so I've tried to think of what a gift that was, even if no one else seemed to care. Same goes for this anniversary. Maybe that's how we have to think of things -- the good things are gifts and the rest doesn't matter.

    Also, my friends who were just here, read my blog post and one of them told me that, reading the post, she realized how - much as time has gone by for them, I am *still* living with a reality every day - and they aren't really aware of this until they stop to think about it. That's very true. *WE* are very aware of that, but the rest of the world ignorantly marches onward. We're not wrong in feeling as we do, and they're not wrong for not noticing -- it's just one of those stupid things about living in different realities. The other thing is, even my best friend - the one who came east to help me - says it hurts to even think of what I'm living through, so he doesn't go there too often. I guess that's how people remain optimistic about life - by not looking too hard at the things that scare the crap out of them.

    Hope I don't come off sounding too preachy, but the above are my own survival tactics. I think you're doing great - you're actually a super parent, but you're just dealing with some situations that would sandbag just about anyone. Be kind to yourself. You're doing the best that you can - and it's actually pretty good.

  3. Dan, I too have been struggling with chores. It is what it is my friend. Something has to give at a time like this ... you have gone through one of the toughest times - the one year mark - be patient with yourself and don't worry about responding to people either. If they don't understand, well ...

  4. I too have let things slip around the house. My "office" is a piling station, I have unopened mail, piles of who-knows-what all over my personal spaces. I am not usually so untidy and so far behind in paper work and correspondence.
    I am approaching 7 months, and still struggling. I have been reading blogs lately that scare me. There is a lot of mention about the first anniversary and things being harder in the second year. How can it possibly get worse? Yikes. God help me.
    I think of all the widows out there - God help us all. This sucks.
    PS - I am not a religious person, just using an adage from the society I grew up in. (God help me)

  5. Dorthea - at just over 2 years, I can reassure you that, in some ways, things will and do get better, but in other ways, not so much. At least, this has been my own experience. Thinking is better and clearer and with not so much anger and sadness. Problem solving seems better. Being willing to deal with business is better too. What's still not good is feelings of being too tired to bother with stuff (which can include paperwork, correspondence, housework). Also, for me, a general inability to take most things seriously anymore. Yesterday, I listened to a friend lamenting over how someone else had cut him up for doing something. My advice to him "Don't sweat it. Big deal. You'll have forgotten about the whole thing by next week." Meanwhile, inside I'm thinking, "Baaaahhhhh!! That's nothing kid. Wait until something *really* bad happens in your life. Then you'll have something to worry about!" (o:

  6. Hi everyone, thanks for your thoughts.

    Bev, thank you for all the great concrete advice. Don't worry about being preachy. I like preachy from those that have earned their stripes. I do need to be reminded about what is going well, and what doesn't need to be priority these days.

    Want to see something funny. After writing last night's post, and titling it 'Bitchy Old Queen for a Day,' this is what I found in this morning's email.

  7. Lol!

    Hey, the captcha for my comment is "sundaze". Nice!

  8. Only one of matt's friends contacted me on the anniversary, no family at all. The largest group of friends had a big get together - no invite for me. How F-ing DIFFICULT is it to send even just a little text message saying "thinking of you"??? Ah, still pretty angry about that whole deal myself. But then, none of his close friends acknowledged me at all, other than one hug at his memorial. Disappeared, dismissed. Hurtful on top of everything. And, I think for a lot of people, I am too much. To see me is to think how hard this is, and my guess is that some of them are in a lot of pain (or were, early on), and seeing me brought just that much more pain. I try to be understanding, but ahem, wtf.
    I have/had a good friend who rarely contacts me these days. When she does, it is to say "I'm always thinking of you." I have to bite my tongue to not say "really? How would I know?" What really irks/hurts is that she is actually the most adept at not trying to change or fix or jolly things up. So, if someone who can handle pain has disappeared nearly entirely, someone who was actually part of my life before, I realize wanting matt's friends to connect with me is a pretty ridiculous expectation. Still.
    And, it is true that everyone elses' life has moved on. Their daily reality has not changed at all. They miss their friend, or they are concerned for me, but their own lives are still Stunningly Beautiful. Ha - rather like the uninvited 13th guest in - what was that fairy tale? No one wants the presence of death at their happy life party. News, folks, she's coming anyway.

    One small accomplishment at a time, Dan. That whole pile of things is far too much to stand. As Bev said, there will be moments, maybe even hours, where the energy to tackle things appears. When it's not there, it's just not. And, there is no need to swallow everything at once. My standards are set pretty low these days. Frankly, I think standing up and continuing to breathe is a massive accomplishment most days. Bathing, housework, correspondence - eh.
    Now, if I can find me a refrigerated truck for cheap, I could take care of that food problem...

  9. Megan - I was thinking of you when reading about Dan not cooking lately. What is required are some matter transporters to move food and other objects - and people - around from place to place.

    Yes, that does seem pretty thoughtless about Matt's friends not inviting you to a get together. I knew it would have been that way had I stayed where we had lived. Spending winter down south has been good in that respect. A couple of friends down there probably turned me into their project (at least, that's my suspicion), and make sure I get invites to plenty of things. I think that's one advantage of just getting the hell out of Dodge when your spouse dies. You don't have the hurt and damage to your self-confidence about being passed over by your friends and family, and you form some new relationships that haven't got any pain and sadness attached. Just some thoughts as we hijack Dan's threads. (-:

  10. Yes - matt's son (who had lived with us) got so much on the anniversary - calls, letters, emails. It was like that right after too, all attention on the kid. For matt's partner - responses ranged from "you weren't in his life" to "oh. Hey. How's jake?" Never mind that I was his every day, and he mine, and that even the kid was going to eventually have his own life. But, this is part of being non-social, independent people. That group is very social together, and matt was not. He had his small group from AA, and they played poker together once a week, once or twice a year doing some other event. He didn't, and we didn't, do any of the social things the group did, though they all knew I existed. I wouldn't make myself any other way - I am not ever going to be a social person - but it did very much contribute to the shock, to be so ignored, and have my entire life disappear, just to have others say it never existed. Weirdos. Just I hold people who love him to my own standards - how I would acknowledge, how I would respond. If someone I loved died suddenly, I would want to know the person he loved, the one he chose his life with. I mean, I wouldn't be up their nose or anything, but I would pay attention. I tell myself they are trying to mind their own business.

    I could solve so many food problems, what with my need to cook and absolutely no interest in eating. The great yogis could materialize in more than one place at once, and though they didn't like to show off, they could also make food appear. I'd say I'll get right on that, but I'm currently baking bread that will probably feed the chickens...

  11. Megan - I had a good friend who was a high school guidance counselor for many years. I remember one time when someone had said something quite hurtful to me, she said, "Consider the source" and told me to dismiss any feelings about what that person said or did. Not worth the brain damage. I've had to apply that same principle to a few others since Don's death. We can't really know what motivates people to treat us in a certain way, or to cut us out of their lives, or ignore our existence. The truth is, there's no percentage in bothering to try.

    I believe the happier route, at least in my own case, has been to move on and make some new friends who value me for who I am, and not as part of the couple I once was. In a way, maybe it is easier to make new friends when you're alone. I was just thinking about this yesterday. Being a couple is often intimidating to other people - single people, widowed people. Being alone seems to have allowed me to think of myself as one person - a free agent - able to make friends with whatever person I like - singles, one half of a couple, both halves of a couple separately, people who share nothing more than a similar professional interest, etc... That's just what I have done in Arizona - cultivate some friendships based on mutual interests in things like biology, going for walks in the desert, cooking up a storm of Indian food, and so on. Yes, I wish I still had Don and didn't have to be bothered with making new friends or acquaintances, but I'm trying not to let how people treated me earlier on, cause me to withdraw from the world. All of this is hard for someone like me who is, by nature, very hermit-like, but in the interest of keeping life interesting, I believe it's worth the effort.

    You will have to learn that yogi trick of matierializing and making food appear. That would be a very handy ability. I hope those chickens are very appreciative of your baking skills. (-:

  12. I know - it also irks me that I actually even register other peoples' opinions or actions. Yet another casuality in this - when all of life disappeared without warning, having other people say "and who are you now?" that rather smacked my normalness. It didn't even occur to me to notice how anyone thought of me before, quite secure in myself and in matt. Now, however, I feel a wee loser-ish, and that is so foreign to me. Eh. Two of the people for whom he built things (strange language - he renovated their houses) are actually awesome people, and love me very much. Easy to focus on the jerkiness and take it so personally.

    The chickens eat verrrrrry well.

  13. I can't believe I'm jealous of a chicken!

    You it did really help me to move down here to San Diego. I no longer have to worry about feeling left out, or about how easy it would be for others to reach out for me. Now I know it takes a lot of effort, and when they do, I can really appreciate it. If they don't, well,in time it will be out of sight, out of mind.

  14. Having my step-son come home and surprise me, just before the anniversary, did so much for my feeling-ignored-issues. He is my family, and he knows what's what - it kind of righted me. Would be both easier and harder if he still lived here, but just to see my kid healed me more than anything.

    I think if I move right now, it would be out to the actual country. Spend my days with goats and birds. Actually, what I imagine is a retreat farm for Our Kind - then I can cook all I want, and no one has to talk or explain anything. And then, Dan, having spent the morning mucking out the chicken coop, you would have no reason to be jealous.

  15. This week I did the worst possible mom thing I could do by choosing to stay home from the school open house and run through of student classes, meeting teachers etc. in favor of watching the final America's Got Talent show. I wimped out. I just could not face going through the motions, fighting for a parking place, rushing around the hallways, being with all the "couples" so blew it off! I felt a little guilty but the past five or six of these I've gone to, really didn't help me in terms of getting to know the teachers and oftentimes the time was so pressed the teachers ended up sharing very little of value anyway.

    So glad you and the little dog are bonding. I'll think of you the next time my inner-bitch starts to emerge and you know, I'm going to let it!

  16. What jumped out at me in this post is that, like me, you didn't even get to celebrate one anniversary with your husband. I also feel cheated that I never received one anniversary card, that we didn't get to go out to our favorite restaurant for an anniversary dinner as we'd planned. It's not fair.

    I'm glad you made it through the first anniversary of Michael's passing. I hope the wedding anniversary isn't too hard this year. Thinking of you...