Posted in Personal, Sorrow

this is what the grief feels like

!Forewarning!  This is a long post about grief.  It might trigger some.  Please don’t feel you have to read!  Comments are closed.  xoxox

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I am barely half myself. 

The one who finished my sentences is gone.  The one whose sentences I finished is gone.  I can barely string a coherent sentence together by myself.  The one who carried half my memories is gone.  I wonder if people struggling with dementia feel like this?  This is so much more than an amputation. 

There is a scene in the movie Bone Tomahawk that Dane and I watched a year or two ago.  I didn’t realize it was a horror movie.  I thought suspense, which I can handle.  You’d think I’d have learned by now to read the descriptions better.  I figured Western, Kurt Russell, kind of like Tombstone, right?  Not.  In the worst scene of the movie, the baddies killed one of the goodies by grabbing his ankles and ripping him in half.  I cringed and hid my face, of course, but I didn’t have enough hands to do that and cover my ears to not hear his screams.  I know, I know, it’s a movieActing.  One of the differences between me and Dane was that while he could not suspend disbelief when watching a movie, I could not not suspend it.  I feel everything, almost as if it’s happening to me.  It starts as a stabbing, burning, sensation in my tailbone and radiates throughout my body.  I despise horror movies and will not watch what I call “gorror.”  [gore+horror]  As a young woman I spent half a date sitting in the lobby of a movie theater because I could not stomach The Boogey Man.  I don’t care if you watch horror, knock yourself out!  Just don’t ask me to watch it with you. 

This feels like that.

In a divorce, you sever those ties by choice.  In your anger and pain you snip those ties, disconnect them as neatly as you can, and focus on your new life: you can rebuild it, you have the technology, you can rebuild it better than it was before, better, stronger, faster.  Often, before the divorce is finalized, you have made the choice to let go of the feelings you had for the one you are divorcing. 

It’s not like that in death.

It’s often sudden, you have no choice, no time to prepare, no anger to fuel you, no time to begin disconnecting your heart from their heart.  They just take most of it with them. 

It is horror, in real life.

It is hysteria.

Who am I now?   He had half my memories from the last few decades and I can’t find them anymore.  I took care of my husband and now that he is gone, I am lost, without the purpose that has defined these last twenty years of my life. 

A dear friend whom I love with all my heart, suggested I would marry again, and I confess, I felt almost feral in my anger.  It felt like she was suggesting I cheat on my Beloved.  I know she wasn’t, but that’s how it felt in my heart.   She was just trying to be supporting and encouraging, because she loves me. 

Someone on social media flirted with me a little and I felt so freaked out, so dirty, so, “Oh my gosh, I’m a married woman, you can’t talk to me like that!”  I felt almost violated, in a weird way.  I know that was not their intent, but that’s how it felt

It’s almost like there is this notion that widows need a man, any man.  It’s not true.  Widows need their husbands and can’t have them. 

Grief from death doesn’t quite work the same as sorrow from divorce.

After a divorce, you often feel, “I’m free now to do what I want, see who I want!”

After death, you might think the word is widow, but it’s more like, “Still married, husband is MIA.”

When am I now?  What about the future we were still planning?  I try to remember the memories, I can spend days re-reading his emails and blog posts, trying to relive the past, to recover those events lost to my brain.  At the same time, the future we were hoping to build is gone.  I think about all the things he will miss, perhaps our children marrying, perhaps grandchildren, the house we dreamt of, the plans we had.  Past/future/past/future in a whirl that is dizzying.  There is almost no now.  There is a huge sense of disconnect and sometimes I feel like I am outside myself, watching me, not really being me, if that makes sense. 

I know I have to keep my sh!t together, I still have two more to get up into the world, I still have to be rational and level headed and clear-thinking.  I still have to be strong; not just for them, but also because it’s what he would want me to do for them and for myself.  He used to “brag” on me that I was the strongest person he knew.  Ppbbfftt.  My strength came from him supporting and encouraging me, from his loving me.

Inside though, is a constant scream, echoing and reverberating through the years ahead.  My eyes may appear dry because I do my best not to cry in public [as I believe tears are precious and not to be paraded] but inside are oceans of them, a torrent that makes Niagara Falls look like a trickle.

It is exhausting keeping the inside-me inside, and making sure what’s left of me doesn’t get out.  I have to pause before every response, to make sure I don’t break that seal.  Only when I am alone, and sometimes not even then, do I allow myself the luxury of weeping.  Screaming is not permitted under any circumstances.  I do have neighbors, and kids. 

Out of habit, I still bookmark articles to share with him to read.  I still have the things he wanted me to get from Amazon in my “save for later” cart.  I have, very slowly, been trying to go through his clothes, his hair care stuff [oh my gosh the man loved his hair!], all his journals and art books and sketch books.  And I haven’t even started on his computer!  [I did find the original Ghost Hunters on one of our old shared drives, though!]  I don’t want to do these things – it feels like … discarding him, so I resist.  I hold on to as much as I can for as long as I can, as though he is coming back.  Rational me knows this is silly.  Emotional me wishes this were so.

There is no healing.  Please don’t think there is.  Healing means restoration to what was, and that will never happen.  An amputee’s limb will never regrow, and my other half will never return.  There is adapting to what is the current state of things, but that is not healing.  There’s only getting used to it. 

Will I ever re-marry?  Not today.  Tomorrow’s not looking good, either.  There are, perhaps, only three men in the world I might one day consider as a future husband, but I am no one’s cuppa and none of them would be interested in me, nor are any of them in a position to be interested in me even if they wanted or knew.  I don’t know what God has planned, I do know I have to be ready for whatever He has in store.  I know He is working on something.  It’s as though He is cooking something in the kitchen and I can smell the smells but I don’t know what the dish is.  [just please no oregano, Lord!]  Another relationship?  A ministry?  A business?  What is to become my focus once I am more distant from this one?  Will I ever even be distant from this one? 

I have been struggling for months [almost 10 now] to write.  It was always my go-to way of dealing with things but since he died, my pen has been mostly silent.  He took a lot of that with him, too.  This has been a little cathartic and I thank you for indulging me, if you have read this far. 

I am going to disable comments though.  Please know, if you are still reading, I know your heart, and I know you would do your best to try to comfort me, to support and encourage me.  I thank you, and love you for it.  But I just don’t think I am strong enough to respond right now, if that makes sense.  Opening my eyes every day takes effort, and the kids and I have been under the weather the last couple of days, too, so I am wiped. out.  Which is probably partly why I am writing – I’m too weak to hold it in right now.

Strength I have for you, though, if you need anything.  Not for myself, but for you.  I don’t know how I work that way, but I do.  It’s strange, like there are two separate reserves in my pack, one for me, one for others.  That other one is nearly always full.  You have my email or text if you need anything – let me know.  I mean that!  And we will not discuss this post. 

By the way, when I say I love you, I mean that, too.  I effing mean that.  See, here’s a secret, I know things about people.  I can often sense your feelings and sometimes your thoughts, and you are so precious to me.  I just hold back because I know the intensity of my feeling for you would be overwhelming and maybe a little creepy, and I don’t want to freak you out.  I’m not the tip of the iceberg, I’m the whole effing iceberg.  Just take my word for it, okay?  And we won’t discuss that little confession, either.  I’d much rather you think I was normal, anyway.

With much love,
~Vanessa~

Babe,

May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other.  I’ll see you when my chores are through.  FYIEW

 

Mispah