The second year is a b*tch

During my first year of widowhood, I learned what coping mechanisms did not work.

I tried to outrun grief, literally.  I ran a half marathon 6 weeks after Bryon died.  It was one of my biggest accomplishments in my life.  I hope to do it again.  But with only 6 weeks of training, my knees were not happy with me.

I tried to eat my emotions.  I gained back all the weight I lost when Bryon was sick and then some.  My knees continued to be unhappy.

I tried to keep busy and outsocialize my grief.  But now I am exhausted and nothing is getting crossed of my to-do list.  Being with friends is important but I have ignored spending time with myself.

There was one night I had some Spanish red wine.  That night I watched Jinger Duggar’s wedding and I bawled my eyes out.  But the next morning I had a headache and I was too old to be waking up with headaches.

I would go to Target whenever I was sad.  Nothing could cheer me up more than buying my two year old daughter a pair of pink cowgirl boots.  However, that cheerfulness would never last long.  My daughter had a great wardrobe that year.  A wardrobe she promptly outgrew and I gave away.

Writing helped my grief.  It helped me sort out my feelings.  But it also caused me to intellectualize my feelings which can prevent a person from feeling those feelings.  It is a mechanism I have used my whole life.

While I participated in some questionable grief practices, I have never denied my grief.  I have always acknowledged it.

But maybe I did something wrong because now I feel a flood of anger consuming me.

Let’s say grief is like an ocean.  Grief, like the ocean, can make a person feels small and insignificant.  Both grief and the ocean can be peaceful and serene at times and stormy and dangerous at other times.  Well I am standing in an island in the middle of this grief ocean and my anger is like a large wave crashing down over me.

Anger for all that happened to Bryon and for all his physical, mental and emotional pain.

Anger at how the events transpired.

Anger that Bryon and I never got to discuss what was happening nor did we get to discuss “what if”.

Anger that Bryon isn’t here to help me raise my daughter.

Anger that Bryon didn’t get to accomplish all his dreams and that we didn’t get to accomplish our dreams together.

Anger at the isolation I feel.  Everyone else gets to live normal lives  and not the “new normal” that I was told I needed to find when Bryon died.  I want the old normal.

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The second year is isolating.  Just as the reality of Bryon’s death is hitting me, people think I should be “over it”.

The second year is a b*tch and I still have nine months of it.

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For my daughter: Your father was a GOOFBALL!

Fun times with your Dad.

BRU= Babies ‘R Us.

I think this post got almost as much likes as the Hobby Lobby penis picture. That should be coming up in my Facebook memories later this month.  Something to look forward to.


50 long years

50 years.

That is how long I can potentially be on this Earth.  That is if I live to my 90’s like both of my grandmothers.

50 long years.

I don’t know how I am going to do it.

To fill up all those years.

I went from being a person with her life planned out to being a person who is merely existing.

I am obviously still here for a reason.

And I want to see my daughter grow up and meet my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren.

My daughter (age 3) told me that she is going to be a mother when she grows up and that she is going to have four children.

So I guess that means for every theatrical temper tantrum I have to deal with, she will get it back times four.

Karma can be a beautiful thing.

But it is all going to be delightful as long as my daughter gets an education first.

People used to ask me why I was bothering with a second degree because I was married to a lawyer.  I always said that if something should- God forbid- happen to Bryon, I need to be able to support myself and my family.

I used to say that but I never thought it would actually be my reality.

But here I am.  Surviving?  Existing? Keeping my head above water?  Waiting to live again?

Without direction.  Lost.  Anxious.

Bryon is not here to solve all my problems.  He is not here to tell me that everything is going to be okay.

No idea what the future holds.

I have lost my faith.  In God.  In the Universe.

The future feels bleak and empty.

Scared to be lonely.

Scared to let someone else in.

Scared that I will be unhappy.

Scared that I won’t be able enough for my daughter.

Scared that I will always be sad.

Scared that I won’t make the best of my remaining years.

This is my life now.

For the next 50 long years.

 

Late night ramblings of a widow #3

I haven’t rambled for awhile so here goes.

I want my old life back.  My old life was so easy.  Bryon took care of everything.  And not just for me.  He took care of everything for so many people.

My old life was so much easier.  And I never appreciated.  Now when something goes wrong, I am the only one here to deal with it.  Luckily I can usually get help but I hate asking for it.  I hate being a burden on people. 

I never appreciated my old life.  I never appreciated all that Bryon did for me.  

I miss my old life even though it feels like a lifetime ago.  I feel so removed from my old life even though I live in the same house and have the same friends.  I still have my daughter and my cat.  

I am a different person.  The old Kerry is only a shadow inside of the New Kerry.

I want my old life back because in my old life, I didn’t know this kind of pain.

Some days I like my new life.  I like myself better now.

But some days my new life completely sucks.

My new life is lonely.  I know what I am missing.

Before I met Bryon, I felt like I was waiting for my real life to begin. Then I got my real life and was always concerned about the next step.  

I would be running from the past and escaping into the future even if the future scared me.

And then- it was all gone.  

Now I am in a future I never imagined having.   

For the first time in my life I am forced to live in the present because the past makes me sad and thinking about the future makes me uncomfortable. 

I feel stuck.  How do I know the difference between spending enough time grieving versus being afraid of the future?

I am so afraid of being disappointed in the future.  

I started to get excited about the holidays but now I wonder if I am setting myself up to be let down. Because my life isn’t a Hallmark movie. 

And if I ever date again…am I setting myself up for dissappointment.

I had to call IT for work tonight. The IT guy was nice enough. I am so lonely that I didn’t want to hang up. But I did because otherwise it would have been weird and creepy. At least I ended the call with “thank you” and “bye” instead of defaulting to “love you.” That would have been awkward even if I do genuinely appreciate the help.

I feel Bryon’s spirit so close at times. So close that he doesn’t seem dead. At times I feel like if I just reach out and wish harder that I can bring him back and pretend this was just a bad dream.  And then reality smacks me on the face.

Or maybe if I try hard enough, I can move myself to the parallel universe where things played out the way they were supposed to.  Where he continued to be a successful lawyer and we had 2.5 kids (he wanted 2, I wanted 3), our cat and a dog.  

But none of those things will happen. 

Instead, I am alone, awake at 3am and writing a blog post that no one is going to read.

The second year blues

The early days of my widowhood journey are a blur in my memory.

It is kind of like one of those flashback sequences in your typical late 80’s or early 90’s sitcom like Saved by the Bell where you are surrounded by blurriness.  Except that there is no cheesy transition music and I am not brought back to Bayside.

I know I took my daughter to daycare every day.

I know binged watched the Gilmore Girls and I ran a lot.

I know I was surrounded by friends and family and so many people were texting and facebook messaging me that I could not keep up with them because I was emotionally exhausted.

Over that first year, I kept myself busy.  I traveled a lot.  I ran a half marathon.  I read every widow memoir I could find.  I got a new job.

I have a heard a theory that anyone who has experiences trauma has this fog because it is the only way for our brains to be able to process what had happened.

The initial shock started to wear off for me after 3 months.  At that point, the holiday were in full swing around me.  I was just going through the emotions.

The fog began to slowly lift in March but it didn’t happen overnight.

I was getting to a good place when the one year anniversary of Bryon’s death arrived and knocked me on my ass.  For the first time in about 11 months, I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I wanted to sit on the couch and binge watch TV.  But I didn’t.  I got up.  After all, I had to take care of my daughter.

The one year anniversary was followed by what I now call the “five weeks of hell”.  After Bryon’s deathaversary comes his birthday, then my birthday, then the first day of the school year, then our engagaversary, then our daughters birthday and then our wedding anniversary.

They always say that the first are the worst.  And I got them all right away.  But now I think that I was in such a widow fog that I didn’t really feel them because I was still in shock about Bryon’s illness and death.

But I felt them this second year like it was the first time.  Again.  Except there wasn’t the 80’s and 90’s TV sitcom flashback blurriness.  There was no cheesy Saved By The Bell transition music.  And I am not at Bayside. And Mr. Belding is nowhere to be found.

When I was a brand new widow with raw emotions and a fog to protect me, I would hear more seasoned widows say that the second year was harder than the first.  I remember thinking that that was nuts.

But now I get it.

The second year is more real.

During the first year, I mourned the loss of Bryon.  I mourned the fact that I was only going to carry one child and that our daughter was not going to be a big sister.  I mourned the loss of our future and our dreams.

But during the second year, the mundane memories are flashing back to me.  The memories that my brain could not handle 12 months ago.  These memories are so clear and not glamorous by any means but each one of these memories stabs me in the heart.

The second year feels empty.

At every social event, Bryon is missing.  He was the life of the party and now he’s not there.  He isn’t telling stories.  He’s not making snarky comments.  He is only there if someone brings him up.  He only exists now as a memory.

At every daycare party I get to watch all the perfect intact families with two parents.  I get to see so many kids with their fathers.  Many of these families have a baby sibling that my daughter will never have.  All these perfect intact families represent the life I used to have.  The life that ripped away from me and I didn’t get have any say in the matter.

The second year is much more lonely.

People check up on you less.

In a way, that is okay.  Because most people only want to talk about how I am widow now and I am tired of that.  I am a widow all the time but sometimes I want a break from thinking about my misery and grief.  I only want to talk about my widowhood on my terms.  I generally hate double standards so I know this makes me a hypocrite but I had to be honest.

Though the exception to my hypocrite stance is when people ask my advice on how to help a newly widow person. I am always happy to help.

To be truthful, the loneliness is bearable. I am busy raising my daughter and working on my physical, emotional, mental, professional and spiritual goals.  But to me it just signifies that life moves forward for people and life with a living Bryon is behind us.

Sometimes I feel like grief is only viewed as two phases- the “raw phase” and the “healed phase” where grief waves don’t knock me on my ass for days at a time.   But grief doesn’t come in two phases.  There is a messy middle.  And that is where I am now.  I can talk about my dead husband to people in public and not cry.

But all it takes is one mundane, ordinary memory to hit me when I am alone in my house or car and I begin to cry.

 

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #5

Every Friday I like to say what I am grateful for from this past week.

  1. I am thankful that my daughter and I got to spent a nice fall day at a local farm.  We rode the “Pumpkin Express”, looked at farm animals and picked up some pumpkins.

  2. I am thankful that my daughter had a great three year checkup at the Pediatrician.  I am thankful that she is healthy and doing well.
  3. I am thankful that I survived my daughters Halloween Party at school.  I was dreading it because I would have to be around these perfect middle class intact families with two parents.  This is our second Halloween without Bryon and while neither of us particularly cared for the holiday, we would still participate in all the kid activities.  The first Halloween I was protected by the widow fog but this Halloween, I don’t have the fog to protect me.  In some ways, these moments hurt more now.

    But it is hard to stay sad when I have I am around this girl.

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  4. I am thankful for a family full of great people who invite my daughter and I to go out trick or treating.  They also throw a good dinner party after.

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  5.  I am thankful for the rain because I actually like it.  I am also thankful that all my friends and family in New England were okay during the storm.

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What are you thankful for this week?

 

Why I think being a widow sucks

  1.  I have no one to kill bugs anymore. 

    When everything happened with Bryon, people kept telling me that I was so strong and that was because I had to be.  That applies in this scenario, albeit on a lesser scale.

  2. Car maintenance becomes my responsibility.

    Car maintenance is not my strong point.  One time when Bryon and I were dating, I half-jokingly said that whenever I heard my car make a noise, I would turn the radio up and hope it would go away.  Bryon was appalled by that answer and said that he was going to take care of the car maintenance.  I was glad to be relieved of that responsibility and I happily obliged.

  3. Actually everything is now my responsibility.  

    I have learned that Bryon did everything.  The car maintenance, killed the bugs, took care of the yard and the finances.  I pretty much changed diapers, made sure there was milk in the fridge and did a half assessed attempt to keep up with the laundry.

  4. The empty bed.

    Some nights I just hope my daughter crawls in just so I won’t be alone.

    Or the cat.

  5. No date nights with my love.

    No more romantic dinner.  No more dances at weddings.  While I have learned to be a more independent person, I do miss these nights with Bryon.  And sure, I could date but I am very “meh” at the thought of dating.

  6. Being the third/fifth/seventh/ninth wheel.

    While I am so happy that my friends still choose to keep me in their lives, I always feel like the odd person out.  It could not be any clearer that Bryon is missing.

  7. Lack of sex.

    I supposed I could fix that problem but the thought of some strange guy touching me just isn’t my style.

  8. Having to troubleshoot any electronic problem by myself. 

    My cell phone was possessed.  I ended up just buying a new one because it was easier.  (To be fair, it was overheating too which I took as a bad sign).

  9. Being an only parent is exhausting.

    I know every situation with a single parent is different and some non widowed single parents are only parents and can relate.  But when you are a widowed parent, you are the only parent.  You have your kids 24/7.  They don’t go to their other parent on the weekends.  Between parenting, full time work, blogging,  fitness, housework, and dealing with grief, I am exhausted.  Then you have to throw in the new responsibilities like killing bugs and car maintenance on top of it.  I am lucky to get more than 5 hours of sleep in a night.  It’s a good thing I don’t want to have sex.  I wouldn’t have time for it.

  10. Single parent judgement. 

    It doesn’t matter how many stories I read to her, how many places I take her to, how many cute outfits I put her in or the fact that I am able to have her in dance classes and gymnastics.  People begin to judge every parenting decision you make and talk to you like you are ignorant and uneducated.  It’s like one day I was like all the other parents- married, educated and successful and now I am viewed as “white trash”.

    Just to be clear, I didn’t ask nor plan to become a widowed mother.  I wish I could have Bryon back.  He would put all those Judgey McJudedgersons in their place.  (Bryon always did that.  If I was being grumpy, he would say “Someone is being a Grumpy McGrumperson”.)  Actually he probably wouldn’t have cared what they thought.

  11. PTSD

    I generally process everything okay, but I know that if I ever date or marry again, I will always worry that that man was going to die.  It happened once, it can happen again.  Will I ever get to be carefree again?

    And while I generally stay calm in situations and get ice or ibuprofen or whatever, I worry about cuts.  Bryon had one infection after another and went into septic shock many times.  So even though it’s unlikely, anytime my daughter or I gets a cut, I bring out the neosporin and the Frozen band-aids because I am paranoid about sepsis.