Couch to 5k: Week One

Running has always been a part of me though my participation in running is inconsistent.

Why does an activity I love always get pushed aside?

Sometimes it is because of illness. Illness combine with my asthma can derail any training.

Sometimes my anxiety and perfectionistic personality prevent me from even trying.

I ran a lot after Bryon died. I completed my first (and only) half marathon.

I was trying to outrun grief.

Then illness derailed me.

And grief caught up with me. I began a new job. I stopped running regularly and I began to eat my emotions.

But the thought of running never left me.

As part of my healing journey, I have been balancing between the concept growing and changing and the concept of knowing the real me.

I having been spending times with all the various “versions” of myself. I have been trying to remember who I have been in the past and I have lived running throughout the past. I had goals.

And that girl wants to come back.

I want to run another half marathon.

It hit me like an epiphany- if I have want to run a half marathon then I have to actually do training runs.

The fact that this common sense realization came to me like an epiphany is a little ridiculous.

I need to actually run to complete another half marathon.

So I am trying again.

I might fail.

In the past, I was afraid to fail.

I was afraid of what people would think if I failed.

Why do I even care what people think?

This is my journey, not theirs.

If someone is going to be less than supportive, then their opinion doesn’t matter.

So this week I laced up my running shoes and did week one of Couch to 5k. I have had success with this program in the past.

I am painfully slow.

That always embarrasses me but then I am reminded that it doesn’t matter.

I am still doing more than sitting on the couch.

And seriously, the running community is one of the most supportive communities out there. Some of my biggest supporters are fast and competitive runners.

So I need to stop feeling embarrassed.

I did my workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I ran in my neighborhood listening to podcasts.

The first day I listened to Chubby Jones podcast. It was recommended by my friend Jenni at That’s What Jenni Said.

I have used this blog with two other random times when I have tried to get back into shape. Since the workout is the same each day, there is only one podcast episode which is repeated three times.

Chubby Jones chats during her podcast. She seems really nice.

But I realized that I didn’t want to listen to the same small talk during all three workouts.

It reminds me about the times when Bryon and I used to go to Macaroni Grill often shortly after my daughter was born. There was a waiter who has a son who was about the same age. He never remembered us and we’d have the same conversation every time.

It drove Bryon nuts.

I’m actually a little confused about that since Groundhog Day was one of his favorite movies.

Mike the waiter was like his own real life Ned Ryerson.

So Chubby Jones podcasts episodes are a one time deal for me.

The following two workouts I used the week one workout from the NHS podcast.

Laurie is a pleasant British lady who is encouraging and doesn’t engage in small talk.

I found both podcasts effective.

Stay tuned for week two. Please let me know if you are participating in Couch to 5k or another running program.

Are there any different Couch to 5k podcasts you like to use?

Advertisements

Only YOU know what’s best for YOU

“You can’t tell me what to do!”

That is the latest retort my daughter will tell me if she doesn’t agree with whatever instruction I am giving her at that moment.

She has also said it to her grandparents too so I know I am not special.

I know her teachers are working on independence and not being bossy in her Pre-K class and sometimes my daughter’s retort will be followed up with “You need to worry about yourself!”

I appreciate the fact that she is learning to set her own boundaries.  It is something I have struggled with my whole life.  But when I tell her to complete a simple yet essential task like “brush you teeth” or “put on your pants,” I tend to respond to her with “I am your mother and I can tell you what to do!”

My daughter is only four but I admire her ability to be true to herself.  I hope she never loses it.

Maybe we all need to be in touch with our inner 4 year old who doesn’t want to brush their teeth or wear pants.

ytd0v5

As far as I can remember, I have been the person who always sought approval of others.

It began with my parents.

I was concerned about having their approval on everything, even into adulthood.  While parental guidance is generally a good thing, it is not healthy for a grown adult to depend on their parents opinion to make every decision.

When I went off to college, I found another group of people to seek approval from- my friends.

My friends were good people but they obviously had a different level of emotional investment in me than my parents had.  My friends convinced me to get an eyebrow piercing.  This form of approval was much more exciting than my parents approval.  My parents never would have approved of an eyebrow ring.

I felt like a real bad-ass.  Me and all the other people on campus who had eyebrow rings in the late 1990’s.

SofAImUniqueJustLikeEveryone

In my twenties, I got involved in politics and I had tons more people to seek approval from.  I had to seek approval from my political party leaders, the leaders of any political organizations I belonged to as well as my peers.

I had to seek approval from the people I was allied with in whatever organizational politics were going on. The dreaded “politics of politics”.

(Bryon referred to it as people fighting over who gets to become the mayor of Candy Land.)

Candy-Land-Wallpaper-candy-land-2020333-1024-768

Oh and voters.

I had to seek the approval of voters.

I mean, they were the reason I got into politics in the first place.

1118145_1

Bryon entered my life during my political years.

1936021_117071967840_4536581_n

One of the things that drew me to him was his intelligence.  I trusted his judgment.  And I sought his approval.

Bryon did help me boost my confidence and see my self worth, I still wasn’t confident enough to make my own decisions.

I had trouble making simple decisions without his input and approval.  He used to email me at lunchtime about what I wanted for dinner in hopes that we could come to a decision by dinnertime.

original
Don’t get me wrong.  If you are in a marriage or a committed relationship, you do want to confer with one another about decisions that affect the both of you.  But a grown adult should possess the ability to make simple decisions.  The only decision I was capable of making was hot or iced coffee.  (Answer: Iced.  Almost always iced.)

But I needed Bryon’s opinion and approval on everything. The sad thing is, he spent years boosting me up and I was so co-dependent on him that he never got to see me soar.

Why have I always struggled with making decisions?

For me, I think it was due to the fact that I was indecisive and because I lacked confidence in myself.

The latter is silly because my gut is almost always right.  When I look back at things I regret, it usually starts with ignoring my intuition.  When I meet people, I usually feel good, bad or indifferent.  When someone who gives me that bad feeling befriends me, I will regret it.

It’s the price I pay for ignoring my intuition.

After Bryon died, I went through a personal metamorphosis.

When Bryon died, I wasn’t simply heartbroken.

My soul was completely shattered.

And when my soul was completely shattered, I questioned everything I believed or have ever believed.

I began to live my life more intentionally.

Life is a gift and I want to the rest of my years to be meaningful.

So far my widowhood can be split into three phases.

The first phase of widowhood was the “WTF happened to my life?” phase and can be equated to morning fog that is so thick that you can’t drive in it.  That lasted about three to six months and was full of sadness and anger.

35925288_10105539913735352_7442156851895992320_n

The second phase lasted until I was about 18 months to two years out.  It was still foggy but less so and it consisted of me actually getting used to the fact that Bryon was really gone.  This phase tended to be filled with sadness and emptiness.

Now I am two years into my widowhood “journey.” (Seriously, why do we call grief a journey?  A journey implies something pleasant and I would rather have a colonscopy than go on this “journey” again).

I am currently in the “Third Phase” which is the phase where I need to start living again.  It doesn’t suffice to just think about it.  I need to actually do it.

The Third Phase is lonely.  Everyone else has moved on and because I am not sitting on my couch, unshowered, and crying while drinking a box of wine and watching the Gilmore Girls on Netflix that that means everyone thinks that I have also moved on.

I am much better but I still have my moments.  Luckily those moments that cause me to tear up usually last for 2-5 minutes.  In the earlier phases, certain memories could have me crying for several days.

And a widow never “moves on”.  We move forward, but we do not move on.

But the Third Phase is also tricky because I have decided to move forward but I am trying to learn my way.  I am trying to figure out my new identity and acclimate to a life that is filled with just “my” goals, not “our” goals.  There is no “how-to” manual for navigating the Third Phase.

This process is very overwhelming.  My life has at least ten different paths I can take and I have to decide this on my own.  I have to decide which path is best for me and my for my daughter.

As I adjust to my new vision for the rest of my life.  I find myself falling into my old patterns.  I started to look externally for approval.

But that needs to stop.

Because I know very few widows.  At least “in real life.”  I am connected to thousands online but not many in my day to day life.

So that means most people, including my own parents, learn about widowhood from me.  Well me, and This is Us and the last fifteen minutes of the How I Met Your Mother finale.

c7d72c09f97d7fbb5a5b971cdf5c196a

But even if someone has regular conversations with me and reads this blog, they don’t get the whole picture. I don’t talk or write about everything.

There is no way I can accurately portray the depths of grief in written or spoken word.  There is not way I can convey the emptiness and hopelessness I have felt.  And I don’t try because no one would understand.  And they can’t understand it because they haven’t gone through it.

Very few people know what I have gone through.  And that, in itself, is a good thing.  Even if I feel isolated and frustrated, I am glad so many people won’t have to experience this.  I am happy that most people get to grow old with their loves.

Therefore, when I think of all these life decisions, only I know whats best for me.  Sure, my friends and family care about me and want whats best for me and my daughter.

But they aren’t me.

And I am sure they aren’t seeking my approval on their lives.

Only I know what is best for me.

And that statement doesn’t just apply to widows.

It applies to everyone, including you.

Only you have lived your life.  Only you have felt what you have felt. Only you have felt the depths of your own experiences.

Only you know what is best for you.

look-inside-yourself-for-the-answers-youre-the-only-one-who-knows-whats-best-for-you-everybody-else-is-only-guessing-charles-de-lint

If I can give you one piece of advice- this would be it

When one goes through a trauma and/or profound loss, it changes every aspect of your life.

It changes your daily routine.

It changes your sense of security.

It changes your health.

It changes you sense of identity.

Everything you have ever believed gets questioned and your life goes into turmoil.

During my time of turmoil, I have decided to question everything I have ever believed and there have been changes to my thought patterns.

I learned not to worry so much.  I can’t change my past so I no longer obsess about my past choices and regrets.  There is so much about the future that I can’t control, so I don’t worry about that.  There was no way I could foresee what would happen to Bryon and it happened.  I can’t control what happens tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.  I can just live my life and try to make the best decisions I can.

My tolerance for bullsh*t is so much lower, if it even exists at all.  I have learned that life is too short to deal with inauthentic people who have no regard for your feelings and are trying to make your life more difficult.

I had always been a rule follower.  Bryon used to give me hard time about it.  Some rules are meant to be bent, some broken and some are silly and shouldn’t be followed at all.

During this season of my life, I have thrown myself into a period of soul searching.  I have learned so much from reading books and blogs, from heart to heart talks with close friends and from watching YouTube.

I am always up for a conversation pondering the meaning of life and how to live one’s life to the fullest.

I am not a guru but if I were to offer one piece of advice, it would be that you need to love yourself.

It might sound cheesy but you can never be happy if you don’t love yourself.

Too often, we are taught that the needs of others should be put above your own.  Any mother knows this.  Our kids come first and we neglect ourselves.

But we are actually doing our children a disservice by not allowing ourselves to be happy.

If my baseline is to be unhappy, my daughter will pick up on that. She will grow up learning that you are supposed to be unhappy.

People often think that I am a happy person because I have a cheerful disposition.

I had them fooled.

I was never truly happy.

I have always relied on others to make me happy.

Happiness was measured by how many friends I had and who I was friends with.  For someone focused on that, I never had many deep friendships.

And when I was married, I relied on Bryon to make me happy.

The whole part of Jerry McGuire where he says to Renee Zellweger “You complete me” is complete and utter bullsh*t.

No one can complete anyone.  We have to be happy and complete within ourselves.

I grew up with very low self-esteem.  I didn’t date much and I measured my self worth by this.

I had one long term relationship at the end of college.  I often refer to this guy as the “Anti-Bryon” because they were opposites on many things.  The “Anti-Bryon” did not appreciate me and tried to extinguish my spirit.  Though I don’t think he necessarily did that intentionally.  I think he just vibrated on a lower level of energy.  When we broke up my Grandma Sullivan expressed that she was disappointed that we had ended our relationship.  She had liked him.  I told her that the Anti-Bryon had no intention of marrying me.  My grandmother just said “You’re right.  He didn’t have enough zip for you.”

God, I miss my grandmother.

Needless to say, I let how the Anti-Bryon viewed me to affect my self-worth.  When I am in love, I like to express it verbally.  (Actually, I am told I express a lot of things verbally, not just love.)  I would tell the Anti-Bryon that I loved him and he would get annoyed and respond with “random.”

And it was random, but I was expressing my love.  Which I feel should be done when you feel it.

If you express your love, the recipient should appreciate it.  I mean, as long as you are doing it in a non-creepy manner.  If you express your love to a complete stranger in a public place then that recipient would be justified for not appreciating it.  But if you are in a committed relationship, then you should be able to tell your significant lover that you love them, gosh darn it!

I began to realize that the Anti-Bryon was with me for convenience.

Eventually, I decided that I deserved better.  I deserved to be loved.

The Anti-Bryon and I were supposed to stay friends but that didn’t last long.  Our friendship started to take after our relationship.  As in, I was doing all the work.  I remember chatting with him on Instant Messenger in Late October in 2004.  I told him I was volunteering on the 2004 Bush Campaign and that I had just been diagnosed with bronchitis but I was still going out to wave signs.  I was excited.  I was telling him because we were friends and he barely seemed interested.  I mean, he also was a Democrat so that may have played a little bit into it.  But it was at that moment that I realized he didn’t even deserve my friendship.  That was the last time we spoke.

I dated a little over the next 4-5 years.

Whenever I let my guard down, I was rejected.  This took a toll on my self-esteem.

I got strung along.  Like on How I Met Your Mother.  I was always on some guys hook.

Then one day I said “F*ck it.”

Inspired by one of my favorite movies of all time, Kate and Leopold, I decided to take Leopold’s Victorian dating advice and not give a man my time unless he made a “proper overture”.

Enter Bryon.

Bryon did not string me along.

Bryon did not keep me on his hook.

Bryon made a proper overture and made his intentions known.

And we should have lived happily ever after and in some respects we did.

We loved each other fiercely.  We were good for each other.

But no relationship is perfect.

Our relationship was not perfect for many reasons.

One of the reasons our relationship wasn’t perfect was because I did not love myself.

I recently read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book , The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship: A Toltec Wisdom Book.  It is a continuation of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) which is based on Toltec Wisdom.  I highly recommend both.  (The link is an Amazon affiliate link which means if you click on it and decide buy it, I probably get, like, $0.04 or something.  Why not?)

In The Mastery of Love, Ruiz discusses how there are two people in every relationship and we are only responsible for our happiness.  The other person is responsible for their happiness.

In order to thrive in a relationship, one must look inward and be happy and complete with themselves first.  Ergo, Tom Cruise was full of sh*t in Jerry McGuire because no on can complete you.

So Bryon and I were in a marriage and I was expecting him to complete me.

I wasn’t happy with myself.

I relied on Bryon for my happiness.  This was not fair because he was not responsible for my happiness.  I was.

He definitely tried to make me happy.  He offered me the world and I still wasn’t happy with myself.

I know I frustrated him.

I was unhappy with myself and often, that unhappiness would spill over into our relationship.

Any other guy probably would have left me but Bryon made it clear that I was stuck with him.

I felt so poorly about myself that I never understood what Bryon saw in me.

I felt he could do better.

I can’t speak for Bryon’s half of the relationship and his thoughts.   Those thoughts died with him. It is easy to put your deceased spouse on a pedestal but I know he wasn’t perfect.  But I would love to be able to discuss this with him.

I wish he could see how much I have grown.

Though if he were still alive, I probably wouldn’t have grown.

But I can’t help but wonder how much stronger our marriage would have been if I had been happy with myself.

Bryon loved me at my worst.

My next husband will have the better version of me because now I love myself.

I just don’t want people to have to go through what I did to realize how important it is for you to love yourself first.

 

 

Don’t know where I am going

I have no idea where I am going.

I am still trying to figure out the person I want to reinvent myself to be.

I have no idea what the future entails.  I am not sure what I want from the future.  Bryon’s death has given me the opportunity to really think about how I want to spend the remainder of my days.

Because life is temporary after all.

If it were just me, I probably would have sold my house and would have had plans to go somewhere new.  Where I have never been before.  On my own.  But I probably would have wound up in Chicago or Florida because that is where one of my best friends and my cousin live, respectively.

But I have my daughter and it is important for her to have roots where her father and I had our lives.  And to be around those who loved her father and love her.

During my widowhood, I feel like I live in two different time dimensions.  The first dimension is the same dimension that we all live in where time moves forward in minutes, weeks, months, years, etc.  The second dimension of time is where the past is in the present.  The times that I try to cling to a memory for as long as I can because for that brief period of time, I can pretend that I am still in that moment and that Bryon is alive.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I live in this first dimension of time.  I am still here on Earth for an undetermined amount of time.  I want to make the best of my years here and do as much good in the world as I can.  I want to be the best version of myself I can be.

Because I can’t go back and be the older versions of myself.  And I don’t really want to either.

Even though my soul feels broken without Bryon, I don’t want to be the person I was before he got sick.  I didn’t know what was important.  I was selfish.  I worried about things that were insignificant.   I did not appreciate all that I had and I did not appreciate Bryon.  I let my fears rule my life.  And sometimes I just went along with things Bryon wanted because I didn’t want to risk an argument.  But in the process of not rocking the boat, I wasn’t always true to myself.

Going forward, I must always be true to myself.

Even if it means rocking every boat in the marina.

Death changes everything.  The timeline of my life has been broken into two very distinct pieces- the before and the after.

I can never go back to who I was when Bryon was alive or who I was before Bryon came into my life.

I can never go back and be the lonely shy child who grew up in the outskirts of the Boston suburbs.

I can never go back and be the restless teenager in rural Downeast Maine.  The girl who knew there was an exciting world out there and felt trapped in her small town.

I can never go back and be the girl who went to college but had no idea what she wanted to do.  The girl who had no confidence and was equally afraid of success and fear.

I can never go back and be the 21 year old who was spending a semester “studying” abroad in Winchester, UK.

I can never go back and be the 25 year old girl who had just broken up with her college boyfriend and who was working three jobs to get by.

I can never go back to the 27 year old girl who was involved in politics.

I can never go back to any of these versions of myself.  But I still carry something from each version.

The child version of myself represents my Boston Irish roots and my inner child who isn’t afraid to get creative.

The high school version of me represents my restless spirit that I will probably never outgrow and also reminds me that I love to run.

The college version of myself reminds me that I need to be more confident and not be afraid of my dreams like she was.

The 21 year old version of me was proud of herself that she went to England and got to visit London, Paris and Dublin.   She got to see places she had dreamed about for years and she got to experience a different culture.  Most importantly, she learned that “pants” don’t mean the same thing in the UK as they do in the US.

The 24 year old version of myself taught me that sometimes it is better to let go of something instead of chasing it.  You can’t make anyone love you.  It is best to wait for real love.

The 27 year old version of myself taught me ambition and how to get over my shyness.  This girl also represents who I was before I learned how to love.

And I think about everything I learned from Bryon.  He taught me how to love.  He taught me to believe to in myself and that I was worth nice things.  He taught me how to live life to the fullest.  He taught be to not be afraid.

It was because of him I got to be a wife and a mother.

I know that he is a part of me now.  But I still wish I could live in my memories with him and not in the present and future.

Turning a new page

I feel like I have just come off some sort of grief bender.

I thought I was in a good spot when I was coming up to Bryon’s deathaversary.  (My widow blog friend Lisa says it perfectly when she refused to call it an angelversary.  She said that even if you sugar coat a turd, it’s still a turd.)

But August 21st came and I was pulled into the strongest period of grief I had felt.  Sure, a year had passed but the fog had lifted. So the deathaversary made me relive those memories of Bryon’s death without having to fog to soften the pain.

The grief cycle was further exacerbated by the fact that his birthday was a week later, my birthday two days after that and our daughter’s birthday a month later.  

There also was our engagaversary and the excitement of my daughter starting her preschool year and a new year of gymnastics and dance. 
I tried hard to stay positive during these events because they are happy occasions. But it’s exhausting.  Grief is exhausting, period.  Especially raw grief.  It takes a lot of effort just to focus on life in front of you and not think about what happened.

For five weeks I have been in this deep form of grief. I haven’t written much in this blog because I didn’t know how to articulate this grief.  

September 29 would have been our fifth wedding anniversary.  It would have been our first milestone anniversary.  

I figured it was my anniversary and I still deserved steak.  So I took Kimmy Gibbler out for lunch.

Crab and Lobster Fondue
7 oz filet mignon. Side of Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes. Not pictured: Orzo Mac and Cheese and Haricot Verts
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean ice cream

The meal still looked pretty good in leftover toddler dinner form.

Now I want to spend the rest of year two focusing on myself and healing.  Not just healing from Bryon’s death but healing all of me. I have always suffered from low self esteem and have always hated myself. Bryon used to tell me that it hurt him to listen to me talk about myself the way I did.  But it was more important for me to keep hating myself than it was to stop talking about how much I hate myself in front of Bryon.

So it is going to stop.  I need to do this for me. For Bryon’s memory. For my daughter. I am her primary influence and I don’t want her to pick this up.

I do think I am off to a good start.   I have been surrounding myself with positive people who make me (and each other) feel good.  There is no law stating that if you have a negative person in your life that you need to keep those people in your life. If someone tears you apart- set them lose.  If you spend more time fuming about something a friend did than having positive experiences, then they may not be a friend after all.  Focus on your real friends. There is no room for toxicity in your life.

I am spending the rest of year two focusing on healing, gratitude and positivity.

I am also embarking on some physical goals.  I recently joined an amazing new gym.  Running was stressing me out so I am on sabbatical but will restart after I lose some weight and become stronger.  I also signed up for Macro (macronutrient) coaching.  I decided that in order to love myself, I need to take care of myself.  

So if you see annoying fitness posts here and on my Instagram and Facebook, I am sorry.  Actually I am not sorry. I need to be holding myself accountable.
I also need to do the things that I need to do to be happy. I need to learn new things, try new recipes, be creative, spend time with my friends and family and travel to at least one new place a year.

I need to do this.

Living without an agenda

I am a girl of a lot of contradictions.  I am part city girl and I am part small town girl.  I am a quiet introvert but I am also social.  I am part girly girl and I am part tomboy.  I am part homebody and part world traveler.  I attributed my contradictions to the fact that I spent part of my childhood near Boston and part in rural Maine.  But I have also learned that it is typical of my INFJ personality type.

Due to the contradicting nature of my personality, I found that I clung to the aspects of my personality that were more absolute.  I might not know if I am a city girl or a country girl, but I am a New England Girl. I love the Boston Red Sox and fried clams. My heritage and religion stayed the same so I clung to the fact that I am an Irish Catholic. I created an identity for myself and I stayed strong and true to this identity.  I have seen this referred to as a fixed identity.

I also liked to live within my comfort zone.  I did not take risks in my personal or professional life.  I worked hard and moved up in my career, but I never pushed myself to try something unknown.  I never was one to let my guard down in my love life and I would never dream of telling anyone how I felt.  I never would have wound up with Bryon if he didn’t take a risk on me.  

I lived my life with my strong fixed identity in my comfort zone.  I never challenged why I believed certain things.  I never left my comfort zone and therefore I inhibited my own personal growth.  I clung to my likes and dislikes without revisiting them to see if they changed.  I also chose friendships based on how they fit into my fixed identity.

I was a wife and mother.  I worked in healthcare data.  I was an Irish Catholic.  I knew there was a God and that God was loving.  I knew where I stood on the political spectrum.  I knew who my friends were.  Bryon and I lived a life where we had a modern view of traditional gender roles where we both worked, but Bryon did the work around the house and the yard and killed bugs and I changed diapers, made sure there was milk in the fridge and unsuccessfully tried to keep up with the laundry.  Bryon was a proud husband and father.  He worked hard to provide and he didn’t want me to worry about anything.   I worried about things that weren’t really problems, but Bryon always assured me that everything was going to be okay.  I lived a very safe and secure life.  I was happy with my life and felt no need to question my identity or push myself out of my comfort zone.

Then the crisis hit.

In a five day period my husband went from recovering from a minimally invasive surgery to clinging for his life in the ICU.  I was not prepared for this outcome.  We were at a large regional medical center.  Up until this point, I believed in the healthcare system and that it worked.  This wasn’t supposed to be happening.  

I didn’t know what to do. Bryon always made sure everything was alright and now I had to be the strong one.  I wanted to curl up and pretend it was all a bad dream because it didn’t feel real.  But I had to stay strong for him. How could I expect him to survive if I gave up on him?  I felt helpless.  I was at the mercy of the doctors and God, both of which failed us.  

I vowed to myself that if Bryon had survived, I was going to be a better wife.  I wasn’t going to take him for granted.  I knew that if Bryon was to survive that he would likely have some permanent damage to his body.  I started to think research who the best doctors were in Boston and New York.  Life wasn’t going to be how we envisioned, but that didn’t matter.  All that mattered was Bryon surviving.

For five months, I was at Bryon’s side while trying to make our daughter’s life as normal as possible.  The latter I was able to do with the help of my parents, the staff at my daughter’s daycare and my friends who filled in any child care gaps. For five months, I prayed for a miracle that wouldn’t happen and I watched him slowly die.

Enter widowhood.  

Widowhood is an ultimate game changer.

For five months, my life was mostly spent in an ICU room. For five months I listened to beeping machines and heard medical terms and jargon thrown around.  When Bryon died, I had to get re-acquainted to living in the world again.  It was a combination of widow fog and the re-entry shock that was similar to when I returned to the United States after studying in England for three months.

My life was permanently altered.  I had held out hope that Bryon was going to survive and now that hope was crushed.  It wasn’t like I went back to my old life.  I couldn’t go back to my old life.  Bryon wasn’t there.  He wasn’t just a detail in my life. He was my rock and our life was built around that rock.  The core of my life wasn’t just shattered, it was completely gone.  All our hopes and dreams were gone.  Bryon had spent years working on a career that would never progress past where he was in March 2016.  We were never going to have our second child or buy a bigger house.  We weren’t going to take the cruises we were planning.  Our life was gone.  My life was gone.

When Bryon was in the hospital, my only semblance of normalcy was my daughter.  I still got up with her in the morning, I still took her to daycare, and when my parents would return to Maine periodically, I put her to bed at night.  And after Bryon died, the only thing that kept me going was my daughter.  I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed all day, but I had to get up and take care of my daughter.  She gave me a purpose to live.

When you go through this kind of loss, it changes you.  I learned that I was much, much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.  I learned that I am smarter and more resourceful than I thought I was.  I also learned that my threshold for bull sh*t is lot lower than I thought it was.

I learned what it meant to have courage.  Courage to wake up in the morning.  Courage to move forward with my career with a new company.  Courage to let people into my life.  Courage to let go of negative people who were self serving and tore others down.  Courage to share my story.

I have always been an introvert, but I learned that I needed people, more than I ever could have imagined.  I am lucky because I learned that I had a strong support system who continues to be there for me.  Before widowhood happened, I was content in my own thoughts.  But since Bryon died, I can’t be left in my own thoughts for too long or they become dark and intensely sad.  I need my relationships to keep me positive and hopeful of the future.  I still think a lot and I read a lot but chatting with my friends keeps me balanced.

After a crisis such as this one, every core belief you had is questioned.  How can I believe that a loving God would do this to me?  I believe in God, or a higher power at the very least, but I no longer believe that He is a loving God.  That opinion always upsets people but it upsets me that people don’t sincerely try to understand my point of view before defending God.   I am beginning to read up on Buddhism and it makes a lot of sense to me.  But I don’t think I will ever completely give up my title as Catholic girl.  

While I don’t think I am going to switch political parties anytime soon, I get frustrated on my party’s view of healthcare.  But I also get frustrated with the other party’s view too.  Both parties play a proverbial tug of war.  But the problems in healthcare are not on a linear spectrum.  The problems run deeper than just access and cost.  Who cares about if it’s accessible or how much it costs if there is no quality?  But people can’t understand that unless they live through something like this.

I’ve stopped worrying about the small things.  I take more risks.  One of the worst possible things that could have happened to me did happen and I survived.  The small things don’t matter.  You can change your mind.  Most decisions don’t have a lasting impact. Most things can be reversed or fixed.  

My identity is not fixed.  If I remain open, I might learn new things.  I may meet new people who could change my life.  I could open myself up to new experiences, new hobbies and new ideas.  I could have undeveloped dimensions of my personality that I never would have developed before I was convinced I knew who I was and what my plan was.  I was so concerned about the next five steps that I wasn’t truly living in the present.

Now there are very few things I can say with certainty.  That I will live my life in the present and focus on what matters:

I need to live my life to the fullest.  I owe Bryon that much.  He gave me so much during his short time here and I need to learn from him.  

I am going to make positive changes as the result of Bryon’s death.

And that I am going to be the best mother I can be and help my daughter be the best version of herself.  

And I am going to love those around me as hard as possible.  

The Growing Self Blogger Award

I am honored to be nominated for the Growing Self Blogger Award by no other than the awards creator- Roda!  It means a lot to me.  I have enjoyed reading Roda’s blog and especially reading about her farm.  Maybe the next time we are in Western Michigan, we will take a side trip and stop by the farm.

What is The Growing Self Blogger Award:

“The Growing Self Blogger Award has been created to acknowledge and celebrate amazing individuals, in the blogging community, who are persevering through life’s challenges not only to GROW as individuals,  but to reach out and help others GROW as well.” ~Roda

How Does It Work:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank the individual that nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Describe the award and mention the creator: Roda  – Growingself.blog
  • Nominate up to 5 blogs.  Remember, the purpose of this award is to specifically celebrate those individuals that make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Give 1 reason why you nominated each individual.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

img_7849

I am honored to nominate the following bloggers:

*I understand that not everyone chooses to be a part of the award nomination process. By nominating the following blogs, I am able to show thanks and appreciation for the joy, knowledge and laughter these individuals have brought to my life. If you choose to take part, that is fantastic! If not, no worries! Just keep writing…