It’s been a long time since I’ve written here.
I sort of abandoned this blog a few years ago, when I really started to feel the effects that my years of grief had cost me.
I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write in this blog again. It started to become too difficult to see the pain of my early years. It was too easy to relive them again; remembering how broken I was, and how broken I still felt. Depression and Anxiety beat me down and I was unable to form a healthy thought, let alone a string a bunch of words together to make them sound like I knew what I was talking about. I was messed up. I had hit my bottom. I lost my mother and my husband within four years of each other, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.
I went to therapy. I made it a point to conquer my demons. I did not want to live under their control anymore. I struggled especially with Anxiety and the idea of leaving my children behind, knowing that the World they lived in was growing more cruel everyday. I felt as though I was cursed or somehow deserving of a horrible future, because all my dreams had turned into ashes before my face.
I was giving up on myself. I was desperate.
I used to dwell on the worst possible scenario all the time. I don’t really blame myself. I lost huge parts of myself when my husband and mother died. I didn’t believe I had a lot of things to look forward to, besides death. And suddenly I realized how real it could be. I didn’t want to die. Not when I had two little girls to protect and care for. But I couldn’t count on the idea that I had dealt with enough. Does anyone? I don’t believe in the concept of “Fair” as others do. I didn’t think I’d be safe from the very worst things that could happen and it was thoughts like those that destroyed me.
And I missed my Jonathan. I missed him like missing fresh air. I had nothing real to look forward to, and to be honest, I was just trying to survive long enough to see my children to adulthood. They were truly my only motivation for living, and continuing any part of this life, good or bad.
And through all my therapy, and experiments with chemical assistance, (SSRI), I only realized that there was no way out of my grief. I couldn’t wait it out and hope it would go away. I had to process it. I had to feel every pain, and experience every heartache. I had to accept they were all important. I had to validate my feelings because they were important. Jon was important. The fact that I was mourning and grieving his loss was important. I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t, anymore.
And still, I felt that I had absolutely nothing to look forward to, for myself. No love, no future, no plans. I just had to keep going. I just had to get up every day and mother my children, as broken as I felt, and then force myself to sleep at night, just so I could do it all again the next day.
I had conceded that it would always be this way. I believed that I would always be alone, missing someone who I believed I would see again…but only at the cost of losing everything else.
It wasn’t a way I wanted to live my life. I was tired of it. The fight was becoming overwhelming. My future was depressing. I had nothing to hang on to; and no one really cared anymore, anyway. Most of my friends were sick to death of my grief. I just pretended I was fine, because I couldn’t face the look of annoyance on their faces when I said anything about it. I was sick of it, too.
I was so tired of feeling heavy-hearted. I was so sick of being jealous of all the happy families I saw at church, or at my daughters’ schools. (There’s really nothing more discouraging than having other parents realize you’re a single mom at Open House) Somehow, my status made me feel guilty – like I had failed at happiness.
I was so isolated. I didn’t fit in anywhere, and I was tired to trying pretend I had a place somewhere.
In retrospect, grief felt very much like a long, dark, dirty tunnel. It’s low and underground, making it hard to stand in. Like the ceiling could push down on your shoulders, just for looking at it. I struggled. I drank. I popped pills when I could. I prayed. I stumbled backwards. I lost my rationale. I lost my temper. I was broken. I truly never thought I would ever find my way out of it. I thought I would always be there, stuck in a tunnel of despair, just trying to make the most of it.
Sometimes, that tunnel would bring a person along the way. They would be like water. A relief in the darkness, where my eyes would struggle to adjust. Sometimes, they would grace me with a hug. And I would remark to myself how wonderful it felt, just to be held for 3 or 4 seconds by someone who didn’t mind my broken-ness. Because when Jon died, all the affection he gave me on a daily basis simply stopped cold. It was gone, and people were afraid to touch me. I was afraid for them to touch me.
And I would forget just how wonderful a hug could be, until someone would squeeze me and remind me. It would keep me going. I would motivate me to not give up.
And I continued forward. In the dark, going forward to what I couldn’t see. I would keep going, for my children, my family, my friends. For myself. I never wanted to give up, because I can’t help but believe in the proverbial light at the end. It’s probably the best part of my nature. I am at my baseline, optimistic. Even in the tiniest way. There is a green little sprout in the bottom of my soul that believes it will all work out in the end. And if it hasn’t…it’s not the end.
And I prayed. I prayed and prayed for release. As a woman of Faith, I knew that prayer was my only lifeline, sometimes. It sounds very hypocritical for me to admit this, because I complained a lot. I struggled with my worth as a person and as a Christian. I questioned God, but I never expected an answer. He was obviously very angry with me. I must have done something pretty terrible to have to learn such a harsh lesson. And I accepted that because somehow it sounded more rational than possibly admitting that God had a totally different plan for me than I had for myself, and that I had never once allowed Him to manifest it, as opposed to what I went after.
And then one day….I found it. That light at the end of my tunnel. I can’t even pin point the exact day. I just know that I kept praying and kept seeking God, searching for a way out of where I was. Over the past Summer, something broke. Something let go of me, in a way that I hadn’t felt in over seven years. I started having panic attacks again, because things became very stark. I could see very clearly in front of me all the times that I let myself turn on autopilot and move like a robot through weeks and even months of time. I suddenly couldn’t do that anymore. It scared me, at first. I was hyper-aware of it. Who was I? What had I been doing all this time?? Why was I only just realizing this now???
But then it didn’t matter. As the initial anxiety began to pass, I realized that I wasn’t broken anymore. I was finally set free.
I emerged. It was like coming out of the ground in the middle of a cold, bright day. It both disoriented me and felt wonderful. I breathed in the clean, fresh air and I felt alive for the first time in seven years.
My heart is no longer heavy. My soul is no longer burdened. My smile is finally genuine. My future no longer scares me into hiding in my past.
I am no longer grieving. I am no longer sad. I no longer live wishing I could go back into time, if only for one day.
And it’s really weird. I miss my husband. He was my best friend. He was my favorite person. There isn’t a part of me that wouldn’t absolutely rejoice if he suddenly just walked in my front door like he never left at all.
But I am no longer broken on the inside. And I know I will see him again.
I am writing this because I want people know that I KNOW what grief is like. I know how it feels like you’ll never come out of it. I know how the idea of not grieving feels like the ultimate betrayal. I know how the pain is so bad sometimes, you wish you could get out from under it, and yet, letting go feels like you’ll lose their memory completely. I know.
But I also know, now, that it doesn’t happen like that. That you can miss someone and still be happy. I know that this Life has wonderful things to show you, as it does me. And I know that it’s possible to look forward to the rest of your life without feeling guilty because your loved one won’t be a part of it.
I am no longer grieving. And it doesn’t hurt to admit that. I will ALWAYS miss my Jonathan. Who wouldn’t? He was a WONDERFUL person! He was kind and compassionate. He was motivated by helping his friends. He was non-judgmental and an incredible listener. And he was the ONLY man who could argue with me, prove me wrong and I would thank him for it. (That’s a feat in and of itself!!)
I am such a blessed girl to be the one he loved for the rest of his life. He thought I was worthy of his children and his name. Having such love from someone is a beautiful way to live. It was a wonderful life we had, together. I don’t think he regrets a single moment of it. I know that I don’t.
It’s been almost 7.5 years since he died. And I’ve lived a lifetime of loss in those years. I’ve cried countless tears and spent more nights than I can count wishing he could come back, just so I could sleep next to him again.
But these days…I sleep well. I am consumed with my kids and their little universes. They’re growing up so fast, and I am so grateful to be ever-present as I watch them. They bring more joy to my heart than I ever thought possible.
All I can think is that…I made it. Out the other side. And I am happy. I am truly happy. I had a great love, and I am so blessed just to have had it. I thank God every day for it.
I cannot promise that my experience will be the same as everyone else’s or that everyone else will experience what I have in this way. But I encourage everyone to process their grief, no matter how long it takes. I know it hurts. I know that the hurt is the undertone for every thought and every breath. I know what it feels like to live as a ghost, with someone’s memory around your neck like chains.
Be kind to yourselves. Remember that you aren’t really going backwards. Nothing ever does and you will get to your destination. You will be OK. You will make it, too. Trust the process. The end result can be better than you imagine.
Maria – 9/5/2015