My latest realization about this process is that somehow I haven't emerged (yet) from this tragedy with a more negative outlook on life. If I had, I think it'd be pretty understandable. And to be honest, I'm not sure how positively I'd handle any additional tragedy in this stage of the process. But based on the progress I've made so far, I can clearly see that I actually have LESS negativity than I had before.
I truly don't know how this is possible. I also don't dare to think that this state of mind will always be. One thing I CAN count on is the roller coaster of emotions this process entails. I might be able to say that I have a positive outlook now, but a minute, day, week, month, or a year or more from now, I might be in a completely different state of mind. However, looking at the past 7 months, I can see how hope was there all along even when I didn't recognize it. It was hope that got me from one day to the next when I wasn't able to sleep, eat or think from the shock. It was hope that things wouldn't always feel as terrible as they did in the first few months that kept me afloat.
And now, it is hope that keeps me from packing it all in and giving up. I have stubborn hope that there's more out there for me. More love, more chances, more joy, more excitement.
There is another part of me that will probably always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. After experiencing what I did in June, I know even more than I did before how bad things can get. I remember a moment in the car on the way to the ER the day Dave was admitted when I said out loud to myself "Lightning CAN'T strike you a THIRD time. The odds are in your favor". Whoo boy was I wrong on that one. So now, there is a tendency to think that the next tragedy is just out there, waiting for me. I'm sure that when (not if, WHEN) life begins to feel peaceful and joyous again, there will be a part of me wondering when the bad stuff will rear its head again.
But, somehow that pig-headed optimism that good is out there for me, has been, overall, winning the fight in my mind and heart. If it hadn't, I don't think I'd have gone to Camp Widow at 2 months out, or made so many new, wonderful friends, or taken a year off of work to sort out my feelings, or run a 5K, or gone to concerts, or considered selling my house and moving or traveled.
I could easily hunker down and isolate myself in my grief and opt out of life based on what it's dished up for me so far, but I haven't. I haven't settled for a restricted life based on fear and sadness.
This is not to say that decisions I've made or will make are not fear-based anymore, or that I won't do anything out of sheer sadness and grief. I know I will. I also am aware that I will look back on this time and realize that I wasn't fully emotionally stable yet and my mind wasn't yet fully functional.
But, upon reflection, I think I chose life much more often than not. I chose to live life as big as I could manage and plan to continue to do so, whenever I can.
Maybe this was partly due to my inherent will to keep going and kicking ass, but I'm convinced it had a lot to do with how my loved ones held me up when I couldn't hold myself up. Knowing they were there to catch me at every possible turn in this road kept me stronger than if I'd walked alone. There is no doubt in my mind that they were and are crucial to my survival.
However, at the end of the day, it's just me living for me now. The new me is emerging from the ashes. I keep getting little glimpses of perspective on how far I've come and how much farther I have to go. Even if I had spent the last 7 months hiding out in my house, it would be completely understandable. But I didn't. I didn't consider it an option. Some sort of blind and incredibly stubborn will to live kicked in and I chose life and all its inherent fears and beauty.
I am scared shitless, yes.
I'm also not done fighting. Not even close.
I will continue to emerge from this hell as a person who has not had her soul completely crushed. Bruised and battered, and continuously healing, but never crushed.