Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surviving ....

                                                   (picture from here)
..... is what I seem to be doing right now.
And while I am proud of myself for being a survivor ....
that job is not over.

I am still surviving.
It seems to be an ongoing action.
I didn't survive WWII and then it was over.

I didn't survive raising teenagers (not yet anyway) and then they're grown and on their own.

I didn't survive something that has a finite end to it.
At least, not until I have my finite end.

I am still surviving.
I managed to go for months and not think about the job of surviving.
I even managed to believe that the worst part was over.  That it's all down hill from here.

But then some people hurt me.
They hurt me a lot.
And now ..... I am back in survivor mode.

And I'm back in the "Jim would never have ...." (fill in the blank) mode.
Jim would never have lied to me.
He would never, ever have hurt me.
And if he had been given a choice .... he would not have left me.
Not even by dying.

But then, Jim didn't come with a ton of baggage at the age of 21.
Of course we both had our own baggage, but not a ton.
And we were both able to see our baggage and admit to it and we learned how to unpack it .... together.

It is now close to 30 years later ..... and everyone has baggage.  Tons of baggage.
Huge steamer trunks.  Packed to the brim.  Even if they deny it.
It seems that the people who deny that they have baggage .... are the people who hurt you the most.
And seem to care the least.

I am really pissed at the moment.
I am pissed that I seem to have gone about 2 miles backwards on this path.
At least.

I had been making progress.
Pretty damn good progress.
And then, one day .... I wasn't.
And I'm not.

I know that I will again.
I know that this tsunami of emotions and of missing him and of hating that this is my life .... will pass.
The waves will slowly ebb back out.
I'll start feeling more stable standing in the water, with my eyes searching the shore.
Searching for something stable.  Searching for a hand to be held out .... a firm hand to help me step up on the shore.
At the moment there are no hands.

There are only expectations from others.
It's been 4 1/2 years .... I am expected to be firmly on the shore, not being knocked down by waves and certainly not needing a hand.

I am starting to really hate these expectations ..... and the people who have them.
And while I would not wish this road on my worst enemy ..... there are some people who will one day be on it ..... and I hope they don't look to me for a hand.

But here's the kicker .... I'm certain that if they do end up on this road ..... and they do reach out a hand .... I will grasp it as hard as I can ..... and help them up a step.
Even though I don't want to.
Even though they have hurt me beyond belief.
Even though they have expected "more" of me.

The people on this road are some of the best people I know.
They don't have expectations for others.
They don't hurt others on purpose.
They all know that life is short, that most battles aren't worth fighting, and that everyone ..... every single person on this earth .... has something.

And every person on this road would selflessly reach out to the person behind them.
Because that's just what we do.
Knowing that there's nothing worse a person could suffer.
We reach out to those behind us.
Even those who hurt us beyond belief.

That's how we survive.
That's how we help each other survive.
Even if we don't want to.
Even if they don't want to.



  1. I am sorry for your pain in addition to the pain of is hard. I too, have used the word "tsunami" to describe the emotions of widowhood; people talk about it being "rough waters, or waves".....NO WAY, that is normal life, widowhood IS a tsunami!

  2. Janine, I am so sorry you have been hurt. Hugs to you. Other people's expectations of us are rarely helpful. This seems to have little to do with grieving and a lot to do with life. They are about what others want us to be and it is hard enough figuring out and accepting who and what we are without others wishes thrown into the mix. Cudos to you for recognizing where you are on the journey and where you will get back to. I choose to have faith that the right next person IS out there and that you WILL find him. In the mean time, take good care of yourself.

  3. Wow Janine! This post made me cry for several reasons. You are so very brave to write exactly what you feel! I hurt with you and for somewhat the same reason. Additionally, there are so many people around me who expect after 2 1/2 years that I should be rock solid, that it makes me feel weak and unusual. You have reinforced me and told me it is all okay. That while we take many steps forward, we will probably always take steps back.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Hugs!

  4. Yes.
    So - exhausting.
    There is a movie.
    The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel.
    IT will give you hope.
    About the second half of life.
    About joy and sadness and survival.
    I saw it twice.
    It is the first thing I have watched in ages where i thought - maybe life isn't over after all.

    Sending you a big hug Janine.
    And that person - they don't know what they don't know.
    One day they will know.
    And they will understand.

  5. Janine, it's uncanny that you have written the words to my emotions. I could not quite understand how I have been feeling the last couple of weeks and you just nailed it! I am back in survival mode again. Just when I feel as if I am beginning to get used to my life as it is now, a wave engulfs me and throws me back in the ocean. I reach toward anyone, and I have the same feeling you are describing, "aren't you done with this yet?" I feel terribly alone and vulnerable without my husbands protection. It's scary swimming for shore holding up your kids, your house, your responsibilities.
    And I too am beginning to dislike the people around me who have expected me to move back into my life and carry on bravely, but judge me when I stumble. I am not the same and I never will be that carefree, funny, easygoing woman again. I've crossed over. I know too much. I don't care about the stupid little details, never will again. Life is precious, shorter than you think, and honey, someday it will be your turn.
    Thank you for the reassurance that this journey is not going to be over until it's over.

  6. I keep seeing news on the debris floating in our oceans, that's how my life is. Unending debris from that tsnumai of death keeps coming at me. Others say "you look great", if they only could realize the upheaval that his death has caused, maybe they would be a little more sympathetic.

    Elizabeth, I feel exactly the same, I miss that carefree woman I was, and will never be again. Too many of my friends talk about the trivial details in their lives, so much so that I no longer can stand to be around them. They don't get it like you all do, thank goodness I can come here where understanding folks will really listen and comment.

  7. This really spoke to me today. I am not far along the path, only three and a half weeks since my husband died. I am doing ok most of the time, but not today so much and you are right. It. Is. Exhausting. And I will probably be better tomorrow, at least a little.

  8. Just...WOW.

    I've been feeling like I've just been surviving for awhile now, too, and like I've been sliding backwards. The way you described it summed it up beautifully. I wish I had that kind of facility with words. At the same time, thank you for putting it out there for us to see...and know that we're not alone.

  9. 19 months in tomorrow and I was doing okay until a few days ago and then an incident a few months ago started to haunt me. I do know that Keith would never have let it happen and I so miss his strength and support during this time. He would not have done what was done to me by a friend nor would he have permitted that "so called friend" to behave in that manner.

    Today I am feeling better than I was, but still not quite back to where I was before the incident. It's forward march though I did no wrong and for those that decide that a Widow is not strong then look out this one is stronger than before, lessons learned and baggage put down and a large amount of unpacking done there too. I am not going to lay down because someone else decided that my life as a human being is over. For them the tag "Widow" means you are just among the living dead, for me the tag "Widow" is a part of life's journey. I am not here to be picked at, used or abused by anyone because of my status as a "Widow" I am still ME. I always was a strong person when Keith was alive and the strength of the two of us was what kept us going through years of ups and downs, now I harness the strength I learned then to build the life I need now.

    Yes being a "Widow" is exhausting at times, but I believe I can also feel a sense of triumph now as I leave that hump in the road behind and move forward again.

    PS: Also left a huge load of baggage on that hump in the road

  10. Oh, Janine, I'm with you! My mother-in-law blatantly and intentionally went against my husband's wishes in how he was honored in death. She did it last year, but I just found out about it a few weeks ago. (Basically, my husband was cremated. My father-in-law died 3 months later. Because a VERY small portion of my husband’s ashes were buried with his father, she put a grave marker for MY husband at HER husband's grave site. After I BEGGED her not to. It’s in the town he hadn’t lived in for 40 years – his entire adult life. He did not want anything in that town. It wasn’t his home anymore.)

    I was finally sleeping well and moving forward, then BAM! I found out what she did. Now, I'm not sleeping well and I feel like I've taken a rather large step backwards.

    People want to see me move forward (so do I!). And I will get that forward motion going again (hopefully soon). They want me to forgive and forget. And I know that I need to, for myself, not for her. I've told them, though, that if I forgive her for this rather large insult to my husband’s wishes, what will she do next that I'm supposed to forgive and forget? That tsumani and its debris are swirling all around me and I see my MIL floating amongst it!

  11. The baggage...I think that is what those of us who were long married (to our first loves, high school sweethearts)have such a hard time time dealing with because we (many of us) entered our first marriages with no baggage or very little. We were fresh and eager to begin a new life of discovery and growth together. There were no eggs shells to watch out for or baggage to unpack. Just a bright future to plan, to live out and enjoy it well into our 80's. This will undoubtedly never happen the second time around. I find this so sad to accept.

  12. feels like you are inside of my head...surviving again...wanted to be thriving by now (7+ years out) but the ebb and flow...
    "I know that this tsunami of emotions and of missing him and of hating that this is my life .... will pass."
    I know this too, but still hate it...
    thanks for your words.

  13. You are so right! Even when I do not have a physical hand to grab onto, I can turn to the words in this blog to help me get through it! I thank God everyday for this blog!