Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Fighting the Old Fight ......
...... of feeling like a failure.
I have struggled with this battle off and on during the past 5 years.
In the beginning it was a constant feeling.
I was in such shock, depression and deep, deep grief ...... that I could barely function during that first year.
The second year started off with a diagnosis of cancer in January and major surgery in February. The depression only worsened during that second year, as I spent most of it recovering from that surgery and the pain it left behind.
Add that to the horrendous grief ...... and everything else I kept getting thrown my way ...... and I still didn't function very well.
I felt like I had failed everyone, but most of all, my children.
I still had 3 teenage sons living with me and they were grieving the loss of their father.
Now even on a good day, with no grief to deal with, teenage boys are not known for their eloquent communication skills.
Throw in the death of their father and you can imagine how much less they communicate ...... even with constant encouragement.
There were many days when it felt like I was the only person in my home who was grieving Jim. And I hated that.
I also hated crying so much and so often during that first year. I felt badly for the boys, having to see me like that most of the time.
I knew early on, as did they, that they lost both parents that horrible night in December.
But there was nothing I could do to change things.
I tried taking two of them to counselors, but boys will not communicate if they don't want to communicate (nor will anyone). The good thing that came out of that was that I continued to see the first counselor after she decided it was useless to continue to see him.
So she helped me learn how to deal with him, and how to deal with living through my grief.
There was a time when I felt horrible for how hard I had grieved, and how much I had not done for my children. I apologized to each of them, more than once, for that. I also told them that if I had it all to do over again ...... I would most likely do it exactly the same.
I lost my best friend, my husband, my lover, my protector, my confidante, my partner, the father of my children, the first and only man I'd ever loved and the love of my life. We loved each other "hard". And very, very much. And we liked each other a lot. Not every couple can say that. Heck, I don't think even 50% of couples can say that.
Unfortunately. That alone depresses me and makes me sad for them.
We were just approaching the time in life when we could do more things with each other ...... and plan trips we wanted to take after the kids were "out". The future looked wonderful.
And then there was no future.
But sometime last year I stopped feeling guilty. I stopped feeling like a failure. I refused to let myself go there because I knew that I had not failed and that I was not guilty of anything ...... except loving Jim with all of my heart. And showing our 6 children what it takes to have a great marriage. Not a perfect one, by far, but still ...... a great one.
So I stopped apologizing and told them, again, I had done the best I could with what I had. And just the fact that I'm not dead right now is proof of that.
The seven of us have survived ...... in spite of how each of us grieved. Or maybe because of it.
I'm not a failure. Even if a so called "friend" told me that I was.
Fortunately by the time I heard those words I knew better. And didn't own them, but completely rejected them. And her.
But this past week I felt Guilt trying to rear its ugly head again.
I was involved in a study that talked about how hugely important "the family meal" is. And how fast the practice of families gathering at the same table for meals is being lost.
And how that correlates with the rise in problems our young people are having. Fewer and fewer families spend time together at the dinner table ...... or anywhere.
I thought about how firmly Jim and I believed in the family eating together. He wasn't always able to make it home in time for dinner, due to the demands of his job, but he always made it home every Wednesday night in time. Everyone who worked with him knew that. They knew they couldn't schedule meetings late on Wednesdays, or he'd be absent.
He made it home for other nights, too, but Wednesday was set in stone.
And then he died.
And the family dinners have been few and far between. Granted, it's mostly been just 2 of us here. And one of us is in school full time, has a part time job after school and on the weekends, and also has a decent social life.
In case you're wondering ...... that would not be me.
So I went to this Son last week and sat next to him to ask him a question.
"You remember the family meals we had when Dad was alive, right?" Of course he did. Why did I ask?
"I just wanted to make sure you remembered. And that you remembered how important it was ...... and that you'll remember how important it is when you have a family."
These last two sentences were said with tears running down my face. I'm sure he thought I was losing it ...... yet again.
He assured me that he not only remembered, but did indeed plan to make sure his family ate together.
Which made me feel much, much better.
So even though guilt and failure tried to worm their way back into my head ...... I kept the door firmly shut. And then locked it.
I did the very best I could. It may not have been much, but it was all I had.
I had no handbook.
I had no warning.
I had no clue.
And I have no guilt.
If you do, please try to let it go. Don't take ownership of that horrible feeling. You don't deserve it.
You're doing the best you can ...... with what you have ...... and who you lost.