Friday, June 14, 2013

The Secret

I’ve finally figured something out.  I’ve struggled so much with how to move forward.  I’ve gotten stuck over and over again and then I flogged myself mercilessly.  I somehow am stuck with a stubborn commitment to the belief that the life I used to have will spring up and restart because, well, because of how much I love what it was –my wife, our life, our friends, our puppies, our future – all of it!  I struggle still with the acceptance that that life is now gone.  Crap.  I suck at acceptance.

However, every once in a while, I burst forward toward my new life with big ol’ confidant strides.  I can usually feel those bursts coming and I’ve written about them here on Widow’s Voice, but until now I’ve never quite understood where that energy comes from.  But now I finally understand.

The secret is travel.  Getting outside of my house.  Living outside of my comfort zone, my familiar paths, my pig trails.  Changing my reality, even temporarily.  That’s the secret.  Seeing the world, in all its glory, with people from different cultures eating different foods speaking different languages and trying to figure out how to use different types of toilets while I wrestle with the brain-melting hugeness of how big this planet really is.  This is it.  This is the secret.

Upon returning from each of my travel adventures, my path to move forward is crystal clear.  I know exactly what to do, how to do it and I’m excited to get started.  Then, that enthusiasm hits the goo that is sentimentality.  My hard push hits passive resistance from my heart.  Small but important bursts of forward movement happen but my progress quickly slows like an arrow shot into a tub of molasses.  The molasses of sweet memories win the battle and I’m stuck again, walking the same familiar paths and tracing the same pig trails.  Familiarity is comfortable.  Sweet comfort of days gone by keeps me stuck, reflecting backward, not moving forward.  But it’s different now.  Now I’ve figured out the secret.

I need to book a flight.  To anywhere.  Right now.  Who’s coming with me?  Where shall we go?


  1. You can say that, but it isn't that simple or easy to do. A lot to overcome for small moves and changes and dealling with it all..Just takes time..
    Peace be with you..

    1. I couldn't agree more. One little step at a time. Thankfully, there's no schedule or really no rush either.

      It took me a long time and a lot of difficult pushing to get to where I am now 4 long years.

      Hugs to you.

  2. I feel the same. I haven't had the money to travel since matt died, but boy am I looking forward to it when I do. Adventure always does that for me.

  3. I admire you for taking the leap, Chris. My challenge with this is that traveling is what my husband and I did together. Doing it without him, seems pointless for me. I've tried 2 beach trips alone, and once I came back early because I was so uncomfortable. I thought it would would work better, because Allen didn't even like the beach, and we had never done that. Wrong! I actually spend hours/days online planning trips to go back to Europe, to see some things we missed when we were there for 2 years. I never go through with the plans. Maybe someday I will. Thanks for sharing your stories.

    1. I totally agree Diane! My wife and I always travelled together. She's been gone two months from today and I have taken two international trips but I may as well have gone to the store for all the joy I have derived from the trips.

  4. I want to do this - and eventually will do this - but it will take me some time. Before I met my partner I did a lot of travelling around the world and enjoyed it, but always yearned for someone to travel and share with me these great adventures. Finally, I had a partner that was as excited about this prospect of shared travel (amongst so many other shared life experiences - don't get me wrong - I was very fortunate to find someone that we could share everything in life together and travel was just one of them) and we were just getting plans underway for my gradual exit from full time employment into sporadic contract work and then "off to see the world". That was taken away from me (us) with his sudden death 14 months ago - now I'm back to square one again - and it just plain sucks! But Chris, with your comments, they have helped me to at least contemplate that this might not be the way it has to be and I need to get out there again and see what happens - one small step at a time. Thank you!

  5. I agree with both you and Diane - I often feel energized when I'm off experiencing new places and cultures, but it's also somewhat sad because my husband and I travelled extensively (but never enough!). We'd been saving all our Amex points up for a big trip to New Zealand and now there are enough points but there's no Corey. I'm still going there some day, but I know the trip will be bittersweet without him. I think I'll use the points instead for an African safari.

    As for a recommendation, I loved Oman, Jordan and the UAE when I was there over Christmas. I'd go back in a heartbeat (although I might wait until fall)!

    Good luck with your travel plans and send us all a postcard from wherever you end up. In the end, a step forward is a step forward, no matter how small the step.

  6. I agree completely. I need to start planning something. Somehow when I am away from home, everything seems possible. Even if it is only for a weekend road trip. I have taken several small trips and a couple of extended ones. Each time it seems to rejuvenate me for a while. Just get in the car and drive.

  7. Chris this is so true!
    Before my husband died he gave me wonderful advice . .. one thing was to "keep traveling." Something we did together and loved. When he was diagnosed with cancer we had three trips booked. The first to India. We had to cancel.

    Since he died - I have taken five trips. The first to a place he would never have picked. It made it easier to do that. The next place was on his bucket list, he never made it so I went for him. As I sailed into the St. Petersburg harbour all I could think of was how he wanted to see the Hermitage museum.
    I took our family on two winter vacations. The other three I went with a friend.
    Is it emotional? Hell yes!
    The first trip I spent one full day crying. But it got better.
    I feel like I am seeing the world for both of us.
    I can relate to what you said about staying home. When I am here - alone- for too long the past seeps into everything and it makes me sadder and wishing more and more for the future we planned.
    When I travel I feel like I am moving - growing - becoming more myself.
    I am traveling again in August and September.
    I also agree with another post - sometimes just a day trip escape in the car can help a lot.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    We're with you -

  8. Name the date and the place ...... and I'll be there.
    I, too, have found that traveling has helped me more than I could ever have imagined.
    Ready when you are, Chris!

  9. Hey Chris,
    I agree with every word. Just got back from an overnight mini-trip that seemed like I was in Europe but was only an hour away. And yep, memories win again as I walk through our door ...until the next trip which happens to be Camp West!!
    I see you have a few traveling companions already lined up above...count me in and let me know where we're all goin'!! XO

  10. Chris, this is SO well written!

  11. Chris, thanks for the encouragement. I'll be embarking on my first big trip without my Dennis later this summer. It's also my first venture to Europe, with a long time well-traveled pal. I'm excited, but apprehensive. I hope it will help to refresh my heart and mind. But I know to be watchful for those emotional slaps that come out of nowhere and bring me to tears. It's only been 8 months and I want to bring some joy to my world. And it's a bike tour (rated easy!) which has the added benefit of getting me riding now, to get in shape. Even a short ride gives me a lift. It's good to give myself something to look forward to. Things have seemed so glum, and we all get that part.

  12. Ah moving forward . . stuck in the goo I am - it was just a year and everyone has told me it is OK to move forward but I just seem to wish it all back and want it all back so I am stuck remembering - thank goodness my 11 year old keeps me moving forward - I think I will try to take him to the "happiest" place on earth soon - hopefully it will be - great piece so well written and so true

  13. I loved this and thank you for sharing. I too find myself continuing to get stuck. Planning a trip sounds wonderful!


  14. Agreed.
    It’s amazing how we’re all so different and yet so similar.
    Travel to somewhere entirely foreign can definitely be invigorating.
    Life changing (on top of our already drastic life change).
    It feels glorious. It assaults all of our senses and can make us feel alive again.

    (I visited family in Switzerland for the first time ever, a year after Dave died. A newly widowed cousin there offered to travel through Europe with me if I wanted. Another cousin offered to let me live in their farmhouse with them on the side of a beautiful Swiss mountain if I wanted to. I soooo wanted to walk away from my life back in Canada and take them both up on the offers! But the reality is that after a year or so I would have to come home – with no home or job to come back to. And then there was also our dog... I still day dream about it though.)

    The problem with our comfort zones, is that they’re comfortable. Dang it!
    I feel like I’ve lost some of the enthusiasm I initially had to change my life and move forward.

    I think you’re right. I need another trip! Lol!

    “I need to book a flight.  To anywhere.  Right now.  Who’s coming with me?  Where shall we go?”
    I’m creating a travel bucket list – Western Canada, Northern Ontario specifically to see the Northern Lights, and I know this seems hokey to many, but camping in the Grand Canyon is also on there. It’s a short list for now, but it’s do-able, right?!

    Thanks for sharing the secret Chris!

  15. Hey Chris. Im the "other" Friday writer, and I loved this piece. Will you be at Camp West? Would love to meet my Friday counterpart in person lol. I love to travel, and cant do it much at all since Im very broke since the loss of my husband, but whenever I can, I loooove seeing new places and doing new things. It really does help, and then when you return, you get that "crash" and reality sets in once again.

  16. Great post Chris and guess this is first note for me since I agree with you completely. My Carol's been gone since last Oct. and have gone 4 times already and it is so easy when return to empty house and lot of stuff left not done you get back into the slump. We loved to travel in motorhome and or car,plane or cruise but was very important part of our 50 years so it will be continued. I always have a new book on CD to hear on any trip and find how so many life lessons just pop into those stories. Sometimes they hit to close and have to regroup but have found if you listen and at times I have to listen to myself but it all helps. I'm in Az. and should be in the Mountains or North at least since we are close to 30 days over the 100 mark. Plan a short one even 2/3 days can give you the change we all need. Dave Smith