My depression guides me to reach out for help. My loneliness guides me to connect. My fears guide me to act anyway because it must be important if I'm scared of it. Thinking of these uncomfortable emotions as guides helps me somehow.
Lately, when the depression has taken over, I've let it guide me to do whatever feels right*. I'm finding it easier to push against thoughts like "Distract yourself, numb yourself, don't lie around all day, you'll just wallow! Don't be lazy. Don't give in to the feelings." and instead do exactly what my body feels like doing. If it feels like rotting my brain with a Parks and Rec marathon, I do it. If it feels like cocooning in bed in the middle of the day, I do it. Get dinner delivered rather than cook? Yup. Leave the laundry and clutter and dishes until some unknown day when my energy returns? Sure.
As I succumb to the things my body says it wants, I realize more and more that if I just do what I need, I pass through the stage faster than if I push against it, trying to ignore the messages I'm getting.
Sure, if I stayed extremely busy I might skim over some of these feelings throughout the day, but they always return. I have to tackle them anyway. Taking them on, all at once, instead of one little sip at at time can feel overwhelming and scary, but it's never permanent. I always shift back to the world of the living. I always emerge.
Interestingly, when I do emerge, I feel like I've really conquered something. Not just the fleeting pangs of grief that poke through a busy day, but full-on Tsunami waves of loss and heartbreak, desperate fear and hopelessness. I realize that I did that. I got through that. The emotions didn't kill me, though they felt like they certainly would. They were actually thoughts about feelings and they were mostly about the past or future, not the immediate moment.
My immediate situation is hard, very hard. It's missing someone I spent almost half my life with. But it's also evidence of how much I've survived, how hard I've worked to rebuild this life and what a fucking warrior I am. If my thoughts remain on my current situation, I see that I'm not in immediate danger (though the anxiety makes me feel like I am), that I'm surviving, that I'm loving harder, accepting myself more, listening more, feeling instead of numbing, and getting up every day to at least attempt to face the heartbreak I still feel at every moment.
*I realize how unique a situation mine is. I don't have to go back to full time work yet, and I'm not raising kids alone, so I have the "luxury" (ha!) of grieving fully when normally I'd be filling my days with work and kid-raising. I know this is rare and I'm fully aware of how many of you have to work full time AND some. This is just my personal experience within this life of mine.
On the other hand, I've noticed lately that being alone is harder than ever, I'm more and more envious of families with children and often tears spring to my eyes before I know what's happening when I witness little nuclear families. I have less career-related motivation than ever and have a harder time figuring out what it is I even want to do with my life.
So, that's my reality as I begin year 3 of this crazy new life. It is a life so completely different than my former life that I often shake my head in disbelief as I look around me. Other than the love of my Dave, I've kept so little of that old life. In many ways, that has helped me move forward. A fresh start and new viewpoints were what I needed. On the other hand, the old life sometimes feels like an illusion. Did I imagine that? Or am I imagining this new life?
I just keep plodding on. My mantra is "Just show up" and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't. My other mantra is "He wouldn't want you to give up" and I can say with conviction that I haven't. Each day I get to wake up and try again, I do. All of us going through this can say that. That is our superpower. We keep going.