Monday, June 2, 2014



I was leaving the house yesterday when I realized, with amazement, that I wasn't filled with dread at leaving my cats and house unattended. After Dave died, I would leave the house and immediately my mind would fill with images of the house burning down in my absence, the cats unable to escape the fiery death trap. 

I would think "I should just stay home and watch over the last of what we had together". I was expecting it to all go away. I was imagining more tragedy around every corner. 

When I'd leave on a trip, my stomach would churn with anxiety. I'd have the distinct and disturbing fear that it would all be gone when I got back. 

Statistically, these fears are overblown. Numbers-wise, I should be fearing driving in a car more than my house burning down. After experiencing Dave's death, though, they absolutely make sense. 

Losing a spouse is losing the entire life you'd signed up for. It's losing identity and it wipes your future blueprints clean. It makes everything feel so impermanent. I hated leaving behind that which I clung to - the last few meaningful components of the little family we'd had. 

I felt unmoored and completely alone. I knew that if/when tragedy visited me again, without Dave I had no back up. The support was gone. If the house burned down and the cats died, I'd go on, but where would I live? Who would support me? It was a primal fear. 

I still check the burners on the stove twice when I leave, and I still imagine that tragedy will visit me again, because I know so intimately now that tragedy doesn't just happen to other people. 

On the other hand, the primal fear of it and the clinging, desperate anxiety of losing even more has faded in intensity. Life itself has taken its place. School and moving and loving someone else has taken up space in my heart and mind, squeezing some of the fear out. And having a partner again eases some of those basic fears of being alone in the face of more tragedy. 

But mostly, I imagine it's time doing its gradual work on me. To give myself credit, it's probably due in part to me, too. I've taken steps to do things that scare me and push myself out of my comfort zone, so the fear can't take hold as easily. I'm consciously practicing taking risks and watching as the world doesn't fall apart as a result. 

It's nice to feel as though there has been a shift in this area, and I'm trying to steer my mind away from the habit of worrying as I consider that I'm about to launch into a life where I have so much to lose again. 

I don't have time to worry as much as I used to. I'm too busy living. 


  1. It's incredible to see how far you've come. It's been a long road. Hugs from Austin.

  2. Again, Cassie, you speak to me and for me. I AM pushing into my new life and enjoying it. And I miss Wes. I know my sense of security will never be innocent as it used to be.
    I look forward to Monday and your posts in particular. Even though most of my comments seem to be hijacked before they are posted!

  3. I am having a bigger problem with anxiety since my life fell apart last July. This past weekend I attempted to go out for my first post-apocalypse evening of fun. Between the my-limbs-are-made-of-lead depression and my extreme forgetfulness, I was already in no shape to cope when my stomach started churning less than halfway through the first movie at the Drive-in. The fear of forgetting how to get back if I went to the restroom (I have a system of parking along edges so I can wander & find my car, so it was the fear of panicking.) and seeing someone who reminded me of the person I miss, had me in tears and in a bit of a total meltdown.
    Problem: My panic seems to have settled in my guts and the need to keep a bathroom close, as well as dealing with considerable pain, has curtailed my adventures-- and that is after overcoming the depression to even bother to try. My doctor is useless, so any homespun advice would be greatly appreciated. -Snowygirl

    1. Dear Snowygirl
      I'm a 6-week old widow and my stomach pains and anxiety were unbearable (lost 12 pounds in 1 month) my doctor prescribed 40 mg Pepcid to be taken every night and my stomach was fine in about 2 days

    2. Snowygirl,
      I have always suffered from anxiety and it's always manifested itself in my gut. The only thing that's worked for me is tackling the anxiety itself, though I take zantac occasionally and have just grown out of some of it. Although when Dave was hospitalized, you can bet I had to run to the bathroom frequently. If you haven't already, I'd start shopping for another doctor, one who understands how grief physically affects us (or at least wants to understand how it does). Anti-anxiety meds have worked for me, for sure, but I use the lowest dose I can and I make sure I'm getting plenty of therapy, sun, vitamin D, fish oil, and exercise first before turning to them. I've tried everything. Neurofeedback, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, kirtan, acupuncture, massage, etc. I think combined, it all helps me keep the anxiety under control as much as possible and at least I can shore up strength for when I'm triggered later. Like a few weeks ago, when I was anxious about my new love dying and was deathly ill all day with a migraine (intimate with the toilet that day, for sure). Hang in there. It will NOT always be this acute. I say, first of all, find a great doctor if you can.

    3. Thanks Cassie and Unknown. I realize that, whether I feel like it or not, I have got to get back into exercise. And I'll look up "kirtan" , check it out. Again, thanks! You guys are a great group. -Snowygirl

    4. @ cassie Thanks for all of your insights. I am entering my 2nd year of this involuntary journey. Versatility seems to end fear. We as a party one must become our own team. I channel the sage advice of my late husband, Tom, and my Dad for DIY problems. ehow is an amazing help also. Have a proper home library of fix it type books. I leave the kitty 2 dats food & H2O even though I leave him for hours only. This quiets irrational fears of worst case scenarios. Have learnt to keep 2 house keys on my person in different locations and a full length mirror in foyer for final inspection ,departing my home. In short, a "team" of one fares best if well organized. Being your own advocate is daunting. Love to all!

    5. Hello, oh I like yr post.. I've locked keys in car 3 times since his passing.. Had call aaa.. Once on vacation in someone else's vehicle..and the final inspection at mirror, so true.. Being a committee of one.. Oh many ways..God Bless u