Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sacred Space~


Last Sunday 3 of our kids and some very close family friends gathered in Sedona, Arizona for my husband's first anniversary service.  We climbed partway up Bell Rock, which is a place where all of us had hiked together over the years.  It was a place Chuck loved.

Emotions were running high-how could they not?  I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but pretty much trusted my gut that things would work out however they needed to work out and that's exactly what happened.  We took hoops (yes, hula hoops).  The big kind, for hoop dancing.  Our younger daughter is a hoop dancer.  We took music.  I hired a professional photographer to mark the day.  We formed the hoops into a circle and stood within them and each spoke as they wished and I scattered his cremains from a near rise, letting them flow into the wind.

Maybe it was my feet firmly planted on those red rocks.  Maybe it was because the skies were so blue they made my eyes ache.  Maybe it was because the grief was so fierce that I could no longer contain it in my normal voice.  I just know that after I finished reading the poem he carried in his wallet (e.e. cummings I carry your heart), and started speaking about him, about this new life that I have to create without him, about my love for him and my equally strong determination to live loudly and proudly, my voice rose.  It rose higher and higher into the rocks around me, reaching into the skies, where I hoped he would hear me.  I wanted and needed him to hear me.

I'm here, D.  I'm here!  Do you see me?  Do you hear me?  I love you, I love you I will always love you I love you still I'm here and I can't stand that you're gone but I'm going to live since I'm not dying and the world will know your story and our story and I carry it in me!

All the pain in the world and in my heart and in my bones gathered strength in me and my voice reached up to him.  I hope he heard me.

And then.  And then we turned on the music and I grabbed a hoop and we danced while our sons took his cremains and climbed to the very top of Bell Rock, where they'd been with their dad in previous years and they scattered his cremains from there.

It was a sacred time for each of us.

No, the pain and grief isn't gone because the one year point passed. It feels as if it's settled into me in a way that scorches my bones from the inside.  I'm aware of it and I don't try to deflect it, or walk away from it or deny it. It's just there.  

And over here is Love.  The only thing I trust in any more.  The Love that will carry me forward.  Whether I want it to or not.  Because I must live, apparently, and if I'm going to live, I'm going to live more loudly than I've ever lived before.  In his name and in the name of what we shared for 24 years.

I love you, D.  Always will.  Plain and simple.  




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Respect


Or really, lack thereof.

I've found that in my after I am now less likely to persevere or pursue things when I lose respect for someone.  And it doesn't take as much to lose that respect any more. 

I've identified this mostly through my experiences in an online training course I started mid-last year.    This is something over and above my university studies, but something I'm interested in doing as a volunteer rather than as paid employment.

The trainer seems to not take into account any prior knowledge or experience, especially if it comes from a different sector.  In one assessment I got told I don't know what I'm talking about, never mind I worked in the sector for 8 years professionally and kind of know how the deal goes.

Then on another task, I get told to basically change my personality, which I countered at the time and received a back-tracking email from her. 

I've still not finished the course, and I want to, but this facilitator has really put me off. 

I hope to get it done, to pull my finger out and just knock it off by mid-year, but I just don't want to deal with her!

It keeps going on my to do list, and keeps slipping to the bottom.  Even doing the ironing takes precedence and I HATE that particular chore.

Thing is, I'm not alone in feeling this way about the course.  Someone I met at the face to face component is feeling similarly (and she actually works in the profession, just topping up her certification!).

Oh and yes, this other person...

Another widow.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Left Brain Right Brain


source

I felt, right after Dave died, as though the left side of my brain* had gone offline and the right side had taken over almost completely. I didn't think so much in words, but in feelings. I couldn't write or read and couldn't look at my phone, a computer or a TV. I couldn't translate information from them and didn't want to. Even through the overwhelming, searing pain I was experiencing, I was also peripherally aware of this change in my brain and completely stunned by it.

I had always been left-brain dominated. I think a lot. I think through things before I do them or say them. I have a running commentary in my brain. ALL THE TIME. Sometimes the thinking will become a loop bordering on obsession and that category of thinking almost always skews negative. I can talk myself out of feeling just about anything, even happiness. I am a champion worrier. Always have been. I've never known my brain to shift over to right brain mode unless I'm drawing or singing.
But Dave's death crashed into my system so hard that it knocked everything off kilter. My left brain, even when I wasn't drawing or singing, stepped aside as my right brain took over for the first time in my life. Feeling took over. Thinking complete, coherent thoughts became nearly impossible. I could no longer talk myself into anything. If I wasn't feeling it, it didn't matter. I didn't obsess about the unknown, worry about what anyone thought or about what might happen if. I didn't "should" myself or get caught in loops of worry about anything. It felt primal.

I just felt. I felt it all. I felt his absence, my numbness and then the pain unlike anything I've felt before or since. I felt the shock, the anger, the helplessness, the sorrow. I felt loneliness and love and desperation. I felt more easily connected to other people's emotions even though I was already overwhelmed with my own.

This period didn't last long. Since then my left brain has come back online, stronger than ever. It seems now that it's back online, it has decided that its job is to protect me from more pain by isolating me from any risk. Risking and change have been so hard to tolerate, though I've made a conscious decision to tolerate them anyway.

I often feel like a hermit crab who has just crawled out of her shell and is looking for a new shell. In the meantime, I'm more vulnerable than I've ever been, just a glob of organs and nerves. Raw and unprotected. All I want to do is find another suitable shell and stay there forever, safe from more potential pain. But inside that shell is a small, dark life that I vowed (when my left brain was offline) wouldn't be my fate. I'm trying to cling to that memory I have of my right brain mode, sending me waves of reassurance that while life was terrible and brutal, it was also worth it and so very short and that if I wanted to make the rest of my life worth it, I'd have to leave my shell and be very, very vulnerable.

So, I'm trying. I'm putting myself out there and risking pain and, to be honest, more ruin and heartbreak.

I will not risk a small, dark life either. I will fight against that urge to stay safe and immobile inside a shell of safety. I will try to be aware of my conscious and subconscious efforts to avoid risk and growth and keep slowly moving outward instead of inward. It's the path of most resistance and it takes all I have to keep moving on it. And I know that I won't regret it.

*There's controversy in the science world about the accuracy of the left brain/right brain stereotypes so I'm using the terminology because I lack a better way to explain how this has felt. It may not be scientifically accurate at all.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Imaginary Man


I am coming up on the two-year mark fast… in just a bit over a month now. And I'm sure this is how it goes for everyone, but the past 4 or 5 months now whole new levels of loneliness have started to creep in. A much deeper physical loneliness.

The loneliness of not having affection and physical comfort has become torturous this year. It seems to come in waves. For weeks, my heart will be consumed with wishing for someone to magically appear to comfort me. Someone that I feel safe enough with to just allow them to hold me. Someone I could let all my crazy out with and not feel weird. Someone who's shoulder I could cry on literally until I got snot all over their shirt and they didn't even care - just like Drew.

That's the thing, while I do miss the romantic stuff… flirting and teasing, sweet date nights, an amazing sex life… the stuff I really miss the most was just having that one person I could let all my crazy out with. And who could do the same with me. And neither of us was phased by each other's crazy. In fact, sharing those parts of ourselves was what made us closer to each other than we'd ever been to anyone in our lives. And it really sucks to have that particular person missing.

Now, instead (and I have never shared this with ANYONE folks…) I have an imaginary man friend. I pile up pillows on the other side of the bed at night and lay on them and pretend this kind guy is there. Sometimes I cry my eyes out into his pillowy embrace - which is really lame, since he has no freakin arms, so there IS no embrace. Like the desperate weirdo that I am, I imagine a fictitious man and fictitiously kind and warm and comforting conversations that we have together about how much I miss Drew. And about how much pain I'm in. And all of the other messy stuff I don't really let out with others too much anymore. And of course all the while, I feel like a lunatic.

I don't know if other people do things like this. I suppose it's not that weird. I had an imaginary friend when I was a child in the years after my mom died - the really hard years. He helped me through a lot, and made me feel less alone. So I guess I've just kind of reinstated the imaginary friend in some form. Weird or not, it really does help. Even though it may just be a pile of pillows and all pretend... sometimes it's helps me to pretend someone is there with me, instead of focusing on how alone I am. No, it's not the same as literal physical touch and a real person by my side. Not even close. But it helps me to take my mind off of that a little, and somehow makes me really feel less alone.

For now, that works for me. It's really all the man I can handle anyway - as I'm still far far too freaked out by the concept of actually letting a real man into my life in any sort of close way, even as a close friend. I think that maybe imagining myself being comforted might help me to slowly open back up to the idea of allowing someone real into that space again one day… when its right.

Am I alone here? Anyone else out there got themselves a pillow man or woman? God, please tell me I'm not the only one and you all think I'm nuts…


The Difference Between ......

                                                                   source

...... here and there.

"Here" is where most of you are.  Drowning in grief, gasping for air and fighting to just keep your nose above the pain that threatens to pull you down.

"There" is where most people see us after a couple of years of grief.  Including some of us.
"There" is where we've "moved on", graduated,  and have found a new and wonderful life.
"There" is a mythical place.
You need to know that.

I am almost 6 1/2 years out (at some point you stop counting in months, just as you did when your children reached 2).
It's been a very, very long road.  The first part of the road was by far the hardest.  It was chock full of tsunamis and undertow and hurricanes.  I felt that I barely survived one massive wave, only to be knocked down by another.
There were many times that I almost gave up, let the fierce pull of grief pull me under and out to the sea.
But I didn't.

So now I'm "there".
Wherever "there" is.

It's been a fluid year here on "Widow's Voice".  Those of you who've been here for a while have seen a lot of changes.  We've never had this many changes in so short a time before.  You've seen quite a few writers leave, and watched new ones step in.
Change is hard for widowed people.  We've already experienced the most massive change of our lives, we don't want any more, thank you very much.

But change is a fact of life.
Just as death is.

Life moves forward, children grow, friends go, new friends enter, and years march forward.
Situations change, sometimes forcing us to change with them.
But being widowed doesn't change.
It's a part of us and will always be a part of us.
How we handle it changes.
How we handle the waves and undertow changes.
But we never "graduate" to a perfectly calm and wave-free world.

That's not why writers leave.
Yet that's how we appear to react.
We congratulate them for being "there".
We praise them for moving on, for being able to leave this behind them.
For ...... being done with being widowed.
Or so it seems.

I wish it were that easy.

We are never done.
We are never "there".

Yes, we gain strength over the years.
Strength that makes us able to withstand the waves and the undertow.
But they still come.
It just takes more to knock us down.

Writers leave because situations change, whatever they are.
Sometimes our workload changes.  Sometimes our home life changes, forcing us to focus more on that area than on writing.

Sometimes, a lot of times, we run out of things to say.
That doesn't mean we're done.
It just means that it's time for someone else.

And that, my friends, leaves shoes to fill.
A very difficult task.
Because we are a varied group.
Some of us are only weeks out on this road.
Some of us are years out.

And we all want someone to connect with.
Someone who mirrors us and our current situation.
When we're only months out, we want someone who can write about the cold, dark and painful place where we reside.  In fact, those are the posts that get the most comments.
The painful posts.

When we're a few years out, we want someone who's made it past that point and can show us the light at the end of the tunnel, wherever that is.

It's hard to find a writer who will please everyone.
In fact, it's impossible to find a writer who will please everyone.
That's the nature of the beast.
The beast, being life.

Sometimes it's just plain difficult to find a writer.
We are a large group, getting larger every day, unfortunately.
But we're not an easily accessed group.  And it's difficult to find someone who we think will fit.
The smaller the niche, the harder to find (like writers who are widowers!).

But we'll keep searching.
And we know, that although change is difficult for us, we are a group that's full of compassion and empathy and love.
All of the writers have felt that.
And we know they'll continue to feel it.

Even if they never get to "there".






Friday, April 25, 2014

Cowardly "Friends"

People on social media are always passing around these stories about very old, married couples, who die within days of one another, at the age of 92 or something, because they simply could not live without the other person for one more second. "Isn't that so beautiful?", they ooohhh and aaahhhh. "She died, and then he couldn't bear to be without her for even 48 hours, so he died too. It's so sweet!" And yes, it is sweet.

However, why do people go all wacky for these stories about people they don't even know, yet whenever I express how difficult it is to live my life without my husband on this earth with me; or say that, yes, I still miss him and love him and always will, and that I will move forward but never move "on", and I will carry him in my heart and find ways to honor him because he is a part of me forever - some people get all uncomfortable and creeped out. Really? So if you're 90 years old and about to die, then it's sweet and wonderful and amazing. But if the love of your life is taken from you by sudden death when you are 39 and in the beginning years of your marriage, somehow it is strange that you would still be in love with this person who you were planning on spending your life with??? No. I'm sorry. I don't buy it.

I am getting really tired of being constantly judged by people who have absolutely no clue what it is to lose your partner - no idea of the road I travel. Earlier today, some coward posted an anonymous comment on my comedy You Tube channel, calling me "sad" and "pathetic" because I'm "in love with someone who isn't even alive anymore" and "still haven't moved on from this." They wrote, among other things, that it is really "unfortunate" what happened to me, but that "we all have problems" and I am "making this the focal point" of my life. They also said that they found it "tacky" that I would "use my husband's death" to write a book and to "get material for comedy sets." Here is the best part: this person, who wrote these vile and nasty and off-base comments, claimed to be "a friend" who is "just looking out for me and concerned, and posting anonymously so you won't be upset with me." Right. Because why on earth would I ever be upset that someone would accuse me of using my husband's death for some sort of - I don't even know - gain? Honestly, it hurts and stabs my heart just to type that thought. This person's comments on my page left me a bit shaky, and completely speechless. I just don't get it. I truly don't. I don't get how a person can be so judgmental of a path they have never walked. I don't understand why someone would go out of their way to write this to me - to hurt me on purpose that way. Why? What is the point?

 The thing that baffles me the most, though, is how anyone can find the idea of loving someone until forever, to be sad and pathetic. I will love my husband forever. And if there is such a thing as longer than forever, I will love him then too. I will also do my best to create a life for myself and to live that life - a life that has been severely altered and changed by his death. The fact that I will love my husband beyond the end of time - is not sad. It is goddamn beautiful. It is beautiful to take something as horrible and painful as a death, and with it, carve out pieces of comedy and joy and raw truth and life and hope. I mean - truly - what is more meaningful and beautiful than that? I choose to take the love with me. The person has died, yes. Our love will not die. Not ever. I get to carry the love with me. All of it. It is mine and it lives forever, echoing in each breathe. And when I die too - even when I die - the love that I have for my husband and the love that he has for me - will live on, even then. With love, there is no death. Only more love.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thanks for all the fish....



The time has come for me to step down from writing here at WV.

I am honoured to have been a part of this wonderful resource and to have felt the love of so many who have connected with me through this medium. 

It is hard to let go - this platform has been one of the most important ways I have walked myself through this grief.  I have shared my ups and downs with you and you, in turn, have let me know I am not alone.

I remember how I felt when I first started writing - I had been pouring my pain into my own blog when Michele asked me to write here.  WV was to be a different way of writing as I was no longer writing Letters to my Husband, but I was writing about myself, my life, my now.

Ultimately, that change in writing style has seen me more closely examine my own feelings and name them for what they were: desolation, depression, desperation, despair.

But in recognising how I felt each week, I have been able to track those feelings over time.

There are times when I still feel the dark, mawing pit seething in front of me, trying to draw me down into its cavernous bowels ..... but now, more often than not, I am noticing other feelings that outweigh them.

Last week I wrote about the happiness that has come to be part of my life.
I have raised my eyes from my feet and have seen that my life is not over: that I have to live because I didn't die.

I have felt the love of my husband continue after his death and this love has given me the confidence to make a better life for my children and I.  ....and that's what I have been doing.

..... and ever so slowly, this new life is taking shape.

It's not the shape I wanted my life to be, but it is new and different and a tiny bit magnificent.

So it is time for me to say So Long- and thanks for all the fish (because you all should know by now what a massive geek I am and I would just have to use a HHGTTG quote somewhere in here).


....and so it falls on me to introduce my replacement here on WV. 

Please welcome Stephanie to the fold and shower her with the kindness and understanding that you have given me.....




Stephanie was widowed in February of 2013 after her husband of nearly 14 years, Mike, had a heart attack in his sleep at age 59. Only 44 at the time, she has spent the past year obsessively writing about her husband, her grief, and the difficult task of recreating her future. Stephanie is originally from the Washington, DC area but moved to Hollywood after college to work as a special FX artist. She met her husband, who was a stuntman, there in 1999. They moved to Hawaii in 2001, where for four years, they ran a martial arts/yoga school. They closed the school when Mike got the job as stunt coordinator for the TV show "Lost". Stephanie worked as the personal assistant to a physicist for several years, and then - now, ever so gratefully - spent a couple of years in quiet retirement with Mike before he died. She feels it is the exact right time for her to start connecting with other widows, and sharing stories of grief and personal transformation. Her first post will be on May 1, which was the day she and Mike first got engaged in 1999.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 21 of this year marked one year mark for me since my beloved husband Chuck died.  It wasn't harder than any other day has been since he died-just more concentrated as far as impossible memories.

I'm in Arizona with my kids.  Our younger son and his lovely girlfriend came from Connecticut to join me and another son and our younger daughter in a remembrance of love. My niece came in from a trip through Southeast Asia.  So I had lots of family around.

You know how suddenly the feelings will just not be contained any longer?  And they spill out in tears and shakes and moans and horror?  Yeah, that was me on the 21.  Which is something we've all experienced but maybe you haven't experienced the beauty of how it happened for me.

So often, people stumble to say and do the right thing when someone they love is grieving.  They try to fix it, to make them feel better.  It doesn't work but they don't know what else to do.  So, let me share with you how the young people around me were the perfect picture of compassion as I lay there on the floor, almost but not quite in a fetal position, the grief overpowering my body and mind and heart and soul.

My sons and my soon-to-be daughter-in-law and my niece sat with me on the floor as I sobbed out my agony.  They didn't sound off with cliche's, they didn't try to make me stop crying, they didn't try to talk me out of it.

Here's our hope for the future of grieving that these young people in my life are already practicing.    They pressed kleenex into my hand not for stopping the tears but for mopping the tears.  They put a glass of water on the floor next to me and reminded me it was there to replenish my body so that I could cry the necessary tears.  They helped me steady the glass as I drank because my hands were shaking so.  They gently held my hands which were covering my head as I tried to squeeze the pain out.  They quietly leaned into me as the pain poured from my eyes and spoke how cleansing it was for me to be letting my soul bleed in such a way and they were envious of my ability to do so.  They asked me if I would like a pillow to rest my head upon as I cried.  They sat with me.  They touched my back or my hair or my arm, so gently.  They listened to me as the grief spewed from me and their love for me became tangible and got caught in the corners and crevices of pain and overwhelmed it.

This, I say to everyone out there who wonders what to do and how to do it...this is how to be with someone in grief.  Even in the midst of my grief, I recognized the gift they were giving me.

Since my husband's death, I've striven to keep grief and love balanced.  On the one year mark of his anniversary, the bucket of Love could no longer be contained and it tipped into the bucket of grief and mingled with it and became more than.  More than.

I don't know how this next year will play out.  Honestly, I don't see even into tomorrow.  No expectations.  But this I do know.  Whatever grief there is will always, always, always, be balanced by the hugeness of the Love that is in my life and the love that continues to grow.

Grief and Love and Compassion and young people who instinctively know how to be with all three.

Our future is in very good hands.  Because these young people know Love~




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

GAHHHHHH



I'm sitting here, drinking my morning coffee, and finally realised what day it is.

Well over 12 hours since my post was supposed to go live.

AND when I remembered this, I actually wasn't 100% sure if I had, or had not, done a post.  I had to check on the back end of the site.

When I went to bed last night, I'd felt like I had a productive day - started clearing in the garden to make a new veggie patch, got a ton of laundry folded and away, plus another load done, caught up on some reading, paid some bills. 

I also took my son to his first toddler circus skills class.

It's just my post that wasn't done yesterday - and honestly, it wasn't even on the radar.  Even though "Circus" is on "Tuesdays", I didn't even think about it.

For this reason, I hate public holidays and long weekends especially.

I struggle to remember what day it is at the best of times... public holidays make it that much worse.

But it's not the first thing I've completely forgotten in recent weeks.

I forgot to do an online test for school two weeks ago.

I hope there's not too much more to come...  These two forgotten things are pretty important.

Now I need to go and pay some attention to a clingy toddler who has been demanding attention by using me as a climbing frame as I write (ahhh peace; thank you Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom).

And write a to do list so I reduce the risk of forgetting anything else.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Depression Lies

source


I took on a lot at once. School, a new relationship, a few new outdoor sports and hobbies, and as always, the constant urge to reinvent myself to be better, better, better.

This urge comes thanks to my own particular genetic makeup and my childhood combined. If I can be better, I can be more lovable. If I can be more lovable, I won't be alone. That is the drive that almost constantly steers me toward improvement and overdoing it.

I recently went to the Portland Tedx Talks for the second time and the side effect I left with again was the feeling of not good enough. Those people who spoke onstage were wonderful and inspiring and yet my takeaway is I'm not good enough and I'd better start working on improving since I have such a long way to go. I'm not brave enough, or strong enough, or smart enough or passionate enough.

Along with all the not good enoughing myself and everything else I've taken on in my life, I decided to try reducing (very slowly) my anti-depressant dose (not my smartest decision in recent times!) I'd been at 25 mg for a few weeks when I hit a wall. Everything seemed hopeless, irritability was sky high and everything felt personal and hurtful. Overwhelm was the word and the emotion that kept slamming around in my brain. I've had to put on the breaks and go back to basics. Back up to 50 mg, and eventually maybe 100 again. More alone time to recharge, more exercise, more self-care, and much less self improvement.

How could I forget for one second how much Dave's death leveled me? How could I lose sight of how much rebuilding takes out of me? How intense it is, just on its own? How could I think that I could be the way I used to be when the way I used to be is extinct? I feel robbed. I hate that I'm this delicate, vulnerable, exhausted, overwhelmed person now. I fear I'll never be able to be a mom or be a healthy partner for my guy. How could I possibly handle all of that?

I'm guessing that after a few weeks at a higher dose of meds I'll begin to feel more capable and less overwhelmed and hopeless. I'm also guessing that the lack of serotonin in my brain is the reason for my thoughts of my own hopelessness and not a reflection of the truth.

 I'm trying to reach back in my memory for times when I felt more balanced to access those thoughts too. The thoughts I have in a depression are usually terrible lies and not to be trusted. They feel so true, though. They make giving up seem so reasonable and sensible.

Hopelessness and apathy are easy to lean into. Hope and joy are so hard to access. I'm looking forward to the days when they are easier to find. They'll be back. I know that.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Strength Among Women.

Source

The above picture is a specific shot of the Sex and the City girls that my girlfriends and I send to each other when we miss each other or just need a smile. It is - like the show is for us - a reminder that thru thick and thin, life and love and illness and death, it is your girls who were there for you. I'm sharing it because I was reminded of that tonight.

On this pre-Easter evening, I would like to say,  I really hate being vulnerable. I mean, doesn't everyone? It's definitely not the best feeling out there. Tonight, I felt so completely vulnerable. It's the evening before Easter - my in-laws are having a big party at the ranch. We are grilling and cooking up a ton of good food. I spend the whole day in the kitchen with my mother-in-law… partly because I really enjoy helping her out on these kinds of days and partly because just keeping busy with helping keeps my mind off the obvious person missing. So really, for the most part, I made it through the day alright. I made this amazing lemon-lime bundt cake that was "to die for" (I always feel odd saying that now). But the sadness was underlying. And eventually after dinner and several beers… the flood gates opened. Everyone was out back playing ping pong - I could hear them loudly cheering and laughing over the game and the country music. Laughter. That kind… you know, the kind we used to all enjoy? Yeah.

I snuck out to sit on the front porch. Alone. Crying in my beer. And looking at pictures of my fiancé and I on my phone. And crying some more. And wishing that someone would notice right away when I wasn't there, and would come to check on me. The way he used to when I needed it most. Wishing I was the center of anyone's universe like that again. Or that someone would just happen to come outside and notice me there and sit down beside me to be my friend. But no one came… except one person who walked right past, ignoring me. Which as you know, feels even worse than no one coming at all. And so I sat there more and more alone - just me, the glow of the porch light, and the june bugs occasionally thwacking into my back. I cursed aloud to… what? Someone. Something. My life. My stupid emotions. Him being gone. My pathetic desire to have someone rescue me. All of the above.

Eventually… I texted a few of my girlfriends. My best friend. And one of my also-widowed girlfriends. And my old high school girlfriend. It turned out we were all having pretty emotional nights for entirely different reasons. My best friend has just found out that this guy she really likes who she's been on several dates with is still hung up on an ex. My high school friend is pretty sad because her best friend just moved really far away, she just broke up with her boyfriend, and she had to move back in with her parents to boot. I really wish none of us had been going through any of that crap tonight… but you know, it helped to know I wasn't alone. Even though their situations were very different, that didn't matter. Tonight… each one of us was in need of someone to be there for us and console us and love us. Each of us wanted that someone to be a man, and each of us didn't have that. So we turned to each other. And we found exactly what we needed in each other. Love. And support. And understanding. And a warm welcome that will always be there. And a powerful "I've got your back, you are amazing and don't forget it" sort of feeling that we all needed.

I didn't used to be very close to any of my girlfriends. Many years ago, I had a really hard time connecting with women and I kept my distance from them for the most part. Losing my fiancé has changed that world so entirely for me. I have come to rely on the women in my life in such a deep and powerful way. No matter what our situations or differences… when we are in pain, and we share that with each other, there is a sacred bond of holding each other up that occurs. Its like this unspoken code that all women seem to abide by. And it only occurs when we take the risk to be fully vulnerable with each other.

For the past month or so, I've been resisting taking that risk. It's so easy to do… to try and avoid being truly vulnerable - even with my closest girlfriends - because I just don't want to face it sometimes. But this week as I've had a few instances of both myself and my girlfriends hitting low points and really needing each other… I am reminded again how important, how powerful, and how healing it is to just let it all out to each other. Sure it felt better to let that out with Drew. More comfortable. More secure. But there is something equally powerful about baring your soul to other women. Something that I have never experienced until losing him.

I'm not even sure where I'm going with all this. Honestly, it's late, I've been on my feet all day cooking, and super stressed about a million other things, and I'm on my 5th or 6th beer (the fact that I can't remember which tells you something!). All I can say is that tonight, I am so incredibly grateful for the women in my life. The ones who are widows. The ones who are not widows who still seem to get it. The ones who are older and wiser and help guide me, and the ones who are right in the thick of it with me. I truly do not know what state I would be in today without each and every woman who has crossed my path since losing Drew. They, you, are the safety net that keeps me afloat. The wind beneath my wings. And the fuel that keeps me trying to make something big and bold and powerful out of all of this pain. We may not have the lives we want, but dammit, at least we have each other. And really, that's a hell of a lot.

Bloom



“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” 

2014 has been one heck of a year.

It's been the year that hasn't ruined me ( as I believe that any year after Michael's death has been one of recovering after the ruin).

But this year has been different.

It's the year that's shown me that even when we think we've sifted through the rubble of loss and feel that seeing the light on the other side will suffice enough (and I fully believe it does)....this year has kicked me in the face to say:

"Look, we're glad you made it out of the ruins, we're even glad that you have learned to dance where you once felt you were crippled to for eternity. Heck, we even love that you've taken that which has torn and tried you to your last fiber and smoothed it out to be fertile ground to plant upon! But this year, all those bulbs and seeds you forgot your soul and heart buried in that ground of hurt...well.....they're blooming!"

And bam! Like that, things I've never thought could or would or I even wanted to be in my life are! and instead of turning my eyes away from the garden's of my perseverance and resilience, I've decided to savor their colors...soak in the beautiful scents and colors...and even pluck a few to take home with me :)

And in doing so...in recognizing, tending to and enveloping myself in the sprung seeds of hope....I have found I have blossomed too.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Alone, With You

Losing the person you intended to spend your life with transforms you and alters you in so many ways. Since losing my person on July 13 of 2011, I can say with 1000% certainty that I am not the same human that I was on July 12th, 2011. I am broken open. I am torn. I am changed. It's not all bad. I don't like to look at these changes as being positive or negative, because it's not that black and white. Nothing is. It's simply a fact that when you face the tragic, early death of your life partner - you cannot walk out of that as the same person who walked in. Sure, there are many elements of you that make you who you are, and those are all still there - but many other parts of you disappear, change form, or emerge as if brand new. These new pieces of yourself take time to recognize and acknowledge, and they are probably still happening and still evolving with time. It is a re-birth of sorts, and it can be challenging and strange and hard.

For myself, just a few of the new "pieces" I have noticed:

 I am a much more compassionate person. It's not like I was some uncaring asshole before my loss, but now, I am so much less judgemental of other people and their situations or why they might do things or behave in certain ways, and I have so much empathy and compassion for so many others, that I just didn't really think about before.

My patience ratio has completely altered in this "after" life. I have little to no patience for stupidity, ignorance, or judgemental people. On the other hand, I have so much more patience for things like traffic, long lines, and unexpected delays or things going wrong in general. These types of things used to annoy me on a much bigger level, and now, I am normally very calm and rather unaffected by these same things. My new brain just automatically goes to thoughts of: We are sitting in 45 minutes of traffic because there is an accident up ahead. Someone might be dead, and someone else may be finding out right now that their person is gone. There are way worse things than a little bit of traffic. 

I pretty much breathe the words "I love you" to the people that I love, all the time. At the end of a visit or a phone call or a conversation, I will tell my family member or my friends: "I love you!" The newer friends that I have made in the widowed community - they all say it right back, because they have been changed in the same way I have. In my old life, I never would have thought to tell a friend "I love you" every single time I see them, but now, anytime I see anyone, I am very aware that it could be the last time I see them - ever. Morbid? Maybe. But that is how my new brain functions - the same brain that did not get to say goodbye or good morning or anything at all to her husband, who left for work one day while she was sleeping, and never came back. Each time I tell someone that I love them, there is a tiny fragment of me that hopes he is somehow hearing that I love him, too - and that I will keep saying it forever. 

There are so many other changes that I could go on to list here, but the one very big transformation that I have noticed about myself, is the way I feel about going out vs. staying home, and how I choose to spend my time. In the first year or so after my husband's death, I was still living in the small-ish and run-down New Jersey apartment that Don and I had shared for 7 years together. I will never forget the feeling I had each day and each hour after his death, being there, surrounded by things and "stuff" that belonged to a person that no longer breathed, and a life that no longer existed. I felt trapped, like I was being suffocated by loss and grief and sadness, and like the walls of our life that was gone were closing in on me and attacking me at every corner. It was awful. Those first few months and year, I did anything and everything to get the hell out of there for as many hours as possible each week. If I wasn't at work, I was accepting the dinner and lunch invitations from my amazing support system of friends, or traveling to my parents house in Massachusetts for another weekend, just to escape those cruel and depressing walls. There were so many days those first 14 months or so, where I honestly didn't see how I would survive this, because I just felt so damn depressed. 

Then I moved out, and moved into a different apartment back in NY, with a roommate. Even though it was one of the hardest things Ive ever done, it made me feel lighter and more comfortable with just "being home." I was able to control what things I held onto and kept that made me feel safe or comfy or that reminded me of him in a lovely and beautiful way, and I was able to remove all the things that made me feel like I was choking on death and sorrow. Once I did that, everything changed. Now, when someone asks me to go out socially and do something, my response is usually well thought-out, and changes depending on my mood that day or that hour. A year ago, the answer was always "Hell yes!", because I did not like the feeling of being with myself and sitting with my emotions and pain and hollow, empty hopelessness. But now? Now, this new me that has begun to create a new sanctuary of safeness in my new apartment, will often times say "No thanks" to friends who want me to hang out. Sometimes, I enjoy the solitude. I need to be isolated and alone, so that I can recharge my emotional batteries, and be able to go out again and tackle the world. It is exhausting to be in a world where most people simply don't understand you, and have no idea what you're going through. It's tiring to be constantly faced with families and marriage and retirement stories and vacation tales and children and new babies and new homes and new parents - all the things you will never ever get to have, because they all died on that morning that he died.

So, the new me carefully picks and chooses whom to spend my time with, and when I am in the mood to go out, or stay home. I am finding that, these days, staying home is often the much more appealing option. Perhaps it is because I am currently teaching all day, then directing a show that puts me in rehearsals 6 nights per week for the next month, just so I can keep paying my rent and keep surviving. Maybe it's because my commute is a huge pain in the ass to get everywhere, so when someone asks me to hang out in the city on a weekend, all I think is: Subway to bus to subway - 2 transfers and a really long walk late at night - is this really worth it on my one day off? Or maybe it is because I am finally totally comfortable with feeling my feelings, getting them out when they need to come out, and sitting inside of the sadness, and the joy.

I love my family and friends with all of my heart, but there is something to be said about just spending some time alone, and being 1000% okay with that. When Don and I were together, he was more of the "stay home" type, and I was always the one who wanted to go out. He would go with me, and he loved socializing with our friends or seeing a movie together or whatever else, but he was incredibly content to just sit home most weekends, with nothing except his guitars, our kitties, the Yankee game, and me. Nothing made him happier than simply "hanging out" and not ever leaving the apartment. And now I know why. Now I feel the same way about being home.

The funny thing is, when I was in our apartment after he died, I couldn't feel him close to me. I didn't feel his presence. All I felt was the loss and the overwhelming pain of what was no longer there. I had to leave our home, and move someplace new, to be able to really feel him again. Because in the same way that saying I love you to friends is also saying it to him, being alone in my apartment is also being with him in our apartment - even though he never even lived here.

I don't pretend to understand it. I'm just in awe of it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy




There is a lot going in my life right now that I can't share here.  It's too personal.  But it's good.

What I can tell you is that I am happy.

I never thought I would ever meet this mystical beast ever again, but here it is, showing up in my day and making me smile for no good reason.

Not the legendary, mythical HAPPY that we all hear about in fairytales.

But the happy that comes from lifting your eyes from the floor and seeing that life is really not so bad.
OK even.

I have chosen to believe that my one-sided conversations with Greg are really two sided and that he is letting me know what he thinks and feels about things. 

Case in point ....
I had an attack of the "uglies" the other day.  Not that I am a particularly vain person, but the last time I allowed myself to be vulnerable to another human (other than Greg) was when I was 22 years old and 22 years younger than I am now.
Growing up, I had two grandmothers who were determined that vanity was not a sin I would ever have and so they both managed to convince me that I was a "solid" girl who was plain.  I don't hold it against them - that was the thinking back then.  But I wished I'd listened to my mother who told me what a beauty I was.
Anyhooo  - there I was, having an attack of the uglies last Friday night when I decided to look in a cupboard that contained yet more of Greg's "stuff".  ... and I found a motherload of his old photos.
 He had photos from the night we met (I looked shy and a bit lost) and he had photos from our early dating life that I had never seen.  I looked young and fresh and positvely beautiful.  Certainly not "solid" or "plain".
...and he had a couple of photos of me (and he) all dolled up at a friend's wedding that were positively smokin' hot!


 ...and just like that, the "uglies" went away and I knew that my boy had shown me what he saw when he looked at me.

So yeah - happy.
It doesn't come in with a fanfare and a show of light.
It sneaks up on you and surprises you when you think it has gone for ever...








Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Possibly R-rated. But Definitely Real~


I remind myself, when I remember, to s...l...o...w  down.  Not in regards to daily life stuff.  But when I apply lotion.  When I shampoo my hair.  When I shave my legs. When I apply makeup.  When I take care of myself in the ways that a woman does when she has a lover in her life.

I don't remember often to remind myself but its more often than it was.

My years with my husband were filled with texture and depth and romance and, yes, ordinary days, but ordinary days that were sensually flavored with anticipation.  We flirted on the phone, from across a room, and in darkened hallways.  In the middle of, well, anything, be it serious or not, our eyes would make contact and electricity would burn between us.  I used to read books and magazines and articles about love and passion and second marriages and relationships and our conversations swirled around those topics.  

And now.  Now.  Where does that passion and sensuality go, now that he is gone?

Some part of me still cares and doesn't want to age before my time so I still apply lotion but there is no sensuousness in the application now.   I kind of slap it on to get it done.  Its a necessity, not an experience. My lips are chapped mostly and I never seem to remember to apply chap stick.  Always, in my previous life, I kept my lips kissably soft.  For him, because I loved his kisses.  We touched often.  Locked lips.  Linked hands.  We created atmospheres of intimacy.  My hands would slide over the muscles of his back, slowly anointing him with essential oils, memorizing the feel of him.  When he hugged me, I would breathe in his scent.   

The touch and the scents and the textures.  

Mostly I hear widows/ers speak of the financial distress, the practical lists of what has changed and how we must cope after our loved one dies.  Seldom do I hear lips speak of the yearning for those moments of teasing and laughing  and flirting and mutual knowing-ness and heart-pounding, sweat-inducing, rip-roaring passion that can make life so very sweet.  That did make life so very sweet.

It is an uncomfortable subject for some, I get that.  But in this new I refuse to be quiet about what this being alone is really like me that is forever me, I'm defiantly singing it out into the light.  Because I know I'm not the only one thinking it and feeling it.  Anybody can figure out the finances, the car, the place to live, the taxes, the daily living everything.  Technical stuff.

What I struggle with is the loss of his body close to mine for 24 years, touching head to toe.  His hand cupping my head as he lowers his mouth to mine, his arm around me, pulling me closer.  His green eyes catching mine across a room and speaking promises for when we're alone.  His hand against my lower back as we stand together.  His arms locking me against a wall.  His hand in mine, strong and sure, as we walk and walk and walk.  

Well-meaning people talk about moving on, and how he'd want me to be happy, and I hear the concern in their voices that maybe I'm still just a bit too sad for, my goodness, almost a year.  And I want to say to them, (and I'm starting to, in a very nice, diplomatic way), tell me then, HOW DO I NOT MISS EVERYTHING ABOUT HIM?  What do you suggest?  Give me a concrete, here it is, plan to make that happen.  Seriously.  You tell me how I go from being touched to not being touched, from being kissed and loved to nothing, zilch, nada, done, and how I can be okay with that, in the space of oneshortfrickin'year?  In the space of two years?  Tell me, I beg of you. Because I'll give it a shot.  Give me a recipe so that I can not miss him with every breath and, ultimately, make you feel better.

You tell me.   
How do I go from this?
to this?


and not feel it to my bones?  Every minute of every day and every night?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yes Honey, I know.



To get to our church and a particular café where a volunteer group often meets I have to drive through our central business district.  I find that I always drive the route that Ian always drove.  That's probably why I go that way.

It is one of the most efficient ways to cross the city from the north-west corner to the south-east, but also the most memory-laden route for me.

It passes a pub that he worked at during his university days, a job he very much enjoyed.  EVERY time we drove past he'd say 'I used to work there'.  And every time I'd say 'Yes honey, I know'.  And now often I drive past and hear this conversation - sometimes I find I even respond aloud. 

I also used to work at the other end of this street, and Ian would always pick me up from work.  

Sometimes I don't have a problem driving past the pick-up point; I'm focused on what I'm doing.  Other times I get flashes of grief, especially if I get stuck at the intersection.  It's very much a heavy heart moment the times they do hit, and I find I have to look at other things happening on the street to bring me back to the present.

Of course, when Ian was driving me home from work, we'd have to go past his old workplace:

'I used to work there'. 
'Yes honey, I know'.

'I used to work there'. 
'Yes honey, I know'.

'I used to work there'. 
'Yes honey, I know'.

'I used to work there'. 
'Yes honey, I know'.

'I used to work there'. 
'Yes honey, I know'.

I do feel sorry for my son... I feel I'm getting close to (repeatedly) saying 'Daddy used to work there'.  

I guess in time I should expect 'Yes Mummy, I know'.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Fog

source


Losing my mom when he was in his mid thirties broke my father, seemingly beyond repair. We did not celebrate holidays, we didn't eat together or play games together, we did not have a circle of friends to help us through, we did not talk about our pain. We didn't have any rituals with which to honor my mom. My dad escaped by drinking and distancing himself from me. His grief morphed into rage and that rage would have no where to go but straight at me.

We were two broken people ill-equipped to help each other. Early on, I learned survival strategies. I wasn't aware that's what I was doing, but now I can see them and I carry them with me even though they are no longer necessary. The most useful one was blanking out. I just left my body. When I was overwhelmed by anxiety and fear and my father made me feel unsafe in the only place in the world I could go, I would just leave.

My body was there, but my heart and soul were gone. A blank gray fog where they used to reside. No fear, no sadness, no messy emotions. My body would shut off, like flipping a switch. My mind would either race in senseless circles or just completely shut down. The tears would stop and from the outside, at least, no one could see the pain.

But also, there was no me and no chance to feel any good emotions either. No chance to connect with anyone, not even myself. It was necessary and smart at the time. Now, though, it is a knee jerk reaction to what life throws my way.

My body does it, not my mind. My mind can tell me that all is fine and that people aren't my dad and that I'm safe and no one is out to hurt me, but my body doesn't believe a word. And my body just shuts down. No more emotion. The gray fog. Thoughts circle without landing. Eyes won't focus on anything for long. No emotions, just spinning mind. I look from the outside, I assume, like I have it all together. But I have taken leave and all that's left is my body.

After Dave died, it seems all my reactivity just increased. This response to stress happens more easily now than ever. I can be home, safe, cocooned, reading a book, and I suddenly realize every muscle in my body is tight as a knot. I can read a page 4, 5, 6 times in a row and not absorb a single word. There are no clear thoughts, just a spinning, anxious fog. Just the sense that I am in danger and my body is ready to fight or flee.

I do this in therapy, over and over and over again. I do it when anyone tries to get close to me. I do it when I'm embarrassed. I do it for no apparent reason at all, before my mind can connect with my body.
It makes closeness difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I know there is no magic bullet for this. I know it will take work to begin to get my mind and body to connect.

I know the triggers, mostly, so that's good. There just doesn't seem to be a way to bring myself back once I've gone there for quite some time. It takes being away from the trigger (if that's even possible) for several hours at least, for the clarity to come back.

But, you know what? Of course I struggle with this. It completely makes sense and is reasonable. Trauma does all sorts of things to our minds and bodies. This part is inevitable. It's cliche, but I'm saying it anyway; what matters is that I identify it and address it.

That last step is easier said than done, but so many things are. I'm still going to stubbornly address it even though it feels like pushing a giant boulder up a very steep hill.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saying "NO" When We Need To

By nature I am a pretty optimistic and hopeful person. And usually when I write, it is to share some form of value or worth in this horrible journey. (My fiancé in fact even named me "the girl who pukes rainbows" when we first became friends, for my annoying ability to always find silver linings). But I don't want to paint any illusions here. I'm most definitely NOT that person all of the time. It takes a LOT of work to look for the positives some days, and there are many days when I just say NO. And today folks, is one of those days.

I had a dream last night that I found my fiancé dead in a swimming pool (Which is entirely unrelated to how he actually died - halfway across the country - in a helicopter crash). Then, a few days pass in the dream, I come to his body and try to shake him awake - almost violently, I shake him - and his eyes start to respond. And he starts to try and breathe…. taking deeper and deeper breaths until he begins to come to. And at this moment I dive into his arms, and he wraps them around me tight - making me feel so small and safe like he always did. I can feel his head against mine, his short military style haircut against my left temple. And I tell him in disbelief "But you were dead! Your body has been dead for three days! How are you here?!" He just wraps me up tighter in his arms.

And then. I wake up.

I'm sorry, but I'm just going to say what we're all thinking every time we wake up from THAT kind of dream….

WHAT THE FUCK??!?

I mean, come ON, what was the point of that?! What fresh new hell is this that my brain is now inventing entirely new and creative ways for my fiancé to die, and THEN allowing him to come back to life JUST before I wake up to reality. I'd like a dream interpreter to even just TRY to tell me there is meaning in that. To which I would likely punch her in the face the moment she tried to. Ugh.

I've been trying to hold myself together for the past few weeks - and I gotta say, this dream finally pushed me over the edge. I've had so many GOOD things happening. I sold several prints of my photos, got a lead on working with an agency that will potentially place my photos in hotels and hospitals and such all over the country. Got a lead on submitting my writing and photography to Huffington Post for their blog team (fingers crossed!). And the biggest thing of all…. I just landed my very first ever solo photography exhibit. Like, someone wants to showcase my work, in an entire show, all by itself. Holy crap - this is one of the most amazing and terrifying things that's happened to me since I went skydiving for the first time back in 2009.

But with so much happening all at once, I've been extra stressed, too. Photo shoots, meetings, phone calls, along with other freelance work I do. It's the most busy I have been since he died honestly - and the way that has drained me has totally taken me by surprise. I've been depleted this week to that magic point… the point where the one and only thing that could relax and restore me would be - yup - talking to him. Or a simple back rub and a movie on the couch together. How could one person have such an incredible calming effect on me? Somehow him saying to relax and that it will be okay made me believe in a way I never quite have before. That's pretty amazing. And pretty crappy to now be without.

So for the past few weeks, I've been trying my best to get through the stress and excitement and newfound fears without my go-to guy. I've been trying to focus on my photography and keep myself calm… all the while with the underlying feelings of "He's not HERE to share this with" lurking. And lurking. And lurking. And then the stupid dream slammed into me and shook up ALL that lurking pain. I lost it this morning on the phone with my best friend, and the poor thing had to hear me just explode everything out to her on the other end of the line:

"I hate this stupid journey!
I hate that for every exciting, happy, joyful thing that happens in my life… I have a crash afterwards.
I hate that I always know the crash is just around the corner, and that no amount of expecting it makes it any better.
I hate that I used to feel so organized and now I feel like a total scatterbrain, and there's nothing I can do about that because my brain is different now. And I hate that wonder if people think I'm making an excuse when I say that.
I hate that I cannot just have my old life back, where my happiness was not completely enmeshed in the complicated pain of grief.
I hate that my journey is MY journey now, and not OUR journey." I really, really hate that.

Even though there are moments where I do feel he is guiding me and that we are still in this journey together… it is NOT the same as telling him "OH MY GOD, BABE. I AM GOING TO HAVE MY OWN PHOTO SHOW!!!" and seeing the look on his face, having him grab me in his arms and hug me, and then going out to a nice dinner to celebrate it all… and knowing that he is so proud that he goes around and tells every single person in his life all about my show. Telling anyone else on the planet that information is NOT the same - because they aren't my team mate. They aren't part of the "we". And no matter how exciting and incredible it is that I will have a show…. no matter how overwhelmed I am that the curator loves my work and wants me to show it exactly as I want to, no matter how GOOD it feels to be doing something I have always always dreamed of since I was a little girl… in the very next moment the joy swings right around and stabs me with the sharp end of "he's not here for this". I am really, REALLY tired of being stabbed by the back end of my joy.

So thanks dream. And grief. For totally wreaking havoc on me pointlessly this past week… so I could lose my shit and feel completely ungrateful for all good in my life. I hate that part of the journey too - not being able to feel grateful for what I do still have. Especially because I know I do have a lot. But dammit, today I'm not grateful. Maybe tomorrow I will be, surely in a few days I will. But today, I'm just freaking sad and in pain and I'm just going to take a day off from trying to "make something" of this stupid journey. Some days you just have to say NO. So today, I'm sitting my ass down, crossing my arms, and I'm not taking another damn step forward until I feel like it. I'm betting someone else out there is having one of those days too. Maybe we'll say yes to trying tomorrow, but for today, if you need to say no, I am SO in your corner.



Friday, April 11, 2014

On the Shelf ...

So here is something for your soul to snack on ...

Other than my dad and my brother and a few really close friends that feel like brothers, I have not been held by or hugged by a person of the male species in 32 months. I have not been kissed by a guy in 32 months. I haven't been told I'm beautiful, or been made to feel beautiful, by a member of the opposite sex, in 32 very long months. There has been no intimacy. No sex. Not even any serious cuddling. Nothing. Do I miss all of those things? Hell, yes. Of course I do. Who wouldn't? But other than the normal missing of those things from time to time, when I actually have time to sit around thinking about it, mostly I don't notice it. Mostly.

Is that normal? Is it normal that, for the most part, it doesn't really bother me that intimacy and physical love is no longer a part of my life? Is it normal that I still have zero desire to seek any of this stuff out, especially if it means I have to be in a relationship with someone? (ewww!) Is it normal that even now, after 32 months of life without my husband, I still feel like "if I can't be intimate with my husband, than I don't want to be intimate at all?" It feels like being hungry. Like that feeling, when you have gone maybe the entire day without eating, and you get so hungry, that by the time you get home from your long day, you are so incredibly hungry, that you can't focus on anything and you don't know what to eat and nothing sounds good or satisfying - so instead of eating, you end up going to bed - and you almost forget that you were so hungry in the first place. That is how I feel with the physical and the intimacy stuff. Sometimes I really feel like I might need that very, very soon. But then, there is really no way for me to get that, without either being in a relationship or compromising my morals in some way - so I end up putting it out of my mind until the next time.

 It's weird, because I know the reality. It is not like I am tricking myself into thinking he is coming back or something. No. I don't live in a fantasy world. I know he is dead, and I know that dead means dead forever. But even knowing this, I am still in that place mentally where I would rather remain in love with him, dead, than even consider or think about loving someone else, alive. Why do I feel like this? Is it because our love was so great and so special, that I fear it impossible to ever find such a thing again? Yes. Is it because I am terrified that I will never fall in love again, in that all-encompassing way, like I was in love with him? Yes. Is it because I am scared that I will fall in love again, and then he will die too? Yes. Is it because I am afraid that I will go searching for love again, and finally decide to open my heart, only to never ever find it, and have nobody ever love me again for the rest of my life?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. That's the big one. That is the ultimate fear - that I will put myself out there, and nobody will respond. I will be standing in the middle of the ocean, and all I will see for miles around me is empty, foggy sky. I will be in a large, glass case - on display for all the world to see - my heart and soul broken into fragments from the sheer loudness of hearing: Nobody will ever love you again. You had your one great soulmate. It is over for you. Give up. You are fat. You are old. The only men that will ever show interest in you are 70 years old, or total creeps. Stop being selfish. You have already had your one great love. You will grow old and die alone - your greatest fear. 

Yup, these are the types of fun, happy-go-lucky thoughts that go through my head on a semi-regular basis. So, instead of thinking about this stuff, I mostly try and push it away. I keep busy. I have loads of friends. I have a full life. Great family. Creative jobs such as teaching, writing, and directing shows - things that keep my brain and my soul happy. I try not to focus on or think about the fact that I'd really, really love to be held or kissed or comforted in an intimate way. Because once I start thinking about it, I won't be able to stop. So I just put it away on a shelf somewhere. Put it over there, far enough away from me that I don't need to see it or look at it. If I don't look at it, then it's not there, and that is the reality I am comfortable with right now.

Anything else is simply too frightening.