Still a Widow

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I wonder how she’d be handling this?

We didn’t leave the house for weeks at a time when we were at our worst, but I still wonder how Parker would have reacted to a pandemic and social distancing?

How would she have reacted when we lived in florida and we were close to her friends? Would that have made a difference? We were pretty isolated up here anyway, we didn’t really spend time with anyone.

How would she have calmed my fears? What jokes would she have made? Would she have broken down?

She was always the stronger one from the outside looking in.

What foods would she want, knowing we needed to shop as little as possible? Which comfort meals would she want me to cook?

What kind of order would she need around the house?

We were used to being in the same space all of the time. That was our normal. Neither of us could work most of the time, neither of us had lives outside of our home. We were inseparable to a fault. That would have come in handy right now.

I also wonder how horrible this would have been if we lived in the homeless shelter while this was happening?

What precautions are they putting in place?

How scary is it there right now, knowing that this could infect the entire shelter in a matter of days? So many vulnerable people in such a small space.

I’m so thankful my life is where it’s at right now. I’m glad I live in my own space. I’m glad I can buy groceries. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about keeping the lights on.

I’m thankful she’s missing this particular part of life. I’m glad she doesn’t have to struggle through this. She doesn’t have to be afraid that her mom will get sick, or her aunts. She doesn’t have to worry about losing a friend or loved one.

Widowhood is in every facet of my life. It’s always there, quietly whispering. It’s here too. It’s in the middle of a worldwide crisis. It’s in the middle of social distancing. It’s in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s always with me, and it makes me wonder.

How Far I’ve Really Come

This starts as a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And ends as a Really Real Widow Post.

I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

Each day that I work, I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I can’t believe I actually earned this money. I can’t believe how much earning this money really means. I can’t explain how good it feels.

Each problem I solve, each new task I conquer, and each fear I overcome, I’m amazed that this is who I am now. That this is what I am accomplishing.

I remember when I realized I couldn’t work anymore.  I remember the shit storm that lead up to that moment. I remember the heartbreak that came along with applying for disability.

I remember.

At the worst of this, I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t be left alone.

I remember.

And the truth is, I will probably end up back in the hospital some day. I will probably do another round or three of the partial hospital program. I will have countless more hours of therapy.

But I’ve come so so far.

So far.

I can see myself going further. I can see myself working full time. I can see myself becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I can see myself getting better at ignoring the constant anxiety running through my head.

It’s a big deal that I can see a future with further recovery.

It’s a big deal that I’m seeing a future without disability.

Without being disabled.

And there’s another side to this.

I remember watching Parker push through her own struggles to go to work and support the three of us while she was barely making it emotionally and physically.

I remember.

I love my life and I know everything that has happened has brought me to where I am now.

But still, I wonder.

If I could have worked before. If I could have shared some of the load. If I could have helped more. If I could have taken some of the weight off of her shoulders.

Would she still be alive?

If we had the money to pay the bills. If we had the money to keep the lights on. If we had the money to avoid the eviction notices. If we had the money to keep food in the fridge.

Would she still be alive?

I’ve come so far, and I’m doing so well. And I know her death is a big part of what pushed me towards my recovery. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am if things hadn’t happened exactly as they have.

Every success, every bit of growth, with every push towards recovery, is served with a small side dish of sadness.

But I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

And I can’t wait to see how far I go.

Wheeeeeee

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Suicidal thoughts, self harm, pretty intense stuff.

The other shoe dropped.

Last night I took too many anti-anxiety meds and benadryl and sleep meds. Not because I wanted to die, and not enough to kill me, but because I wanted to sleep through the part where I wanted to die.

I wanted to drift away into nothingness, for just a few hours, hoping the feelings would be gone when I woke up.

I tried to put my fist through a wall. Not because I was angry, but because the feelings inside me were too much to hold onto and I needed a way to let them out.  Fist into wall felt less harmful than knife into skin.

I had to fight that urge while hoping the meds would kick in quickly.

While wondering if I cared if they killed me.

While knowing they wouldn’t and being fine with that too.

The speed and intensity with which this overcame me was overwhelming. I didn’t want to fight it, but I knew I had to.

The easiest way to fight was to sleep.

I wanted to be held, I wanted to be comforted. I wanted to be told it would all be okay. I wanted to know I was safe. But this wasn’t a night for that. This was a night for self soothing, handling my own emotions, alone.

Alone.

Feeling forgotten.

Hopeless.

Alone.

This morning the sun seemed too bright and too harsh. I slept straight through for the first time in months. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I didn’t want to face the fact that the thoughts were still there.

And then it hit me.

I have to work.

I didn’t have the will to put one foot in front of the other and I have to sit at my desk and input numbers and make phone calls and churn out statements and create order from chaos.

I’m consumed by my own chaos.

My thoughts are swirling through mud. I can’t absorb half of what people are saying to me. I’m taking notes, not fast enough, my brain can’t keep up.

But I’m doing it. One foot in front of the other. Pushing key after key, turning invoices into statements. Crunching the numbers. Sending out emails.

My brain doesn’t want me to live for another second. My brain hears the familiar gunshots in the back of my head. My brain wants me to lay down and give up.

It wonders what’s the point in all of this.

But today my brain didn’t win. I did.

I may not have been at 100%, I may have done less than my normal.

But I showed up.

Today I won.

I can do this.

Even when

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I know this is like, the third time I’ve written in 2 days, but writers block is finally gone so I need to get it all out.  Is this euthymia, or is this the beginning of hypomania . . that is the question.

Anyway.

Even when I’m doing poorly, I’m better than I was before.

I rode the bus today.

I didn’t really give it a second thought.  My therapist had an earlier cancellation, so I looked up the most direct route, and got on the bus.

I didn’t worry about how crowded it would be, even though it was close to rush hour.

I just rode the bus.

That wasn’t something I could do alone a few years ago. Something I had trouble doing even with other people.

And I’ve posted about this before, how amazing it is that I’ve come so far. But tonight I realized, even when I was at my most suicidal, in fact, the same night I ended up in the hospital, I rode the bus.

Even when I’m doing poorly, I’m better than I was before.

I’ve come so so far, and I’m still growing.

Six months ago when I flew to see my dad, I took so many anxiety meds to get through the 2 flights each way.  Probably too many. I still nearly shook on the plane and had a really hard time with my anxiety over flying while fat.

A few years before that, I wouldn’t have been able to make the trip alone at all.

And this past weekend, I realized on the last few minutes of the last flight, that I had gotten through the entire day without a single PRN anxiety medication.  I was more anxious about the actual act of flying than I was about people looking at me because of my size.  And even that anxiety wasn’t all that major.

I just, did the things.

“Be afraid, but do it anyway.”  That’s what I keep doing.

I start a part time job tomorrow.

I haven’t worked since 2011.

I seriously haven’t worked since 2011.

I had to go back and look at my SSA information to see if I was remembering that correctly.

I’ve volunteered on and off for the past 2 years but this will be my first, regular, paid employment in 9 years.

I’m afraid.

What if I fail. What if I can’t do this. What if it all falls apart.

What if I fall apart.

“Be afraid, but do it anyway.”

What if it goes well? What if it’s all okay?

 

This year, this decade.

This is a Really Real “Life in Review” Post.

It’s the end of a year.

I figured, just like so many people do, I’d reflect on the past year of my life.  Think about my accomplishments and what I’d like to take with me into next year.

This year I started giving myself permission to take up space.  Physically, verbally, emotionally. I realized that I was allowed the space that I need. Some of the time I was able to hold the mindset that everyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off. I want to get better at that mindset next year and stop trying to shrink myself to suit others.

This year I survived one of my more intense series of suicidal thoughts. I got myself help. I saw that I have a huge community of people who support me, both virtually and locally. I want to be better connected with that community.

I learned that even though I feel like I’m outside of a group, it doesn’t mean I actually am.

I found joy in sending snail mail. Making well over 100 cards in the past 3 months has been so wonderful, and even better was knowing that it put a smile on someone’s face. I want to keep going, and maybe start selling my work.

I think one of the biggest things I learned this year is that it’s okay for things to be stable. It’s not the calm before the storm, it’s just the calm, and life can really be this way without worrying about what comes next. I want to carry comfort with stability going forward.

I learned to live in the moment. That fully accepting what is happening is the first step to finding solutions. Fighting against a problem only takes energy away from solving it. I learned that not being okay, is perfectly okay. That as long as you don’t make a problem worse, you’re doing the right things – you can always build from there.  I learned that it’s okay to ask for what I need, that it doesn’t always mean fighting.

It’s the end of a year.  One of the better years of my life.

It’s the end of a decade.

It’s hard to wrap up the past decade because there’s a giant split down the middle.  The before and the after.

In the before, there was a lot of love, and a lot of trauma, and a lot of resilience, and a lot of struggle.

In the after there’s a lot of growth, a lot of falling (metaphorically and physically), a lot of healing, and a lot of pain.

It’s the end of a decade. The hardest in my life.

I wrote a big long thing trying to list out the good and the bad of the last decade, but honestly, that’s not all that helpful.  The past decade (and the ones before that) got me to where I am now, and now is what matters.

Now is where I want to spend my time.

Grief gets easier.

This is a Really Real Widow post.

One benefit to writing these and posting them on Facebook is that as the memories come up I can see how far I’ve come.  I can remember the past and see where I am compared to then.  I can see what lessons I didn’t learn in the moment.

I remember, when Parker first died, people told me it would get easier.  I couldn’t believe them. They told me I’d stop noticing the anniversaries and that eventually I’d even forget what day she died.

I couldn’t believe them.

I wasn’t ready.

It felt too raw.

It’s three and a half years later.  I no longer notice each 8th of the month, even though I haven’t forgotten what day she died.  I just had to count back to see how long it’s been, I’m no longer counting the months as they go by.

My birthday was a huge grief trigger, even last year.  I am getting older and she is not. I’m older then her and that wasn’t supposed to happen.

This year, I remembered Parker on my birthday (I remember her almost every day). I noted that I was, yet again, adding another year over her.  I had those pangs of grief.

But they were just there.  I was just the grief that’s woven into the fabric of me.

The pain didn’t define the day.

I didn’t spend part of the day in bed crying.

It is fully integrated into this new normal.

I just couldn’t believe it when people told me this early on.  I didn’t believe it would get easier.  She was so big in her life, and I expected that it would stay that way in her death.

But, most of the time, I’m comfortably widowed.  It is a part of who I am but it no longer defines my existence.

I have a friend who was very recently widowed. I would never begin to tell her what path her grief will take. Every journey is different. I will sit with her in her agony, as it is now.

I still remember those early days.

Through Facebook memories I still read about those early days.

I see my pain coming through my words.

The despair. The hope. The need to maintain connection. The realization that life as I knew it would be entirely different without her.

It does get easier.

I just read something that said grief doesn’t get smaller, we get bigger.

The Parker shaped hole in my heart is much easier to live around.  The edges have smoothed and I don’t trip over them so often. My heart is much larger, giving me room to avoid that hole.

Birthdays can be about me.

Birthdays can be about life.

Birthdays can be about the present.

About the moment I am living in.

The life I am living.

Grief gets easier.

But I will always miss her.

But I’m not suicidal.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m not suicidal.

I haven’t left the house since Friday.

I’ve been stuck in my own head.

Yesterday was DBT and

I

. . .just

. . . couldn’t

. . . quite

make it out the door.

. . .

Who am I kidding?

. . .

I couldn’t even change out of the clothes I’ve been wearing for 4 days straight.

. . .

I’ve cleaned the entire house.

I’ve cooked meals.

I’ve crafted and created and even sold things.

Everything within my safe little bubble.

I’m stuck in my own head.

Who am I?

I don’t want to face the world when I can’t even figure out what the world should see when it looks at my face.

I can’t figure out how the world should know me.

I can’t figure out how important it all is anyway.

And I can’t figure out if I want to share that part of my story because I don’t know if I even want it to be a part of my story.

If I ignore it will it just go away?

If I speak it will it become more real?

There’s a lot going on up there in my head right now.

I’ve let myself run out of one of my medications because I need to leave the house to get it.

My body is revolting against me. It doesn’t help that I ate the ever forbidden potatoes. I know better. I know they cause inflammation and inflammation is my worst enemy. HS (Hidradenitis Suppurativa) can go straight to hell and right now it’s taking me with it.

My brain hurts.

My body hurts.

And I’m not suicidal (but that won’t last unless I get my mood stabilizer back on board).

There have been a few random passing thoughts.

“If you were dead, this wouldn’t matter.”

But they are easily brushed aside.

Right now I’m stuck in my head and I’m stuck in a very ouchy body and this body and this brain are trapped inside of the house, because there are far too many steps between these 4 day old clothes and making it out that front door.

And it’s easy to say, I’m not suicidal, so I must be fine.

Because when “suicidal or not” is your measuring stick, almost anything looks good enough.

But this isn’t good enough.

Not even a little.

But digging myself out of my own brain, when every move hurts and my body wants to explode, is a very slow and painful process.

And every process starts with the first step.

I guess I should take the meds I never took this morning.

How is it already 7pm?

How is it already Tuesday?

But I’m not suicidal.