In about 3 months, we will reach the day.
It’s a day that looms large for all who have lost someone. People seem to think that in the first year you are grieving and “getting over it”, but the way I see it is that for that first year you are just surviving, just getting “into it”. Slowly being forced out of sedation, to face your injuries. (The biggest one being a hole in the heart. And for me, also a hole in the brain.)
Making it to the anniversary of his death, will be a fucking testament of my survival. It will also be a tough, tough day. And, unfortunately, the hard work is still to come. I knew it from day one. This is going to hurt, this is going to take a while.
Yesterday, I saw a job that I am interested in. It’s in an entirely different field, but one that I’ve been wanting to transition into. My heart lept when I saw the job posting. I thought, that’s it! My chance!! It’s what prompted my post yesterday about following my heart, because my heart has been racing with anxiety and excitement ever since I saw it. I read the description and thought, I am all those things. I can do those things! I have those skills. I will work on my resume and apply. See what happens. If nothing, then fine, it wasn’t meant to be. Go for it! That’s the “old me” talking! Good to see you! Where have you been?!
Then last night a storm hit. Like in “Back to the Future “. The “new me” met the “old me”, and it got trippy. My future got funked up.
What if something does happen? What if things click and I get an interview? What if I were actually to land the job?! No no no, says the “new me”. You used to be a multi-tasker, you used to be extremely capable, you used to be all those things, but the reality is, you are not that person anymore. I hate to say it, but you are damaged, dented. All the things listed in the job description are areas in which you are currently deficient, girlfriend! What are you thinking? You can’t even handle making it to your current job on time, let alone remembering to put mascara on both eyes.
Death messed with by brain, people. Grief is still messing with my brain. And it sucks! I want someone to confirm this for me, that I am not imagining this shit. That’s right, your brain was altered. See the scan? You’ve got a friggin’ hole in yo’ head! Don’t expect the same things of yourself.
Last night another thing hit. Not only am I still injured, but the “new me” is also alone. Hole-in-my-heart alone. I don’t have my side-kick to help me see my way through decisions. To encourage me, to help me stay on path. And the path…it has changed, too, damn it. A career change was something I had been thinking about, that we had discussed, in order for us to start a family. But now everything is different. I don’t know what my motivations are. I don’t know what my direction is. I don’t know why I am doing anything. This, too, sucks. Excuse me for being ungrateful, but I don’t want a cheerleader who’s cheering from “heaven”. I want him here. I need him here, in the flesh, my soft-hearted bull-dog, the man who cried because he was proud of me for negotiating a raise in my current job.
I only slept 3 hours last night. Now it begins. The lonely road. Anyone who mistakingly thought I was on the “lonely road” last year, let it be known, I wasn’t. I just got here. I am barely getting started. Hello “old me”, may I introduce you to “new me”. Argh.
I have one memory that always brings me to tears. About a week before we took my husband to urgent care to check the “bump” on his head, he drove home from a business trip in a snow storm, arriving at 2:00am, completely exhausted. He was stubborn and determined. He did not want to spend one more night in a hotel, he was going to make it home to sleep in his bed, through hell or high-water, as they say.
He made it home, driving hundreds of miles, navigating the nauseating conditions of driving into falling snow, in the dark, headlights of on-coming traffic, through side winds , snow-drifts, and gusts, while unbeknownst to him (or me), suffering from a massive brain tumor. How’s that for a dent to the brain, an incapacitating condition? It makes me feel sick, that this effort was so much more heroic than we even knew. He made it home despite the big-ass dent in his brain. Poor, sweet man. I wish I could rub his head, give him a hug, tell him I love him, tell him I am proud of him.
But getting back to my “future”. I take it as a good sign that I even noticed the job, as many things slide past my radar right now. I don’t know if I will apply, I don’t know if I am ready, but it’s a step forward that I am even thinking about change…my new life. I can see these positives. Sadly, though, it’s also a reminder of what I have lost, my husband, my partner, the person who I had a path with, the person who had my back, the most important thing in my life, gone. A big hole, torn into the map of what was my life, our life together. I can only imagine how it’s going to feel when I sell his truck, sell our house, tackle his closet.
I know. One day at a time. But it’s hard, when just the thought of change lets loose an avalanche.
Talking about the anniversary – so true about the difference between getting into it vs getting over it. I’m approaching 6 months and have been thinking the same thoughts. And, yes, the hole in the brain thing is also true. But try for that job. It’s exciting and wonderful and it’s good to have something to look forward to, even if just a little bit, even if there’s still trepidation and fear and worry along with the anticipation.
Thank you for your encouragement. I really appreciate it. So much instability and anxiety tied into grief. Looking at your profile pic reminds me, how’s your cat?! Hopefully back to “normal”, for a senior cat, at least?
She’s a lover. I always call her a cat with a dog’s soul, because her interactions with people are more dog-like. She’s doing Okay – has renal disease, but so far she likes the (extremely expensive) new food and isn’t showing any signs of being ill. She’s my bud, now, much the same as I’m sure your dog is.
Excellent. Thanks for sharing and best of luck!
the old you and the new you will be living together for a long time, doing this dance back and forth for control. i really think you should go for the job! i think that the new you will consistently try to pull you back into focus on grief and stagnation and refusal to move forward so that you can stay close and safe. but truly, and i know it’s harsh – life is for the living. jobs and opportunities and unexpected joys – those are your entitlements, what you deserve. i could hear the excitement in your voice as you talked about the possibilities in that new position! walk towards it, dragging the new you along by the hair sometimes. like i said, this dance for control will be going on for a long time. but cling to the joys of new experience and challenges and rewards because those belong to you as the one left behind. alive. so live!
(easier said than done, i know. but i really believe in riding waves of hope forward sometimes to balance the grief backward. we lived. so we need to live. yes, i’m definitely talking myself into it, too 🙂 )
This is a great sign, that you’re interested in the new position. No matter what happens next, at least you allowed yourself to feel that.
I got about that far with a new job in the fall. I was surprised by my interest and–even, shall we say–ambition. I felt overwhelmed, until a friend counseled me to just proceed one step at a time, to not think about how would I move across the country, but to just complete the next step. (I never applied. It was too soon, but at least I felt the glimmer of hope and recognized that the old me was not completely gone.)
About your capacity–you certainly are different, and your skills may be different, too. There are some things we’re just not good at these days. But as we’ve learned, these stages of grief are consistent in their fleetingness, and you may well get some of your old mojo/multitasking back by the time the new job materializes. There’s hope for that, too.
Thank you fichereader, I know you understand. I have been surprised by the emotional roller coaster this has sent me on…and I haven’t even opened the old resume file yet! I know it’s good, to be going through this process, if even just the emotions of it. It is exciting, frustrating, and telling…again, coming face to face with my capacities, which feel limited, but at the same time, having moments where I feel like, I can push through this. The outcome is still TBD!
After my mother died, I went back to work (too soon) and spent months terrified that people would somehow discover that my brain was no longer the same. I didn’t care about my work and could not concentrate for 2 minutes! In fact, the majority of things I had cared about before seemed quite ridiculous. I was a fraud. I was changed and changing and would never be the same.
I missed the old me (still do sometimes), that safe, joyful part of me that died when my mother did. I relate so much to your words and feelings. You are right; the first year isn’t about healing. It is about surviving. It is so lonely and scary and exhausting.
I really wish I can say I understand what it is you are going through. But I really have not the foggiest notion. My journey is a different one. BUT….I can tell you that you must do it. Yes you are broken and bent to tell you differently would be a lie. But you are really still you. You are probably the same amazing woman that your husband drove all that way in the snow to get home to. The same woman who negotiated for her raise and made him proud. I know how it is to be the old you and the new you, that much I understand…but old or new…you are you. Does that make sense? Go for it. My whole heart is behind that encouragement. Go for it. Don’t borrow worry…you have enough. Do not anticipate your grief, that is a constant companion. Move aside for it..make room for it…and live through it. But don’t stop living, doing, striving.
Such a moving post. I can’t pretend to know because I have not experienced what you have. And I know everyone means well by encouraging you to try for that job, but I won’t do that. Sometimes people have encouraged me to do something which does seem like the “right thing”, but I prefer to just decide for myself. What jumps out at me is the word “new”. In whatever context, the fact that you have used that word “new” … it seems like something to me. I don’t know if that word has been in your mind over the last year. And the way you felt something, a glimmer of something, when you saw that job, that means something too. Whatever you decide, you felt a little glimmer of light, even if only temporarily. There will be more, in their own time. I got a vision when I read your post of a night sky, overcast with clouds, and then suddenly one little star peaking through and twinkling. It was there. Even if the clouds pass over again for a time, it was there.
Thank you. I was tempted not to leave comments open for this post because I sensed that my kind readers would want to encourage me…which I do appreciate. But the truth is that even though I am starting to welcome the idea of change (other than the biggest change of all, the death of my husband), in my current state, I might not be quite ready for anything else “new” yet. Yet being the key word. Like you said, there will be other openings in the clouds.