I’m all screwed up

I had a breakthrough in my grieving. I think my emotions were stuck before because I didn’t want to let myself feel how bad I really felt.

Now I do and I can’t sleep. At all.

I cried for hours yesterday and stayed in bed for most of the day but I didn’t sleep.

I’ve been wide awake for about 19 hours so far and don’t feel sleepy at all.

Having that breakthrough where I was able to truly cry yesterday unleashed something but I’m not sure what it is.

I wrote about how fast J’s health unraveled near the end and the lengths to which my household went to protect him from Covid for so long and how my husband’s health affected my son’s mental health at college in a piece for Medium. They’ve already picked it up for further distribution.

In it I described the state of unreality and numbness I lived in for so long. I think that was a protective mechanism. Now I feel everything and it all hurts. Even my heart rhythm is different, which may be that widowhood effect I read about.

I took an aspirin and a beta blocker tonight just in case. This feels different and not in a good way.

Yeah, screw that

I am not going to become a “wid-hoe” anytime soon, if ever.

The couple of guys I was talking to from the dating app got creepy and I backed way the fuck off. Thank god I never met them in person. That actually kinda scares me.

It was a fun thought for a moment but then my survival instincts kicked in. And I was suddenly like FUCK NO, get me out of here.

In truth, I only implicitly trust 3 people and one of them is now dead. The other is one of my best friends who lives here and the other is my male best friend who lives in California. He and I would probably be perfect together but for now I am just incredibly grateful for his friendship and the depth of it.

I mean, he messaged me last night because my eyes looked sad in a selfie that I posted. How incredibly awesome is that? And then I poured my heart out to him and cried and cried, probably the hardest I’ve cried since losing J.

Today is my 28th wedding anniversary with J and I’ve been figuring all week that it would probably hit me hard and it is. I wrote about it at Medium, along with all the ugly truth of how I’m doing.

He wants me to check in with him tomorrow and he’s going to check with me if I don’t. He understands truly how fragile I am right now.

I guess for one small thing to be thankful for today, I can be thankful to have a friend who cares about me so much.

Wid-hoe

There apparently is a term for how I’m feeling: wid-hoe. It’s an unflattering term for sure. And I know that part of it is that right now I’m obviously ovulating (which is also very, very terrifying, because the last thing I want to do is end up pregnant, especially at my age.)

At the same time, though, I desperately miss being touched. I honestly don’t care much right now if any potential relationships I might have would not be intended to last.

I’m talking to a couple of different guys I met on a dating app and the attention feels really good. The most promising front runner right now is a black man who is about my age. He’s fit, attractive, well-educated, and interesting. He’s divorced but not looking for anything serious.

We exchanged phone numbers tonight and he really impressed me by sending me a couple more photos of himself and none of them were dick pics. I thanked him for that and he said he figured I’d let him know when I was ready to see that.

He’s also the only person who has said he’s sorry for the loss of my husband. That may seem like a small thing but it’s really not.

He also asked me if I give hugs on the first date, which was very sweet (especially since there are so many creeps out there who think a dick pic is a perfectly valid form of introduction.)

The other thing about him is that he’s really tall. I’ve never dated a tall guy before. He’s 6’4” and I’m only 5’1”. J was only 5’7”.

There’s also one guy that I really like and seem to have some sexual chemistry with but he’s married. That conflicts me a lot. On the one hand, I’ve been there with being unhappy in my marriage and I wouldn’t expect him to leave his wife. But on the other hand, it just doesn’t sit well with me (though I’m glad he was honest with me.)

But as I think more about that, what exactly is it that doesn’t sit well with me? After all, I’m not in his marriage; I’m not the one potentially being cheated on. But I believe really strongly in being honest, just as a personal rule. I appreciate that he was honest with me about being married but there’s the fact that his wife is in the dark that goes against my ethics.

I get being so frustrated with your marriage that you’re driven to seek outside of it for gratification. But I didn’t ever act on it.

Well, I did once, but I told J about it before it happened. He later regretted having given me permission but he still knew before the fact. And I think that matters quite a lot.

It’s kinda funny how gently dipping my toes into the dating world is bringing up all sorts of ethical questions like these. I really didn’t expect that.

I figure that whatever I decide to do is my own business (though I’m still aware that there are people judging me for it anyway.) It’s kind of fun that as I’m losing weight anyway, I get to pick out a couple of new outfits with the express intention of wearing them on dates. I feel beautiful again, in a way I haven’t in years.

It makes me feel good. And I’ve gotten “permission” from my mom and all my kids to start dating, and they’re the only people whose opinions of my life really count.

But I still miss J. A lot. I keep trying to see if he’ll send me signs that he’s still around and I get nothing. That makes me really sad, actually. It’s just more of a reminder that he’s gone, which never fails to make me feel sadder and more miserable.

I don’t know if he’d be okay with the idea of me hoe-ing it up. Probably not. But he’s not here to ask and if he were, it wouldn’t even be an issue.

Moving on too fast

At least, that’s what all the haters inside my head accuse me of.

I wrote this piece for Medium yesterday and like most of my pieces lately, it got picked up for further distribution. It did give me an idea of something I can pitch to that women’s magazine website but other than that, it also just felt like such a final purging.

I know better than to think that that’s the end of my grieving. I already got a Snickers bar and a bottle of my favorite wine for Saturday night. I think this weekend is going to be tough for me.

But on the other hand, suddenly I feel like I can move forward with my grief. I might even move J’s coffee cup from the end table where it’s sat since he died.

I might even take down his bath towel that’s been hanging on the opposite towel bar in our bathroom.

All of this seems so sudden to me but it also feels like it’s time. I think I may change my pictures on Facebook too, to reflect my life as it is now.

I’m clearly not going to be one of those widows who I see in my FB support groups, who are years out from the death of their spouse and they say they still cry every day. In a way, I feel like that’s a bad thing on my part. Shouldn’t I still be crying every day? Why aren’t I?

What would I want J to do if the shoe were on the other foot?

Honestly, I would probably want him to grieve longer. But a big part of that is because there was always a pretty big part of me that was never really sure that he loved me.

I know that he did, to the most of his capacity. But that capacity was also very limited by all of the trauma he dealt with in childhood (and refused to address as an adult.)

As much as I loved him—and I really, really did—I also feel like I’m finally free. But I’m free at 48, which is not so great. At least I apparently look much younger than I am, which explains why so many younger guys are hitting on me.

Part of me wants to go out and enjoy the world. In some ways, I feel like I’ve earned that much.

But who’s to say that any of us gets what we deserve, anyway?

The super way down

I realized that a big part of why I’ve been feeling so bad lately and not wanting to get out of bed is because my 28th wedding anniversary is this Saturday.

I don’t even know how I’m going to observe the day. Part of me wants to get a Snickers bar (because that was always J’s favorite) and drink a whole bottle of wine by myself.

I was listening to the new Kendrick Lamar earlier yesterday and he had a song (which wasn’t otherwise relevant to my situation at all) that said “you ain’t felt grief til you felt it sober.” And that just hit me like a sucker punch to the gut.

I’ve been dealing with my grief mostly sober and it’s hard. I’ve never felt anything like this before and it’s so relentless. J’s just…gone. I’m slowly starting to realize that he’s really not coming back but honestly I’m still not used to it yet.

I also realized that I am actually ovulating right now, which is terrifying. There’s this tiny little part of my brain that wants to go out and be a slut and have sex with random people, just because I can. And because I miss feeling a warm body beside me, even for brief periods of time. But my fertility is scary (especially with the abortion restrictions in this state) and I know that even if I do hook up with a one night stand, I’d still have to go home alone and I think that would be worse than just being alone the whole time.

I’m angry at J for stealing the best years of my youth, for not divorcing me during the many many years that I was visibly in love with him and he wasn’t with me. Being told that by my daughter has given me really mixed feelings.

On the one hand, he eventually changed and became Mr Wonderful, so it all worked out in the end, right? But on the other hand, my head is still so fucked up from living with someone who couldn’t love me for so long.

I wrote beautiful eulogies about his life and left out all the bad parts. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? To be honest, all the good stuff I wrote about him was true. But if I had been the one to die first, would he have written anything good about me?

I feel almost entitled to find someone else. I feel like having Mr Wonderful for 6 years wasn’t enough (especially considering that he was sick during those years, too.)

But there’s no guarantee that I will ever find anyone else. And then that gets my head going down all kinds of unhealthy tracks. Was what I learned from loving someone who couldn’t love me for so many years really that much of a worthwhile experience, especially if that’s all I ever find?

I feel like I have so much love to give. I try to spread it around to people even now in platonic ways. I think I am a pretty good person. But the man I shared 22 years of my life with didn’t think so.

I know that was because of the trauma he suffered and never sought help for so I can’t completely blame him. At the same time, I feel like I’m damaged goods now and no one will ever want me.

I’m so tired of being alone and it’s only been a little over 5 months. Sometimes I just really want to give up on life. It all hurts too much.

Back to reality

I’m sort of back to reality again, in all of the most unpleasant sorts of ways.

I stayed in bed until 3pm yesterday, when I finally got up and took a shower. I went with Dylan to Home Depot to return a gate I bought, which is nice because it will give me $150 back.

Then I did some freelance work and tried to just be awake and relax as much as I could.

Then I had a conversation with my friend that I mentioned the other night. And somehow I totally misunderstood him (though I don’t really think I did) because he made a point of clarifying that although we’d certainly be sexually compatible and he has been attracted to me for 30 years, there’s not any plan for us to get together.

And I’m fine with that, I just feel stupid for misinterpreting his words the other night.

He still reiterated that he loves me as a friend and will be cheering me on as I re-enter the dating scene and he thinks that I am absolutely amazing and that I will eventually find the right person etc etc.

I really don’t think I misinterpreted what he actually said to me but maybe he realized that what I took from it wasn’t the same as what he meant.

So I’m back to exactly where I was before…still lonely and a bit horny and honestly kind of angry about J leaving me. This is going to be my world for probably a very long time and that sucks a lot.

Back to staying in bed

I’ve been in bed all day.

I don’t know if it’s from the DXM or because I turned up the indoor temperature 2 degrees or what but I just don’t feel good today.

I managed to upset Chloe by suggesting that she try to move her sleep earlier. She took it really badly. I know what lies ahead for her if she keeps being a third-shift person trying to wake up early in the morning and want to help her avoid that if possible.

I’m just exhausted and I don’t feel like things are going to work out in the end for me and I just want to go back to bed and deal with this later.

The day after

Amy said that the day after her DXM trips always left her with a sustained better mood, which she called an afterglow.

While I was in a pretty decent mood, I also still kind of felt the effects of the high yesterday. I wonder if I’ll get the afterglow tomorrow or if this was it. She said I could do it 2 or possibly even 3 times a week if I wanted but I don’t think that’s too likely.

I don’t know if it’s a sign that I struggle with relaxation (which I definitely do) but I can’t imagine losing that many hours a week.

I do also now have access to UT Southwestern’s department for treatment-resistant depression. I got a referral from my NP the other day. That may allow me to try ketamine, which is a therapy I’ve been very curious about.

I think that the reason I’ve gotten high twice in the past month (which is very out of character for me) is because I’m trying to see if it will help me process all my feelings about losing J. The first time, being high on weed was so unbelievably unpleasant for me that it didn’t help me at all with processing my feelings about J.

Amy suggested the DXM trip and said it would be more likely to achieve what I was looking for. I would say that in that regard, she was mostly correct.

But both times I was high, I kept a “trip log” of my experiences (which I am sure sounds super nerdy, lol.) And I actually shared both of them with her, which required some vulnerability on my part (especially last night’s, although I stopped it before my conversation with Chris got more inappropriate.)

Sharing last night’s with her actually really helped me and further strengthened the bond of trust I have with her. Actually, the more I tell her about the supposedly shameful secrets I have from my marriage, which I’ve felt so much shame about, the better she makes me feel about them and tells me that I have no reason to feel guilty.

One of the things I wrote in my trip log last night was that I felt so guilty about having the mindset of a serial cheater. And she made me feel so much better about that.

She said that she understood that the line between platonic and romantic relationships is very easy to blur and she had figured that out as a fairly young teen—before we moved down here at least.

She said that the reason J didn’t understand that was in part because he was so emotionally stunted and that it wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong. It’s still a little hard to let that really sink in and take root.

She also understood that he loved me to the fullest of his capacity (which I believe he did, too) but that the amount that I loved him was visibly so much greater.

She doesn’t blame me at all for trying to find happiness again with someone who’s more emotionally in touch with their feelings.

It’s kind of weird because my friend is experiencing something similar in her marriage that I have gone through before, too. She’s very positive overall and very growth-oriented and doesn’t define her happiness anymore by pursuit of material things. But her husband is not along for the ride at all.

In many ways, I felt the same way, starting when I moved back down here. I felt like my life had so many possibilities and I was keeping a very positive mindset. But then that came crashing back down when J moved down here.

Then he became Mr Wonderful and started to change how he treated me about a year later.

Then he got cancer and everything turned upside down in so many ways. We made the best of our time together while we had it and then I cared for him through the end, which took a brutal amount of strength on my part.

But he never did get to the point of understanding my more positive mindset, which I’m starting to get back again. I just don’t think he was capable of it.

I don’t know if I ever would have divorced him before he got cancer. I honestly thought about it a lot before he became Mr Wonderful. Afterwards, he was truly a joy in my life, even though he didn’t understand my belief in greater possibilities. I wonder if he ever would have if he hadn’t gotten cancer. It seemed like maybe he could have.

I think the results of my trip just made me feel sad about what J never got to experience. I still feel sad about that but I also feel like I did well to honor and respect him in the end.

But I also don’t feel like my story is anywhere near over yet, either. I’m actually kind of excited to see what happens to me.

Wow…just wow

Yesterday was kinda a clusterfuck of multiple proportions.

I got high on dextromethorphan…aka cough syrup. Amy told me about it and said she was much more enthusiastic about her experiences with it than with weed. She reacts in the same unpleasant ways to weed that I do.

It was in general a much better trip and I really enjoyed listening to Phoebe Bridgers on repeat while I was high.

I cried a lot, which I probably needed to do. I thought about how J had probably never experienced music in the same way that I was and that made me sad.

And then I decided to reach out to a very old friend of mine. I’ve mentioned him before and that my husband was threatened by him. We’re pretty much a perfect sexually compatible match. He was very glad to hear from me and tried to make me feel better. We talked for over 3 hours.

We also had an interesting experiment with mutual masturbation that somehow managed to skirt all the lines of inappropriateness. It was nice and I felt beautiful.

We’re left with the same dilemma we’ve always had: other partners. First, I had J, who was much less open to any kind of extramarital anything and was in fact a bit worried about my friendship with this guy (whom I’ve actually known for longer than I knew J.) And there’s the fact that while he’s married and his wife is bisexual and a little more open to ideas like polyamory, she’s also a wild card.

I don’t know what we’re going to do next. He’s actually in school to become a therapist also but he’s still working on undergrad. He lives in California, where I want to be.

But it’s all probably going to be a very long game. I don’t expect anything to happen very soon. But just knowing that it might is an exciting possibility for me. And knowing that I have him as a ride-or-die person in my corner and cheering me on counts for a lot.

Thinking about stuff

It has dawned on me that the reason Dylan is somewhat less comfortable with the idea of me dating than the other kids are because more of his life has been when my husband was in the Mr Wonderful stage. He doesn’t remember much about what my husband was like before that.

And furthermore, I see glimpses of young J in him, too. Like yesterday, we drove all the way down to the middle of fucking nowhere to try to get his permit. We got turned away again (this was attempt #5!!!) because we didn’t have his birth certificate.

I asked him before we left the house if he thought we would need his birth certificate and he said he didn’t know. I didn’t know either. I figured he probably wouldn’t because he already had to show his birth certificate to get his state ID.

But because this state has such fucking bizarre and strict and redundant rules regarding getting any form of state identification, it turned out that we did need it after all. I was so aggravated and frustrated and defeated.

Dylan kinda gave me some shit and asked me, “So do I have to be responsible for getting all my own documents, then? I thought you said you had your part handled.”

I could’ve just punched him when he said that. And honestly it reminded me so much of how J would have reacted when he was younger. Rather than just saying “oh well, shit happens” and getting over it quickly, he blamed me for something he could have also handled himself.

The difference between Dyl and young J is that Dyl got over it pretty fast. We stopped by a grocery store he likes on our way home and when we left, he said something about the effectiveness of retail therapy. Whereas I would have heard about my mistake for probably years with J.

The more I am remembering about the J of the first 22 years of my marriage, the less fondly I think of him. And that bothers me a lot because he DID change and become Mr Wonderful and he’s also dead now, so it feels extra unfair to have bad memories of him sometimes. But I do anyway.

I was talking with my friend the other day and her husband is so shitty and mean to her that he doesn’t even do some of the little nice things that J did for me even while he was in his prolonged asshole phase. So it’s clear that he was trying on some level to not be shitty to me.

I can’t help but really, really hope that I will someday find someone who truly loves me as much as I love him. Someone who is like J was during the Mr Wonderful years. I don’t want to think that I only got 6 years of being truly loved.

I want someone with whom I have a very real physical chemistry as well as a friendship. J always said that physical chemistry wasn’t a good thing to base a relationship on as an explanation for why we didn’t have it. I disagreed with him then and I even more vehemently disagree now.

I have beat myself up for so many long years, just for wanting to be loved and desired and thought of as fondly as I thought of my partner. I don’t really think that’s a bad thing anymore, but of course I have to rebuild my self-esteem.

I’m very picky and I’m not going to settle for less than what I want. I don’t expect that I’ll find it anytime soon. And in the meantime, I may just have some fun sexual encounters without any strings attached.

I know, most people would probably not think that was appropriate behavior from a widow, especially not this soon. I really don’t care. I think that it might be a valuable part of my healing process to pursue what makes me happy.

On the one hand, I feel extremely guilty about having the life insurance money and knowing how hard J worked to provide for us. I have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for what he went through his whole life—both before and after he met me. He really made the most of himself, especially given how he grew up.

But my healing process is so unlike that of other widows that I might leave my online support groups. Maybe I’ll start grieving more at some point; in fact, I hope I do. But for now, as odd as it is to say, I actually feel free for the first time in years.