Trying to get my groove back

I ended up having to take down a couple of Medium posts.

Amy had a hard time reading them and it was making her get really mad at me.

Unfortunately, this is a lot like the time when my mom reacted badly to something I wrote. That time ended up throwing me off my game for about 6 weeks. I really hope this time doesn’t take as long.

My muse is apparently very, very sensitive and when people close to me are reading and reacting badly it just shuts me right up.

On another note, I’ve gone down two sizes since January (three since this time last year.) Clothing shopping is fun again and I’m getting a little more adventurous with my outfits.

On yet another note, I have finally found the grad school program I want to attend. It’s in Dallas at a nationally known university with a great reputation. It’s also very competitive, so I’m not guaranteed to get in, although I think I stand a good chance because my undergrad grades were so high.

BUT the downside is that I’ve already missed the deadline for the fall semester. If I get in, it will be worth the wait. I might even try to go full time. But that also leaves me with more time to fill up and who knows what that will do to me. I guess we’ll see.

The blahs

I am still just tired.

I’ve taken Provigil the past two days (a smaller dose) so I could get some stuff done and I’ll probably do the same thing tomorrow. After all, stuff still has to get done, whether I have the energy for it or not. Which I don’t. I still want to stay in bed all day.

I wrote an article for Medium yesterday about how J grew up. It took a lot out of me and I still don’t feel like I did nearly as good of a job capturing what I wanted to say as I’d hoped. Maybe I’ll try again later.

I feel like I have so much I want to say and I just can’t get the words out.

I got in a fight with the kids at dinner yesterday. I apologized to them and we ended up resolving it but shit is just hard. I told them both that they had to start chipping in towards household expenses. But I made the mistake of telling Chloe that I didn’t feel like she was trying very hard to get a job (which, honestly, she’s not, although she has had a lot of delays due to her name change.) She burst into tears and said that she already feels bad enough that she doesn’t have a job and that she doesn’t feel confident that she can do it and my comments don’t help.

That broke my heart and I don’t know how to fix it. We talked through it and I told her that I was just extremely worried about money and I needed her to take her share of the bills out of her savings. I really, really didn’t want to have to do that.

Dylan stayed mad at me for longer (he’s a lot like J in that regard.) But he still gets over it quicker than J did. I told him that I needed to talk to him and I went over roughly how much our monthly bills are and how much income I have and he could easily see how short I am.

I told him that I needed his help and asked how much he would be able to contribute and when. I was surprised that he estimated a larger amount than I was thinking he would.

But he said that he might want me to pay off his student loans, which are relatively small; only $2750. They’re not even due yet so I told him we could revisit the issue when they do come due. I explained that in my current situation, paying bills that aren’t even due yet doesn’t make sense.

I am worried about him, though, because he is so extremely terrified of debt. Like to an irrational degree. J was similarly terrified of student loan debt, which I told him about.

When we first moved down here, J and I both were going to enroll in school; that was part of the reason we initially moved here. Even out-of-state tuition was cheaper in Texas than in-state tuition was in Michigan. But when he realized that we would have to take out loans to do it, he backed out (for both of us, which I didn’t appreciate.)

I explained how that ended up being a huge mistake that altered the course of our lives. J never did go to school for what he wanted (to teach elementary school.) I told Dylan that doing so ended up hugely screwing us over financially in the end because J didn’t earn as much as an elementary school teacher until 2 years ago.

Dylan didn’t believe me and he fact-checked me right then on his phone and looked up the median salary for elementary school teachers in our metro. Oh.

I don’t know if I should pay off his student loan or not. On the one hand, it’s not that much. But on the other hand, is he entitled to it? I mean, no one ever paid off any of my loans. And he seemed to think that the life insurance money I got was “supposed to” go toward my education, so why not his, too?

The sense of entitlement was so huge in his statement. I explained that no, the life insurance money is all I will ever have as a personal safety net.

But he’s so terrified of debt that I don’t know what he’d do if I didn’t pay it off. He doesn’t understand that his payments would be next to nothing; it’s the fact of having that debt that’s terrifying to him. I’ll have to think about it for a while.

Meanwhile, another day, another shooting in America. I’m so, so tired of this. I want to get out of this state, possibly this whole country. I really don’t know what to do about that, either.

The real grief, day 2

So I wondered if I was grieving wrong before because I couldn’t feel anything and wondered if the real breakdown was coming. I know now that no, I wasn’t “grieving wrong” but that my brain was protecting me from what it couldn’t handle.

Last night I had trouble sleeping and then when I tried, I had very lucid dreams (alas, no contact with J) and I was noticeably really starving—which I haven’t been in months, maybe years. When I got up, my body was still trying to hang on to sleep for a really long time.

Unfortunately, when I woke up, I wasn’t still feeling hungry anymore. I guess that’s going to be another stage in my healing process and I’m not there yet.

Now I’m feeling everything and it’s not pretty. My sleep schedule is completely whacked out. Even my menstrual cycle is reacting. I say that only because it shows how strong the mind-body link is and I think that similar reactions to major trauma explain some of the reasons for extremely early menopause in other women in my family.

Basically, I haven’t had a period since the week before J died and I chalked it up to perimenopause. But now that I am facing my grief, it feels like it’s coming back.

I’m realizing how powerful denial is and how easy it would be to slip into it. I could have very easily stayed in that state forever and I think it was only that my friend (who’s also working toward becoming a therapist himself) recognized the sadness in my eyes that it snapped me out of it. And now I feel like I’m really beginning the real grieving process.

Not that this is a new wave of grief. Many people say there are waves of grief. No, this is completely new and different. It’s like there was this hard, thick layer of ice around my emotions before and it’s finally melted away. I feel completely raw and exposed to air and everything hurts.

I wanted to do so much today. I need to change the cat litter and clean the kitchen and take out the recycling and get stuff ready to mail and reply to blog comments. And change my sheets and wash my laundry and take a shower. But in truth, all I got done was finished an article by deadline.

I also want to keep writing for Medium but I can tell that I need time and rest before being able to write my next article. I thought I would write about becoming unthawed emotionally but it has become clear that the next thing I have to write is about the abuse J grew up with…again.

I’m thinking more about his life and I am angry and sad about what he went through. That’s such a heavy topic and it’s going to take brain power that I just don’t have right now to write it.

I actually have to sit with it and feel it and think about it. Doing so is incredibly emotionally draining. I will be glad when I do it because I know it will be a purging and it will probably be a good article, too.

But I’m actually having to gear up to write, which is new. I’m starting to understand my creative process and how it works now.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to focus on my writing and my physical and mental health instead of trying to date anyone. It doesn’t sound as fun but it’s what needs to be done.

And now even though I’m not tired per se, I’m just so mentally drained that all I can think about is going to bed early.

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.