I survived (and it wasn’t that bad)

So today I celebrated Thanksgiving with my kids (plus Amy’s boyfriend, who is by now like a family member.) And even though I was dreading it, it really wasn’t that bad at all. Thinking about it was definitely worse than the actual experience.

Dylan did all the cooking and all I had to do was mash two sets of potatoes (vegan and regular.) Then, of course, I washed up all the dishes. That was time-consuming and not fun but it was nothing compared to doing all that cooking.

We had lots of very interesting conversations as usual. I wrote about one thing we discussed in an article for Medium.

But I wanted to talk about something else we discussed because it was enormously helpful to me. Amy gave me some very smart and wise advice about what to do with my future.

First, she told me that I should stay on disability and not try to pursue a full-time career. Not becoming a therapist. Not hoping for a FT job at the Trevor Project either for some very good reasons.

She said that I can try to cut my expenses for now but that I should plan on moving somewhere cheap that’s about 90 minutes to two hours away from a big city. She knows from how I was in Michigan that I will get in moods where I need a fix of city life.

If I do that, I don’t need to live in a big city, which is unaffordable anyway.

She also told me that I need to make friends and told me how, because she used the same techniques herself when we moved here and she didn’t know anyone. Once I gain that skill, I can go anywhere. The world is full of potential friends, she said, and I just have to learn how to meet them.

She discouraged me from meeting too many people in widows’ groups because that focuses on my status and identity as a widow. She also similarly discouraged me from say starting an OnlyFans account and having that be my primary social interaction because then I will base my identity on my sexual attractiveness. I honestly can’t argue with any of that.

Most importantly, though, she very strongly discouraged me from going back to Michigan. She had much the same arguments that I gave her when she moved down here and wanted to move back home, which she now says was absolutely the right thing to do.

In fact, she said that if I ever seriously tell her I’m moving back to Michigan, she’ll 5150 me. (That’s an involuntary psychiatric hold of someone who’s a danger to themselves. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t stick but her point is well-taken.)

Now that she’s here, she can see what’s wrong with Michigan in particular. She described it as an essential stinginess, a refusal to help anyone else because you see anything you give as a personal loss to yourself. She said that she even sees it in her friends back home. And I can’t argue with that at all; I see it, too.

She reminded me about how much I hated it there, reciting a litany of my frequent complaints. And I didn’t disagree with any of it.

She also ruled out southern Illinois, which is one place I’d considered, simply because she knows about how bad my seasonal affective disorder gets. She said it would be just as bad there as it was in Michigan. It’s true; my mood really doesn’t do well with a ton of cloudy days.

She said that I should look somewhere between here and California for a smaller town within driving distance of a big city. Then, I could probably qualify for a USDA home loan, which requires no money down.

I agreed with everything she said. But the hardest part for me is accepting that I’m really disabled and I’m not going to get off of it.

I still fight that with everything within me. Dammit, I’ve always, always believed that I could get off disability. I’d be able to make a shitload of money if only I could get motivated.

But deep down, I know that’s not really true. It’s still hard to accept it anyway but maybe now I have to start trying to come to terms with it.

Prepped for dread

I’ve got the house as clean as I’m going to get it before Amy and John come over for Thanksgiving tomorrow, although I’m still going to try to vacuum up the cat litter in the living room. Overall the house doesn’t look terrible, which is really a testament to how much I’ve worked to get it this way.

I’m honestly dreading it tomorrow and I know Amy is, too. I don’t know what to do about that. It’s the first major holiday since J died and nothing feels right without him here.

I’ve been applying for jobs I’m qualified for but I never hear back. But I am at a point where I need help. I can’t pay the rent this month, which is a first. I’ll be able to get it but it’s a real struggle.

I need a job ASAP but I also don’t know if I can even do a job. It’s a real conundrum. All I know is that I have to do something or I won’t survive for very long. And that terrifies the crap out of me.

I don’t know if I’m going to be okay or not. I might have to move back home to Michigan because it’s so much cheaper there but I really really don’t want to. I just can’t seem to get it together enough to make it work on my own and that makes me feel like such a colossal failure that I can’t even put it into words.

So worried

I am really worried about my future and whether or not I’m going to be okay in the end.

I don’t make nearly enough money to support myself and spend the money that I do on the kids. I don’t have to spend much on them but there are still little things I do to try to make their lives better. But very often that’s at the expense of what will be best for me in the long run.

For example, I buy whatever ingredients Dyl asks for to make dinner for us. I shouldn’t really be spending that much and we should be eating a lot simpler meals than we are. I pay for Dyl to go to therapy, which is less expensive than many therapists but I still spend $150 a month on that and that really adds up.

I don’t really worry about spending $20 here or there but I have to realize that I am legit actually really poor right now. This is only sustainable because I can take money out of the life insurance policy to get by but that’s definitely not going to last forever at this rate.

I have to buckle down and buck up and get motivated to do whatever it takes to support myself. But I just don’t have the energy or motivation to do that at all and I don’t know why I don’t.

I know that I need to and I know that it’s already an emergency. But I am just so tired all the time.

I think I finally got a clue about what’s going on with my health and lack of energy today, though. I spent the night at Cat’s house last night and wore my Apple Watch to sleep. I slept for 8 hours and 40 minutes and it took me an unbelievably long time to wake up. I swear that I could have fallen back asleep at any moment for nearly a half-hour.

She suggested that I download an app to track my sleep, so I did. It said that my sleep quality was like 80 percent, so I should have felt very well-rested. But I didn’t and I was so tired that I could barely function. (Meanwhile, Cat’s sleep quality was at like 33 percent and she was still able to wake up and get going.)

Then I looked at my heart rate variability and it was so absolutely abnormal that it has me feeling completely terrified now. It said that compared to other women my same age and BMI, my heart rate variability was worse than all but 6 percent.

I looked it up and heart rate variability is apparently a pretty major predictor of future heart problems. Not surprisingly, my brain never fully lets go of the amount of stress I feel, so I’m always in fight or flight mode.

The thing is that my mom had a heart attack when she was only 5 years older than I am now. I’ve had my heart checked out and everything came back perfect, no plaques or blockages or anything.

But the thing is that my mom’s heart looked exactly the same after her heart attack, too; she didn’t have any plaques or blockages, either.

So now I’m wondering if I’m a sitting duck for a heart attack, too. Only now I don’t have a husband to take care of me and that’s even more terrifying. I want to get out of the US so I have access to more affordable healthcare but I am too scared to go alone. I don’t think I would last long in a totally new country where I don’t know anyone.

I have to figure out how to really relax and turn off my stress before it might actually kill me. But I also need to figure out how to really buckle down and get a lot more work done, despite how constantly tired and exhausted I am.

I’ve thought about trying to see if I could make things work with one of the many, many men who like my dating profile and want to meet me. Sure, I’m not attracted to them and I would greatly prefer to be in a relationship with a woman but they’re not exactly beating down my door. But hey, since I’m apparently failing at taking care of myself, maybe I could find another man to marry who would help with the bills.

But I also know that that’s really gross and really dishonest. I’m just really feeling that desperate.

It all just feels really impossible and like I’m not going to make it and I don’t know what I’ll do then. I’m honestly feeling like it’s all so impossible that I might as well die so at least I could give the kids the rest of the money I have left from J.

Nice things

I have to say that I’m really happy with how things are working out with Cat.

We don’t have any real commitment to each other, which sometimes is strange for me. But it’s also what I seem to need at this point in my life. I don’t think I could really do a major commitment now.

She’s a real friend first of all, which is really good and appreciated. She knows about what’s going on with my kids and understands why parenting is so important to me because she’s a parent too.

We’re also unbelievably sexually compatible, which is something I’ve honestly never experienced with anyone else before. I’m used to more awkwardness about sex and expressing desire.

I don’t think this will be a permanent thing but I am really enjoying it while it lasts. I know that she cares about me. Even though my sleep schedule annoys her, she also understands it. If I’m up much earlier than usual, she says that I need to get more sleep. She also truly listens to me and therefore she also understands which things are going to result in me needing to recover and get more sleep.

Often she accepts that about me even when I don’t and I’m tempted to try to push through my limits. She knows by now what will happen if I do and tries to discourage me from doing it.

Plus I’m finding out that I am really very sexual and confident in myself sexually. That’s a completely new thing for me and it’s honestly really nice. Overall I’m just really happy for what I have with her.

The concert last night

I went to a concert of probably my favorite band last night, The 1975. I went with Dylan and I wasn’t sure how it would go because I previously saw them with J, which was one of my favorite memories I had with him.

Dyl also really likes the band, whereas J mostly only went because I wanted to see them and he wanted to make me happy. Seeing the show with him in some ways was even better than when I saw them with J, which is a complicated feeling.

Dyl has already listened to their most recent album and we’ve thoroughly discussed it. For example, he read the lyrics to one of their new songs and told me about them. The song is really happy sounding but it’s actually about a mass shooter. The perspective is hilarious in effect and it’s such a smart social commentary. Dyl and I both completely agree about it being brilliant and it made us both like the song a lot more.

But J never listened to the lyrics like Dyl does and the lyrics are a major part of what I love about this band (and most other bands as well.) Like me, Dyl listens to the lyrics first and the music is secondary. J always listened to the music first and foremost. Because music is one of the most important things to me, I really appreciate that Dyl gets it, too. Of all my kids, he’s the one who most thoroughly shares my passion for music and understands how and why it means so much to me.

He has lots of other great qualities as well. He’s a lot like J but completely unique in his own way. I feel like I really understand him and he really understands me as well. In the absence of J, in particular, Dyl gives me a reason to keep going, even when it’s a colossal struggle to do so.

It’s kinda funny to think about just how deeply unhappy and depressed I was when I was pregnant with him because today he’s one of my very best friends in the world. I am so grateful that he exists.

Stuck in the muck

I don’t even know what’s going on with me lately but I can’t seem to make any progress on anything. It’s like I just have to stay put and get through this weird time.

I guess on the bright (??) side, getting high allows me to escape the anxiety for a few hours. I can’t do shit while I’m high (which sucks) but it does help me eat more, so I guess that’s good maybe. I know I’m just escaping my problems when I do that but honestly I feel like I need to escape them for a while. I can’t seem to do anything else anyway.

I realized that I’m actually still affected much more than I thought by “widow brain.” I can usually keep track of what I absolutely need to do, like keeping appointments and such. But that’s literally all I can do right now, which I find incredibly, immensely frustrating.

I can’t seem to change my sleep schedule (which is not surprising because I have been diagnosed with an actual sleep disorder.) But I also have lots of other stuff I would like to do and in some cases, need to do, and I just can’t.

I need to keep cleaning my bedroom, bathroom, and closet but most days I can only do one task towards that end. Today I got both sinks in my bathroom scrubbed and cleaned off the countertops. That feels like such a momentous victory yet I know in reality that it’s next to nothing.

I still have lots and lots of stuff to list for sale and I just don’t have the energy right now to list any of it.

I want to write a return letter to this woman who was in my former home team from church. She wrote me a letter last Christmas saying she hoped I was doing well. At the time I wrote her a reply that J was going on hospice but he died before I could even mail it. So I guess I need to write and tell her that J died but that feels awkward and complicated (even though it’s probably not.)

I also want to start writing some books but I just can’t get motivated. It seems like there must be more that I can do to improve my situation but I just don’t feel even remotely able to do so.

I read in one of my support groups for widows that people are still dealing with widow brain for years. The lack of motivation is a very common thing with that. But I can’t be dealing with this for years. I’m still worried about the money I loaned my friend. She’s just completely ghosted me and I haven’t heard from her at all in months.

I’ve pretty much determined that she was intentionally setting me up to be taken advantage of one more time. And that’s absolutely my fault for being so gullible but it’s also a very deep regret.

I screwed myself over and now I have to fix it. I’m sure that someday I’ll figure out how to get out of this and put some concrete steps in motion. But today is not that day and I’m not sure when I will have that kind of capability again.

Losing J has all these ripple effects and I’m left trying to piece everything back together and it’s so incredibly difficult.

Going to bed early

I am just exhausted. I had to wake up really early to get Dyl from work yesterday and I woke up early today for therapy.

Therapy is going well, by the way. I think we’re getting some stuff worked out.

But it was also a big day for voting and it looks like all the candidates I supported lost.

I don’t really know what to do next. I suppose I should get out of the country altogether but I kinda don’t want to. Yet our for-profit healthcare system makes me feel like I’m going to die if anything big ever happens to me like it did to J.

There are so many things I can’t do and can’t take with me if I go and I kinda don’t like that. But I basically feel like I’m being forced out of my home.

This just entirely sucks and I don’t know what to do next.

The weekend

I had a really wonderful weekend. On Saturday, I spent the night at Cat’s and we went to Oklahoma to stock up on weed.

The sex was great as usual and I really enjoyed her company.

I’ve realized over the course of the past month or so that I really do have kind of a lesbian superiority complex, which I know sounds funny. I think that there are different tiers of orgasms and I think that a lesbian orgasm with a spiritual component is the absolute best one.

When you have that spiritual component, it means that your bodies are so in sync that when they have an orgasm it makes you have one, too. Like a positive feedback loop of orgasms.

I don’t know what is going to happen between me and her and I don’t think about it. It just is what it is and that’s really awesome.

The other night we both got high and had sex and then we got the munchies at the same time so we ate snacks in her bed. It felt like a slumber party in all the best ways.

I’m also realizing that I’m going to be leaving the US most likely in 2024. That gives me time to get my plans in order. I’m sure there will be a lot to do but I’m really determined. And what I know about myself is that when I set my mind to something, I can really do it.

It’s winding down but I’m not

I probably seem like I’m all over the place and it’s true: I am.

Although I have moments like I did the other day, when I wrote that I was grateful—and that was true—I also have moments like these, where I’m overwhelmed and overcome by sheer panic and terror.

I think my mom is finally figuring out that I am both at alternating times. I can be great and hopeful and confident one day and then barely hanging on the next day.

I realized today that I’m starting to be very very aware of what was happening at this time last year.

It’s kinda funny in a way because the events of the months of November and December last year were so completely traumatic and I didn’t let myself feel what was really happening last year at all.

For one thing, J’s condition declined so incredibly rapidly over these two months last year that I didn’t even really recognize that it was the end until after the fact.

This year, I feel it so deeply. I can’t escape it no matter what I do. And now I am truly realizing exactly how horrible those months were and what J and I went through together.

That was an extremely traumatizing time and now I get to deal with it. It’s almost like my brain shut down completely just to get through November and December last year but now my brain is like tapping me on the shoulder, saying “hey, remember what you didn’t deal with last year? Now it’s time and you’re going to.”

Everything reminds me of it. The darkening skies earlier in the evenings and the cooler weather. The fact that it’s going to be time to change the clocks back from daylight savings time this weekend. It all just feels so familiar and I hate every minute of it.

My anxiety is steadily increasing and nothing I do will alleviate it. And now I finally understand why. All the stuff I couldn’t process last year because it was too traumatic is now back and it won’t let me go.

I don’t know how I will get through the next few months. I don’t even know if I will make it through the next couple of months.

Exhausted but grateful

I guess the subject line says it all.

I got so much stuff done yesterday and I am so happy and relieved about it. I even made a lot of progress on my room and I hope to do more tomorrow.

I had a long talk with the kids because I was getting really frustrated by the fact that they (Chloe in particular) were not really pulling their weight around here. So we had a “come to Jesus” kind of talk and got a lot of stuff sorted out and new chore plans and division of labor. I feel really good about that.

Mostly I am just feeling really grateful. There are income based apartments in Denton that are a whole lot cheaper than what I currently pay. I’m thinking maybe I’ll try to move there in 6 months or so. (Well realistically next summer.) But who knows? This state is turning into a dumpster fire and if the same old jack wagons get re-elected I might move somewhere else instead.

In a way, that’s what was so good about talking with the kids yesterday. I am trying to prepare them for being on their own. I don’t know if Dyl will live with me or just in the same city but Chloe supposedly wants to move back to the Midwest where housing is cheap.

Dyl is so helpful and has such an easygoing personality. He is so much like J in that way, only more in touch with his emotions and better able to tell me when he’s upset. I wouldn’t mind living with him or even near him.

But I need to get to bed now. Tomorrow I’m going to an All Souls’ Day church service at J’s church. It’s the first time I’ve been in church since his memorial and I’m a bit nervous about it. I don’t know if I’ll completely fall apart or if it will be nothing.