Friday 1st December
Two days have passed and I’ve had no correspondence with my now ex lover.
For nearly a year my days have been peppered with constant phone conversations, and I mean constant, sometimes hourly, sometimes hour-long conversations and quite a few in a day. I won’t complain as it has felt supportive and I’ve appreciated the thought.
But now there is only quiet.
I am getting work done, I am having uninterrupted times with my daughters. There are times when I want to pick up the phone, give him a call, have a catch up but I stop myself.
I feel like we are doing well, at the moment. I am completely in love with my little family, my girls are doing beautifully and I am loving spending (uninterrupted) time with them, watching them blossom. I love my morning cuddles with our cats – my lover hated cats and they weren’t allowed into any space he occupied. They’d scratch at the door, demanding to get in to claim their morning love and strokes and he’d be terrified. I have to admit I was a little amused by this; he’d endured four war zones but was completely freaked out by a little kitty cat.
I still have a low confidence issue to deal with. I think this is a common condition of the newly bereaved that after the loss of our most loved ones, the knock throws us off and rock bottom becomes our occupied territory.
I have this problem that I just see the best in people, their potential as humans and their good sides and I only want people to feel better in life.
I notice this most when I play tennis. It has been one of my saving graces – whacking a ball about for a couple of hours has been the best distraction for me – but the problem I am currently dealing with is that I can’t call a ball out when it’s clearly out.
‘Well, it was nearly in, and such a cracking serve’, so I keep quiet and return it, happy to keep the game going.
My doubles partner had a quiet but stern word with me about this. Apparently I’m being uncertain about my line calls, I need to call it ‘out’ when it’s out and not doubt myself. Just this interaction in itself was enough to throw me off, back to my ‘rock bottom’. How can I even doubt myself in tennis? I know it’s out but I wait for confirmation, or if I call it out I expect a confrontation from the opposition.
I’m the team captain! It’s my job to be clear and strong about these things. Whoever’s idea was it to nominate me!?
I’m so hard on myself; I think the key issue here is complete lack of confidence and fear of letting someone down.
I need to work on this as it’s affecting my work. It was a source of utter frustration to my (ex) lover as he could see my brilliance and he saw my behavior as self-sabotage. That may have been true, but deeply, truly I think it’s about bereavement and this lack of confidence is a common and very real issue we have to face and deal with. Only time and gentle loving, nonjudgmental coaxing can help us to slowly renew trust in life and friendship and ourselves.
Thursday 14th December
[GRIEF]: One of life’s most stressful experiences is associated with bereavement following the death of a partner and which may give rise to “I am out of control” syndrome.
Evidence exists that bereavement is related to a suppression of white cell function. As long as a year may elapse before a normal blood pattern is regained. (Dr Stephen Schleifer, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City); Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal medicine, 1998.
Lack of white blood cells can make a person more susceptible to illness. This journey of grief and bereavement has taken me on a journey I would never ever want to repeat. I have been so unwell, broken, exhausted, desperate and disparate. I have been lost, dysfunctional, disabled and a part of me has died along with my wonderful husband.
But here I find myself, on the cusp of my 48th year, (I got through an anniversary yesterday, my birthday) and I’m fine! I’m more than fine, yesterday I felt fabulous.
Fabulous! I could feel it in my cells; it’s been over two long years of feeling awful. I’ve been fighting to stay afloat, struggling for air, battling every stumbling step, approaching each day with dread. But yesterday, my birthday, when I should have felt awful, sad and consumed by the sense of loss, I didn’t.
I’ve completely let go, stopped struggling to stay afloat, allowed myself to sink, explore the depths, abandon all consequences… but hang on, I’m still here. I’m breathing, embracing, marveling at the moon twinkling in a viridian sky and I feel great.
Yesterday, for my birthday, I held no expectations. My dear friend had taken us away for the night on the weekend previous and it was glorious. All I had was the postcode, my children and a bag of clothes, (mostly waterproofs) and we set off.
She prepared dinner and sorted everything, even the snow. I didn’t have to think about or plan anything and it was the best birthday gift I could hope for.
So for my actual birthday I found myself relaxed, devoid of expectation and totally at peace with the present. I had planned a bike ride with my mate, and it was raining (a lot) and 40 mile an hour gusts were forecast, but hey, I was afloat, breathing, no cares.
We set off, all caution whisked away by the gusting head winds. We caught the ferry across the very bumpy Mersey and it was hilarious, completely barmy (as opposed to balmy) and outrageous. And amazing, we just rode toward the horizon, into the wind and the rain, cobwebs past and present blown away; didn’t quite get as far as we had hoped, unsurprisingly.
I had a lovely day and I still feel fine, the first day into my forty eighth year. Kevin is still with me, in me, of me. I think I am learning that in letting go and allowing movement, I do not need to let go of him, that I won’t forget him. He is with us and of us and all is actually quite well.
Despite our tragedy, of losing our love, our life, our future, we are lucky to have shared the time we had together. Perhaps it was pre-ordained; perhaps his life was always going to be short-lived. Perhaps he had more important work to complete on the other side. So many variables.
But for us; my dear husband, friend and most wonderful human, is gone from this physical plane. I will always love him, cherish his input into our lives and know that a part of him is with us. My girls have lost their father, the source of their existence, their mentor, their stable loving voice of reason, their protector.
But we are still here, on this physical plane, hurtling toward Christmas. We can do it, we will do it and we are doing it. And it may even be okay, because we are okay and we have life.
In letting go of everything dear and precious, we are finding a beauty, a faith and boldness in life. (I think and I hope)
Again, watching this space….
Thursday 21st December
We’ve joined a gym.
My oldest had been asking to join the local Leisure Centre Gym and a promotion came up for our local posh gym, so we went along and joined. I fear that I am raising the bar of her expectations in life – there are hand creams in the wash rooms!
We are having a very special mother daughter bonding time. During our first visit we bumbled into a ‘Synergy’ class, which was pure torture but nevertheless, bundles of fun. We got on bikes and road nowhere, we’ve climbed virtual mountains and we’ve been on running machines, covering miles but still getting nowhere. It’s all a bit strange for an outdoors kind of family but its winter and its dark and we’re getting out of the house.
It’s been a very special time for me, I am loving the one on one time with my oldest. My youngest still prefers to stay home in the confines of her familiar, which is fine, she’ll perk up when she’s ready and I need to trust that this will happen.
But for now, despite painful protestations every time we negotiate a set of stairs, we’re having a whole load of fun together. I’m being coerced into a Zumba class next, my limbs are still acheing from a ‘Grit’ class yesterday which my daughter very wisely excused herself from – I think the name put her off, can’t imagine why!
Christmas is looming and we’re bumbling along
Friday 29th December
We survived Christmas. I won’t deny that it was hard. The thing with grief and bereavement, is that you don’t really know when it’s going to hit.
I was prepared for the impact, expecting it, trying everything that I could to avoid it but it was an obstacle that I had to face.
The distraction of attaining physical fitness with my daughter, winter swims, saunas and healthy smoothies at the in-house café served to keep us away from the encroaching inevitability of Christmas.
And then it happened, and my daughter woke up next to me and mumbled ‘We must be the most unexcited family ever on this Christmas day’.
We kept it real, low key and chilled out. I felt choked up all day, a lump of pain in my throat, instead of fighting it and trying to be happy and joyous, I acknowledged it, embraced it and focused on enjoying the positives, trusting life.
And it was fine, long video chats with family, a beautiful visit from our dear friends, a dog walk, a visit to the skatepark and a visit from my ex lover, who swore that he ‘doesn’t do Christmas’. We ate when the food was ready, pulled Christmas crackers, a whole box between three of us, four each! Bonus!
We only watched a little television, my ex lover returned and we played some serious card games. Blackjack like they’ve never experienced, casino style and as for Monopoly; I doubt my children will ever view the world in their same rose tinted innocence, the blossom of their youth has been annihilated, they have been introduced to the cut throat world of ruthless business and property domination. I thought we played competitively before, but this was way beyond any levels we’d soared, sunk, or been exposed to before.
One day at a time, one task at a time, new experiences constantly.
I realize that we have all lost our confidence in life, but in keeping it open and embracing new experiences, mostly in small ways, we are allowing bigger changes to surreptitiously grow.
My lover is back, but with no expectations.
We appreciate small moments and for now that is all we have.