If you had told me ten years ago that it would take me this long to navigate my conflicting feelings of loss and truly come to grips with the fact that my husband died, he's not coming back and I'll never see him again, I would have thought you were smoking something and totally out there.
In the beginning, I was just trying to survive which meant working a full-time job and raising a thirteen-year-old boy by myself. I honestly didn't think beyond the day I was in. That's all I could manage. I constantly told myself that other women have done it with more children and younger children and I could do it too. But still it took all of the energy I could muster.
|Photo By Sheila Hayes|
Day by day, slowly, I put one foot in front of the other, sometimes falling, sometimes crashing, but always finding a way to get back up and put myself out there again. There were times when I felt as though I were swimming without a lifeguard on duty. That I was screaming "Help" as loud as possible and no one heard me. No one was there to jump in and save me if you know what I mean.
And so I find that in between the making of daily decisions about working, taking care of the house, the car, and all of the other pressing responsibilities of motherhood and adulthood, somehow ten years happened. Ten years of soul searching. Ten years of living fully to the max.
What did I learn?
-- No one is going to do it for you. You are allowed to wallow in the unknowns and unfairness of your situation for a short amount of time but then you have to stop. As the saying goes, there comes a point where you have to pull up your big girl pants, take a deep breath and just go out there and live. As screwed up as you feel, you just have to keep going and trust in yourself. You are responsible for yourself and you will find your way to recover. You will!
-- Don't have regrets. If it's not worth your energy, then push it aside and move on. But if you have something to say to someone, then say it. I'm not suggesting that you be mean or abrupt but if you have a point to make or a compliment to give then do it. Don't wait around for a reason to do something. You can't be afraid to try something new. You are already living in uncharted territory. You can make it happen.
-- Nothing happens the way you think it will. I don't know why it happens that way but it does. That can be a good thing and it can also be an incredibly frustrating thing. I worked on shifting my perspective about certain parts of my life and then sometimes ended up being pleasantly surprised.
-- You have to take care of yourself; physically and mentally. You need to get lots of sleep, eat well and definitely, definitely exercise. Exercise is my saving grace. On many days when I felt like everything was melting down I forced myself to get on the stationary bicycle, go outside and run or take a walk. Sometimes I would walk with a friend and other times I would put the trusty ear buds in my ears, turn up the music, and try to work through some of my feelings that made me think I was constantly screwing up and that life was a mess.
-- Reach out. Definitely reach out. Yes, your family and friends are more than uncomfortable with what has happened to you but you just have to keep talking and hoping that you can help them see what it feels like. Strengthen your emotional support system. Find a support group or volunteer to help a cause you are passionate about. I think you will find it hard to make good solid progress if you try to push your feelings down inside yourself. They will not go away on their own. I know you think that you can ignore the chaotic emotional mess that's churning around inside of you but guess what? You have to push through to the other side of the pain.
Ten years of hard work later, I feel I am in a better place and I have made huge strides in rebuilding my life. I am writing this today in the hopes that I can lend a helping hand to others who are also on a journey to heal their hearts. Cry, Laugh, Heal is here to let you know you are not alone in the emotions surrounding the loss of a loved one.
Perhaps more than anything, even as everything hits the fan, I have learned to try and stay positive and hopeful, to keep my heart open to all kinds of love and good times and the wonders of living a full life.
Our loved ones would want us to find happiness without them and even though life doesn't feel the same, there is always, always the possibility for a different kind of life. It may not be a life you had initially thought of for yourself but you are talented and special and deserve to find joy and inner peace . . . and maybe even fall in love again.
Anything is possible!!!