Monday January 2, 2012
(One approach to writing is using the what? so what? and now what? questions to lead through to a conclusion. So I gave myself a prompt to sort through the discomfort of how I feel today and what I can do about it.*)
The hardest part of life for me right now is….
- Trusting myself. Self doubt loves to creep in when I feel confused about what I can accomplish, or have “should’s” in my life, or just don’t live up to my own to-do list.
- Choosing priorities. Business, grief, caregiver, me. This relates to all the roles and expectations I name for myself.
- Being patient. I want to “stay present” but I also want to plan and implement. See priorities, above!
- Being patient. There are some things I can’t control, therefore they have their own timetable – that would be everything outside of me! I can control only my response.
- Being patient. With my own health concerns. I have to work my way back a little bit at a time. This may slow me, but I don’t have to let it stop me.
- Fear of being alone. Not being alone, but talking to myself all the time. (Wow. This is my unexpected thought from writing.) Isn’t writing talking to myself all the time? That’s not a difficulty, nor a fear. Not talking to myself, but being alone. Being alone. In some ways I am already alone, and have a taste of widowhood – the ultimate abandonment from a partner. Yet I am not alone because Dave is very much with me in his present state. However, the very real threat of his leaving has been going on for over a year now. (This is where all the “Dave hasn’t died yet” derives from.) He is willing and able to express his love, support, and… provide for me. Dave has been my protector and provider for decades now. Soon I will be responsible for all of this myself. My safety net will be gone. I suppose I am already in this position of responsibility since our primary income has transitioned to retirement funds.
My feet are in two worlds.
I believe that one of the biggest, hairiest, most important insights to understand the meaning of loss is to discover what qualities or characteristics the loved one’s relationship provided. Even though I have contributed substantially to our finances and provisions over the years, Dave has always been the primary breadwinner. I have counted on him in this capacity through both lean times and flush times. Dave, of course, means far more than the dollar and cents. But I am considering how his life’s work represents the backbone for our security and financial stability.
I’ve hit upon this role of Dave before as protector and provider, but did not apply it to me. His death means I will become my own long-term provider financially and emotionally. I’ve been dancing around this in all sorts of ways over the past year. I’ve felt it in my anxiety over business goals, how to spend my time, and fussing about my own health and worrying about how to address logistics if “something” happens to me.
Being alone isn’t really my fear. I am comfortable in my own skin. It’s thinking about providing for me in all the ways Dave has fulfilled in my life. It’s wondering if I can provide substantially for myself once again and presumably for decades to come. After all, I haven’t financially supported myself alone since 1983. That’s a long while. It’s been us, rather than me. The world is different. I am, too. Perhaps I am even more capable when I think about it! I can at least hope that the maturity of wisdom can override the loss of youthful strength.
So what do I do about these things?
I recognize my fears and make choices to act. Hoorah for writing to help me identify my feelings and be constructive! I play to my abilities: organization, planning, implementing. I give myself credit for being the expert in my own life for what is right for me. I remind myself to trust that I am and will be OK. I give myself permission to be patient because I am in a very stable environment, and because we have already planned for this part of life.
I must breathe. I do what is possible physically and mentally given the circumstances of our health and challenges. One day, one hour, one minute at a time. I can be happy in knowing that our and my immediate future is safe and secure. I have plenty of time and opportunity to continue to build both my business and my life upon what is already established.
I am reminded today that we are our stories in life: The stories we tell ourselves each day; the stories of relationships; the stories of our future. The ability to tell stories is our humanness.
We manifest our stories. It doesn’t matter whether the story is grief and loss, or love and care. We have the opportunity to change our stories, bit by bit until grief becomes understandable, until pain becomes wellness, until we trust ourselves to choose a positive conclusion. As authors, I like that we can choose a happy ending, too.
The New Year touches off an exaggeration of facing both my accomplishments and expectations, and even fears. I get a double dose of this thinking as I approach my birthday in a couple of days – the personal mile-marker for another year of life. When I don’t like the thoughts I guess it is up to me to change the direction of the story. I’ll rewrite the plot. Life already adds the twist and turns that makes the reading interesting.
* Writing helps me learn what I think. It can help you, too! You are invited to start you own free online journal for writing though grief with the Navigating Grief community. I hope to see you there.