Friday, April 1, 2011

Grief: Dead Husband Blues: Need More Clues

I decided to start posting again for several reasons.  One is that I realized grief is about more than the death of a loved one.  There are a lot of things to write about if I don't have anything to say about missing Artie - which continues as my love continues.  I know two people now that are in new loving relationships.  I feel very happy for them.  I don't know if this will happen for me.  On a British TV show New Tricks a divorced woman asked a widower who seven years after his wife's death considers himself married and talks with his wife every night - "How do you cope with loneliness."  First he says lightly, "Golf, whiskey etc..."  Then he looks at her seriously and says, "You don't."  That was an honest answer.  We all find ways to distract ourselves - to feel moments of joy - and hopefully those good experiences link together to make an ever stronger chain as time goes by - but unlike others - I think that underneath, in what they call the dark night of the soul, you don't cope.  You just accept it and live as best you can.  Artie's death is a wound that can never completely heal because it is reopened every morning when I wake up and every night when I walk into my empty apartment.  It is reopened every time I do something or see something I want to share with the living breathing him and I can't.  Doesn't mean I can't get better antiseptic, more absorbent bandages, stronger anaesthetic - just means that the healing salve of our love doesn't quite heal the pain of being here without him.

I have promised to be honest in this blog.  One of the reasons I stopped writing was that I had been considering all options for the rest of my life (I am 60) and one of the options was suicide.  I didn't feel like I could write about that until I had decided it wasn't an option.  Only two or three people knew about this.  For the people who love me I promised myself and them that I would do everything I could not to choose that option.  I went back to therapy.  Last weekend I went to a workshop called Stories From The Outside Inn.  It was a combination of trance, exercises, fun, and storytelling.  There were many lovely, creative, kind people there.

One of the first exercises was to write a 6 word biography or memoir.  I wrote and then spoke:  "Dead husband blues: need more clues."  One of the leaders was Doug O'Brien  - the hypnotherapist that told me that I had a trump card.  No matter what good happens in my life I use the trump card - "My husband's dead".  No good feelings can linger because they are cancelled out by the trump card.  I don't know all of the things that happened during the weekend - a lot of it was percolating in my unconsious.  When the workshop was over many people came up to me to tell me how wonderful my stories were and how wonderful I was.  A beautiful woman named Julie said I needed to write a book because it could help people and therapists.  I had gotten more clues.  I realized I had work left to do here and  I chose life.  If I was going to live I had to give up the trump card.  I couldn't keep undermining every good or happy thing I do.  I walked up to Doug and said (tears streaming down my cheeks), "Here's my trump card.  You keep it.  I'll e-mail you if I need it back."  He gave me big hug. I was crying because I don't want to give it up - I have to.

People - of course - who knew what I was considering - are delighted for me.  It should make me happy how much I am wanted.  Instead, it irritates me a little. I still feel helpless and hopeless without Artie, like I don't fit in anywhere.  Even though that isn't true - I am capable and hopeful and I fit in many places - it feels true.  It wasn't an easy decision - although things collapsed together quickly and I made it quickly.  I would still rather be with Artie today and go on to whatever is the next step with him - instead of on my own - with his spirit around me for sure - but still on my own.  Life seems like climbing Mount Everest and I am off buying mountain gear and getting training - but maybe Mount Everest can fall down into small hills I can climb over easily - laughing.

One of the exercise was to start a story or a sentence with "I never imagined it could be this way..."  Try it.

I never imagined it could be this way, me waking up every morning with energy and inspiration full of the desire to take action and do productive and fun things.  I never imagined it could be this way, Artie's love of life becoming my love of life.  I never imagined it could be this way, having the patience to wait for the right time to be reunited with my husband, feeling comfort in his love rather than agony at his death.

I haven't figured any of this out yet.  I still want to curl up in bed wearing Artie's pajamas and watch DVDs or stare into space.  On Monday night (April 4th) I am doing my half hour solo show for the first time (I have done 5-10 minute stories - but never a half hour with an audience) and that day my building is starting jackhammering with the promise of a lot of noise, vibration, and dust (to which I am allergic).  That's life.

I am writing this to say I am still here.  I will be here doing whatever I do until it's time not to be.  I found out I have quite a bit left to say, after all.  Here's wishing that what we can imagine that makes us lighter and happier can find its way into reality - and that there will be no jackhammering on your house or your soul!  xo

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