“But being alone is a different situation completely. Being alone is a state of being; loneliness is a state of mind. When you’re alone you’re forced to realize all the things you don’t have, sure, but you’re also forced to realize all the things about yourself that you couldn’t when you spent your days memorizing someone else. ” —Adrea Cope
My therapist told me that I should be journalling again. I’ve written some things down that I’m not ready to share publicly this stage of the game…but it is helping me process. Writing is like squeezing the toxins out the muscles, its a real work out. It’s also like swimming, stretching out at last, suspended. I’m out of practice, but just in time, I’ll be starting up with a new writer’s group next month. I miss writing.
I miss writing, but I don’t know what to type here most of the time. When Vernon was with us, writing every night or morning was a part of my survival routine. But now I realize that taking care of him, dropping everything to rush up with every emergency, fussing over who would pick up and watch the kids if I was home late…that kind of saved me too. There was a great purpose to my life, more intense than any purpose I’d been called into before. It was awful, but it all kept me going…the rollercoaster, the unknowns, the familiar, the faith and lack thereof.
And then early grief was another stage, and in that, I gave myself a new purpose: I’d take care of the kids, make sure they got some psychological healing, pursue the dreams and path I’d been given. There is something to that…I’m happy about the way I handled that time. But now…we are in the second year, and though there is no official timeline, I have to say I’ve been shocked by how hard it’s been. What was I thinking…that having a plan, keeping myself busy was going to keep loneliness at bay? Because I’ve felt so lonely. I’m struggling with the common elements of grief that people usually feel in the early days (but again, there is no official timeline.) I wake up in the night, I struggle to fall asleep in the first place, I cry a lot. I miss him.
But these days, I don’t miss Vernon Version .02 so much as before. I’m starting to acutely remember and miss the Version I married and had children with. The great thing about doing life with him, the thing that underscored our relationship even when we disagreed or if life felt boring, was that we were a team. One could never fall too far, one could never get too sad or crazy without the other being there to lift one up and back into modern life. We could make decisions about parenting together—we could make decisions about what we were doing on the weekend, for that matter. We could encourage each other’s dreams for the future. Mostly…it was good to know you always had someone on your side, someone that knew and accepted you as completely as they could and still loved you.
He was so handsome. And so kind, generous, intelligent. Such an oddball (that was probably my favorite.) My therapist says this is a normal stage with normal feelings. Maybe I haven’t grieved this version of him yet. Or maybe this is just a part of the healing, no labels necessary.
My widow-mentor and friend, Sandy Hazen, sent me this link about the difference of being lonely or just alone, which is very good.Truthfully, I quite enjoy being alone, but the loneliness is an unwelcome house guest that hasn’t quite left yet. Other widowed people I’ve heard from say it takes several years to feel normal again…not just one, as society sort of leads us to believe. (Where do we get that, anyway?)
As my therapist says: “Maybe this is normal. It takes time….no telling how long.” And that’s not a bad thing, though uncomfortable. But I have faith.