Its been a while since I have written on the forum, lots of things have happened, good and not so, but that’s only to be expected. Like us all, some days you get through some days you just wish you didn’t wake up but it is getting more familiar rather than easier.
This is a bit of a ramble I’m afraid!
Christmas was like the previous couple of years, It was a quiet one for me. I chose to stay at home on my own on Christmas day, it was just easier for me, yes I couldn’t avoid the sadness or the tears but I did get through the day. Whether its right or wrong, I told everyone to not by presents, I’d rather they spent on their own families but it did make the day harder to get through. I also didn’t have a tree or decorations either. Don’t ask me why, well I know why, but I also feel that I have done enough of avoiding Christmas now so next year, I will make an effort and try and get involved.
This leads me to a trip I did over new year, yes I avoided that as well, but I decided to go away to a place that my wife and I knew very well, The Lake District. Now before I start about that I need to explain a few things. I still suffer with grief, I still cry a lot and I hate being on my own. I understand what being alone and lonely are and the difference. I have also just started to understand grief a little more. I’m two and half years along my journey and have realised that I suffer from three issues. The first is I use grief to shield me against the reality of life, I hide behind it and use it to avoid confrontation, questions and even company. I use grief to hang on to the memory of my wife, my fear is that if I stop grieving I will lose her. So between the two I trap myself in a permanent grief. The third thing is best described as death by a thousand cuts. I punish myself, not in a physical harming sense, but I do hurt myself emotionally and like all self harmers I do it in a way that people don’t see, in my case behind a lie, better known as a mask. I convince most that I’m ok and that stops all the awkward conversations but I also know that can use my grief as a defence if needed and hide in my house.
So between all these things I get stuck, I am stuck in fact, however, time has allowed me to evaluate all this grief stuff to date. I know that not everyone will understand this or be able to accept it, I’m not trying to give an answer, just share where I am and what I have come to accept.
The thing I want to share is the “death by a thousand cuts bit”. I said I went to the Lakes on the new year, well, this was a cut. I went away on my own to a place that I knew would hurt me and stayed in a Premier Inn. I thought I might just well be on my own in another room as I am at home, the difference being I was in a place that we spent so much time together and now there on my own. One thing is that I don’t have to put a show on, and I am anonymous in a place where I know well but no one knows me. That changes the game significantly. I don’t like what I’m doing but no one is watching or fussing over me.
There was a pub next door to where I was staying so in the evenings I set up camp there to have my dinner but more importantly it gave me a place to be alone but not feel alone. I don’t know anyone, but I’m around people. I also took the time to write about what I felt like and what I got up to, in fact over the four days I wrote 122 pages about my trip which currently is a 10000 word story and I’m only up to day two!
Each thing I did was a cut but I emotionally put a plaster on the cut allowing it slowly heal. The plaster is the process of doing what I had done in the past in a different way. I went to different places, a cinema was one place, a place that we always wanted to go but never did. So I did that and yes it was a cut, but I chatted to people and the event was less painful. The same thing happened in a pub that we always went to, in fact I couldn’t go in at first, another cut, but did pluck the courage eventually and went in and that cut partially healed as it was a deep cut. i did the same by visiting places both old and new, doing things she loved doing and adding new things at the same time.
The whole four days where made up of the same cut and heal experience which I have wrote about each night in the pub. So the whole event was a blend of old and new joined together to make a new memory. The upshot of all this is that I learnt to de-weaponize the hold that grief has on me, in a small way.
Writing about it allows me to think about what has happened in a third person sense and the story is a story about my trip with a story of my grief woven through it.
I’m not fixed, grief cannot be fixed, but I have tried to understand it more from a different perspective. I still use grief as a shield and as an attachment to my wife, and some cuts are not healing, but I am trying to find a way to get on with grief with the knowledge of what I think I suffer with instead of using them to just stay trapped, well at least on my good days.
To just make the point, sitting in a pub was a hard move as was taking myself out to dinner on my own. Both were cuts but I have got used to doing that. Of course I would prefer to have company, but I also realise that I will never have the person I used to have sitting opposite me and that still hurts and will take time to adjust to that, but I’m trying to work with that by doing the things I want to do or feel strong enough to do and if that means sitting in a pub having dinner and writing about my feelings then that’s what I do, but if it means I just stay in bed, I do that.
I just thought I share this with you, it might help, it might not, but that’s what’s going on with me and its the way I’m tackling my journey at he moment at least.
On a different tack, I watched a film called “Ghost Town” while I was away, which was about a man that was able to see ghosts and they could see him. It was caused by a mishap during surgery and to cut a long story short, he refused to help the ghosts with their unfinished business and until they can sort that out they cant move on. He initially refuses to help them but eventually sees that by helping them he allows both the living and lost to move on to a happier place.
Wouldn’t that be nice if that could happen but it made me think that my reluctance to let go of grief is also stopping my wife in her journey. No one actually knows, but it makes me think.
I also have a thought about the so called After life. For those we have lost it’s a place we hope they find a peace, but those left behind it is the opposite its life after, and we also need to find peace. Everything needs balance in life, equal and opposite forces so life after and after life are the equal and opposite forces between the ones left behind and the ones we have lost.
On a final thought, my son made a reference to my mind being a ball of wool, I’m trying to unravel it but it’s full of knots, which I am untying knot by knot. I have unravelled some but have a few to go and that will take time. There will be times that I can unwind great lengths of wool unhindered but other times it will take days, weeks or even months to make any progress at all. If the things I set out to do on this journey are my current knots, then I must unknot them one by one, but if grief gets in the way, well now is not the time.
Wise words and something I will do well to focus on when times are tough and I try and blend too much old a new and end up needing stitches in a cut!