Most of the time I feel empty inside. The landscape of my Soul is barren since he died. However, most people can only see the vibrant life I have. At first glance, my life appears fairly enviable. With the exception of Mike’s death, I have all the trappings of a good life. I have the kids, the house, the car, and the career. I have managed to achieve a lot of success in Suburbia. The boxes are checked. My life does not appear to be barren. Not surprisingly, for those looking from the outside in, it is not comprehensible that I still feel empty. To them everything looks like it is returning back to “normal” without Mike. They think I am “strong”. They tell me that I am “the strongest person they know”. They tell me that they “can’t imagine” how I do it. When my ears hear their statements I just kind of stare at them and watch their lips move. I don’t say much in response because I know the truth. Yes, I am ‘strong’, because I do not have a choice. I have to stay the course for my kids, and for myself.
I do not feel bitter towards people who make these proclamations about me and my life. They simply do not understand the depth and breadth of my loss. I understand that they can not understand. And, I know that they are so lucky that they “can’t imagine” my situation. I think that people need to believe that things return to normal after a person dies. They need to believe that I am okay now because if I am okay, that means – if and when this happens to them – they will recover and be okay too. But, as people who have outlived our spouses, we know differently. We are aware that there is nothing normal about our changed lives. We know that there is no backing up. We can not return to days gone by no matter how desperately we want to. There is nothing to return to. Our lives can not be as they were before. That life is over. It’s gone. It’s done. Period. And, yeah, we are ‘strong’ despite our blunt reality.
To me, the phrase “new normal” is ridiculous.
I HATE that idiom.
There is nothing normal about my new life.
It is the exact opposite of what I am used to.
I am different since Mike died, and – this is normal.
The hollowness and emptiness that I feel – is normal.
My grief – is normal.
My life is not normal anymore.
I spend a lot of time feeling disconnected from the world and from those around me. It feels like my thoughts are wrapped in cotton candy. My deepest thoughts are tightly spun like the sugar crystals that become the dense pink candy fluff. Most days, I can barely make sense of what I feel because my thoughts are hidden from me. I don’t always know them, but, I feel my thoughts. My deepest thoughts live inside my heart, not my head. Everything is buried far away inside my Soul. Since Mike died, I feel like I am hidden in wad of airy blue fluff. All of me is insulated in this bulky, baby blue cotton candy cocoon because I need to be swaddled. I need time. I need things to be quiet while I come undone…
Despite the whimsical reference to cotton candy, the introduction to my blog is isn’t sprinkled with hope. But, with my kitschy pen, I wrote that I was insulated in a “bulky, baby blue cotton candy cocoon”. So, predictably, if you believe in foreshadowing, you will expect something good to come before this blog is over. Just wait – first, I have to finish coming undone…
A side affect of Mike dying is that I do not feel deeply connected to anyone anymore. I feel like I skim through life. My fingers nimbly caress the surface of everything; yet, I touch nothing. My eyes are wide open; but, I do not see the world before me. I just do not connect to the people and things around me as intimately as I used to. I am slightly removed from everything and every one.
These days, I spend a fair bit of time lost in my thoughts. It feels like I am living part of my life in a parallel Universe. I choose to live in this other dimension because I just can not live without Mike. I carry on here in our world. I dutifully go to work, clean the house, do the laundry, grocery shop and pay the bills. While I continue to do all the necessary things to survive, I also flirt with an existence elsewhere – in a quiet, intimate space – in my mind. I am absent here because I am always visiting this sacred place in my mind where I keep Mike alive. As I wander through my daily routine I continually imagine him with me. Sometimes I think I ‘talk’ to my dead fiance more than I engage with the people who are alive, around me. This is my “new normal” and, let me tell you, it sure does not feel very normal at all.
Daily, I struggle to be present. I try to engage in the life I have right in front of me. But, I am always pulled back into my head space because I desperately want to connect with my past. I am continually travelling back to the life I had with him. Countless times, every hour, I take this trip to days gone by. Living in my thoughts takes me away from my actual life; but I can’t stop ruminating about him. And, this does not feel normal.
If I am not travelling back to my memories, I am daydreaming about a future that can not be. I spend hours thinking about our made-up, imaginary future. My mind takes me to this place where Mike still lives. In this place, all our hopes and dreams come true. It bothers me that my thoughts are often based in fantasy more than reality. Again, this “new normal” is not even close to normal.
One of my goals is to become more present. I want to learn to live in the moment. I want to exist more consciously again. When Mike died I lost my ability to focus on the here and now. Looking back, maybe I never had this capability; but, when he was alive, at least I did not spend as much time lost in my thoughts. What has become my “new normal”, is not normal at all.
I yearn to be ordinary again. I crave the simplicity of the old version of my life. But, again my heart is wishing for something that it can’t have. The reality is that Mike died. And, I didn’t. I am aware that I can not let my life be controlled by his death. Logically, I know that I must continue to live. Yet, I need to convince my heart of this. He is gone from here and there is no point in fantasizing about a life that will never be. I know this. I just need a bit more time to process everything and set things straight in my mind.
Before he died, I never realized how present a dead person is to the person who remains alive and is missing them. There are echoes of Mike everywhere. Just yesterday, I was at the store picking up a bottle of his wine and I noticed the label is now stamped 2017. Well, Mike never saw 2017. He was dead before this wine was even bottled. And, here I am, in 2018, drinking his favorite wine – bottled in a year he didn’t exist in. This does not feel normal. This is new, but it is so far from normal that it is weird.
With every sip I take, I can taste change. This is the truth talking, not the wine. I know that it is time for me to leave the comfort of my cotton candy cocoon. It’s time for me to live again. It is time for me to spread my wings.
And, now, I finally understand that it has been necessary for me to come undone, in order to come forth.
Coming undone, so that I can come forth,