Friday, July 18, 2008

if you don't want to know for real, look away

My posts have sucked lately. I know. They aren't about anything. Just bullshit that happens around here. Not what really happens around here.

I am trying to be upbeat. Not so melancholy. Not so pissed off. I am trying to do what everyone tells me is 'appropriate' behaviour at this fucking time. "Keep your chin up. Don't wallow. Don't cry in front of the kids. Find things that make you happy." It reminds me of an article I read when I was about 13. It said that if you feign confidence and self-assurance, you'll one day begin to believe it. I am really trying. I take pictures of myself shelling peas and intend to write a post about the 'joy' it brings me to eat food from the garden...My former self found real satisfaction in this. I try to find ways to look at the various occurrances around the house with humour....It's just not funny. (Fuckles got ANOTHER goddammed batch of newly hatched chicks and just hatching ducklings a couple of weeks ago. It's just not funny anymore. It's sick.) I attempt to plan camping trips with the kids and our good friends...I find myself completely stressed over packing, printing off maps, grovery shopping and finding dog sitters (I am NOT taking that asshole, Fuckles, camping or anywhere else right now. In fact, I wonder if the vet will give me a 2-for-1 deal when I have Eli put down....Okay, I wouldn't really do that, but I do fantasize.) I end up imagining myself in the dark, damp quiet of the tent crying over the fact that Jeff isn't here with me and the kids and neither is Eli.

I feel consumed with anger. I want to lash out. I'm not talking the "Oh, poo! Am I ticked off!" anger. I am talking the sort of rage that makes you want to push sweet old ladies into traffic, kick soft, floppy eared puppies and scream obscenities at three year olds blowing bubbles. There is no rhyme or reason to this fury. I just want to reach out of my body and explode. Like a large burning blob of lava. Burning up everything in my path.

There is no specific target and no apparent reason for all this anger....Other than the loss of Jeff. The aging of my sweet Eli. The unresolved illness of my beloved Bub (grandpa). Life in general.

I know this wrath does not assist anything or anyone...but it's there and I can't chase it matter how many pictures of garden vegetables I take.

I want to kick at those who suggest I behave a certain way. Do a specific thing. Take up a particular action. Who the fuck are they? How the fuck do they know? Why the fuck do they care?! I want to be left alone.....But I am so lonely.

My emotions are like the things you find in the garbage bin. Things that would never find themselves in the same location except when they are being thrown out. A cucumber peel. A toenail clipping. A snarled up ball of wire. A bra tag. They don't make sense when they're together. I don't make sense.

It seems that I am alone in this. I AM alone in this. There are so few young widows. Matt and I speak on the phone regularly and I come away feeling understood and almost hopeful that I can carry on conversations one day without trying to pretend to be okay...Just really actually being okay. For real. For me. Not for anyone's expectations of me or my actions. Knowing that someone can hear me and have no judgements because they do truly know what it is like is amazing. Everyone is an expert, it seems. It's easy to be an expert when you don't have to stare this reality in the face every waking and non-waking moment.

I hate everything. I don't want to deal with anything. I want to curl up in a ball and cry/sleep/die. I get the 'you're so strong.' I'm not. I've fallen into a million pieces but I have to stand here with the kids. I am a vacant void and I feel awful. If you had no one, you'd have to get up too. I don't have the fucking luxury of becoming comatose. There is no one else. I am alone.

I try to comfort myself with my memories of my love. I am told that I should put those thoughts out of my head. I don't want to! I want to remember him. I want to hold onto any tiny fragment of him that I can and cherish it. Protect it. As long as I have those memories, there is proof that he was. My kids can know him. I can feel loved. I can attempt to not feel so alone. I can giggle at things that he did or said. I can pretend that all isn't lost.

So, anyhow, here are the fucking peas. I am oh-so-happy that I can eat from my garden. It means so fucking much. It's all so fucking special.


matt_in_the_los_angeles said...

peas are fucking special.

about denise said...

I second what matt wrote. But that's just because I can't think of anything nearly as good. :)

kelsey said...

don't you ever let go of the memories!

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From the television show The Wonder Years

Hawkfeather said...

B.C momma here too.. so SO many of your photos look like are stomping grounds and play dates.. the Waldorf fairs.. the baby chicks and llamas..the weaner cake..the art works..
I wish that was it and I could be meeting another woman I resonate with and comparing mothering type stories.

Simply- i can never really resonate- i have never lost my spouse.

I am a little curious though..
who the fuck are *they* that have told you that there is a right and wrong way to be?

i think those people are fucking special.

Hawkfeather said...

pardon my typos.. geez

juline said...

Pea's from your garden are "EXTRA SPECIAL"......remember Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk)...his beans were very special....

juline said...

Today is the first day I joined the "Blog" away my good friend I think this is wonderful....your a beautiful woman with beautiful childern (A MILF)...I feel you....and I'm with you always!!!!

Crash Course Widow said...

Fuck the peas. (Though I have to laugh, as always, at Matt's usual, succinct, gemlike insights. =)) But who the fuck cares about shelled peas when Jeff is cold and dead in the ground? (Or as ashes, or whatever he currently is.)

As someone who's done (and is still doing) what you are, do whatever the hell you want to do--not what anyone else is telling you--as you're surviving Jeff's death. All the old rules, from life before he died, don't apply anymore, and unless your spouse has died at a young age (or unless you're a victim of another senseless, unexpected life tragedy, or unless you're just amazingly, preternaturally empathetic) you have no idea what this is like. So please, Jackie, listen only to what YOUR heart is saying. And don't put so much pressure on yourself. I remember seeing this response so many times from a few people when I lived on the Young Widowed Bulletin Board (YWBB) the first 6 months or so after Charley died: be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with yourself, Jackie. (And I'm not intending this condescendingly or chastasingly, so please, don't take it wrongly. =)) What you're doing is so very, very hard--impossible, actually--and it only makes it harder when you put unrealistic expectations on yourself. You don't have to keep your chin up, or be strong, or any of that other crap. Just be honest with yourself and true to how you're feeling. If people around you can't handle it, screw 'em--they're not people who'll be genuinely helpful and supportive in the long run. Of course you'll have to find a delicate balance with your kids with how honestly you show your grief and how much you hold it in, but as long as they're not going to be carted off to Child Protective Services, it'll be okay. And accept as much help as is offered, because soon people will stop asking and offering.

I was so angry. So very, very, pulsatingly, destructively angry that Charley died. But I was so out of it the first year, working so hard to be "okay" with the shit-hand I was given (really, I was just in shock and numb, in some ways, for over a year...a fucking YEAR), that the anger didn't truly hit or find the crack to spew out of until the second year. And even then I didn't really have any outlet for it.

I don't know if it helps or not, but everything you've described in your blog seems normal to me for what you're going through. Every young widow is different, but everything you say sounds pretty typical of the collective whole. So despite what people are inadvertently communicating to you, you're reacting normally, and you're doing a damned good job of surviving--even if it doesn't feel like it.

Do you have an email address? (And if you'd ever already given me one, my apologies for forgetting...that damned widow brain can last for a long, long time.) I'm more inclined to write than call, but I want to give you my phone number (without posting it here) so you have another one in your arsenal. It's always a tad bizarre to start talking to a complete stranger, but like you said, there are so few of us--and even fewer widowed with small children, which is its own flavor of the experience. I'm so glad to see that you and Matt are talking on the phone. It's so vital to have someone to talk to who's experiencing the same shit right alongside you. I became really close with another widow, who was actually 2 years younger than me (25 vs. 27), whose husband died the week before Charley did, and it was so helpful--as helpful as anything CAN be--to have someone walking the same timeline as me. I think I've asked before, but is there a young widowed support group anywhere close to where you lvie? Even if you have to drive an hour or more, mine has been so phenomenally helpful--especially as it gets farther and farther from the death. Just being able to be around (or talk to on the phone) other people who are doing the same thing, where you can be honest and spew everything you're thinking, feeling, experiencing without having to filter, where you can see the heads nodding around you and hear people say, "Yup, been there, did that too, and I thought I was crazy/the only one/etc. who felt that" is so helpful. But if you don't have a group near you, please, use all of us crazy blogging widows on the Internet for the same thing. AA has sponsors, so why shouldn't widows? Here's my email addy, for whenever you want it, but also so we can exchange phone numbers: candiwam [at] verizon [dot] net.

Hang in there, Jackie. You're doing the impossible, and it's so exhausting and overwhelming, every second of every day. Be gentle with yourself, and take it one minute, one second, at a time.


(And sorry for the gargantuan comment; I'd have emailed if I could. =))

Crash Course Widow said...

Oops. I sound like a snot with the "[bleep] the peas" comment. =) I have a VERY dry, sarcastic sense of humor to begin with, and it's only gotten worse since being widowed. As I wrote it, I was being sarcastic and over-the-top facetious (and there weren't all the comments when I first started). But now I think I just sounded like a bitch, especially after other people's (later) comments. =) I didn't mean to sound that way.

But seriously. Peas are important only so far that you're able to even try doing something other than staying in your bed 24/7, hiding and crying your eyes out. Don't downplay the "accomplishment" that you're able to do anything, especially things that you used to enjoy before Jeff died. Those things are huge, now that you're wrestling with life and death.

Okay, I'll shut up now. =) Hang in there. I've found that once I actually verbalize the spewing and anger, that I feel a bit better afterward and can appreciate the damn peas a bit more. I hope you're feeling the same--especially as you're getting some well-deserved support and acknowledgment from your commenters here.

Hugs (again),

Melody said...

i'm a matt (and now a jackie) supporter and can't relate to either of you in that i still have my husband. i won't pretend i understand, but i feel things deeply and am so saddened by your loss.

your feelings are real, they're tangible, so much so that you'd wipe them away like one cleans a foggy mirror if you could. they are yours and yours alone, for you to work through however you can.

there's no right or wrong in dealing with the death of a loved one and i'd like to slap those people who say otherwise.

i will be catching up on your entries so that i can 'get to know' you and your family. thank you for sharing your story with strangers like myself.

Rach said...

That dog. Send him to me. I'll have a long hard talk to that lad. He can hang out with my neurotic cat. He would never be able to eat her - she would rip his bloody eyes out.

More later...

Rach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheSingingBird said...

I've never suffered a loss as terrible as yours so I have no right to tell you what to do. I will say that the losses I've lived through were gut-wrenching and I did seek counseling to deal with my feelings.
A counselor told me to deal with rage by buying an oversized plastic bat and to hit my mattress as hard as I could over and over again to purge as much of it as I could each time I felt overwhelmed with anger. I didn't think I could do it, so I never bought the bat. But one day I was so angry I grabbed the broom from the kitchen and went to my room and whacked the heck out of my mattress! I was stunned by the feelings I'd held in and finally released. Thank goodness my kids weren't home at the time! I don't know if this will help you, but I just had to offer something because I care so deeply.

Rach said...

Ok I am back (sorry, had to go out). You behave how you damn well want to. Except for perhaps doing the grocery shopping in your nickers, you can do or day whatever you like. My god, Jeff has died - you are not just having a bad day or forgot to feed the cat.

You don't anyone telling you what you should be doing. I would be more than happy to have a word with the people, that are telling you what not to do, to go and get nobbed (if that makes sense).

There is no right or wrong way to act (expect perhaps the semi-naked shopping.


PS - go out in the woods and throw rocks at the trees.

PPS - I have posted this again as it was full of sp mistakes that made it sound even more stupid than it is...

Going Crunchy said...

I'm totally amazed at what you are able to write, to express and to verbalize. Your space here is special, and I just keep checking back with a little part of me inside thinking "Go Jackie" and sending you hope.

I know I don't know you, but your journey in anger, grief, and hopefully healing one day is important to write, and is probably helping others that experiene a similar moment.

Though not a husband, I do know that after my Dad died after a heinous brain tumor that the shower just helped me. I could go and just lay on the floor and cry my eyes out and the water just hid most of the sound. It felt rather womb like I guess, and after exhausting myself I could get out and feel a hell of alot better without flipping out the rest of the family. I honestly don't think I could have made it through grief without it.

And thoughts........