better

For a long time, I was better. Maybe it was the counseling. Or the meds. Or the cocoon of safety my family provided me. Maybe it was the daily run in the middle of summer in Texas, when the heat lanced all feelings straight from the wound. Maybe it was the job I couldn’t wait to start. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter because I was better.

But the loneliness and the need for companionship began to overwhelm me. My bed was too big. My heart was too broken. My parenting was subpar. I needed Casey, but he was gone, and I’ve never been very good at being alone.

I started dating someone and he was wonderful and kind and for the first time in a long time, I felt alive and happy and better. 

Even when the guilt would wash over me and people would watch me with their wide eyes full of questions and their pursed lips barely restraining their judgments because isn’t it too soon? And shouldn’t you wait another year? 

So then I started shopping. And shopping. And shopping. I bought all of the most beautiful bags and shoes and clothes – all of the things that I wouldn’t allow myself to buy before, back when things were worse. I denied myself nothing and each package filled me up. And I felt better.

And then my own guilt, my own grief, the feelings I tried to squash, to ignore because DAMMIT I WAS BETTER threatened to pull me under and I tried, I tried to keep going, to keep smiling, to pretend. I would drink a beer or two at night, not enough to get drunk, just enough to relax, just enough to take the edge off this strange, sharp pain in my chest that would come and go. Just enough to dull the panicky buzz I felt rising to the surface, the itch that reddened my skin. And I felt better.

But the pain in my chest won’t go away and sometimes I can’t stop crying. I push everyone away and then yank them back, only to promise it will absolutely happen again. And the guilt washes over me and am I cheating on Casey? and it hasn’t even been a year and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life and how am I supposed to parent these beautiful, wild, precocious, terrible little girls? And I want to be loved again but not right now and also RIGHT NOW, but exactly how I want it. And the clothes are so pretty, but they’ve stopped making things better. And I know that the beer won’t assuage my pain, not really. 

And so I’ll try writing it all down, like I used to when things were worse, but also sometimes better. I’ll wade through my thoughts and pluck out the ripest to throw into the world before they rot me from the inside out.

And who knows? Maybe when they’re out of me, I’ll feel better.

9 Comments

  1. This is really beautiful and sad and hopeful and a two-steps-forward/one-step-back kind of post. Thank you for sharing, Michelle. I hope you’ll continue to acknowledge your bravery in moving forward while never forgetting to remind yourself the reasons you don’t need to move all too quickly.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I commend your courage, but you don’t need my approval. I applaud your openness, but you owe me nothing. Your journey is yours and yours alone. The people that cross your path along the way are only there to observe or support, they can’t make the pain go away they can only distract from the dulling and numbing of the stinging reminder that it still hurts. You take your time, or rush, the decision is ultimately yours and the consequences of such a decision are yours to live with. Make good choices, but they are just that choices. Hair will grow back, nails can be repainted and goods can be replaced. You have an incredible journey to make, try to enjoy it. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My sister in widowhood, it is important for you to know that this is normal. At least, that is, as normal as any part of this can be. Just remember that it’s ok if you need to stray into doubtville, anxiousberg, or wounded crossing. What’s important is that you not build a vacation home or relocate. You can visit, just remember that those around you love you and will always bring you home.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love you. I am proud of you. You do whatever YOU need to do to make things better. You need to LOVE to LAUGH but most of all to LIVE. Your supported and loved and cherished!

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  5. First of all, I Love you. You’re one of my favorite people that I rarely see. Wait…this is 2020…there are a LOT of people that I rarely see. ☹

    Understand you are grieving many things right now. The loss of Casey is obvious, but there is also a loss of focus when your loved one dies that required care. That loss takes time too, because there will be times when you are feeling like there is something you NEED to do, but don’t know what it is? The focus of a caregiver goes from constant to never in a moment’s time. I know how that is. So now, take your loss of Casey, your loss of focus and throw in the year of 2020 and in a very short time, everything you loved about your life, seems to be gone. I am not talking about the kids here, you still love them as much, if not more than you did before. I am talking about you.

    Grieve, however you need to. There will be days that you feel OK, only to have an emotional explosion the following day. Certain days: Birthday’s; Anniversaries, etc. will be extremely difficult and don’t expect those feelings to get better anytime soon, if ever. Just remember that “if it wasn’t so good, it wouldn’t be so bad.” So, you do need to be thankful for the time you did have. But you were definitely cheated. And don’t be surprised if you see other people together and have jealous feelings that you never have before. “Why me and not them?” All these feelings are actually quite natural. Don’t dwell on them, but be conscious of your feelings.

    But you always had Casey’s support before…why would you think you don’t now? Would he want you unhappy, feeling guilty, mad at this crazy world…NO. One thing about true love, is that you can put another person’s feelings in front of your own. Casey always wanted and still wants your happiness. Once that is realized, the tough part will become finding it again. Understand it will never be the same, but it can still be good and hopefully great, once again. You will look for the same attributes in a partner, but no two people are alike, so understand you are not looking to “replace” Casey. That would be impossible and would be setting yourself up for failure. Just try to be open and you may just find wonderful again in a different package. I hope you do.

    You and I have had some similar things happen, we were both lucky to find someone very special only to then lose that person. But my heart breaks more for you, if that’s possible? I had that love for many more years and it saddens me that you didn’t have that opportunity. But I am hopeful that we can both find happiness again.

    And, lastly, I Love you (did I mention that?). If there is ANYTHING I can ever do to help you, just name it. Stay safe and be well,

    Jack

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have no idea how helpful this was or how much I needed to hear (read?) this. I wish things were different all around, but right now mostly that stupid COVID wasn’t a thing because I just want to get together and jam and chat. I need more people who GET it in my life. I love you too, Jack.

      Liked by 1 person

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