I recently sat in my therapist’s office, weaving my latest tale of woe. When I finished, she looked at me in that measured way that therapists do, and said:
“How ready are you to really work on yourself?”
My stomach seized up. I wanted to scream, “Not ready at all!” and run from the room. But I didn’t. I sat and thought for a moment.
“I guess I’m ready.”
Remember the post when I compared all the crap I was going through to my spiral aloe? Several months later, I’m still spiraling.
It’s been almost nine months since Jon died. I’ve spent much of those nine months trying to convince myself that I’m fine. You’ve read it on my blog, more than once. (Here’s the most recent example.) It’s not that I’ve been lying, exactly. I often do feel fine, even more than fine. Sometimes I feel insanely happy. Like I’ve got it all figured out.
But inevitably, that fine feeling dissipates and I start sobbing in the shower again. (I don’t know why I always sob in the shower, but it’s certainly convenient. Cuts down on my tissue consumption.)
The past couple of weeks have been particularly difficult. I suddenly can’t figure out who I am or what I’m doing here. Even though I have plenty of support, I’ve become acutely aware of being alone. And I don’t like it. It’s…uncomfortable.
A few weeks ago I was having an emotional discussion with a friend. The friend suggested that I might still have a lot of pain to deal with. That suggestion annoyed me.
“I’m really, really tired of being in pain,” I said, trying (unsuccessfully) not to cry. “It’s so fucking boring. I just want to be normal.”
Looking back now, I think that was a pretty telling response.
I’ve realized that these painful feelings I’m trying to ignore are not about Jon. They’re about me. I started pushing these feelings away long before I met Jon; I’ve actually been pushing them away for my entire life. I know this sounds like psycho-babble. But it’s time I started working on my feelings. Working on me, rather than losing myself in another person.
I’ve chosen to “work on myself” in a rather unconventional way. I can’t describe it to you now, but I will eventually. My friends and family think I’m crazy. They think I’m making life unnecessarily complicated for myself. But I’m determined not to take the easy way out. I’ve come too far, and taken too many chances, to throw it all away because I’m afraid of my feelings. I have a rare opportunity to examine myself in a way that few people get to do. I don’t want to “fix” myself. I just want to understand.
All this working on myself is really hard, and it’s not leaving me with enough time or motivation to do the fun, bloggety-blog things that I normally photograph and blog about. I have to keep blogging though, so here are a few images of my favorite new relaxation activity: walking around the garden and taking photos with Instagram.
Crazy green leaf-plant.
Old mosaic table.
Cactus and cat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m so grateful to have the Melville Cat in my life. Smokey comes and goes but he’s here when I need him most. As Ms. M once told me, “Smokey is an angel in a cat suit.”
One last thing. I’ve just decided that my journey of self-discovery has a theme song.
Do you ever discover a song that you feel like you could listen to nonstop, 24 hours a day, and never get tired of? That’s how I feel about this song right now. I also love that the band’s name (Fun.) has punctuation in it, and that the punctuation is NOT an exclamation point.
I’ll keep you posted on how my work is going. Wish me luck.
hey girl … ..maybe what you describe above is normal .. i experience it too. it is all so confusing. just keep on walking or keep on dancing (I prefer that one) . it will all be ok .. promise and have loads of fun and get on the dance floor as much as possible … or like the cliche .. dance like no one is watching …
Thanks Jackie. I think you’re right – these feelings are “normal”, in that there are a lot of people in the world who feel this way, often without even realizing it. It. Just so happens that I’ve made some dramatic choices in my life, which have brought the feelings to the surface in an extreme kind of way. So now I am determined to deal with them. We’ll see what happens…
Great song off a great album. The journey of self discovery is always exciting – enjoy the process.
Thanks Gail. I’m glad you like Fun. too. (That name wreaks havoc with grammar-check.)
“Normal” or not, a journey many of us have been on or are still navigating thru, me included. Travel well and may the very best of all good things come your way. Great song. Big hug to you and the Melville Cat.
Thanks Rashida. It’s funny, I have NO idea what I meant when I said I wanted to be normal that day. Not only do I not know what that means, but normal is the very last thing that I want! If I had wanted to be normal I never would have come here.
You are one very exceptional and special person 😉
Heather, you are an inspiration to so many of us who are afraid of our own shadows. You are strong and I know that your journey has not been an easy one. Our choices define us and you were never meant to live an ordinary life. I admire your courage and strength.
P.s. We need to get together to catch up soon.
Thanks Debbie. You’re right – it hasn’t been easy and it will continue not to be. I wouldn’t have it any differently though.
Yes, we need to get together soon. I’ve been thinking of you. I’ll send you a message 🙂
Beautiful, Beautiful post, with really incredible photos!
Thanks so much, Yashik.
Good luck Heather. A very honest and touching post. I think most of us have been there at what point in their life. The difference is the people who try to do something about it and change. 🙂
Thanks Nicole. I’m doing my best.
I’ll never forget when I went through the rock bottom of my life with PPD. I never ever thought I’d get out of the deep dark hole of misery and bleakness. But I did and believe it or not, I’m a stronger, better person because of it. It sounds cliche but wow, it is so true. 🙂 I also think that life is such an interesting journey of exploration. I’m always rediscovering myself and changing. I am glad of it because I view it as for the better. Maybe it is growing older? I always thought being 40 meant old but I’m starting to realize that the older you get, the wiser you become and more you understand who you truly are and what you want out of this life.
I don’t have a hard time believing that at all. I believe that people have to go through adversity in life to truly appreciate what life has to offer. Thanks for the comment, Nicole.
Good luck, Heather. I’m so glad Al pointed me toward your blog; it’s one of my favorites.
Thank you. Is this Al as in Allison, of my elementary school days?
Yes, that’s the one.
I’m glad she sent you my way too because now I’ve discovered your blog. I love your pics and I’m intrigued by the fact that they are not processed in any way.
It’s a funny thing – when I was in learning film photography, I loved the darkroom. Now that I’m using digital, I am wary of PhotoShop’s power – you can do anything with it. So I choose to do nothing with it most of the time.
Good luck on your journey of re-discovery! You’ll survive, nay thrive, and later wonder why you didn’t take the step sooner! 🙂 Love the pics, esp. Smokey!
Thanks! I have a feeling you can relate to this.
I think what you are experiencing is “normal” for a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one. I’ve been there too.
What did occur to me though is how brave you’ve been in staying in South Africa on your own. If it had been me, I think I would have run back to the familiar.
Thanks Lisa, I appreciate that. People often say that they admire me for staying here. But you know what? South Africa is the familiar to me now. Everywhere else feels unfamiliar 🙂
It’s nice to hear that you feel so at home in South Africa! 🙂
Thanks. When I made the decision to come here, I told myself that I was doing it for myself and not for Jon. I’m not sure I really believed myself at the time. But it turns out I was right. If that makes any sense…
Good luck Heather, we are with you!
Thanks Catherine, I appreciate that.
I’m a huge fan of the Melville Cat!!!!! I loves him!
Thanks Dean. The Melville Cat has quite a fan club these days.
It’s so true that when you are considering the death of a dear one, what you have to think about is yourself. We often think we are grieving, but sometimes we are feeling more empathy for ourselves. It’s not crazy – we are the ones left behind and we are the ones who have to sort out how we feel.
Good luck and give it time.
Thanks Janet. All very true. I appreciate the comment.