Friday, December 3, 2010

Life Goes On (for some)

When you realize the dreams you've had 
for your child won't come true 
When the phone rings in the middle 
of the night with tragic news 
Whatever valley you must walk through,
Jesus will meet you there 

Steven Curtis Chapman


I spend a lot of time by myself.  Tonight J (yep, the husband is J now) is off to help a friend with his engagement (It's a big to-do.  Lots of people are involved and there is going to be a dinner after) and I have decided to stay at home.  Tomorrow is the Civil War game (Annual football game between Oregon State and University of Oregon.  Also a big to-do. Citizens of this state go crazy for it) and J is heading over to his best friend's house to watch.

He has decided to resume living and I have decided not to.


I hear him on the phone.  He paces when he talks and he constantly flips his arm around to look at his wrist even though he doesn't wear a watch.  I have pointed this out to him.  He insists he doesn't do it.  His voice will float down the stairs, or sneak around the corner of the kitchen and into the living room.

"I'll ask her, but she's probably not up for it."
"Thank you for inviting us.  I'll be there, but she will probably stay home."
"She's doing okay, but I think she'll stay home this time."
"This month is hard for her, she's not doing much, but I'll come over.  What time should I be there?"  Arm flip, wrist check.  I don't even have to be in the room to know he's doing it.

We've been watching M.o.nk (someone told me to do this so it doesn't come up in a Google search.  Would it really come up?  Is that really effective?) and I am absolutely in love with the title character.  His wife died suddenly six years ago and he is not coping well.  He is obsessive compulsive, has a long list of phobias, and is borderline crazy.  I like how honest he is about his grief, and the limited capabilities he has.  If he doesn't want to do something, or if he can't do something, he doesn't do it.  He says no without compunction or fear of what people will think of him.

I find myself agreeing with many of the sentiments in the show (I think the writers have been through grief.  They understand it so well) but one conversation between M.on.k and his shrink has stuck with me for days now.

"This is not the life I wanted.  It's unbearable.  You know that I envy everybody.  Strangers, people on the street."
"Maybe they envy you.  You're an extraordinary man.
"Yeah, I don't want to be an extraordinary man.  I want to be the guy on the bus coming home at five-o-clock to help his kids with their homework.  I'm just so tired.  So tired of being me."

Exactly.  I would love to celebrate an engagement, or be happy about the holidays, or be happy about anything, but I can't figure out how.  I know, I know.  You make your own happiness, wallowing isn't helping anything ...

I would like to say, "I'm there," when J pauses in front of me, the phone in his hand, his eyebrow raised in question, but the truth is I'm not ready to be there.  And as I find myself moving backward in grief, to a place where the tears come often, strong and quick, and I pull out the pictures I hid away for so long, because I am forgetting what she looks like and I want to memorize her features once more, I realize it may take me six years, or more, to put down my book, take a shower, find a smile, and rejoin the living world.

15 comments:

  1. I'm in the same boat girl! I seriously could have written this, except for the Monk part. I don't watch a ton of TV so I don't know much about it. Instead my grief gets plastered all over the damn place while I am being dragged around by M...my DH. Sometimes I can make up a really good excuse. If it's not good enough, I am swept along to the party or comedy show, like the one I am about to go to. Wishing I was curled up on your couch by the fire with you, maybe looking over pictures of Charlotte and Michael. Have a good night my dear friend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Everything about this post is so familiar and so much of it is true for me too right now. Even down to the details of how J paces and checks his imaginary watch - E does that too.

    To be fair, that was always sort of our pattern - he is an extrovert and I am an introvert. A lot of our marriage and relationship, even before Otis, has been negotiating those differences. But while I have gotten more in need of my alone time and my time at home, he has gotten more accepting of it now, which is very helpful...

    I've yet to watch M.on.k but I'm thinking it sounds like it's right up my alley, thanks for the recommendation.

    Sweet dreams, Angela.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I could have written this too, but not so well. The holidays don't seem to phase my husband, at least he isn't telling me if they are. He also talks about going out and doing things and I can't even imagine doing those things. I find it impossible to sit around at these events and try to act normal. It would all be an act, but it isn't for him. I guess it is a bit of a decision to move on, but at the same time, they didn't carry the babies for months, they didn't birth the babies. Their bodies aren't a constant reminder of what used to be, of what should be. Of what we want again. I think it is easier for them to get away from it than it is for us. Personally, I don't want to get away from it...I'm not ready for that yet.

    I wish we lived closer. We could stay in together while the husbands go out. We could sit at home, drinking tea and looking at pictures of our babies and reliving our time with them and out time without them.

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a husband with an imaginary watch as well!
    I avoided all social settings for a long time. A really long time. A lot longer than was socially acceptable. 12 months, maybe longer? And some things, two and a bit years on, I still avoid. Mostly things like baby showers, some kids birthday parties (I find little girl parties hard) and some Christmas things. It is still all too much for me, and if I can't go, I don't go. Way back when my grief was new (I guess to the rest of the world, within the six month timeframe) this was ok. People understood. Now, not so much. Just proves that while the rest of the world moves on, we feel so stuck.
    You keep doing whatever it is you need to do. When you feel up to it one day, you will go to those parties again. For now, it is totally fine to give them a miss.
    Sending love.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm going to have to look into this M0nk show. It sounds like something I would enjoy. I am fortunate in that the majority of L's friends are single guys (maybe they don't feel so fortunate) so they don't mind if I tag along, but I'm not expected to either. And when I do go they are very protective and sensitive to my feelings which I think rocks. We should not feel pressured into doing things we are not ready for. We live on our own time, not someone else's. Sending love.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow Angela- just wow. I know that character but have not watched enough to know what his history was. I love how they have portrayed him. Thank you for this clip- I needed it today.
    I know you are in pain. Suffering, wanting for the world to stop an acknowledge your grief- all at the same time wanting for the normalcy of life to return again. I am right there with you. I understand all too well. I wish I didn't (don't we all?) and I am here walking his path as well. Much love to you...
    L

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am so moved by your post. it really speaks to me. I too avoid many things like festive stuff, children's parties and baby showers. I find weddings hatd too. These things are full of happiness, hope and jolly families. I don't fit in. I am not sure people understand after 13 months but these things are unbearably hard. Sending much love to you and thank you. x

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  8. I had that "Monk moment" last night... my dh and I went to a nice little candlelight vigil on Thurs. evening, and all day Fri. I was feeling especially sad. Last night, as we laid in bed together, the grief welled up and I started sobbing. After my sobs stopped, I was able to tell my husband I'm so tired of it all. I'm so tired of this being so hard. I know my grief was at the surface because of the vigil, and the upcoming Christmas holiday. While it's my second one without Acacia, I'm just not so excited to put together a list for family, or buy presents for others. I used to love doing all of that. Sometimes I just want a break from my life. But perhaps like you - rejoining the "real world" by going out and being social doesn't fix anything for me either, sometimes it feels even worse as I feel so out of place. A day at a time.

    Much love and peace to you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I totally understand that quote from the show too! I don't think ANY of us want to be extraordinary. I was just fine with being a happy semi normal person. Extraordinary just pisses me off. I try my best to rejoin the living world. I'm giving it a shot today. But honestly I have enjoyed my unemployed existence filled with low expectations and therefore not many chances to disappoint myself or others. (((hugs)))

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  10. Even over two years later there are still things that I would rather avoid if I was honest. I still haven't managed a christening or a baby shower (I feel far too much like the 'bad fairy' or a bird of ill omen!) but I have recovered my enthusiasm for weddings.

    Don't force yourself, sometimes it just isn't the time to be there, not quite yet. xo

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  11. This is so true!! When I started to see "Life goes on" for Anthony I couldnt be MORE annoyed, but also a little envious. I didnt know how he did it. how he went and played his sports, went to an engagement party of a good friend without me last month. GOES to work...tells the story over and over to new co-workers all the time. Goes to dinner with his sports buddies..I can go on and on with what he does and I cant even think of doing. I dont feel guilty about it either. i went to my FIRST party last night for my bff cause she has stood by ME this whole time..other wise Id be home on the couch as usual. Am I a hermit? to some people I am, to me i just cant do it to myself...its not worth what comes along with it sometimes...sometimes I have no choice and i have to put myself through it and those are the times that SUCK the worst..when i dont get a choice. I would love to be a fly inside the Daddy's head once and see what actually goes on in there. I would love to come across a blog of a dad that is 'like us' and see that its not a man/woman thing but a personality thing....GOOD post!! as usual, ur in my brain

    ReplyDelete
  12. One of my favorite shows! Don't feel bad. I've turned down plenty of get-togethers. I can handle a one-on-one, with someone who knows what happened, with lots of advance notice. And not much more. Give yourself time. And let J go, if that's what he neeeds. It doesn;t mean he's moving on. It's just his way of living now. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am so moved by your post. it really speaks to me. I too avoid many things like festive stuff, children's parties and baby showers. I find weddings hatd too. These things are full of happiness, hope and jolly families. I don't fit in. I am not sure people understand after 13 months but these things are unbearably hard. Sending much love to you and thank you. x

    ReplyDelete
  14. I could have written this too, but not so well. The holidays don't seem to phase my husband, at least he isn't telling me if they are. He also talks about going out and doing things and I can't even imagine doing those things. I find it impossible to sit around at these events and try to act normal. It would all be an act, but it isn't for him. I guess it is a bit of a decision to move on, but at the same time, they didn't carry the babies for months, they didn't birth the babies. Their bodies aren't a constant reminder of what used to be, of what should be. Of what we want again. I think it is easier for them to get away from it than it is for us. Personally, I don't want to get away from it...I'm not ready for that yet.

    I wish we lived closer. We could stay in together while the husbands go out. We could sit at home, drinking tea and looking at pictures of our babies and reliving our time with them and out time without them.

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm in the same boat girl! I seriously could have written this, except for the Monk part. I don't watch a ton of TV so I don't know much about it. Instead my grief gets plastered all over the damn place while I am being dragged around by M...my DH. Sometimes I can make up a really good excuse. If it's not good enough, I am swept along to the party or comedy show, like the one I am about to go to. Wishing I was curled up on your couch by the fire with you, maybe looking over pictures of Charlotte and Michael. Have a good night my dear friend.

    ReplyDelete

thank you!

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