How Do You Move On When You Can't Even Move Forward?
My favourite Dr. Seuss book has a few verses that describe a most useless place: the waiting place. Where people are waiting for a train to come, or a plane to go, or their hair to grow, or a yes or a no.
For a long time now, I have been in that useless place. It’s been almost a year and a half since my husband died, following his struggle with a rare type of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
During that first year, I tried to approach my grieving process quite practically. I let myself cry when I needed to. I surrounded myself with his things in an effort to still feel his presence somehow. I binge-watched epic amounts of Netflix. I tried to eat healthily, but I drank wine when I needed to. I adjusted to life as a single-parent of two young boys who were also going through their own cycles of missing someone so much they could barely breathe.
I thought those first six months were the bottom. And the bottom is a place to visit, but not a place to stay. So I tried to move forward every day, even in small ways. This time last year I wrote that I was emerging from a fog of grief, but as it turns out...I am not sure I moved at all.
All the books and the blogs gently remind me that the second year is tougher than the first. That that is when the loneliness really starts to take root. What was, at first, a shocking and surreal notion is now a daily reality and I don’t like it. I am struggling with what to do in this waiting place and how to get out of it. I want the persistent cloud of anxiety to dissipate and I want to feel "better."
I consider myself a capable and very independent person, but living life as a single parent during this tumultuous time has been tough. My hat goes off to those who have been slogging it out solo with their kids for years or lifetimes…this gig is no joke. I am lucky to have the strong support of my family and a few close friends, but this is a way of living that compounds the effects of losing my husband. Not only because I don’t have anyone to pass the baton to at home when the daily grind becomes overwhelming, but it also means that I get out very little and my social circle has shrunk to more of a dot.
I feel isolated. I have been waiting for this to change and get better, but I have come to accept that it probably won’t--at least, not for a while.
In addition to my perpetual feelings of restlessness, I’m not sure I trust my own judgement anymore. The road of grieving is long and winding and bumpy…but recently a sinkhole appeared in my road and I fell into it, head first. I never saw it coming and I wasn’t prepared for how it would affect me. My judgement failed me at a time when I needed it to be in perfect working order and I was left rattled and hurting, at a time when I didn’t think more hurt was possible. But, it also woke me up a bit and made me realize that I can’t stay here. I need to get up and just start moving again.
I still can’t see far enough down the road to know what comes next. I don’t know what I want, or where I want to be and that’s an uncomfortable place for me. I have tried to make the right decisions all my life, in an effort to not be exactly where I am. I am trying not to stumble blindly, for my sake as well as for my kids, but I am not sure I am succeeding yet.
But, I am still trying. I feel done with waiting.
Coming back to the wise words of Dr. Seuss, I will try to be sure where I step. I will step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. I will never forget to be dexterous and deft. And I will never mix up my right foot with my left.
How did you get past the ‘waiting’ period? Share your stories in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Cristian Newman .
Brooke Bryce is a 35-year old mother of two boys (ages four and seven) living in Ottawa, Ontario. She loved and lost her husband to a rare type of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in April 2015 and is writing about her experiences in the hopes of connecting with other young widows or widowers. You can find Brooke on IHC under the username BBryce35.