Sunday, March 24, 2013

Untangling My Brain

If you read my last post, it should come as no surprise that I'm still trying to untangle my brain a little.  It's kind of like trying to unpick a necklace with a fine chain - just when you think you've got a handle on it  you see another knot, maybe smaller, but more tightly bound.

I don't mind these moments in life.  Well, I mind when they're happening but I know the outcome will bring to a place I'm supposed to be.  The end of my three year relationship in September has reminded me a little of when my husband died - I spent the first six months thinking that I had a handle on things only to figure out that I was either in denial or just coping the best I knew how.

And that's when I realized how much I was affected by it.  And that's when the painful process of rebuilding began.

Now, you all know that I know that a break-up is not the same thing as a death - not even close.  The bad part about losing a spouse is how painful it is.  But on the positive side, I know that I've been through one of the worst things a person can and that frankly...anything beyond that (with the exception of another loss) really pales in comparison.

But it still hurts.

Part of my current rebuild is figuring out my priorities which, to be honest, is a very lonely process.  Because no one else can figure that out but you.  And to truly determine your priorities, you often have to clean your emotional house, take things slow, and dig deep.

Which is just as much fun as it sounds.

I have this book that I love called A Writer's Book of Days that gives writing prompts for each day of the year.  I never type what I write, loving the process of writing in a journal and not being able to erase anything that I write because I'm never sure what's going to come out.  Sometimes I write just a sentence, sometimes I'll write pages.  Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't.  And sometimes the prompt is just so true for my life...that's what I write about.

March 16, 2013 

Prompt:  Write about sinking

Well, that's easy.  I've been sinking for a few weeks.

Oddly, part of my descent involves a new level of self-respect.  I've been through enough, witnessed enough, and been subject to enough to finally have boundaries.  What's hard to figure out is that sometimes creating boundaries feels like closing doors and it's hard to distinguish between the two.

I don't want to be fearful of life and I also don't want to be fearful of being alone.  I feel like I'm finally getting to that place - where my self-respect outweighs my fear of being alone.  

So, while a part of me feels like I'm sinking, there's another part of my soul that feels like it's rising.  I feel disappointed in some of the things that have happened, but also proud that I've started saying, "No.  I deserve the best and I'm worth the best and I won't settle for less."

I just have to be careful that by creating boundaries, I don't isolate myself from opportunities.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Deserving Happiness

Just be happy.

Sounds simple, right?  I mean, I've always thought that if you do the things you love, surround yourself with people who are supportive of you, and just generally try to spread some good in the world, happiness will come.

Well, I'd like to think that I do all of those things...and happiness is still something I strive for.

I've always thought of myself as a pretty optimistic person.  Even driving home from the hospital after my husband died I said to myself, "You will have a good life."  I knew that it wouldn't happen right away, but still...hope and determination were already there.  Part of that, for me, was making sure that my kids would be okay because happiness could never come if they weren't.  And so I spent the following years, focusing on them and trying to be proactive in finding a little joy for myself.  After all...if Mom isn't happy, no one is happy.

And I've had happy moments.  I've made memories in this new life I was handed that make me laugh.  I have made new friends in unexpected places who have brought joy to my life.  I have embarked on a professional journey that years ago I only dreamed about, never thinking that it could actually happen to me.

But it has.  And sometimes I still question if I'm actually happy.

Part of this has to do with a relationship that ended last fall, one that has had me completely paralyzed in embarking on something new.  After all, if in the throes of anger you have someone say to you, "You will never be happy because you can't make someone else happy"...part of you brushes it off.

But then a little part of you believes it.

And then you start wondering if happiness is something you actually deserve.

It's strange to say that someone could be afraid of happiness...but sometimes I think I am.  I don't think I used to be this way, but the person who emerged from that emotional wreckage was bruised with the knowledge that she might be incapable of making someone else happy.

So why even try?

I just realized this about myself recently.  I thought that I had come out of what had happened a little weary, but okay for the most part.  It has just been recently, when I've had the opportunity to go after something that might make me truly happy, that I realized a part of me thinks that I don't deserve it.  That I might actually have a fear of happiness because now I'm always worried that the other shoe will drop.

It's strange to think that just the thought of being happy has scared me.  That I allowed someone to have so much influence over me and let them convince me that I wasn't worthy of could that have happened? How did I change from the woman who lost a husband but ran full-tilt toward an unknown life in an effort to make it one who allowed someone to tell her that she just might not be worthy of the life she's been dreaming of?

I don't know.

Sometimes I feel like happiness is tapping me on the shoulder, only to have me look at it sheepishly and say, "Who me? don't want me.  I'm not good enough for you!"  And convinced, it walks away to look for someone else who is ready for it.  When what I wish I could do is give it a smile and say, "Where have you been?  I've been waiting for you!"  And allow it all in.

This is all a learning process.  I think I have figured out more about myself in the last few months than I have in years.  In many ways, it's about the fine art of letting go of what was so that I can possibly embrace what could be.  Flushing out anger and resentment and replacing them with peace and happiness is no small thing.  Right now, joy is a conscious effort that I hope will someday just become a habit.

Just be happy.

I'm working on it.

Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014).  She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.