Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Imperfect Perfection

I've made no secret of the fact that I've been dealing with some tough issues lately.  In truth, I'm sure they've always been there, but I've been convincing myself these last couple of years that I didn't have time to deal with them.

And then I got to the point where I didn't have a choice.

I've been seeing someone lately who is trained to deal with anxiety and I'll be completely honest...these sessions have been harder than anything else I've done before.  I sit in her office and cry from the moment I walk in to the moment I walk out, I leave feeling raw and exposed (but also like I know I'm progressing because I feel that way), I'm cranky with my kids in the hours that follow, and I'm exhausted the next day.

In the last few weeks, I've admitted things that I fear, where I feel I'm falling short, and how I basically beat myself up constantly for things that have happened in the past and things that I'm worried I won't be able to accomplish in the future.  As most of you know...saying these things out loud is almost harder than thinking them because when they're vocalized, they become the truth in a way - even if it's only your own version of the truth.

This new therapist I'm seeing is meeting my grief and me for the first time.  We decided during the first session that she would not read my book - something that felt freeing to me because every time I go into her office I feel like she has no preconceived ideas about me, how I've coped, and what I've been through.  And yesterday, she asked me to talk about my husband.

I told her the usual:  How he was smart, funny, and the guy who would always come up with the idea, but never get caught.  How hard he worked, how we were such great partners in the way we parented, and how responsible I've felt for everything and everyone in my life since the moment I had to make the decision to let him go.

"But we didn't have the perfect marriage.  Who does?" I said, shrugging my shoulders as if to say it was no big deal.

"What do you mean 'you didn't have the perfect marriage'?"

"I mean, we fought, we had some hard times, and there were moments when I wondered if we would actually make it," I said.

"But what if those imperfections actually made up the perfect marriage?" she asked.

And as I let that thought sink in, I began to cry again.

Damn.  I had it so good.  And maybe there was a part of me that didn't even realize it.

Because I was too focused on what I thought perfection should look like.


This last week has been hard in other ways, too.  

A couple of weeks ago, I met a guy who I was certain wasn't The One, but who I had a good time with for the first time in years.  Dating, lately, has become such a chore for me that I really don't do it at all.  It takes all of the patience and time I have to take care of the kids and myself that I really don't have time for it and, truthfully, I haven't missed the headaches that come with it.

Since the book was released, I've wanted to focus on this time in my life.  I've recognized that this is a huge transition for me, not just professionally, but mentally because I had concentrated so long on what I thought would be the outcome of finally publishing something that I forgot to think about what comes next.  And that has left me feeling a little adrift (and anxious).

But I took a chance, went out to lunch, and had a great time.  In truth, it made me feel better because I thought even if this guy wasn't my soulmate, he changed something in me that I had been fearing for a while - that I'm so shut down when it comes to personal relationships, romance may not be in my future, mainly because of me and how I've become so jaded from previous experiences.  And I've struggled with the fact that at the age of almost 38, I may be looking at a life alone.

"I had fun!" I exclaimed to my mother after the date.  "It's still possible!"

What followed was a few more dates and, again, I didn't think this was "it" but those outings just made me feel better about myself and the possibilities.  Until the other shoe dropped and I was treated more cruelly than I think I ever have been in my life.

The new world I envisioned suddenly fizzled and the old walls came back up, taller and stronger than ever before.  In the last couple of days, I have struggled with every insecurity I have about myself, all of them magnified to the point where that's all I can see.  This morning, I sat with my tea, my eyes red, puffy, and raw from crying, trying to make a plan to better myself...something I haven't done since those months following Brad's death.

As some of you read in the book, after Brad died I went through months of extreme weight loss and personal transition, trying to mold myself into the image of what I thought someone else would want.  Completely insecure about who I was and the new, horrific life I was living, I felt sure that if I could make myself attractive to someone else, all of my problems would go away.

But the past couple of years, I haven't really cared much about that.  I've taken on more of the attitude, "There is someone out there who will really love who I am and if they don't...won't it be too exhausting to be someone else for the rest of my life?"  I have found security in my work, my social life, and was for the most part proud of who I had become.

And then I had this stranger come and tear all of that away in a matter of weeks.

So, as I sat drinking my tea and making my plan, my therapist's words came back to me.

"What if those imperfections are what make everything perfect?"

And then I decided to sit down and write this blog.

I am completely and utterly imperfect.  I have fears, doubts, and rolls around my mid-section that I don't want, but I've come to accept as a part of me.  I can be over-sensitive, I have moments when I judge others and shouldn't, and there are days when I'd rather watch a Law & Order marathon than drag my ass to the gym.

I am the most imperfect person I can possibly imagine.

But that just might make up what is the most perfect me. 

This will all take me a little while to digest - finding a new truth usually does.  But I'll get there.  I'll allow myself this time to grieve this new element of my relationship with Brad that, seven years after his death, I've just discovered.  I will allow myself to wallow a little in the new hurt before I truly digest that it really doesn't have any bearing on who I actually am.  I may even see myself letting those walls soften and dissipate to the point where I can fathom trying to get out and meet someone new.

This is a time of acceptance for me.  I have to allow myself the time and space to recognize that life  
has not turned out the way I thought it would - not by a long shot.  Only then will I be able to figure out my next step.  And I know, as I write this blog, that I am not the only person out there who is struggling with these issues, who has doubts about where they are going, and is scared of the unknown.  I'm not the only one who looks at her life and wonders, "What the hell happened?"

I'm not the only one who, at the age of almost 38, might be meeting her true, honest, perfect self for the first time.

Check out the Widow Chick blog during the week of 
May 19th for MORE CONFESSIONS - a series of Q&As
 with some of the people you all met in 


  1. I've never been a blog person. That was until I lost my husband 2 months ago and I started seeking others who might have similar thoughts/feelings to me. To help me understand that I am normal. I really enjoy these blogs Catherine, and I have just finished your book - and will admit was sad when I did finish it. I connect with everything you say and while its horrific it is a source of such comfort. I completely relate to this post. Gosh if I could only have Chris back knowing these lessons. Our marriage wasnt perfect, but he knew all of me and I him and for the most part we accepted that. I hate that I am a cliche of you dont know what you have til its gone. Take care. E

  2. This one made me cry, so SPOT ON where I am in my own widow journey :) You are a sister in inspiration, Catherine!

  3. Im in the early days learning to live again and finding out who I am after my beloved suddenly passed away. I can totally understand where you are writing from. I totally am at the stage of 'how did I end up 42 and a widow of 2 children and feel that the saying -' life happens when you are busy making plans' sums it up. I am adjusting to knowing my imperfect self again xxx