Saturday, February 18, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 28

Metal Heart

This is Week 28 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I survived my second Valentine's Day without him. I think about where my heart and soul was last year on Valentine's Day, and it's good to see how much I have healed and transformed. I am definitely on more solid ground. But this ground is also hard and devoid of much new growth or life. My heart feels steely and cold. The soft warm flesh of love and connection I once felt has been replaced by old artifacts of a life once-lived, now lost. I have a wound that is now covered with cold, hard memories.

I know what it feels like to have been truly, unconditionally loved and there is no way that I can go back to the older, more dysfunctional ways of being in relationship with someone. This means I will probably be on my own from here on out. I grieve this loss as deeply as I grieve the loss of my husband.

Is it better to have known this love and lost it, then to have never felt it? I think so. I hope so.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 27

The Old, The Young, The Ugly, The Beautiful
This is Week 27 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

When I married my husband, I thought we would grow old together. I thought my dating days were finally over. Now I find myself "single" at 44-years-old and the dating world has significantly changed since I was last in it. I set up some online dating profiles and quickly realized how fast images are consumed now. My face whizzed past the screens of hundreds of people, as I was quickly deemed "too old," "too ugly," "too fat." Occasionally, one night stands would happen. Often "Ghosting" would happen. I actually dedicated one of the episodes of my radio show to how confusing and difficult it was to date again after being loved and cared for, for so long.

Dating became so toxic to my heart and soul that I actually completely stopped. I turned off all my online dating profiles. The flirty texting stopped. The requests for nude photos stopped. The stunted phone conversations I demanded to have before a first date, stopped. The awkward coffee dates stopped.

Except for one confusing matchmaking debacle by some well-intentioned friends, I have not been on a single date, nor met anyone new (in a romantic capacity) for several months. The years of widowhood stretch out before me and I imagine myself continuously alone — the "Cat Lady" I was always afraid of becoming.

But, as RuPaul has been saying for decades, "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" So I returned to myself. I decided I would "date" myself. What does that look like, you may ask? I'm still figuring it out. I'm trying to be nice to myself. I am trying to notice when I look beautiful. I take myself out to dinner. I buy sweet little presents for myself. I take long baths. I try to write love letters to myself. I try to really settle into the very real possibility that there will never be another partner in my life and be truly okay with that. This is a process. This is a journey. I don't know how it ends, as none of us really do.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 26

A Widow's Bouquet
This is Week 26 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here

I am exactly halfway through this project. My husband has been dead for a year and six months.

I wrote this one year ago:
"The death of a spouse is rated as among the most stressful life event that humans experience (Amster & Krauss, 1974; Holmes & Rahe, 1967)." according to the American Psychological Association
Add losing your job suddenly on top of that, and it's no wonder I have trouble keeping it together, right? I've got this Eastern European Ancestral Task Master named Gerta who lives in my head and berates me constantly that I am not working hard enough, not "getting my shit together" fast enough. I've been crying every single fucking day for 6 months straight. How does someone survive that? How is my body still functioning? Let alone my mind? And my heart? I'm so angry and so sad, all the time. Life doesn't make sense anymore and my day-to-day life feels like a craps game, played in a dark alleyway by nervous hustlers who don't give a shit about tomorrow - they are just trying to hustle up enough cash to get through the night.
 Somehow, I make it to the next day, but I don't know why. I don't know why I am alive and he isn't. Nothing means anything anymore. I don't know why I get up in the morning. I feel like I need to strip my skin off and re-start as a brand new human being.
I feel like Widows in their first year should get to go somewhere - like a Land of Widows, where they don't have to work, or take care of other people. They can just do heroin and fuck each other and cry and eat chocolate and swim in the ocean - or whatever it is they need to forget. Whatever it is they need to heal. Whatever it is they need to feel like they are alive again. 
I'm sorry. Thank you. I love you." February 4, 2016
Baby Tristy - 7-years-old
It's so painful to read this, and yet it also helps me see the ways that I have shifted and transformed over this last year. I have a new job, and for all of Gerta's harsh ways, she is the reason I still have that job. She pushes me and forces me to focus and work, even when I am in the depths of despair, and I'm actually really grateful to her for that.

I still cry just about every, single day. This is exhausting, but also cleansing and somehow empowering. Feeling my true feelings as they come up makes me feel like I can face anything, because honestly, if I can survive feeling brutal heartbreak every single day of my life, what can't I face?

Today I hold my fungal widowed bridal bouquet. I have dwelled in the subterranean depths of my sorrow and grief and processed and absorbed the rich, dense earth of grief around me. I have burst up through the depths and bloomed, integrating the death and life into a new organism that I hold close to my heart.

This IMBOLC weekend, I am creating ritual. Some friends will arrive this evening and we will craft collages together. We will light candles. We will eat and drink. We will laugh and cry together. The collage I make tonight will play a role in a much bigger ritual ceremony I am creating, that I plan to have the weekend of BELTANE. It will be a marriage of sorts. A returning to myself. A commitment ceremony to self-love.

My husband loved me in a way that no one ever has. He loved the broken parts of me. He loved the lost, wounded little girl in me. He loved my ugliest, and most frightened places. He "rescued" me. And now he is gone and I have to learn how to love myself, because I have tasted true love and I cannot live without it. I am also beginning to deeply understand that no one is ever going to truly "rescue" me. I have to rescue myself. I am my own heroine. I am my own Knight in Shining Armor.

I love that lost little girl inside me and I want her to have everything she could possibly want. I want her to know that she is loved deeply and unconditionally. I want her to have that solid ground of love and support to face her fears and still do what she wants and needs to do. I can give her that. I am learning how to give her that. I am learning how to give myself that.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 24 & 25

Witches Grab Back

This is Week 24 & 25 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here

The Racist, Rapist Garbage Monster has been the President of these so-called "United" States for exactly one week. A lot has happened, including one of the biggest protests in US history, with an estimated 2.9 million Americans participating. Our President has also enacted more damage than I thought was possible in the span of one week, let alone the very FIRST week of being our President. In response to the awful, fascist executive orders he has made, we're seeing rogue government Twitter feeds, huge protests at major airports, and our Representatives' voice mail boxes overflowing with calls and messages. It is a time of unrest. It is a time of great change. It is a time of awakening. It is a time of fear. It is a time of new hopes.

Meanwhile, I am still on my own personal grief journey. I have found it extremely difficult to write about straddling the "inner" grief of widowhood and the "outer" grief of suddenly having a fascist dictator as our President. And yet, my grief journey has taught me that now more than ever, we have to focus on the here and now and not "future-trip." Terrible things may be coming, but being afraid simply paralyzes us from doing what must be done TODAY.

As I have mentioned before, I am returning to my Witchy Ways to survive the Trumpocalypse. I am crafting ritual. I am honoring the Seasons and Moon Cycles. I am asking for the wisdom of my ancestors to fill my soul and guide me. I'm even talking to my late husband more, asking for his help and guidance as we move through this very scary time. I truly don't know what the future holds for any of us, but my spiritual connection to my energetic and ancestral helpers and the deep, powerful Feminine energy that we all have access to, is helping me navigate and I am so grateful.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 23

Time is a Circle

This is Week 23 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

This week I have been thinking a lot about time. Time changes when you are living in grief. It becomes more circular or spiral. The linearity of time breaks down completely.

I was watching old videos of my husband and a memory came flashing back to me. When I was 12-years-old, I saw the movie Starman with Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen.  This film stars a grieving widow and begins with her wearing her dead husband's shirt, sobbing, and drinking vodka out of a jam jar while she watches old movies of her handsome, funny, charismatic husband. This scene made me cry my eyes out. Some part of my wise 12-year-old girl heart KNEW what this character was feeling. I knew it deep inside my bones. My soul recognized this grief. How is that possible? How did I know what that kind of grief felt like at 12-years-old?

There are many theories about how time is non-linear. There are old stories and tales about the spiral effect of time. As a widow, there is also a deeper knowing that time actually does not "heal all wounds." Grief and "healing" does not work in a linear way. Instead, grief transforms. Grief shape-shifts.  Grief leaps about through time, peeking in to different stages of our lives and reminding us that death is always nearby — that death awaits us all.

When my husband first died, my grief felt like a metal cage, squeezing my heart within an inch of its life. Every breath was hard to take. Every step I took was wobbly. As I move through the spirals of time, the metal that formed that cage is changing. It is becoming stronger, but thinner, weaving itself deeply into my heart like a tapestry. Those iron bars are now steely threads. Instead of being hobbled and shackled by my grief, those hard, metal threads have woven themselves into my heart. My heart is made of grief now. This grief makes me strong. It is an armor I did not ask for, but am grateful to have. Things that used to scare and upset me, don't even make a dent in my life now. I have looked at the darkest places of life and survived. I have a wisdom I did not have before. I am a widow.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.