Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And now that the toddler news is out of the way

I had a pretty deep discussion last night about my feelings toward Amanda, moving on socially, and where I am emotionally right now. I got a little choked up a couple of times, but I'm starting to think that maybe I simply haven't allowed myself to be carried away by the emotions. I certainly did for the first week, but I've rationalized all my feelings into submission.

I miss Amanda every single day. There's a large picture of her on my desk at home, the same picture is also in our dining room. She watches me every night as I work/play on the computer, and occasionally I find myself muttering to "her".

But I don't experience anger, denial, shock, or bargaining. Those, I've decided, are tilting at windmills. Being angry isn't going to bring her back, and I can bargain with God all day long, but he's not going to turn an urn full of ashes back into my wife. Ain't gonna happen. And frankly, if it did, ew...

I'm never really alone, because I have Alastair. But loneliness & depression are the only real suffering I experience, and not even all that often. When he's with me, and we're having fun, that is where I am: in the moment with him. When he's not with me, like at his grandparents' house, then I'm left alone with a head full of demons.

I've chosen to replace or augment those demons with racing, tinkering, and partying. Is that fair? Certainly the tinkering gives me a quiet opportunity for reflection while keeping me physically occupied, and that's a combination that has worked very well for me. Racing is just pure distraction of the most joyful form, and partying usually means alcohol. And, uh, pretty ladies.

When I'm not doing one of those three things, though, I'm generally lost. It takes me almost an hour to get ready for bed, because that's a mundane task that forces me to wallow in my alone-ness. The same is true with house-work, which usually piles up to the point of being nigh insurmountable.

But back to the point: my grieving process feels like I'm doing it wrong. Not to me, mind you, but to the experience of being me, if that makes any sense. Everyone tells me I need therapy, but I don't feel like I need therapy. But the fact that I don't feel like I need it is making me question whether or not I do. Because everyone says I do. With me?

Just like everyone says to wait a year before making any big changes. But I've already bought a car and gotten rid of a lot of her clothes. That, to me, feels like the right thing to do. I didn't like her car; couldn't drive it without wandering all over the road, and certainly couldn't park it. Why should I keep something that makes me unhappy, even dissociated from memories of her? But that's "the wrong thing to do", which gives me pause: should I have done it?

And last, I'm ready to go out with people, have fun, and experience joy. I'm told this is wrong, that it's too soon. But it doesn't feel too soon. I had a year to come to grips with Amanda's disease. A year. A year to grieve before she died, to be angry with God, to bargain for my life instead of hers, and all that stuff that's normal. I completed that process, so shouldn't I get a pass to the next stage? I tested out of Grieving 101.

I never managed to finish reading even the first of the grief counseling books. At some point I realized that I was no longer experiencing what was written, and I felt guilty about continuing to read them. I felt like if I was going to read them, I needed to regress and continue to feel the acute pain that was mentioned on the pages. But who wants to do that? Pain is good for the soul, but so is joy.

I've joined a couple of groups on Facebook for young widows & widowers, and joined the petition to add "Widowed" as a relationship status, and what I've learned from just glancing through some of the discussions on those group pages is that each grief is experienced uniquely. There are people who have been widowed for years and still refuse to even consider dating, and there are people who were seriously romantically involved after only a couple of months. Those who went through disease seem to have moved on more quickly, and those who lost their spouses to accidents take a very long time. Not as a rule, but just in general.

So it feels weird to me that I'm ok. Because I'm not "supposed to be" ok. Either I'm breaking the unwritten rules, or I need counseling, or I'm just a big creep who doesn't miss his wife. Or maybe I just need to be ok because I'm 33, have a little boy who needs as much joy as he can find, and there's just too much to live for.

Either way, if you don't like my grieving process, try your own way. When the time comes, I promise to support you in any way that I can. But please try not to judge me until you've been where I am (and I hope you never ever come here). There are no rules for grieving, only nebulous suggestions.


Kim said...

Hey buddy - just wanted to drop a line and say it's ok to feel ok. You're right - everyone deals with it differently. Screw those who can't understand.

And you're right on another front. You've been dealing with grief for well over a year. Not a few months, but many. No one can put a timetable on it.

Oh, and I read all those grief counseling books. You did yourself a favor by skipping over and moving on. :)

JamieSmitten said...

Nobody can tell you how to feel or how to deal with your situation. Ultimately, this is YOUR life to live and by trial and error, just like the rest of us, you will make the decisions that feel right to you. There will always be those moments when the pain of the loss will seem insurmountable, but life is to be lived. Hopefully, with as much joy as you can possible shove in.

MelodyLane said...

Grief's a funny thing. Everyone has their own method. Whatever works for you is the best for you and no one else. It isn't anyone's place to judge, much less to actually vocalize their judgment on you.

Hell with them. What works for you is for you and no one else.

Replica said...

I feel a little odd commenting, but here it is. I'm one of those net buddies of Amanda's who just thought to check in again and see how you're doing. In fact, I've only seen you for a brief few seconds at the memorial online.

But you know what? You are completely right that you've had a long time to deal with this - you lived it day by horrible day. You've done nothing BUT face and confront your pain. There's no shame in enjoying being alive, and living it as you see fit. There's just no way that my cool friend AlabamaPink would have denied you this small renewal - the person I met would be defending you fiercely right now. She was a tough cookie, who was a brave realist and I'm sure she'd kick you in the ass to smile and dance and start to breathe again.

A good dad is a happy dad. That's the simple truth. And after all I've read, there's no way anyone could accuse you of not honoring your wife. You're creating some joy and you both deserve that. Make good decisions, and never feel guilty.

Take care,
Rebeccah (replica)