Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Days Like This

I have had a wonderful , joyous day today for reasons that are not apparent to me.

Work was great. School was fascinating, as usual. and I just enjoyed a glass of wine and a delicious buffalo chicken quesadilla with one of my best and oldest friends who came to meet me after class.

I wish I could pinpoint what was differnet about today, what, exaclty, caused me to wake up one single minute before my alarm sounded when most days since Chris died I have repeatedly reset the alarm only jump out of bed a half-hour late and begin the crazed rush to get ready and get to work consistently ten to fifteen minutes late. Until this morning, I thought my days of rising before the alarm startled me into a conscious state were over.

If I knew what made today different than the grief-filled norm I have come to know, I might be able to take steps toward creating more days like this one. What I do know is that I am heading into bed tonight with a smile on my face and maybe tonight I won’t give in to the unyielding menacing inner voice that tells me it isn’t right to feel happy because Chris didn’t get to.



Monday, November 27, 2006

Prelude to a Nervous Breakdown – An Epic Tale

Part One

What I find myself doing all too often is hoping that the guy I am on a date with feels that I am right for him and I never seem to consider that he may not be right for me.

Lately I have been placing too much importance on getting back into a relationship, which has never been a strong characteristic of mine. I have always been self-sufficient and able to enjoy my life without a man by my side. My interests and passions are plentiful and fill me with an enormous abundance of joy.

Last evening’s date went very well, I thought. He was very attractive, smart, energetic and optimistic, and he seemed to enjoy my company very much. We began with a glass of wine at the bar and he issued me a promotion (as perceived by me) to the next level, suggesting that we move into the restaurant and have dinner. Conversation flowed nicely. We laughed, as well as discussed serious matters, such as our personal opinions and experiences using the online dating medium. I shared with him my appreciation for honesty and for being told up-front whether my date is interested in a second date or whether he feels we are not a match. Maybe the mistake I made was elaborating the simplicity of simply packaging rejection into the phrase, “Take care.” He picked up the tab, which is not a requirement of mine at all, since I am not really moved one way or the other by chivalrous gestures.

As we exited the restaurant, I turned and enthusiastically informed him that I would like to see him again if he was also interested in a second date to which he replied, “Great!” Perhaps he should have bitten down on his tongue, instead.

He offered to walk me to my car, which I perceived as very gentleman-like. I accepted the offer, as well as his request for me to drive him to his car, which I was more than happy to do.

Once next to his car, I shifted my own car into “park” and we thanked each other. He proceeded to lean in for a kiss and even though I have historically prided myself on the fact that I have never kissed on a first date, I decided to make an exception in this case. I liked him and I wanted to kiss him and he seemed to like me, too. After all, men don’t kiss women unless they intend to see them again, right? So I decided to change my virtuous ways and act charitable in the holiday spirit of giving.

Kissing him was nice. Up until last night, I had never engaged in a kiss-fest with somebody I had just met two hours before. Maybe that’s prudish. Something about this man made me want to kiss him and something about our kiss made me feel very proud of my own growth in that area. We sat in my car sharing a few moments locked in a kiss and when we were finished I thanked him for a lovely evening and he replied, “You’re welcome. Take care.”

One his way out of the car he reiterated, “Take care.”

Part Two

I didn’t put two and two together until I had driven halfway down the street. He didn’t want to see me again and he very smoothly indicated his lack of intent in no uncertain terms. My body went numb and I wondered what had just happened. He honored my wish and rejected me in one fell swoop.

I dialed Carol’s number thinking she might still be awake at 10:15 PM. She didn’t answer the phone. I drove myself home hashing out the evening’s events in my head. He kissed me, so he must have found me attractive. That ending isn’t the worst kind of conclusion. I tried to deny my way out of the rejection thinking that maybe he didn’t realize what he was saying and maybe I would send him an e-mail stating that I had surmised he was telling me he did not intend to go on a second date with me…y’know, give him a chance to clear things up and realize that he had mistakenly told me to “take care” out of habit.

Luckily, and sadly, reality seeped in and I slowly began to realize he probably didn’t find me to be a match for him. I briefly troubled myself with all of the possibilities I could dream up for his reasons, and anybody who knows me knows that any reasons I can dream up are going to be meaner and more deprecating that those of an outsider.

I arrived at home, ascended the five flights of stairs to my apartment, entered and promptly fell apart at the seams.

I wanted Chris alive again. I wanted my husband. I screamed and gathered all of my blankets and pillows into a heap meant to mirror the body mass of my sweet Chris and I held on for dear life telling him I needed him, I loved him, that his death is not fair, that I hate the uncertainty of dating and that I cannot do life without him. I thought about my future and how I could cut it short and each time my mind returned to the reality of his absence in my life, I was hit hard with another wave of the truth that smashed my body around on the reefs, slamming me against rocks and dunes and drowning me in my own endless undertow of despair. I wanted to drown. I wanted darkness to close in and take me away from the pain of living without him. I snapped.

The phone rang. It was Carol. I hate to sound so mellow-dramatic but hearing her voice last night was like hearing angels sing.

I have stopped putting all of my grief on Carol. As friends go, she has performed above and beyond what I would expect from any friend. Last night, the dam holding back my grief burst and an entire two years worth of sadness and surrender came pouring out as I told Carol that I want him back, alive and well. She very graciously offered to stay on the phone with me for as long as I needed her and I took advantage of her offer. My reaction, last night, scared me to my core and gave me some much needed insight into my level of readiness with regard to dating.

By the time I was ready to relinquish my grip on Carol, the two of us were laughing at the irony of how all I wanted to do was run home and tell my husband about my horrible dating experience.

Whether I decide to continue dating or recharge my battery for a while and find happiness in all of the other activities in my life that bring me joy, I have come full circle and realized that I was out with a lovely man, last night, who was sensitive, honest and accommodating enough to let me down easy, in exactly the manner I had requested.



Sunday, November 26, 2006

When October Goes

I just returned home from two open mikes, which is quite amazing considering that I was on the floor, sprawled across sixteen pieces of sheet music earlier this evening after finding the music for “When October Goes” by Barry Manilow and being thrust into an old memory I had nearly forgotten.

It was November, 2003 when I visited Steve’s studio to sing some songs in front of his piano accompaniment. I was very excited about building a relationship with him and singing with various pianists, in general. His studio was just a five minute walk from Chris’ and my apartment on Washington Street in Brighton, which was even more exciting. I went to my session an sang that song,which has a melancholy story line which seems to talk about loss of youth, loss of time and just loss in general. The song meant very little to me that day. The very next week, Chris was diagnosed with cancer and I called Steve and told him I wouldn’t be coming back.

For a time, I rode the train to and from Boston each day with the song playing in my CD walkman and I choked back tears worrying about Chris, tortured by thoughts of his death. My eyes filled with tears which I hid behind sun glasses each day. I can still feel exactly how I felt sitting on the green line worrying.

Finding the piece of music tonight, I picked it up and began singing the lyrics and that’s when I fell over defeated by my own disbelief that this entire bizarre, unthinkable event actually happened. I couldn’t pick myself up. I just cried thinking my usual, “No, no, no.” and shaking my head back and forth, trying to make it make sense. It still doesn’t make sense and the song crushes my chest making it impossible for me to breathe.

At that point I thought I was in for the night. When Jimmy called, I told him I was having a hard time with grief and we chitchatted about unrelated topics since he can’t handle my sadness, but even so, together we came up with a plan for me to drop half of an Ativan and try to come out. It worked. I had fun tonight, even though every part of my body and soul felt the loss of Chris tonight. The thoughts, invasive as they are, popped in and out of my head in between distractions and now that I am home, I can feel loss screaming at me from all angles.

I saw people tonight that I haven’t seen in months and in replied to their questions with, “I’m well, thank you. I’m doing good.” My eyes felt sad and empty even though my mouth was smiling and I wonder if anybody but me could feel that. Even if others could sense my sadness, they would never admit it. That’s unpleasant and could jeopardize their comfort. Still, I wonder.

I feel empty without Chris. Still. Forever. I keep trying, though, and I wonder if I have a breaking point and if there is such a point, when and how will it look when I reach it? That thought makes me need to speak with Clay.

I am entering another danger zone, one in which I keep repeating, “He can’t be gone. He can’t be gone. He can NOT be gone.”

But he is gone and I am having too much trouble coping.

Sometimes I worry that I use Ativan to pull myself out of the hole. Even though I use it sparingly, I am quite aware of the fine line between being a functioning member of society and becoming a dysfunctional degenerate who has thrown in the towel along with her sanity. I wonder if I ever could ever cross that line. Sometimes I don't care what happens to me.

I shared two nice hugs with John tonight. Hugs have healing power.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Meltdown # 630,116 (seemingly)

I am not messed up I am not messed up I am not messed up.

I need to keep telling myself that. Detrimental thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies in a flash and I have to remember that I am the one driving my life now, “one” being the operative word. Chris is gone. He left.

I just came home from the supermarket. I tried to pay for my groceries with my debit card but it got declined, not because I don’t have money, but because I exceeded my daily withdrawal by paying my school bill this afternoon, which really isn’t a big deal, except that I became a little embarrassed because I got the thought stuck in my head that the cashier thought I was trying to use a “used up” credit card. I felt dumb. I felt poor. I felt inadequate. I feel like a failure. Most of all, I feel like Chris, wherever he may be, is pissed off at me for having to use a credit card to pay for my groceries, which strange (or not) as it may seem, is really just ME being pissed off at me for going against everything Chris taught me. It was unintentional, but regardless, I am really struggling against my tendency toward self-hatred right now.

I have a date with a really nice man tomorrow night and that also has me feeling as though Chris hates me, which is really just more of me hating myself. Or maybe it’s more of me hating Chris for dying. Whatever.

I dont’ think I like this anniversary-season crap.

Okay. It’s out of my system and on paper now.

I’m making a promise to myself. Tomorrow is going to be fun. I am getting up and beginning an exercise regime, again. I am going to run 2 miles. Then I am meeting the pianist to rehearse the songs for the documentary. And then I am going on my date with this man and he is going to like me and it’s going to be okay.

I am not going to act frenzied anymore, tonight. I am going to take Pungent Blunder's advice and take deep breaths until I can see this incident for the "nothing" that it is.

I just worked myself up. Someday, maybe I won't have so many anxiety-related traits. It's hard to believe I was once reasonably calm.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I wish I could have a hug.

...a nice, long hug. I wish my social worker could hold me just for a little while, while I cry about ending our sessions and talk about how it feels like more loss. I wish I could ask him for that. He wouldn't do it though, and he shouldn't do it. It's not professional and besides, I'm just experiencing transference, anyway.

But it sure would take me back to a place where I felt small, safe and protected.

And cared for.

Giving Thanks to the Birthday Boy

Aside from today being Thanksgiving, today is also what would have been Chris’ 36th birthday. I woke up wondering what he might have been doing if he had lived. He would have been working with the Car Talk guys for two years, probably doing something more than screening the calls that come in. I’m sure he would have excelled and they would have loved him and he would have learned so much more about radio than he had ever known before. That’s my Chris. He knew how to apply himself and whether he knew it or not, he always had the power and the ability to turn his dreams into realities.

I have been squashing my emotions since Wednesday’s trip to the library. I worked yesterday and while the rest of the office left at roughly 2 or 3pm, I stayed. My job is business critical and I have to be there all of the time, so if I went home, I would have had to sit by my computer anyway just in case I was needed. I opted to remain at work. Even though I was the only one there, I somehow felt less isolated than I would have felt at home.

I’m doing quite well today, even though the anticipation has been nothing less than horrifying. I can feel that I have cordoned off half of my brain, immersing it in that same fog that doesn’t permit thinking, mourning, wondering and wishing. Basically, the only part of my brain awake today is my realist brain, the part that is going to my father's to celebrate, yes, “celebrate” Thanksgiving. I will not endure another holiday season controlled by fear, anxiety, sadness and yearning. The time has come for me to enjoy my life to the best of my abilities, even if that means that I cry for sixteen days and nights and then celebrate a holiday like I was once able to long ago.

I may need the help of my trusty sidekick, Ativan. Time will tell. I took half of a pill last night before going to my friend, Carol’s house to ring in the Thanksgiving holiday. I wasn’t sure I would take anything to help myself but at the last minute before I left my house I remembered this year’s theme, that which I was just speaking about in the last paragraph. I deserve to have a happy holiday season.

I have endured much pain and sadness, beginning with our move to Los Angeles in 2001 and culminating in a horrid disease that ultimately claimed my husband’s life. Thanksgiving has come and gone for the past five years instilling anger, loneliness, thanklessness, terror, denial, smashed hopes and deflated resign . No more.

Some time ago, I became aware that performing the tasks for which I am responsible alleviates my pain and sorrow and instills in me a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, self-confidence and strength that I remember from many years ago. I have the power to bring those feelings back into my life. Grief can (and will) stay, too.

Grief is a part of who I am. The emotion is not all bad. Grief has transformed me into an empathic, selfless, deep-thinking, accepting person and even though the pain sometimes feels sharp enough to shred my soul into millions of fragments of my former self-assured, lucky-to-be-with-my-Christopher self, those same fragments, when pieced back together re-adhere to make me a hundred times the person I once was.

Today is Chris’ birthday, November 23. Born in 1970, my sweet, sweet best friend and husband swept me off of my feet 28 years later, brought me on a life adventure from start to finish and changed me and everything I stand for forever.

If I could talk to him, I would tell him all of the ways he changed me for the better, I would reiterate for the hundred-thousandth time how much I love him. I would thank him for coming into my life, and I would try to get him to tell me when I was going to get to join him on the other side. I would tell him how hard not seeing him every single day has been for me, how hard and unfair life can seem when he’s not by my side and how no matter what happens, I am going to try to be the strongest, most determined person I can be and keep pushing, pushing, pushing through the dark haunted forest until the lightness blinds me with love, healing and my own end of life complete with my Chris waiting and watching for me as I transcend my physical, earthly self and join lights with him.

I know the day will come and I am not afraid, but I have a job to fulfill here, first.

I believe that whether we are aware or not, there are people in this lifetime who need us and whose contact with us is also essential to our own growth, understanding and ultimate transcendence into the hereafter. Perseverance, as always, is key.

I didn’t know how to honor my Chris on his birthday, this year, but I now know that I honor him every day I remain on this earth, staying open, inviting my own life to flower and finishing the journey I was sent on thirty-nine years ago, regardless of how long the trip will last. I am helping others. That is why I was sent here and that is what I will work toward until Chris and I meet again.

Happy Birthday Creej. I love you more than I can ever express in earthly terms. Your soul dwells within my own and gives me the strength to stay above water, climb out from under the rubble and continue to give all I can give until my own time comes. Thank you for inviting me out for a cup of coffee and for joining with me in the time we were gifted together. Today I am giving thanks to God for helping us to cross paths and for you for meeting me and helping me grow from a closed-off, sheltered little girl into a wide-open, courageous woman who is not afraid of life or death. I have so much for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Library Abuse

I spent three hours at the library this evening reading my psychology book and searching for psychology journal articles to write papers on in preparation for my final class. Neither of these were valid reasons for my trip to the bookshelves. Running and suppressing to the best of my abilities and staying as far away from my apartment as possible while staying as far outside of my own head as possible seemed like my best strategy. My escape attempt was not successful. I cried openly on my walk home from the train station.

I feel isolated. There is nobody for me to talk to, anymore. Nobody wants to hear it. I don’t even want to say it, anymore. I want it to not have happened. I am tired of dealing with the crushing pain. Anxiety made me dizzy this evening en route to the library. I don’t want to be alone, anymore. I don’t want to be without Chris, anymore. But I can only solve one of those problems.

Tonight, when I think about my future, all I can see is me crying every single day for the rest of my life, whether I meet and fall in love with someone else, or not.

And I feel tremendous guilt lately and I think it’s because I have feelings for someone. And I’m terrified that he won’t be able to handle my grief if and when it rears its head throughout the remainder of my life. And I think I want to have children and get off of this fucking corporate carnival ride I have been on for way too long.

Why did I lose?

I am still so pained by everything Chris had to to go through. I think there’s more wrong with me than just grief. I still feel traumatized. I still can’t breathe when I remember Chris’ final days and the craziness of the fog and my eyes still snap open at night when images of his hospital stays invade my thoughts. I have asked Clay if he thinks I am showing any signs of PTSD but he thinks not. He's the professional.

And I am so angry all of the time. I’m angry with my entire family, my life, my phone, my face and my brain, and the grief counselor, who ignored my last phonecall, which was only my second time calling her. Ignored. And I’m angry that I have grown dependent on Clay and that I wish I could tell my psychology professor all about Chris and what happened and how I feel. Nobody screams “Save me!” like me.

I’m going to a party at Carol’s tomorrow night and I don’t want to go. I feel like I am going to be there with my sad soul, wearing a mask of happiness and fabricated holiday cheer. I want to stay home and cry. I’m not going to, though. And I’m not going to ruin anybody’s holiday, especially mine.

I have to pull myself together. I’m ashamed of myself this way.

I will. PMS has a way with multiplying the effects of grief.

Okay, I’m putting a stop to this right now.

(((smile, smile, smile)))
There, I feel better, already.
It's all about choices.

Good night.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Depression and Hope

I have been feeling very depressed for the past week. I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, trouble getting ready in time to get to work on time and trouble concentrating on the show, even though while I’m actually performing the show, I feel great.

Last night, I experienced a 2.5 hour, "can't breathe" grief fit that, as usual, began on my walk from the train station to my apartment. I am so tired of choking back the surge of tears I know is coming to claim me. Despite my meltdown, I managed to make homemade spaghetti sauce, wash clothes and clean in preparation for a visit from my mother-in-law tomorrow. Still, the experience left me exhausted and dehydrated.

It's tough these days because I don't want to infect the lives of my friends with my grief anymore. It has been almost two years and I just don't want to do that to them. So I'm feeling isolated. I’m stopping my sessions with Clay at the end of the year, but instead of going it alone, I think I actually will try to find a good grief counselor. Now that I know counselors have all types of styles in which they work, I can try to find somebody who will help me stay on track, suggest action items for me and basically tell me what to do on a bi-weekly basis. No more of this “every week” crap. I’m done.

Chris' birthday is right smack on Thanksgiving day this year. This Sunday is the anniversary of his diagnosis and of our engagement.

I actually know I will fall in love again. I have a date with a very nice man next week and I am crazy about a man at work and I believe he is crazy about me, too.

I just get attacked by the horrible memories of watching the person I loved most in the world become ill and have to deal with it is spirit-crushing. I don't really know how to stop the flashbacks.

I know I will find happiness again. I just do.

In a lot of ways, I'm beginning to think that the only way out of the depression is to meet somebody, fall in love and exist in another partnership like the one I once shared with Chris.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Chris’ birthday is November 23 and it falls right smack on Thanksgiving Day this year. He used to love when that happened because Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday.

I am not sure how I feel about the approaching “anniversary season.” On some level, I have decided to have as happy a holiday season as I can because for three years, I have not been able to be happy.

I have spent Thanksgivings in shock from the diagnosis, terror-stricken from the fear of the inconceivable thought that Chris could die and crushed that the inconceivable came to pass. Someday I have to be able to enjoy the holiday season again, don’t I?

I haven’t really been sleeping lately. My body seems to know that the anniversaries are coming. There’s November 19, the day of Chris’ diagnosis; November 23, his birthday; December 25, the day I rushed him to Brigham and Womens Hospital because the pain in his side became too great for him to bear; January 1, the day he died and January 17, the day we met in 1999 and the day we married in 2004. There are so many dates.

I remember the orderly wheeling him away in a wheelchair on Christmas Day, 2004, as he said to me, “Don’t cry. We’re gonna take good care of him.” and I can remember the undertakers wheeling him away in a body bag on a two-wheeler. They looked evil to me. I know they didn’t have on dark glasses, but my memory tells me that they did. The brain is a very strange thing. He was gone, then. I knew his body was there, but he was gone even though I didn’t quite understand what that meant at the time. I figured he’d be back later. Actually, I didn’t figure anything. I was incapable of figuring.

I don’t know how to honor him on his birthday. Maybe the way to honor him is to have fun. Every step forward I have taken with absolute reluctance. I do it, anyway, all the while thinking “No.”

I dont’ want it to be.

I am just now beginning to be able to say the words, “My husband died from cancer.” and know that it’s true, that it really happened. It really happened to him and it really happened to me and I still just want to cry and cry and deny the truth. I would give anything to wake up and tell Chris that I just had the most horrible nightmare.

I laugh a lot. I'm happy most of the time. Even so, after everything that happened, anxiety is a state I will likely never conquer. I feel as though Chris' illness and death branded fear, anxiety and terror onto my soul forever.

Grief doesn’t end. It just goes in and out of remission.


Monday, November 13, 2006


I bumped into Dom this morning on my way to work. Dom is a man I worked with seventeen years ago.

We stood on the sidewalk outside of my building talking for about ten minutes or so asking each other questions about where we have been and what we have been up to over the past few years. I told him I had moved to L.A. for two years with my boyfriend and then came back and got married.

I coulnd’t leave it at that. My story felt like a lie.

We talked some more about trivial matters and then I said, “Sadly, my husband passed away two years ago.”

Dom’s expression held such genuine concern that I wanted to hug him. He, very openly, said, “Did he have cancer?” and I replied, “Yes.” Shocked, and seemingly knowingly he said, “How old was he?” I told him Chris was 34. He went on to say that he was just talking with another person who had told him she had been through the same thing. Then he asked me how I was doing and I knew he meant it so I told him, “You learn to cope and you learn to move on. It never goes away but you just move on.” Then I told him that a lot of good has come out of the bad. He pondered what I had just shared with him and said, “That’s too bad, Robin.” and I said, “Yeah. It is.” We said goodbye and Dom hugged me.

I walked away and softly said, “I’m telling my story. I’m not hiding it, anymore.”

People like Dom are few and far between.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

S t r e t c h

Our show opened this weekend and we performed last night and tonight. The performances went well despite some technical difficulties and we have already improved since Saturday evening. Also, despite the fact that rising tensions caused me to never want to do this show again, I can honestly say that I would do it again if I am invited back next season. Preparation for this show is very difficult and tedious and during the process, I forget how much of a payoff performing it is. It’s all good.

I had a bit of a backslide last night. The director from the show snapped at me, which is a common experience when tensions are running high. I experienced a delayed reaction, in the form of grief, which occurred last night after I got home. I had to put the tears on hold until after the show and until after I had helped pack up the equipment. When I got home, I fell onto my bed and purged my emotions. I thought, “Chris would never have treated me that way.” which is what I always say when somebody is less than nice to me. I wish I could stop that pattern, but I was so upset and exhausted when I got home that I didn’t possess the desire to fight my grief.

Chris came to absolutely every one of my performances. I have a tough time with the fact that he can’t come anymore, that I experience euphoria on the stage and then walk outside onto the lonely city street and drive home to my empty apartment. Columbus Avenue is a very lonely place at 10:30 PM on a Sunday night.

As I sat idling at a red light, I suddenly realized that I no longer remember how walking around Boston with Chris felt. I couldn’t quite call the memory of the feeling of us together, walking. I became heavy-hearted. I didn’t cry though. I still haven’t cried.

If an elastic is used for a long enough time, its elasticity decreases and the rubber becomes dry. Suddenly, one day, the band has to be wrapped around two times in order to hold its contents.

I have reminisced about rage-inducing grade school games of keep-away involving me, my hat and a bully and the rage and frustration that ensued. I felt that rage and frustration for the longest time with regard to Chris’ absence. For a long time, I felt that he was being kept from me but that eventually, I would get him back once I was on the verge of rage-induced insanity. I began to feel that way this weekend because he’s not at my shows, but then my rage trailed off. The elasticity of my anger has diminished and even though my brain won’t easily go there, I am now beginning to surrender myself to the fact that no amount of screaming or raging is going to bring him back. My “elastic” has been stretching toward wellness and then snapping back to grief for so long and tonight, there was no back-snap. The rubber gave way and stayed stretched around my grief, with a larger barrier than before and I was much too exhausted to scream tonight. My threshold for grief has expanded, like the elastic.

I’m not going to get my way, this time. It doesn’t matter that one of the song’s I chose is about a spirit coming back to comfort her surviving husband. Chris can’t see that, and even if he could, he couldn’t come back just because I paid him that tribute.

I’m okay lately. I get sad thinking about Chris and wondering how I am ever going to “get there” again, “there” being “ a loving, close, unconditional relationship.”

Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Psychology of Psychology

Instead of crying this evening, which is exactly what I thought I would be doing upon returning home from a seven-and-a-half-hour rehearsal, I cracked open my psychology book and continued reading in preparation for this Tuesday evening’s class. I don’t feel like crying at all, now.

Coincidentally, in direct corroboration to my recent discovery that when I do what I am “supposed” to be doing, I feel better, reading this week’s assigned chapter, particularly the section regarding the Social-Cognitive Perspective, has helped me tremendously tonight.

The theory defines and explains both the external and internal locus of control. The section of the chapter that caught my attention mentions that university students who plan their day’s activities and live out their day as planned are at low risk for depression.

The moment I read that sentence I knew I had achieved another victory. For a person like me, who can quite frequently become frozen within her own reluctance to walk away from her grief and toward her future (even if that future stretches only as far as the next moment), doing what I am “supposed” to be doing and carrying out my responsibilities to myself, I have once again succeeded in laying my grief to rest rather than submitting to defeat.

I am happy. I feel fulfilled. I am extremely excited about psychology and I am going to sleep tonight exhausted in a good way with not so much as a fragment of Ativan in my bloodstream.


Thursday, November 2, 2006


Talking with Clay is like being five and having my mother apply mecuricone to my scraped knee.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Highway Hypnosis

Somewhere between exits 31 and 32 off the Mass Pike east I had an insight that I am accepting as a gift from the universe and a hiatus from the chaos that normally resides within the walls of my brain.

The thought was simple. “It doesn’t matter what age you are, only who you are.”

I worry, since Chris died, that I am too old now. I am too old for any man to find attractive. I am too old to be acting the way I am acting. I am too old to be upset that people seem to think I should be over the loss of my husband and the list goes on a little further than that. I tend to pressure myself to hurry up and...well, I don’t really know. I just pressure myself to do whatever it is I should be doing before...well, I don’t really know when. Do you see what I mean? I don’t have to worry about anything. I just have to be.

Something about the Mass Pike really gets the gears in my mind turning. I also realized the path by which I travel into patterns of deep despair upon returning home each evening. I am not just grieving. I feel grief begin to materialize and I panic because I do not want to grieve. Basically, I suffer the proverbial (is it proverbial?) double-whammy, the threat of grief immediately followed by a panic attack resulting from the threat of grief, which spawns more grief and a splash of anger and feelings that I cannot control the grief or the panic...or the anger for that matter. So by the time I am finished dancing the “complete-loss-of-control-tango” I have run the gammit of emotions intertwining grief, panic, anger and self-pity.

Good. Now I have something of substance to discuss with Clay tomorrow evening.

Before I say good-night, I will raise my bowl of frosted flakes, bananas and soy milk and make a toast to the fact that I am not grieving or panicking tonight.

Go me.

Out of the Closet

I lashed out at my sister, yesterday, my sister who met her husband when she was 15 and who is still with him at age 41.

I finally completed my certificate in web and digital design and instead of saying "Congratulations." she said, "Oh WOW. Robin finally completed something!" so right in front of her husband and my 13-year-old nephew, I said, "Well, I would have finished faster IF MY HUSBAND HADN'T DIED." I hated the lack of control that allowed that venom to come shooting out of my mouth. I felt ashamed. I want to be more in control and I need to stop using Chris’ death as ammunition to force people to consider the odds I was facing while continuing my studies, acting in shows and getting a new job. I know, it just doesn’t get more vicitimy than that. No need to comment, commenters, I know I slid back into victim stance. I’m out again, though. Be kind.

I wrote her the following e-mail trying to explain my side of it:

Hi. I just want to apologize again for what I said earlier. I feel really ashamed that I lost control of myself that way. It's that season of anniversaries again and I know it's tough for people to believe and understand that at the two-year mark I'm still feeling very sad, but it's true.

I saw a grief counselor last week who basically told me the feelings of sadness are never going to go away and that I will learn to control them as time goes by. It's hard, though, especially now with the anniversary of the diagnosis, his birthday, the holidays and our wedding anniversary staring me in the face.

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. Some days I don't know how I am going to live out the rest of my life, not just without him, but with the memories of what happened to him and how sick he got and how I couldn't help him at all stuck in my brain.

I keep trying to push on and I'm doing really well physically...keeping busy, going to school, dating, etc. It's really hard to come home at night to absolute quiet where there used to be a person who cared about me talking with me, listening to me and just being with me.

I started taking more of my Ativan to help me when I'm alone. I just need to tell my doctor and see if she approves.

Basically, I feel broken. I'm okay when I'm around people, as you know. I'm just living a double-life. Happy with people, devastated when I'm alone. I really miss him. He was a perfect fit for me and I was so proud to have him and for the first time in my life, I felt like I had accomplished something and then it was gone.

I just wanted to tell you so you'll know that my comment didn't come from a "mean" place. I lashed out because of how much I am hurting. I won't hurt you again. I hated how it felt and I'm sorry. I love you. Love, Robin

She responded with the following:

Don't worry about it. I can't say & hope I never have to say I know what you're going through. But I can say, "forget about it" it's over. That's all."

I’m pretty certain that by “it’s over.” she meant my comment and not my grief. Still, I poured so much of myself into that apology and I thought she would have more to say.

Why is death so taboo in this country? It makes coping so much more difficult when everybody runs in the opposite direction.

I don't want to go into hiding. Maybe that's the purpose of the book I am writing, to be out of the closet about death.