Saturday, March 31, 2007

Another Spring (Forward)

I’m off to Bonnie’s this morning to have lunch, see Emily Dickinson’s home, enjoy the wonderful weather with the family I am so grateful to be a part of and to watch my nephew compete in a percussion competition. Today is going to be beautiful.

I haven’t seen Clay for the past two weeks. The last time I saw him I was in really rough shape. I had gone on a grief-bender of which there seemed to be no return. Now, two Clay-less weeks later, I can barely remember how horrible I felt. Clay believes I relapsed because he left for three weeks, and he managed to convince me, too, that my sudden onslaught of grief was caused by his absence. He believes that in my mind, I made a connection to Chris leaving, with his own absence from my life. Maybe so. I’m not so sure I am still convinced of that theory, even though there doesn’t seem to be another.

When I last visited him, I concluded my session by telling him I needed to take some time off of therapy. I just needed everything to stop. So I stopped it. We agreed that I would go on hiatus for a couple of weeks and when he called, I told him I wanted one more week off and then I wanted to begin seeing him only once a month. So that’s that. I made a decision. These past two, soon to be three, weeks away from therapy have served me just as I knew they would. In two weeks, I have cried for a total of about forty seconds. It’s no fault of Clay’s, though. I have simply removed myself from a situation in which I was repeatedly bringing up the event of Chris’ illness and death week after week after week. Just when I began to feel better, Thursday would roll around and I would have to talk about all of it all over again. I have now taken some breathing room for myself and I feel so much better. It’s time to begin weaning myself off of therapy and off of the presence of Clay in my life. He has been “the man” in my life since Chris died and I am ready to begin stepping away and reclaiming my independence.

Life continues to improve. I have just been inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society for my academic excellence at school. That was quite an intoxicating surprise for me. Chris would be so proud of me.

Once again, I find myself standing at yet another threshold. Spring, once again, is in the next room. Another spring forward, another winter behind me. That makes three winters since Chris died.

I now know that I will never be over the loss of my sweet man. Grief doesn’t go away, but it also doesn’t stay in the form of pain. Its form changes, just as Clay told me during my first visit. I couldn’t see that then, but I see it now. Grief and death are not one-hundred percent pain. They also have the capacity to enrich life, to change people for the better and to serve as catalysts toward great achievements.

Would I rather have Chris by my side? Of course. But since that is not an option, I strive to accept that he walks beside me in spirit, and will for the whole of eternity.

Well, I’m off to spend a wonderful day with my family.

Peace out.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Six Days of Lightness

It’s pretty interesting to me, how few tissues I use these days. In the beginning, I used to go through a box of tissues every day. Progress appears in the strangest ways.

Counting today, I haven’t cried in six days. I feel so light. I really want my life to be this way all the time.

My theory is that not seeing Clay for two weeks, of my own accord, has worked wonders in that I have allowed myself to go through two Thursdays without expecting myself to bring up all of the pain. Life has been nice without the constant threat of my Thursday evening purge. Clay’s going to call me soon to find out when/if I want to come back and I’m still not sure what to do. The way my schedule is, I don’t know if I even have time for therapy. Next semester I am taking three classes, working full time, beginning work on a new show, running and boxing. I think I may continue in my therapy-free world for as long as I want or need to. I can always see Clay if I feel that I need a “tune-up.”

Even though I am just at the beginning of the new book I am reading, the benefits have astounded me. The book, in case I haven’t already mentioned, is “The Power of Intention” by Wayne Dyer. It’s a self-help book and when I bought it, I made up my mind that I would read it on the T, proudly. I’m not hiding because self-help books have a bad reputation. I like them and I am going to continue to help myself my entire life through.

The difference in these past six days, and I believe it’s because of the help I am getting from this book, is that I still think about Chris constantly, but I don’t cry. I want so badly for this to be the way my life is. I never want him far from my mind and I never want to cry about our ordeal, again.

I’m going out to enjoy the day before it turns into another work week.

Light, happy, free from worry,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Abasement of Self-Effacement

I’m nervous about tonight because I don’t have a social plan in place. I have been on such a roll, lately, feeling upbeat and now I’m nervous that if I don’t make a plan, I’m going to go home and grieve. My loosely-set plan is to go work out at the gym, but I’m not really feeling it right now. I walked home from work last night (8 miles), so I don’t feel as though the gym is necessary. I don’t want to cry, tonight, but I don’t feel in control of my emotions lately.

I never thought I would be a “depressed” person. Depression isn’t what I thought it was, either. I don’t want to end my life. I don’t go to bed all the time. In fact, I hardly ever go to bed early and I can’t sleep during the day. I’m very active and I laugh a lot. And I’m depressed and I have a lot of anxiety. I’m beginning to adapt to both of those symptoms. I suppose I could go out for a run tonight. That would give me something to do, elevate my mood with an endorphin rush and keep me close to home.

I’m glad I stayed away from Clay for two weeks. It was hard. I wanted to go and I didn’t want to go. I kept changing my mind about what to do, and truthfully, I am no closer to making a decision. I have noticed a few interesting patterns within me, though.

There are men in my life who fill the void that Chris used to fill. I find myself feeling sad if these particular men don’t talk to me or if they show me less attention than usual or if they exit my life for whatever reason. They’re not potential boyfriends, by any stretch. They’re married, gay, uninterested or what have you. Still, I grow attached very easily. I thought I would be seeing more of one of them, but found out that I will not be. That’s when I began feeling sad. Realizing my expectations of these men is a huge deal. I wasn’t fully aware of what I was thinking until now, but I do tend to latch onto anyone who will show me the slightest bit of attention. I always have. It’s in my makeup. It isn’t fair to men, though, and it’s really not fair to do it to myself. I feel better already, having realized and openly admitted the truth.

I will find a man who will be my heart’s love again.

There. I made myself feel so much better.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Twice Happy in One Week

I am in a phenomenal mood, again. Granted, I did take the day off from work, which is always cause for merriment.

I woke up at 4:00am this morning to make it to a 4:45am dermatologist appointment. I went, then went to the hospital for blood work and then came home. I never went back to sleep, even though I went to bed at midnight last night. I did, however, get absolutely everything done that I have been wanting to get done for months and now I’m in the best mood.

I brought my clothes to the dry cleaner today and the most adorable yorkie ever was there. She was so sweet that I couldn’t stop scritchy-scratching her. She loved it. The owner, a very nice woman, told me she liked my ring and mentioned the rarity of seeing a diamond ring with sapphires. I told her the story of the ring and the story of my widowhood, as I always to when somebody shows interest in my ring, because in my mind, they have really shown interest in my husband.

After the dry cleaner, I went to the Salvation Army with a slew of donations. When I brought them to the men loading the truck, I asked, “Are you taking donations?” and the man said, “We sure are! We don’t take husbands, though.” I smiled and said, “Oh, that’s okay. I don’t have a husband.” I surprised myself with my answer and with my demeanor. He was a nice guy. He made me smile, while simultaneously bringing up perhaps the saddest fact in my life, yet, his good-natured beauty took precedence. I learned that it’s okay to smile and feel good, despite the tragedy in my life. I’m smiling, even as I type this.

I began crashing about an hour ago, having woken up twelve hours before that. Man, I’m tired, but I feel really good, again. I have to credit the weather, I think. I am so very excited for spring. Today was nice. I got a lot done. I continued thinking about creating my own destiny.

I’m happy.


PS - I love my brother, Starr. ;) (He told me to write nice things about him. I was thinking them anyway. Writing them is just a formality.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Last night, I dreamed I was beginning a romance with a man named Doug. I loved the way I felt in this dream. I felt important, cared about and...well, not lonely.

I box. I sing. I run. I study. I socialize. Even though I am invested in each of these activities, I still feel incomplete. I want somebody to care about me the way Chris cared. He cared about what I did. I did well because he cares. Now I’m not really sure why I do well. I don’t really have a reason. Nobody cares, not the way Chris did.

I want love back in my life.

I’m reading “The Power of Intention” by Wayne Dyer and i’m hoping to begin to create my own destiny. Creating one’s own destiny is hard enough, without the added, seemingly impossible task of recovering from a devastating and profound loss, simultaneously.

Despite the fact that I am suffering from depression, I continue to work, play, sing, box and run. Does that mean that I’m not really depressed? I feel depressed. I mean, I’m just barely hanging on to the slightest amount of interest in any one thing I’m doing these days. I mostly don’t care and I really can’t fathom the idea that I might be finished grieving some day.

I still wish new people I have met knew what happened. I feel a bit silly about that because I don’t really understand it. I feel as though it has something to do with the love I mentioned above. Compassion from others is a good substitute for love, temporarily. The softness of compassion goes a long way. I don’t tell anyone, though. It’s silly.

I’m getting old. I’ll be 40 in 5 weeks and even though I know there is love in my future, I struggle with my fear that nobody is going to want me, because I’m old.

Maybe somebody will.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Just Doin' What I Used to Do

After my half-hour grief-meltdown, I pulled myself together and decided to cook the chicken I bought the other day, following what I think is going to be a delicious weight-watchers recipe.

As the frozen fowl was soaking in a pot of hot water, my phone rang and on the other line was my beloved brother, whom I love almost as much as I love a good chicken recipe! Alright...I love him more than chicken.

We talked on the phone for a bit while I slowly, yet determinedly ingested a delicious glass of red wine.

Tonight’s not special. It’s just fun and relaxing, just like nighttime used to be. I feel really good.

How I wish I could return to this on a regular, less conditional basis.

As usual, drunk on half a glass o’ red. (not "drunk-as-usual", "drunk-on-half-a-glass" as usual)


Saturday, March 17, 2007


I slept twelve and a half hours, last night. I woke up, had some coffee, some lunch and then went straight to the boxing gym where I successfully completed a little more than half of the most intense drill I have embarked upon, yet. Very, very tough and very, very exhilarating.

Sometimes when I work out, my emotions rise to the surface and then I need to purge them. That’s what happened today. I punched the heavy bag twice, for five minutes straight each time and the more I hit the bag, the more my anger floated to the surface. I kept punching and punching but I was not feeling relieved. I remembered reading a psychological study in class a couple of months ago, where the results showed that punching and yelling did not successfully assuage anger, yet increased it. People who hit things actually got madder and madder and wanted to hit more things. That’s what happened today. I was exhausted when I decided to stop the drill. I never stop when my brain tells me to. I wait until my body will no longer perform. That’s how I know I’m really ready to stop. Finally, I got so tired from punching that I got even madder that I couldn’t punch anymore, so I had all of this unreleased anger pushing up from my core.

I took off my gloves, did my sit-ups and left, got in my car and began to drive away and then I began to cry and I kept crying as I drove toward home. This time, I decided to detour through Teele Square and down the street Chris lived on when we met. I stopped in front of the apartment house he lived in and glanced up at the third-floor porch, remembering how we used to sit up there and kiss. I barely knew him, then. We had just met.

There was too much snow on the ground for me to find a place to park, otherwise I would have sat across from the house and cried for as long as I needed to. As it was, all of the spaces were filled, which was probably for the best. I drove back up to the main street, still sobbing, and brought myself home where I cried, freestyle, until I was finished. I showered, made myself up and went to dinner with my friend.

I really enjoyed this evening, dining out, having coffee and attempting to shop at Pier 1. The store was closed, though, so I brought my friend home and tried to arrive at a decision about whether to go sing at the open mike, or not. I wanted to go, but I had begun to feel sad, again. I talked with another one of my friends, who tried to talk me into coming out. He almost succeeded, but ultimately, I came home, cried again, dropped half an Ativan and began writing. I’m waiting for the pill to kick in.

I made the right choice. I’m glad to be home, even if I am feeling great sadness.

I am going to miss Chris for the rest of my life. I miss him. I wish he was here.

I suppose I had a good enough day, for somebody who is experiencing as much depression as I have been. I worked out, enjoyed dinner with a friend and I think that writing this tonight, I have finally let go of today’s anger.

Tomorrow will be a much better day. I’m spending good part of it with my fellow Burrages. They always make for a good day.

Safe and warm at home,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Transfer

I started thinking about my grief, today, and what it means to me. My grief keeps me grounded in the confirmation that I loved my husband and that I miss him. I realize I can do both of those things without crying every single night, but realizing is only the first step.

I have been working out very hard lately. I work out at the boxing gym three times a week and two weeks ago, I began spending my Saturdays running four miles and then heading straight for the gym for a two and a half hour workout. I love running and I love the boxing gym. I want to do it.

Last week I took a four day hiatus from the gym and cried every single night, I began working out again and stopped crying. I still feel anxious one-hundred percent of the time, but I haven’t cried. The common beilef is that exercise works wonders on depression, but there is more to my story than just that basic belief.

I haven’t been able to let go of my grief and for the past three weeks, I have sunken into a quagmire of despair and anguish powerful enough to completely shut me down. The shocking part of all of this is that I think I bring the meltdowns on myself, deliberately, but subconsciously. The thought of letting go of my grief brings on an enormous amount of guilt. My husband died. I can’t be happy ever again or that means I didn’t love him or I don’t love him or I never loved him or that I didn’t love him enough if getting over him was this easy. Those are the fears that choke the breath out of me.

I am in quite a bit of physical pain from last night’s crazy-intense workout...and I feel emotionally okay.

It seems to me that I have replaced my emotional anguish with physical pain, which hurts considerably less than grief. Still, in some way, as long as I am in pain, I don’t feel guilty about feeling better. This realization could be the key to my next phase of forward movement. The more physical pain I experience (healthy pain) the more I can forgive myself for easing up on the emotional pain.

I thought about a scene from Stephen King’s The Green Mile where John Coffey is using his special healing powers to suck the brain cancer out of Melinda Moores, the Warden’s wife. He puts his mouth over hers and ingests the poison out of her, and when he has taken all of the evil from within her, He turns and exhales an ominous, treacherous storm of insects into the air and collapses into a heap of exhaustion, leaving her to awaken back into herself and her life, after her cancer is no longer in possession over her mind.

In some ways, I feel like Melinda Moores. The gym is my John Coffey. It sucks the bad oxygen out of me, the stuff that feeds the grief, and the exercise replaces the bad air with healthy oxygen that leaves me physically stronger and emotionally too exhausted to grieve, which for me, translates to “relaxed.”

I feel as though I can combat grief with pain for now and eventually free myself from both the anguish and the pain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I just can’t lose my sadness. I should probably be in bed sleeping, but I’m up doing useless busying activities that really don’t matter, like surfing the internet and watching tv, trying to keep my brain from thinking sad thoughts.

I’m supposed to call my doctor and tell her how the increased dosage of Zoloft is going. I’ll call her tomorrow to tell her it isn’t working all that well.

I wish a man would enter my life and sweep me off my feet, again.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Hashing it Out

Clay recognized that I want very badly to begin suppressing my feelings. I’m afraid of being judged for still grieving my loss. I am still grieving, though. That’s the fact. Nobody who hasn’t experienced the loss of a spouse can ever understand how deep the hurt goes. I don’t cry all of the time, but I am certainly wracked with anxiety absolutely every moment of every day.

The anxiety I feel when I am on my way to my therapy session is almost unbearable these days. I don’t like going. It hurts. I feel like Clay would never understand if I started crying and couldn’t stop. I don’t like crying. I don’t feel in control when I am crying and that embarrasses me.

There are so many men out there who have wives and girlfriends. I hear their halves of the phonecalls and I wish they were talking to me. That’s the way Chris used to talk to me. I wonder if anybody was listening to his end of the conversation, longing to be the woman on the other end of the phone. Men can be really sweet. I don’t think I have ever entertained that idea before.

If I call Clay and tell him I changed my mind about wanting some time off, he’ll think I’m nuts. I suppose I’d be talking to the right person in that case, though, right?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Allowing Others

It took a long time for me to realize that I was full of resentment toward Clay for going away for three weeks. I would never have thought I could blame him for wanting to take some time off, whatever the reason. I swore up and down that I was glad he was going away because I needed a break. I was happy to have three free Thursday evenings all to myself. That felt true.

We talked the other night about how I have been feeling since he returned. My grief returned in full force and began taking me down. I had no explanation for its return. There was no anniversary coming up. I’m not searching for a replacement-man anymore. Clay told me over and over of his suspicions that my relapse had everything to do with his absence. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t feel especially angry toward him. Being angry with him for taking vacation felt like an absurdity.

Still, each time I questioned the reasons behind the return of my downward-spiral Clay was adamant about his belief. Once again, I denied the allegation. I told him that I did, however, refer to his vacation time as “The period of time when he was performing human experiments.” He said “That sounds like anger to me.”

Not only did he completely miss the joke, but he called my bluff and popped me out of my denial. I believe him, now, and in one session, the session that was supposed to be my last, I transitioned from needing to be independent of him to just plain needing him. We came to an agreement that I would take a couple of weeks off of therapy.

I realized, as I drove myself to the gym in a tirade of inconsolable grief, that I have been pushing people away since Chris’ death. I have been disallowing people to care about me.

At the gym, I hurt my left pectoral muscle and when the time came for me to do fifty chest presses, the trainer, Ed, told me not to. I argued that I was feeling better and he suggested that I split the fifty reps into two groups of twenty-five. I agreed, all the while thinking, “Fuck you. I’m doing all fifty at once.” I took to the bench and began, but then realized that he cared about the possibility of me hurting myself further.

I thought about Clay.

I thought about Ed.

I thought about how I resist the care of others.

I thought, “Ed cares whether or not I hurt myself.” and decided to split up the reps then suddenly awakened to the thought that Clay cares about me and wants to help. Once again I felt like the five-year-old me in the school yard with my mother and the trust and safety I felt when I was five. I realized I need to begin allowing people to care about me. It’s okay to let people in. It’s okay for me to vulnerable. I am no longer the caregiver.

I don’t have to be unbreakable, anymore.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Waiting to Exhale

I used to be able to feel carefree. I used to enjoy leaving work and meandering through the various departments at Macy’s, trying on clothes and fragrances. Mindless shopping used to relax me. I don’t think I have truly and completely relaxed since November 19, 2003.

I want to talk about how having such a close encounter with death has affected me. I am still shaken to my core from Chris’ illness and from the way our lives got turned upside down. I held my breath to brace myself against what I knew the doctors were about to say, and I never let it out. I have been holding my breath since the end of 2004. That’s the exact feeling I have 100% of the time. I won’t allow myself to exhale. If I do, Chris will get blown away in the storm.

I still remember the difference between how I felt in 1999, when I met Chris and how I feel now. Life was very different, then. My worst nightmare was the possibility of not getting cast in a musical. Now my worst nightmare is the thought of each of my loved ones dying, one, by one, by one and the thought of my own death feels comforting to me.

Thursday is my last session with Clay. I’m sad about not seeing him, again, but I think I’d like to begin seeing somebody who has some experience in relaxation therapy.