Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fallen Love

Lately, I have been having trouble remembering my dreams, which is not characteristic of me at all. I wake up every morning with a sense that everything is going wrong. My evenings are peppered with stress-dreams, from a basic inability to leave work for the day, to experiencing more loss.

This morning, my eyes popped open an hour before my alarm was set to sound. I visited the ladies room – there are no men in my apartment – actually, even if there were, I would make him/them call it the ladies room – I digress…

I woke up at 5:00, visited the lavatory, crawled back into bed and succumbed to yet, another grief-induced tear-fest, the kind that typically leaves me feeling completely deflated and defeated. I finally fell asleep about twenty minutes later and when I awoke at 6:00, I felt better.

Moving forward comes easy to me. Letting go does not. I have proven that a person can move forward while still hanging on. So far, I have not been able to free myself from the thought that Chris should still be here. We should still be meeting after work and enjoying conversation over a tall beer at the Pourhouse. Café China should never have gone out of business. That was our place. It’s gone now, replaced with what I may always believe to be a sub-par sandwich shop. I suppose I ought to go there and try to enjoy a sandwich with one of my friends. Doing so may help me clear the cobwebs covering the windows that have become haunted within the confines of my memory. Chris and I dined within those windows many times, but that was before Café China closed its doors, becoming yet another ghost in my heart.

Los Angeles is another ghost. I have friends there whom I would enjoy visiting, but so far I have not been able to set foot in that city since Chris died. I always thought we would talk to each other about how we missed Boston and about our experiences in LA. There’s nobody for me to talk to about any of that, now. Chris and I were the only two people who knew our experience there. That era is a part of me that feels forever censored. Nobody would ever know what I mean as well as Chris would have.

I’ll go back there when I can go back there without crying, and when visiting all of the old haunts like our apartment, Plummer Park, that movie theater in Silver Lake, Studio City and Century City are choices for me, and not compulsions that leave my heart feeling hollow. How can I drive on Sunset Boulevard from Hollywood all the way to Pacific Palisades without feeling like our return to Boston, Chris’ illness and his death were all part of a horrible dream? For all my hatred for the city of angels, I would welcome the chance to wake up there and realize my nightmare was just that.

I can still see and feel him so clearly. The only difference now is that I can’t communicate with him. I can’t call him. I can’t smile at him or give my love to him. My love radiates outward, reaching out to him but stops at the veil and falls to the floor.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The File Project

My new file cabinet is causing me some anxiety. I bought the file-keeper last week and carried the old one, the one Chris and I bought, down to the curb before I had a chance to think too much. The trash truck came Friday morning, which was the last time I saw the old, putty-colored, used and beaten container. The new one sits in its place.

Chris kept meticulously organized files on absolutely everything. I still have piles of the folders he kept because I just can’t seem to bring myself to go through them, yet. He filed his ideas for audio documentaries, plays we wrote, ideas he had, stories he authored and other hopeful creative projects, in addition to bill stubs and other such important papers. In a lot of ways he lives in those folders and in a lot of ways I’m too scared to dive into the folders of his mind.

My new cabinet is empty, save for the new, colorful file folders I placed into its drawers yesterday. I have a lot of organizing to do. I suppose keeping his files wouldn’t be a crime. It’s possible that Bonnie would store them in her basement with his other belongings I couldn’t be around, but also couldn’t ever, ever throw away. I can’t ever throw any part of my Chris away.

There’s a storm-a-brewin’. I’m safe for the moment, but soon I will throw myself into the "file project", the eye of the storm, and the violent winds and rain will whip my soul around, again.

I’m not brave enough, yet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Half Bulemic

I remember feeling as though my widowhood was a horrible dream. I used to wake up every morning feeling relieved that I was only dreaming. For a few seconds each morning, I felt happy that Chris was right by my side. Then I would think, “My husband is dead.”, and open up the anxiety floodgates.

Sometimes I feel self-imposed pressure to stop grieving. I feel like nobody can really understand that I still suffer from anxiety as a direct result of Chris’ illness and death. I still feel the aftershocks. I think I always will.

I live in fear that my doctor will stop prescribing Ativan for me, that she’ll think I’m in danger of becoming an addict, which is so completely absurd. My last prescription of 30 pills took me six months to consume. I just take half a pill whenever I can’t control my nervousness in other ways, which is pretty rare. I run, bike, box, sing, study and take Ativan to control my anxiety and each of the activities work very well. Oh yeah, and sometimes I eat, nonstop, which, in psychology, would be considered maladaptive behavior. Delicious maladaptive behavior, but maladaptive, no less. Even so, my idea of nonstop eating is pretty low-cal. I mean, I binge on steamed broccoli, cauliflower and pickles, all considered to have zero Weight Watchers points, which I am quite thankful for, since I never really got the hang of purging, anyway.

My nerves are wreaking havoc tonight. I’m generally okay, but nervous. I have been missing Chris a lot and crying again at night. I don’t help it. Notice my careful choice of the word “don’t.” Not helping it is a choice. I’m still petrified at the thought of letting go. How do you let go of a person when you feel like you just spent all day yesterday with him? Time is all over the place. Time is nonexistent, really, at least over there.

Yes, my grief has subsided significantly since day one. I almost never cry now. I cried all day long, every day, for so long that dehydration became my way of life.

I’m going to see Clay every other week, again. I needed time away to organize my thoughts and now I see the importance of his presence in my life. I do still need to talk about it. I do still need somebody to be okay with me talking (and/or crying) about it. I need permission to still be grieving, even if other people are tired of my story or don’t fully understand that breathing still doesn’t come easy for me. It comes, though. There was a time when it didn’t.

Well, I’m not done overeating tonight. I’m going to forage through my trash barrel. (Just kidding!) I am going to forage through my cabinets and refrigerator, though. I can almost taste the crunchy peanut butter from here.

Beyond grief, work is good, my friends are good, life is good.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trying to hang onto him

I have been talking about Chris a lot lately. I just had dinner with two friends who have been in love for almost a year. They both enjoy hearing my Chris stories and I must have forgotten myself because I allowed myself to feel as though Chris was home waiting for me to return from dinner.

Things began to get sketchy in my head after I dropped them off. I was certain I was going to cry. Then I told myself, “No. There are plenty of things to be happy about tonight.” and I turned it around and began doing homework, whcih I enjoy very much.

My memories are so real that I feel like they just happened yesterday and that we couldn’t have been living in L.A. five years ago. How can it be that we drove away from Massachusetts six years ago? How can that be? How could he have been diagnosed four years ago? How could he be dead for two and a half years? I feel very confused about time sometimes. Time seems fluid these days, as though each day, things that happened in the past have jumped around. My sense of time is not the same. It never will be.

Sometimes I think I can take a new picture of Chris. Sometimes I feel saddened by his absense and sometimes I feel blessed with the experience of his death. I feel guilty about that.

I would hold onto him forever, if I could, just grab him and hold onto him and apologize to him that he had to get cancer.

He’s leaving. And I’m scared. And my future is going to be a happy one. And that makes me sad. And happy. And tired.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I’ll take it.

Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. Phew. That was quite a dip back into the depths of grief. I am happy to be able to announce to myself that I feel so much better today, thank goodness.

I had just forgotten myself and in doing so, I completely stopped reminding myself of various truths. First, I am full of love. Secondly, there are no mistakes. The universe is a perfect place and everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to happen. Thirdly, I am here for a reason and when my work is done, I will be allowed to leave. Earth is merely a learning ground where we come to exist in human form for a period of time before we get to shed our constraints and live as the spirits that we truly are.

Yesterday, I switched from drinking roughly four cups of coffee a day (mugs, really) to drinking only one cup of caffeinated and the rest all decaffeinated. Toward the end of the day, my head started hurting and I didn't make the connection at first but then this morning, I was in so much pain that I couldn't even lift my head off the pillow. I brewed and poured my morning coffee took a few sips, and lo and headache.

Interestingly enough, and even though I endured an intense grief meltdown, I had very little anxiety last night...and I practically and single-handedly keep anxiety employed.

I feel better. I’m so glad I feel better, even if it’s just until the next meltdown.

I’ll take it.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Regression to Depression

The adolescent in me wants me to say that I hate my life. I don’t, though. I’m just having another hard time.

Yesterday’s date brought up all kinds of grief-related anger and today after work, I was zapped of energy to do anything other than cry and cry and wish Chris could be here. And then I actually, just for a split second, thought he was here.

I’m waterlogged and my head and neck hurt. And my heart hurts.

I am clearly depressed.

I can’t believe this happened.


Wishing and Coping

I had a hard night, last night. I suppose my date once again kicked off my grief.

The date was fine. I feel ambivalent about the man, though. I guess I’ll wait and see if we continue to write of if all of the buildup of writing to each other since March wanes into oblivion. I may find it in me to speak up and tell him I didn’t feel a connection, or maybe, if the opportunity arises, I’ll accept a second date. I hate the stupid future and how I can’t know about it until it becomes the present, dammit.

When I got home, I felt like the task of finding somebody for whom I can feel the level of love I felt for Chris was impossible. I still want somebody to fit into Chris’ mold. I suppose that means I’m still actively grieving and actively coping. I wish I could stop.

The good news is that I feel like I can date again. I may try one of those speed-dating events. I’m pretty social, so talking to many people in a one-on-one situation doesn’t scare me.

I just need to stay focused on all of the other activities in my life. There are many, many, many other activities.

For now, the tape that perpetually plays in my head states the obvious.

I wish Chris didn’t die.

I don’t know how to lose the anger that burns within me.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Second "First Date"

I have been undergoing hypnosis for a phobia I have been experiencing for years. I only mention my treatment because although, so far, I have not become less afraid of the centipedes that sometimes tread and tread and tread the gray, industrial carpeting that covers most of the floors in my apartment, I have noticed that my grieving habits have been affected.

Two sessions into my hypnosis, I noticed I was feeling pretty happy over a six-week period, which leads me to believe that I am undergoing hypnosis under the guise of bug-induced turmoil, when in reality, but quite subconsciously, I am really dealing with my grief, looking for a way out of the darkness. I plan to talk with the hypnotist to find out if switching gears and admitting to dealing with grief makes more sense. After all, what is fear, but anxiety, anyway and what has Chris’ death and my grief caused me? Anxiety.

Mostly over the past few weeks, I have been uncomfortably aware that I have been suppressing all of my grief, which is not the outcome I desire. I don’t want somebody to wave a magic wand and make my sadness vanish. What I really want is for somebody to wave a magic wand and make me give myself permission to let go and move on. There’s an imp within my soul who prevents me from allowing myself that luxury. Hypnosis may have nothing to do with my suppression. Yesterday was the exact two and a half year anniversary of Chris' death, which is likely the real culprit.

I haven’t written in a long time, because I haven’t been able to bring any of my thoughts and feelings to the forefront of my brain. I have been experiencing powerful depression, which almost stopped me from living my life. I quit the show I was singing in and my schoolwork has fallen four weeks behind. So, once again, I have increased my Zoloft dosage and I have begun to eek back up to a state of synthetic emotional stability. I suppose that one day I will be pouring a few bottles of Zoloft into my white, blue-rimmed breakfast bowl, adding soy milk and eating up. That's the aftermath of grief, I guess.

For anyone who doesn’t understand what type of hypnosis I am undergoing, I will explain that I am not receiving hypnotic suggestion from this man. Instead, I am traveling through time, backwards, through my life, landing on memories of times in my life when I felt the same terror I feel when I see a centipede. The hypnotist never asks me specifics about what I am remembering. He only asks how old I am, if I am in lightness or darkness and whether I am alone or with people. Since he doesn’t ask for details beyond those, my brain is prone to wandering and I’m beginning to suspect that I have somehow turned “centipede” into a metaphor for “grief.” Pretty sneaky, huh? I didn’t go to him for grief, but grief, as usual, is running the show.

I’m not sure what to do at this point. I have choices. I can either continue to go and make a concerted effort to think about centipedes throughout my treatment, I can decide to deal completely with grief, or I can stop going. I have lots of choices.

Tomorrow, I am finally meeting face-to-face with man I have been e-mailing with since March. I like him. We seem to have a lot in common and tomorrow, we are meeting for lunch and a drink to finally say hello to each other in person. I’m excited.

I am aware of the differences between now and a year ago, when I first began dating, again. I feel ready, now. I’m still scared and I still feel some guilt, but my loneliness has actually become instrumental in raising my awareness that I may need to push myself up and over the hill and around the bend in order to give myself happiness, again.

This man knows nothing about my situation, not even that I was once married. I feel good about that. If he asks me, I’ll tell him the truth (or some of it), but I’m hoping for more lighthearted conversation on our first date, which is another difference from a year ago when I felt the need to inform anyone who would listen that my husband died.

This will be my second "first date."

I’m nervous, in a nice kind of way. And I feel hopeful.