Friday, May 4, 2012

Progress. It's Progress.





I think we all want the process of grief, either from a divorce or from a death, to follow a sort of pattern, a recognizable schedule, a decipherable calendar.

I keep learning that this is not the case.

I’ll be buzzing along, working away, doing just fine and then out of nowhere a feeling of sadness envelops me.  Who knows that brings it on?  It’s often hard to say.  It’s not so much a feeling of sadness over the loss of my marriage any longer. It’s a loneliness that falls some evenings around dusk, when I am sitting alone in my house.

I miss my kids.  I miss the life that surrounded them and made this home an interesting place to be.  I miss being an active mom. I miss another human heart beating in the house. 

Even though I am rich beyond belief with the support of friends, I sometimes feel isolated when night is coming and I walk across the floors of my house, turning off lights, looking into empty rooms. 

Those moments of sadness feel like a dip in the timeline, a sharp drop-off of the reliable graph on the neat grid, a U-turn on the road to normalcy.

Apparently, these moments are a natural part of healing, or so all the books say, but when I am in the middle of them, it feels like failure and the fact that I am surprised by the intensity of the emotion just adds to that feeling.

Tears come and even though I know I can call friends, I don’t because I am embarrassed.

I want to be as strong as they think I am.  I give them no reason to call and check on me.  Some may think if they do, or if they bring up the divorce, it will depress me or I may think they lack faith in me.

I keep reminding myself that though these feelings of loneliness still come, they do so more and more infrequently and with less intensity. I sometimes underestimate the progress I have made. And to be honest, this brand of loneliness is preferable to kind I felt in the last weeks of my marriage. Having another person in the house doesn’t mean a thing when that person is isolated and withdrawn.  In fact, that kind loneliness is even more devastating and confusing.

Through this experience, I realize I have been guilty of rushing the grieving process for others in the past.  I have not made the calls I should have made, have not checked in on people as much as I should have.  I have wanted so much to believe that “everything is fine!” and that my friends have recovered quickly and without scars.

Now I know. 

This mess of a procedure called healing in no way follows a linear pattern.  It has its own path, and its own timing and its own moments of sorrow which follow no rules at all.

Above all, I am grateful for what this experience has taught me.

In the future, I will call people who are going the same sort of experience even though time has passed, even though they seem fine.  With my close friends, I know it’s OK to bring up a sad event from time to time, to open the door to conversation and invite them to enter if they need to. 

I also have to learn to accept my own dips into sadness and not see them as setbacks, but just a part of the ride that I need to go on at this time in my life.  

After all, those dips make it possible to gain momentum so I can climb the next hill and, as always, I am eager to see what’s on the other side.



37 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

You're not going to be unaffected by what happened, so it is normal to have those setbacks. Healing is a process.

Christina Lee said...

Aw, hi you over here! *waves* I usually read in my google reader, but I wanted to say this was raw and beautiful...and so very true. ((hugs))

Leah J. Utas said...

Each in its own season.

Alison said...

Oh dear. Yes, I know the feeling of a lonely house--the whole rest of the world is out there, at home behind warmly lit windows with their loved ones, and there you are with a cat that only loves you for your opposable thumbs.

Well. As Mom always said, "Things will look better in the morning." She was mostly right. {hugs}

Old Kitty said...

The grieving process is so personal and individual. Some heal alone, some need help, some need to seek help. I felt very much alone in my previous relationship - but feel a different more pleasant isolation now that I am truly alone.

Take care
x

SueAnn Lommler said...

Yes it is good to remember that this is part of the process. But it is still hard. You have come so far....I totally impressed. You are brave and tough and yet you still have your tender heart.
Thanks for sharing...I know this isn't easy.
Hugging you
SueAnn

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. how true - until something similar happens to us, we don't appreciate the need of others (as well as we might). I've learnt this since my mother's many strokes and I'm around terminally ill elderly all the time and their relatives .. makes my approach very different ..

Cheers - all will be well anon - Hilary

Tabor said...

WE all have different levels of resilience. It is OK to not call your friends all the time, but how about 30%? Call just to ask about one of their kids projects or something you had talked about earlier and then you will not feel so guilty. That empty nest syndrome is a bummer having been through that. It does pass and just about the time you love that unimpeded schedule of life, little grandchildren come along to tear apart your house and your schedule!

Marg said...

That is such a great thing to do, to reach out to people that have a sadness in their lives. Everyone wants some connection even in sadness. Have a great week end

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You are healing - and you are in a better position to help others.

Lin said...

It's hard to be at a place where you don't necessarily want to be because of change--changes from other people. Your children naturally grow and leave, but that is still hard because it isn't YOUR choice how and when they leave. You know it is coming, but you are never ready.

I'm sure some of the sadness comes from feeling rejected. How can it not be? It seems everyone has left to do their own thing and there you are...

On a much, much lighter scale, I still get sad and cry because my kids are growing up and I'm left with a life I know little about--one of not being a full-time mom. It's hard. It's sad. And yes, it makes me cry too.

I like your advice to call on your friends in need. Sometimes you don't know if you should call or not--I guess you answered my question.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for sharing your honest emotions here Betty--we appreciate it.

It is easy for me to think that grief in my life can be forever overcome with one change or action, when in reality it is a daily battle--being grounded and moving ahead leads to the positive so that I can resist focusing on the past.

I hope you find some time to relax this weekend.

Brian said...

Yes, healing is a funny process, sometimes the scars heal nicely, sometimes they leave scabs, sometimes they itch, and sometimes we don't even notice the scars!

Olga said...

It is a process and the steps don't come in any particular order ever. Even though I wanted and initiated my divorce years ago, there are still moments of regret and sadness--mostly around the kids. Who said, "Change is inevitable; growth is optional"?

Linda said...

There is a passage in the Bible that says that God comforts us in all our affliction so that we can comfort others in theirs. It sounds as if you have applied that truth to your life. Way to go.

Madi and Mom said...

Happy Friday BB....your writing touches my heart each and every day and gives me much to ponder. God Bless you as you continue to heal.

I once read there is a big difference in being alone and be lonely.
You can be alone with another person and have no idea how to fix it. However, if you are lonely you can
fix it.
Hugs and I'm glad you liked today's post. It was fun to write.
I do such crazy things but not often with the audience I had last Friday. LOL
Hugs to you and the kitties
C

john said...

Good insight, written extraordinarily beautifully.

Pearl said...

Betty, I'm going through the same thing. I've compartmentalized myself to within an inch of my life, and there's not a moment that goes by when it's not on my mind.

Distracted and crushed,

Pearl

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Such an honest post. Being strong doesn't mean you don't feel pain, just that you can endure it with grace and you certainly can and are!

Anonymous said...

There is no timeline on grief, it comes in waves then simmers, my brother in law lost his partner almost 9 years ago, he still thins she will be coming into the house, he can't believe she passed from this earth..He is reluctant to meet anyone new in his life, he is in the river of denial, which to him suits him just fine..there is no timeline! You did not have any control over when your ex-decided to jump ship forever..You are brave, call the friends you have and chat about their lives and I am sure you will feel better! Don't try to be so brave, it doesn't help with grief at all..people need people plain and simple, praying your weekend is better and happier, love your blog, I read it and learn something new, love your writing..keep smiling!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

I love the way you are able to bare your emotions with your writing. Refreshingly honest and thought-provoking, and I'm sure you are helping others in the process. I have faith that you will heal in good time and be even more of a blessing to others who have experienced similar events.

EmptyNester said...

You know, Sweetie, when he pulled all this divorce stuff on you (when he blindsided you) you never got a chance to deal with your empty nest status. That's a tough thing to do- it takes time to readjust your role in your kids' lives and your personal role etc. The bombshell from that man threw that on the back burner. And I believe you are stronger than you think you are. Even so, you will have weaker moments. And that's perfectly ok!

ellen abbott said...

two steps forward and one step back is still progress.

Retired English Teacher said...

You are dealing with so much loss. It takes a long time to process it all. Process well = good progress. I just came up with that little formula. I guess I should write it down. It is true though. If we don't go through the process, we don't make any progress. I hate the process. It is painful. It makes us feel stuck. The truth is, we become unstuck if we just take the time to process all we need to process.

Gigi said...

Sending you hugs.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Your post brought to mind some people I should call. Hope the house feels less empty tonight after all your blogger friends check in today.

Mimi said...

You're beautifully honest.
It's not easy to admit to being lonely, and I understand how you'd think in terms of failure, even though it's not: it's just another phase of life.
I hate the idea of an empty house, though I may have to face it some day.
For what it's worth, I think you're very strong and very brave.

middle child said...

You are not a failure. Grief runs through everyone differently. Do not be embarrassed by your tears. Call someone when you need the support. Keep in mind that most people don't know what to do or say at a time like this. So when it comes to your turn to be the comforter, the basic thing is to just listen. Wishing you peace.

faye said...

All part of the process....
natural to have little blips in
the road from time to time..
but the promise of tomorrow is always
just ahead.

Daisy said...

Grief and healing are definitely processes that take time and have highs and lows. I think we all experience those things for various reasons at some point in our lives.

I hope you have a nice weekend, Betty. The flower photo is beautiful. :)

jenny_o said...

There are so many good comments, I have nothing to add. Just hugs.

Talli Roland said...

Mega hugs to you, Betty! Grieving is never a straightforward process, but you're well on your way to recovery.

CiCi said...

You actually are doing well, you know it in your head, maybe not always in your heart. The fact that you are looking forward to what is on the other side of the hill shows how far you have come. Looking forward at all is amazing, isn't it?

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

I'm with Jenny_O...so many great comments. Sending you great big (((HUGS))), Betty.

Ella said...

Grief is different for everyone~
Allow it to happen and know you aren't alone~ You sharing yourself could help someone else... (((Hugs)))
You are so brave and honest to share!

Velvet Over Steel said...

I am there too, many times during my other wise happy life. Missing being an active mom and disliking the 'being alone' feeling at night.
Sending you a virtual HUG, Betty!!XO

Pat Tillett said...

It will happen at it's own pace.
Time will pass and things will happen...