I was asked recently, while going through my calendar for the next month or so, if all of my socialising and dating is just a way of avoiding my grief, and yes of course it is! – but I wouldn’t say it is that 100%. A lot of what I do these days involves other widowed people and that is actually incredibly therapeutic in a whole lot of ways.
Too much time spent at home on my own is really hard. It highlights the huge chunk that is missing in my world. Trust me, I know exactly what I have lost – better than anyone! There are plenty of nights spent re-living every minute of THAT day, and feeling like I’m still there. There are more tears and hard days than I ever could have imagined having, and certainly more than I share with anyone. There is no ‘getting through’ this stuff, there is just living with it. My entire world has changed completely. Not just the immediate stuff, but the entire future that we had planned is now not what it should be. There is not a single hour in the day that goes past without some thought of Claytie. He is in everything that I do and there is no avoiding that…and honestly, I really don’t want to avoid it. I loved my life with Claytie and I love that my memories mean he is still (and always will be) with me in a way.
Going out and doing things with other widows actually takes some of the weight off. These people get it in a way that no one else can, and with them I am just Robbie. I can freely be this new, evolving me, and in that group my loss does not feel like the main focus like it does with people who knew me ‘before’. I don’t know that this is how my friends and family actually see me, but that is absolutely how I feel. I feel like people are watching me and analysing the things that I do, questioning what is ‘normal’. I’m really glad that most of the people in my world don’t know what any of this feels like because the reality is far worse that you could imagine. I know that I have people in my corner who are always there for me and I am beyond grateful to them for that, you guys mean the world to me! But it is nice knowing that in this new group of friends I have people to talk to who completely understand what an absolute shit show all of this is because they are walking a similar path. It’s nice having people who are also awake at 2am to chat with. It’s helpful being able to vent about someone with good intentions whose commentary is actually just hurtful, or to question why so many people have pulled away.
I know Clayties death left a hole in everyone who knew him, I know others are also grieving his loss, but their lives have kept going in the direction they were headed. They still have their person, they still have the lives they had planned. For them, Claytie is a passing thought or a fond memory and I guess that is how it should be, that is how it has been for me with friends that have died. But as a part of all of this for me, a whole lot of people that I thought would be there for me in person just disappeared, and my relationship with others has also changed in ways I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t only lose Claytie, I lost a bunch of other people as well and that has had a huge effect. Nothing in my life is the same. My world imploded and it’s bloody hard recognising and putting the pieces back together.
I can’t apologise for the things that I do going through this process of finding a way to live with my loss. Sometimes it feels as though that’s the expected thing, that even though I am the one who is now different, whose life changed completely, I still have to fit in. I am supposed to be the same person that I was to make everyone else comfortable and less awkward. I’m not sure I know how to, because I do feel so very, very different now. Obviously I’m not intentionally setting out to upset or worry anyone, and I know some of what I have done has raised some eyebrows, but I have to do the things that make my life bearable. I have to figure myself out and I have to find a way to live with the new me. I don’t know how to do anything else.
I have come from a very privileged/lucky world. I grew up in a happy united family and I married my high school sweetheart. I have lived a fairy tale and I am incredibly grateful for that. I have not had to confront anything like this before, so I feel like all I can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing the things that feel manageable and good. The things that make me smile and take the load off for an hour or so. So yeah, while it looks a lot like avoidance, all of this is a kind of therapy and I find that for now, it works for me.