I started the second last day of my annual leave with an early morning. I really wanted my feet in the sand and salt water one more time before I go back to work on Monday. It was glorious… I had a big fat full moon shining through my window as I made my way to the coast, and then the most fabulous golden colours as the sun came up. It was absolutely worth the super early start. I spent a couple of hours on the beach, looking at the clouds, people watching and reading a book and I am so happy that I pushed myself to go.
This week I also went to a support group catch up, one that I have not been to before but know several people at, and it is always interesting to see where the conversation will go. Sometimes it’s is fun and superficial, but other times serious topics get discussed. This week there was quite a lot about new relationships and how hard they can be.
Everyone is filled with hope and wants desperately for things to work – a kind of picking up where you left off, but with a different person. That is incredibly simplified – nothing is ever that easy, but is a bit like how it feels, especially if your relationship with the person that died was a truly good one. The harsh reality tho, is that we are now all very broken people, and unless you’re willing to work on and be completely honest with yourself, it is nearly impossible to fit with someone else.
There is an idea in the group, that a relationship with someone who is also widowed would be easier because they will understand completely when grief hits. Several people that I know, have found themselves in this kind of scenario, and it is true to a point. It kind of works when you can ‘take turns’ to be the sad one, but that’s not what seems to actually happen. Grief is not neat and tidy and willing to wait for the other person to finish their moment. Grief hits whenever it needs to and if you are not willing or able to be completely honest, and have room for your grief as well as theirs, it can feel like a competition in a lot of ways.
Relationships in any situation are hard and need constant work – even the really good ones. Grief adds a dimension and challenge that is difficult. It is like a third person, a needy one, that keeps butting in and wanting attention, and if you don’t give it the attention it needs, things just blow up. I’m not saying that it can’t work, just that it takes extra work to navigate grief in the middle of it all.
Seperate to the Widows group, I had a fabulous conversation with a friend this week and it has given me a whole lot to think about. It was incredibly varied and wide ranging. It challenged my thinking in a whole lot of ways, but one thing stood out for me. At one stage the question was asked ‘what do you look for in people?’ It was not asked in the context of anything in particular, but rather in a general way. It made me think, and my answer to it was..’ nothing and everything!…something that resonates… some kind of familiarity… home’.
Those kinds of things are much harder for me to see without Claytie. I have lost my anchor and my certainty. That feeling of knowing who I am is gone now and that is really disconcerting. I have always known and been comfortable with myself, but since Claytie died, that image of myself has completely changed and huge chunks erased. It is a feeling of being untethered and it is not one I am at all comfortable with. The response I got was that perhaps right now I am not supposed to be anchored, maybe I’m supposed to open the sails and catch some wind.
It is a nice thought, but also a huge challenge for me. I know that I can’t ever go back to being the person that I was before. Life makes sure that you have to move forward rather than back, I guess naively I just never expected it to be SO hard. I’m trying to take the pressure off and just go one day at a time.. really that is all you can do. I am learning a whole lot about myself going through this process, somethings I like better than others, but on the whole I guess I’m doing ok.