77. Odd

This week has kind of been another weird one for me in the way of feelings. I have had plenty of things on and have been quite busy, but I feel like I have coasted through it all in quite a disconnected way. It hasn’t been a bad week, just odd when I look back at it thinking about what to blog about.

These days I find myself going into each day waiting for it to be over. Almost like a count down to something, but I have no idea what. I have things on my calendar that are nice and I am excited about, but I just go through them when they come up, without any real connection to them, including things that I know I should be- and want to be- connected to. It’s like I get out of bed knowing that the sooner I start the sooner it will be over.

In the early days after Claytie died, this was kind of an all the time thing. It made sense because I was literally just living Minute to Minute trying to survive. As time has moved on, it has started to feel a bit less like that, but every so often it comes back with a vengeance. Everything feels big but in a really muted sort of way. It’s like I’m watching my life, but not living or feeling it – but at the same time also feeling it too much. … I’m not sure that the way I’m describing any of this will make sense to anyone who hasn’t experienced something like it, but I don’t know how else to explain it.

I know it is a kind of trauma response. The mind protecting itself from any more blows that life tosses your way. It’s like a cushion around you that stuff bounces off. I look forward, but not in a long term way. I have things that I want to do, but it’s really just a day by day thing. I don’t really look too far in front anymore, because it’s just too hard to imagine what that looks like.

Claytie and I used to have all kinds of plans for what we wanted to do years down the track… retirement plans and travel, big milestone birthdays, stuff with the kids and eventual grand kids all those kinds of things. Now all of that stuff is just a really big blank space in my head, and if there are conversations around it, it feels like I’m talking about someone else. It is like a wall comes down that I can’t see past. I know that Clayties sudden and unexpected death has caused it, and I know that I could be gone tomorrow too, so what is the point of planning too far ahead. It’s a really fatalistic way of looking at life, and it is not at all who I was or want to be, but it is absolutely part of who I am now. I know that I should “live everyday like it’s my last” – just like all those positive quotes on social media tell you to do, and while the advice is really true, and you absolutely should, finding the joy to do it in a meaningful way is hard.

Right now, everyday feels like I’m in a bubble, and when I look forward – or even backward for that matter, everything is blurry. I don’t like feeling this way. I know that stuff that has happened this year has triggered some of what I’m feeling. It is not stuff I particularly want to talk about because it is not resolved in any way, and it is upsetting. Again, it is my mind protecting itself, and I know that I will get through it.

What I do know absolutely, is that grief is hard; and that while it is easier to stay disconnected and to not feel everything entirely, that’s not really who I am – I’m just trying to figure out how to clear the blurry away!? I guess for now it is ok to do the day by day thing for a bit longer. All I can really do is listen to my body, protect my energy and try to do what feels best. I’ll continue to work at hanging on to the optimistic bits that come through, because that is who I want to be again. It’s just all part of navigating this new life I find myself in.

76. For sale

This week has been another reminder about how lucky the boys and I have been, both before and after Claytie died. We had the most amazing man in our lives – in my case for 32 years, and they were filled with all the good things. Sure we had some downs, but there were seriously so many more happy times than sad ones. I know I have said it before, but it really truly was my fairy tale.

Since Claytie died, I have also recognised how lucky we continue to be. We have amazing people in our world (see blog post #75) and I have been left in a position of being able to maintain the lifestyle that we had before. I have had time and support to grieve my loss, something that is a daily part of my life now. I miss him more than I ever thought could be possible, but I know how much Claytie loved me and I know that I am who I am because of him.

Our world changed completely when Claytie died. Past, present and future are all being looked at in a different way and there is a huge hole where there shouldn’t be. It is an all encompassing thing to process the enormity of that. We are lucky and grateful that in the middle of everything changing, some things have been able to stay the same. Our home, although renovated, is the same safe space that it always was. I have in lots of ways taken that for granted because I just couldn’t imagine anything else, but it is something that not everyone is lucky enough to have.

On my day off this week, I went to help a friend who is also widowed. Unfortunately for her, she has not been so lucky since her person died and she is facing some really tough things right now. The situation she finds herself in is one where she has to sell her home after trying her hardest to maintain the status quo. She has had a bunch of strangers renting rooms to try and keep her home, but things have come to a head and she has made the decision to move on.

I am honestly amazed at the strength she has shown me. She has a difficult relationship with her elderly parents, who have not been able to understand just how hard her grief process has been. People she thought of as family for nearly 20 years have let her down and walked away, and others who promised all kinds of help have not been available for her when she has needed them most. She has kept going even though it would be easier to curl up and hide from the world.

She and I met at one of the Widow support group catch ups, and while she will tell you she has no recollection of meeting me, we did in fact click straight off. We talk daily, often several times a day, and we laugh at each other constantly. I have traveled with her and things going to plan will again soon. We give each other advice about all kinds of things that we may or may not be qualified to comment on and I consider her one of my closest friends. I am in awe of the strength she has shown and the courage that she finds in herself to keep going.

Her house is now on the market and I hope with everything in me that this works out the way it needs to. She deserves for her luck to change and to be able to be able to properly grieve for her person without worrying about what is going to hit her next.

75. Big Love

The last two and a half years, since Claytie died in July 2020 have been the craziest kind of roller coaster that life can throw at anyone. The boys and I have had to learn to live without the most significant person in our world, and we have had to navigate around the monumental fallout from that day. We have had lessons in all kinds of things – the good, the bad and the ugly! For the most part we have learned a whole lot about life, not all of the lessons have been kind, but they also haven’t been all bad.

Through all of the chaos that has happened, there have been people in our world that have been anchors for us. Their support, unconditional love, loyalty and guidance has been pivotal in getting us through the rough patches that could so easily have broken us completely. With their support the boys and I have pulled together in ways that I would never have expected and are a stronger team than ever.

My mum and Dad have been the most unwavering in their support. I can honestly say that I don’t know where/how I would be now without them. They have guided, advised, loved, and criticised when necessary. They have been my cheer squad, therapists, and help with house and garden. They have been absolutely unconditional with their love and support of the boys, and it has been so nice to see their relationships go from strength to strength. They have been our rocks and we are unbelievably lucky to have them.

My sisters, brother and brothers-in-law have also never let us down. From the quietly supportive ‘you’ve got this’ and ‘chins up’, to help with the overwhelming paperwork and black tape that comes after someone you love dies. We have had help to sell cars, build bedrooms and prune the garden. I have never had to question the love and loyalty that they bring, they are always there when we need them, and I am so grateful that they are part of our world.

We are also incredibly lucky to have the most amazing friends that have been on this ride with us. They have picked us up, held and cried with us, they have shared laughs and happy times along with disappointment, anger and outrage. They have been loud, and they have been quiet. They have been non-judgemental, and I have felt unconditional love from them both for myself and the boys. Their support has given strength when we have needed it most and I am so very thankful for them.

Then there are the boys… and there actually aren’t enough words to say how proud I am of the extraordinary men that they have become. They have had to face the most devastating thing in their lives, and they have had to recalibrate around the enormity of that loss, and the other losses that have come as part of the fallout. Each of them has felt Claytie’s absence and the trauma his death brought differently, and they have all dealt with it in varying ways, but it has brought them and me so much closer together. They have held me together when it would have been easier to fall apart. There is a strength within them that has blown me away and I am beyond grateful and proud that I get to call them mine!

And lastly, post number 75! Wow, who would have thought this would turn out to be what it has! Thank you for your interest, encouragement and support in what has been the very best kind of therapy for me. I love that I get to clear my head each week and share my experience in this grief journey. I am grateful and lucky that I have this outlet for the chaos that is in my head. I love and appreciate the part you play in my world. xx

74. Detained

So just when you think you’re finding a way around all of the things that are weird in your world, something new comes along that makes you shake your head! This week has been one of those weeks!!

My mid-week mind cleanse saw me head down to my favourite beach (no sunburn this time) with my parents, their two small dogs and my German aunt and uncle. We had a spectacular day once we left rainy Brisbane behind. The sky was blue, the wind was blowing and the waves were rough! My very favourite kind of beach day (although I will say that about any beach day really!). We walked, we swam and we had yummy fish and chips for lunch – with the Germans choosing to use cutlery rather than their hands to eat. It was a fabulous day!

The birds were also enjoying the fish, which was much more freshly caught!

I had to stop on my way home to get groceries – fun times indeed, but also chose to treat myself to a massage. Turns out it was a lot more ‘deep tissue’ than relaxation, and I have ended up with all kinds of bruising on my derrière! I won’t include those photos for fear of causing offence! …. The knots that I had have been released tho, and I feel a whole lot better!

All of that sounds like a reasonable week doesn’t it!? … and it was, until we got to Thursday!! That was a whole lot of WTF??? What the Hell!! And how does this shit even happen!?

Thursday afternoon I came home from work at about 3.30. I was on the phone to a friend, unlocked the door and was met by one of the boys who wanted to talk dinner ideas. Before that could happen, he looked past me out to the street and said ‘the police are here’. I hung up on my friend, turned around and there they were, walking into my yard…. 5 of them, fully kitted out with guns, tasers and body cam!

My son and I were marched upstairs to the lounge room while they stuck their heads into every room checking if anyone else was home. My dogs thought this was great fun, lots of new people to sniff… me – not so much!! We were sat down on the couch and were presented with a search warrant, told why they were there and an explanation of how it would be executed. One of the boys was being investigated on the suspicion of Fraud and forgery!

Identity questions were asked and answered. Phones requested to be put on the coffee table – out of the reach of temptation, while every room in my house was investigated. In the middle of this, one of the other kids and his girlfriend came home and were informed of their rights and obligations, and not too much later another girlfriend came home, all of us detained while the son in question was still out and about doing what he does in a day. There were a lot of looks exchanged between all of us under the watchful eye of the sergeant put in charge of us. …. So watchful we’re the eyes in fact, that when I needed to go to the toilet, she stood outside the open door to make sure I was indeed doing what I said I needed to!!

Several electronic items were taken as evidence, which involved a stack of paper work. A bunch more questions asked and answered and finally they left. I immediately called my mum to come over (cue tears and snot from me) and then a phone call to the son in question who was completely shocked and flabbergasted. He travelled as quickly as possible from his work to the police station to have a chat. The rest of us, with my mum and sister went through the events of the afternoon with a million more questions than answers, and none of us believing that there was any kind of truth to the allegations.

Upon his return home – about an hour and a half later, the creature in question was kind of chuckling. All of the drama from the afternoon stemmed from an incident last year where his social media accounts were hacked, and subsequently his identity was used to commit the fraud and forgery mentioned in the warrant. The police were more than satisfied with the information provided to them, returned all confiscated items and are happy to close out our part in this drama.

That afternoon was one of the most surreal experiences in my life and absolutely not one I was expecting to have. It was insane!! I’m incredibly thankful that it is over and that we don’t have anything to worry about (although it has messed up my already erratic sleep pattern some more!). I guess the biggest lesson learned is that we all need to be super careful to protect our identities on social media – and in general – because clearly things can take unexpected turns very quickly!

73. Apathy

Well, this week has been a bit of a mixed bag! I’ve had some really fun and lovely outings- including the Ed Sheeran concert- with people who make me feel great. I have also had a nasty head cold (not covid – I tested twice!) and needed to stay home from work for a couple of days. It has actually been kind of nice (other than the sickness) to have time at home and just sit on the couch, but it has also highlighted how a lot of my life now is just going through the motions.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about how disconnected you feel from the rest of the world when you’re in this grief bubble. Being home from work and not feeling particularly healthy has probably amplified that, but it’s a disconcerting thing. It almost feels as though I’m on the outside looking in and watching my life. I know how I am supposed to feel, and I can get an approximation of that, but nothing really actually feels like it used to, and when I do feel things they kind of don’t stick!?

There is a kind of apathy involved in just about every part of my life, and I really hate that feeling. It seems like the lows are much closer and the highs are much harder to work for and none of it actually feels real. It’s almost like when you are dreaming; you know it’s a dream so you just float along with whatever is happening… but this isn’t a dream and I won’t wake up to something better. This apathy seems to be a thing that comes and goes – or my awareness of it comes and goes. Sometimes I can go along for ages and it’s kind of just in the background, and then other times it’s right there at the front and I can’t get rid of it.

I think that having this feeling of not really feeling has been why Ive tried to keep so busy doing a million things too. I want to feel things! I don’t want to just be going through the motions and playing the ‘fake it til you make it’ game, but I don’t know what else to do really. I don’t much like myself when I just sit and wallow, and while I know I have to honour and acknowledge the grief and the sadness of Claytie being gone, I really don’t want to be a sad and miserable person forever. I know that’s not what Claytie would want either!

I will always miss Claytie and wish that my life was the one I chose rather than the one I now find myself living. I am doing my best to find things that bring me joy and make me laugh, that are comforting and fun and fulfilling, but at the moment there is still a gap between knowing what I should be feeling and actually feeling it.

72. Start again

So I decided last week that I need to park all the negative emotions that came with Christmas and just get on with life. There isn’t anything I can do to change what happened or the fall out from it, and hanging on to all that stuff has just not been doing anything good for me. Sometimes parking it is easier said than done, but I’m doing my best.

Having made that decision, I actually had quite a nice week. I gave myself plenty of time to rest, but I also went out and did some fun things. I went and got my finger and toe nails painted a super cheery hot pink – it makes me smile when I look at the colour! I spent time with great people, and I went out to see a musical called Six – all about the wives of Henry VIII. It’s been fun.

I had my last week for the next little while doing the late start/finish shift at work, something that has been a huge struggle for me the last couple of months. Starting Monday I am moving into another role (in the same place) and I am very happy that it has an earlier start/finish time and my world will go back to easier for me. It sounds silly when I say it, plenty of people work 9.30-5.30 without complaining, but when you get up any time from about 3am, it makes for a very long day! 7-3 is much more my style, and I am looking forward to learning another part of the process that our patients go through.

My very very favourite part of the week tho, has been to babysit my grandson for the first time. His parents went out for a lovely dinner and I was left in charge of the little man. I have to say that there is nothing better at all!! … it does come with some bittersweet – I wish that Claytie was here to meet him, he would just be sooooo delighted. I did spend some time telling baby all about his granddaddy and how much they would love each other, but mostly it was just squishy cuddles.

This coming week will be another busy one, and I am looking forward to it. I have some fun things planned with fabulous people and my German relatives are also coming back for a visit which I am excited about. It’s hard resetting myself all the time, but I guess it’s just part of the process of figuring out who I am now while living a life I didn’t choose and trying to make the best of it all.

71. 2am musings

It’s funny sometimes isnt it, how you start something thinking it will go one way and then it changes and evolves into something else. Initially this blog was going to be a way for me to tell funny stories about random dates and trying to figure out what comes next, and maybe this evolution was always going to be like this; but now this blog is absolutely my therapy. It helps me to clear out my head in so many ways- and trust me, I absolutely need it!

I have been journaling every night since about a week or so after Claytie died. Sometimes three pages, sometimes two paragraphs. But every single night before I try to sleep, I write to him and tell him about my day and what is going on. It feels a bit like the phone calls that used to happen when he was working away… it’s pretending that we still have that connection, that he’s not really gone. It’s hanging onto tiny bits of my old life to make it all not feel quite so bad!… it doesn’t really work, nothing can… but I’m ok with the idea. Mostly it helps and I go to sleep ok, but staying asleep is another thing! This is being written at 2am on a Friday morning. I am awake and my brain won’t shut off!

I’m not entirely sure who reads all of this stuff – it doesn’t really matter, I do it for me. It has become a weekly round up of the thoughts that go on in my head through the week. It makes me focus and think and challenge myself to keep moving. I put it out there so that others can maybe either relate to some stuff, or maybe understand how hard this all is. I’m quite happy to share it… welcome to my F***ed up world!! But there are some people in my circle that I haven’t specifically invited to read it, not because I don’t want them to know – we all know I like to talk! It’s more that I haven’t wanted for them to be hurt by my ‘moving on’ (god I hate that phrase!) They know I write it, I have told them bits and pieces, but it hasn’t been specific. In a lot of ways it would probably have been easier to give them the choice at the beginning, because potentially by trying to protect them I have managed the opposite.

One of the hardest things for me since Claytie died has been the relationship changes with so many other people in our world. There are some that distanced themselves very early in the piece, i have talked about it plenty of times.. and mostly I have come to terms with that. There are others who took a bit longer and that has been much harder. The slow moving away is harder in sooo many ways because you don’t see it coming, and there are other people that completely blindside you with their moves. I’m not the same person that I was, that’s really hard too, but I thought that the people who were left would be there without question.

I don’t do particularly well (I’m not sure anyone does) when I’m in a situation of being blamed or targeted without an explanation. I’m not sure how to address or fix something when I haven’t been told what the problem is… it would be so much easier in so many ways if people just said what was on their mind instead of just not talking at all. A fight would be easier than constantly second guessing and over analysing peoples motivation. With a fight at least you would know where to put your feelings at the end. Silence is passive aggressive and nasty!

I can’t control how others behave, only how I respond to it, and that is really hard too! I’m not always rational and calm, and my anxiety goes through the roof (hence the 2am musings). It hard knowing how to process and work out the right way to behave. How long do you let something go before you confront it head on? … and will saying something help or make it worse? Do you walk away and not fight for things that been huge in your world, or do you just let it all go and say it’s their loss!? That’s the situation I’m facing at the moment. It’s really hard, and this essay probably doesn’t help anything much!… but I do need to get it out somehow… it’s been taking up a whole lot of space and energy that I don’t really have.

…and just for the record, I am fine – or working my way toward that! This is just another one of those bumps in the road that happen.

70. Boundaries

It has been another good week this week and I am grateful for it. It feels like I have definitely turned a corner away from the crash that christmas brought with. The situation is not quite done, but it is out of my hands so I need to let it go. The main thing that I have learned from my downturn has been to put some boundaries in place so that hopefully I don’t sink quite so low again.

The second half of last year was insanely busy for me. I joined a new Widow support group, which has been fabulous and I have made some incredible friends through it. It did make me feel like I wanted and needed to attend every social event that they had tho, on top of doing all of my regular things as well. It was absolutely a case of FOMO – I didn’t want to miss out on anything; and while I don’t regret any of it, it did lead to a kind of tiredness that I haven’t felt before. It also meant that I was just not physically (let alone emotionally) prepared for the chaos that Christmas brought to us. I almost completely shut down over the Christmas break (I know people were worried about how low I got), and that time in my own space has shown me that I need to give myself some time off every now and again just to sit and reflect.

People once again surprised me both positive and negative. It has made me realise that I need to change a whole lot of my expectations, both of myself and others and hopefully the disappointments won’t be so hard. I also need to speak up even more than I do to make sure I have my needs met. Self care has taken on another new meaning and I think needs to be a focus for me this year.

I am now really looking at the things that pop up on my calendar and evaluating whether I have the right amount of energy to be part of it or if I am better off sitting it out and just enjoying the stories that other people tell me about it. It feels good to give myself permission to say ‘no, I need to put myself first’. – Having said all of that, I am still quite busy and there are all kinds of things coming up that I am looking forward to!

At the moment I am not entirely sure what is happening with work. My current contract looks like it is finishing at the end of February, and while I can go back into my previous role I am currently exploring other options – maybe it is time to challenge myself again and try something new? I am not super stressing about it – kind of more seeing what the universe throws my way.

I have some concerts and shows coming up that I am looking forward to, and our German relatives are coming to visit again which will bring other fun things with it. I am hoping to travel in April when I have some time off, I just need someone who wants to tag along to make the cost – and the adventure more manageable (hit me up if you’re keen!). Mostly I am just going with the flow and seeing how things turn out.

I think for now I’m ok with how things are going. It feels good to let myself relax into my decisions and not feel like I have to put everyone else first, or worry about missing out on anything. Guess we will see how it turns out!

69. Things are looking brighter

Well, I am happy to say that this week has been much better for me. This dip in the ‘rollercoaster’ of craziness has been a bit full on and I will be delighted if things are heading back up. I am not entirely sure why this week has seen me feel so much been better, but I am absolutely not questioning it! The situation that was causing me such grief over Christmas has not really been resolved, and maybe it won’t/can’t be. Maybe the fact that I am coming to terms with that has helped the anxiety. I have also worked on the sleep situation and have found something that is working for now, which is a relief! It is amazing what a reasonable nights sleep can do to make you feel better.

I had another glorious day at the beach on Wednesday – this time with one of my girlfriends. The sun, sand, saltwater and girl talk were exactly what I needed. It was absolutely the most perfect day. The colours of the water were amazing and the water was crystal clear. I did end up with a bit of sunburn, but I was happy to pay that price! I am always amazed at how much better being by the water makes me feel, I am not sure exactly what it is or why it works… It seems like such a simple thing, but it makes all the difference! I now need to work on the retirement plan of getting myself a unit by the water – LOTTO Gods, I am looking at you!

The view from the Cabarita Headland

This week saw the 2 1/2 year anniversary of Claytie dying – I think subconsciously I knew it was coming up, and that has messed with my brain a little bit too. I can’t believe it has been that long already, in so many ways it feels just like yesterday! So many things have happened in my world since the 20th July 2020. Most days I don’t recognise the person I am now, but I am proud of myself and the boys for getting to where we have – not that we had much of a choice! Claytie is still very much part of everything that we do – he always will be, but we know now that we can survive this shit show and we are not doing too badly at it.

Friday night after work I went out with the fellow I have been seeing (I’m not sure what title to give him – boyfriend seems very ‘schoolyard’ and partner feels too formal yet!?). We went to a fabulous bar in Tenerife and met up with his eldest daughter and her partner. I have previously met all of his other kids at his home, so this kind of felt like a bigger deal, but I am pleased to say we had a really lovely night and I’m looking forward to doing it again sometime soon.

The other thing that I did this week was have a bunch of friends over for a BBQ at my place. This is kind of a first for me since Claytie died. I have had people over for wine time and open houses etc, but not really for a full meal. We would often do this kind of thing before Claytie died, I love being social, and it was always fun – although he would complain the entire time leading up to it and then be the life of the party! This one was all on me, and I think I did OK! The boys were also quite helpful and did the last minute things that Claytie would normally do for me without too many complaints, and I did outsource the actual grilling of meat to the men!

I’m hoping that I have turned a corner from my Christmas low, and I’m looking forward again with some enthusiasm to whatever comes next. I’m doing my best to survive and to live a life that brings with it some small happiness, and that I am comfortable with. It’s is 100% not the life I would have chosen for myself, but I have to make it fit. I think I’m doing ok! x

68. Zzzzz….

This week has again been fairly up and down. I am still not sleeping fantastically well – I haven’t for long time, but at the moment it is particularly bad, which then impacts pretty much everything else. I have tried all of the usual things to help, and while I have no trouble falling asleep – it is the staying asleep part that is eluding me. I have been waking up anywhere from midnight on, and once I am awake I just can’t seem to get back to sleep. It is incredibly frustrating, in part because there isn’t a whole lot I can be doing in the middle of the night without waking everyone else in the house!

It seems I have a bunch of stuff in my head that I need to process and put somewhere, but that is easier said than done. This has probably been one of the lowest points that I have got to since Claytie died and it has shaken my confidence across the board. I was feeling pretty cocky toward the end of last year, with things starting to feel kind of lighter, but this has knocked me back on my arse! There isn’t a whole lot anyone can do to help with my processing, it is what it is and I have to get on with it, but it has been hard. I’m finding myself evaluating all areas of my life, almost whether I want to or not, and it feels like I’m not sure of anything anymore. It is not the nicest way to be feeling, Some of it is just my usual chaotic brain stuff, but there are other things that involve other people and they are much harder to resolve – and waiting on others to do their part (whatever that looks like) is hard.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom tho… I did have a fabulous day off midweek which went a very long way to cheering me up! Good friends of mine were lucky enough to have a holiday at the beach and I invited myself along for the day. It was absolutely the very best thing I could have done, and I am super grateful that they let me gate crash their holiday. A couple of hours in the ocean and sand went a very long way to easing my anxiety. I am now determined to spend as much time at the beach as I can this year, it just makes me feel so much better! – Wednesday might be my beach day for the next little while, unless I’m required for babysitting which is even better!

The other high point for me this week was catching up with my Uni girl friends. We try and catch up a couple of times a year, although we are not always successful at that… life gets busy! Every time we do get together tho it is like no time has passed. We worked out that we have known each other for 30years this year – yup, we are actually that old! – and it is so lovely to think that we have been friends for that long. Listening to their stories also reinforces for me that I made the right decision not to be a teacher… I do not have that kind of patience!

The goal for this week is to keep working on feeling better – there isn’t any other choice… I don’t much like myself when I’m feeling low!! Fake it til you make it is still the motto, and I’m working on not letting outside influences pull me down, which is something of a challenge. In lots of ways I’m back to ‘a day at a time’, and that’s ok… it’s all part of being kind to myself and getting on with things.