Monthly Archives: December 2018

I carry your heart

Grief causes so much that is unexpected. Life as you know it had to change shape. At first happiness didn’t seem to fit and you wondered if it ever would. You experienced a pain in your very centre that you thought you could not survive. You thought it would surely kill you in your sleep, but it didn’t, and you were left … alone.

Retrospect is a great tool that I wish could be used with the addition of time travel. To be able to go back in time and reassure your aching self that it will be OK, there is a reason for the pain. A reason why your insides feel like they are on the outside. You are taking on a new shape.

I see it now, it took awhile, but it’s clear. It’s growing pains, your heart is being expanded rapidly. Stretched, pulled, tear upon tear trying to get the big ball of muscle to grow enough to fit all the moments in you had shared, you don’t want them to just be a memory, but they need to be, have to be, or else they are gone forever. Don’t let them be gone forever. Accepting they are gone, well, that’s the biggest tear of all.

A little aside – The English language is an odd thing, where two words can be spelt the same yet mean two different things. No way to differentiate them except to define them. Tear and tear. To rip apart or to cry. Different but the same. Accepting they are gone forever rips at your heart and crying is a given.

The transition into widowhood is harrowing, relentless punch after punch from one unexpected place after another. A hand unheld in the supermarket aisle, days events unshared, unfeeling and unknowing words that cut deep, tear, tear and tear. But as one little tear heals, and then another, something amazing takes place. Your heart is transformed. It becomes a massive, life sized USB continually uploading memories, sad and glad, integrating them into your everyday. So your smile isn’t just a smile, it is a carrier of beautiful moments that only the two of you shared. Your crying isn’t just sadness, it is the missing the part of your soul that is trying to morph into your very own being. So that now you carry them with you always, physically felt inside you. You carry them in your heart.

You carry their heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                   

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

BY E. E. CUMMINGS


Guilt.

When my husband died I fell to pieces. I missed him with every fibre of every one of those pieces. My true love was gone and l was beyond devastated. I couldn’t see a way to fit those pieces back together to form any kind of a life. There were parts missing, like an old jigsaw from last Christmas carelessly tossed into the box without all the pieces . The picture could never look like it was supposed to. It would never be right.

What about the ugly pieces? Our fights, our struggles, the really hard stuff. Those bits I didn’t want to find, hidden under the lounge, I didn’t miss those.

I didn’t miss the disease. I didn’t miss the strain created between being with my husband in hospital and missing the kids. I didn’t miss the hard times it put on our finances and I didn’t miss the struggles we had in our marriage after 20 years…does that make me a bad person? It doesn’t sound loving or caring. It sounds selfish. It certainly made me feel bad, and that made me feel guilty and that made me sad all over again.

Initially I had rose coloured glasses on and I couldn’t think of a single bad thing he had ever done. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it was just a reflection of my love for him. That was real. But as the fog of grief lifted a little I began to see that life needed to be different. It had to be. I no longer had his pieces to fit with mine to complete the picture.

I had to live, parent, and work on my own. As my independence grew I began to discover things that I loved that I had either forgotten, given up on in compromise, or were new. I found laughter again, but it was different and often felt wrong, it felt like I was forgetting and that too felt like guilt. I didn’t want his family or friends to see me enjoying life, that heightened the guilt. Not because they wanted me to stay miserable or feel guilt, please know that, it was all internal. It was my perception of a life that still wasn’t quite making sense.

I think I gave too much, to my own detriment. I didn’t look after myself all the time and when I felt exhausted I chose the couch over the treadmill. I resented some of “our” choices and didn’t let go fast enough. I have a pretty tough exterior and I know I can find it hard to bend sometimes. That’s tough on a marriage. They are some of my faults, because I’m here and I can defend myself. Of course as a normal human being he had faults and made choices, some of them hurt me deeply, but he is not here, so I choose not to make a list of them.

Those hurts are hard to deal with, I can’t talk them through with him, I can’t yell at him, I can’t let him know how bruised I was, even when I pretended not to be. He will never know how I sat in the car park before work and cried. He will never know how I blamed myself and felt like I wasn’t enough. At least not to the full extent that only retrospect affords me. It makes me feel guilty to even think about, it feeds my grief.

Guilt and grief are not synonymous. One is a natural feeling after loss, the other leads to the decay of our heart. Guilt is a heaviness that seeks out our deepest frailties and plunges our emotions into darkness. It tells us lies about new happiness and whispers darkness into your soul. It is very real and it can destroy the goodness that you have found.

So what then? Can I hold him to account? Is there any point in bringing it up? Does it help me find pieces to complete the jigsaw? Actually yes, I think it does. If he was alive, we would say his mistakes were his to deal to deal with, not mine. The same is still true, it is not my guilt to take up now, I cannot own someone else’s mistakes. I know, I have tried it that way, it’s only another pathway to guilt. These things are not easy to do, not easy to overcome. Little by little I needed to let myself off the hook. I slowly came to see that I needed to let go of his mistakes, or I would not heal. He was a good man, but I needed to grieve the whole marriage, not just the good parts. A jigsaw has the pretty colourful bits everyone loves to find but it also has the pieces that look ordinary and plain,  you need both for the whole picture.

I needed to let him know how I felt. I wrote to him, letters that I threw to him in the ocean, as if sent of to him. It was for my benefit. About how I felt about what he did, not about what he actually did . He can’t change anything and even though he tried often, he couldn’t boost my self esteem above the level my own internal dialogue dictated. That’s up to me and my own beliefs. I believe God can do the impossible, move mountains etc But He can’t change what I won’t let go of.

I had to find a way through, to let go. It wasn’t pretty, it was painful. But there is freedom in letting it go, in facing it. To stare at the ugliness of guilt, what caused it and decide not to be caught in its grip any longer. To understand that I was the one instigating the guilt and holding back happiness. Whatever he had done, forgiveness was my decision and the key to letting it go. And when I didn’t have strength to forgive, the God of all forgiveness could help, wanted to help, I just had to ask.

Grief is forever, you don’t just forget one day. But happiness is forever as well. They can coincide as part of a new life… if I let grace rule over guilt.

If I let myself off the guilt hook. 

NOTE : If you are stuck you might need to talk to someone who understands, and if that means paying a counselor/Psychologist, DO IT. Do it sooner rather than later. I cannot recommend that strongly enough. They are trained to deal with the level of emotion you are feeling and are not personally involved so they are completely objective.

You are not defective if you need to talk to someone, you are normal.


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