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Born in the 50s

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Comment by Maggie on May 19, 2019 at 5:03am

Bergen...we have some similarities...

Almost 6 years ago my husband died of brain cancer. We were very happy for 17 years, but after we retired and moved, things turned sour and it went on off and on for 11 more years. Old story that I’ve posted here long ago. In a nutshell, he became critical, controlling and depressed. I was the brunt of his unhappiness (not physical). He simply could be quite unkind...not all the time, but enough that it left permanent damage to my psyche.

Ive  also moved out of state, new home, new friends...I’m fairly content. It’s a better life than many have. I enjoy my freedom.

Unlike you, I can’t really justify his behavior. He was smart, ethical, hardworking, honest and came from a fairly decent home life, although his father had been a big bully. I was wife #4...maybe that should have been a clue.

So, I’m left still mad. Mad at the way he treated me for no good reason. I have not been able to get past it and that bothers me more than his actual death. I would not go back unless it could be like it was early on.

I miss him very much, especially when I remember some earlier happy times, but I simply could not go back to feeling unloved and that’s what it really boils down to. Such a confusion of feelings I have now about him. Perhaps my resentment keeps me from feeling the loss so severely.

Comment by NoLongerInBergenJC on May 19, 2019 at 4:01am

@Barzan:  My husband and I had a very rough last decade.  I now know that he was having TIAs that he either wasn't aware of or ignored.  But I could not know that.  All I knew was that he was never remembering to do things I asked him to do.  He could never find anything in the refrigerator.  He'd get fired from jobs months after getting a glowing review.  He became unable to navigate office politics OR social situations.  A friend of mine who works with autistic kids would tell me "He needs to see a neurologist."  SHE knew.  I didn't.  All I knew was that I was working 60-80 hours a week and I had no help at home, and our already-messy house was getting worse.  And he'd spend hours in his man cave smoking cigarettes or pot or playing the guitar or napping.  He'd get angry with me for not being happy enough for him when he'd get a new job.  I had long since stopped jumping up and down because I knew the trajectory already. He was no longer the person I'd known, and with me getting ever more burnt out from having to carry it all myself, neither was I.

He wasn't an asshole.  He was a good guy with steamer trunks of emotional baggage from his childhood that he was never able to face and purge.  He was an emotionally needy guy who never realized how needy he was, and once his brain started acting up, we muddled along as long as I had jobs that weren't very demanding.  And when I was laid off and he WANTED to step up to the plate, I got another job for more pay within a month and three months later he was fired.  Again.  

We had a brief period when he first became ill when he opened himself up and I really thought we could have a new beginning.  That didn't last, and for the next six months I was juggling his moods, his treatment, and a manager who, once I declined to take family leave because it's only three months a year and I had no idea how long this would go on, refused to cut me ANY slack at all on my job.  So we were sniping at each other a lot.

Neither one of us were saints.  I can't defend my inability to just suck it up.  I had the psychological insight that he didn't.  But I was already burnt out from work and everything.  

So why am I telling this story?  So  that you have context when I tell you that even when your marriage is troubled, even if you felt trapped in your own life and sometimes crunched numbers of how badly you'd get clobbered if you left but you never really wanted to leave, you Just Wanted Things To Be Better, you don't grieve any less.  In fact, guilt adds another horrific level to the grief thing.

I have a good life.  I moved away and bought a beautiful house that DIDN'T need a ton of remodeling.  I made friends.  I'm financially secure.  I was able to retire last year.  I do what I want when I want.  I don't walk on eggshells.  And I'd still give it all up if he could come back -- but not the way he was in those years when he started falling apart, but the way he was before, when he wasn't depressed most of the time, and he was funny, and we hung out with friends and went to parties and laughed a lot.  I'd even go back to work if I could have that.

Comment by LP on May 19, 2019 at 1:58am

Thank you Nolongerinbergen for your reminder that year 2 can be gruesome - I'm 3 months into year 2 and one of the hard things, besides the continuing but different rollercoaster of emotions, is the expectation of everyone else that you are on a smooth upward path towards "recovery". I wonder sometimes if my worsening anti-social behaviour is my way of telling them - NO! I'm NOT 'getting better"! It's those friends who just let me be me that help me learn to live with this. 

Barzan, I know about getting angry with my husband for having been a good guy - of all the awful men in my earlier life, he broke my heart the most by being wonderful then "leaving". Then I remind myself that he didn't want to go, of course. 

Comment by shelley on May 18, 2019 at 8:42pm

Hey Melissa, Don't know how, but I somehow deleted my post so here it is again...    

Congratulations on your milestone.  Congratulations on your 'normal thought'.  Congratulations on not weeping at the pictures (although weeping is absolutely okay).  Congratulations on your victory.   It was not a 'kind of victory'- it was a victory.  You've worked hard for this victory, Melissa- try to enjoy it.   XO

Comment by Melissa on May 18, 2019 at 7:47pm

Suzan, I play Hallelujah over and over again. It's one of the few songs I can stand to listen to.

I think I reached a milestone today, and you reminded me of it, Suzan.

I was looking at pictures of Gilbert and he was doing something that used to annoy me in one of the photos. I thought to myself, "Jeez! He could be such a doofus sometimes!"

It was just a normal thought. I wasn't weeping at the pictures, I was just looking at them and remembering. Then I had a non-widow thought! It was a kind of victory, I think.

I'll be thinking of you on the thirteenth. I'll play Hallelujah. Sending you love.

Comment by Barzan on May 18, 2019 at 7:19pm

That is supposed to be cushion not curious.  

Comment by Barzan on May 18, 2019 at 7:17pm

Melissa and Tekwriter,  8 years coming up June 13 since I’ve been a Mrs.  reading your latest posts, I can say it is what I also went through.  I remember his last breath and me breaking down in gasping tears and vaguely the receiving a few weeks later.  I also remember my kitty, Bonkers, having to be put down a month or so after my husband passed and my daughter-in-law taking care of it.  I was still working and somehow managed to do my job at the medical center without doing any harm to anyone.  The rest of the year is a blur.  My family didn’t understand so very little support from them.  2 very close friends somehow got me through year #1.  I agree, that our brains must curious from the magnitude of our grief or none of us would have survived.

i do remember sometime in that 1st year, me screaming at my husband “why weren’t you an asshole that I would have been happy to be rid of?  Why were you my everything?”  It would have been easier but a year or so later, I was so glad that he hadn’t been an asshole.  

For each anniversary of his passing, I had taken a trip with my MIL so I wouldn’t have to struggle with the date.  This year, I will stay in town and see how I manage.  I may need to drive up to the Rockies and sketch or take photos.  I am really on edge about this.  

Two songs I always play on this anniversary:   hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and First time ever I saw your face by Roberta Flack.  

Peace and virtual hugs to all,


Comment by Melissa on May 18, 2019 at 12:34pm

Tekwriter, the whole first year is a blur of pain interrupted by the business of his death. Nothing stands out to me, although I'm sure if someone brought up something we did, I would remember.

I have little memory of the days. I think it's probably like being in an awful accident. You know you got through it, and long days of recovery, but you can't remember how.

"Widow brain" is a real thing. You're doing fine.

Thank you, Bergen. I'm handling the "Now what?" now. While it's difficult, at least I feel I have control of my choices again. The first year felt as if I were in the middle of a tsunami; tossed around like an old sock. Now I think I may be crawling from the wreckage . . .

Comment by Tekwriter on May 18, 2019 at 12:08pm

Thank you no longer in Bergen. I found your post helpful. I hope I have mitigated some of these by moving and have already taken care of the clothes issue I guess while I was still in shock. I find I have very little memory from May till the beginning of September, except for when I had my dog put to sleep. Can anyone tell me if that is normal? I hope so. I will start looking around for some ideas of something to at least think about joining.

Comment by Roxi on May 18, 2019 at 12:48am
  • You're right nolonger and i'm grateful of your shared experience...i need to know that will be better...i have some good friends but don't appreciate my life now...i only feel happiness imagine i can see him again...and in some ways i want forget his bad time facing his awful illness...i remember him full of joy of living...i think i need to mantain some not face the hard true..thanks for bring me back to reality and give me hope hugs ciao 

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