I’m packing my bags again. Hawaii is my next stop in this new crazy journey of widowhood. As I begin the process of packing for the move, I realize there is really not much to do. The process this time should only take a few hours rather than days or even weeks. With each move the past 2.5 years, the material items left to bring along with me have become fewer and fewer. I have pared down to the bare minimum in order to be able to live this way. Currently, there are clothes/shoes, some jewelry and a few books, paperwork, laptop, kindle and headphones. The rest of the things I treasure of my husband’s and my mother’s things are packed into 5 storage tubs in my brother’s storage unit in Texas.
As I survey the items left in various spots in my tent, I realize that I have let go of so much. I begin to ponder the idea that this “letting go” process really is a reflection of my grief journey. It began with letting go of the home that Paul and I shared together. It was not going to be my home, and although I did not have to leave I made the decision to do that rather quickly. It was for me the right step in accepting that things would never be the same. The second major letting go for me was removing my wedding/engagement ring at a point in time when I thought I was ready. I did this at about 15 months after Paul died. I was emotionally letting go of the hope that he might someday return. (To outsiders this idea seems quite insane but I am certain that my audience here will understand). The third major letting go for me was letting go of being angry all the time. This was a slow, slow process and although it does still show up from time to time it is not all consuming as it was in the past. This part was critical for me. Letting go of some of the emotional baggage surrounding Paul’s death has allowed me to have some lightheartedness, some fun and a little joy.
My present state seems to be looking past the idea that as soon as I "finish" (I note that I do not think there is an end date - it just transforms) grieving my husband that I will be “all better” and that I will magically be all emotionally healthy and ready to create a new life, to date, to form a plan for the future, a new career, etc., etc. It is not working that way for me. For those of you like me that have emotional baggage hidden in the closet before our spouses died, the grief journey can many times throw that door open and dump out the suitcases right in the middle of your living room. And that can cause a whole lot of confusion and chaos while trying to move forward with our lives and our journey.
For certain, there have been many positive changes for me over the course of this grief journey. Yet I must still realize that there are a number of items I continue to pack in my baggage that would better serve me if left behind – some false beliefs if you will. Allow me to share them with you in the hope that if you struggle with believing these lies like me, you can come back to this page to remind yourself that the lies are NOT true. I am going to list these lies and then also list the alternative statement of truth.
Lie #1: I don’t have it all together and there is something wrong with me because I am still very emotional and feel very fragile at times. I am defective.
Truth #1: I am an incredibly strong person who has endured a very tragic loss and has been through a lot of pain and is willing to express it to help others. I am brave. I am enough just like I am.
Lie #2: No one will ever accept me/love me/understand me/desire me the way my husband did – I am doomed to be alone for the rest of my life.
Truth #2: I am a normal human being with a rich past and a challenging present who is still learning to live and love. When I am at the right place in my life I will be able to form a connection with another person. But this can’t be rushed and it takes time and careful, purposeful thought and action.
Lie #3: I will never have a “normal” life again.
Truth #3: A “normal” life never existed. I will never have my “old” life back, but I can create a new one that includes new friends, new experiences, new attitudes, new places, and a whole range of possibilities.
I am sure that many of you have your own lies you might believe, and I would encourage you to come up with an opposite, alternate truth statement that rebuts this false belief. And I ask of you that when you catch me believing one of these lies that you will turn my attention back to the truth. You can’t MAKE me believe it but you can remind me that on this day I was willing to believe the truth.
So, I continue on in the grief journey and in this journey called “life” trying to ‘BELIEVE” in the goodness of me and in the ultimate value of this experience not as being “good” – but something I can use for my good, and possibly for the good of others.
Peace my dear friends.