Ok, I had planned on sharing weekly what I was learning but, like most things time got away from me.
I go every Wednesday and the counselor I see is a nice young man, he is an intern, but I accepted this challenge for myself and I am learning so much about myself and about grief.
At first there were a few things Tom would say that would not sound right and to me it seemed as though he just did not get it, well, of course he did not get it, he has never lost a loved one, like his soul mate. However; this young man has proven to be very insightful and understanding.
To start with one of the biggest issues I had was the massive Anxiety and Depression, It was so bad I would not go anywhere but to work and home, if I had to go to the store for groceries or anything else I always waited until I knew the store would not be crowded, usually very early in the mornings or late at night, needless to say, this choice was also limiting what was stocked on the shelves.
SO what is the first thing my counselor assigns me to do? Go to the store and start off with baby steps and go to the store (Wal-Mart my choice and General Merchandise side) stay in the store while the anxiety hits and let it build but I was allowed to leave once it started going down to about what to me was 50% of what they call the peak. Not an easy task and I had to do this for a week every single day. Ok Day one went to store, not very bust but then it started, heart starting thumping so hard I thought it was going to come out of my chest, could barely breathe, I actually felt like someone had me in a bear hug around my chest and was squeezing so tight it seemed like I was not getting any air. Tears welled up in my eyes and started to spill over and run down my cheeks, the longer I was there the worse it was getting. The only thought in my mind at the time was, “I am so stupid to even think I can do this, there is no way I am going to make it much longer” Then all of the sudden I could feel everything starting to slow down, I could breathe a little better and the panic stopped. “Wow, I made it, I can do this” I looked at my watch I had been in the store an hour.
Next day, “Suck it up you can do this, you can do this” went back and here we go again, this time I made it another 30 minutes.
I kept doing this and believe it or not by the 9th day of all of this I had gotten to the point I could go to the store and stay through the attacks until I was down to feeling nothing, heart was normal, breathing normal and not panicking.
Now one thing I had chosen to do was also go the grocery side where it is really busy and made it through with no attacks, I patted myself on the back and told myself I did good.
I had to push myself as the 10th day was a concert I had wanted to go see really bad and I knew if I did not push myself I would not go.
Well, I made it to the concert, was early so I did not have to deal with the on rush of people as they came in, I got to enjoy myself and I even got down into the crowd for a little bit. No panic attacks, no anxiety and it felt good.
The next task I had was to enjoy football games again, especially the Buckeyes, as it was my husband’s favorite team.
So, I had to watch clips up until game day and then watch the game. Which I did fine with all of it, the game was really close and yet the Buckeyes seemed to still win, deep down inside I knew they had their number one fan rooting them on from above. Funny during the game every time they made a touchdown I could have sworn I heard my husband with this silly laugh he would get when they would score.
The following Wednesday, I went to the Veterans on Deck and since it was cold, I had grabbed a jacket out of the closet, it was my husband’s Buckeye Jacket, instead of crying as I slipped into his jacket I felt an instant warmth wrap around me. It felt so good and later that day when I was in counseling, I was actually smiling about being able to wear his jacket.
I still have a very long road ahead of me as there is so much more I have to face and deal with, but what I am learning so far is this, a lot of the things and places I have been avoiding has been because of the memories of my husband, not wanting to go back there in time and think about them because I knew I would break down and cry. I was and to some point I am still avoiding my emotions, I just have to learn that it is ok to cry, no matter where I am, it is ok to feel the sadness because I did lose someone that meant the world to me, someone that I loved with all of my heart. What I was doing when I was holding it all in and avoiding everything was hurting myself, because I was not letting myself to continue to live.
If all of the counseling I go through can help me stop avoiding everything that reminds me of Steve and I can start to smile and embrace life again I will be happy with the outcome. I know I am going to miss Steve for the rest of my life and I know I am going to break down and cry here and there but what I have to learn for me is that it is okay, it is normal, I can allow myself to feel sad.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have the panic and anxiety, but it is nowhere near as severe as it use to be. There are days I still try to fight and control my emotions but I am learning how to stop fighting them. I just know now that there is a new normal that I am slowly getting use to and I am learning how to deal and cope with it.