I didn’t know that waking up, or beginning to wake up, from grief would be so exhausting. That first awful year I was tired, worn out, weary from nights of tears and bargaining with myself that if I could simply make through one more day, it would be okay. That grief fog kept me from engaging in life pretty much at all and it kept me couched in the safety of my own sorrow. I was so wrapped up in trying to make sense of what happened I let anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, and many that were, fall away into the abyss of I don’t give a shit. And I didn’t, and sometimes I still don’t.
Many of those things were truly non-essential, such as yard work. I kept this at a minimum by paying the 10 year old lawn mobster down the street to mow last summer. His incessant and loud pounding on the front door was my only reminder that once again the grass had grown, he had mowed and was now demanding his pay.
I also stopped grocery shopping except for dog food, and then dropped out of that almost completely when I found out I could mail order dog food from Amazon and not have to go into the grocery store and face the aloneness that bruised my heart each time I entered there.
That first year or so, I only did the basics from house cleaning to self-care, the minimum was all I could muster the strength for. I would crawl desperately through each week toward the weekend when I could physically and emotionally collapse.
Then a few months ago I began to slowly see my surroundings, to wake up to the world around me. Some things I was surprised by, others not so much. The laundry stacked up was no surprise, but the dog was…old…when did she get so old looking, when did I? What happened these last many months that I didn’t notice these things?
I also noticed my house needed a man’s touch, there were hinges that were loose, the deck needed repaired, the back door needed to be fixed, and on and on. All things John would have kept up on if he were here. All things I wasn’t sure how to do myself and so had simply stopped looking at them.
For the first time since I moved into my little house last June, I began to notice just how barren the yard was of anything but grass and weeds, and both I and the house longed for color, for beauty. And my body wanted to GO! And this time not just far away to hide, but away for adventures. My heart yearned to feel joy but I didn’t know where to start in this new world to find it.
So I started the way I normally do by trying to engage in everything all at once and making myself crazy! Then I did what I should have done first of all and began to be still, to check in with my deeper self, and what I found was that even though I wanted to do all of those things, plant and garden, fix and clean the house, have great, fun adventures. The year of not giving a shit had caught up.
I am exhausted. My body, like the rest of me has said-‘you’ve neglected us too long, malnourished us too much, you need to feed and nourish yourself in all ways in order to engage the way you want to.’ And of course that is true. John always said I was terrible at feeding myself, and he was right. But it goes beyond that. I’m terrible at feeding myself in ALL the ways I need to be fed to be really healthy. After some time, some meditation and thought I came to the conclusion that I need to nourish myself in so many ways that have pushed away since John died. I need to go to Quaker Meeting, I need to journal, I need to find quiet and meditate, I need to go more to book club with the women I love, I need coffee dates with my funniest friend Betsy, I need to continue counseling to navigate the complicated path I’m traveling, I need to go to yoga, I need to visit wild, green places, such as the conservation areas nearby because they bring my heart joy and feed my inner wild self. I need to feed myself if I am to actually wake-up and engage again.
So that is where I am currently on this path. I have woken up, only to find myself neglected and beyond exhausted. I have woken up to learn that I need to diligently and tenderly care for all parts of me. I have woken to discover that my kitchen, the joys and bounty it once brought me are still there waiting to be found. I have woken to find that I need my friends more than I understood before. I’ve woken to find that spiritual nourishment is non-negotiable for me. But most importantly, as weary I am, I woke up. And I am grateful for the waking.