It’s been awhile since I posted anything personal. Much of my time outside of work has mostly been spent either inside my own head or trying to escape it. I’ve been living alone with Emmy the cat since mid-March, and spending most of my free time alone. I’ve had a lot of time to think and heal. A lot of time to get a handle on a new path, a new future. I have begun to see some possibilities, but I’m mostly just floating along and taking life easy. In some ways, it may look like I’ve checked out. Maybe to a degree I have.
Grief is an odd thing. It has been 13 months since Justin released me and left Arizona to die. Tomorrow will be 8 months since his death. I realized months ago that grief isn’t linear. It’s sort of like the ocean. Some days, it’s calm with a light breeze. Some days, a few waves come and go. And some days, it’s more storm like. The tsunami-like days have long passed, and the storm-like days are fewer still. It’s mostly calm, with waves here and there. The waves seem to come out of nowhere, but they typically don’t stick around for long. And they haven’t knocked me off my feet in a long time.
The reality is that I’ve been grieving for more than just the last year. Grief began in December of 2012. But there were also still possibilities for future in that grief so it was a different kind. I’m reaching a point now where I want to see what’s around the next corner. But I’m safe here in my little house. It’s a struggle – safe at home, risk out there. Mostly, home wins out.
I spent years and years creating protective walls around myself. I was the expert at self-preservation. I was always really good at holding people at arm’s length while making them believe they were on the inside. I could talk about any subject, but I only shared minimal stuff about myself. If you don’t let people in they can’t really hurt you.
When Justin came along, he demanded those walls come down. He demanded to be inside, to know every single iota of personal thought. And it’s funny how when that kind of thing happens, when you do break down those walls to let someone inside, that it’s really hard to selectively build them back up again. The filters I used before to just get through my day are no longer available to me, and haven’t been for about 6 years. Justin was my buffer, my shield. He was really good at filtering for me. Protecting me from the outside world. In fact, that was sort of his mission – to protect me. (Anyone who has seen him in protector mode knows this well.)
When he was in the hospital and later recovering, people kept telling me how strong I was. “You’re the strongest person I know.” I heard that a lot. It’s funny what the self-protective masks we wear can reflect to the world. There are a handful of people who have seen me break down. They know what that mask of strength costs me to wear.
This week, for some reason, has been a little bit tough. I’m not sure why, except that maybe it has to do with our wedding anniversary happening next week. Our collaring anniversary is March 1, 2009. Our wedding anniversary is June 30, 2012. And my 50th birthday is on the 4th. Those dates seem to be converging into some kind of emotional struggle for me. I’m not sure why, as I’ve never really been a ‘special date’ kind of person before. So this is new.
Bratgirl has also been here for a visit this week. Maybe her presence has something to do with it as well. This is the first time I’ve had her to myself since 2009 as well. While early in the week we were having a great visit, she hooked up with a toxic friend yesterday and her attitude shifted. I feel a bit guilty that I’m relieved she went to Sedona for the evening and won’t be back until tomorrow night. She flies out Saturday evening to head back to Colorado. I’ll miss her when she goes again, but I’ll also be happy with my home back to normal – just me and Emmy.
I look at my yard and think, I have to figure out how to get this mowed and weeded. Yard work has never been one of my responsibilities. I recently bought a car all by myself. I never did that before. I have more food in the pantry and freezer than one person can eat in four months, and yet, I rarely cook an actual meal. Which is strange since I love to cook. I have this gigantic king sized bed, but when I sleep at night, I only sleep on about 1/3 of it, never disturbing the covers on the other side. Making the bed each morning is really easy. Sometimes, I stand in the closet and touch his things.
I’ve done some new things, though. I spent a weekend in San Diego alone, just sitting on the beach and not interacting with anyone outside of the service staff when necessary. I went to SITC alone. I went camping at Edgewalkers alone and even walked on fire. I went to my first Desire with a few of my favorite women, and I’m already registered for next year. I’m scheduled to teach a few classes at APEX in the winter.
The hardest times, though, are at night. The evenings sitting on the porch in the dark. Fixing dinner and eating alone. Getting into bed and sleeping alone. Most evenings are just fine. I enjoy the solitude, the quiet. But every once in awhile it sneaks up on me. This week has been one of those times. Tomorrow is 8 months. Maybe after Tuesday, it will go back to normal again. And I will be able to get some sleep.