Excuses and More Excuses Staring at me from the Mirror

I started writing this some time ago so it has been edited and finished to catch up to how my life is going. Today I thought I would finish this. Not because my life has gone back to normal, rather there are one or two more blogs I want/need to write. An update on my widow friends. The one whose husband died almost 2 years ago is trying very hard (some might say too hard) to get on with life & make new friends, but still having bad days. The one whose husband died last March just got rid of her husbands clothes and is not ready to move forward yet, though she still has her faith & her church. I am behind them in time and also in my movement towards the future and the normalcy of life. I have no time-table for when I will be normal, I do not think anyone could say when my time will come, or if it will ever come. My only thought is that it would be nice to at least to start to live my life, not just exist in my life.

It has been almost 10 months since my husband died. I have not accomplished much. Yes, I have cleaned the house and donated my husbands clothing & other things. But at some point I got either tired of cleaning or just thought I had done enough for the moment and would start again, later refreshed. At least that is the excuse I told myself. Now, the clutter I cleaned has begun to pile up again. Not as bad, but with nothing to do, my house should be clutter free and spotless clean.

There are many excuses I have been telling myself. Do I tell myself thinking I am somehow fooling myself? That the mirror reflects that these are legitimate excuses? I know some are. But too many excuses I think are coming from my having a hard time getting on with my life without my husband. I need to figure out a way to realize what excuse is legitimate and what excuse is just that, an excuse. An excuse not to live life.

Since I had started writing this, I have been trying to find at least one thing a week that I have been making excuses for and try to accomplish it. I had put off getting routine blood tests for fear of catching the flu…that is a legitimate excuse, even my doctor agreed with me. I am sure there was a part of me that put it off because of the fear I have walking out the door, but the main reason was flu season. I went 2 months ago. All is fine with my blood work. There was a part of me that worried the tests would show I was pre-diabetic, due to not eating correctly and also forgoing dinner for dessert. Luckily this was not the case. That is one example of a small accomplishment even with an excuse thrown in.

I have put off many things with excuses. I am accomplishing getting at least one thing done a week that I have made excuses for. That does not sound like a lot and if I am honest with myself, it is nowhere near enough. It might be the best I can do at this point, or it might just be me, making yet another excuse. But I have to start somewhere. I have to find where legitimate excuses start and excuses I make up start without realizing it. This sounds like another excuse, but this one I think is legitimate, knowing an excuse is legitimate will make me push harder to get past the excuse.

I think just walking out the front door will always be an excuse for me not to go out. To some that might sound stupid. But the fear of panic attacks stop me in my tracks as I try to walk out the door. It seems since my husband died, every day is a hard day to walk out the door. I have had days where I walk out even though the dreadful feeling is alive and well. In the past, when I went out on days like this, I was okay after I got out and to where I needed to go. I am not finding that sense of comfort when I go out on days the fear is alive and well. But I am going anyway. Not all the time, but I am trying. I think my fear of walking out the door is somewhat legitimate, if I have a day where I put off today what can be done tomorrow. But it should only be a day here or there, not my normal routine. I have to forgive myself when I fail, while promising myself I will try harder next time.

My friend who is the widow that is making new friends has been asking me to join the group of women she has become friends with. They go to different places, sometimes each others homes, sometimes to events. I find myself making excuses for not going. She understands, she has been where I am. One of my excuses is that everything is too far away (she lives about an hour & 1/2 away), which is not really a legitimate excuse all the time, it might be at times when it is a holiday weekend or some other reason that would have a lot of traffic on the road. Another excuse, I am not ready to make new friends…if I make new friends they will expect friendship all the time, not just when I am in the mood. My widow friend understands this as she did not want to make friends when her husband had just died, as I mentioned it is only now she is making new friends. Is it a legitimate excuse? I do not know, I only know that I am not ready to make new friends that live far away. I wonder if my excuses are valid.

I have a cousin I have never met that lives about 10 miles away from me. She is more than ten years older than I am. Age is not the problem for me.  Rather, she is a lot like a sibling of mine who calls all the time, worried about me. Though I have never met this cousin, we do email and are friends on Facebook. After I reached out to her (I should not have but did not think it through), my husband was dying at the time, I regretted it. But I knew she had been wanting to meet me and become close as we are the only two that live in the state. The day after I contacted her through Facebook and email, she had emailed me over 6 times as well as at least 6 messages on Facebook. She had our lives planned out. My husband & I would spend all the holidays at her house, go to church together, you name it, she planned it. It took me 2 or 3 weeks to finally tell her my husband was dying and I had no time for her. Now she is still emailing and messaging wanting to meet. She tells me that no one can believe she has a relative so close and has never met her. Yes, I have an excuse for not wanting to meet her. My sibling is so overbearing and this cousin seems to be the same…I am not ready to have 2 people overstepping their bounds with me…and this one would live close, my sibling lives far away. I just am not ready to meet her. Just yesterday she emailed me again that we NEED to go to church together this weekend. I am an adult, I do not need someone to tell me what I need. I know I have to meet her and part of me really wants to. I just have a big problem with someone who wants to rule my life, that includes my sibling. At least with my sibling I can tell her off, but this cousin I do not know well enough, it would hurt her feelings if I were not so nice. Is this excuse valid? I do not know. I do know for now I am not ready to have another overbearing relative in my life. I will meet her one day and we will probably get along well, but for now I am not ready.

Those were a few examples of where I am at in this process called grief. It would be much simpler if there were a rule book on how we grieve, but then again maybe not…it might cause more pain if we do not progress as fast as the rules say. There are many other areas in my life I make excuses for, I need to work on them too. If I am sad, that is legitimate, it is to be expected. But I do think I am making too many excuses and missing out on my life. I do not want to wake up one day and decide to really look in the mirror and see that life has passed me by while I was making excuses. So, I will continue trying to accomplish more, allowing for some excuses, yet pushing myself past other excuses. It is not a big step, but it is a step towards the future without my husband to share with.


Mirrors that Define

I have lived in the Northeast and Southeast United States. I was actually born in the north and lived there for several years. I probably should remember more about those early years, but I only remember a little. I moved to the south when I still young. When asked where I am from I always say the town in the south that seemed to be my where I had more formative years. When I was almost 21 years old I moved back to the north.

I moved to the Pocono’s. I found I did not like living there. I planned to move back but met my husband and stayed. I never meant to live there as long as I did but I never thought to move. One year I had a migraine that was extremely bad and my doctor admitted me to the hospital tests and to try to get rid of the migraine. Upon testing they found something in my brain, a white spot. There was a lot more testing done after the initial finding. This was not my first go round being admitted for migraines and having tests done. That was what concerned the doctors, no previous test showed this white spot. My doctor came in on a Thursday and said he was going out of town, that I would not be leaving the hospital soon and another doctor was going to take over until Monday. The next day, a Friday the new doctor came in and told me she felt there was no need for me to be in the hospital as all IV drugs had been stopped so I could go home with the pills I was on.

This was a big mistake. I was given 4 different types of pain medication while I was in severe pain and told to stagger the medications, switching the medications every 2 hours. I was in severe pain. I would fall asleep, awaken and not know how long it had been, which medication I had last taken, but I would guess and take another pill. That I did not overdose on these medications is a miracle. I know I took too many, as I started hallucinating. My husband had gone to the store and returned to find me completely out of it and had the hospital call my doctor where ever he was. He told my husband to take me to a larger hospital, forty-five minutes away that had more resources.

At this bigger hospital more tests were done. Sometimes they would do them in the middle of the night as that was the only time the testing equipment was available. They monitored my medicine. It seemed this migraine had taken my life over and I was in constant pain, no matter what was given. After being there for another week, it was decided to send to me another hospital about 2 hours away. As they were preparing to take me to an ambulance a neurologist asked if I wanted to see what was in my brain. He then showed me this white spot and told me they had come to the conclusion it was an incurable brain tumor. It was very deep in the brain and touching the brain stem. He told me I probably had 3 to 6 months left to live. I was shocked! I did not know what they had found just that they were doing tests to figure out what they saw. I thought it was something minor. So the ride in the ambulance now became even more scary. I had time to think I was dying and it would be soon. I was always told they could not cure my migraines that if I had a brain tumor that caused the headaches, they could cure that. Now I was told even a brain tumor could not be cured.

At this new hospital, which was a university hospital all the Fellows, Interns and Doctors would come in and point and poke at me, always saying out loud how I did not have long to live. The worst part of this was they had decided that I would be taken off of all pain medication so I could live what was left of my life without being in a fog from the pain medications. I thought how crazy that was. I was not in a fog from the medications. Why not let me live my remaining days pain-free? I had no choice though, the doctors had made it for me. I was there a week, given physical therapy lessons that were supposed to help with pain. I was so glad when I was released.

After I returned home, I called around to find out who the best neurologist in the area was. There was one that came highly recommended, he only saw the most difficult to diagnose or treat patients. He agreed to see me. He was over 3 hours away. He was a nice man. He ran many tests. He also told me I was not going to die in 3 to 6 months. That though I had a white spot, it looked more like multiple sclerosis. He ran tests for it but all came back inconclusive. He told me I needed to have an MRI done every 3 months to be sure it did not change. He also put me back on pain medication. He was a humane doctor, he did not see why I should suffer in pain. He is also retired now so if I ever need a good neurologist I will have to search again as finding a good neurologist is hard.

The next few weeks I thought a lot about the misdiagnosis and how I felt. I realized how much I disliked living in the north. We vacationed in the south every spring. I told my husband before our next vacation which was soon that he needed to find a job in the south as I would not be returning to the north. I loved my husband very much, but I also knew I did not want to spend one more day in the north. Knowing I could die made me realize how much I disliked living in the north and I certainly did not want to die there. My husband to his credit, told me to send resumes to places he could work in the south. Part of our vacation was spent with him interviewing. He was offered a job at every place he interviewed. He took the job that was willing to wait while we packed and readied to move to the south.

After he was offered these jobs I had another fear. Be careful what you wish for as it might come true. What if I were wrong and it was just me not where I lived? If I made my husband change jobs and we uprooted our lives only to find out it was not what I wanted. I worried a lot as my husband had accepted the job and I was busy packing. I wondered what we would do if it turned out we did not like living here. I worried my husband, who had never understood the south, would not like living here much as I did not like the north.

I worried for nothing. At first my husband had a hard time dealing with the slower pace of life. He was used to getting things done fast. It did not take long before he grew to love the slow pace of life of the south. To slow down and enjoy each moment, not going fast and planning the next movement. He told me often how he wished we had moved to the south sooner. That we wasted a lot of our lives up north rushing, running to stand still, rather than slowing down and enjoying everything life had to offer. He enjoyed every moment in the south. We were also lucky as there are several large university hospitals all within an hour drive. These hospitals are not like the one I had been in up north which had cold, uncaring doctors. These hospitals care about their patients. My husband would become a patient as time went on and we were very lucky to have the hospital and all the doctors, nurses and everyone who worked there.

I have explained where I have lived and how I felt about each. We all have our own likes and dislikes. I am sure that as much as I dislike the north there are just as many that dislike the south. But this is about how I define myself. I am a southerner. I am defined by where I live. I also let where I live define me. I am also defined by how I feel about where I live. There are many things that define me, but none are as strong as my feelings about living in the south. Some of my family that live in the north think it is stupid to let where I live define me. I do not think they understand. It is not really north vs. south. It is the way of life in the south. The acceptance of others in the south. I can hear some from the north saying they are not accepted in the south. To some extent that is true. When someone first moves to the south, we have to get to know the person. Once we do, if they are nice we like and accept them, no matter where they came from. We also accept them for who they are.

If anyone has been reading this, they know I use a lot of words to say a little. I talk a lot in person too. Up north, I am told I talk to much. Here in the south, talking a lot is what others like about me. Up north I would be told to my face I talk a lot in a negative way. In the south we do not tell people what we do not like about them. In both the north and south we are brought up if we have nothing good to say about something/someone, do not say anything at all. I wonder to myself how people in the north can be taught this yet turn around and point out what they do not like about another or that the person is different. While living in the north I saw this with others all the time. I thought it was cruel and would say so. That of course would lead to my being told I talk too much. Rude, crude and socially unacceptable is what we in the south say when someone decides to tell us what they think, if it is negative.

In this blog, I have generalized. I normally do not do that. There are many nice people who live in the north just as there are some that are not nice that live in the south. I do not like to generalize as there are always exceptions. I am simply pointing out that for whatever reason, when I glance in the mirror, I want a southerner to be what I see. As I move forward exploring what I want my life to be, when I am done, I want to remain a southerner that lives in the south. There are a lot of things I need to change as I move forward, but being a southerner is not one. This is not meant to offend anyone that lives in the north, south, east, west or even a different country, it is only my opinion about myself.

Yet Another Type of Acceptance in the Mirror

There must be many more types of acceptance than I previously thought. I have written about two that were similar yet different. This one is different as well. This acceptance has to do with myself. More specifically how I am dealing with the death of my husband. How I am moving or not moving forward. How slow or fast this process is. How much I should rush myself and how much I should slow down. How I intend to do these things. How I am accepting everything. But I am not talking of just my acceptance, I am also talking about the acceptance or nonacceptance of others that makes this unasked for journey I am on much harder. I normally do not care what others think of me, but this is not only about me, it is about how I am dealing with the death of my husband and how it is perceived, accepted or not accepted.

It seems many want to give me their opinion on how I should be dealing with all that has happened. I am not allowing visitors, but I did allow two family members to visit during November and then December, each time for only a few days. As far as most that know me, including the two I let visit, they can only guess how I feel and am dealing from phone calls. I try to sound upbeat on the phone. I tried to be upbeat during those two visits. If I were to sound sad or show sadness it would only make others feel badly for me as none live close by. They would want to be near to cheer me up. I would not want that even if they did live close by. I put makeup on during the visits, part of the makeup was not actual makeup, rather it was to appear as if I am happy, a smile on my face, standing tall, head held high. I think I have fooled them as they think I am doing better than expected. I do something similar with phone calls, act as if everything is fine, joke about things, when a sad subject is brought up I think of other things in my mind so I do not sound sad. Once again I think this has worked as if these people thought I were not doing well, they would drive to see me, try to help me heal, which is not what I want. This is a journey or drive I must do on my own. I need to come out of this knowing I have done all I could to become whomever I turn out to be, my new self. I do not want the mirror to reflect what others want me to be, rather it should reflect who I have become. Now on to this different acceptance.

There are varying opinions on how I should be moving forward. It seems that to some, my behavior is accepted as normal after the death of a spouse. In some ways these people who accept what I am going through make it hard for me to push myself to move forward. If I tell them a little of how I am feeling (not mentioning panic attacks or anything other than my life without my husband), they immediately tell me I need more time. They tell me to take all the time I need to mourn, not to rush myself. That I will know when I am ready to move on. They know all I have been through. They know how taking care of my husband was a 24 hour a day job, with little if any time left for myself. They know that though I knew my husband’s death was inevitable, it was still a shock and I am now left alone. They are kind and caring in telling me how it will take time to get used to a life without my husband. They accept me.

I have a different group of people who think I have spent too much time mourning and should already have moved on with my life. They do not accept that it should take time to mourn and learn to live a life alone. Much as with those who accept my not moving forward make it hard, these people who do not accept my mourning make it harder. They do not accept the fact that I have not moved forward, they want to tell me how far I should be by now. These people seem to have a cold, uncaring attitude, as though my life with my husband should just be thrown out and it is easy to start over. No matter what I say they do not accept it. Instead I get lectures or examples of people they know who had a death of a spouse and were out and about, happy a week or two after their spouse’s death. I wonder how these examples of people who are thrown in my face truly felt about their spouses. If their spouse meant that much, how can it be so easy to forget them? Maybe they do not forget, just move forward and not think. I then wonder how they think by telling me of someone who has moved on will help me. It does not, it is hurtful to hear these things. It makes me feel less of myself that these people do not accept how hard this is for me. It also makes me wonder if I am taking too long to learn to live without my husband.

This acceptance is different from wanting acceptance of others. It is wanting acceptance from myself. By having two groups of people with different opinions of me, it makes it harder for me to accept that I am having a harder time then I tell others. With the group that do not accept, if I tell them something honest, that makes me sad, they tell me I am being dramatic, looking for pity. I have already said I do not want to be pitied. By telling this group anything I am just trying to buy myself time. Time to move forward without facing their nonacceptance. I need to stop telling this group of people anything, but that is really not an option. If it were possible I would cut these people out of my life for now, if not forever. I do not need to be judged every step of the way towards my new life alone. I am not a suicidal person, if I were this group would surely drive me to the thought of ending it all. I have been tempted to tell one of them on countless occasions that I am ready to give up and join my husband in death, but I know this is not true and this person probably does not care as much as they say. Or they would hear it as my looking for pity. I have to learn to accept this group as they will be in my life for the foreseeable future. Whether they accept how I am dealing has to be their problem. I need to accept this and just work on myself.

It has been a little over six months and though I have made progress, I feel as if I have not made enough. But then I ask myself, just how much is enough? I know there are more areas to work on. I know that neither group of people listed above are really my main problem. I know it adds to my problems, but it is not the cause. I am learning a lot about myself I thought I already knew in looking at what the mirror reflects. I need to keep learning. I also need to go back to the person I have always been, the one who does not care what others think of me. I need to accept myself for who I am. As for the others, it is their problem if the cannot accept any part of what I am going through. Most of all I need to accept that however fast or slow I move forward is acceptable, as long as I am moving forward.

This Mirror is Trying to be Fair

I took my pet to the veterinarian two weeks ago. I would say our pet, but I am the only one here left to care for him. This is not the first time I have taken him or his brother who died in December 2013 of a form of cancer. Since my husband became sick two pets have died and are still missed. This pet is my last connection to the life my husband and I led the last three years. This may sound strange, as I have family and friends that would say they are connections. I have memories that will always connect us. This is different, the pet was here every day through every part of his illness. If I was at the hospital and came home he would be so grateful to see me. I started napping on the couch for part of my time home before returning to the hospital, as the pet was lonesome. I left the TV on for him as he was sad and lonesome when my husband and I were at the hospital or doctor visits. He watches the TV, while I do not know if he understands it, he does express when something he likes is on or at least it seems that way. At any rate it seems the TV took some of his loneliness away while we were not here.

While at the veterinarian this time I knew this was a serious matter. He is no longer young and has been showing signs of age for the past two years, but in the past month he has really started to show age. He has lost a lot of weight. He had started crying as if in pain. The noises he made to let me know he was happy had stopped, but that was addressed at a previous visit a month ago. This time the doctor wanted to use anesthesia on him so she could get a better look to see what was wrong. I was warned he might not survive the anesthesia, but I felt he needed to be checked and if died, it was meant to be. I definitely know I would not have him put down, that is a choice I could never make. He was taken to the back and I was left in a waiting room alone to wonder if he would be okay.

As I sat there worrying, I heard the veterinarians shoes walk to the door, stop and then pace back and forth. She blew her nose several times. I became more worried hearing this. I assumed he had died or a terrible diagnosis was about to come. My mind wandered in that short amount of time. I could hear the vet as she wore high heels. I thought how impractical to wear heels in her profession. I then thought of all my husbands doctors and realized many of the females doctors wore heels too. In the short time I had to think, I kept thinking how it seemed not only impractical but also unprofessional. That female doctors should be wearing more practical shoes. Not high heels. High heels seem to signal a party or somewhere other than a doctor’s office or hospital. Before I could think much more there was a knock on the door and vet entered. She apologized for taking so long and said she had been outside the door with a runny nose from allergies.

The vet had a possible diagnosis and a definite one. The definite: my little guy was getting older and probably has lived his full life span. His teeth though were the possible diagnosis, they might need to be ground down. I talked with her for a while, the surgery to have this done was going to be very expensive. I no longer have my husbands income and I need to start getting one of my own. I wondered how does one put a price on life. What price is too much? I know if it were my husband I would pay any price. But this is different, this is a formerly abused pet I rescued that is past his life span. I have given him a good home for over five years. I have made sure he has all the food, treats and toys a pet could want. Some say I spoil him. To me, it is not spoiling, it is trying to make his remaining days happy, make up for the abuse he suffered before he came into our lives. The vet was not sure it really was his teeth, it was just a possibility. She was not sure he would even survive the surgery. Even if he survived surgery, it might not be his teeth and he might only have days or weeks left to live with or without the surgery. I would still be responsible for paying for the surgery. My decision was a tough one. I decided not to allow her to do the surgery. I asked her to give me something for his pain so he lives out his remaining days as comfortable as possible. I see him fading each day. The medicine helps the pain, it does not stop his weight loss, growing smaller, looking older. Each morning I awaken expecting him to have died overnight and am glad when I see he is still alive. I know one morning soon I will awaken and he will be dead. Or he could die while I am holding him. Or he could die during any given moment. At any rate, I know from looking at him his time is near. I am trying to make him comfortable.

After returning home from the vet I thought of the heels. I thought again of the doctors were who treated my husband. Some wore “sensible” heels, other high heels and some wore flats or sneakers. I had never noticed, as much of the time they walked on carpet and I did not hear it. I thought to myself that they should all be wearing some type of shoe or sneaker with no heel. Then I realized that I was being unfair. That I would not expect a man to wear certain clothing or shoes. (Though I would prefer male doctors not wear ties as they can be a way to pass infection to patients, that is a health issue, not how I perceive a doctor should dress). I want people to look at me and be fair. Yet here I was passing judgement on what type of shoes a woman doctor wears. In my life with my husband I rarely noticed something as insignificant as shoes. I have never expected anything from doctors other than to treat my husband and do the best they could. While I still think comfortable shoes would be more functional for a doctor, it is not for me to say. I always have thought I was very fair in my judgements of others. I now see there are some areas that need work. Starting with accepting a doctor has every right to wear heels if she wants. If this is turns out to be my biggest problem in moving forward, I will be lucky. Until I move forward, I will not know if there are other things I am not fair about. I am still learning.

In writing this it brings up many moments of the last few years with my husband. Though his illness was not age related, he too grew weaker each day. Though the memories of my husband are mostly happy they are also sad, as the end result was the death of my husband. What I am dealing now with my pet is similar to the last week of my husband’s life which is what makes it so sad. No he cannot communicate, but in his little eyes I can see the fear of what is happening to him. I guess when we love someone or something unconditionally there will be pain when they die. For now, I will make sure my little guy has all he needs and makes sure he knows he is loved. I know when he dies it will be hard. I will truly be alone. My only true connection with my husband, even if it were only because he was here though it all, will be gone. I am not looking forward to that day, but I will know I have done all I can to try to make his last days happy ones.

Positivity and Negativity in Mirrors

My friends and family if asked to describe me would say I am nice, easy to talk to, honest, as well as brutally honest, cool, strong, indecisive, firm, laid back, detached, generous, talkative, discreet, non-judgmental, accepting, sarcastic, indifferent, have a good sense of humor, can have a temper, do not take myself seriously, sometimes self-centered, tells it like it is, compassionate. There is one more description: positive. There are many more descriptions but I think this covers most of what they would list to tell someone about me.

They are correct in their perceptions of me. I possess all those traits, an example could be that when told something and told to keep it to myself, though I am very talkative, I would never repeat what was told in confidence to anyone under any circumstance. Though I love a good laugh, if it is told at a time I do not want to laugh, I will be indifferent. There are three more qualities I possess that I am not sure anyone would list or even be aware of, I am unemotional, insecure and controlling. I think anyone that has been reading this will realize I am controlling from how I describe my life and how I deal with it. I think the insecurities also are evident by how much I relied on my husband. But the unemotional might not show through in my writings. Maybe in fact my description of unemotional is not really correct, rather another way to control.

But back to the unemotional. I think my husband would agree that to some extent I am unemotional or at the least he would say I control my emotions. When told of good things that have happened I do not show much emotion. When told of something bad or even terrible, I do not show much emotion. It is not that I do not care, rather I am uncomfortable with emotions. There are times I wonder to myself if I have any emotions. The answer is yes, I have emotions. But that pesky controlling side does not want the world to see my emotions. Through my husband’s illness, his doctors would say how impressed they were with me and how I was handling everything. They truly were, they were not just saying it. Nurses told me the same. Some of the nurses even went so far as to say if they were ill, they would want me as their advocate. When my husband died, many doctors and nurses emailed me expressing their sympathy. One doctor, whom my husband and I really trusted and admired, went so far as to say that he was not the one that kept my husband alive, I was, he only prescribed the medications needed. It was very nice to hear these things, but I showed no emotions through any of it, in fact It made me uncomfortable to hear this, as emotion was expected from me. Also the need to hear these things was not needed. I knew I did everything I could to keep my husband alive for as long as could be. No matter how hard it was at times, it was worth every moment.

Next the insecure. Those around me would be surprised at that one. But it is true. I am not insecure about myself. I know who I am. I am not insecure living alone. I like to be alone, I do not like to be lonely, but that is not what this is. Through my life, my strength and security have always been a part of me. With my husband dying, all that I have come to rely on is no longer here. That is where the insecurities I am so unfamiliar with have taken hold. I mentioned how everyone was amazed at how well I cared for my husband. I told people while I was the strong one, my husband was my rock. I am not sure they understood. Being indecisive is tough, I cannot decide the simple things, like what to have for dinner. My husband made these every day decisions for me, giving me the sense of security. Now that he is gone the insecurity is much more noticeable to me.

Controlling, it might sound like a good quality. It is not. It is hard. Non-controlling people do not understand it, they accept what they cannot control. Those of us who control, have our own reasons for the need to control. I do not accept what I cannot control. If anything I might spend endless, sleepless nights trying to find a way to control whatever is not under control. My control is probably something that helped keep my husband alive. When we were told he would not live much longer, I still felt like I had to control.I made sure they gave him pain medications, tranquilizers, any medication or treatment that would keep him comfortable. I controlled until he died. Now I have nothing to control other than my own life. But I have to figure out what my own life is before I can gain control again.

If you were to ask my husband’s family my qualities, they may be similar to the ones listed above, they would probably include care giver, advocate, loving wife. But they would also list negative.

That is where they are wrong. I have never been negative. They think because every time they talked with my husband on the phone he was so positive, that he was the one upbeat, not letting illness get him down. They are wrong. My husband worried most of his life about something or other. Much like his hopes and dreams, I told him worrying was a waste of time. That whatever he might be worried about, if it happened, he should handle it after it happened, worrying before just wasted his life. It was not until he became very sick he understood what I meant. In the beginning he was negative. I would not allow it, after all, I am controlling. I told him he needed to control his emotions and allow himself time to be down, sad, upset, mad, whatever he wanted to feel, but after the period of time he allotted himself, he had to be positive and upbeat. He had to get up each morning, even if I was the one having to help him up when he wanted to be able to himself, put a smile on his face and accept that he was still himself. The illness had not taken his inner self away I would tell him. He was still the man I fell in love with. No sickness could take that away. As the time went by, that is how he became to live his life, allowing me to control all the things out of his control, but controlling the only thing he had control over, his attitude. There were some slips, but for the most part my constant teaching him of laughter and life he had never known were what kept him upbeat. I screened his phone calls or decided when he could make a phone call. I wanted his family and friends to know he was doing as well as could be expected, that he was upbeat, not feeling like why is this happening to me, a victim. His family did not visit in the beginning of his illness when he was so close to death. I have never faulted them for that, in fact I made excuses for them when the doctors would ask me where they were. I did not tell his family of the doctors always asking where they were, nor of the doctors negative views of them for not visiting my husband. His family had legitimate reasons of their own for not being there. I did not tell them when my husband had episodes of delirium and he wanted to talk to them, I would not make the phone call. I shielded them from all the ugliness of his illness. I allowed them only to see a happy, upbeat man who was dealing with his illness with dignity.

While my family sees me as positive, my husband’s family sees me as negative. What would a mirror reflect of me? Definitely positivity, no negativity allowed. I am a lot of the things that each family sees but do not put the label of negativity on me, as I am not now nor have I ever been negative.