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.


The Mirrors of our Eyes

I have one rule I have always kept in my life. Do not do anything that would make me not want to look at myself in the mirror. Faced with choices, I would always think “when I am washing the make-up off, will I be able to look at myself in the mirror?”. If the answer was yes, I did whatever questionable thing it was. If the answer was no, which it very rarely was, I refrained from doing what most probably would have been a regret. This seemed like a good way to live a life. Really live it, with not having any “what ifs” in my life as I get older.

When I was a teen I became friends with a woman in her 60’s. She had a hard life, but she was one of the most upbeat people I have ever met. She told me how she had lived her life. She said if she got the chance to do something, she almost always did it. She knew when she was young she did not want to look back at her life and wonder what if. She said she applied this to almost everything in her life. She said had she not taken the chances she had, she may never had lived such an exciting life. And she did live an exciting life, before I had met her. By the time I had met her and gotten to know her, she had gone through much. Her husband had died young. Her daughter had become a heroin addict. Her nephew committed suicide. But to her, all these thing were just part of life. To me what seemed like a hard life, was just life to her, throwing curve-balls along the way and the way she handled each was what shaped her. She had such amazing, mesmerizing stories to tell. Most if not all were humorous. I enjoyed my friendship with her, even if it were short-lived. But she taught me such an invaluable lesson that has stayed with me through the years.

I have lived a full life till now. I am much younger than she was, but you do not have to be old to feel old. Much like people who feel young when in fact they are old. One of the reasons my life is so full is that I took her advice, if I got the chance to do something to do it. I lived my life that way. I have gone places I might never have gone to. I have met people I may never have met. I have done things I never would have thought possible. I have repelled down mountains. I have swam in the ocean early in the morning as the sun was rising. I have experienced the highest of highs, but do not think I have experienced the lowest of lows, just a little low. I am not done living my life, I still have a full life in front of me, it just does not feel like that at the moment. It is as if someone has hit the pause button on my life.

The thing that makes me wonder is why I cannot look into the mirror now. I have not really looked in the mirror for some time. Probably even before my husband became sick. I reflect in my mind on things I have done to see if something would reflect back at me from the mirror that I regretted having done. I do not see anything in these reflections I regret. Every thing I have done or not done has shaped me to whom I am. I am happy with who I am, I think. Is it out of habit I no longer look in mirrors? Is it because I do not have the need to stare into mirrors as I see others do? Or is it something more painful. Is there something I cannot remember that would stop me? I know I am afraid to look in the mirror for fear of what I will see looking back at me, myself. But what will myself look like? It has been so long since I have really looked into a mirror I do not know what I would see. Maybe it would be a pleasant surprise. Probably not though. Most likely my eyes will tell a tale of a long several years. Years of fighting to keep my husband alive, years of caring for him and ultimately the pain of losing and missing my husband. And two other things, loneliness and emptiness that no one can fill. One day these feeling will ease and I will no longer be lonely in a room full of people. I will no longer feel the need to cover how I am feeling with makeup to make me look normal. Though I will forever miss my husband, I will be able to move forward and start to live my life again. A life with no regrets. A life my husband would be proud of. A life I will be happy with.

But first, I must become stronger. I must deal with the sorrow. Learn to put feelings and emotions in their proper place in my mind. When I am able to achieve this, I will look into the mirror. Not glance, but look. As mentioned I do not hope or dream. Being a strong woman, I need the person who looks back at me to be happy. When I see myself happy, I will have learned to live again.