A New Normal–Is It Ever Really Normal?

Microfiction Monday #60Have you ever wakened from a dream crying so hard that your chest hurt and after you looked at your clock and padded to the bathroom and back again to your bed you found that you still couldn’t breathe? Have heart-splitting sobs escaped from your throat even while you searched for a tissue to catch the tears spilling down your cheeks? That’s how I began my day at seven o’clock this morning, and I’ve been unable to shake off my dream-sadness since then.

It probably didn’t help that today’s weather is overcast and humid with thunder showers threatening in the distance and the air so heavy and still that even the birds remain quiet and the leaves on my maple and poplar trees hang limp from their branches.

That is how I feel today–limp like the leaves on the trees in my yard, lacking the energy to even ferret out a small whiff of wind that might lift my spirit.

The dream was, of course, about Gary, and it was a convoluted circle of a dream in which he was chasing me through a house, and when he finally trapped me he tried to hurt me with, of all things, a metal toenail trimmer. I managed to grab the trimmer and throw it away and the dream ended with me wrapping my arms tightly around his neck, nestling into the warmth of his body against mine, breathing in his familiar scent, and me crying out, “I wish I didn’t love you so much…I wish I didn’t love you so much.” I woke up to tears of grief as raw as the ones I shed when Gary died four years ago.

I hate dreams like that, that stay with me for hours upon hours and leave me unable to shake the sadness and grief that threaten to consume me yet again.

I’m not like this every day. Most days I wake up with a list of things to do: meet friends or family members for lunch, do laundry, make my bed, buy groceries, arrange for snow removal or lawn care, meet with an arborist to discuss trimming back tree branches that want to overtake my house, go shopping for underwear, drive to my cottage, plan painting projects or repair projects and even make and sell jewelry (something I didn’t do BGD–before Gary died). I smile, crack jokes, act silly sometimes, empathize with my friends’ problems, watch sad movies that make me cry, relax on a swing on my screened deck at my cottage, spend time with my family, walk on the beach, search for sea glass and interesting shells, read books and magazines and make plans for tomorrow, for next week, next month.

Some days I move through my life as if in a fog; other days the sun shines on me and I raise my face up to welcome its warmth.  Today is a fog-filled day, both literally and figuratively.

Why write about this? Why share such a personal aspect of my life with you? Why would you even care or bother to read such a post? Good questions, all.

I’m usually reticent to invite people into my personal story and space unless I have something humorous to share, but lately I’ve been thinking that I can’t be the only widow or widower who struggles with the forced reality that spousal deaths have dropped us into. I can’t be the only woman or man who grapples with what therapists call “a new normal”, and I surely can’t be the only person who still experiences sadness and anger and confusion and loneliness several years after his or her loved one has died. Can I? Am I?

I’d love to read your thoughts and comments on this subject. How do you cope with your ‘new reality’? How do you manage to get through your ‘fog-filled’ days? What works for you? And if this doesn’t apply to you but does to your friend or loved one, how do you help them cope with their journey through the rocky land of grief?

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t be a stranger.


10 thoughts on “A New Normal–Is It Ever Really Normal?

  1. love you!!!You,I and the rest of us will never jump the next hurdle,we are just riding the waves,living each shitty day as it comes, I too dream lots…..so real!!!! Just like he is ther I hear his voice alot,and have had several strange encounters,life stinks….all of us are really sad!!!oxo

    1. I know I’m not the only one, Deb….for sure….I know how much you miss him and how much the other brothers miss him and how much my kids miss him…and your mom misses him and other family members and friends miss him…I try to keep going one day at a time and usually that’s okay…but some days are worse than others. Love you, too!

  2. I remember when you wrote about your first anniversary after Gary died and how sad you were then.

    I lost my mom four years ago before Christmas. I still want to hear her voice and lots of times, I turn and head for the phone to call her to share something that just happened. As time goes on, I seem to find her mentioned in my conversations more not less. “My mother used to… or my mother said…”
    I don’t know what the answer is. I try not to dwell on her but I miss so many things about her.

    1. I find the same thing with me when it comes to mentioning Gary in my conversations–in fact I sometimes have to try really hard NOT to mention him, as I think others will be tired of hearing his name brought up….but most of my history was written with him so of course he is still a huge part of my life…not sure that will ever change even if I live to be 80. I miss my mom, too–she died nine years ago and I still wish I could talk to her again on the phone or see her and hear her laugh. She loved crossword puzzles and used to call me for help if she got stuck on an answer…I would love to have those conversations again–sometimes she didn’t even say ‘hello’ before launching into the crossword clue…it always made me chuckle and is one of the things I miss about her being gone. I don’t have any answers, either, and am just trying to get through a day at a time. Tomorrow is my birthday and my sister said that maybe that is what triggered my dream–another milestone without my husband around to share it with me…could be it was in my subconscious and made its way into my sleep. Thanks for commenting, and you hang in there, too. Wish we lived closer to each other so we could meet for tea or coffee and a nice long chat.

  3. there are things we cannot control. Humans have great difficulty with this concept, because we are so intelligent. The smarter we are, the harder it is to accept that we are not limitless in our abilities. Smart people need substances like alcohol, tobacco,coffee, dope, work, meditation, religion, spirituality or other processes to force their brain to slow down Of course, the brain reacts…. and keeps racing in our dreams…. Problems cannot be solved with tools that created them. Try to live like you are dumb for a certain period each day. Being smart does not work any more. Take care. Peter. q9g@outlook.com. Losses are the pits. Losing ourselves is the biggest one!

    1. Peter–thanks for visiting and for your wonderful comments…I’m not sure about smart people needing crutches like alcohol etc in order to slow down our brains, but it makes sense…many creative people are known to use substances such as alcohol, tobacco or dope and that makes perfect sense to me as well… Yes, you are right that losing ourselves is the biggest loss there is and I am really trying to keep that from happening. I think writing about what is on our minds is a help in that regard…sometimes I think we write to find out more about ourselves that we can discover only from or during the writing…make sense? Hope to run into you again online…I think we could have some great discussions.

  4. Wow. What questions you ask! I’m one that hangs on to everything that touches my soul…both good and bad. It takes me years to process things and I guess I never really get over them as much as I become better at dealing with it. Getting busy, though, like you say you do is always one of my first steps and the one that seems to keep me on my feet somewhat…..bit by bit the processing happens, sometimes when I sleep, sometimes not. But generally, I get some sort of “sign” in my life or mind that reassures me that loss is not forever…it’s only for a while……

    1. I really like your last line–‘loss is not forever…it’s only for a while…’, and I will hold onto that thought when I’m feeling down. Thanks for taking the time to comment…makes me realize how much I’ve missed my blogging friends and makes me happy to be back on track (maybe not with my whole life but at least with writing).

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