Monday, January 30, 2012

New Perspective

A trip to my daughters in New York always fills me with new thoughts, new plans... I promise myself 'I'm gonna do this or do that when I get home' and then I return to the daily grind and I forget about the promise. But, I am sure going to try to change all of that.

What I wanted to talk with you about today refers to a long talk me and Susan and Shirley had on Sunday morning. I talk with my children about my grief. They grieve, too, and it helps to just put it out there and share. Although I am always open with them, I found, on Sunday morning, that I wasn't being OPEN with myself.

I have spent this past year, after losing Elbert, trying to 'find myself'.

                                    Who was I without him?
                      Who was I going to be in the years to come?

Shirley reminded me that I know who I am, it's finding out what PURPOSE I now have that is my biggest trial. My purpose since I was nearly 17 was to be a good, loving wife to Elbert,

 to be a good, loving mother, (pictured here with my son at his wedding)

then I strived to be a good, loving caretaker to my Mother

 and then to Elbert.

I had 'purpose'. It drove me, it defined me.

2011 was a year filled with indecisiveness, confusion, it was a 'lost in a fog' year. And, it spilled over into the new year. I have been struggling so much. One day I think I have it figured out and the next I am right back not knowing what to do.

I just wonder how many other widows go through this phase. Am I the only one? How do I get out of it?

As I said, the talk with my daughters (as we stood in Susan's kitchen) found me opening up about so much. I knew that as I began to crawl out of the initial shock of losing Elbert, I began doing 'Normal' things. Hey, I must be getting SO much better. I'd tell myself, Tomorrow, I will be over all this. Talk about denial!! Oh, that's another step of grieving... denial is. So, I denied to myself and everyone around me that I was moving right along, I was getting over this depression, this grief. Oh yes, I still cried, I still ached... but, hey,  I'm a big girl. I handled yesterday so I will be even better today.... Denial!!

I made plans, I moved on with my life, I told myself those things. I made trips, I cleaned house, I enjoyed my family, I saw my friends.  And, I tried to help a widower who is in worst denial than I am and you know the story about that. I going to be the caregiver again. THAT WAS IT.... I was so used to being a caregiver I just didn't know how not to be. When would I turn loose of that?

When would I start thinking about what it was I wanted out of life?

The girls told me I needed to 'step out of my box', meet new people, do new things, find that PURPOSE that made me happy and fulfilled me.

I opened up to them about my loneliness. I have always liked MY SPACE,...  I mean I had MY SPACE before there was ever a MY SPACE on the internet. I was basically an only child, living in a household of adults. I grew up that way, then I married a man who was gone a lot. Uncle Sam saw to that. When he retired he enjoyed his hunting, fishing and I enjoyed MY SPACE. It's just who I am. But, loneliness is something else altogether. My children have their own lives and I would never 'hang on to my kids'. My friends, well,  almost all of them have husbands. So, yes I am lonely and I think that is why I graviated toward helping out the widower. It gave me a purpose, it was what I was used to.

So, I came home from my visit in New York filled with ideas. I hope you gals can help keep me on track. Now let me fall into that slump again.

1. I am thinking of joining a gym.
     Reason: I am overweight, out of shape and need to be healthier. And, I would meet new people.

2. I need to finish a novel I started before Elbert got so bad I had to put it aside.
     Reason: I have always liked to write. I feel that my time to actually do a worthwhile book is now.

3. I need to take care of myself
      Reason: I've never had time to think about myself. I now have time to do anything I want to and I should pursue what makes me happy and keeps me active.

4. Take one day at a time
      Reason: I have spent the last year trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I may not have a tomorrow or next year. None of us have that guarantee. I need to enjoy each day and stop being so confused about all the crap. Excuse my language there. But, I have let crap just fill my brain and I am not stopping to enjoy moments, be happy in my own space.

So, I have work to do. Get healthier... finish my novel..... think about me for a change.... and stop trying to make it so dang hard. Life is a journey, I need to enjoy the trip.


Susannah said...

Wowsy Dowsy! What a terrific post. Some of your list does pertain to people like me, too. For instance, I took care of Mom , my children have left the nest and the grandchildren are more involved in shcool than in Grandma and Grandpa now. This is not to your degree but I can relate. Your list is "right on". Really make yourself stick to what you have written. Such good advice the girls and you have come up with. You can do these things. These are easy for a woman like you, Latane. With God's help, we can do anything. Hang in there and do it!!! Great post...full of encouragement!

Dolores said...

I love this post too!! You're always an inspiration to me.

I grew up with a mother who was sick, and I feel I've been a caretaker most of my life. Like you, between being a wife and mother and then a husband with Alzheimer's, we know how to do it well.

I love your new goals that you and your daughters have suggested for yourself. You can do it!

Big hugs from Texas!

Nancy said...

You've already found some purpose in sharing your journey. This post alone needs to be shared with other grieving widows and widowers, it is such a clear picture of where you've been, where you are now, and where you are going. Excellent writing!

Luckymom22 said...

What a wonderful list! Another possible idea for your list (feel free to ignore!) Since you have found fulfillment in giving love and care to others, perhaps your loving care is a gift you might be able to offer to your community in some form. For many years your life has been defined by giving care to others; if this is what gives you fulfillment you don't have to turn away from's just that now for the first time you have a choice. Love to you from a west coast admirer! (Janice)

NewKidontheBlogg said...

See what Scripture speaks to you in this journey beyond Alzheimer's. Remember, "He who gives up himself for my sake shall find himself." Elizabeth Eliot said, "Just do the next thing."

You are doing a great job of giving us your thoughts and I, for one, am thrilled with your honesty and discoveries.



Marie said...

Looks like you are "getting there" Mom! I am so happy you are entering this next phase of your healing process! What do YOU want out of life!? Keep that in mind, and nothing else!

Linda said...

It was interesting to me how similar our "lists" are. I too am finishing my novel and coping with grief issues. Let me share something that came to my mind so strongly this morning that I knew it was from the Lord: "Don't spurn the solitude that will bring you healing." Now isn't that a strange thought? Common sense would say we need to get out more (and there is an element of "getting out" in my journey, too, as I am to exercise and also to reach out to others--I don't want to negate those important things). But writing, as in writing a book, is a solitary pursuit. I am finding that as I write, my grief is finding an outlet in a way that might help others (a great blessing), and the writing process gives me a safe way to give expression to the things that have caused me pain. The Lord is helping me and I know He is helping and guiding you too. Thanks for your words. I admire you.

Lizzie said...

I loved reading your post and truly believe you know what to do to find your place now. You did all those wonderful things for so many others and now it is your time. Time to explore the possibilities. Don't be scared and don't feel guilty. Your loved ones who have passed would want that for you. Your daughters want that for you. We only have one life, and you have made so many other people's lives happier, and now it's your time to try different things. Exercising is a wonderful thing to relieve stress and make you feel good. You deserve that happiness that is out there. Try new things, you'll find what you like and your sense of purpose again. I like the poem you wrote, by the way! ~