Often people ask me if I am OK living alone. This surprises me, as I really don’t think about it much until I am asked the question. I have always been one that enjoyed my alone time. In the past I would look forward to TJ going away on a hunting trip without me. Sure, I missed him as I was used to him being around, but the time away from each other was good for the both of us. So, my answer is always, “Yes, I love it”.
I enjoy doing things on my schedule. I get to do what I want to do, with whom I want to do it with and when I want to do it. I no longer have to “compromise”. Compromise is what good relationships are made of and while I didn’t mind it with TJ, I sure don’t miss it. I tell people, “it is all about me now”. I say yes to the things I want to do and no to those things I do not want to do. Other than those first few months after TJ’s passing I don’t feel lonely. I miss TJ, yes, but I would not say I am lonely. I have a very strong network of friends and there is always something to do should I choose.
I enjoy planning weekends to just stay home and do chores and/or projects around the house. To complete a project on my own is very rewarding and affirming that yes, I can make it without TJ. It is also on those weekends that I am able to really plan my future and set goals for myself. TJ & I pretty much had our life planned out, but now, I have to go in a different direction. I admit that I really do not have my new direction figured out completely yet, but when I am alone is when I can brainstorm different ideas.
About a year ago I started frequenting a small neighborhood coffee shop. Often I stop there on my way to work or on a Saturday morning early. In the winter it is filled with retired men waiting for their women who are next door at Curves. I tend to be very chatty with strangers (not sure if that is good or bad) and have developed a few friendships with some of the regulars in there. They know about TJ, my Mom, my dogs and just miscellaneous stuff in my life. I share my dating adventures with them and they share dating adventures with me from their younger years. This is my little place. I have yet to take any of my friends there and don’t plan to in the near future. It is a separate part of my life that I enjoy immensely and I know not everyone would understand the friendships that I have developed there. So, even if I wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning missing TJ and not wanting to be alone, I have a place to go.
Society tends to look at someone alone as pitiful. I couldn’t disagree more! Alone is a choice. It is one of the many options we have about how we live our daily lives. I am sure there are many Mothers out there who would love to have the opportunity to get up on a Saturday morning and go to a coffee shop alone like I do. Alone does not equal lonely. If you are comfortable being alone then you are able to be comfortable with other people.
So yes, I really do love living alone….especially when I want to run the vacuum at 3:00 in the morning!
I had a conversation a while back with a widower friend of mine on twitter. We started out by talking about the insomnia that so many of us have, but it quickly turned to a discussion of moving on. What he said to me has stuck in my head and I wanted to share. His series of tweets was as follows:
It changed for me, when I changed my thinking from the “moving forward” to the ability “letting go”. I know it sounds strange, but inside of me I always had a dislike for “moving forward”. It was like betrayal for me. Then I realized, that I was afraid to let her go, because I thought I would loose her. I was so wrong, because one never looses the loved one in memories and heart. That started the change.
I thought about the difference between moving forward and letting go. I, like my friend, am afraid to let TJ go. He was a part of my life for 16 years and I am not willing to let him go. Moving forward though, to me, means leaving TJ behind. I can’t do that either, he will always be in my heart. So, instead of always thinking I need to move forward/on I am going to try to change my thinking to letting go.
I feel I need to make room in my life for the new and let go of the old. I believe that if I stay open to new experiences and relationships I have much to gain after my loss. Happiness turned to sadness, but sadness will turn to happiness again. Every day I become more and more optimistic about my future and I can’t let what has happened in the past close my mind to the possibilities of the new. I will not move forward, leaving TJ behind, instead, I will try to begin to let go of the past and carry him with me, in my heart, as I experience the many good things that are still to come in my life.
Letting go isn’t the end of the world; it is the beginning of a new life. ~ Unknown
Yep, I use drugs. I blame it on TJ. It is always the fault of someone else isn’t it? As a matter of fact he was the one that started me on them. It was completely his idea and I had nothing to do with it. Although I was hesitant at first I quickly settled into the “user” mode.
Two days after TJ’s diagnosis one of his doctors told me I needed drugs to help me cope with all that was happening and I didn’t believe him at the time. I never told TJ about that conversation but he took the initiative less than a week after his diagnosis and called our family physician to let him know I was not dealing with it well and he should prescribe me something. We were just told he had less than a year to live, of course I wasn’t dealing with it very well. He loved me and knew I needed to be at the top of my game so he did what he thought was right. As was normal, he was right. I was given Xanax. I took it periodically during his illness, but I was always afraid of being asleep or not 100% mentally when he needed me so I rarely took them.
After TJ passed was when I really began with the drugs. Antidepressants along with the occasional Xanax. I think it just made the first year go by in a blur. Looking back I know I was depressed but I can’t imagine how I would have been without the antidepressants. I was able to wean off of them with no side effects. I have talked to many widows who had terrible side effects coming off antidepressants so I guess I was pretty lucky in that sense.
After some time passed I went back on Xanax at my doctor’s instruction. I have never been a good sleeper, but since TJ died it had really gotten out of control. I was only sleeping 3 to 4 hours a night and physically I was beginning to feel the effects. I had no idea how much the lack of sleep was affecting my health. I knew I was feeling pretty bad, but I did not relate it to lack of sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep please go see your doctor, it can cause serious health problems. I have always been a fairly healthy person and now I am not. It is nothing serious, but it does make a difference in my day to day life.
Now I am on a very strict schedule in the evenings. I have a wind down time, a get in bed and read time and a lights out time. I will admit that I don’t always stick to it precisely but I am trying. My doctor and I decided that since I have always been an early riser we would not fight that and instead to try to get me to stop doing stuff in the evening earlier and get to bed earlier. Since I don’t really watch much TV I would do chores or play with my animals until exhaustion took over and then go right to bed. Now I quit going full speed ahead and relax on the computer or read for an hour each night. My body has learned to expect that wind down time. The good news is that I am now sleeping for 5 to 6 hours a night and I feel much better. I have also added exercise back into my routine. I quit when TJ got diagnosed and was feeling so bad I didn’t have the energy to exercise.
I used to think that people who needed drugs to deal with life were weak. I don’t feel that way any longer. I never thought I would blog about this, but I want people to know they are not alone and there is no shame in needing a little help. I have a wonderful doctor and I know he truly cares about me. He has told me I won’t be like this forever and he will be there for me every step of the way, even when I take a few steps backwards. He was there for me both times I broke my back and helped me through it so I know he will get me through this.
He once said to me, “You don’t have to be a victim of your anxiety”. I won’t be, at least not forever.
Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries ~ Astrid Alauda
If you cook then, like me, you probably have a plethora of cookbooks. I have 3 cookbooks that are my “go to” books for recipes. It is those books that I turn to when I am searching for an old family recipe or just want to make some good ole’ comfort food like Mom used to make. The first one I turn to is the book my Mom put together for me with all of her recipes in it. Most things she made out of her head so some of the recipes are a little sketchy.
The second cookbook I turn to is the one my Mom’s sister made for her children and grandchildren. After much whining (well, not that much) I received one also. My Aunt Dorothy was a wonderful cook just like my Mom, but they did make some different things. My Mom didn’t make candy, mostly because she was horrible at it, but Aunt Dorothy made some wonderful candy. Her divinity was to die for and to this day I have failed at divinity every time I have tried to make it. That non-candy making blood was passed on to me I guess. My cousin, Leslie, put this book together and it is a work of art without a doubt. The cabin on the front was built by Uncle Roy.
When all else fails I turn to an old Betty Crocker book that my Mom gave me. It is worn and tattered, but still has great recipes.
I always have somewhere to turn for just the right recipe for the occasion to make a wonderful meal to be proud of.
It would be so much easier if they made a cookbook for life with recipes telling us exactly what to do. Maybe I could have found the recipe to cure TJ’s cancer in that book. If not, then maybe I could find the recipe to expedite the grief process. Throughout my life I have had so many problems that possibly could have been better dealt with had I been able to find the perfect recipe.
But, as many cooks know…It is the recipes you create yourself that are the best.
The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin