“I just think I need to fall apart”. These were the words I texted my friend when I canceled with her on Thursday night. There was so much going on last week. I received Peter’s final death certificate finally setting into motion the release of some of Peter’s benefits. The crash report was emailed to me from the state. I met with my financial advisor. I saw my grief counselor. Spoke with my still-heartbroken children every day or every other day, trying to be strong for them…but some days, I failed. And, to push a hard week over the edge to the land of unbelievably sucky, I discovered a mistake Peter and I made that may set me back a few months. (Long story and I may address at another time.) Sigh. Oh, and on top of all of this, I got up, did my routine grooming, put one foot in front of another – believe me, some days that’s a challenge – and went to my job. A huge feat when I’m only six weeks into widowhood and all the crap I was going through Then Thursday night hit, and I needed to fall apart.
I’ve gotten good at crying in public. Sometimes, I weep openly. I can do it loudly or softly. Sometimes, I succeed in holding it all together, especially while I am working. I mean, I can’t be panicking people at a fire station with my sobs, now can I? Sometimes, I don’t feel like weeping at all. Those times I consider small victories. But when and if I do, I weep, in public, without fear or thought or care. Thursday night, however, I wanted to do more than just weep. I needed to scream and drop the f-bomb, and cry and scream some more and throw more profanity around. I couldn’t do all of that in public. Falling apart in public is not only annoying to others but dangerous and not appropriate … for me. I needed my own time and my own place, to fall apart and to do it in my own way. That’s how I roll.
It’s okay to fall apart. We all do it. Oh, yeah we do. Not often. If you do it often, you may need some professional help. But occasionally, we all fall apart. Maybe we have other words for it, but we all have our tantrums, our bad days, our frustrations, our anger, our sadness. Sometimes, all of those at the same time. We come back together, eventually. Sure we do. I know this because I’ve done it before and will again. Only the before, I held it together until I was with Peter because he helped me up when I fell apart. But this time, and in the future, it’s all on me.
Peter was okay with me when I fell apart. He wouldn’t comfort or soothe, or coo words of comfort. Not his style. Instead, he would sit and wait until I was done, and I could talk to him about my reasons for the breakdown. He would listen, or give advice, or both, but mostly listen. He didn’t have to do anything. I had the security of knowing he was there and he didn’t run in a yikes-who-is-this-woman sort of way. That security helped me put myself back together faster. But now, well now, that security has been ripped from under me, loosening my balance and making me fall harder. And this time, picking up the pieces of myself will take longer.
On Thursday night, with the weight of the week on me and the thing I won’t talk about, happened – hint: it’s not as big of a deal as you think…and it kind of is – in the emptiness of my living room, I cried and screamed and swore and cried and screamed and swore some more. The sound of my fears, my anger, my loneliness, banged against every wall and hit me in my gut sending a shock wave of grief to my heart. When I was still shakey, I called my daughter. After her, two of my friends and I cried and swore and screamed at them. My daughter has the patience of Job and I have really great friends, maybe more like sisters. Sure, they weren’t Peter. No one will ever be Peter. But it did help to feel that familiar security.
On Friday morning, with a good night’s sleep from all the tears, and while I got myself ready to meet with the State’s Attorney on Peter’s case – oh sure, another brick that I have on my shoulders – I was okay. And as I have said throughout this blog, okay is okay. I’ll take okay. It’s like good in my previous life.
I needed to fall apart Thursday night, and I did. One of the hardest falls I’ve taken. Yet, I did get back up, with the help of friends and a daughter. And, most importantly, with my own strength. I know there will be more falls I have to take on this reluctant journey of widowhood. And I have a history now to remind me, I can, and will, stand again. To paraphrase a quote in the book and movie, The Help, I is strong. Now, all I have to do is convince myself of this.