Six years ago, I spent a weekend at a Bed and Breakfast in Saugatuck, Michigan. Just me. No kids. No Peter. No dog. Just me. It was a gift from some friends for my birthday. They gave me this weekend away to write. And I did. Some of what I wrote ended up in the new book coming out. It was a nice B & B. It was comfortable. The owner was friendly, and it was close to town for exploring on my non- writing moments.
When I was there, I had this strange feeling. It was in addition to the feelings of excitement, peace, contentment of being on my own, and love toward my friends who gave me the gift. The feeling I had was like I was on an observation deck of a tall tower, watching someone else’s life unfold, like a spectator at a zoo. Being a mom and wife, I never went anywhere that long by myself. I was always with Peter or the kids, or both. Sometimes, I had getaways with friends. But never on my own, at least not since the single days of my 20’s. This was an odd sensation. It was all so surreal to me. And I’m not even sure if I’m describing it well enough, this feeling of being removed from my experience, but it’s the best way I can put into words what I was going through.
Flash ahead six years and one less husband later, and that is what I experienced when my life as a widow, without Peter, began. This has all been so unreal to me. I got over the shock of Peter’s death and all that meant when the three-week mark hit. I finally grasped that Peter had in fact, died. But I still couldn’t seem to move past the feeling I was living outside myself, with all of this truly happening to me. I felt I was watching someone else’s life unfold, in my observation tower, and feeling all the feels similar to those provoked while watching a Hallmark commercial or reading a sad book, only deeper, to the soul deeper.
Then, this weekend hit. Something happened on Thursday night that bitch slapped me and my grief. Another post about the night, but suffice to say it caused me to lose my balance on my observation tower. Then, when the weekend came around, I felt a different kind of missing Peter and our marriage. It was such an enormous feeling, I couldn’t contain it. It started out by an honest look at my marriage, our marriage, and seeing its flaws. All marriages have flaws and, of course, ours was no different. With two imperfect people living together on a daily basis, there’s no hiding anything or equating the total of it to perfect. This weekend, I took time – because really now all I have is time – and looked at our entire marriage, including the bad, and that made everything, all that I am going through and feel, become unbearably real. This weekend, I began my descent from my observation tower to my reality.
This process brought with it a longing for Peter so strong, it pulled my emotions from places I held shut and threw them in directions I never went before. Yes, I still had the paralyzing grief where I couldn’t move off the couch, or out of my house. Yes, the deep despair filling my gut with pain was still there. And yes, the overwhelming longing for the ‘once was’ stayed. But more, different, harder emotions came flying out. Perhaps knowing I loved him and he loved me, despite all our flaws, brought a new burning desire to have him back, and I knew, it wasn’t going to happen.
This weekend, I felt the truest form of loneliness. I knew, really knew, I was no longer part of a pair, a couple, of Peter and Me, and my entire being lit up in new grief. Insecurities weighed more heavily on me and I couldn’t lift them off of me, not a one. For the first time, I missed, really and honestly and truly missed, the intimacy of him. I missed the feel of him on, around and inside of me. All of my muscles and my bones ached for him, and his touch. For the first time, I understood, not just felt, isolated. For the first time, I felt my life and what it is now. With all of these feelings and revelations, new emotions rushed through me like a toxic injection in my veins. With each little step away from detachment, it hurt, and it hurt like hell.
I hate the life I’m leading. Hate it. Every grief-stricken day is filled with solitude I never desired to possess, and sadness, and resentment I never had before. I don’t want to be living this life. I didn’t ask for this life. And yet, here I am, in this life. This is my sucky life. And yes, “they” do say it gets manageable, becomes your new norm. It’s hard for me to believe I’ll be able to manage this nightmare and accept it as my new norm, but that’s what “they” say. I am working to get “there” and eventually, I will. I am a stubborn, born fighter. Until then though, my now is a horrible existence. Until then though, I am starting to realize this is the one I am living in. And I wish I could climb back up the tower to my observation perch. Too late. The steps back there are greased in reality.