Knowing Your Limits

I have been pretty quiet lately, forgive me. I had to take a break from writing for a little. During November I had attempted to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge and actually get my story into book format. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is a challenge to write 2k words a day for the month of November and by the end of the month you have a “novel” or at least the bulk of a novel, in theory.

I have been wanting to write a book for a while now. And I do still have that goal. People find my story compelling and I want to use that as an opportunity to bring grief and mental health into more people’s lives. I should rephrase this. I want to bring the dialogue into people’s lives. Seems wrong, to want to bring these heavy topics into light. But I think it’s important to talk about these topics, so if you suddenly find yourself facing these dark moments in life you could *maybe, hopefully* feel less isolated and better prepared to handle the journey. I really wish that I had a better understanding of grief before being widowed. Instead, I suddenly found myself in a world of loss and didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so grossly underprepared for the road ahead and I feel that resulted in a lot of mistakes and missteps on my part.

So here I was all motivated and ready to write this book in an effort to share my story, share Matt’s story, educate people, connect with people, all that great stuff, right? But then I started writing. And I realized this holds the potential to be therapeutic for me. Pour my heart and soul out into words as a form of release. But as it began to progress, I realized that trying to face this and work on it every single day was hurting me more than it was helping me.

I am a dramatic writer (well, a dramatic person as a whole if I’m being honest here). I like to get descriptive and go in depth. But in doing so, I brought myself right back to those moments. Each time I would write, I would end up a sobbing mess devoured by my grief. I kept having moments where I felt the way I had when he first died. It was a very raw and acute grief. It was debilitating and it was crushing me.

I had to admit to myself that I was not ready to take on this challenge. This book is not meant to be written in that fashion, it will tear me apart. So instead I took a break from writing entirely to allow myself to recoup from what I had put myself through. I needed time to breathe and recover. Although I think I may have blogged once or twice last month. I don’t keep track of these sorts of things, I don’t really care about the frequency in which I write. I care about the content. I digress.

In the past I would have viewed this as a failure. But I don’t. Not even a little bit. I almost view this as one of those silent victories. You want to know why? It’s because I’m finally listening to myself and understanding my limits and knowing when to stop instead of running myself into the ground until there is nothing left to give. This was me making my mental health a priority. I am not discouraged and I am also not giving up on this project. I will get it completed when the time is right.

However, I’m not even going to touch it until I am through the holidays. Despite the tremendous amount of growth I have had this year, the holidays are a challenge. And there’s a possibility that they will always be a challenge for me more or less. But I am coping far better than I did before and I am letting my emotions exist instead of fighting them and shaming myself for having them.

I will continue to interact with my grief and allowing it to come to surface when it needs to. Each time I visit with my grief, some of it gets released and healing results. You can’t recover from something like this by burying it. I truly believe that when you bury your emotions, they get trapped in your body. And that is unhealthy. It can lead to disease, pain, or it can lead to random, unnecessary emotional outbursts. Burying is how you get more of those moments where it takes over with no warning and knocks you flat on your ass (keep in mind, when it comes to grief and mental health sometimes no matter what you’ll have outbursts and meltdowns, what I’m trying to say is you can decrease the frequency and intensity of these moments). These feelings, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, all of them are just hiding inside of your body and mind, wanting to be heard. It is important to interact with your pain and listen to it. What is it trying to tell you? What does it need in order to be healed? How can this be released?

Grief never goes away, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying there’s a way to make grief leave you forever, or a way to cure grief. My grief will never go away entirely because my love for Matthew will never go away. I will carry my love for him for the rest of my life. And the price I pay for that undying love is grief. But how I interact with my grief and how it affects my life is always changing and that’s the important part.

In the beginning it was too much for me to comprehend or handle, the grief. I was not prepared to be on this journey and the possibility of being on this journey did not exist in my mind. I was completely blindsided by his death. But now, grief just exists as a part of my life. I interact with it in a lot of different ways. I have developed a lot of coping mechanisms. Sometimes I simply allow it to exist and let myself feel sad for a while. I just don’t let myself wallow and get trapped anymore. I don’t run away from it, either. That does not work. It can be a battle of sorts to find the right balance of how grief exists in your life. Finding that balance is possible and just takes time along with some trial and error. Healing is possible, I promise.

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