As we get closer to the end of the year, I cannot help but take a moment to step back and reflect. This is partially Facebook’s fault, by having that cute little feature of putting together a “video” of some of the things you’ve posted throughout the year. I was hesitant to even look at mine, thinking of how low I was when the year started. It’s really challenging to put this last year into words. It is often difficult for me to face my past, even if it is a more recent past. But I am going to do my best because I think it’s time for me to face this.
In the start of this year, I was completely broken and shattered. On so many different levels. I had just started EMDR therapy. My PTSD and depression were severely out of control. I was in the process of trying a new medication that ultimately was not a good fit for me. I was hardly able to make it to work. And when I was at work all I wanted to do was go home. I was so anxious. I was constantly shaking, often having to step out of the office to cry and call my mom to be talked down. I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t recognize my own life on any level. I was a shell of a person. I couldn’t comprehend my reality. I couldn’t cope with my reality. I couldn’t accept my loss. I didn’t want to accept my loss, that meant accepting that Matthew was gone and how could I ever accept that? I still haven’t really accepted it, I simply allow the fact to exist but I’ll never let him go in my heart.
I reached the one year mark of life without Matthew on this earth and I found myself just as broken, if not more broken, than when he originally died. I thought the pain would ease with time and I found myself hurting more than ever. I feared I would have to live with this amount of pain and suffering for the rest of my life.
The rest winter was challenging for me, on this same level. But I kept putting in the effort in therapy and I fought every day to try and piece myself back together. Despite having many, many setbacks I would still get up almost every day and at least try.
Then I went through a breakup, which was an unfamiliar concept for me to begin with. During this time I felt so lost and so incredibly helpless. I was looking for a new place to live, too. But my entire future remained uncertain and unclear, so it was such a daunting task. I wasn’t even sure where within the Twin Cities I should live or could afford to live. I was blindly trying to decide my future while battling PTSD, grief, and depression. But I pushed myself to do this because I knew if I was ever going to piece myself back together, I needed to live alone.
I had nothing to ground myself to. I had alienated myself from my sister, my parents and other family all lived elsewhere, and I didn’t have many friends. I barely ate. I only slept because I was given the medication to do so. I was consumed by thoughts of suicide, helplessness, and self hatred. The only reason I held on was to not hurt those in my life and to not hurt Matthew. Yes, even though he’s not here I couldn’t bare to hurt him by giving in to those dark thoughts. For the record, I was never actively suicidal. I had a lot of suicidal thoughts and wanted the pain to end, nothing more and nothing less. When I would get stuck in those thoughts, I was proactive in reaching out to friends and family for emotional support. And my fellow widows. I leaned on them and looked to them for strength and guidance often.
And through all of the amazing support I received, and the help of my therapy, I did start to improve. I found my own place. I got a cat. And eventually made the choice to go off of my antidepressants which was a horrific but necessary process. I was at a point where I could no longer tell what was a symptom and what was a side effect.
I ended up meeting my current boyfriend and he helped me get through the hell that is weaning and getting off of cymbalta. He became a rare source of joy for me. I began to mend my relationship with my sister. My panic attacks were less frequent. The fog was very slowly starting to lift. Although work continued to be a huge struggle for me. I was nearing the end of my contract and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle something new, but I knew I couldn’t stay where I was. It was not a match for me and that is okay. I was terrified, but I pushed myself through it.
I ended up landing a great job. And I was able to get myself into a much needed routine. I found worth and comfort in my new position. And it was my first permanent position which brought such a sense of comfort and relief. It was a huge moment for me, despite being conflicting because it had been a goal that I was striving for prior to Matthew’s death and it was so painful to not share that joy with him.
I ended up finding a new psychiatrist and decided that I needed to be medicated again. I had been off my antidepressants long enough to know that I was indeed severely depressed and needed help. Therapy was helping, but not enough and I was ready to reclaim my life. We found a medication that has been good for me. And I have done an incredible job of reclaiming my life.
I have my own place to live, even if it is just a studio apartment. I have a job that I enjoy. I have befriended some of my coworkers and have built a social life outside of my widowhood community. I remain friends with my widow community, I just can’t have that be my only community because there is so much more to me than my widowhood and I can’t have that be the center of my life. That’s just how it is for me, it is different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way.
My parents have moved out to Minnesota and I spend time with my family regularly. It is amazing for us. I have hope for my future for the first time since Matt’s death. I am also nearing the end of my therapy, I’m almost ready to be set free to handle myself on my own and I will be okay.
I don’t know how many major things can happen to a person in a year (although I said that to myself the year Matthew died, I suppose I still haven’t found an answer to that question), but here I am. I’m all in one piece even if that piece is a little disheveled and messy.
I don’t know why I am sharing this or what I am trying to say here. Maybe I need to remind myself how far I have come. Maybe I feel the need to show people that there is hope. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, I appreciate those of you who take the time to listen to my rambles and watch me process my trauma in a public platform because for whatever reason I find comfort in it. I am so grateful that I have joy, love, and laughter in my life again.