Emerging From the Dark

It has been a hot minute since I have written anything here. Or written anything at all, for that matter. I haven’t been able to put into words what I have been going through. I haven’t been able to open up about it, either. It’s one part writer’s block and two parts unwilling/unable to show that level of vulnerability to the general public (actually I haven’t shared much of this with anyone, period).

After you’ve experienced loss, society expects you to “get better” after a certain amount of time. And when you don’t match that timeline, it’s a really uncomfortable feeling for everyone involved. News flash: you never “get better” from losing a spouse. Although many people get more functional than I have by this amount of time.

I will openly admit that I am a person who has not handled widowhood well. Life, trauma, and loss are all complex and overwhelming for me. Experiencing it all can be such a battle. And often times it can be a battle that you are not prepared for that can result in a really ugly fight that you don’t necessarily win. I cannot express enough how under prepared I was for Matt’s death. I felt like a child who had been thrown into the woods to fend for themselves for lack of a better description. It was dark, cold, confusing, overwhelming, and so painfully lonely. I was not equipped for the journey that I had been thrown into.

So often in books, shows, and movies we see people go up against these crazy odds and they consistently overcome them, you know? I think the attempt is to inspire and give hope. But my goodness, when you’re someone who can’t seem to overcome the obstacles after a while you start to feel pretty broken and useless.

I felt like I wasn’t making enough progress. And I was dealing with some really major life obstacles (I still am, but that is not the point of today’s blog). I became totally engulfed in darkness. I withdrew into myself completely. Harboring major feelings of being a useless failure; feeling like my life will never be okay ever again. So often I felt that I would never be okay again, that I was destined to feel like complete shit inside and out for the rest of my life. Because I wasn’t making the progress that I was wanting and expecting from myself. I wasn’t meeting society’s expectations, either. I was and have been struggling at work. More often than not, my mind is full of fog and everything feels really loud and frantic. I can’t get as focused as I need and I can’t get grounded. I consistently feel overwhelmed. And it often feels as if there is no escape or end in sight. I feel tiny under all of the weight. I feel like a burden who doesn’t contribute to the team like I want to. It’s a really defeating feeling, and I often feel ashamed and humiliated at my inability to function well. I scream inside at my brain, “Why can’t you just work the way you should?” and I often wonder to myself, “Can I ever overcome this horrible feeling?”

I don’t know the answer to that yet. But I do know that despite how awful I feel about myself, I have made tremendous progress over the last year. It’s just not been the smoothest ride. But I’ve been working so hard to sort through myself, my trauma, and my new life to piece everything together and heal as best as I can.

It is a dark and challenging path that I am currently on. I have a lot of obstacles to overcome. Some are self inflicted and some are not. And that is just a part of life. Life is challenge. Growth is challenge.

I find it necessary to share in my struggle today because I think we all have a lot of struggles and we feel isolated because no one else talks about how hard it is to be human, to live. We are so often left feeling inferior because no one is willing to show their struggles. We are constantly bombarded by images of the happy sides of people’s lives, or these horribly unrealistic images of life that are fed to us through the media. Life is gritty. Humans are complex creatures wandering through an increasingly complex and demanding society. We need to learn how to be vulnerable with one another so that we can lean on one another and get through these challenges together.

I’m working on that myself. Opening back up to the world. I shut down so hard after Matt died, the pain of loss had become so severe. I couldn’t bare the thought of losing anything else so I shut down my attachment at anything and everything. I carried so many unnecessary burdens in an attempt to be strong and resilient. I wanted to be independent and I wanted to overcome my obstacles alone. And I felt that I had gotten myself into the mess I was in by my own actions, so it was my responsibility to pull myself out of the darkness alone. And I was wrong. I got lost, and I need help finding my way back and that’s okay.

It is time for me to really learn how to embrace life without Matthew by my side in the physical sense. It is time to learn how to be me in this new life I have created. It is time to truly embed myself into my new home, Minnesota, and play an active role here. I need to learn how to truly live my life and accept that this is the life that I have to live. I need to not let it go to waste. I must allow space for joy and healing. I need to release my bitterness and resentment for where my life ended up going. It isn’t where I expected it to go, but I must adapt to it if I want to survive. And I want to do more than just survive, I want to thrive in my life. I miss feeling joy. I miss feeling like I am at home in my life. I am so tired of feeling like a stranger in my own mind. It is time to allow myself to settle in to the change and let it exist and stop fighting it so hard. It is time to come out of the dark.

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