Author Topic: Snow day musings  (Read 591 times)


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Snow day musings
« on: January 17, 2018, 02:25:40 PM »
This could become epic so I am going to apologize in advance for potential length/stream of consciousness.

Five years coming up here.  In the past year, I got remarried and walked away from my career.  For the first time since I was 14 years old, I am genuinely unemployed.  I know it is temporary, but it is a lot of time to think.  A lot of time to think that I probably should have given myself five years ago. 

I still live in the house I bought with my husband three months before his terminal brain cancer diagnosis.  I've managed to let this "fixer-upper" fall into a state of even worse disrepair - don't get me wrong, it is still vintagey cool just like it was when we bought it.  And it still is often home to lots of gatherings and for that I'm grateful.

When my husband finally died, everyone encouraged me to "get on with it" and to "pull your bootstraps up" and to "soldier on" and I did that with a determination I now cannot even imagine.  How did I ever have the energy or the will to keep on like that? 

That message blinded me.  It kept me in a working situation that was killing me.  It kept me running to activities and appointments and birthday parties and  and and like I didn't also have a career.  How did I do that? 

I am so full of "should haves" right now.  I should have taken a leave of absence. I should have found some kind of help.  I should have sold this house.  I should have quit that job long before I did.  I should have moved to England.  We should have taken the jobs in X, Y, Z places.  I'm realizing that powering through might not have been the right approach for me. 

No one in my family ever really acknowledged my grief.  My cousin committed suicide in a spectacular way in 2014.  His parents have become much closer to me than ever before, acknowledging that they didn't understand how much I was hurting (and my god I have no clue how much they are hurting).  But literally, everyone in my world basically, if they said anything at all, said, "You must be so relieved." when Scott died.  I've said this a thousand times - of course I was relieved he was no longer suffering but then?  What happened then, well, it was a very private hell (apart from my posts on ywbb and my conversations with the friends I made there).  It was a kind of loneliness, darkness, that no one in my *real* life even tried to understand, that I couldn't tell most of them about in the first place.  It was important in my world that I appeared to have it all under control. 

I was so determined to keep on going and to see silver linings that I'm not sure I took care of myself very well.  In stubbornly not making any big decisions, I feel like I dug a great big hole I now have to get myself out of.  Blending two lives between two continents has proven stressful with even more uncertainty than when we were on different continents.  And now there is my tweeny daughter in the mix.  And a whole lot of relatives who are unhappy with us on a seemingly perpetual basis.

Sometimes I think about that life we once lived.  We were so young and oblivious and had a lot of energy.  But then brain cancer and death.  Everything is so serious now.  I don't have any regrets; I did the best I could.  But I sure wish I'd had more empathy and encouragement in those early months and years from the people in my life.  I wish someone had said, "Take a semester off; get yourself on terra firma again."   I have to wonder if things - not my relationship with Andy - but things for me, personally and professionally, might have turned out differently if I had made some different choices instead of just trying to fit life after Scott into the life with Scott box. 

I suppose now that I have some time, I can try to do that.  But I'm tired.  This is a long road for me.  I can only hope others don't have to experience this the same way I did.  Not sure if any of this makes sense but I just need to get some things off my mind.  I have to focus on reinventing my career at 45 and dealing with a handful of a tween after all.  Can't have this widow stuff clouding my focus! 


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2018, 07:31:14 PM »
You post makes a lot of sense. It may help someone newly widowed who is getting the same bootstrap advice you did. I'm sorry you had to soldier on during that painful time. Glad you shared. I wish you peace.


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2018, 08:53:59 PM »
I hear you and I get it. So many things I wish I would've done differently my first 4.5 years..looking back not sure how I survived (3 kids under 5 and a major pill addiction).. Bens death was a major "life detour" for me. At 46... Just starting my teaching career (and this year is killing me with the class from Hell).

It's good to get those thoughts outta our head. I'm on Day 4 this week of snow days..LaSt week we had 3 snow days. Ugh!
B.W.H. 9/24/2007


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2018, 11:22:52 AM »
Toosoon I am glad you are finally taking sometime for yourself, all of that stuff we avoided dealing with for so long is just sitting there waiting for us. It seems like for many of us who soldiered on and "stayed strong for the kids" there is a lot of personal and emotional price to be paid. I was fortunate to be able to take off 3 months after DH died but spent much of that time dealing with difficult issues related to his business and trying to keep things "normal" for my kids.  Crazy when I look back now because of course nothing was normal.

From the beginning I did not want to be pitied and did my best to appear strong and in control.  I kept everyone at arms length for fear they would see behind the curtain and realize what a mess I was and how I was incapable of preventing the very real struggles my children were facing.

I am remarried now too and while I thought on some level that being partnered up again would solve many of my solo parent issues and trying to manage a household alone I really had no clue.  Yes it's wonderful to have someone to come home to and someone to share responsibilities with but my parenting issues are still mine and mine alone because of the age of my kids.  Now I have someone who has gotten behind the curtain and he is as quick to point out my failings as he is to praise my successes with my kids and managing the household.  He also comes with his own burdens (a crazy ex, 2 small children and a lengthy custody dispute) that I must share in.  Marriage has taken some things off of my plate but has also added many more. 

I don't want to sound like I am not grateful to have found love again because I most definitely am.  But it's messy and complicated and makes me miss being with someone who I started my adult life from scratch with.  I miss parts of the old me even though I appreciate other parts that are an improvement.

The "couldas" and "shouldas" are a slippery slope that I try to avoid dwelling on but they do creep in.  I hope some day to get to the point of letting myself off the hook for the bad decisions I made in the wake of grief and fully accepting my new life for what it is.
You will forever be my always.


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2018, 12:32:59 PM »

I am going on 7 years in a few weeks and can so relate to much of what you wrote, especially these items:

"I am so full of "should haves" right now."
"No one in my family ever really acknowledged my grief.    It was important in my world that I appeared to have it all under control."
"I was so determined to keep on going and to see silver linings that I'm not sure I took care of myself very well."

I think about some of the things I did and the way I handled things these past years and I should have made myself and my grieving more of a priority.  I was so busy being strong, not only for my kids, but to make it appear that way for everyone around me.  Now I think that was not only detrimental to my health, but pushed people away from offering help when we really needed it.  I think I handled everything the best I could at the time, but now I know I should have done things a little differently.  I am not as strong as everyone now thinks I am and as I am getting older, I see the toll the stress has taken.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - it got me thinking as well.



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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2018, 06:27:31 PM »
I hear you.  That's an understatement - I'm almost your twin.  I'm 5 years 4.5 months out, I quit my career almost two years ago and still am unemployed, and while I haven't remarried, he does live with us...
The only advice I have is to not get caught up in the "should haves"- you did what you did for valid reasons at the time and Monday quarterbacking (isn't that the saying? ) isn't going to get you anywhere.  Besides, if you're anything like me, the "what should come next?" possibilities are probably more than enough to fill your time, especially with the tween daughter, house, and marriage in the mix.  😀
honestly, I'm now starting to feel free to really look at what I want the rest of my life to look like. And its not as scary as it was the first time around in college as I have so much more knowledge this time around. and while I truly understand just how easily it can all change, I also know to wring every bit of happiness out and worry less about others opinions.


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2018, 08:06:23 PM »
Yes, to all you said. Understand it on many levels.  THIS
to fit life after Scott into the life with Scott box. 
  is exactly what I did.  Continue life as if LH didn't die.  Keep all the same.  Except in writings on FB and some close friends.  After 2 1/2 yrs., my mother's health declining, and my work pushing those of us out systematically who were on the awesome state retirement plan, I quit that career of 19 yrs.  AND had panic attacks that lead to heart monitors, and IBS stuff that lead to scopes.  It was all stress.  It was very hard.  I thought I was doing the right thing for my son and my finances and such.  Turns out I was causing more harm to me, and the house of cards was precarious, me being the foundation, and my health being vital.  So, though I don't have the transcontinental love affair and marriage (WOW ;) ), I do understand on some level.  Can't change the past, we know, so learning, as they say to do in your 40s, do what you need to do that makes you work well, happy, and stop worrying about what others think.  ;D  I am not there yet, but working towards it.  I hope you can get there sooner than later, doing what is best for you and yours and keep living.

I took a new job in Jan. and I have already decided if I don't like it, I'll find something else.  WHO IS THIS CONTROL FREAK? It CAN be temporary, and I find something else to work. I don't feel locked in anymore to career, retirement, etc.  Life is too short.  I feel you. 

I always appreciate what you share.  THANK YOU.


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2018, 10:16:10 PM »
Hey TooSoon,

I resonate with this.  I can't for the life of me figure out why I thought I could work at a decent level without taking any real time off.  Yes, getting back into a routine was good in a way, and the girls were back at school so it made some sense, but ... I really wasn't very capable for some time.  And I tried to lead a major project, no wonder it went badly.

I was glad to pay off the house, but I wish now I'd just picked up and moved back to Canada.  I don't know where, exactly.  But staying contributed to some difficult times.  Things are better now, so I don't second guess that as often as I used to.  And I wouldn't be in the relationship I am in now.

One thing that I think made it all OK though, was that I was never unclear about loving music and I have taken that further than I ever had before.  I'm pleased about enough in that regard to look kindly at my earlier stumbles and rough starts, funbles and finishes.

Take care,
Rob T
There was something fishy about the butler.  I think he was a Pisces, probably working for scale.


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 01:56:40 PM »
Thank you - every single one of you - for your responses.  I haven't written one myself because when I wrote what I wrote I was feeling like a seriously crazy person and a failure at this whole grief thing (I did cancer well; grief not so much).  I really wish none of you could relate, while, by the same token, I am relieved that you can (the yin and yang of this, I guess). 

The uncertainty I now find myself in with my career really shook me.  I'm not regretful and I know its temporary.  Andy and I both agreed and agree that it was slowly killing me for a long time and that only amped up this fall leading up to my resignation but its just opened up Pandora's Box for me in some ways.  I got to let my guard down and have time to really think about what happened for the first time in forever.  My child was 4 when this started.  I wasn't even 40 yet?!  I have held it together FOR SO LONG, and I guess this is the first time I am allowing myself, to use Trying's phrase, "to look behind the curtain" of the last seven years. 

One thing is for certain.  I am inexorably changed by the events that took place.  I am fortunate that my partner now, Andy, went through many of the same things I did and that he's years ahead of me on this spectrum but I wish we lived in a society more open to embracing and accepting the things I kept hidden - the falls, the late night ambulances, the alarm on the hospital bed, getting kicked out of hospice, the irrational behavior and personality changes that come with brain cancer that were excruciating both in the privacy of our home and in public, the three years of sleeping with my child instead of my husband, the toll all of this took on the career I built my life on and having to accept that I was never going to attain the goals I set for myself because of it, dealing with a child whose learning disabilities presented less than a year after he died (and dealing with them on an ongoing basis), and now the feeling that I should have cut the cord on this house, my job, this life a long long time ago.  But I was determined to conform to social norms, meet expectations, stick to the program and keep this operation going even though I'm not entirely convinced I ever wanted to in the first place.

I suppose the trick now is to not make those mistakes again.  Someone here said we figure it all out in our forties.  Really?!  I thought I was starting to figure it all out when "it" happened.  Silly me. 

Rob, I appreciate your comment about music.  My work with refugees in this last year has given me something to care about that is my own (even if I share it with my family).  So important to have something that is your own when you are a working parent in our situations.  It could be knitting or running or music or whatever but something.  I struggle with this sometimes.  Motivation is difficult when you're exhausted. 

But as ever, thank you, all of you.  Some of you have been subjected to my ramblings for a long time now.  I am deeply grateful that you still listen.  Life is full of much joy and has been for a long time but it remains difficult and stressful.  There is just this ----je ne sais quois - this - what is it? - a void?  questions?  For me, it is not nostalgia; I do not long for the life I lived before "it" happened.  I think the wiring of my brain was somehow altered by my husband's brain cancer.  Its the only explanation I can come up with.  Short of up and moving to some remote island somewhere, I feel like this void is going to be with me for a long time no matter where I am or what I'm doing.  Maybe the trick is to be ok with that? 

This has again turned into a massive post.  I'm not going to apologize though because I promised myself I would stop doing that.  xoxoxo


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Re: Snow day musings
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2018, 07:22:18 AM »
Please don't apologize for long posts. They may be just what someone else out there needs to hear about. It is posts like this about life and our choices, right or wrong, and what we learn from them that made the predecessor board YWBB the resource that it was for many of us. Sadly when that board closed we lost so much history, knowledge and wisdom. I still remember the night in June of 2013 when I just could not take much more of this new life and I went online to find something...I can't imagine my life now had I not found this community. I read for hours deep into that night and I knew that I would be ok in time.

So please continue to muse you are helping to rebuild this resource for those that will sadly keep coming to join us.
Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us everyday.
Unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.