I wish. To turn the passive into the active, mourning has (almost) broken me.
Here’s the thing. I’ve always been a strong man, both physically and mentally. I lost my own father at age twenty-one and in retrospect, got on with life with the callousness of youth to help me overcome the loss of the man who helped guide me through my tormented adolescence into young adulthood. I’ve been a rock to friends when they’ve been in trouble, and was always the first to open my big mouth or use my fists when I saw some kind of injustice. And I brought security and peace to Connie who, despite her own strength and toughness, was fearful of men because of her own troubled background. I was always, in other words, the tough guy, the independent guy who bulled his way through life and did it all by himself, if no one else wanted to join in the fun.
What has disturbed me the most about mourning is that it has weakened me so much. For the first time in my life, I’ve come across a situation that overwhelms me, and although I’ll survive it, there are times when I frankly don’t care if I do or not. I’m not being melodramatic, either. There are times when I just want to curl up in some lonely corner of the world and never leave, let the whole fabric of my life crash and burn, the hell with it all. For the first time in my life, I truly understand the situation of hobos and tramps, the people who just say “Fuck it,” and leave society, to sink themselves into drunkenness and drug addiction because the pain of everyday existence is just too much to bear. These are not people who willingly drop out; these are people who are pushed out by the demons inside their own head — and for the first time ever, I too have those demons in my head.
But that passes. I have discovered that apart from the responsibility I have to my family, my friends and all the other dear people in my life, I have an even greater responsibility to myself — that stubbornness which says, “You can’t just walk away from it all, and you can’t escape it either. So… waddya gonna do, Tough Guy?”
There’s really only one thing to do:
I hope so. If I survive this thing it’ll be through my sense of humor, although believe me, right now I have absolutely no desire to laugh. When that comes back, then I’ll know that morning has broken.
“If you find yourself going through Hell, -keep going-.”
It gets better, then it gets worse again. The ironies will multiply. One that struck me early was, when I was young I had dreams and desires, but I lacked the time and money to anything about them. Now I’m not so young and have plenty of time and money, but my dreams are about the one thing I cant have, my wife, and I desire nothing else.
I’m still jumping from one crazy idea to the next, as if it will fix anything. I also recognize I’m probably just looking for an escape or to run away. If not for the daughter still living at home, I probably would have cashed out the house and done something I would regret latter. Although the thought of a 40″ catamaran and sailing around the world still sounds appealing, even if it ultimately killed me trying. So what..
Andrew Klavan wrote: “Grief is a desert that must be crossed on foot.” Meaning, I think, that there are no shortcuts, no way to speed up the process. You just have to push through it. He’s right, of course.
When I am in the dumps I picture my old wrestling coach and his reproving look. He was a former marine so he had the look that could scorch paint off the wall. Course if I lost my wife I would cash out and get the boat/rv and live on the road. head for the greener pasture.
Would have to home school the boy as he has 3 years of schooling left, but it would be different for a time. I just know I could not spend much more time in this house without her.
The first thing I did when I lost my husband was to begin smoking again (what Kurt Vonnegut referred to as slow suicide by cigarette). I stopped sleeping in the bedroom, because, well, do I need to explain how cold that bed was, how silent and lonely? I slept on the couch and left the TV on all night with the volume turned down low. Although I’d never been an early morning person, I began waking up at 5 am after 4 or 5 hours of sleep, because it took me over 2 hours to prepare to face the outside world and leave the house to go to work. This went on for about a year.
I made a list of baseline goals. You might want to make your own list. Pass/fail.
1) not suicidal
2) go to work every day
3) bills paid
4) sleep 7 hours in bed without TV on
8) maintain household/cat
9) family communication
10) social life
13) prayer and submission to God’s will
My baseline score was about 38. Now, three years later, I’m up to 69.
And Forrest is right – it gets better and then worse again. Last night I cried for the first time in a few months because I miss him so, and I’m scared. I miss his unconditional love and the courage I felt with him by my side.
That’s a good list. Given that #13 isn’t relevant in my case, I’m batting around .400 for the rest.
I don’t think I would have survived this without #13.
“If you get hurt, hurt ’em back. If you get killed, walk it off.” – Captain America
“Cowboy the fuck up!”
Sentiments I aspire to but don’t come close to achieving.
I turned 50 last month. I lost my older son a week ago in an accident. I was looking forward to watching his adult life. I think the companion loss is very different, not that I could prefer one over the other. The days have yet to seem real, I guess that will come too soon. But we have little choice, carry on or wither
Every loss is different, because every relationship is unique. That being said, losing a child is not the way it’s supposed to be. My deepest condolences.
All we aging ex-tough guys can do is all we can do.
Kim, I don’t have any profound words of wisdom, nor do I have the intelligence to quote a learned bard, and I can offer you only this.
Kim, It has to be the hardest loss, your mate. Over two years since my darling crossed over. The grief still sucker punches me regularly though less frequently. Now I try to just let it flow out and then get up and move on. I’ve always seen myself as a [semi-tough] soldier in service to my family and friends. Duty is always still there.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” – Coach Lombardi
Let the wave break and recede, it will. You want to be on your feet when the next one comes. Never turn your back on the ocean.
Take care my friend…JT
Kim you could be twice as tough and it wouldn’t make a difference. When your heart breaks like that you are going down and no bones about it. You will not be the same man when you heal. ‘Heal’ is a bad word. I would liken it to a man that loses a limb or something – but this is worse than that. You aren’t going to walk this off.
Lean on your family and friends. They’ll carry you. When you’re up to it – give me the best gun post you can write. One of these other bums will need the best novel you can write.
You’ll know when it’s time to go back to work. For now you are doing great, and I suspect your wife would heartily approve.
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