Second wind

image He’s not coming back. I miss him a lot. And I wish George was here tonight. I want his guidance I want him to rub my belly and tell me everything is okay. That I’ll be fine and tomorrow will be better and the next even better than the last.

My grief is really bad tonight so I decided to hit back to the widow boards to talk about what’s getting me down. I had some really interesting responses and it made me hum and haw. The big question I had is why is this break up impacting me so much and one woman stated it best and I felt it was the champion outlook I’ve been waiting for: “the loneliness sucks. The feeling less than is tempting to believe, but what you’re feeling is that you deserve better treatment and you stood up for yourself…. The consequence to ending a relationship is all the processing your brain does while you move on. The kisses and intimate moments and smiles are pulling on your heart strings because it was a life and it’s over. You and everyone here knows the pain of closing doors. Keep pressing forward. You’ll thank yourself at the end of each day.”

I’m not thanking myself at the end of each day. I rack my brain with hundreds of different endings and none of which are truly achievable. I have Bodie to keep me company, he’s such a good pup. Never questions my loyalties and what I’m doing. Just loves me the way I am.

I miss George. He was so good to me, and I love him so much. And I have all this love to give, but it’s not ever going to be reciprocated. It makes me sad, and it’s brought on this familiar hollowness which is slowing making me drown again. I could barely hold a conversation tonight with my friend. dead eyes and flighty thoughts of why am I back here again?

Bizarre bonds

imageSo there’s this thing that happens in Montgomery every several weeks and there’s a siege of new people who come for officer school at the military base. Last Friday when I went out I ran into a group downtown, exchanged numbers with one of the officers and have been chatting since. We’ve been bonding over being recently single. We basically connected over feeling screwed over. It’s actually been a really great distraction and a nice friendship.

When the debris settled down, turns out being single again isn’t as scary as it seems. I felt betrayed, but I think it showed me how fragile I am and I might not be as strong as I’ve always wished and hoped. But I read a great quote tonight: “obstacles are a gift from the universe. Fall down and get up stronger.” I was complaining about the universe, but you know what, easy doesn’t change you. I’m always looking for balance, but maybe I’m supposed to be imbalanced? Maybe I did dodge a bullet, but maybe the bullet struck me and there’s another lesson to be discovered. Maybe this had to happen to reveal I have a structure here in Alabama that’s coming together?

Yesterday I went on a road trip with two other trainers from my gym to Atlanta. We got instructor certified in Kettlebell AMPD,  but what I loved the most was going through the training with them. The whole car ride, the 8 hour course, getting lost, gossiping, it really made the entire day fantastic. I’ve noticed when I’m grieving I have a greater appreciation for those around me. And it makes the betrayal and other bullshit look like another drop in the bucket of experiences. This positive outlook doesn’t stem from me though. Having the opportunity to love George taught me valuable life lessons. He was a gentle, kind, caring man who saw the best in people. I saw how he maintained strong relationships with those who reciprocated those genuine feelings too. I believe deep down, seeing how he handled his cancer, his treatments, friendships, family, career, dreams, aspirations has offered me a lifelong understanding of valuing love, trust, and everything that is wrapped up in relationships not just romantic but friendships too.

Okay now here’s a side note of being single again. Tonight I was approached to be “taken care of.” I was asked to be a sugar baby to a sugar daddy. I wished him a goodnight and Bodie and I walked home. I should’ve asked if he had a house in Wynlakes… Missed opportunity. Good news is I definitely still got it. Bad news is, this single life will be bizarre.

Lose 5 to 10 pounds

When I first put myself out there after George passed away I was in the beginning stages of reinventing myself. I had been doing SoulCycle for about two months and had lost about 12-15lbs and feeling pretty good about myself. Well so I thought. When I look back at my decisions and timing, I started dating way too early. I just wasn’t ready to commit to anything and I was only doing it to occupy my mind. I was afraid of being alone and I also didn’t feel comfortable with myself. But I do not regret my decisions because it made me stronger and more self aware. You never really get to learn about yourself until you’re faced with something so horrific and the only means of survival is making it through the day. I promised myself the next day had to be better. And when it wasn’t, I hope the next one was. Eventually they were.

Anyway, I went out with an accountant a couple times very early on in my dating life. How they cast accountants in movies, this guy epitomized it. Receding hairline, short, and had a very whining but matter of fact tone to his voice. I told my buddies he was a good training wheels guy. That’s about it. I believe it was the second time we were hanging out he flat out said to me, you could lose 5 to 10 pounds. I scoffed because he wasn’t anything special himself, but I also had been committing a lot of time to making my mind right by finding productive ways to channel my grief. At this point in May 2014, I was all about SoulCycle. I love being astride the bike and having the challenge of turning the resistance up just a little bit more. I wanted to feel my quads ache and my hamstrings burn as I pedaled more and more. I loved it so much I decided to get certified as a indoor cycling instructor. Those weeks of closing my eyes and finding my inner strength on a bike allowed for his rude comments to just roll off my back.

5 to 10 pounds it’ll be 20-25, I thought to myself.

At this point in time, I was determined to change just about everything about myself. I didnt want to be me anymore. If you go back to posts from that time I pretty much said that very freely. I wanted to wake up and be someone else. That’s when the full blown commitment to fitness began. I was so unhappy with myself and using fitness to expel my grief was the only thing I could think of. I wasn’t really hyped about my grief counselor, who perpetually forgot my name and who I was grieving for (she thought I lost a parent). And drinking the pain away actually exacerbated it. Plus I physically couldn’t deal with the morning puffiness after drinking, still can’t, and the regret of saying or doing something stupid weighed on my mind. Fitness was it.

I wanted to physically put my body through hardships my mind couldn’t handle. Display my emotions through transformations. Look as strong as everyone gave me credit for. Fitness was my drug, my lifeline, and gave me a reason to wake up each day.

I think back to that conversation of needing to lose 5 to 10 pounds, and someone tried to cut me down a peg to make themselves feel better. But the journey was already in motion, whether he said it or not, I was going to find a way out of the grief labyrinth. Weight loss wasn’t the initial plan, feeling better was and still is.

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Benefits of dating a widow

imageUntil today, I’ve never really thought of the benefits of dating a wid. There’s some downfalls of course, like the unpredictable emotional swings of grief, but the upside is ideal. What brings this way of thinking on? Well upon having a 12 hour work day, I felt my phone vibrate and had a Facebook messenger notification from a girl I don’t even know. A girl who I’ve never met before, and lives well over 1,000 miles away. Sitting in my inbox was a novella from Mike’s ex-girlfriend.

This is peculiar, I thought to myself. To give background without over sharing, Mike and I have been working on ourselves in the recent weeks. It’s caused a rift, and we’re working on it. I’ve been blessed with knowing what true love and having a soulmate is all about, and when I feel something is worth my time I do cherish it. I cherish the time I spend with Mike and like many relationships there’s ups and downs. However, never could I imagine a person waiting in the peanut gallery who from a distance tracks my relationship be prepared to sling and cast doubt.

This pissed me off. Which brings me to my next point of why dating a wid is great; no obstreperous ex to pipe in and give their words of wisdom.

I am not taking kindly to a person who so purposefully tried to impede my personal life. I take care of myself, I have gone through hell and back and have improved myself physically, emotionally, mentally and maturely. I am strong, and acts of weakness from people of my own gender bother me. What was to be gained by this? What was the purpose? Take care of your own life and butt out of mine.

 

Another one for the books

I allowed my emotions to get the best of me. I let myself get lost over the last several months. The excitement of a relationship, and clicking so immediately with someone. Dating is hard. And it’s even harder when you know you’re so much different than other women your age.

I have a lot of baggage and hurt behind my eyes. Regardless of the duration I was married for, my entire life was derailed. I had my life together. But then my dreams, aspirations, fantasies, they all vanished in a second. My future disappeared. My stable grounding crumbled. And in the long run, my social circle also dwindled. That’s what widowhood involves. Being suspended in time. Watching everything you’ve built be stripped away. Out of your hands, no control, just torn away. And that’s just the immediate. The ongoing hurt of being distant and people being distant towards you can never be adequately prepared for.

But here I am. I’m a survivor. I let my guard down, I allowed someone to stomp all over me. It won’t happen again. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and some people dig it and others don’t. Ill continue to learn and be better for the next. I’ll be happier soon.

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President James Garfield crashed my birthday weekend

12189853_10100800020754279_9000497672418306689_nI turned 30 years old yesterday. George and I used to talk about my 30th birthday a lot. He said he was going to throw me a party for it, and for some reason I’ve always looked forward to turning 30. When I took the job here at Huntingdon College, the moment I signed my lease to my sweet apartment, I promised myself I was going to party in Nashville. Which is only 4 hours north of here.

So why Nashville? I am a Andrew Jackson fan. The Jacksonian era is my favorite time in American history, and he’s also my favorite president and politician. I wanted to ring in this new lease on life with my favorite president. When looking for activities to do, and things to see in Nashville besides Jackson’s Hermitage, I discovered that there was going to be a half marathon on Halloween. Ring in my 30s by running one last half marathon in my 20s? Oh hell yeah.

So I signed up for the race, booked a great hotel near Vanderbilt, and the birthday weekend festivities started to roll forward. Accompanying me was my Airman who I met down here in Montgomery in the dog park. Jackson was my favorite president and commander, Mike is my favorite Airman and fellow history nerd. Made sense.

Are you still with me? I’m sorry for the long drawn out anecdote in the beginning. We’ll get the birthday party crasher, President James Garfield.

I’ve had a lot of luck in the dating game. Beginning of this year I was seeing Tom, and due to taking the job in Alabama we broke up. Not on bad terms. Upon moving here, I wound up at the dog park on the hottest damn Sunday of the summer, and I met Mike. We’ve been dating ever since. I do recognize if the circumstances of my life didn’t go the way they did, neither Tom or Mike would be in my life. I remember standing outside one evening in the Alabama humidity and asked George to show me a sign if I’m making the right choices in my life, whether it’s dating, professional, emotional, etc. I just wanted him to show me a sign. I then forgot about it for awhile, and then came Packet Pick up mayhem of October 31, 2015.

I got to the packet pick up late on the day of the race. T-minus 20 minutes before start time. I was freaking out. But Mike was there to calm me down, and make fun of my annoying chirping of “where’s packet pick up?” We found the tent, and I gave my name and the woman handed me my bib number: 1881

As I was running I started thinking about 1881. Who was president? Was it our 19th president Rutherford B Hayes? Or was it Garfield? Maybe Chester A Arthur? But then my head went clear and I realized why 1881 was such a gnarly year. It was the year Garfield was assassinated. No joke, I had to hold back my tears. I love history, I really do, but I also recognize not many people love it as much as me, so I try to keep it together. But when I went out to Cleveland with George in 2010 we visited the cemetery where James Garfield is buried. It was the only time we went to a tomb of president.

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Such an eerie coincidence right? No it gets weirder. I make no bones about it. The number 19 is my favorite number, so what does this have to do with our 20th president? He was born on November 19th, and he died on September 19th. For those new to my widow blog, I married George on September 19th.

I’m a firm believer in signs. I feel like here and there George will put markers out for me to know he’s still with me. But he provided me with the surprise of James Garfield on my birthday weekend. I see this and I can’t help but think, yes the puzzle pieces are slowly fitting together and I like what I’m seeing.

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Reinventing in Southeast

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It’s been so long since I’ve updated this thing! Someone recently asked me why I hadn’t and I mentioned that nothing too exciting or out of the ordinary has happened so no need to update. But I think there’s a lot. What would have been my two year anniversary just came and went a week ago, and during the time I had recruits at Huntingdon. It was a good distraction, but just like most anniversaries, the lead up to it creates the most anxiety. The days leading up to September 19th were grueling, but when the 19th came, I felt good. Relaxed. Happy. I thought about George, I missed George, but I also remind myself how the love I have for him still has helped me improve and better myself. I’ve said it once and I’ll always say it, I am so lucky to have experienced a love like his. I can only wish when I leave this earth someone loves me as much as I love him.

I’ve been in Alabama for 2 months now, and I LOVE IT! In New Jersey there was this cloud of death and sadness that hovered around me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. I played by the grieving handbook and didn’t make any major life decisions in the first year of widowhood, but when this opportunity came about I did think it was George pointing me in the direction to reclaim my life. And I think I have. When someone dies, no one can prepare you for the financial aftermath and I was lucky to have support of my parents, and to have a great emergency nest. But the reality came that Drew paid me really poorly, and I never was able to recover financially from George’s passing. I was scraping by. Being down here for 2 months I’ve already rebounded back, and though I don’t think money provides happiness, it does provide security which helps with overall happiness.

In New Jersey I learned to cope with the emotions of losing George, but now I’m learning how to live without him. I am so glad I took this risk to move to Montgomery, because I feel so free and independent. There was an adjustment period, but it was because the culture and people of the South are so different than the North. I’m coaching the sport I love, interacting with passionate and determined young women, meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life, and last but not least, I am teaching spin classes at a gym nearby and every time I am on that bike, I know George is smiling at me. Life it good here in the gump. Plus I met a sweet Air Force fellow at the dog park, and Bodie and his dog have become best friends while we started dating. Can’t really complain. My bouts of grief only last minutes now rather than days. That’s one thing worth noting.

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I was eating a carrot

The Longest Break Up

As I mentioned in a few posts ago, I am moving to Alabama. It’s a very exciting time for me, but unfortunately it’s causing a rift in my personal life.  I’ve been dating the same guy for about 7 months now, and he is my first serious relationship after George’s passing. I’ve dated guys here and there, but usually I felt after a few dates they were going to be a bust. Tom is different. Our relationship is the first serious one for both of us after our last one. He’s not a widower, just to make that clear, he just had gotten out of a long relationship and took a year off. Though when it comes to my widow problems, he’s understanding of my lunacy, and lets me tell my memories of George whenever they begin to stir. I’ve noticed, a little bit with my own dating experience and reading about other widows, there’s often times a slight jealousy or resentment for the late spouse. I don’t get that with him. He just lets me be me.

But we are breaking up. The only fight/argument we’ve gotten into is about how we’ll break up. And that folks, is crushing. So with the move, I know that our relationship was coming to an end. And I thought I would be okay with it, and that life will go on. Since I was offered the position in May he has been dealing with the concept that I would be moving away, and though he was sulking for awhile, he has coped with it well. But something has happened, and I am losing my mind. I do not want to break up. I know there is something so special between us and I feel it. But we talked about and agreed that long distance was not going to happen, and I feel myself slipping back into grief. It’s not the same level of losing George, but it’s another great relationship that will end. And it makes me think of those final weeks I had with George and how I wish I enjoyed them so much more. It might be the process of packing up the apartment and all the upcoming life changes, but I am just sad.

Last night I started crying when Tom and I finished dinner, and he just kept asking what was wrong. Finally he said something that did upset me quite a bit, but I know he didn’t say it out of malice, but was trying to console me. He said, “I bet it feels like your world is breaking apart, but it’ll come back together and you’ll move on.” And immediately I started thinking about how all this change is a result of my world breaking apart. When George died, my world ripped open and I had to stanch the pain any way possible. And once I was able to sew it back together, the thread was a different color. And then I met Tom. It was a world as put together as possible. Breaking up with him is shaking my foundation I worked so hard to establish. But I also think all this moving and waiting is adding to it. I sometimes wish it would just move along faster and I can begin to thread the needle again with a new color.

I’ve always read the first break up after the loss of a spouse is difficult, but usually people break up because they can’t get along. We get along great, I just decided to change the course of my life and follow the signs.

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A Sudden Realization

Happy New Year all! I rang in 2015 with some of my closest friends in NYC and at only one point did I get emotional. I kind of knew I would because the days leading up to New Years Eve I was having a lot of moments of reflection which triggered a bit of grief. As the count down for the New Year began, I vanished from the party I was at. I wanted to be alone at that time. I figured that I went into 2014 alone, I wanted to do this one alone too. It sounds so petulant, I know, but in my head it’s what I wanted to have happen.

I did have a date on New Years, it was with the guy I’ve been seeing for a little over a month now. It was the first time he met my friends, and kind of a step in a more serious direction. Being around my friends, we do get into recollections of stories and what not, and at one point I realized I was telling quite a few about George. Even when my friends weren’t there. I didn’t really ask my date at the time if it bothered him, but with some thought on the train back to CT, I did reach out to him about it.

As I’ve mentioned, I have been actively dating, but this was the first time I felt like I was starting to tell stories about my previous life. Usually it’s brought up and acknowledged that I had a significant loss in my life, but nothing much beyond that. Once in awhile something might be pointed out like a piece of jewelry, and the guy will note “oh that’s a unique” and I’d be like, yeah George got it for me. But that’s about it. This time I was yammering about how mad George got at me when I got lost in Brooklyn, or how much he loved a restaurant, etc. I asked my date if it bothered him, and he said not at all, it’s just a bit odd because he didn’t know him, but it didn’t bother him. That was a relief for me.

I’m still kind of sifting through this, because this is a step forward that I wasn’t really anticipating. I’ve read about it on the widow boards but hadn’t really taken any of my relationships all that seriously. Dating was fun, and I wasn’t really getting invested enough in someone to start talking so candidly about my experience/life with George. The tendency and discussions usually hover around the loss and grieving process. Never about the memories.

For me it was a realization that I am ready.

I’m ready for companionship again.

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Widow crossroads on dating

I feel like my life contains very little excitement so I have to put my input on what’s going on in the widow boards I visit day-to-day. Holidays are synonymous with family and having lost a spouse you can’t help but reflect on what is missing. With that, many widows progress through the holidays in a variety of ways. I decided escape to my parents house and spend the holidays surrounded by my family, and continue my exercise track. Helps with my mood. I’ve read a number of different posts on the widow board where others are really struggling and are quick to point out they simply cannot comprehend how other “move on” from the loss. I’m not particularly active on the boards but like to read them and then come on here and bitch about it.

I never like to use the phrase “move on,” because I don’t think I will “move on.” But I will move forward and continue to grow and develop as a person. My loss strengthens me, it doesn’t cripple me. Anyway, the big topic on the board is dating. If you love your spouse how can you even entertain the idea of dating? There’s a range of wids who have decided they’ll never seek the companionship of another ever again, and then there’s others who are weeks out and have begun dating again. I started dating again at about 6 months out. However upon reflection, I do not think I was ready to date again when I started dating. I was in a weird state of purgatory in my grief where I was just finding my stride.

Several  wids on the board are quick to condemn those who are beginning to date, and in my opinion, I cannot fathom why someone would want to perpetuate their bitterness on to someone else. There’s a few who’ve stated they’ve tried dating and it’s not for them, and that’s fine, but I do find it a bit precarious when those who have never even tried are so quick to guilt the others that do. I am dating. It doesn’t lessen my relationship I had with George. I actually I have quite the opposite happen. I’m VERY picky now, and I think in a large part because I know what I want with a person and what will work for me in a relationship. I have been dating a couple guys this Fall and have iris-in on one right now. I don’t call him my boyfriend because I do not feel comfortable doing so, but he is pretty understanding with that. Nor does he really seem to care. I have gone out on dates though (without updating the dating section, sorry) where the guys were so befuddled with my widowhood that it was the only thing we talked about on the date. Or they’ll question whether or not if I’m really ready to date. Usually when the conversation heads in that direction there isn’t a second.

There is no other George and no one will replace George. And I feel that those who are judgmental about dating tend to believe that’s what others are doing: Looking for a replacement. Do I think George reigns supreme to any man, yeah of course. He’s my first love and I still love him. But he’s not coming back. And I need to press forward and do what feels right to me. And again, it’s been my latest theme of this blog, I love the woman who I’m becoming, and I like sharing my time with someone. I don’t think it’s something to be ridiculed for. It took me a long time to get here.IMG_8722