Today would’ve been three years married to George. A undercurrent of sadness lingered around all day. I cried on my way to work, cried in my office and then cried on my way home. I taught spin class tonight and sitting astride the bike I felt so happy for having the opportunity to feel so much love. I just feel his presence whenever I’m riding. I can’t explain it. It’s just there. A calmness takes over and I feel it in my muscle fibers and it burrows deep into my bones. He loved biking and when my legs go round and round, I know I’m doing something I was programmed to do. I’m making memories with him still when I’m on a bike, indoor or outdoor.
This was my first anniversary where I’ve spent it pretty alone. The first one I was at Times Square cycle for survival and then went to sacred heart’s alumni game. Last year I spent the second anniversary out on the town with my boyfriend. And this year, went to work. Nothing eventful. And I’m happy I did nothing. I felt like I could really sit down and reflect. Think about George and how much I miss him. Think about the day we got married, how exciting and emotional it was. Seeing all the interesting people at the Manhattan court house. This life I’ve been living without him and how different it is. Wonder what it would be like if he was still alive. I allowed my brain to wander. It was peaceful, and I’m glad for once I didn’t try to distract myself from the chaos.
life moves forward, and so have I.
I love you George. And I always will.
On Friday I got dolled up and headed out. I grabbed a purse that I don’t use tremendously often but I did year ago when I first got it. My sister gifted me a George Gina and Lucy purse in 2009 and I remember being so excited for it. I would carry that thing everywhere. George would comment about how it’s in my favorite color purple.
Before I headed out, I checked all the pockets to see if there’s any old receipts or trash. There were some old coffee and metro receipts, and I think one movie ticket. But then I dug deeper into the front pocket and pulled out a buckeye. Hard little round nugget with a darkened slit that looks like an eye. I remember walking past Rockefellars grave in the Cleveland cemetery and George picking up the buckeye. He handed it to me, grinning, and reminding me how the nut looks like a bucks eye. I dropped it in my purse to remember our trip to his hometown of Bay Village, just outside Cleveland.
Today I found a towel I used when we lived together in Jersey City. I pushed my face into it and it smelled like George. His scent stung in my nostrils and my heart swelled. But then it cracked like a glass in boiling water. It was too much.
I’m my harshest critic. I over analyze how I react, how I look, my behavior, everything. I’m unforgiving to myself when I know I’ve made a mistake, and this summer I feel like I’ve made several. But my counselor tells me I can’t be so hard on myself. I need to learn to be gentle. Understand that mistakes are all a part of living and growing. I like to think I have high expectations, but then the question came of are they high or unrealistic?
It’s hot here in Alabama. Almost unbearable. I take a shower and go outside and begin sweating almost immediately. It’s that time of year when Im trapped inside and I feel like a slug. Last year when I moved to Bama at this time I could barely run a mile in this humidity. The heat was oppressive and I felt terrible about my fitness level and then I started thinking all my hard work was unraveling. Turned out it is really hard to run in humidity. But those feelings are creeping back even though I know it’s just humidity getting to me. But I’ve started adopting other indoor forms of fitness and I’m feeling pretty good. Fitness certainly helps balance my emotions, and gives me a feeling of worth. It’s my thing and I’m good at it and I love the results. So lately I’ve been doing the stair stepper, lifting 2-3 times a week and I recently started doing the kettlebell AMPD classes I was certified for back in April.
Im not comfortable with the Kettlebell AMPD structure, but im having a lot of fun learning and getting better at it. It’s a format very different from teaching indoor cycling, but I feel like it’s making me more aware, focused and a better instructor. Being uncomfortable is forcing me to change and become innovative. And I like it. I love how I feel when I figure out a good routine. I’m proud when I complete a good run through. Im also learning more about sculpting and how to target big muscle groups. It’s really fun for me to be learning. And I feel it’s permeating to other parts of my livelihood. Work has been more enjoyable, and I feel like I’ve found a groove. I’m happier as of lately and not feeling so bogged down like I was in the beginning of summer. I’m piecing myself back together and I’m thankful for the support I’ve had. I think the changes in my routine in the gym has contributed to my mood as well. The grief tore me down for a bit, but I kept pressing on and found clearer skies. I just need to be gentle to myself and remind myself how far I’ve come. I also can’t wait for October weather to get here.
Today is George’s birthday. I’m feeling his absence a lot today. There’s this hollowness inside me I can’t fill. It’s almost like his death is very real today, which is odd because I know he’s not coming back. But I can’t explain it. I feel very off and sad. This morning I watched a video we had made when we used to blog, and it made me so happy to hear his voice, and see him smile. But then it’s gone. I have to search for it if I want to hear it. I allowed my mind to float back in time to when we grabbed a cab to his birthday party in K-town. We had just started dating and it was carefree, wonderful, and fleeting. I was embarrassed by the age difference, but I couldn’t get enough of him. I miss his sense of humor, I miss his lightheartedness, I miss his laughter, I miss his sense of calmness through all the chaos. I miss him so much. But I’m so thankful I got to be with him.
“The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.”
College summer recruiting is a necessary evil of my job. I shouldn’t call it an evil, but a necessary means to success. Watch, evaluate, contact potential student athletes and draw them to be interested in your school and grasp the vision you’re trying to establish and create with the program. I’ve spent thousands of hours doing this with sometimes great results and other years flipping over every rock possible. The summers I spent going to tournaments, camps, writing emails until 2 in the morning, the moment George passed away it filled me with so much regret. Hours spent chasing players and not spending with him. Unfocused while we’re together because I’m texting and writing recruits. It filled me with regret for so long, but this summer recruiting has been reinvented. It’s been fun for me!
Almost every weekend I’m traveling to attend showcases and I’m really enjoying the process. It’s been a great distraction for me and I’ve been enjoying meeting new people and interacting with the players. I’m helping growing the sport in Alabama and it’s very fulfilling. I’m happy. I feel like myself again. Rain or shine, it’s good to be looking forward to what I do best. And im so excited for what’s around the corner with my program and my career.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I got back from New Orleans this evening and this Memorial Day weekend has been nothing short of fantastic. I feel relieved, relaxed and most importantly happy. I had a great time with my friends. And of course when I reconnect I tend to think about those people who have come into my life. All the laughs, experiences shared and how people grow together and separately.
I also think about all the men and women where this holiday weekend is very somber and painful. This post doesn’t really have a lot of point to it, I kind of have been contemplating the reoccurrences of emotional hurt. I went to the WW2 museum in New Orleans and they have telegrams posted to family and spouses saying their sons are missing and cannot be located. It made me feel for those who ventured off to defend their country never to return again. I also ached for the loved ones who received those telegrams. To love someone so much where you feel invisible can also break you down to nothingness. Makes you appreciate the people who impact your life momentarily or those who are in it for the long haul.
“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”
I’m looking at old photos from the past couple years and I’m certainly a survivor. My journey has included a lot of experiences and meeting new people, and I wouldn’t trade it. The road in front of me is clear skies and rocky terrain, but you know what, when Im told I can’t do it and I’m not strong enough, those words echo and transform into coal to move this engine. What happens to coal under extreme amounts of pressure? That’s right. Feed me more doubt, I’ll show you what I can do.
This is the house doubt built.
Can you imagine having someone love you so much that even after 2 and a half years they still write about how much they love you? To leave this earth with so much love to carry you on? The love I shared with George propelled me to become a better person. I can confidently say I am more social now than I was when he was alive. I say hello to my neighbors, to strangers, just because a friendly gesture might change their entire day. Just like when people show kindness to me it makes my day that much better. I shouldn’t be ashamed of my grief. But I am.
Grief is love turned inside out. I feel ashamed and weak but I love George. I lost my love once and I recently lost another through an ended relationship, so I can’t help but sit here and be reminded of losing him. I close my eyes and I can see his jaundiced face, but I also try to remember his rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes. His big grin, and his wrinkled forehead, and perfectly shaped eyebrows which I was so envious of. But I remember how he treated me, his words, his touch, and how happy I was with him. I love him so much and my grief is proportioned to how deep the love ran. So much so I continue to write about him, talk about what a wonderful man he was and how he impacted my life. If only we can all be so lucky.
I’ve taken giant leaps forward, but lately I have been taking steps back. But I’m still looking in the direction I want to go. I want to be back on track and continuing to flourish and achieve. I also know people care about me and having me not be my “normal” self is hard to watch. Creates discomfort because I’m not the cheery Julia I usually am. But I come back, I’ve been stringing together lots of happy moments in the day. But I need to grieve. My world became too heavy and I crumbled under the pressure. I fell but I will put one foot forward to get back up again. And because I’ve done this once before I will get back quicker.
I feel weak, but I am not weak. Grief is not a weakness. It’s human nature. If I could suppress this overwhelming feeling of loss, what would separate me from an animal or a machine? I’ll never stop loving him, and he’ll always have a presence in my life. And if carrying that love is frowned upon, then I don’t know. He changed my life. And he still does. If only we all can be so lucky to leave this earth knowing someone loves us immeasurably.
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?
With grief it’s so easy to be pulled into the negatives. There’s an unforgiving grip of hopelessness, sorrow, self-loathing, rattled confidence, and second guessing yourself. I feel like I’m going crazy because I do not feel like myself. I feel like another person wearing my skin. And I’m surprised how overwhelming this bout of grief has been. I don’t feel like I should be feeling this way anymore. I thought this part was over. But two and a half years after he passed, one hiccup in the fortress caused for a full blown meltdown. I’ve had triggers of grief here and there but this one was bigger and being back here has been exhausting. But I’ve revisited the grief handouts and have been talking to someone and it’s been helping. The first go around those outlets weren’t helpful but this go it has been a life saver.
I am not going crazy. Turns out it’s a very common occurrence to have grief after the first serious relationship since a spouses death. And sometimes the grief is worse than the first time. When I heard this and learned this is common I didn’t feel so alone anymore. It made me feel better knowing others have dealt with this too. I’m having problems controlling my emotions and I’m second guessing my decisions and thinking I’m hurting the people around me which ultimately weighs and makes me feel worse. But I think it’s okay to be a little selfish too.
My friend invited me to see Willie Nelson in Atlanta last night and today I had a recruiting showcase just north of Atlanta so I thought it was perfect. I accepted and there I was front row watching a living legend. It was surreal. Jimmy Carter was there and got up on stage to sing, the night was unbelievable. When these opportunities present themselves and they are just so incredible and memorable, it’s those moments I do believe George is with me and showing me he’s got my back. He keeps an eye on me to assure me I’ll get through this hard time too.
I feel unbelievably unlucky a lot of times, but then there’s moments and experiences where I look around and just think how fortunate I am. It builds me up. And I’m glad for friends and those who put up with my ongoing emotional state and still smile and tell me they enjoy being around me. Because there’s so many days recently where I’ve wanted to be someone else again.