Untitled Death Anniversary Post

Today. Today is the day that Bryan has officially been gone 2 years.  Sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday and I’m right back in the shock, sadness, and chaos of those first few days.  Other times it feels like it was a dream you wake up from and have a hard time remembering the details.  It’s surreal to think about my life just 2 years and 1 day ago and how I don’t even recognize it, me, or people in that life.  There’s very little about Emily BBD (before Bryan’s death) that seems to have carried through to Emily ABD (after Bryan’s death).  Sure, I’m still “me” but for the most part I feel fundamentally changed in my core being.  This is something I have a hard time articulating.  Those that know both Emily BBD and Emily ABD will say sure, you’re still you, just sadder or maybe more cynical.  And while that’s true, I feel like it’s more than that.  I see the world differently.  I react to situations differently.  I care far less about what people think and what kind of impression I’m making, for better or worse.  It’s likely worse, but whatevs.

One the 1 year anniversary, we honored Bryan in a park he loved with a memorial celebration surrounded by friends and family.  It was healing and sad and genuine and gut wrenching, yet still had its funny moments.  I loved hearing stories about him before I came along from this childhood friends.  In a way it felt like I was still getting to know him.  Today there will be less pomp and circumstance, but I know that many people will be thinking about him, hopefully laughing a little bit and likely crying a lot.  In fact, I wrote this yesterday to allow for maximum “feeling my feels time”. #selfcare

bryan memorial

As my sophomore year of widowhood comes to a close, I can say with certainty that those who warned me it would be “harder” were right — sort of.  Maybe it’s just different. Year 1 is all about addressing the shock and surviving.  Year 2 is about getting down to the business of living and your “new normal” whatever the fuck that is.  It’s the mundane, boring existence that surrounds the majority of everyday life.  It’s maintaining a house, paying bills, running errands, going to work, seeing friends (when you can force yourself to leave the house)…except doing it all solo with this nagging pit in your stomach that’s there to constantly remind you of the void in your life.  Plenty of single people live happy and fulfilled lives. So I’m not knocking them at all.  In fact that was me for the majority of my twenties. I was out there doing it!  It’s just that now I have to do it while knowing what could have been and how it’s just sometimes easier with someone in your corner.

sad

When the shock wears off and the early stages of grief have ended, you gain a different perspective on your situation.  In this second year, I think it was less about that longing and acute missing Bryan feeling (don’t get me wrong, if that dude showed up today I’d be all over him like a spider monkey), and more about my anger and sadness at my life situation.  When I thought about myself as a “widow” and what that meant, it was no longer always “my husband is dead, WTF” like the first year.  It was more like “I feel lonely, angry, empty, annoyed” and an overall feeling of “I can’t be bothered” to be dealing with this life circumstance.  But SPOILER ALERT I did anyway. Yay me.   There’s also a sense in year 2 from those in your orbit that you should be moving on.  I’m here to give this PSA: there is no timeline on grief! Once a widow, always a widow.  And unless you’re a licensed professional or a widow/widower yourself, you have no authority to infer/imply/or flat out tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing or how I should be living. That’s just #FACTS.

phoenix

Possible tattoo idea??? Am I Right? [sidenote: those experiencing grief are not known for their rational decision making skills]

Also, in an exciting turn of events, and when I say “exciting” I really mean “daunting” and “triggering,” the anxiety and guilt that lay dormant for 18 months over how it all went down decided to rear its ugly mug, and I’ve been addressing my latent PTSD in this second year as well. FUN STUFF!  Sparing the details, I know on a rational level that I couldn’t have done anything to change the outcome, but when my brain decides to flash the scenes from the day, it’s pretty damn rough.  I don’t want to remember Bryan that way so I’m working through that bullshit with Dr. F.  Maybe the 3rd year is when I become a self actualized phoenix who rises from the ashes in a blaze of radiant color not yet seen by the human eye to say “Hello World! Here I am!”. Probably not. But hey, you never know.

Love you Bryan, mean it.  And you too, widowinos.

mebryanoct16

My Life Does Not Spark Joy

As many of you probably have also done recently, I stumbled upon that pixie-esque Japanese delight that is Marie Kondo via her ubiquitous Netflix series, Tidying Up with Mario Kondo.  I had a vague notion of who she was via my layman’s knowledge of the cultural zeitgeist, but I was woefully uninformed on the truly life changing art that can come from purging your shit.  Anyhoo, after watching a few episodes, I decided to think about just what does and does not spark joy in my life…truth not much.  All touchy-feely thanking your clothes as you chuck them in a trash bag aside, Mrs. Kondo makes some goods points with her patented KonMarie method.

marie kondo joy

I’ve never been that happy about anything, including Bryan, as Marie Kondo is about a stranger’s black t-shirt.

I’ve noticed over the last 716 days that I’ve been husband-less that I’ve started to fill the void in my life with “things”.  It started slowly at first, perhaps out of boredom, that I might go to Ulta just to browse; or open the Amazon app just to see what they recommended for me.  Now, almost 2 years later, (ugh the dreaded deathiversary is fast approaching) I’m Diamond status at Ulta, and have a whole 3rd bedroom full of still-packed boxes of my former married life, as well as Amazon boxes full of crap I don’t need.   Who buys a bedazzled dickie or marble-look bathroom cups just because Amazon suggests them? I do.

dickie

If I’m being truly honest, this dickie has totally sparked some mutha fuckin’ joy.

When I first bought and moved into my post-marital home last year, there was a lot to do and a lot to buy, and I have to admit, I was kind of getting a rush from buying a new comfy couch, selecting the perfect quartz counter top, and going all in on a fancy front loader washer and dryer.  So many paint color choices!  Is the thread count on these sheets high enough? Never mind that I had like 4 sets of perfectly fine sheets somewhere in a box.  I needed to buy these new ones. My former self would have been ashamed.  Who succumbs to basic domesticity so easily? Oh. That’s right.  A widow who has already had to succumb to playing the game of life with a 2-7 offsuit hand.  It’s starting to make sense now!

So after folding my underwear in thirds and letting my socks “rest” as Marie suggests, I started to get inspired.  What else could I start storing vertically so it’s viewable in my life?  Better yet, what could I just say “Arigato” and  “Sayonara” to and start to remove some of the weight off this emotional yolk I’ve been bearing? (Sidenote: the yolk is a very deep emotional metaphor for how I feel burdened daily that I came up with in therapy. Continuously evolving y’all.)  Since I’m finally starting to learn that the tiny rush I get from ordering stuff and seeing the box on my doorstep, or grabbing the latest mascara and earning more points, is fleeting, and that I generally feel just the same or worse later, it’s time to think of all the good the purge does.  I’ve started to avoid and purge negative influences as well.  It’s not just my stuff I need out of my house; it’s some of the dark emotions and feelings that rumble around in my head that need to go. It’s letting go of the hurt I feel towards people who let me down.  It’s starting to remove the “stuckness” I have and opening myself up to moving forward…in whatever fashion that may be.  It is also totally about thanking my Camp Horizons ’97 t-shirt and tossing it because it no longer sparks joy for me.  Until I;m a totally self-actualized human being, I’ll just be breaking down a bunch of cardboard in my guest room.