Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Widows Pursuit of Happiness

I have not written in a while.

I have been incredibly happy lately. 

After mentioning to someone that I have nothing to write about, it was suggested that I have the "Adele effect." Usually my writing is prompted by my anxiety or recent struggles. Lately I have had little anxiety. Like Adele, who writes sad songs, if there is nothing to be sad about there is nothing to write about. 

I have been thinking about that "Adele effect" comment and it dawned on me what a travesty that is. It is true, I often find myself writing about my internal conflicts and personal challenges. I do so because it is therapeutic for me to scream it out loud at the top of my lungs, so to speak. I also hope that I might be helping another young (or old) widow(er) when I put into words what I think so many of us are experiencing but are too afraid to say. But then it dawned on me, what about those widows that are doing well?

When Seth first died, and for a few months thereafter, I would read posts on widows pages through social media from women who were "living" again. This would evoke two emotional experiences for me. First, I would wonder if I would ever be happy or ready enough to "live" after losing my husband. Second, I would have hatred and anger towards these woman for disrespecting their husbands and loved ones like so. I conjured up deluded opinions in my mind that to live, to love, and to pursue happiness following the death of a spouse equated to disrespecting the love you had for the departed. The irony of my convoluted thought process was that not one, single person in my life ever suggested to me anything other than the desire for me to find happiness again following the passing of my husband. My opinions were self inflicted and at times they still haunt me today. 

I went to, Cape Cod, MA, my home away from home this past weekend. This is my favorite place in the entire world. When I think of Cape Cod I think of family, relaxing, joy, peace, energy, and love. When I brought Seth there after we met he immediately fell in love with it. It quickly became a place that he also considered home and something we fondly shared. Since Seth died, prior to this weekend, I have only been back twice. The first time I went I was alone and in my 32 years I felt the most sadness I have ever experienced in my life being there without Seth. Imagine someone taking your favorite memory in the world and erasing it from your mind for good. All you know now is that at one point in time that place in your mind held your most cherished moments and you can never get those back no matter how hard your beg and plead. It is heart wrenching. That is how I felt last year when I visited my family in Cape Cod. Physically I was present, but emotionally I was far from there. In my mind, I could not imagine ever being happy in a place that now held a hole in my heart.

This past weekend was 10 months since I last went to Cape Cod. 10 months since I had those horribly tragic emotional responses. This past weekend, I had so much fun. I was elated and could not wait to tell my family how well I was doing. I got to play with my nieces and nephews, eat dinners with family, and catch up with old friends. I laughed so hard and drank so much that I even I made drunk phone calls and I would do it again to feel that kind of emotional freedom I was experiencing. I was relaxed. I felt at home again in my favorite place on this earth. There is no greater sense of freedom than beating your mind and being able to enjoy the beautiful things in life, as simple as they may be. 

For those of you that have followed my story, you know that nothing can come so easily for my mind. What a wonderful ending this would be if I was simply just happy and content with that. But my mind does not work like that. My mind is constantly going 100 miles per hour. Naturally, when leaving Cape Cod I reflected on my time there and how I finally felt like "me" again. Without fail, I started to wonder what people would think. Would they think that I did not love Seth? Is it okay for me to be happy? Or, am I no better than those other women who I berated early on?

The truth is I am happy and my conclusion is that, that is okay. Actually, my opinion is that it is wonderful. I am not sure why am so hard on myself. I expect nothing short of perfection from myself. Be the perfect daughter, perfect physical therapist, perfect sister, perfect widow. Maybe sometimes it is a good thing. Maybe that is where I get my drive to succeed in life, because I am always pushing for more from myself. But maybe I am my own worst enemy too. Imagine a world where we don't judge ourselves so harshly. Imagine a world where we forgive ourselves and are patient with ourselves.  That sounds like an amazing and peaceful world. Now imagine if we have it in our own control to achieve that. To do so we have to stop judging ourselves. We have to stop caring what other people think. And for widows, we have to start believing that our passed loved ones are nothing short of proud of us. 

I am happy and I know that Seth would want that for me. I have a therapy appointment next week and I am going to ask my therapist to help me re-frame my mindset. I want to believe in my heart that "living" is to honor Seth, but never to forget. I want to carry him with me and allow his legacy to live on through the lessons he taught me. I want to fight for my chance at life like he fought for his. 

"When we struggle to change ourselves we, in fact, only continue the patterns of self-judgement and aggression. We keep the war against ourselves alive." - Jack Kornfield.

I will work on change. I will live, learn to love, and pursue happiness for the both of us. And with time and help, I will end this war against myself. With time and help, I will be happy, and I know that will be exactly what we both want. I am a new widow in the pursuit of happiness. 

Love,
Meredith

"Don't give up. Don't ever give up." ~ Jimmy V.


Seth Jacob Budai Caring Bridge Page

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