It’s a constant dichotomy, this life without Chuck.
The promise (if that is the right way to describe it) that we all hear, after going through a death or traumatic event (sometimes they are one and the same), is about finding that new normal.
This so-called new normal of mine, since April 21, 2013, is a life lived without Chuck. Which is emotionally and physically exhausting, no matter which way I try to navigate it. Practical, day to day, living, is a crap shoot. Emotions…well, life has to be lived, and shit has to get done, so I can’t lie abed all day, I can’t curl up in a fetal position in the corner, so I have to get up and do the living thing.
In these 3 years and 4 months since Chuck died, I’ve been laying a foundation for the next part of my life; I’ve been writing my first book and putting together my first public presentation on this Odyssey of Love, and thinking. thinking, thinking, constantly, and working every day, creating workshops, networking, reaching out in every way I can to those around me.
And I’m tired. Bone tired. Soul tired. Exhausted. Today I realized that my body is strung as tightly as a rubber band right before it snaps. My nerves are humming along the surface of my skin. My heart is racing. I must consciously remind myself to take a breath. There is a consistent, low-grade itching all over my body. My mind feels as tightly wound as my body and all I want to do is run shrieking into whatever oblivion I can find.
I can’t do this anymore. And yet, this is what I have, what I am, where I am, so I must.
So I use my homeopathic remedies for grief and trauma. Star of Bethlehem. Ignatia Amara. Rescue Remedy. Relaxation essential oil on my pulse points and in a mister that shoots the scent into this room where I sit.
What do you do when you can’t stand the silence and the alone-ness and the missing-ness any longer, but you have to stand it because this is it? This is life now, simply stated. Chuck will always be dead, for the rest of my life.
In order to create this part of my life that will bring me into a semblance of financial security, I have to project, in some measure, into the future. A future I don’t want to consider because it is a future without him. But I have to consider that future, practically thinking, no matter what I feel at any given moment.
Doing so hitches my breath and causes anxiety to rise in frantic measures to every nerve ending. It is as if flood waters are pouring through a breached wall.
I allow some of this to happen; I know the futility of trying to hold it back. But, at the same time, how much do I allow and how much control do I have with it and over it?
Rhetorical questions, all. I do what I can to manage it all, but I know it’s a temporary fix. I’ve done counseling, one on one, and in a group. I’ve gone through various trauma modalities, and they have made a difference. But none of it can remove what this new normal is, what it will be for the time I have left living; Chuck is dead and life without him is empty.
And, honestly, none of this is a plea for sympathy. I’ll still do whatever needs to be done to create some semblance of a life for the rest of my life. Nor is this a pity party. It is, simply, an acknowledgement from me that this life of widowhood is the most difficult, unbearable, impossible, thing I’ve ever tried to do and my heart hurts. Desperately.
I miss my husband. I miss Chuck. The space next to me, where he stood for 24 years, is empty. And I cannot convey to you in any real way what it feels like, what this life feels like, without him. It is silence and it is loneliness and it is emptiness, no matter how I strive to change it or accept it or balance it. It is as if I’m blindly throwing darts at an unseen dart board, with no idea of where or how they land.