Tallulah, our Portugese Water Dog, who we welcomed into our lives just before Christmas, has my heart! I have become accustomed to waking up and letting her out several times a night to "do her business" -- outside rather than in, preferably! I feel like a new mom all over again (and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it!) Saturday morning, however, instead of my chipper girl putting her paws on the bed, saying -- "Are you up? Hey you? Woman? GET UP!" -- at 5:00am, I woke up to the sounds of vomiting. Furthermore, it didn't stop. By 1:00pm we were in the emergency vet clinic being tested for everything under the sun. Turns out she had an obstruction in her intestinal track, and surgery was needed.
Today she is resting quietly, and she has a new name: MEPE "Most Expensive Portie Ever!" Thankfully, I have every reason to believe our Lullah will be fine, but as I was worrying about the vet bill, one of my dear friend's across town had just lost her husband. My heart breaks for her. Love is such a two-edged sword -- one of the greatest joys in the world -- which, in seconds, can turn into utter agony. In my experience, Grief is a living - breathing entity. We can attempt to ignore it or run from it, but I promise...it will win-every-single-time. Being from California, I describe the act of grieving as standing thigh deep in the ocean facing the shore -- arms spread wide, trying to hold the waves back. It doesn't work. It's impossible to stop it. Embracing the waves -- is truly the only way. How do we do that? Well, it's not easy. Everyday, it gets a little easier, however, it often seems like a lifetime.
The first step seems simple, but is difficult to execute. Coincidentally, this technique is also good to stop the "awfulizing" discussed in my previous blog. We begin by separating the things we can control in our lives with the things we can't control. During times of crisis -- our minds run amok -- we have to set up some boundaries. One simple exercise, is to draw a line down the center of a piece of paper creating two columns. Label one column "THINGS I CAN CONTROL," the other column is "THINGS I CAN'T CONTROL." As your worries begin, start sectioning them into columns. Example: I can't control that my Lullah is sick. However, I CAN control that I get her the care she needs. The critical piece is to remember to only allow yourself to worry about the items in the "THINGS I CAN CONTROL" column. This may sound simple, but it is really quite difficult. It will take practice. Keep pulling your mind out of the loop by saying (outloud if needed) "Can I control this?" "Which column am I worrying about?" Every second we spend worrying about things in the "CAN'T CONTROL" column is wasted energy. In early grieving stages, some things on your "CAN CONTROL" list may be as basic as taking a shower, eating regularly, or going to work/school.
When grieving any type of loss (a loved one, your job, a divorce, or even a lifetime goal), sometimes every drop of energy is needed just to get out of bed. You can't afford to use what little energy you have at that time on the wrong column. Nonetheless, don't expect too much, too soon. It takes time to learn to create this virtual fence in our minds, trying to "organize" the pain. It's hard work, and the journey is long. Surround yourself with support so when the waves come, you have others to help you stand. Thanks for listening...
, Getting married again? Seriously? After being hitched for 22 years to someone I met when I was 18, the thought of starting all over was overwhelming. Some days I looked in the mirror and said, "I can just do this myself!" I was strong enough to weather a divorce, I had my three kids ages 8, 10, & 13, and I just purchased my own house -- I felt like superwoman. (Defying Gravity was my theme song during those days). Then came the weekends when the kids were gone to their dads. I was lonely, sad, depressed. I didn't know what to do with my time. I started dating, but it was a time filler -- nothing for real. After about a year, I realized how empty I felt, but the dates weren't filling the emptiness.
We therapists have dubbed the year after a divorce "the crazy year." Until I experienced "the crazy year" myself, I had no idea how nutty I felt much of the time. I've said hundreds of times to people in my office, "Don't do anything major for a year!" Did I listen to my own advice? No, I bought a house, a car, started working full-time as a school counselor, had to move my mom into an Alzheimer's care center, packed up the house I grew up in to prepare to rent it, bought a trampoline, and hosted a litter of kittens! Only by the grace of God did I manage to stay single -- thank goodness, because I don't think there was much sanity coursing through my veins during that year -- it was more adrenaline. Therefore, I would guess my choice of a mate might have been.....well.....let's just say......not so good!
After a year, I decided to stop dating all together -- and accomplished that for about six months. It was really helpful. I settled down. My neediness waned. I went out with friends, and rekindled some of my hobbies like painting and reading. Enjoyed being a mommy. Life was good. Then the inevitable happened, a friend felt the need to "fix me up." Why not? My expectations were low, but after one lunch with John -- something clicked. After four years of him driving about an hour to see me every day, he asked me to marry him.
I was completely expecting the proposal, but what I didn't expect was to be absolutely terrified for the months leading up to the wedding. All the doubts and questions constantly bombarding me: Am I being selfish? What if this ruin's my children's lives? What if things go South? Do I even know this man? Does he know me? What the HECK! John was patient with me, and all of my "awfulizing" proved to be just a waste of my energy (Definition: "awfulizing " is the act of jumping to the worst case scenario constantly -- by the way, it is ALWAYS a waste of our energy, but it's very hard to stop once those scenarios start rolling over and over as if on a taped loop in our brain. Next time I'll chat about some strategies to eject those worst case scenario tapes. (Note -- I know these because I am STILL the queen of awfulizing!)
Anyway, here we are seven years later -- a different world for me and my babies. I feel truly blessed, and thankful that I let go and let this amazing man bless all of our lives.