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Tuesday Aug 31, 2021

THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL MONSTERS

Posted in Coping With Bereavement by Mike Hall

Loneliness, I’m not sure how I can describe this feeling, sometimes you feel strong and that you don’t need anyone in your life, other times, you can’t bear the thought of being alone for the rest of your life. When you try and balance your thoughts with your friend’s, guilt, betrayal and judgement, to try and find the answer all you end up feeling is hurt, despondent, and depressed, as the answer you eventually get to will upset you.

Loneliness is being fed by the pain of emptiness in my heart, which you want fill, which from the outsider’s point of view must seem that you are just trying to replace the feelings that you have been used too for all those years. Well yes, initially your mind and body wants to feel all the feelings you used to feel, hell they were good feelings, your circle was complete, you did not look for or indeed want for anything else in your life and it’s only natural to want those isn’t it?, however, guilt, betrayal and judgement start to analyse the emptiness feelings of the heart.

Guilt says, “What right have you to want to free yourself of these feelings”. “It’s too soon; it’s only been a year, two, three or more!” 

Betrayal says, “why you trying to fill the emptiness in your heart, have you forgotten me that quickly”, “is that all our life together meant!” and judgement, as usual, has the most to say, by making you feel that everyone will be pointing fingers at you for wanting to “move on” (a phrase it hate) and will disrespect you for thinking that way, so soon.

Judgement also flips feelings and thoughts around as though you are looking at yourself, for example, all those years that you spent happily as a couple, only looking at yourself and for the large part, ignoring everyone outside your bubble, all because you were self-obsessed in each other. Well judgement now says you reap what you sow; the consequences of what you feel now in your time of need are a reflection of how you reacted to other’s times of need in the past.

Well, in this instance and taking all these feelings into consideration, you realise that they are actually telling you that you just have to get used to feeling the pain of emptiness, nothing can be done and no one can make it easier other than time. Any urgency to fill the gap is misguided and only reactionary to the situation, so don’t fall foul of these thoughts as it will only lead to more hardship, so in this instance, listen to the thoughts in your head and stop tormenting your heart by trying to resolve your loss and grief through thoughts of replacement.

MOVING ON

Well let me share my thoughts on this phrase. The only way I accept this phrase is in the context that each day you survive, maybe cry a little less, maybe get on with things a little better, but when it comes to loneliness or matters that give you comfort, moving on does not apply unless your past life has no value. To me, I will never “move on” I have no ground to conquer, in fact I have surrendered, even capitulated everything that my heart ever had and held dear. The most sacred feelings held as precious as the vows you gave to each other now lie on the floor, blowing like the confetti in the breeze on your wedding day. So how can you “move on” and just start afresh.

Your burdens have something to say about this as well, of course they do.

Judgement says that if you try and seek comfort for your battle weary feelings, it will be seen by any one as trying to replace your wife in the desperation of trying to repeat what you once had. You feel that any woman would see you for that and treat you as a predator, only after one thing, or being on the rebound, irrespective of the things you want, so you are dammed.

Betrayal tells you that you must never think of those things, your destiny in life is to be alone, as if you ever spent any time with another women, you will be trivialising the life you had with your wife.

Guilt chips in and says that if you did have another relationship, friendship or companion then you will never be able to forgive yourself for “moving on”, dammed again.

The simple fact is that you are not ready for any of that, you might never, but now is definitely the wrong time to “move on”.

PUNISHMENT AND TRUST

There two other anxieties join in the battle for your conscious. Punishment and Trust, so now you have five things to screw with your mind and trample on the broken pieces of heart and feed the insomnia.

Punishment says “stay at home and forget about ever enjoying life”, just be alone with yourself and immediate family until your time is up and you can then go into the arms of your wife with a clear conscious. Punishment says “run to the hills”, isolate yourself from temptation, you are used goods and will always be seen as that. Punishment says you must suffer to prove the love that you have to your wife.

Trust says “you will never been trusted”, you’re a bloke after all, you are just to sorting yourself out, on the re-bound, filling the hole in your life, and remember, what did you care about others, you are reaping what you sowed, so just deal with it.

Fact, you are not in control of your feelings and you will make mistakes, some of which will leave lingering trust issues or even regrets.

THE TINY VOICE WITHIN

Deep inside you, a tiny voice that you can barely hear says, you are not a bad man; all those years of happy marriage, a life of protection, security, loyalty, love and mutual enjoyment of each other’s company will stand you in good stead. Why shouldn’t you be happy, yes a different happy, but happy none the less. Yes stepping forward once more into an unknown world will be strange, you are only used to one life, and that was taken away from both of you, but you are here, alive and trying to make sense of all your feelings whist trying to find that little glimmer of comfort, that little ray of hope, from someone that accepts you for what you are, your history, that’s all you need to help you make sense of this hell that you are forced into, with no questions, expectations or strings.

Sure I have made mistakes and will again; some will be forgotten some will be lifelong regrets. Grief will make you do and say wrong things and these mistakes will teach you the right way. The thing is, you are not in a state of mind to make the right decision, so you will be misguided by grief time and time again in the desperation to get away from the mental and physical pain that you live with every minute of the day, every day. Yes I will stuff things up, but all you are trying to do is find the right way and most of the time is just asking for help, a rest in a safe place from the pain of loneliness, a place in the sun where you will receive the comfort of a temporary peace.

Guilt, betrayal and judgement join forces with punishment and trust, and collectively ambush that tiny voice in your shattered heart. They dance on those little thoughts and chant the ritual saying you are not worthy of any of this, just put all those thoughts out of your mind, it’s only been a year, or two or three, forever and you don’t deserve it, you have had all your amount of happiness you are allowed and now you have to have the pain that you avoided all your life.

The little voice says, “but I’m still a relatively a young functioning man, what a waste if all the good things about me should just be tossed to the scrap heap when so many others haven’t got half of what I have”, perhaps I should be grateful to have health and a loveless solitary life, as it is but a small sacrifice to endure compared with the life that was taken away from your wife without a chance to fight.

Well you have listened to the monsters in your head that are determined to thwart you, but what about the little voice? Well if I can shut up them up and if you listen quietly you can hear him. He says, I am broken and will be second hand but I am here. I have lost everything, but I have my family and the memory of my life as it was and that’s worth fighting for. If I could only get rid of those burdening feelings or at least fight them back so I have a chance to pick up the pieces that have been trampled on, I could try and stick them back together. Yes my heart will always look like a broken vase, but it will still hold water up to a point and allow a beautiful plant to grow for the enjoyment of others. It will be wonky, it will have bits missing and it will leak if overfilled but it will still do the job but in a different way.

The thing is, the little voice is still overwhelmed most of the time. Being alone and the prospect of being alone forever, especially if guilt, betrayal and judgement have their way, allows you to overthink things and without any hope for something in the future, that just gets worse and worse. I have to say, most of the time you try and distract yourself just to get some peace and when you are distracted, people tend to think that you are alright. In reality, you are doing jobs you have to do and have a number of masks that you can wear to give the right impression to the onlooker. It’s just a con both to you and others. I seem to be developing a “don’t care” attitude, which is not like me. I suppose you do get hard hearted because you don’t want to feel anymore hurt, you have had enough. I’m not hard hearted, and don’t want to be that way, it’s the last thing you want. It feels like you don’t have any control over your mind, the self-preservation is also self-destruction, and it’s a spiralling effect.

I’M LOST

The truth of the matter is that you don’t know what you want apart from relief from this pain and the only hope is that you can get in front of this mental mess and somehow change the direction of travel before everyone loses patience with you and leaves you to get on with it.

Not that I’m suicidal, but I certainly can see how people just say, what have to lose, what have I got to gain and just say enough is enough, luckily I have my children and family to stop that bridge being crossed, but I can see the relief that would be achieved.

So many things fuel the despair that you feel, the loneliness, that is you constant companion is given reminders at every opportunity, for example, a local club held its yearly festival of music, and we were lucky to be supported as a charity for the event. We produced fliers, donation bins and a banner and went to the club ground to set it up. My anxiety prevented me from going, leaving my son to deal with it, could I get past those feelings? , no, I stayed in bed, hiding. Eventually I went but it was so hard. Loads of people, our charity buckets and fliers on show, people being kind and generous, but we were there, my son had the bits of me there, half the Dad I should be, I was at a function for the first time without my wife but there in her memory, everyone was having a good time, all I could see were former images of myself and family enjoying a laugh and chat and generally enjoying the festivities. But instead we were a couple of wall flowers wearing false smiles trying to fool ourselves but  convincing  no one, wanting to do what we could in her memory, but hating every minute. All I wanted to do was run and hide. How bad is that!

What makes things worse is that it was a lovely well organised event and the organisers one of which is a family friend, were so kind and willing to help us in any way particularly with words of comfort and support especially for my son, his friend. That was so humbling and made me feel ashamed about my actions of self-pity and “wo is me” selfish attitude, actions that are so unlike me, but that’s what grief does to you, makes you a heartless black hole of emotions that does not see others suffering, just your own drama, and sucks the goodness out of anyone that happens to care.

SO WHATS THE ANSWER ?

So I wish I knew, if I had the answer I wouldn’t be sharing my feelings so publically. I’m not embarrassed about what I feel. It’s not easy writing the way I do, it’s not cathartic, but I just want to try and tell people what it’s like to love and how painful it is to lose. I the hope that it will help unlock other people’s feelings, especially men that hide them.  I haven’t done anything but love my wife and stood by her from start to end, but I must somehow drag myself into a better state of mind. I fear being alone and letting life just slip by, but fear being with someone as well, so I just hope that one day I get up and say respectfully, I have had enough of you grief, you must let go of my mind and let me have some peace. I need to join the world again and try and remember my past with fondness. I can do anything, but life will be so much better if I could get rid of guilt, betrayal, judgement, trust and punishment.

I so hope I can live with my loneliness, it’s the biggest thing that drags me down, all the time, that’s why I walk so much, I get to see people, things moving about, hear other noises apart from the radio and the tapping of keys on a laptop in the early hours of the morning. I hope that sometime, somewhere, I will have things to look forward too, maybe even share with someone as a friend the nice things in life, even escape away from life for a moment.

So what’s the answer? Well I need to look forward and not flash back, try and slow your emotions down and not be in a hurry to solve your problems. I think need to shut up about my grief, be less vocal, yes I know that’s contradictory and goes against all I say about telling everyone how you feel, but talking less will help you to go forward, repeating your feelings time and time again just keep you in the moment. Writing more about how you feel will at least section off my grief to paper. Writing about it and re-reading it, almost as the third person, might enable me to find clarity, then I can talk to people about other things, how are you?, for example, instead of bleating about myself and my dramas all the time. That might allow me to become more involved and in turn my writing might sound more hopeful. That doesn’t mean I’m forgetting my past, not at all, I will always wear that badge with pride and honour, it has made me what I am, I have a lovely family both blood and relative because of my wife, but behind all this grief, depressive thoughts and sadness is a normal bloke trying to get on with a different life, who in time, just wants to hope and smile with no fuss, labels, strings or commitments.

So what’s the answer? Well I suppose just try and free your mind, stop rushing to fill your heart’s emptiness and your minds loneliness. Punish yourself less and be more kind, listen more and bleat less, take the help that’s offered and get out more and move forward in small steps, well that’s a start.

To all those that have tried to steer, encourage and support me, I’m sorry I’m a mess, but make no excuses for it. Trust me when I say that without you all, I wouldn’t be a strong as I am. So thank you for your unconditional love, kindness and patience, and believe the tiny voice within me when he says that we love you all more than words can show.

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