Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Widow's Wake Up Call out of Denial

In my new grief, or should I say, before working through my grief, I found myself out of control. Can anyone relate? Before we want to accept our loss, some of us bury our grief by gratifying ourselves in ways so that we don't have to feel the pain. We find something that works, perhaps eating, shopping, working, drinking, etc. You get the picture. So every time the heartache starts, and we know what's coming, we find our gratifying friend. We may reach for another chocolate, spend a few extra hours at work, buy another outfit, or take that third or fourth drink that we know we shouldn't! Before long, we're on a vicious cycle that we can't stop!!

I relate this cycle to feeling like you're on a ride of some sort, going faster and faster, and you can't stop!! Mine felt like I was on a Merry-Go-Round. I knew I should get off, but I couldn't. It was like having an addiction with no control.

Two months after my husband passed, I took a cross-country road trip with my 2 young daughters. We drove from Florida to California. Nelson and I had married in California, our daughters were born there, and we lived there for 10 years. We had many friends on the West Coast, and I had a deep desire to see them. See my blog post, "Catch Me If You Can". My plan was a week to drive there, 5 weeks visiting friends and a week to drive back before my daughters went back to school.

My Merry-Go-Round started slow and then gained momentum. Before I realized it, I was out of control. I was spending my sympathy money on gambling, gained 20 lbs., and found myself having a drink every time I started to feel that tinge of pain. I tried to rationalize it by saying once I got back home, I would stop. I wasn't sure I believed myself, but it sounded good. I had planned to leave for home on a particular day so we would make it back to Florida for the girls to start school on time. As the day got closer to leave for home, the ache started again and I started to procrastinate.

"Instead of going home tomorrow, I've decided to stay an extra day," I said to Lisa, while relaxing on the lounge chair with a cold beer. "This way, we can celebrate your birthday tonight, and then I'll have a day to recuperate before getting on the road." Lisa agreed, so we went to a Mexican restaurant and stuffed ourselves with food and Margaritas that night. Once again, I succeeded in feeling no pain.

The last day came. I sat on a bar stool and watched Lisa prepare our final dinner. Suffering from a hangover, I held my head up in my hands with my elbows firmly on the counter for support. My head, like my life, was spinning out of control. All of a sudden, the front door swung open with a bang. Lisa's three boys ran in, screaming, "Nicole broke her arm! Nicole broke her arm!" My mouth dropped open at the ghastly sight! Nicole calmly entered the foyer as she awkwardly held her disfigured arm close to her body. It was twisted around backward and out of place!

At that moment, I fell off my Merry-Go-Round and crashed to the ground. The accident happened on a Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. Nelson died on a Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. If I had left California when I had originally planned this wouldn't have happened! I felt like someone hit me over the head and awakened me from a deep sleep. It felt like an alarm clock going off. "Hello!" I envisioned God saying. "Are you still there? You have children to take care of. It's time to wake up. They need you!" God grabbed my attention. It felt like He yanked me off my merry-go-round, and I hit the ground with my head still spinning.

Nicole went through surgery and had to get pins placed in her arm. I had to step up to my responsibilities and take care of my children. I worked through my guilt knowing that God would forgive me. Nicole's arm healed perfectly. The doctor had his doubts, explaining it was the worst break an arm could have. I had to put my trust back in God, and know that He would help me through. He did! I used this situation as an opportunity to get my life back on track.

So when we each have our own wake-up call, we can turn it into an opportunity. We finished our ride and it's time to stand up on our own feet and take on our responsibilities. So what was your wake-up call? Was it rehab? Hitting the scale at 200 lbs.? Getting into debt from shopping? Losing your home from gambling? Losing a friend from adultery? Getting physically sick from working too much? We each have our own story to tell. Use it as an opportunity to get unstuck and move on through grief!


Sandy said...

I think because TJ died of cancer I was never really in denial. His death was anticipated/expected. I did gain weight when he was sick and I am just now beginning to take it off.

Cindy Adams said...

Hi Sandy, I think it's so easy to fall into habits that help us feel better when we're in grief. I really was out of control for awhile and it was SCARY!!