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feralfae

Finding A New Way Of Being

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After almost three years of struggling to accept and reconcile the loss of my husband Doug, I am beginning to look forward, hoping to see who is going to be the person emerging from this grief; who must find a new path, new dreams, and new ways of being.

I will be writing about finding this new way of being, and hope others will share some of their insights, epiphanies, and successes as we release the old dreams and create new dreams for our lives.

I am slowly coming to accept that to go forward into more happiness and grace, I need to find ways and thoughts to fill the empty spots, and I need to find tools to help me assess and create a new life that fills my own spirit and lets my love and creativity flow out into the world. So much is still tangled up in moments of grief, but the grief is no longer the oppressive burden on my heart it once was. Now, these days, the sense of being alive, of having hope, and of trusting the future are all a part of how I am finding out who I am becoming and what I am here to do.

fae

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Oh fae, this is exactly what we are about. We are about finding out who we are now that we are no longer who we were when with our spouses or significant others.

It is time to see how open our cocoons are before we become a different, yet the same, person we were.

I have seen definite change in who I was in my early grief and who I have become today. Most times those changes are not even noticeable.

Our journeys have been the roller coaster rides we were told about. And even though we will always have memories of the most difficult times we now are beginning to see what could be ahead of us.

Like you, I hope others find their way to this thread and to Tools for Healing.

Anne

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Dear Anne,

Thank you. Yes, this is another phase of our journey. I don't feel much confidence yet to move very far in any direction, except that I am becoming more and more able and willing to look at the branching paths all around me, hoping to find some signs of where my next step might take me. Things are still clouded and confusing a lot of the time, but I think a part of that is the anesthetics and recovering from the surgeries.

But then I thought, "what better time to begin to find my way on this path than while I am also held in place, slowly recovering from the recent surgeries and the traumas to my body?" If I cannot run yet, I can at least sing and pray. :)

I see so many of my good intentions are beyond my present health to manifest: I don't know if I will get out any presents or cards this year. I am praying for more strength and energy. As I move through this recovery process, it is also giving me a lot of time to ponder, ruminate, consider, and wonder about my life up until now, and what the future may be like. I know the future will be different.

I hope so much that others join us here because I know I need a lot of help and direction in sorting through those dreams I can carry with me, and those that are already discarded or need to be relinquished. There are huge pieces of my identity that are still very woven with Doug. A lot of my cards and gifts are from friends of ours, together, and so this season, so flooded with memories, brings out the stark contrast between my life now and what it was four years ago when Doug was still alive and we still had hope. Although it has not been quite three years since he left, I have made a lot of adjustments already. This time of year simply brings up more and more of the reality of the changes.

Some intentions from fae:

I want to get strong and energetic again;

I want to feel well and healthy again;

I want to laugh more and cry less;

I want to have my deep faith and trust in G*d restored enough so that I feel safe in G*d's love again, as I have for most of my life;

I want to be entirely healed from the traumas, and not be afraid any more;

I want to sit in my studio and feel joy well up in my heart as I create, the way it used to do;

I want to find more peace and more self-confidence in my own ability to make good decisions and act for the good;

I want to be able to freely love myself and life again, knowing that Doug is with me in my heart, and that all is going to be all right;

I want to learn new ways to walk in life--ways that are a happy celebration of life and the Love that motivates us all;

I want to learn how to cherish, defend, care for, and make plans for myself, solo, that will help me;

I want to be open to change, and to accept advice and help as I move through this slow opening of spirit back into the fullness, the richness, and the beauty of life again.

I want to celebrate with over-flowing gratitude this life that has been given to me, and sing with the joy of life;

I want to learn how to live and love life again, even if I am now alone.

I count so much on the loving sharing that is here, and I hope I can give back enough to keep things fairly well in balance. Sometimes I feel very much the recipient, and not at all the giver. I know it will all work out. I am impatient for more peace on my path, and more certainty that I am moving forward with grace and beauty, as well as with goodness and strength.

I feel as though I have been smashed back into a lump of clay, ready to be formed into something beautiful by my Creator, but I am not sure what is in the making. My curiosity is active, and I wish I could see, but I think, more than acting now, I need to let G*d mold and move me into the new me I am going to become. So, above, I was stating some intentions for who I want to be. I know that a part of who I am becoming is who G*d wants me to be now, and so far in my life, that plan has been a pretty good one. I hope for enough trust to let myself unfold into this new creation without getting in my own way. :)

Yes, I hope a few of us that are making this journey will find their way here when they are ready. It will help me a LOT when they share their insights.

Namaste,

fae

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Having merely begun this topic here, today, I felt my body relaxing into the understanding that while I still have emotional healing to do, and while I am going to have grief moments and times, I am also feeling less lost, less abandoned than I did during the first two years when I felt so miserably alone.

Knowing that I can draw on this sense of restoration of self and spirit is going to help a lot. I hope others will join us here when they feel ready to turn a page in this chapter and find out where this story will take us.

fae

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There are many things we learn when on our grief journeys and I think that the most important of all is to learn patience.

We have been traumatized by our losses and cannot expect to be healed overnight ~ something those of us who have lost a spouse want so desperately. We do not need to be “fixed” we simply need to recharge and recognize that we are the same yet different ~ how could we not be!

Fae, you are recognizing that a healthy body will enable you to focus on your new identity while keeping Doug tucked close to you at all times. This is where our memories of our loved ones become so important.

I think that posting your intentions of a board near your desk might help you see the need for the patience I talked about earlier.

When a child is born she starts out wiggling and looking around, later she learns to crawl and stand up. Over the years she learns new things and continues to learn throughout her entire life. I think that is how our changes are going to manifest ~ if we are patient and take one small step at a time we will be able to look back and only then see how far we have come.

“Some intentions from fae:

I want to get strong and energetic again;

I want to feel well and healthy again;

I want to laugh more and cry less;

I want to have my deep faith and trust in G*d restored enough so that I feel safe in G*d's love again, as I have for most of my life;

I want to be entirely healed from the traumas, and not be afraid any more;

I want to sit in my studio and feel joy well up in my heart as I create, the way it used to do;

I want to find more peace and more self-confidence in my own ability to make good decisions and act for the good;

I want to be able to freely love myself and live again, knowing that Doug is with me in my heart, and that all is going to be all right;

I want to learn new ways to walk in life--ways that are a happy celebration of life and the Love that motivates us all;

I want to learn how to cherish, defend, care for, and make plans for myself, solo, that will help me;

I want to be open to change, and to accept advice and help as I move through this slow opening of spirit back into the fullness, the richness, and the beauty of life again.

I want to celebrate with over-flowing gratitude this life that has been given to me, and sing with the joy of life;

I want to learn how to live and love life again, even if I am now alone.”

I would have a box near your intentions so each time you recognize that you are getting stronger and more energetic, or you are feeling better than the day before, or you caught yourself laughing more, or as you meditate you find that something is going on because you are breathing slower, or you find that you have not thought of the traumas for a day or longer, or found yourself in your art studio forming a new bowl and finding that to be uplifting, etc. write it down and place it in the box. I think that the peace you are seeking will just happen and gradually you will become more self-confident and your decisions will be good ones.

Throughout the year sit with the box and read some of the things you wrote. You will be amazed at your progress.

We do not do this alone. We stay close to our fire and draw on the energy of others who are here.

Anne

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Dear Anne,

Thank you for the wonderful suggestion. I had already printed out my above post, and was going to highlight the intentions, and post the highlighted pages on my refrigerator. But a box in which I can drop notes is a nice addition to the idea. I still wake up often with images of the traumas, and thoughts of how to "fix" it, although I know that I need to keep moving away from those times. My grief counselor gave me a little a little tapping exercise to do on the edge of my left hand, using my right hand's fingertips to tap, while I say, "That was then and it was awful. This is now and it is over." which I still use quite a bit to move my mind away from those images and thoughts.

My near-term goals—from now until the end of March—are to keep healing and getting stronger, become more active again, gradually, and to clear more things out of our home that I do not want to take with me when I finally put this big place on the market and move somewhere more manageable for me. Mostly, I am still in resting mode most days, and spend a lot of time reading and not doing much. But today, I will drive to town, fill the car with gas, pick up the mail, and maybe get a few groceries if I feel up to it. I celebrate the days when I have enough energy to do a load of laundry, take a shower and wash my hair, and prepare three healthy and delicious meals for my precious body.

I appreciate your positive confidence that things will continue to gradually get better. With so much recent surgical trauma, there are times when I feel I need to simply surrender to the fates, and that I will continue to be bludgeoned by medical problems or something else. I know this is not realistic, but it is almost as if my body has become accustomed to living in trauma. Me, who was a pretty carefree and happy person for most of my life!

So, yes, I will set these intentions to manifest over the next year or two, and break that down into smaller, manageable time bits with smaller goals during those times. For instance, my goals for this week were to get the house deep-cleaned (they were here two days), to get the snow tires on the car (with much help from friends and neighbors, this is done) and to drive to town to pick up the mail and maybe do a tiny bit of shopping one day (I hope today, but it not, maybe Sunday, when I may also go to Meeting) when I have enough energy.

I am reminded that as we heal from these medical challenges, we are caught in bodies that need a lot of loving care and attention for more than a few days. I must be very patient with my body right now, because it is still healing and needs as much time as possible to come back into balance.

I am invited out to my goddaughter's for Christmas Eve: it will just be the family and me. Her parents, who were friends of ours, are both gone, so getting together will be good for all of us. :)

Thank you for the suggestions for practicing patience. It used to be so easy to live day to glorious day, and now, here in the cold and dark of winter days, I am going to post those intentions, put a bowl beneath them where I can leave notes, and focus more on cherishing my body and health as I take the tiniest of steps each day to find my way to the me who can once again enjoy life and the days.

namaste,

fae

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I woke this morning knowing this would be a good day. I asked Doug, and G*d, to show me a lesson, send a message, give the gift of some insight to me today. A sign.

Today, I came to the realization that no one is driving me as hard as I have been driven these last three years, except me. I went to the post office and to fill the car, and ran into an old friend of ours whom I seldom see. As we were talking, he suddenly reached out, and put his two hands over mine, and leaned in and asked me how I was really doing after the surgeries and all, and how he and his wife were both worried about me. I was so touched by his compassion and caring, and his obvious heart-felt concern, that I began to cry. I could not help it. Hospitals, medical people, even many of my close friends are all cool, brusque, and fairly detached. I wonder sometimes if they are in touch with their own feelings. But here was a chap I really did not know well, who was more Doug's friend than mine, who was sincerely concerned and tenderly expressing his concern to me. I was emotionally overwhelmed by his caring and gentleness.

Most days, I feel like a beggar holding out my bowl for some gesture of caring and compassion, and while many of my girlfriends are supportive and caring, there is also the stigma I carry of being a widow, and they do not want that to happen to them. Many of them are very busy caring for husbands with significant medical problems. And seeing me alone now reminds their husbands of Doug's death, and that is not comfortable for them, either.

But what I learned today is that because much of my social circle's modeling of how to treat me is a distanced sort of caring that has little warmth, I had begun to treat myself the same way. I must get back to being more compassionate and caring of myself. I need a lot more tenderness and gentle understanding, and the person who is going to give that to me—is ME. I have been driving myself hard to try to stay on top of things. I have carried on with working, busy doing, afraid of letting it all go and simply being, lest I fall off the edge of my small, broken world and lose my way entirely.

But, many of my friends are retired, and not nearly as busy as I have kept myself. I need to become more relaxed and gentle with myself. This next three months, I am going to try to be out of the office, away from being a professional, and focusing on my own compassionate care as much as I can. It is so easy to lose myself in the day-to-day demands of life, and yet, I am the one creating many of those day-to-day demands. If the dining room table is dusty, who will care? If I am not excited about holiday events, and do not want to go, I can just stay home and care for myself, sip EIM tea, and practice self-compassion, do more meditation.

Gifts for Christmas Day keep arriving from climbing friends of ours, and each card, each package, touches my heart with the care and love that I know is a token which says, "we loved you and Doug, and we still love you. You are not forgotten." The notes are wonderfully kind.

For the near future—and I am trying to let go of deadlines and calendars—I hope to learn more about simply being, enjoying myself, learning to be more gentle and compassionate with myself, and letting go of these layers of defensive shells that I have had around me for at least three years. I want to go back to enjoying the wonder of life, even if I will not be able to go back to the innocence I used to have.

I have felt that becoming open again might be dangerous, but I think it is time to take off these layers of armor, and begin to let myself take a new shape that is not the same as the person who put this armor on three years ago. I am truly going to be feeling my way into this new way of being. I know now that I need a lot more compassion and gentleness, and it was that caring touch today that opened my heart and made me realize that I do not need to stay so defended. I simply need to ne gentle, patient, and compassionate with myself. I need to be a very good mother to this emerging new me.

I wonder what beautiful messages, what wonderful gifts, tomorrow will bring.

namaste,

fae

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" I need to become more relaxed and gentle with myself. " ~ fae

Responding to a few of your sentences in the above post:

We are /were so used to thinking of others as we cared for a loved one that it will take some work to relax and give ourselves the love we so deserve.

"For the near future—and I am trying to let go of deadlines and calendars-" ~ fae

This requires PATIENCE that all of us need to practice. You want to slow down but the mind is ahead of the body. Most of us are this way in our everyday lives. I think one of the most difficult things to practice is allowing ourselves the time to sit and be still. Attending to our own needs will allow us to better serve those who come into our paths. When I look for a role model I look for someone who demonstrates a willingness to see the need to be tolerant of herself no matter what the circumstances be.

The more open we are to our grief journeys and the more willing we are to do 'grief work' the more we will find our "new" selves emerging into the beautiful people we always were. Yes, we are different yet we are the same. This I believe.

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Boy, am I learning this!

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Nattering...

Whew! What a day! I made it to town to run a few errands and pick up the accumulated mail. Two late packages/presents, one a book.

Then I took some coffee beans to my neighbors who have been so helpful - I was re-gifting since I am now officially off coffee probably for a long, long time. It's okay.

A dear climber friend in CA sent a private email to me, letting me know that he was watching opera today, missing his wife who passed away from cancer five years ago, and sending to me a lot of beautiful photos of Balinese dragonflies, where he occasionally does research. But he is watching operas today, in the company of his Lizzie and my Doug. That is his story and he is sticking to it. :) He also told me that another climber friend of ours has stage IV cancer, and is fighting for his life. That friend has three children in their early teens, and a lovely wife. I wrote to that friend and told him to fight like H*ll. His life is worth it.

But then, as I was thinking, I was wondering what my place, my role is, with all these climber friends who have been so loving and supportive for me these past three years, always there if I needed to talk, and even when I felt so alone and self-pitying (sometimes I just need to give into the pity and let myself cry while I hug myself), these climber friends have been there for me. It is a small and tight clan/tribe.

So, what is my role? Well, to let them know how much they touch and lighten my heart, and how much their love and caring mean to me. It is a huge gift to have them in my life, whether they are in the states, or Europe, or Patagonia, or wherever. I am incredibly thankful that I have this bond with them all. The other women climbers are especially loving and kind to me, as two of them have lost their husbands, one in a fall, one to cancer. We support each other a LOT.

As I heal and come to have more energy to share, and as I move into this new state of being, I guess the best I can do right now is to express my gratitude for their presence, to let them know how beautifully they touch my heart with their love and caring, and how wonderful it is to have this sense of belonging that transcends all the miles, the varying circumstances, and the vicissitudes of life that we all face. There, with the other climbers, we pretty much hold each other on our shoulders and support each other, send cards and presents, and lend gear, and stay in touch through our forums and emails and sometimes calls, as well as those cards and presents.

Even with all my dear girlfriends here (none of the climbers or artists, by the way) and my artist friends scattered around, there is such a special bond among climbers. One fellow posits that it is because we are all slightly crazy: climbing does not pay enough to live on for anyone except a few guides; it produces no new garages or rooms or anything of value to anyone but us; we cannot charge an admission fee to watch us climb; the benefits we gain from our efforts are largely ineffable.

So, I am going to figure out what I can give back to this other tribe of mine, many of whom have held my heart on some of the worst days, and have sat with me, hugged me, held my hand, and let me wail and cry when I would be so burdened, especially that first year, that my heart would just break open with tears and sobbing. Whew! How far I have come on this journey, that now, beyond the pain of loss that still lingers, softly and always present, but endurable, beyond that, there is this sense that I have a worth in the world, and that it is going to be revealed to me, and that I have a gift to give to others, if I am patient and still enough to be still and to listen and watch as this gift or gifts are revealed to my spirit.

So, I am being quiet, and waiting to see what shows itself. I have so much love around me. I sometimes wonder how I got to be so rich in this life, to have such wonderful people holding me up when I could not go on. You all, here, do that for me as well. You touch my heart and help me to have the courage to go on, even when the pain is tough to punch through to make the next step. Thank you all so much.

I wonder what my life is going to bring to me for this next assignment. Healing myself seems to be the present assignment, and I am learning more gratitude with every day of healing. :)

namaste,

fae

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I'm glad you have your climber friends. I have had two many friends pass through my life...perhaps it comes with where I live, many move on from this dying town. You are a world traveler, not held by places, but always broadening your tribe.

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Kay,

I am so glad I have these friends. A climber friend, who did a beautiful portrait of Doug a couple of years ago, and I talked for an hour and a half this morning, she in Michigan, me here. We were mostly talking about Doug, but also about life, and G*d, and our lives.

Her father recently died, and she is having a hard time, while also being there to support her mother emotionally. There are several children, but she is the one who is the family caregiver, it seems, for them all. She sounded a bit exhausted, so our visit was a good break for her.

The wind is howling and the snow is falling sideways. It is about 25F here, and there are already a couple of inches of snow on the ground, so I did not go into town for meeting this morning.

Having talked with two friends this morning, I begin to see that a lot of what I do for others is simply to point out another way of looking at things for them, sometimes bringing some comfort with my observations.

Yes, I am most fortunate to have these climber friends, and all my friends, including YOU. I hope you are resting and taking it easy and not doing too much. I am in the living room, staying warm by the big earth stove, in which there are two logs. I am not going to try to do more today than keep the lower level from freezing. It is very nippy out there, with a windchill of 10F. I swear it feels colder than that. Brrrrrr! I am very tankful I do not need to go out today.

I think it is hard to live in a small town or in a rural area when we are alone, and especially when we are ill. There is a lot of comfort in company when we don't feel well, and after surgery, when we are weak.

I hope you are all snugged in and resting and healing today.

*<twinkles>*

fae

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The most beautiful thing about having friends is that friends are there for us and expect nothing from us. I think giving back comes when we are not even thinking about it. You, fae, as are many others generous contributors to this tribe right here. Sometimes we don't always see the beauty in ourselves because we are pointing out the beauty in others.

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Thank is a very kind thing to say, Anne. Thank you so much.

I hope you are snug and warm. For some reason, I was thinking of you and Benji today, and horses, too. YOu are doing such a remarkably wonderful job of pulling together, sorting out, and creating a new life for yourself. I admire your courage, wit, warmth, and determination.

namaste,

fae

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It meant a lot to me when my friend visited day before yesterday, she's the only visit I've had.

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Kay,

I do worry about you being so isolated. I hope you can at least have telephone visits sometimes. And I'm glad Arlie is nearby. It is -15F here right now, so I am not going out or to town today. Do you have enough of everything to stay home and be comfortable and well-fed for a few days while this cold front goes through?

I hope you have some good reading, some movies, a book of puzzles, things to keep you entertained. Rest is so very important the first few weeks, as all that internal healing takes most of our energy.

I am thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

*<twinkles>*

fae

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I'm sorry, I just now saw this. I have plenty of movies and reading and enough food for me until I have to go to the doctor next week. My son and DIL are coming tonight and he's going to stop at the store and bring more veg, fruit, bread, low fat meat. He's going to bring his chainsaw and cut me some wood...mine is too long and I can't fight with it right now. I have enough short pieces to last until tomorrow. Missing Arlie though, a LOT.

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Kay, so glad your son and DIL are coming, and bringing you things. Also very glad he will be handling your wood situation!! Enjoy the visit with them.

QMary

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Rita,

I think Kay needs some more healing time before Arlie is back full time.

How are you doing?

fae

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Rita, If I had a fenced yard, Arlie could come back. He doesn't jump up on people and is very well behaved. BUT since he needs exercise and I'm unable to walk him right now (he's 130 lbs) while I'm recovering, he's best off staying with my neighbor whom he adores and enjoys playing with his dogs in a fenced yard. He brings him down for a few hours at a time but it's not the same as having him home with me all the time.

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Finding limits . . .

I decided that I would go to meeting this morning, and I made it on time. There were two new people there, both men, and meeting was quite nice, but during the socializing after I decided if I was going to check off things on my "to do" list I'd better get going.

I stopped in to see my dear friend who is now in assisted living. Her memory is worse, and her confusion is worse. Today, she told me that she has decided to move back to the family ranch near Bozeman (she still owns a part of it) and she would live there and garden. I tried to point out to her that (1) she could no longer live alone, and (2) she did not own the ranch house any more. She was terrible confused. She is hardly waking, so I talked to one of the nurses about getting her up and for short walks a couple of times a day. She had all her credit cards out, and was buying something over the telephone, which I discouraged her from doing. She said people call all the time to sell things to her and sometimes she buys them. I finally left after an hour or so, pretty wrung out from trying to reach through her confusion, trying to get the aides to help her with getting up and around, as well as getting her to the dining room for meals, as she has been taking all her meals in her room, and is isolating herself. Whew!

Then I went to get groceries, and almost collapsed at checkout, when all my energy simply drained away. Now I know that my present "running around" time limit is about three hours. But, I did it. I am resting now, and may try to push some snow around later. It is still snowing here, which began last night.

This is a first for me—to have no energy to keep going. I am told it is from the surgeries, as well as still healing and getting well from all the years of caregiving. I think we have no idea of how much caregiving takes out of us. It takes a long time to get back up to full health mode, I am finding.

Kay, I am sorry you had such a bad time with your grand dogs. I will be happy for you and for Arlie when he can come home,and you are healed enough to walk him again. I am thinking about you, and sending healing energy.

Now I am going to go snug under a blanket on the sofa and read a mystery by Sayers, and maybe take a nap. At least my refrigerator is now filled with wonderful fresh foods, and tomorrow, Mary B is taking me out to lunch. I will probably rest until then.

*<twinkles>*

fae

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Dear Fae,

We do not always know what our limits will be until we overextend ourselves. You are learning what your limits are and what your energy level is after the two major surgeries. I am so glad that you are going to rest for a few days. Soon all this will be behind you and you will be amazed at all the energy you have. :wub:

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Yes, thank you Anne.

I had no idea how weak I had been, and I am actually happy that I could be up and around from 9 until 2:30 or so, and make it home, where I did collapse. But this is promising, and I am so looking forward to being strong and energetic again in another few weeks or months. Another great lesson in patience. :)

Mary is picking me up tomorrow so we can go out to lunch for a visit, and that will be lovely. The rest of the day will be maybe one load of laundry, a few little kitchen things done, and mostly resting.

I hope you are doing well with all the new PT and your anticipation of your upcoming appointments. Time for me to snug in and get some sleep. Sending you lots of good wishes and healing thoughts, as well as

*<twinkles>*

fae

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I understand what you're going through, fae, because I, too, am used to being self-sufficient, having lots of energy and keeping going. I'm having to pace myself and make healing my top priority.

I'm enjoying having my baby home, he's mostly just lying around, but I think he's enjoying the peace and quiet. He seems so tired!

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