This summer has been the absolute best and the absolute worst for me. As summer started I felt kind of cranky. As I told you in my post about getting a new job, I love my family. I love my adult kids. I love the grandkids but I was in a funk. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like I had my own life. I felt like I had too big of a role in raising my grandkids. I didn’t feel like I was living the life I wanted.
I really didn’t know what to do about it. I really didn’t know why I was in the funk.
One day my daughter Kalissa and I got into a bit of a disagreement…Nothing terrible…nothing long-lasting. Definitely needed. I think we both just had a “straw that broke the camel’s back” situation. We totally love each other and we are all good now. In the end, we both know that this disagreement is exactly what needed to happen are, and both so thankful it did.
In the disagreement, Kalissa told me she didn’t think I was happy. I was kind of defensive about that. Hmm. I kind of mulled that over for a long time. Then I started to question myself. Was I happy? Hmm. After some thinking, I didn’t know that I was. I was existing. I had happy moments. I smiled. I laughed. But, inside, was I happy and content with my life? The answer was no.
That’s about the time I started doing some things I didn’t normally do.
-I met up with Ray and the gang in Rochester. Typically, I would have avoided that.
-I started saying no to childcare for the grandkids sometimes
-I went to a cross stitch retreat and really didn’t go with a friend.
-I made plans to go to another retreat in September.
-I got a “town” job.
I didn’t know how to really explain it but I started to feel like I was coming out of my shell.
Then a few days ago, this showed up on one of the thyroid cancer groups that I follow. I was a chart listing the grief process steps. This can also be applied to people going through a crisis or adjustment.
I was reading through it and something under the depression section caught my eye and GLARED at me. It said, “isolate or overly involved with others”. OH, MY WORD!
…a little background if you’re new. I lost my husband in June of 2019 to lung cancer. It was 129 days from diagnosis to death. He was 57 years old and I was 53.
I have seen MANY Greif Cycle charts. Why had I never noticed “isolate or overly involved with others” before when seeing these charts? I think this one was just slightly different or worded just a bit differently…but this was me and I didn’t even know or realize it. I was “overly involved with others” and those others were my family.
I was waking up in the morning. I was looking at their schedules and totally adjusting my day to their day. I would anticipate that Craig would be having a fireman meeting and that Kalissa would be working and I’d need to watch the boys. No one would have asked me to…I would just assume on my own that it would be happening. I would plan my day accordingly. This was no one’s fault. It just happened. I didn’t speak up…I don’t think any of us knew that my “living for them” was actually a sign that I wasn’t doing well.
I seriously thought all along that I was doing great..and for the most part, it didn’t get bad until early June…then July is when Kalissa questioned me on whether I was happy or not.
Oh my word…a week or so later, I was a new person. It was the strangest thing ever. It was like a cool breeze of real happiness.
I was doing many of the things on the chart…
-I was letting go of the old ways
-Willing to see and try new directions
-Accepting new ways
I am making adjustments…
-in activities and routines
-in thoughts beliefs and attitudes
Who knew? Who knew a simple statement from Kalissa saying, “I don’t think you’re happy”, would be a catalyst to get me moving in a better direction?
I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel.
I’ve been examining everything in my life…
Do I really want to save childcare things I’ve had for years? No
Will I ever go back to childcare…NO. No, I won’t.
Do I want to be the grandma that doesn’t go to the party and stays home to watch the grandkids? Nope. I’m open to some but not all the time.
Do I want to get up early in the mornings or stay up late at night? On workdays, I’m fine to get up early but otherwise, I want to be a night owl.
Do I want to eat steak for supper or would I rather have tuna? Seriously some of each but tuna more often.
Do I want this big of a garden? I think Nope.
The whole experience has been very enlightening. I don’t have to base my choices according to everyone else.
For example, I’ve had a bigger garden with the anticipation of other people wanting produce. Wait, What? I end up planting MUCH more than I need…more work for me. Then when I go to give it away, they don’t need any. For the last four years, since my husband passed, I’ve still planted a big garden. I don’t need to do this. I can free up some time. I can free up some space in my garden and in life.
WOW. That was revolutionary for me. I know it sounds crazy but I realized, I am not responsible for planting a garden to feed my adult children and their children too. I can plant a small garden all my own. I have always wanted to plant extra rows of flowers and have cut flowers in the house over the summer. I can do that now because I can put myself first and make choices for myself.
I know many of you are saying “Duh Jo” or “It’s about time, Jo”…but that’s what grief can do. It can cocoon you and make you think the actions are protecting you, and at the moment, they kind of are…but the truth is, that cocoon is grief and it was holding me back from being HAPPY!!
The weight has been lifted off me…it’s funny. For the last few years, I didn’t know I was weighed down. I feel so much better. Much less worrying…many more spontaneous choices…many more choices that put me first. My brain feels so much better. I’m not trying to keep everyone’s work schedule in my brain. I’m not trying to figure out how I am going to fit myself into my own life because I am making some choices that put myself first…not every choice is me first but many are…and honestly, it feels so good.
One drawback is that I am cleaning and pitching stuff out like crazy and it’s taking up some of my crafting time but hey…I’m on a roll getting some stuff done that is LONG overdue. I threw out or donated three kitchen garbage bags of stuff from my bedroom. I took two carloads of stuff and donated it to a childcare provider here in town. It’s wonderful. Nothing around me is safe because I’m making choices right and left on what is staying and what is going!!
It’s so weird that this really all triggered when Kalissa said, “I don’t think you’re happy”.
…and that’s how I came out of the depths of four years of processing grief. Wow…what a long haul. It’s truly the hardest thing I’ve done…and will continue to do. There is more work to be done, and that’s the true story of how grief works….but I’ve never felt better about myself and my progress after losing my husband.
If you ask me if I am happy now, the answer is YES!!