It’s been a rough few weeks. The end of a love affair, no matter who instigates the split, is always hard. There is always second guessing, there is the feeling of failure, there is the wondering of what went wrong and how or whether to ever do something so crazy again. And of course, there is just the abyss of empty weekend mornings, and end of the work day fatigue. The busyness is gone, I have time to think, to work, and to sleep. But, the giddiness, joy, and hope are gone too. Jasper was off rebuilding a boat ramp last week, so I finally had time and space for the dust to settle. And…as things settled out, I realized a few things.
I’m not done grieving yet. The hope and happiness of a love affair, was a nice distraction from this, but I am not done yet. It was arrogant of me to believe that I could somehow speed this process up. I wrote. I reclaimed space, sold, restored and repaired gear. I took a year to spread ashes, visiting all of our old haunts and coming to peace with them. I reestablished my place in my home, in my family, with my friends, and my community as a single person. My memories of Jim were mostly the good ones, rather than the horrors of the last 14 months of his life. I mistook the fading of PTSD with the resolution of grief. Just because I no longer feel sucker punched at the sight of an ambulance, just because I can recreate on Moscow Mountain without screaming at the universe on our special rock, just because I can listen to Widow’s Waltz without having to stop the truck to cry….doesn’t mean I am done grieving. It just means I have finally gotten over the PTSD of watching the man I loved, the man I built a life around…die from brain cancer.
I still have a Jim sized hole in my heart. I can fill my time with friends, work, swimming, running, and biking. Community volunteering keeps me connected and feeling useful as my kid’s dependency on me fades. Being a solo parent and a solo homeowner means I continue to be challenged and continue to learn. But at the end of the day, I still have to face the fact that this is not where I thought I would be at this time in my life. Staying busy fills my time, but it does not fill the Jim sized hole in my heart. They say that time heals all wounds, but given the hole I still have in my heart for my sister….I don’t think that is completely true. Yes, the PTSD fades, but the hole remains. I have a swiss cheese heart.
I don’t have a clue how to date in my 50’s. I’m pretty sure, though not certain, that I would rather not remain solo for the rest of my life. I like the play, I need the touch, and there are intimacy feelings (yup, there’s that nasty sex word again) that are so not dead yet. I knew how to fall in love in my 20’s….when my whole life was ahead of me, location wasn’t as important, and the relationship was all about building a future. I knew how to stay in love with the guy I married. I learned what to put up with, what was worth fighting for, and how to find common ground and affection at the end of the day. Now, in my 50’s, it is different. I have so much more to lose, am less willing to compromise myself, and sometimes I am just tired, tired, tired of doing everything solo. If I date again, this person will have to understand that I will always grieve, that sadness and joy are not mutually exclusive, but strange and wonderful bedfellows. They will have to see that cheerful busyness is as valid a way of covering up sadness as crawling into a cave of sleep and despair. They will know that, although it has more of a bite, swiss cheese is just as delicious as creamy brie.