I've always been a good researcher. Colleges? (None of which I could afford or decide upon.) Check. Pregnancy? I read every book, blog & babycenter.com article I could get my hands on. Parenting? I read my Hip Mama's Guide to Teenagers 2 years ago, just as my oldest started to reach adolescence. I've read relationship books and self help tomes and books about spirituality. I have a veritable library of DIY & crafting books and can tell you all the steps that go into making a homemade rag rug (not that I've actually, you know, made one.). Cancer hit too quickly for me to do much reading but I devoured every caregiving/end of life care article my brain could manage to absorb. Widowhood & single parenting I've been able to delve into, as evidenced by the stack of books in my room with titles such as Parenting the Grieving Child, Lost Fathers: Helping Women Overcome Adolescent Father Loss, Widows Wear Stillettos and Wife, Interupted. I've spent way too much on books for my kids about grief and workbooks for all of us to work through should we ever decide to do so. Tips and tricks and how-to's, I hoard them like a dragons gold.
I have this compulsion that makes me think if I read everything I can about something, I will be in control. Sometimes, it really does help. Much of the time it just leaves me feeling simply inadequate.
A big part of this is fear. You may not be able to tell now, but I was extremely shy as a kid. I had a hard time feeling like I was good enough... I always felt like the outsider. Books were my refuge and gathering knowledge became a source of power. I would panic and say the wrong thing in real life, but in my own private world... I knew things. I understood. Its always been the application of knowledge that has been difficult for me.
So, I've read all of these books, blogs, forum postings and articles about losing your husband. And many of the books, especially, end with a focus on self discovery. Whether it be a successful new career, advocacy or some other way of turning the pain of losing the one you love -and with it, a huge part of yourself- into something positive. A new direction, a newfound strength. A purpose. And I finish each one and think What is wrong with me? Why am I still overwhelmed, still so fragile? Why haven't I been inspired to do something great? Sonething Ellen Show worthy? What if that never happens to me and I end up just... stuck?
It boils down to my impatience for the vantage of time. I forget that these writers are writing after years of living with their new reality. Sure, maybe a few found the dedication and energy to pursue something new right away... but for most people it takes years. It takes time... of living in the trenches, of sitting with the loneliness, of embracing the sadness. And I'm still there.
I'm still expecting the old me to come back. I'm still fighting the soul sucking, mind warping, judgement clouding black cloud that hangs above, always an inch away from a downpour. I still experience nerve shredding anxiety attacks. No longer daily, but often enough. I'm still exhausted, physically and mentally, all of the time. I'm still raw.
I wish I believed in myself enough to embrace the patience that I need to heal. I want to be good. NOW. And I'm just Ok. It has to be enough. I'm doing my best, some days. Many days I'm just going through the motions, putting on the mask and pretending to be better than I am. For now, that has to be enough.