How did February get by me?? Well, actually I know the answer to that. I’ve been up to my neck in DIY projects – painting, installing new baseboards, painting, changing out electrical plugs & switches (and pinning down the puzzle that is my breaker box), painting, decluttering, oh and did I mention painting?!? Good thing I’m a believer in pan liners and throw away rollers – it’s bad enough that I have to clean out my brushes (I experimented with cheap brushes, but you can never paint a nice, clean edge with them). There is still more painting to go – but nothing big. There’s the half bath and trim around the doors and banisters – but it’s all fiddly work that will take a lot of time and won’t give me much visual bang for my buck… much like my current project of putting my rooms back together. It took me most of a morning to just hang blinds and curtain rods. Why does it take so long?? Still, things are coming together and doing projects like these is good for me. I’m a little obsessive about how things look – I like things put away and orderly. I can live with a mess, but not for very long. So, when all I really want to do is go read a book, I pick up the drill or paintbrush instead and at the end of the day I feel better. Plus, this mess isn’t going away for awhile so even if I wanted to stop, I can’t really. I know I signed myself up for this craziness but really, it feels better than last year when I was battling depression and really didn’t want to do anything besides read. I’m lucky I have good friends who kept me socializing.
Today as I was walking in the green belt I got to thinking about grief and grieving. I have felt remarkably better in the past few months and it has made me try to figure out what has changed. 2014, after Tom died, was mostly just me in shock and trying to get through each day the best I could. I did a lot of crying and talking and being constantly surprised at what grieving had to offer (like strange physical ailments and lack of appetite, and a kind of mental fog). 2015 was better in that the intense grieving came in waves of greater and greater intervals. I dealt with a lot of personal stress. Some of it was difficult like making the decision to have Andrew enter a residential treatment program. Some of it was happy like helping Spencer and Kayla get married. I’m really good in stressful situations. I function well and my emotions stay in check. But afterwards … when I was in college I always got deathly ill after finals. Now I tend to fall into depression. I have better tools than I used to, but 2016 was a really long bout of low level depression. I kept telling myself things were going to get better – spring was coming – there’d be more sunshine and a break from early morning seminary, etc. etc. But man, did the depression hang on. Things started looking up this past fall, for which I’ve been so grateful.
Still, I think grieving is a funny thing. It feels SOOO bad. Seriously, I had no idea I could feel that bad – so bad that my body felt bad. I had random weird stuff happen – a sudden bout of vertigo and an attack of what felt like food poisoning (but was really just an emotional reaction). Even day to day, my appetite changed and foods tasted weird and I had no energy to do anything. And what do we do when we feel bad? We try to fix it or distract from it or replace it. The thing I realized really early on was that there was no fixing this. The thing I wanted most (having Tom back) was not happening, no matter how very much I longed for it. That was actually a freeing realization – there wasn’t anything I could do so there was no responsibility to do anything except just feel the feelings (which isn’t a picnic). I have done my fair share of distraction – my drug of choice is reading and the more escapist the better. But really, I can’t realistically read more now than I did before Tom passed away. I have always used books to escape from the hard stuff for a little while, at least. Replacing grief – that is one way of coping that is very common. I admit, there is a big part of me that would like to jump back into the marriage pool. I miss the companionship and the intimacy and the bigger world that comes with being a partner in a marriage. But I’m glad that my practical side has held sway as long as it has. I can just imagine what a second marriage would look like if I were still trying to cope with the depression I had last year. I wasn’t in any shape to begin the work of a new relationship. Still, there’s something to be said for finding someone who can help you work through all the emotions that grief creates. It’s been some lonely work here. On the upside, my ability to trust and have faith in Heavenly Father has grown by leaps and bounds. I honestly had begun to wonder if I would really ever understand how to do that … but I have learned it over the past two and a half years, and it is a great blessing in my life. I feel a lot less worry than I used to. So, that’s the grief update – and maybe the last one. Missing Tom is always going to be part of me but lately I’ve felt more at peace about that. I’m confident that in the next life we will be reunited, and in the meantime, we both have work to do and life to live. I’m sure there will be days when I need a good cry, but mostly life is good.
So, I’ll try and do a blog update on the diy stuff – maybe at the end of the week. I’d like to post some pictures now that things are starting to get put back together. Some things are waiting on having the wood floors refinished – but I don’t want to do that until I’ve got all the painting done, so it’ll be a little while before I get there. Still, it’s nice to see things looking cared for again.