28 March 2010

Struggle

I'm up too late. I've been bad about that over the past few weeks, staying up late knowing that it will make me less happy and less productive the next day. It's a special brand of self-sabotage; if I make sure I haven't had enough sleep, I have something on which to blame my bad attitude and lack of discipline.

I've been struck lately, sometimes prompted and sometimes out of the blue, by random memories of times of unexpected joy, life experiences that were just more than I expected they would be. The unexpected pureness of those events makes for vivid detail and utter clarity. I have lots of memories like this from college, one of the most intense and overall positive times in my life. I have a few memories like this from Peace Corps, although many of my Peace Corps recollections are shrouded in a haze of loneliness and unhappiness that I was not fully aware of at the time.

I've seen a lot of college friends over the past week, which is perhaps what's bringing these memories to the surface. It's great to see everyone and their families, spend time with people who have known me for so long and who got to know me at at such a transformational time in my life. While I might not be in frequent touch with many of them, whenever I have the chance to see them, I feel like they understand me in a way that many other people don't.

The memories and the time together have, though, made temporarily deeper a constant struggle I have, that of trying to be content with the life I have rather than regretful of the life I thought I would have, or jealous of the life I think I want. It's not that I don't appreciate the many good things in my life. I do. Truly, I do. But my life is not what I imagined it would be. If I could order a life off of a menu, it's not the one I'd choose.

I'm sure this is true for many people. Most people. All people? For certain, no one's life is perfect, and for certain, no one's life is constant pure joy. But it's still hard for me to be around friends with their spouses and partners and kids and watch them interact in seamless and intimate ways and not to feel that my life is less for what I lost. Not that it's not good, no, it is. I've created a thoughtful and meaningful life for myself and my family in John's absence. I have Maddie and Riley, and there are the rest of my family and bountiful friends and a good job and a city that is my home. We have enough food and we have a car and a house and really, in terms of the physical, we want for nothing. I want for nothing. I'm at peace with what my life is and with the many things for which I am grateful.

But yet, it is less than I want, less than I feel I deserve, as though that's how life works. And it's a struggle for me, especially right now, for whatever reason, to be at peace with that.

21 comments:

BiancaW said...

I don't know what else to say, except that, I am sorry.

Hope you are doing okay.

XXX

Sadia said...

Sleeplessness brings out similar feelings for me, although my husband is alive and well. Daylight Saving Time changes bring on sleeplessness. How I hate DST!

For me, I think much of the, "What am I doing with my life? Do I want something different?" stems from the increasing independence of my almost-4-year-old daughters. I no longer feel the pull to identify as their mother and nothing else; they're their own people now, although I still have the privilege of guiding them.

I love my husband, and understand that military separations are part of the package I married into, but it can be so draining. I too look at happy intimate couples and wonder when we'll be together long enough to establish that sort of fluency. I just accept that the time for me, and for us, will be after he retires. I just hope that between now and then, I'll figure out what fulfills me. And that he returns from war unscathed.

Aimee said...

I understand what you are saying and have felt that way, too. Though our circumstances are different, I can really relate to what you are saying.

I hope you feel better soon. It's no fun to be in that place, especially for long. I visit "what if" or "what might have been" land sometimes, and I can't linger long. Hoping for sunnier, better days for you.

Suddenwidow said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. It's difficult to not yearn for what we've lost, despite the fact that we have healthy children, a roof over our heads, a job, and a life that, if seen by someone who didn't know our husbands died, would be deemed to be good. Yet missing him, and the life we'd planned, overshadows the good somedays, many days. I hope that the sun shines in your life this week and the shadow disappears, at least for a little while.

django's mommy said...

Yes, absolutely that.

My parents bought me a book called something like 'This is not the life I ordered' that helped, sometimes.

Sometimes I just want the ease and innocence of my old life back. Sometimes I don't want this new, 'stronger', 'resilient' me, with her Highly Capable self-ness. I definitely feel that yearning more poignantly when I am around families, particularly families who are like ours Should Have Been. I try not to go there, but sometimes it just comes out.

I don't think I ever add anything to your experience by my comments, but your blog continues to validate my experiences as a widow, so thank you again. :)

lastchanceivf said...

I wish I had words of comfort. But your words about the life not being the one you imagined definitely resonates with me. I have not lost a spouse and I cannot even begin to imagine that heartache, but I have lost the chance at a family with my spouse. And it is not the life I would have picked out from a life menu either, despite having lots and lots of wonderful things too.

I'm just so so sorry for your pain.

NanarocksWeen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Watercolor said...

Understand. I'm 42. Still single. No kids. Always always thought I'd be a wife and mom. Now, mom looks extremely unlikely and it drives a stake through my heart. Do I have the life I thought I'd have? Nope. Sucks. Struggling to figure out what my life IS then. Not easy. Trying to pay attention to what makes me joyful. And see if I can build a life towards that. Cause I don't even know if love will ever be a part of my life, either. sigh But I will make sure joy is. I have to.

Crash Course Widow said...

I, too, do the insomnia/late-night sabotage when I get low too. I seek the time to just veg out after Anna's asleep...and then when I'm crankier than usual the next day/week, I can blame it on the bad night's sleep instead of what's really wrong. Oh, yes. It's an excellent strategy. [Snort.] I know I do it, and why I do it, but I still do it anyway. Oops.

Two paragraphs you wrote really resonated with me: "The memories and the time together have, though, made temporarily deeper a constant struggle I have, that of trying to be content with the life I have rather than regretful of the life I thought I would have, or jealous of the life I think I want. It's not that I don't appreciate the many good things in my life. I do. Truly, I do. But my life is not what I imagined it would be. If I could order a life off of a menu, it's not the one I'd choose."

"But yet, it is less than I want, less than I feel I deserve, as though that's how life works. And it's a struggle for me, especially right now, for whatever reason, to be at peace with that."

Yup. Right there with you. In fact, I was thinking almost exactly these same things Sat. night at Charley's parents' house in GP, as I was unable to sleep and couldn't stop thinking about how I wanted what I had. And despite it being almost 5 years of widowhood for me, I still don't really know what to do with that feeling and knowledge.

Hugs, my friend.

Dr. Smak said...

Oh, Snick. How this resonates with me. We are vibrating on the same wavelength this week.

Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to be a single parent, it is hard to move, it is hard to start a new job and it is an incredibly hard time of year for your family. Grief comes and goes in such non-linear ways. Be good to yourself.

OTRgirl said...

Reading both of these posts back to back, I feel like I'm reading into this more recent one. Even though it was only two dates, you've been hit with a fresh loss in the sense of a loss of a dream. Nothing 'serious' yet, but still. For me that would add to the weight of 'if only' that you already carry.

NanarocksWeen said...

The comment I deleted said pretty much the same thing as OTRgirl posted. She said it better! But that's what I was kind of thinking too...

Jen said...

"My life is not what I imagined it would be... It is less than I want, less than I feel I deserve." Ah Snick, I'm fighting with the same disappointment and discontent (just wrote a post on it!). I'm hoping it's temporary, though; that my "real life" is out there waiting for me to be ready to accept it. Change will come again for us both, and the disconnect between what we expected our lives to be and what they are will be less stark with time. At least, I'm hoping so.

Sam said...

I never make it to bed before midnight. After like 8 or 9pm I get a total second wind and get so much. Easily could stay up until 3am.

Some parts of my life are so much better than I ever dreamed, but this is not at ALL how I thought college would be.

Death changes shit.

Emily said...

What Watercolor said is so much like what I was going to say. I'm quickly approaching 36 and single with no kids. It's not the life I wanted. Everwhere around me people have the thing I want most; a partner and a family. I'm struggling to come to terms with a life that isn't what I want it to be. And yet it is a good life. Just not... quite enough.

Mary Ellen said...

After reading this post and the last one - I'd say, you've had a pretty restless time, recently - no wonder you have trouble settling and sleeping. Baby yourself (warm milk, bubble-bath) whatever it takes, and consider it the well-earned affection of those who know you well and other well-wishing folks like these readers.

Sionainn said...

Our twins are a bit younger...but there are a few of us SMCs with twins in PDX...our path to this family structure are different (although not necessarily what we would have ordered up either) and I cannot fully relate to the grief you experience but if it would be helpful to hang out with women juggling similar balls we'd be happy to hang out sometime.

Angela said...

I know I feel the same way a lot. I have a pretty wonderful life but at times I just wonder, is this all there is? Yes, I should just slap myself and feel grateful, and I am grateful, but I keep feeling what else can I do to make a difference. Arrgh!
I truly hope you find the answers and peace you are looking for. Please remember you are not alone. Wish there was something I could do other than just write these words, you deserve happiness, love and laughter. Please take care.

Anonymous said...

Time does work wonders, to that I can attest. But as you write in your posts, you have changed in ways that are probably not totally reversible. So in spite of time easing the grief of the big loss of the person you loved, there is the grief of losing who you were. I have found my desire to have that person back (the person I once was) to be the strongest one now, and I hope with (even more) time, to come to grips with that and be content with myself.

Miss Maha said...

Just a little note to say that I think about you all the time and love how you are always able to articulate your thoughts and share them with us. You're such a good writer, and I love how honest you are with yourself and us. Thank you for sharing, and I'm wishing the best for you always.