Last year I breezed through the holidays, much like everything else at that time, with relative ease. I was on autopilot, and largely in a daze. I was over medicated, because the first thing doctors do when your husband dies is shove pills at you. This is not a solution for the problem, but it seems to be the status quo. I felt like an emotionless zombie for far longer than I should’ve.
Through therapy and quitting Xanax and Prozac cold turkey, I’m better. I don’t recommend that approach, but I did it and survived it. I had been using it as a crutch the minute I felt anything other than good. I remember looking in the mirror last year and feeling like my eyes looked dead. It was startling to see what that much anxiety medicine was doing to me, but my doctor was still encouraging me to take it daily to “cope”.
That’s not coping.
Coping is dragging myself into therapy whether I want to or not and walking out feeling like I can actually face what’s ahead, and what’s ahead is complicated.
The worst part about being a widow is holidays. Every holiday with Matt was special. He had the ability to make every day special but holidays were his favorite. I find myself not really knowing how to celebrate important things without him. He loved everything about the holidays and his enthusiasm kicked into high gear around Halloween and did not stop until we rang in the year ahead. He was joy personified, with a whole lot of British sarcasm thrown in for good measure.
I’m finding it hard to lock down plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas specifically, simply because I don’t know how I’m going to feel on those days. I’m torn between wanting to be surrounded by people and not wanting to be, mostly because I don’t want to be a burden emotionally to anyone if I can’t find joy in the days. Grief is weird. Finding a new normal is weird. Everything is weird.
This one decided we needed a Christmas tree up the day after Halloween. Because I cater to her every whim most days, we did it.
Instant happiness. Like her dad, she is joy personified.
As I talked to my therapist last night about my plans for how to navigate the holidays alone, I figured one thing out- there are no plans that feel steady. Nothing feels solid. I go through life mostly holding on to the “good” because I feel that, at any moment, every good feeling may be the last one I have. It’s a battle between my head and my heart and it impacts every aspect of my life. I wish it didn’t. I just have to put on my fancy holiday anxiety and deal with it.
Last year I was numb. This year I feel. Numb would be easier, but feeling the actual emotions that come with losing a spouse is the healthy way to do it, even if it is the harder way. I hope that on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year we feel held, even if we just hold on to each other.