Maybe I’ve just never been as attuned to processing feelings before as I have been for the last year or so, but HOLY MOLY I’m learning a lot. There’s always something else, something more to learn. I will try to succinctly recap themes and opportunities for growth in my life lately.
For some reason, I have the desire to ‘prove’ to people that I am capable and can do this- anything- whatever it is. In this season, it’s continuing life in San Francisco without Sean. When I quit my job in August, I was worried that people would think I’m in the depths of despair and can’t continue living well. Or that I was being unwise. I don’t know why that continues to be an issue for me, but I’m coming to accept that people will make assessments about everything that everybody does. If you’ve known me for any period of my life, you probably know that I tend to base my decisions on others’ approval and thoughts. I’m learning to be ok with just being honest with myself, with God, and with the close friends and family I share my life with, and that’s enough.
Moving from a married person to a not-married person provides SO MANY DECISIONS. Of course there were so many daily decisions Sean and I made together, but I recall usually being more willing to bend to his opinion. One example that stands out to me is when we were moving for the first time together, and had different opinions about how the process should go. I wanted to go through everything and get rid of things we did not want or need before moving and unpacking everything. Sean, being exactly who he was, wanted to do get things done the quickest and “most efficient” way possible. To him, that meant throwing everything in boxes and getting it over to the new place. We quickly recognized our different processes about this, and I recall a specific moment when I realized Sean’s “no” in that instance was more firm than my “yes.” I think this is how I’ve always lived, and it worked fine for Sean and me.
Now, however, it is just my ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It’s weird the things that come up when your life dynamics change so drastically. I’m learning to decide what I want in so many decisions- what to make for dinner, how to spend my time, where to live, etc. And it is only me that is going to decide these things. And it is only me that will communicate these things to family and to friends. Maybe this is rudimentary for other people, but I’ve always struggled to identify my own opinions and confidently communicate them. When you’re married, you make decisions together and communicate together (or at least have someone else to share the responsibility of an unfavorable decision!) In a sense, I’m learning to be my own person. To identify my own thoughts and opinions. To communicate better, allowing others space for their feelings without taking them on myself. I haven’t mastered these things in the least, but I am taking hold of the learning process and I’m thankful for the opportunities to grow in this way. And I’m thankful for friends and family who allow me the space to learn and grow.
I’m learning so much about who God is. I’ve learned in a real way. I’ve always ‘known’ that God is with me- you know, since I was a kid and was taught that. But now I experience God being with me, in intense feelings. In difficult and stressful situations. I’m learning that I can express all of my thoughts and feelings to him, and I’m learning to listen. I’m learning that I can continually trust him. He has taken care of me in such an overwhelming way- both of Sean and me, and all of our family- that I have no other option than to continue to trust him moving forward. I don’t know how else to say it, but God has been with me in every step and I can keep going forward in confidence knowing that he will be there with me. I’m not saying at all that I’m happy or don’t have awful days, or that every time I’m feeling down I am comforted. I just know that God is with me and will continue to walk me through hardship, and because of that I feel safe. On that note, I’m learning that I need God. A lot.
I wish I could say I’ve learned how to change a car headlight, but I hardly got started before needing help (thanks Aaron!). Maybe I’ll continue working on learning this car maintenance thing. …Or continue learning how to ask for help. Hopefully both.
I’ve learned that grieving is HARD. And it’s EXHAUSTING. As someone that desires constant affirmation (another thing I’m working on…), I’ve learned that really what I want to hear is encouragement. Maybe this is some window into my psyche, but “you’re doing a great job” goes a long way. Because I really feel that I’m taking hold of this process and squeezing every feeling and every drop out of it. Obviously God has helped me immensely and has used my family and my friends to help me. I’m so grateful for that.
And: I think I’m doing a pretty good job.
I don’t think it’s said enough, and I really wish people suffering incredible loss would hear this:
It’s so hard and you’re continuing to walk through it. Even though you’d rather be in any other place but here, you’re doing it. And you’re doing a good job.
I’ve learned how to make Thai soup. I’m learning how to parallel park better (sigh). I’m currently learning a lot about filing taxes after your spouse dies. I’m learning to communicate efficiently with service professionals over the phone (still working on that one).
There’s infinitely more, and I have a feeling I won’t be done anytime soon. Or ever. Right now, I’m thankful for opportunities for growth, and I’m also thankful I can see things with that lens. I’m tired of learning, stretching, being uncomfortable ……..
but I’m learning that maybe I’ll never be perfect and there will always be something to learn.