A new beginning

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Girl alone in Field-ID11559-640x427My friend tells me if you send out ‘intentions’ to the ‘universe’ for things you want, they will be fulfilled.

I knew I wouldn’t be alone for the rest of my life, but I also knew I had to be happy with myself before I could share my life with someone else.

This time last year I tried to take my life. I had been in an abyss of depression and grief, a dark hole pushing me down, down, down. It may sound cliché, but all I saw was unending sadness and darkness. That was the bottom.

But from the bottom you rise up, and I did, tentatively and methodically. Depression had been a place of comfort for me. It had always defined me. It was my safe place, ironically not at all safe.

To rise up, I had lessons to learn. I had to retrain my brain to think differently than the way it had worked in the past. Part of my journey was a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  (CBT) course and learning to look at the positive instead of sliding automatically to the negative. I had to learn to control my anxiety and, ultimately, be at peace with myself.

I knew I had to be in a place where I was happy being alone with myself and feel strong on my own.

Once I learned my lessons through CBT, and put them into practice, I began to change. I did find a happier place. I could feel it becoming part of my life. I felt comfort remembering Bob. I shed the guilt I was carrying. I could rejoice Bob’s life and remember him forever, but now I could share mine with someone else.

I began to speak my intention out loud, telling friends so it was no longer a thought but a spoken intention. I no longer felt like it would be betraying Bob. For the first time since he died I felt he wanted me to be happy and that the ‘new normal’ life would include a new relationship.

Couple Silhouette Sunset-ID11554-640x427At the end of December I met someone. He is special, kind, caring and very different from Bob. It’s been a month since we met, but it seems like it’s been much longer. And we are both open to finding out how it will unfold and happy with how it is now.

I don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me what will happen in a month, or a year, but I’ve learned to live in the moment (through practicing meditation and mindfulness over the past two years). And right now, in this moment, this feels right, and it’s time to share it.

May his memory be a blessing

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So many days and dates have passed. A year from when I was in the hospital came and went. I meant to acknowledge it and I did, in my head, but not through my fingers – words on the page. 

Some days I slip back, but now I feel like I’m taking three steps forward and only one back, once in a while. 

I am not a widow anymore. I am a person standing on my own. But sometimes I lean on the pasGirlfriends-ID11545-640x427t. People can talk about former relationships and no one flinches, but when someone mentions a loved one who died they cringe, so I share my memories with others who have lost their partners and we nod in unison. We remember fond memories as the sadness recedes it’s still there. How do we explain this to someone who doesn’t know? And how do those of us left behind move on, cope and remember? This is what I believe.

When you lose someone from this earth, when their last breath is expelled, there is an indelible mark left on those who spent their lives with that person. The closer you were to them the stronger the bond. Eventually we begin remembering happier times, but we never forget, and a pain sears through our chest when some memories come. We don’t want to let go. We need them to be remembered. 

I’ve been wanting to do this and I’m ready. I’m writing a book that I hope will help others understand so that that when they go through the loss – and it’s more likely than not that they will – hopefully they won’t feel so alone. So the book begins like this…

One, two, orange, blue. How many will it take? Should I just use the whole bottle?

I was counting pills that night. There was no rational thought. I had reached the bottom of an endless number of sad, lonely days. I felt weak and welcomed death. Anything I could do to alleviate my pain had to be better than what I was feeling day after day after day.

Profound, gut-wrenching grief is horrible. In the beginning you don’t believe there is anything but pain. The journey itself seems insurmountable. But the opposite of living is not living, and for those left behind it leaves another horrible hole of despair.

When someone you love dies there are lessons to be learned. But when you are awash with grief you are numb. It’s nature’s way of protecting you. Slowly the protection peels away and then comes the excruciating painful reality. “He is here. No, he’s gone. I should tell him that. Oh, no. I can’t. He’s not here…” It plays over and over in your mind like a horrible song. It knocks you over and punches you in the gut. You get up. It happens again.

I’ve heard people say that when a loved one dies friends are there for you, but then they go away. My story is different. For me people came to help, some I barely knew, because I posted on social media and people felt a connection to me and my story, and to Bob. They were knocking at my door. Calling me. Some shared confidences in person, others on social media, telling me secrets about their own lives and intimate journeys. Some things I remember, but not everything as I fell into and out of the fog.

Each person who entered my life over the course of days, months and these past years had a lesson for me. My mind selectively chose which ones to remember. Many have been repeated and ingrained in my heart.

When someone you love dies, part of you dies too. My fight to find purpose in life again has been long and arduous. Grief took away my role as wife and partner. It shattered family ties. Some mended, but will never be the same. And so there is more loss. 

I am not overtly religious, but one thing I heard over and over again was the phrase “May his (or her) memory be a blessing.” This is a Jewish honorific – an expression conveying respect or esteem when addressing or referring to a person. I read somewhere that when we mention the deceased person’s name and we say it along with “blessed memory” this infers that each time you think of someone who has died, or say their name, they are blessed, and so are you. So the memory you have of them turns into a blessing for you and for their soul.

I want Bob’s mehappy woman-570883_1280mory to be a blessing. He was a beautiful person and I hope that I can share that too, as well as the lessons I learned through grief. The lessons he taught me when he passed on. May his memory be a blessing.

I am anxious about…or am I?

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I am taking part in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy group for Anxiety. The idea it to desensitize you to your  anxiety by revising them. The first step is to write down scenarios of what I think could happen based on my most anxiety-provoking thoughts, as if they are happening to me right now. I have struggled with this trying to decide what to write about and have come up with another way of looking at this. So this is a draft of what I think I will share with my group.

angst-802639_1280I have been asked to write down what will create the most anxiety for me, and write it in the first person, so here it is.

I am afraid that I will be alone. That my husband will get sick and die. That family relationships will falter as a result of this loss. That I will end up in the mental ward of a hospital because I tried to commit suicide.

Oh yea, right. That happened.

The idea of writing down the anxiety and worst-case scenarios, then revisiting them over and over again is to desensitize you to them. And perhaps the CBT for Anxiety would have been beneficial if I hadn’t been living all the outcomes of anxiety-provoking situations, and pushing myself into some these situations, or having to face them because there is no other choice.

Here are some examples. I hate driving long distances and in busy traffic. Over the past year plus I’ve been driving long distance to Michigan to visit my Dad and the traffic there is harrowing, but I haven’t had an accident (yet anyway) and if I do I’ll have to face that. That doesn’t stop me from driving there or to Toronto either.

My dad almost died in the hospital so drove there in the winter – I hate winter driving – and had to live through the whole hospital situation again. (My husband got sick March 11th 2013 and died June 18, 2013 and you don’t want to hear the whole story or it will make you cry. Trust me because it’s made many people cry.) But here I am taking care of someone in the hospital again. I’ve been exposed to hospital settings over and over again since my husband died. I’ve felt PTSD, re-living the past in these hospital situations, but continued this immersion because I had to, and I actually am desensitized to it.

I hated public speaking. I joined Toastmasters. And sometimes it’s uncomfortable but I’ve done speeches and survived. I’ve been on panels professionally and done hour-long presentations in front of groups. I’ve been teaching classes since 2002. Sometimes one person in the class doesn’t like something I’ve done and I’ve learned to accept that. On a larger anxiety-ridden scale, my teaching contract wasn’t renewed because the head of the department took a personal disliking to me. I felt ashamed but I had to go on. I prefer everyone to like me, but in reality not everyone will. That can be a really tough pill to swallow in job-related situation. But I’m alive.

eyes-730743_1280I don’t like to make a fool of myself (or feel like I am) but I’m taking risks that could lead to that; learning guitar from an instructor who won’t let me give up, taking Zumba classes at age 60 in a room full of mostly younger people. I ran an interview teleseminar this week and it was scary, but I survived and will be doing these bi-monthly for a while.

I am a professional writer but became afraid of negative outcomes and began sabotaging the work I was getting, thus creating the negative outcomes myself. But I learned that not working is worse. It inflates my low self-esteem, an issue I’ve dealt with most of my life. So this isn’t the outcome I want and I will be working to get work again. It’s scary, but I’m living this one, not just writing it out.

I write about my husband’s illness, death, my journey after, revealing myself completely. Guess what? It turns out people what to help. In fact they’re actually drawn to your story, even more so when it’s a sad, devastating story about someone you know personally, or have gotten to know through social media. As a result I have new friends who are there for me when I need them.

masks-827731_1280I really don’t like being alone. I never envisioned this life for myself, but now I’m living it. Do I want to write out the worst-case scenario? Not really, because I don’t believe I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t. But first I have to live with living alone and being lonely and I face that every day. Weekends are the worst for me, but I come through alive every Monday.

As for what “could happen,” I don’t lose sleep over whether I’ll get a horrible disease, could be in a car accident, or may be accosted in a dark alley. I live safely, but don’t close myself up and hide in the house.

After two years of devastating grief and slowly climbing up from a dark pit, I’m realizing that the laws of attraction have benefits. I believe that positivity draws people and positive situations to you. Negativity repels possible relationships and good things that can happen. Who wants to be around someone who is always negative? We avoid them, right?

So, truthfully, I think I have cleared things that created anxiety for me, but may have even gone beyond that because I have faced my most anxiety-provoking issues head on.

happy woman-570883_1280In reality, I’m grasping at straws trying to write down negative things that aren’t really causing me anxiety. I know that the real secret is to Live In The Moment. That’s the lesson here. We some control over the future, but not over unforeseen events. We can’t keep creating ‘what if’ situations because chances are even when they happen you have no idea what the outcome will be.

 

The Magic: Happy is a Choice

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/Free DigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/Free DigitalPhotos.net

The ability to be happy has always be there for me, but I’ve never wanted to carry through. Sometimes it’s easier to wallow in self-pity and depression. Every time you get knocked down you want to say “This is too much! I can’t keep trying to get up!’ OR… you can seek ways to make your days happy. These are the lessons I’ve learned, but I haven’t been practicing the learning that is supposed to lead me to a fulfilling life. Now I am at a crossroads. I need to find a place with less pain and more happiness. When you’re in pain you fight hard to get rid of it…

When I was younger I hurt my back. It was so excruciating it overshadowed my whole life. Some days I was incapacitated. I needed a cane to walk. My daughter (9 at the time) had to tie my shoes for me. I felt defeated. But the pain drove me to find a way to better health. It was difficult, and took several years, but today I walk upright. With the help of chiropractic care, massage therapy and after intensive physiotherapy, I now swim and exercise regularly and consider myself blessed because I have my health back. I fought to get here.

But my mind has not been healthy. That became evident after Bob died. I hid behind him. He was my support too. Then he was gone.

Image courtesy of Supertrooper/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Supertrooper/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The beginning of my path to finding positive mental health came when I had a breakdown and ended up in the hospital. After I was referred to group therapy classes. When Bob got sick and after I’ve seen a multitude of therapists. Friends have taught me affirmations. I’ve practiced meditation. But I realize that I haven’t truly being following through with intention to heal myself. I was always looking for someone to make me happy.

Now I know that even though I feel alone I’m really the only person who can make me happy. So I get up and dust myself off again, and start my newest venture. I am following the book The Magic (thanks to my friend Simone​ for sharing this with me).

Today I am writing about my dreams for a better life and what it will look like – health and body, career & work, money, relationships, etc. I will write 10 things every day that I am grateful and feel blessed for having in my life. And each day I will read and do what the book suggests for that day.

To some this will sound like phooey. I get that. I was that person not so long ago. But I know now, and- have seen proof, that the universe gives back what you give to it. Positive attracts. Negative repels. I have been following the negative path. I am persevering to travel the positive road.

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bandrat/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Change is hard, and I know this just as much – maybe more – than anyone else. I need to have the momentum to stay the course no matter what obstacles are placed in my way. I must persevere because there are no other choices. This is the only way I will survive and, more than that, learn to love life again and draw other people to me so I am surrounded by love and caring. I have to learn to banish the negative depression and sad things from my mind and push on.

And if I falter I will re-read this post again, because we all need to be reminded that life has its ups and downs. Sometimes we just have to believe in what we believed in as children, that magic is real.

One Day at a Time Part III

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CBT FOR DEPRESSION: How I’ve Changed
June 23, 2015

  • I haven’t been truly depressed for a while. I have sad days and moments of depression, but they pass quickly.
  • I continue to live by the decision to live, but not just for others, but for me.
  • I don’t need to be depressed to write from the heart. My best writing has been through this journey. I have touched so many people and they tell me this constantly. They continue to reach out. I am just trying to figure out how I can write from the heart without tears. This is my next lesson.
  • Depression doesn’t have to be my safety net or blanket of comfort. I have lived with it for so long I didn’t think I could survive without it but I can. I just have to take it one day at a time.
  • Life is always about learning. I have to keep learning how to live in a healthy way and, unfortunately, without Bob. It still makes me cry and I’ll never “get over it.” Life isn’t fair and I don’t have the “why” answers, but I am no longer afraid of death. I am always surprised and feel inspired when I learn something new that rings true with me.
  • I will never be happy every single day, but when I am happy people are drawn to me (not just when I’m sad and grieving). When I’m not happy I will cry but the sadness won’t last forever.
  • I want to work again, and I am taking steps to do this now, marketing, setting goals – things I could never do before, even when Bob was alive.
  • I can make plans for the future and set goals. Setting goals always scared me my whole life because I felt I had to do it in some perfect way. Maybe I won’t meet the exact goals but at least I’m trying. And maybe life will take me takes me on a different path but “I am doing the best I can” and “It’s good enough.”
  • Bob’s death didn’t cause my depression and anxiety but contributed to the depth of both. I have always been plagued by depression and anxiety (more than just your average anxious moments). Bob was my anchor and kept me grounded. My grief journey has been doubly hard because of this. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do., but I am stronger because of this journey.
  • I am more aware of my mental health. Everyday people struggle with anxiety and depression, but try to ignore it or don’t recognize what it is . It seeps  into their lives and relationships and can destroy them. I recognize the signs of depression and anxiety and have been given the tools to combat them. Even more important, I have been given the gift of true insight and I am grateful for this.

Note to self: Sadness will come again but it doesn’t have to overshadow my life. Reach out and ask for help and it will be there.

NOTE: June 29, 2015 I went to see my psychiatrist and asked him to release me from his care. I continue on medication under the care of my own doctor now and with the help of a therapist I journey into a new program, CBT for anxiety as I venture back into life and finding my new normal.

One Day at a Time Part II

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This is the second post about my learning outcomes and how I’ve changed following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression. When I finished the program I was asked what I LEARNED. And I wrote this out because I find writing the best way to express my ideas in the most coherent way for me.

CBT FOR DEPRESSION: What I’ve Learned
June 23, 2015

I call this program, Train the Brain because I believe that’s exactly what it does. I believe that a combination of the new medication I’m on, and the learning and daily documenting of positives in my life, that were part of this program, resulted in these positive outcomes:

I have changed my thinking patterns and coping strategies to deal with depressionThis has also helped me control my anxiety.

Look for the positive, but more importantly I now WANT to focus on the positive. I had the tools to do this before, but didn’t allow myself to do it. In part, this had to do with feeling guilty that Bob was dead and a belief that I should somehow suffer to make his memory a blessing.

I am the only one who can take control of my life and my mind. I have been given the tools to do this but without the will there is no way this will happen.

It’s not all about me. There were several quotes posted in the room where the group therapy took place. My favorite was:

“What others think of me is none of my business.”

If something went wrong, someone was mad or unhappy, I felt like I did something wrong. The truth is that it’s not all about me, it’s about them. It’s so hard to learn this and even harder to believe it, but if you do it frees you.

The true meaning of living in the moment and mindfulness. This came to me in the last two weeks of the program. It was like a light switched on and that amazing “ah ha” moment came to me.

  • I can’t control what happened in the past. To ruminate over all the bad or sad things won’t make it better. By brooding over past mistakes I can never move forward.
  • I don’t have control over future. Bad things will happen, but good things will happen too. Focusing on “What if?” isn’t going to change the future. In fact, this creates anxiety.
  • In the moment means being PRESENT AT THAT MOMENT. Yes, we are busy. Our mind often moves back to the past, or goes forward to the future, but if we are really, truly aware that the present is where we are, then by focusing on that present moment we make the most of our lives. We don’t rush through every moment and miss it.
  • We can only do our best at any given moment, and maybe by doing this we have less regrets. No more: “should have, would have, could have.” 

Good enough is good enough: I recently read a book about not trying to be a perfectionist because we can never do anything perfectly. I’ve spent my entire life trying to live up impossible expectations, set by me for me. I believe I was trying to be perfect but, of course, could never achieve it. Good enough is good enough.

I am not alone in my struggle with depression. Through my hospitalization and hospital therapies, including the CBT class, I found people who really understand how I’ve been feeling. They have dragged the ball and chain of depression around themselves. These are everyday people you would say ‘hi’ to on the street. They are not “crazy,” in fact most are more sane than some people who won’t admit they are plagued by anxiety and depression and don’t take the time to figure out how to be the best they can be.

Taking time for oneself isn’t a sin but rather a gift we can give ourselves. We don’t need to work 24/7 or always have the cleanest house or the biggest or the best this or that, or work long hours at work to be better. Do you really want your headstone to say “Hard Worker?” instead of “Loving Daughter, Wife, Mother, Friend…?”

I have family, friends and even acquaintances who care about me. I have met people in hospital and through therapies who are kindred spirits. I have friends all over Canada and the US who saved me the night I almost took my life. Through social media, after I posted my concern about finding someone to take care of the cats I had just brought into my life, they sprang into action and contacted friends and family here who came to help.

I am starting to believe that I am capable. I’m still plagued by anxiety (to a lesser degree) and low self esteem (and, to some degree, imposter syndrome). But almost every day someone tells me how I’ve inspired them. I am starting to believe that I am capable of inspiring people and, most importantly I deserve to be happy.

Next post: How I’ve Changed.

 

One Day at a Time, Part I

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In March I wrote about the fact that I was taking a program – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression. This was the second mental health therapy program I’ve taken since I was released from the hospital. It has been a challenge, to say the least.

I’ve been writing about metamorphosis lately and that’s where I believe I am now. I had a meeting with one of the case workers at the hospital who ran the CBT program and I had to tell her What I Learned and How I’ve Changed. So, being me, a writer, I wrote about it.  I’ll break this down into a few posts over the week because it’s lengthy. I will start here with the background to fill in some of the blanks.

June 23, 2015

The past two years has been a tumultuous journey for me. It has also been a time of many epiphanies. To say ‘it hasn’t been easy,’ is an understatement.

I believe I have always suffered from depression since I was teenager. I was diagnosed when I was 40. I was put on medication (Prozac). I weaned off (with my Doctor’s permission) hoping that I would be able to manage without it, but found myself in that dark abyss of depression again, so agreed to go back on the medication. I was on it for almost 20 years.

Despite the medication I have always suffered some symptoms of depression and low self-esteem and extreme anxiety. After Bob died (June 8, 2013) I started a slow decent, fueled by intense grief and (I learned later) the medication no longer working. Instead it was making me more depressed and I became suicidal. My anxiety was out of control. The slightest little issue sent me into a frenzy. I couldn’t think straight. I felt immobilized by fright.

I was hospitalized in October 2014 after an attempted suicide. Doctors quickly diagnosed the biggest issue,  the medication no longer working and, ironically, this meant it was making me even more depressed. I was admitted to the psychiatric ward and my medication changed under the care of a psychiatrist. I attended classes and through the learning was able to label my anxiety issues. My low self-esteem was also at an all-time high (no pun intended).

I was released from hospital approximately a week later and began an outpatient group therapy– Track to Wellness. This program gave me tools to deal with my depression and anxiety and an overview of other group therapies available at the hospital. I requested and was accepted into CBT for Depression.

After a four-week three-hour activation sessions, followed by eight week, three-hour CBT group therapy sessions, including homework every night detailing everything from how I felt on a scale of 1 to 10 about every single thing I was doing to noting what made me laugh, positive events and many other details, I emerged in a very different place than when I started.

Looking back, I do wonder if part of this is be due to the two-year mark after Bob died. Maybe the worst of my grief passed by calendar days. But it’s more likely a combination of many things, the biggest lesson being to “live in the moment” and exactly what that means. I leave that for my next post.

 

Up …Down… Up

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I am trying to write from the heart but my words keep getting tripped up by my mind.

Roller Coaster DarkLife keeps us on a rollercoaster. When we go up it’s exhilarating. Then swoosh down…  down… down… We are scared. We feel trapped.

“Will it go up again? Can it go up again? But then it will go down!” Our mind moves ahead, worrying.

At my lowest point of …down… I was sliding across the gravel. My hands and knees were bruised and bleeding as I skated across with nothing to hold onto. I couldn’t stand up on my own. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stand again.

Along the way I learned lessons. How to see light in the darkness. How to laugh. How to live. How to breathe. Yes, I had forgotten how to breathe.

I want to give you hope that everything will be alright. But the truth is that life’s rollercoaster won’t stop.

Today I am reminded of this. I reached out to someone who is sliding on the gravel. I tried to give comfort. I felt helpless, but I hope I helped. I wanted to go back there to feel my pain so I could speak in a genuine way, but I can’t go back. I shouldn’t. Sometimes I still wrestle with this.

My journey continues. I fought the hardest fight of my life. How did I get through that? Am I through it?

Yes, I am here, now. Yes, I am different. Am I Phoenix rising? (cliché, but feels appropriate because I did crash and burn). No, I don’t want to go back again.

I fight with this back and forth and back again.

I am trying to write from the heart but my words keep getting tripped up by my mind. If I feel too much will I have to go down… down… down again?

Roller Coaster Bright
I have learned there is hope. That down is short lived. That up is around the corner. That I am here, now. That I breathe in each moment, and breathe out another. What comes will pass.

I am spending longer times on the up and less on the down…

I just need to harness my heart and keep living, and writing.

For a thousand years

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I have been at a loss for words for months.  But as I approach the second anniversary of Bob’s passing, June 8th, I cry more often, sleep less, feel desperately lonely.

After this length of time people drift away. They assume you’re okay. Yes, I am better than I was, but I still struggle every day.

Today I was looking for the lyrics for a song I liked and I found the “official video.” It was written for the Twilight Saga, so there’s pictures of the wedding between the two main characters nestled in with the singer, Christina Perri, but it’s the song I love. The words and melody are beautiful . I began singing along. By the end of the song I was in tears.

The tears were short lived. I’m okay. But the memories and the pain never go away. You always remember. And, I believe, that you should never forget.

I consider myself lucky to have loved, and have been loved, unconditionally. I just wish it had been for a thousand years, or more.

Metamorphosis – gently climbing out of the cocoon

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My fingers get caught on the strings, my hands and legs are tangled, words stuck in my throat make it hard to breath. I am entering the metamorphosis of my new life.

Cocoon FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Something has changed for me, or about me, or around me, or maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the weather. March 20th heralded the first day of spring (a date I always remember because it was Bob’s birthday). Though it’s not spring-like temperatures there is hope of warmer days and more sunshine. Maybe I’m just starting to feel better and this is the next phase in my new life without Bob. Maybe I’ve come to realize that if I am to go on with my life – something I had a hard time believing after Bob died – then I have to start moving ahead. Life can’t look like what it did when he was with me. This is another life I have to create without him. Just saying that seems almost unfathomable. I could never see a life without him before.

So what about my fingers, hands, legs and words caught in my throat? It’s all about moving in a new direction, I think. One thing I decided was to learn to play the guitar. I’ve had guitar hanging around collecting dust for years. I bought it for our daughter, but it never panned out for her, piano was her main musical interest so she left the guitar with me. I kept saying I was going to take lessons but never did. Now I’m about six weeks into my lessons.

My fingers are getting stronger but strumming is frustrating. Trying to change chords quickly ends up sounding like a sick chicken when I don’t press down hard enough on the strings. I repeat the sequence of chords and strums over and over and over again, hoping that it will eventually kick in. I’m not going to give up. I love music and just being able to play a few songs and sing to myself is enough to make me happy. No one will judge me and it fills my time with something I enjoy. So I will keep strumming and repeating the chord progressions until it sounds more natural. Hopefully that will happen soon.

My body aches from little exercise. I walk most weekday mornings with a couple of friends but I haven’t been working out and, truth be told, I don’t really enjoy it. I do love swimming but it’s easy to talk yourself out of going to do some laps when it’s cold outside. As a freelance writer my schedule it’s 9 to 5 so it’s also easy to tell myself I will have to miss a fitness class rather than leave my desk. But last week that changed.

Three days a week I make a concerted effort to attend two Aqua Zumba classes and a Pilates class. I’m uncoordinated but no one can see if my left foot and my right arm are moving when it should be my right foot and my left arm because we’re all jumping and splashing in the water. I move constantly for an hour. It’s invigorating and my clumsiness has me laughing.

Pilates is a huge challenge. I got into it years ago but now I’m out of practice and out of shape. The class is advanced but I persevere. I have a couple of Pilates DVDs so today I watched them and did the workouts following the instructions. Hopefully the week I’ll do better, and the week after progress more, baby steps.

My fingers get caught on the strings and my hands and legs tangled, but what about the words stuck in my throat?

My grief journey path has included acknowledging my depression and anxiety and getting both under control. As well as adjusting my medication I’m taking part in group therapies. The most recent is Behavioural Cognitive Therapy (CBT) for Depression. According to the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, “CBT is based in the science of thought, behaviour, emotion and physiology.

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In my case it isn’t an issue of getting out of bed each day and functioning as a ‘normal person.’ Mine is about controlling my thought patterns. I do a lot of negative self-talk, suffer from low self-esteem (no amount of awards or kudos seems to make me believe otherwise) and exhibit constant self-­sabotaging behaviour. I’m learning about the harm negative self talk can do to self-esteem and the mantra “would you say that to someone else?” needs to be ingrained in my psyche. Change generally doesn’t happen overnight but I hope this is truly the beginning of my metamorphosis and not just a temporary high. I know I will have good days and not­-so-­great days, but I’m hoping I can hold onto more positive than negative.

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made and those who have stuck with me through my journey.

May you too begin to see a metamorphosis, even just something small, as
spring arrives.