Friday, November 20, 2009

Bottom of the Barrel

If I have learned anything about grief and loss it is that life can be out of our control at times. Yes, we can control some things - but not everything, no matter how much we try or want the outcome to be. Life doesn't always flow according to our plans or desires. We remarry and have faith again in the future. But all the faith and love in our heart amounts to nothing when our partner refuses to consider reconciling and proceeds ahead with a divorce. We hope to meet a partner healthy enough to love and share our life with. We find one but the relationship takes a turn because of a blasted Recession and the need to move to relocate for employment. So in the end, all we are able to control is our reaction to these events - we can't change how someone feels about us - we can't hope and wish that someone hasn't been forced to move for employment. As much as we love and need someone, when they are dying we can't save them.

I am not a person who gets on well on my own. I thrive on living in a partnership and do not want to trod through the rest of my life alone. I have wanted to be remarried and will continue to want this. Of course that doesn't mean I am just going to get remarried for the sake of being married. I married Husband #2 because I truly loved him and thought it would be a successful partnership. Likewise, my decision to be with GF would have to pass the same criteria.

The thought of having to live by myself and get the boys through high school and then college on my own seems insurmountable to me right now. We are at the bottom of the barrel. I am at a place of having to start over virtually from scratch. Thoughts of eviction, not being able to pay the rent, not having enough money for food, the urgency I face in having to find work are worries and anxiety that now appear endless.

There are no perfect men out there. Husband #1 wasn't a God. We had our problems in our marriage - at one point very early on I even considered divorce. I've gone on after a devastating remarriage and divorce to meet another guy with whom I've gotten along very well. Despite numerous kinks in the road we've managed to hang in there and grow. Our relationship has demonstrated far more more tolerance and commitment than what was experienced in my second marriage. We are both starting over. Certainly not the most ideal circumstances in which to marry or move in together. But I've come to believe is there ever a good time? Who knows what is ahead for any of us. All I know is what I have right now and the picture in my head is grim.

Being able to share life including the burdens and better times is what it is all about for me. That is when I feel alive and am happy. I haven't been very "happy" since my husband's death. There have been little snippets of happiness but overall, when life is a constant grueling grind that is what you end up feeling - defeated, lonely, alone, sad, uninspired, hopeless. How can anyone keep on going with faith in their heart when that is the underlying feeling? The smiles and laughter are fleeting because the scale is unbalanced. When there is more hardship than anything else that is what permeates your feelings and ultimately influences your outlook on the present and future. The bad stuff has more power and it wins the match.

There has been too much hardship in my life of late. Maybe if my path had been different I'd feel stronger or more empowered. But right now I seem to have reached my personal limit as to what I am able to continue to handle on my own. Marriage isn't some instant cure all or easy street. I know that and accept it. But working together and having someone by your side to face life with makes a tremendous difference in the day-to-day quality of it.

What is going to be served by me continuing to suffer so? Is my health and sanity less important than my oldest continuing to play volley ball the next two years?

Is it better to admit defeat graciously and take the option/solution offered even though it isn't ideal? Or is it better to keep struggling to try and ensure a status quo for your kids when doing so appears impossible at the moment? What if I just can't do this anymore? Does that make me a bad mother, a bad person?

To have to balance emotional and social needs against the ones that are ultimately most important and basic - a roof over one's home and food on the table. I cannot currently provide dental care for my children; I am pretty sure I will need to cancel the health insurance at the end of this month; it will be the second Christmas in a row that I am unable to afford gifts for the boys; there isn't enough money left over from the pension for food - whatever I am able to buy comes from the hours I work at the big box store that are not constant or reliable.

I have to think of all the outcomes and potential realities. What if one of the cars or both break down? How will I afford the repairs? What if we cannot pay the rent? Where will we go and what will we do? Would that experience be better for my sons than having to move and at least have a home, medical/dental care and enough food and clothing? Forget the Christmas gifts - I just want to have the mere basics here - all that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs stuff. You can't live without the basics of food, water, feeling protected and shelter. Take it from one who knows and has been there - all of your focus is on surviving and there is nothing left for living and joy. I know in my heart that this isn't the way - we are meant to experience joy and happiness too. Hopefully our lives balance between the hardships and joys.

What does my poor, sad story mean or amount to anyway? The world goes on without stopping or seeing. I am just an insignificant blip on the bigger screen. Today people will be more focused on Oprah's announcement concerning the last airing of her talk show than the fate of our little trio. Our plight is invisible and even if it were more apparent, I'm not sure it would matter. When you are alone like this is is up to you to take the reigns and find the way. It is only you - even when you have reached your personal limit and can't go on any longer.

So, after all these random thoughts, reflections and musings what have I really wanted to say from all this - what is brimming from my heart? It is this - the utter pain at not being able to adequately provide for my children is slowly killing me. There is no greater pain that anyone can feel. You could add up all the grief and loss I have experienced from the death of my husband, then the divorce, followed by losing my house and it would not come close to the depths of pain I am now feeling. And secondly, it has not been the grief from death or divorce that has crushed me. It has been having to face and live life on my own. Some of us do not have the personalities or stamina to do this well.


  1. ...and I am one of those. I don't do living alone very well either--too easily overwhelmed. Probably because I left father's home and went to husband's home at age 17. The worse part of divorce was not being able to give my daughter what she had become used to when her parents were married. It wasn't a lot, but going from a bit to nothing was hard to bear.

  2. Thank you for this post. As I was reading through it, I kept thinking about the "hierarchy of needs" -- that we have to take care of certain basic needs before we can address others.

    Our fundamental needs are food, water, and sex. Then shelter and security. Then intimacy and friendship. Only when we have all those in place are we really able to go into more nuanced levels of thinking.

    Your fundamental needs are at risk. You are responding to the elemental drive to provide for your children.

    You do what you have to do. None of us out here in cyberland have a clue: We may want "more" for you, but we have no idea what it's like to be in your situation, and our idea of "more" and "better" may be totally out of alignment with what your real-life "more" and "better" are.

  3. Please take care of yourself and know that my thoughts are with you in this tough time.

  4. Jude - I think it is okay for us to be this way. As long as we know and recognize it. For me, it is helping that I know myself because I have to consider the strength of my abilities and emotional stamina.

    Alicia - Thank you for reading and commenting. Along with the Hierarchy of Needs, I think that what most of want is pretty basic and simple. We want to be loved, appreciated, to love others, to care for our children, to be moderately happy along with our loved ones and to be healthy.

    Thelma - Thank you for thinking of me!