“Fake it til you make it.”
It’s a statement usually said in a joking, self deprecating manner. For me, since Bob died, it’s become a matter of survival. Some days I’m just not okay. I have no desire to do anything, let alone be here. That’s just the reality of widowhood for a lot of us. I’ve talked to a LOT of widows. Most of us struggle with being “okay”. We struggle with finding reasons to want to be here anymore.
Faking it til I make it is sometimes the only way I get through the day. I pretend I care about exercising and get up and do it. I fake that I care about eating so I force myself. I fake that I have my shit together. I fake a smile for the public when I am screaming on the inside. I pretend the loneliness isn’t killing me.
“Act as if you have the life you want.”
I act as if I feel the way I want to feel in the hopes that I will someday. I try to make choices that take into consideration the future I hope to have, the life I want to have. I find things to appreciate in my life now. I act as if my heart isn’t shattered. I try to trust people again. I act as if I’m not terrified most of the time.
Traumatic grief is not what you think. It’s not black clothes and handkerchiefs and quiet, dignified tears. It’s not wistfully staring out windows with a small smile at the memories. It’s not quiet conversations about them. It’s not a linear process where you slowly get better over time.
It’s waking up sobbing from dreams of them or nightmares. It’s being triggered by random things that cause you to have a panic attack or a sudden bout of inexplicable rage. It’s finding some small piece of your life with them in the back of a drawer and staying in bed for the next 3 days. It’s desperate need for comfort and the fear of letting anyone close to you. It’s having a fog on your brain so heavy that you can’t remember what you’ve done or conversations you’ve had, even if it just happened. Its forgetting appointments and birthdays and suddenly being late to everything when you used to always be early. It’s dissociation so bad that you literally lose hours to days where you have no idea where the time went.
Grief includes the secondary losses. Friends who can’t handle your pain. Family who are too selfish to put you first. The loss of your future you planned. The loss of your identity. The loss of your security. Loss of faith. Loss of support. Loss of income. The grief of the life that you will never see again.
It’s slowly getting rid of their belongings. It’s the day you go to smell their shirt and it doesn’t smell like them anymore. It’s the inability to choke down food because it’s tastes like ash in your mouth. It’s overeating because that’s the only place you find comfort. It’s not sleeping because your mind won’t stop or sleeping all the time because that’s the only way you get a break from it all.
It’s the EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Battle with your own mind and heart. It’s the fight to stay alive and not give up hope.
So when I say I’m having a hard time, put yourself in my shoes. Don’t ask yourself why I’m still struggling. Maybe you could ask yourself how you can help.
I “fake it til I make it” every day.