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I Admit that I am Lonely and Afraid

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jan van Eyck (between circa 1390 and circa -1441)
Title Untitled, known in English as The Arnolfini Portrait, The Arnolfini Wedding, The Arnolfini Marriage, The Arnolfini Double Portrait, or Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife
Date 1434
Current location National Gallery, London, England

My wedding anniversary is in 2 weeks. My husband died a little over 5 years ago and the numbness wore off about 3 years ago. Last year after I lost my first 25 lbs, I felt a release from some of the paralyzing grief. It was as if that grief had been trapped in the fat and was now gone.

I still grieve for my husband, but I am no longer paralyzed by the grief. I have made great strides in trying to lead a healthier life so that the life I have left can be lived to the fullest.

I have worn myself out trying to appear to be “doing well.” It comes from an old fear of mine, that if I’m not showing progress, if I’m not better than I was before, the _______________ (insert teacher, doctor, child, parent, friend, and colleague) will not like me anymore. I will be just another fat person, and who wants to be friends with me?

For a long time, I would feel furious when people said, “How are you?” to me. I felt like they were pressuring me to say fine, when they must know deep inside that I was not fine, I was in pain and their glibness really infuriated me. But instead of telling people how I was, I would say fine. I’d then be angry with myself for participating in the charade. So I would go home at night and insulate myself from these feelings with the bliss I could achieve with the sugar-salt-fat combo.

I’ve lost that insulation with my new healthy eating habits. I have to admit to myself when I am lonely. I have to recognize that I am sometimes afraid of what my future will be. I make an effort to go places alone so I am forced to “make a friend,” and meet people.

When I am tired, like I am today, it is harder to ward off the loneliness. I miss my husband. I miss him every day and every night. I don’t think I will ever be accustomed to the fact that he has gone. And you know what? I am sick of saying that I am fine when I don’t feel fine.

I am forcing myself to post this blog because I need to overcome the fear that I must always “be fine.” Today I am not fine. And I’ve got to be good with that.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I am so sorry for your loss. You are a beautiful and insightful writer. Reading this made me evaluate my own behavior is asking people "how they are". Thank you for posting this and I am sending you many prayers.
    1817 days ago
    I am so very sorry. My sister died in 1975 and I think of her every day. We were close. As the years have passed, I realize that I will never be "fine" about her death. I am not fine but I try to do an imitation of being fine.

    I am sorry but I did not know that you are a widow. I have been with my husband for over 43 years and I know that I cannot live without him. Maybe I can pretend to be "fine" but I don't think I ever will be.

    And when I talk to people, which is rare, I'd rather hear the true story than the reassuring bromides and platitudes that we are expected to share.

    I'll be especially thinking about you in the next weeks to come. Anniversaries are significant to me, no matter how much I try to persuade myself that they should not carry so much freighted weight.
    1836 days ago
    LIsbeth, as always, thanks for sharing the beautiful artwork, and for being so expressive. As you can see from the responses, you've touched a lot of people.

    I think that even if you don't improve any more than you have today, you have already accomplished so much and I'm sure people will like you for who you are. In yoga, they talk about the True Self which is deeper than appearances, actions and words.You're True Self is beautiful.

    I hope you will continue to grow, and feel more comfortable being yourself.
    Sat Nam, Laura
    1836 days ago
    More people are sad and lonely for loss is hard ... I still mourn many things in my life when anniversaries or remembrances roll around. Emotions are water ... just let the rivers run so that the stream doesn't get clogged up. You are honest with your feelings. I know if people say 'how are you' to me... I actually start telling them how I really feel. So many say "that's nice" just after I told them something sad.... But there are many who are interested, and I do discriminate my answers lest I alienate everyone!

    Glad you are able to express yourself so clearly and have a lot friends who do care about you on SP! One day at a time... emoticon
    1837 days ago
    There is nothing that will ever fill the hole he left in your heart, but it will mend in time. Be patient with yourself and as kind as you would be with a friend in the same situation. It really takes courage to open up and tell people that you are not fine, you're heartbroken. The ask you without a thought for how you are really feeling wanting only the assurance that you are fine, so they can forget about you for the time. I got so bitter when I first developed Osteoarthrits and an amputated lower left leg, that I would get bitter and say "Do you really want to know, or is this being polite only? Its amazing how many ignored my question and just continued on their merry way never actually wanting to know if you are okay or not.
    But you are not fine, and you did a fine job of letting us know so we can all draw closer and love and encourage you God's Blessing to you
    IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team

    1838 days ago
    It doesn't get better, but it does get easier. And opening up is such a hard thing to do - but an important step. And when lonely and sad, it is almost impossible to reach out to let people know.

    1838 days ago
    Lizbeth, sorry to hear about your husband. I totally can relate how you feel. I too lost my husband 5 years ago with cancer. At the time, I didn't know what to do.. but luckily, I've met sincere person and I now are remarried. I don't know what I can tell you to encourage you..
    only I can say now is hang in there... sorry..
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1838 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing this. There is a woman in one of my social groups who lost her husband 12 years ago in a traffic accident, and I suspect that she feels the same way. But if you ask her how she is - you get a curt "fine." I end up feeling really sorry I asked - it's not a rewarding reply.

    I think some people really do want to know how you are doing, and don't really mean it on a superficial level. They may not know any other way to ask you. Then again I have to admit that it is simply a social way to say hi, and a lot of people don't really want to know. I suppose the trick is to know the difference.

    I am truly sorry that you feel such loneliness. I am such a complicated person that I do not know how I would manage without my husband, and I suspect I would feel exactly the same way that you do. I know that I do feel that way when he is away traveling.

    I think it is brave of you to come out and say so. Most people in your situation won't or don't admit it and just bottle it up. Thank you for your vulnerability because we are virtual friends here.

    1838 days ago
  • JILL313
    Lis thank you for admitting to us that your not always okay and need our support to feel better as sometimes you probably retreat to a "dark" place that only you know. I understand how there still is a big void in your life. I know that has to be normal as you cared and loved your DH for so many years and it's still painful when you think of him and want him still there with you. I've only been married once and that was for 26 years to my college sweetheart, well to make a long story short it didn't work out and I remember when going through my divorce and for years after it was so hard to start making my own life for myself and my sons. I felt such a wide void and felt even my family didn't truly understand how lonely I felt and still do at times. I'm happy I have my sons nearby and my 2 precious GKs, sisters and a few close friends. But, in spite of having all these people still in my life I do feel lonely and it's hard having to always rely on myself and not have a man to be with and help make my life richer and happier. I truly wish I had found the love of my life to share things with until death do us die. But, it wasn't in the cards for me and now no man would want me as I'm too old and still have responsibilities here at home. Sorry to go on so about myself and somehow your sharing your feelings have brought mine up to the surface as believe me it's not something I usually share or admit to. If you ever emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon need a friend to talk to just let me know and I can arrange to call you or we can exchange messages. I want you to feel less lonely and I'd also be helping myself. Take good care and I'll say a prayer for you tonight.

    Hugs & Love,

    1838 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us. It is challenging and pretty scary when our lives change.
    1838 days ago
    I recently lost one of my sons in a car wreck and now that my injuries are mostly healed, I fend off the "How are you?" questions with "Okay" or "fair". If someone really cares, they will inquire further, but I feel that mostly it is just an automatic greeting -- "Hi, how are you."

    The other part of that is that if you really lay it out for them, maybe they will be less likely to ask, so perhaps that is the answer.

    Hang in there and maybe some day you can say "fine" and mean it.

    1838 days ago
    Of course you are not fine- none of us would be- you are truly brave to write this beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing. emoticon emoticon
    1838 days ago
    Thank you for sharing honestly! Good for you for putting your feeling on the table. We can't change the things that happen to us, but we can be honest about how we feel and do our best to move forward.
    1838 days ago
    emoticon My heart truely does break for you........It is good to "get this out"! emoticon
    1838 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing with us! I still have my husband, but we lost our oldest son 19 years ago. He was 27 at the time, and like you, there isn't a day that goes by that we don't miss him and feel lonesome without him. I don't have any answers for you...the others have done a fine job of responding. I'm just here to say there are others who care (even those who automatically ask that "How are you?" question care...most don't know your story and usually it is too hard to tell it). Sending you hugs and warm thoughts and wishes for peaceful and fulfilled days ahead. Some will be better than others, but coming forth like this is a wonderful start on that path!! Hugs, Jeannie
    1838 days ago
  • THOMS1
    emoticon emoticon
    1838 days ago
    1838 days ago
    In today's busy world, most people do ask "how are you" and they are just acknowledging that you are there. They really don't care. And that is a sad thing. However, if I ask you, I honestly want to know and I know a lot of other people that feel the same way. Many, many people on Spark are the same way. We are not only here to lose weight, but to be compassionate, friendly and loving. When you are not fine, we care. I have found that I have become a bit outspoken lately, but I feel it's the only way some people actually hear me. So please, when you are not fine and need someone to talk with, please write to me--I am here-promise!
    I have heard that a person never dies until you stop thinking about them. So your husband will never be gone. He will always be there for you, watching over you and loving you. So miss him, continue to love him, even yell at him for leaving you, but you must also move on and love yourself. (hugs) Noel
    1838 days ago
    If everyday of our lives was a "FINE" day we would probably be in paradise.
    My husband died suddenly at 45 yrs. old. My daughter was 16 and devastated, I hurt but I got over it sooner than her. But even now 30 years later, I am angry that he died.and I wish he was still around to see his grandsons and be part of the family.
    I have had companions in the years but have never remarried.
    People ask me if I am lonely. And I can honestly say, NO. I have family, friends, many activities, a loving dog and I am at peace in my life. Time , it takes time to find your place. Especially for s long married person.
    women adjust to the emptiness of single life better than men. I think that is because of our women friends.
    Sometimes when people ask me how are you doing. I pause and think do you really ant to hear how I ache and hear about how mixed up things are right now???
    I end up saying , "Oh everything is OK".
    I realize people are just trying to be friendly. I find myself asking the same questions at times. And I know I don't want to hear about ailments. Unless it's a close friend.
    So I hope you can get to a comfortable place. And the not fine times will be less and less.. But I know they will always be the off days. We just have to get through them.
    Glad you have Spark, you can always reach out to your virtual friends.
    Take care,
    Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1838 days ago
    gosh thats hard. sometimes its the grocery clerk and I just have to force a fake 'fine' because they know and i know they dont really want to hear about my life- its just what you say in a customer service job. when i am openly sullen looking and some cheery twerp at say wlagreens chirps 'hi how ya doin today' i sometimes just flat out ignore them. yeah i guess that rude, but hey i feel like they are being intrusive so there. but if its a friend, doctor, teacher, im sure they do care and its ok to say, 'not so great today, but thanks for asking' its not your job to be nicey nice to everyone,all the time. its real- its life. emoticon sorry to hear you still miss your husband, he must have been a great guy!
    1838 days ago
    I applaud your candor. This is definitely the venue for, among friends to whom we offer the same care and compassion :-).

    Our job here in this experience if first and foremost TO BE. We are here to BE, in every moment EXACTLY what we are...without judgement. Becuase WHAT we are in this moment is not WHO we are :-).

    I love the courage that permits you to say today...'this is what I'm feeling...'. It's the truth...and that's all we owe one another.


    1838 days ago
    When we lose our most important people, I don't think we ever truly get past it. I hope things get a little easier for you.
    1838 days ago
  • GINA180847
    When I ask a person how they are I really want to know. I'll admit that is not everyone but a lot of people are like me and care.
    1838 days ago
    emoticon for you to tell the world YOU ARE NOT FINE !! I applaud you . It is hard to Tell a truth others may not be ready to hear.. but for you it will be freeing.

    Loss is hard , Saturday was the anniversary of my Grandpa's death, he was the only father I knew.. but for my grandma after 60 + years she still misses him so.She still cries and needs support and love ..I so understand that part of it.

    So my friend.. I accept what you have to say at face value.. When you are tired it does seem to make things seem worse. This is a moment for you .. a moment you will look back on...

    I hope you can find a moment of peace for you ..

    1838 days ago
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