Flight Risk and RomComs

Did you watch The Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Typical cute rom-com, typical Julia role and film. In it, she’s in love with love. Gets engaged several times. Then bails when she’s walking down the aisle. Finally, she meets the guy who understands (Richard Gere). They plan a wedding, and sure enough she starts to bail. He’s prepared. He knows it doesn’t mean she isn’t in love. He knows it’s her thing. Her fears. Her past, her roadblocks. Her speed bumps, her baggage, her heart, her mind. And he loves her through it. He gets it even though he doesn’t get it at all. He chases her and loses her in the chase. And then, eventually, she comes to him. Ready to settle down with him. And he’s waiting. And they get married and live happily…well you know the rest.

I’m here to tell you, life ain’t this movie.

In today’s edition of “how to screw up a new relationship”, let’s talk about coping mechanisms!

So, looking back, I realize that I’ve never really been able to stay put in my entire adult life. I grew up in a relatively stable environment home-wise (don’t get me started on the dynamics, I’m JUST talking about the building itself…the HOUSE). I lived in 2 homes before I moved out at 18. My entire childhood was spent in two homes. Pretty stable, right?

I moved out at 18 and since that time, I have pretty much moved houses every 3 years with the exception of the house I had with Michael, which was 5 years and counting. Sometimes I’d just change neighborhoods. Sometimes, states. One time, a country. But I’ve always been on the move.

Because I never felt I belonged anywhere.

Take this information and fast forward to now. New relationship. Unchartered territory as a widow. A relationship that I quite frankly never expected, never looked for, sure as hell never thought I’d allow into my life or heart again, but here we are.

And as with any new relationship, there are quirks, kinks to work through, growing pains, debates, and yes some arguments. It’s going to happen, folks. We are both in our 50’s with our own very unique baggage and shit comes up.

And it turns out that I’m a flight risk. Me. A flight risk. Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me either.

When things get tense, I “offer” to leave. I don’t threaten. I don’t do ultimatums. I just say I can leave.

And this is super fucked up.

Why?

Why do I do it? Why is it so fucked up? Well, I do it because I feel like I’m a burden. To everyone and everything. Ever since Michael died, I’ve been floating. Nomading. Looking for “home”. Looking to belong. Hoping to find someone that loved me and that I could love along the way.

And then I found it. I met a wonderful guy who loves me and the dogs and wants to share a life with us. So I jumped. I don’t mean a little hop to a lily pad, I mean a full force jump off the cliff into the lagoon. I. MOVED. IN. OMG. This is not something I ever expected. Never. It was fast, but it felt right. This was/ is a HUGE step for me. I don’t live with guys unless I’m married to them. I don’t just “move in” with a dude just because. This meant and means something BIG to me. BIG.

And now, I “offer” to leave when things aren’t perfect.

Why is this so fucked up?  Because it breaks trust and makes your partner feel like they’re in a revolving door. It’s cruel and quite honestly, a little bit abusive. So why do I do it?

A lot of it comes from a lack of a sense of belonging. This isn’t about anyone but me, but I feel like a guest who has overstayed her welcome. I feel like I’ve damaged the relationship with my insecurities, self-loathing, and issues.

Another part of it is feeling like HE wants me to leave but he’s afraid to say so. So it’s essentially an easy “get out of Lisa” card.  Which is really stupid because I can’t assume to know his feelings.

In those key fight or flight moments, I always choose flight. It’s not because I’m afraid of conflict I don’t think. I have plenty of conflicts in my life.  I have no issues speaking my truth even if it causes conflict. So it’s not that.

I think it’s just about my damaged brain choosing that I don’t want to be anywhere or do anything unpleasant. I don’t want to feel like I don’t belong. I don’t want to spend my time stressed about relationships. I don’t want I don’t want I don’t want. I can’t. I can’t manage. I can’t process. I can’t I CAN’T I can’t. And of course, the LAST thing I’ll allow myself to do is cause any stress on others. So when I see something going off the rails, I want to just bail. Put THEM out of their misery.

But…I have to reprogram my brain as much as I’m able. I need to get to a mental place where I feel I truly am wanted and loved and accepted, and where I can shed the fears about driving people away. It really becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m so afraid of being hurt or losing someone, that I’m putting walls up that don’t need to be there.

And maybe I need to lock up my passport.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Mental Illness: Overcoming Ourselves

As you know, I’m in a new romantic relationship. I could go on and on about all the great things that revolve around this life change, but this is a widow’s blog and I want to be real. I want to talk about what all of this means, how it has affected me, how I’m handling things as it pertains to my past and my pain.

The news isn’t all good.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, happening really quickly. It feels unbelievable at times. But beyond that, as I am getting to know who I am now I am discovering that I have lots of emotional and mental issues. SURPRISE!! I already knew this much, but I wasn’t aware of how things would play out in terms of being with someone new. I have had a couple really intense breakdowns and I discover new triggers and observe my reactions to things quite frequently.

I’m exhausted.

DOGS: There are two roommates here, and I’m very mindful/ self-conscious about the dogs. They’re barking omg. They’ve run off omg. Someone peed in the house omg.

My dogs aren’t bad dogs. They’re undisciplined. They’ve lived their whole lives with a completely fenced and closed off yard to play in. Not here. The property isn’t secured around the edges and my dogs take off all the time. Mostly Walter and Rosie.

Walter is at the end of his rope. Resident boy Django is a DOLL but he won’t leave Walter alone. This results in Walter being on edge and pissy a lot.

SOUNDS: This is what I would consider a loud house. It’s not really LOUD, but there are lots of moving parts and the sounds get completely overwhelming. One roommate is a musician and plays the same music over and over again as he mixes and tweaks things. Dogs. Music. Conversation. People. It’s a lot for someone who has social anxiety and has been living alone for almost 3 years. A lot of peopling.

NUTRITION: This has been tough. I’m not eating properly. Not really eating much at all tbh. Roommates present a challenge with kitchen space, therefore presenting a challenge with grocery shopping or meal planning. This is really hard for me. REALLY hard.

COMPROMISES: Yes there are quite a few for all parties. I guess my biggest compromise is giving up having my own kitchen, and allowing my dogs to be dogs. I know Scott has made FAR bigger compromises. He moved me and the dogs in, for fucks sake. So his adjustments and patience are plenty.

Other compromises? I miss eating what I want when I want. I miss watching what I want to. I miss having space that is all mine. I miss the things that make a home feel like home to me, like pictures on the walls or anything that resembles my taste or decorating stuff. These are all just adjustments from being alone to living with someone. But for me, they sometimes eat me up. I literally cry sometimes because I just want to meal prep for the week, or because I can’t find something, or because this house doesn’t feel like “me”.

SHAME: Did you know that I am singlehandedly responsible for every bad thing? It’s true. If the weather sucks, I’m sorry. If you lost your keys, I’m sorry. If you had a bad day, I’m sorry. You’re angry at me? It’s my fault. You left me? My fault for driving you away. Things could be so much better if I wasn’t such a fuckup and a loser. I try to take up as LITTLE space as possible so I don’t “intrude”. Welcome to my brain!

LIFE: Scott has lived in the area for a long long time. He knows everyone. His kids are here. His friends, his childhood memories, all of it. Flip the coin and I have none of that. I’m completely a guest/ newcomer into his life and his world and I feel a little like I’m tumbling through space. Trying to navigate and reconcile that none of our shared experiences are new to him and that none of what we see is remotely familiar to me has been tough. It’s not easy to be the newcomer in a club of peeps who’ve known each other for years or even decades.

EMOTIONS: Wow. Where do I start. I feel all of the following things, even though not one person has done anything to make me feel this way.

  • Scared
  • Like he’s mad at me
  • Like he’s losing patience with me or the dogs
  • Like the roommate situation might be too much for me to deal with
  • Always on edge making sure the dogs aren’t making a mess
  • Always on edge making sure I do enough around the house
  • Unable to trust myself
  • Like I’m wearing out my welcome
  • Like I’m a crappy partner

ANTSY: Scott is afraid I’m going to run away. Sometimes I feel like running away. Not because things are bad – they’re not. They’re pretty wonderful except for my meltdowns. But I don’t trust myself. My fight or flight struggle is real and something I’ve never been really good at overcoming.

QUESTIONING MYSELF: Man. For almost 3 years I’ve worked on shedding my possessions. Minimizing my baggage (mental and literal baggage). Becoming more light and readily able to move or travel. And now I’m settling into a big house with a huge piece of property, and I’m wondering who the fuck I am. I was “domesticated” while married, but I’m a bit more “feral” now. I want to LIVE. I don’t give a FUCK about money (I know, immature or unrealistic right?). I don’t give a fuck about a job. I have the smallest wardrobe I’ve ever had or ever known anyone to have. I don’t want to spend my life doing household chores and tasks. I went through hell, and I’m still climbing out. I didn’t go through all of this to end up back in the grind. I have no desire to be back in any grind. I just want to LIVE life, every single day.

Yes, there are a lot of challenges – mostly self-made. But it’s the bigger picture here. Fear of losing control of my life and my choices. Fear that my mental health will drive him away.

Now, the good stuff?

It feels really good to be loved and needed.

Scott is a wonderful sweet man who treats me (and the dogs) so well. He’s kind, respectful, and understanding.

The dogs and I are safe.

The roommates are cool people.

I’m living in a beautiful home on a sprawling piece of land, because I met a man who opened his heart and his home to me and the dogs.

I’m living in a beautiful area that is rich with gorgeous sunsets, peace and quiet, cool outdoor activities and a 2 hour drive to San Francisco.

There is life, and love, after loss.

And in reality, all is well. I know this is just an adjustment and lots of growing pains. I’m not unhappy at all. I’m content and happy overall. It’s just a reminder that loss is heavy. PTSD is real. Mental illness is pretty scary. And ultimately, I got this. Everything is going to be okay. ❤

Peace, friends. ❤

~ Lisa

GRIEF: A Reality Checkup

It’s been a while since I checked in about my grief and my life as a widow.

I thought it would be helpful for me to look back at where I’ve been and where I am today and give everyone out there a reality check of what I’ve discovered so far.

The Stages of Grief can fuck off. I’ve said it so many times, and it appalls me that so many still don’t know this, but those STAGES? Those are for the ones who are DYING, my friends. When people know they are dying, they go through these pretty predictable phases – and pretty much everything they feel will naturally fall into one of the stages’ definitions. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told “you’re going through the (fill in the blank) stage”. Um, no. I’m not going through your neatly defined stages. I miss my dead husband. I’m angry. Tomorrow I’ll be sad. Tomorrow night I may be sentimental or filled with happy memories. The next day, I may actually forget about him for a while. And then I’ll get angry again. These stages are bullshit. You can experience a wide range of emotions on any given day, minute to minute. The difference now, is that I’m better at managing those waves. They come less often but equally as intense, and I know enough now to ride them out. Let myself feel whatever I’m feeling and ride it out. If this helps ONE person to understand that the stages of grief are NOT for the survivors, hallelujah.

Here’s another reality check. Everyone in the WORLD will tell you to take your time. Grief has no timeline. Everyone grieves differently. I’m here to tell you, they’re lying. They don’t mean it. They might mean it when they say it, but once your invisible non-existent timeline expires, they’ll drop like flies if you keep talking about it. Now of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. But I will tell you this. My best friend for many years is no longer in my life. My sister is no longer in my life. And my closest friends now are the ones who were either background characters in my life before, or people who I didn’t know until after Michael died.

As more time passes since my loss, I’ve been surprised at the love I’ve received, and the love I didn’t. I choose to focus on the love I did receive, and I’m more able to leave toxic people and incidents in my past where they belong.

Something else is new. I’m in a brand-new relationship. More on that in a future blog, but I wanted to talk about this purely from a widow perspective. I have read so many articles, blogs, and books about this and apparently it’s REALLY common to feel guilty – especially in your first relationship after loss. I’m finding quite the opposite is true. I feel incredibly supported by Michael and in fact, I believe Michael may have led me to this relationship. It feels real and right and true. I have zero guilt. Yes, I know he wants me to be happy but beyond that, I deserve to have happiness and love in my life.

Scott and me. More on the relationship in a future blog.

My boyfriend Scott is very understanding and supportive of my “relationship” with Michael. We talk about him openly. I share memories and experiences. He’s handling it like a champ.

I never thought I wanted or would be in a relationship again. But like most things, that changed over time and I realized that what I was missing was love. It’s not necessarily about “needing a man” or “needing” anyone really. I have proven to myself that I can do this alone. But it sure is more joyous when love is in your life. The cheesy truth I have learned through ALL of this has been that time is short. Love and forgive and play and don’t take yourself too seriously. Let go of toxic forces and stop doing things that suck joy and time away from your life. You don’t need everything you think you do. And ultimately when your person shows up in your life, you don’t wait. You jump.

And if you’re in the depth of grief right now, please know you won’t stay there. It’s something that every member of this Club Nobody Wants to Join learns. We walk with loss every day. We can let it define us, or we can let it inspire us to live full lives – whatever that means. And for the moment, I’m using the painful lessons I’ve learned to allow me to truly experience today. And today, I’m happy. ❤

Peace,
~ Lisa