It’s Alright to Dread the Holidays

When you have no family and are alone, the holidays can be a very depressing time. When my mom passed away, I only had my brother left, and frankly he was not that excited about holidays. So, for me, that was the beginning of  my dread of all the hooplah over Thanksgivng and Christmas. I might add that Fathers Day and Mothers Day are hard too.

I still celebrated the usual way…presents and the food and decorating, but I really didn’t enjoy it much.  When my brother passed away, that was the final straw. This will be the first year I won’t celebrate at all, since it’s only been 6 months since he passed.

dreading holidays

Dreading the holidays? It’s okay!
Photo by Michal Marcol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am not buying anyone presents or doing anything special. I am generally trying to ignore it all and waiting for it to be over! There is a certain part of  me that feels like this isn’t right, like I’m doing something wrong. Why? I have no idea!

I finally decided that there is no shame in this. I am not in the mood, so why bother pretending? We all spend too much time doing things we think we should do, without really wanting to do them. I have no relatives left and only a couple of friends, so it’s not like I’m ruining it for anyone else.

Why on earth wouldn’t we dread the holidays in this situation? I am trying to accept my feelings these days and give them some attention and honor them. It is when we try to ignore how we feel and carry on that we make our depression worse. So it’s okay to dread the holidays when you are alone.

I have also found that if I accept this, I feel better. I take the pressure off myself to pretend I’m happy when I’m not. Now, I don’t want to give the impression I am the Grinch and go around being grumpy about it. If someone says “Have a nice Thanksgiving” to me at the store, I smile and say “You too!” That’s an easy thing to do and I’m not going to try to ruin someone else’s holidays. That’s just rude.

To all my fellow “aloners” give yourself permission to dread the holidays. Go ahead…say “bah-humbug” to yourself and don’t feel guilty. It’s a natural response. Honor your feelings, because they matter and you deserve to have them.

 

Anger + Grief = Guilt, But Should It?

guilt

Don’t feel guilty about your feelings.
Photo by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When my dear brother passed away, I was angry at him. We were still on speaking terms, saw each other often and spoke on the phone every day. To all outward appearances, we were as close as a brother and sister could be. We were the only ones left in our family, so I tried hard to stay close.   He was living with his girlfriend, Lesa, who happened to be my best friend of over forty years, so we were our own little tribe. It wasn’t an issue, as such, just an underlying anger that I felt toward him.

As much as I loved him, I have to say that he could be very selfish and did some things that hurt me very deeply. He was not being there for me as much as I was for him. Things I needed help with seemed to be too much trouble for him to do for me and he left me feeling alone and scared sometimes. The one person I thought I could count on was not wanting to be counted on, leaving me to cope with numerous problems on my own. Coming from such a close knit, always there for each other family, it surprised and hurt  me.

I have an anxiety disorder that I’ve dealt with, on and off, since childhood. He just thought it was foolishness and that was hard to take. But through all this, I still tried to be a family and he and Lesa could always count on me. Like all siblings, we had our fights and disagreements, but he was my brother and I loved him. But I have to admit that underneath, I was angry and disappointed in him.

When I got that horrific call that he had passed away of a massive heart attack in a store, my whole world collapsed.  He was only 64 and had no serious health issues, except high blood pressure, which he was taking medication for. I could not believe it and still can’t (it’s been six months ago). Eight years ago, we lost our father and a year and a half later, our mother. In that time I’ve also lost over a dozen others, including many of my fur babies and friends. So grief has been a constant in my life the last eight years.

Having all this grief to go through I learned that you have to let your emotions out. It’s the only way to heal. You must let yourself feel whatever it is you’re feeling. The surprise for me was that I could still feel that anger I had for my brother and the guilt set in immediately. I had never been through this with anyone else.

At first, I was horrified, but then I began to realize that it didn’t mean I didn’t love him, miss him with all my heart and would give anything to have him back. So I began to feel better about it, less guilty. My anger was justified and it was just part of life. It did not take away from how much I loved and missed him.

So, it made me think about why being angry at someone who dies shouldn’t make us feel guilty. I have never believed in making someone an angel because they passed away. We are going to remember everything about them…both the good and the bad. Still loving them in spite of their faults may be the truest form of love.

If you are having this same problem of feeling guilty because you were mad, give yourself a break. You are just honoring your feelings and this will help you get through your grief and heal. As time goes by, your anger will soften and your guilt will be gone. We must face the truth of what we feel in order to free ourselves of those feelings. It’s human and natural.

 

 

 

 

I’m Grieving…Please Stop Trying to Cheer Me Up

tear

Photo by Rools

In the past eight years, I’ve lost both my parents and my brother, plus over a dozen others. This post is about other people’s  reactions to your grief.  I know all of you will be able to relate to this.

People mean well, they really do, I suppose. Some people are so uncomfortable with any type of bad news they don’t know how to react. Some have their standard replies when told someone died. We have all suffered through them. They say things like “God needed another angel” or “They are in a better place”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hear those things. But, I thank them and move on.

One thing though that really gets me angry is the person who tries to cheer me up. They call and tell me all about the funny thing that happened to them at the store that day or some great piece of news they received. They make jokes and act as though there is nothing traumatic going on in your life. I say they are trying to cheer me up, because I can only guess that’s why they are doing it. I could be wrong, but for the sake of argument , let’s just say that’s their motive. If not, they really have problems!

My life has fallen apart. I have lost someone I love. Not only are they gone, but my whole life will change. I am deep in grief and barely know if I’m coming or going and don’t really care. I don’t want to be cheered up… I can’t be cheered up. I truly do not understand how anyone in their right mind would think it was possible at this point. Maybe way down the road, but not now.

I have wanted to scream “Shut up!” more times than you can imagine. I have even dreamed of being able to reach through the phone and punch them in the face. Yep, when your grieving, your anger can reach an all time high and that’s ok. It’s perfectly normal.

The other sad thing is that they get very disgruntled that you aren’t laughing or that you get off the phone as soon as you can. Luckily, these people usually stop calling after awhile because they just aren’t going to deal with you if you don’t appreciate their attempts to help you. What  on earth can they be thinking?

A side issue to this is that when you are hurting, it sometimes makes you feel worse to hear all the great things going on in other people’s lives. This may be selfish, but it’s a fact. It can make you feel that much more alone and isolated. Your dying inside and the rest of the world is blazing away with joy! I don’t want them to suffer too, I just don’t want to hear about how wonderful their life is.

I try very hard to not be judgmental and forgive people their thoughtless acts, but when grieving this can be really hard to do. If you’re on the receiving end of these cheer givers, don’t put up with it. Honor yourself and your feelings. Try to distance yourself from them. If you happen to be reading this and you are guilty of doing this, please stop. There is nothing wrong with finding something to laugh about when you’re grieving…it’s good medicine, but it rarely comes from these types of conversations.

Have you encountered this and if so, how have you dealt with it? Let me know in the comments!

Until my next post…peace and love to you.

 

Self-Help Books: Sometimes Good, Sometimes Not

I’ve always loved reading but was never much on self-help books until my father passed away. That is what started my huge collection of advice books on everything from grief to anxiety to Buddhism (maybe I could find peace that way!).

I guess we don’t need books like these until life hits us with the really hard stuff. Many of these books are a huge disappointment and don’t help at all, but the gems we find are worth everything.

When my mom was ill with dementia, I frantically read many books on the subject and while some of them had some good tips on how to handle certain problems, most did not help that much. However, I have to be fair and say there isn’t  much they could write about the subject that would make you feel any better.

The book on Buddhism was very interesting. I had a friend years ago that was a Buddhist and he seemed so calm and happy. I find it appealing, but hard to understand. Maybe I’m not very Zen like or something…I can’t quite wrap my mind around the ideas, although I would love to be able to.

The books on grief were better for me. I was lucky to find several that really helped me and am now reading one of them again after the recent loss of my brother. The book is  Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World by Elizabeth Harper Neeld. I have to tell you that this is an affiliate link, which means that if you click on it and purchase the item, I will get a small commission on it, so thanks ahead of time is you do. I will only use affiliate links to products I truly believe in and think will be of help.

This was one of the best books I have ever read on grief. It will make you feel better about all the things you are going through and feeling. She describes her own experience (losing her husband) with an honesty and raw emotion that you can instantly relate to. She also has included other peoples experiences and what helped them.

It really is a great book that I find very comforting. I hope you find this review of sorts helpful and the book, should you decide to try it. Just click on the book!

 

No One Else Will Do

lonely

Photo by usamedeniz at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Someone asked me the other day, after learning of the recent deaths I’d had in my family,  if I was lonely and I said, “Of course, every day.”

They then told me I should get out more or join a group of some kind to meet more people. I could only stare at them and mentally shake my head in disgust.

I’m lonely…for the people I have lost. For my mom , dad, brother, dear friends, many fur babies…and no one else can fill their shoes. I can’t go out and meet new people and feel less lonely.

No one else will do. No one else can give me that special relationship I had with them and no one ever will. That’s not to say that new friendships can’t add something to your life, but they will never give you the same level of meaning the others did.

I have to admit this may have something to do with age to some degree. Being older, it is harder to develop the kind of friendships that have been through years together. You simply don’t have that kind of time left to do that. If you’re younger, you have more of a chance of making and keeping a lifelong friend.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to have social contact with anyone, although sometimes we go through periods where being alone can be beneficial. A time to think and come to terms with things. But trying to be around people just for the sake of not feeling lonely rarely works. If it does for you, that’s terrific. Personally, I haven’t found this true for me.

I have a few friends and interact with people in stores and on the Internet, but I know for me, that certain level of loneliness will always be there…the one that wants back the ones I loved. But that’s ok. I think it’s perfectly normal to feel that way and acknowledging it  makes me understand and accept it more.

Make new social connections but don’t be depressed if you still feel lonely…it’s natural, because no one else will do, and that’s just love in it’s deepest form.

 

 

 

Some Good Things About Being Alone

smiling fruit

Finding the positive in the negative.
Photo by basketman at www.freedigitalphotos.net

I don’t want this blog to be all gloom and doom, so I thought I would talk about some good things about being alone.

Here’s my take on it:

  1. You can eat  want you want to. No having to change your menu because someone else doesn’t like squash!
  2. You don’t have to close the bathroom door.
  3. You can run naked from one room to another if need be.
  4. If you burp out loud, there’s no one to excuse yourself to, although I still say “excuse me” out of habit. I was brought up to be very polite.
  5. Watch only what you enjoy on TV.
  6. Stay up however late you want, without bothering anybody else. You can vacuum at midnight!
  7. You can have a great conversation with yourself, out loud, and no one will look at you like you’ve just gone over the edge!
  8. Less laundry to do, less dishes to wash, etc…
  9. You don’t have to shave your legs as often (assuming you’re not dating, of course).
  10. You can not answer the phone or even open the curtains, and hide, if you don’t want to deal with anyone that day.
  11. You can wear your hello kitty pants and ratty sweatshirt. Extremely unflattering, but super comfy clothes, become your friends again.
  12. You don’t have to clean the bathtub as often, assuming you don’t have an extremely dirty job, like digging ditches or something.
  13. You can keep the temperature of the house just where you like it. No more “it’s cold (or hot) in here!”
  14. You can cry hysterically anytime you want.
  15. You can take more loving care of yourself, because you’re the only one left to care for.

Would I trade in all of these things to have back the people I love who have gone? Absolutely.

But, I am trying to find some solace in being alone. I have to admit that it took me awhile to even contemplate this because I felt guilty. How could I enjoy making a dinner just for me when I was still grieving? It made me feel terrible, but I soon realized that it didn’t have anything to do with my love for them. It’s just that we have to try to make the best of the situation. We have to find something positive to lift our days.

As I said above, I would exchange all of this to have them back, but since I can’t, I’m trying to turn negatives into positives. What would you add to this list?

 

 

Why I Cried When I Had to Get a New Fridge

fridge

Photo by Ambro at www.freedigitalphots.net

The obvious reactions to grief are understandable and what most people see.

What’s not so obvious, even to us sometimes, are the oddball reactions.  Grief can bleed over into so many different parts of your life, ones that take you be total surprise. A good example of this is when I had to buy a new refrigerator.

My dad had passed away about three months earlier when the fridge finally needed replacing. No fixing it, it had to be replaced.  We picked out a new one and they came and installed it. Simple, right?

The entire time he was setting it up, I was extremely depressed.  Sure, I was already depressed over losing my dad, but why was my depression so  much worse at this moment? When he finally left, I stated crying hysterically. Was I losing my mind?

I struggled with my feelings, wondering what on earth was going on. After much soul searching, it finally hit me why I was so distressed over this. It was another loss. As ridiculous as this  sounds, compared to the loss of my dad, it was still another loss.

Our old fridge had been with us for years, it was like an old friend, a part of the family.  I knew where everything went, it had an extra shelf the newer models didn’t have, it was familiar and now it was gone. I was shocked at my reaction, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Losing a loved one is devastating and can leave you lost and feeling like your whole world is changing, which it is. Your life will never be the same in quite the same way again. So, every time you lose something else that’s familiar, it’s changing your world yet again.

I’ve talked about this to people and some have understood, even agreed, and some have looked at me like I had three heads. No matter, it makes sense to me. I’ve had other unusual reactions when grieving that will probably be future posts.

I wanted to write  about this so if you are having any “have I lost my mind” moments, you can relax and know you’re ok. Grief is very  sneaky and can creep into areas of your life you would never expect. Have you had similar reactions? Please leave a comment and tell me about them or even if you just want to tell me you think I’m wacko! I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Was I That Bad at Picking Friends?

worried woman

Photo by Stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

Well, it seems that we live, but we don’t necessarily learn. I find it very sad and somewhat embarrassing that I am now very limited on friends.  Since this blog is about being alone, it goes without saying that I don’t have a lot of friends. I did throughout the years and some have passed  or moved far away, so I have excuses for some of them.

The ones I’m talking about are those that you thought would be you friends forever. That you’d be there for each other through thick and thin, you had their back and they had yours. I thought I had a couple of those friends…until my parents passed away. When my dad died, my mom seemed to develop dementia overnight. She then broke her hip and picked up C. diff  (a horrible bacteria that causes severe diarrhea and many other things and is what ultimately caused her death) in the hospital. I was taking care of her 24/7 and could not be the carefree person I once was. I also was dead tired and depressed, so wasn’t very good company. I think that might be understandable.

Apparently not. One by one, my friends stopped calling. When they had called, they seemed disappointed that I wasn’t able to enjoy their funny stories or how great their life was going! I tried, honestly, but I know I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I would have been at one time. Well, I’m sorry…taking care of a dying loved one does that to you. They also didn’t want to hear anything about my problems or ask, with any sincerity, how I was doing.

With some of these “friends” it wasn’t that surprising, but with the couple I thought of as my true blue friends, it was heartbreaking. It was a very bitter pill to swallow. Fast forward to now and the recent loss of my brother. My neighbor and I had become friends and have gone through a  lot of things together. I, once again, thought she was a close friend. I am having terrible anxiety problems and about two weeks ago, she informed me that I was just being weak and needed to get a hold of myself…among other things. She said to me everything you should never say to someone suffering from  an anxiety disorder. We are no longer speaking.

So, that brings me to my current question. Have I been that terrible at picking friends? Am I a terrible judge of character, too needy that I ignore the warning signs, stupid…what? It amazes me that I have been so fooled by so many people. It also makes me wonder if I am not worthy of being a friend to. I am not putting a halo on my head, honestly, but I have always been more than “there” for my friends. I’ve helped them over and over and always been on their side. I have been supportive through thick and thin.  What else does someone want?

I also wonder if people know how to be friends anymore. We have become such a “me” society. No one seems to care about anyone but themselves. They can’t be a good friend during the bad times  because this would interfere with their own happy lives. Who wants to bother with someone who’s depressed or suffering? I think of the expression “fair weather friends” and it seems like that may be all that’s left out there.

As lonely as it is to not have many friends, I suppose I would rather have none than false ones. Hopefully, this latest betrayal has finally taught me something. Perhaps I need to look more closely at the people I invite into my life as friends. It has made me more cautious and maybe that’s a good thing. What about you? Have you experienced this same thing? Please leave a comment and tell me what you have been through. Or if you have found a way to only make good friends who are there for you. I always love hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Hell

anxiety

Photo by Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

I am going through anxiety hell right now. I don’t know how else to put it, because it is hell. All of you fellow anxiety sufferers know exactly what I’m talking about.

My brother passed away almost four months ago and I’m still reeling from it. As I have already mentioned on other posts, he was the last of my family and I am now alone…completely, except for my cats. They are the one shining light in my world right now. But the feelings of anxiety and panic are constant and overwhelming. I have had anxiety/panic problems, on and off, my entire life. So the real frustration is that you’d think I would have a way to deal with it by now, but it seems you can’t really identify how you got rid of it the other times. So it’s like starting back at square one.

I have been hit with it again and have no one around who understands or is offering any support, so I am struggling to deal with it by reading, reading, and more reading on the Internet. I have found some useful sights and ordered some books, but the going is slow. I will see tiny improvements some moments, but nothing to make me feel as hopeful as I’d like that I will get a grip on this.

Are you in the same boat? The grieving for my brother is bad enough, but this anxiety is wearing me down. I don’t want this to be such a dismal post but it is a problem so many of us have and are trying to cope with. I am working on it constantly and hope to be able to pass on some really helpful tips as I find them.

Also, here are three sites I’ve found helpful: www.anxietycoach.com, www. panicend.com and www.anxietyslayers.com. Check them out and let me know what you are going through. Please leave a comment about your own anxiety/panic problems, what helps you or just to say hi!

I wish you peace of mind and calmness.

Alone…Now What?

sad woman

Photo by FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When my parents both passed away, the only family I had left was my brother. We lived in the same town, and together for awhile, until he moved in with his girlfriend. They lived under a mile away from me and we talked on the phone every day and saw each other often.

When I got the call three months ago from the police department that he has passed away while at a store, I was shaken to my very core. I still can’t believe it.  He was 64 years old and there was nothing that could have warned of this..no serious medical problems. He had a massive heart attack.

Dealing with his death has been devastating. I know all of you can relate to this and know what I’m talking about. I’ve been through over a dozen deaths in the past eight years and it never gets any easier. But the other problem that has developed is my realization that I am now totally alone, on my own for the first time in my life. It was one of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced when that horrible thought sunk in.

Let me explain a little about myself. I was always close to my family. I was never the super independent type who wanted to live on her own. I have been married and divorced twice. I have been through rough periods.I’ve had anxiety/panic problems, on and off, most of my life.  I was always ok though because I had my family to fall back on…they were my safety and security and love.

So no matter what age you are, when you find yourself alone, it is really scary. I have talked to ninety year old women who feel the same way. We all need love and support and when it’s suddenly gone, it is devastatingly frightening.

I am going to write about a lot of subjects on this blog…grief, anxiety, panic, feelings of isolation…and everything we feel when we are thrown into dealing with our lives all by ourselves, without any safety nets left.

So, the question I’m asking myself is, “I’m alone, now what?  How do I cope with all of this?” I hope you will come along with me on this journey and together we can learn from each other and help each other through the dark times. My biggest hope is that it will make us all feel less alone.

 

 

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