Thursday, January 24, 2013

Living in the Past


... is what I'm doing, I realise, when I think of Andrew — particularly when I experience the 'phantom stings' a friend warned me of, the times when you cry all over again at what the beloved went through before they died. And then there are the silly little regrets. 'If only I'd been able to get those taps fixed before he died; he would have enjoyed the way the water flows now.' Then I remind myself, 'it doesn't matter. He hasn't got a body now. He doesn't need water; it's nothing to him how well the taps work.' 

The grief is inevitable and needs release. Better to cry than to bottle it up. I don't dwell on it but it gets triggered by all sorts of things. Just having a shower is a frequent trigger. We so often showered together, when whichever rented home we were in had a shower big enough. Most of them did; this one does. Going to bed is another obvious one, in the bed I used to share with him. I've no intention of getting rid of it; it's an excellent, comfortable bed which cost us a lot of money when we bought it — and there's something comforting, anyway, about being in this bed: I can imagine him in it too as he used to be. That's a matter of mixed feelings. I like it, and then I cry. 

I'm getting adjusted, though. My cat, Freya, comes to bed with me, waiting until whatever time I decide to retire, and insists on a cuddle before we both settle down for the night. We both sleep soundly. The lump of prehnite I put under my pillow seems to help; so does having the bed to myself (except for one small cat, who never disturbs me).

The silly regrets, though, are just that — silly. It is then that I notice I'm stuck in the past, whereas Andrew has moved on. Whatever might have been nicer for him while he was alive is irrelevant now. And they are usually such little things. Perhaps these feelings, too, are part of the necessary release? Or perhaps they reinforce my adjustment, every time that I notice: 'Hey, he's not here any more. That doesn't matter now.' 

I notice over and over that I find it hard to enjoy things just for myself, for my own sake. This is a bit weird, because I certainly enjoyed many things before, regardless of whether he did or not. We didn't always have the same tastes or interests, and that was fine. There was, however, a lot of shared enjoyment too. It's that which I miss.

And I miss the way he was so proud of me, so admiring, so congratulatory. He would have told me how clever it was of me to arrange for the new taps, for instance, and he'd have meant it. He told me often that I was looking good. I'm no great cook, but I aimed for healthy and tasty. He loved the meals I prepared and told me so. As I went from a timid driver to a more confident, capable one as he more and more relinquished that task, he complimented me and told me how glad he was that I was driving and not him. 'You're doing we'll!' He would say as I negotiated tricky situations on the road — just when I didn't want to be distracted by conversation. But now I'm glad of all that reinforcement to my self-esteem. It's still with me. It's only with new things I do — like getting the taps fixed — that I miss his praise. And yet, I know it would have been there, so in a way I don't need it. I can 'hear' his voice so well, telling me those things, and 'see' his eyes shining.

There are practical ways, too, that I'm stuck in the past — notably the food shopping. It is so hard to get out of old habits and realise it's no longer economical to buy large sizes or quantities. It's not a saving when food goes off before I can use it up! Even when stuff will keep for a while, finishing it while it's still good can result in having the same meal night after night after night. I had a friend to lunch recently, and feeling lazy dashed out to buy a barbecue chicken and some prepared salads. I knew it was too much for one meal, even for two of us, but I figured I'd use the leftovers. And so I have been. That was five days ago. I finally finished the chicken yesterday; I'll probably manage the last of the salads by tomorrow night. I HAVE to readjust my thinking when I'm in the supermarket!

I have to readjust my thinking in all sorts of ways. Bit by bit, I guess. One step after another. I think I've said that before. It seems I come to the same realisations over and over. Hopefully they will gradually sink in.

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