I spent 20years in emotional pain. 20 years missing someone, missing a life that made me very happy. Grieving for 20years I faced so many aspects of me and who I was and what my life is about.
I became independent, showed resilience, I hung in there. I created a new life, a good life. A new happiness. Falling in love with another offers different opportunities in life. A different life but non the less a really nice life, but I hadn’t set myself truly free from my past life. I held onto it believing that was the only time I was truly happy in my life but that’s not true. There’s just different types of happiness at different stages in your life. it’s taken me 20 years to fully understand.
On the day of my beloveds 10 year anniversary, whilst out on the road doing my job, I was forced to pull into the Brimbank Park car park because I was totally overcome with grief. It was one of the moments in my years of grief where the waves came crashing down on me, tumbling me, overwhelming me. I thought 10 years another of many I thought I’d be ok. But it seems the decade anniversaries are the most intense. I cried inconsolably as I sat in the drivers seat of my car. I hoped no stranger near by would see me. I still had one patient to visit so I pulled myself together just enough to get through that visit.
I went to that house with puffy red eyes and face. It was obvious I wasn’t ok but duty said I needed to conduct that visit. I couldn’t return to work for the remainder of the day, I got in my car and drove home. Tomorrow was another day just like all the other nine anniversaries I endured. I got up and went to work, life went on.
You can spend a lot of years looking back living on the memories but there comes a time you have to give yourself permission to be free, to live in the present and enjoy the now and look forward to the future without the pain of loss.
It’s not that I feel I had wasted the past 20 years living through various degrees of grief. I loved my husband and I don’t regret any of the tears I shed for him. But after 20 years of longing for what was, for what will never be I gave myself permission to move on. To leave that life behind and remember it for what it was, my young life.
I was in my early thirties when I nursed my husband with cancer to his death. It was 20 years ago I drove my car down Flemington road onto The freeway crying because I couldn’t save him, I couldn’t make him better, and oh how badly I wished I could. It was 20 years ago I was widowed with three very young children to raise. But 20 years on they have grown up and although I know I have not been the perfect parent always and times I questioned myself if I failed, in fact so many times, I now gain strength from the realisation that I raised them, and did it on my own.
Even when I repartnered I was still the sole parent who worried about them and followed my instinct on how children should be raised, believed in my values and morals and stuck to my guns when other well meaning people were voicing their unsolicited opinions of how my children should be parented.
I drew the line in the sand, stood my ground, protected my children, supported and guided them. I never gave in when times got tough, and believe me when I say times got tough. Boundaries were pushed but I never gave up on them. I persisted, I stood by them and did my absolute best with what and who I was at the time. I was left as a sole parent and I carried an immense responsibility to do this well. To keep life going, and get through these years. Complete the job. They deserved love, and I wanted to also carry out what we would want for our children. I didn’t want to let their dad, the father of my children down.
I cried so many times over the past 20 years, I longed for my life as it was so so many days, I suffered great emotional pain watching my kids growing up without a dad, their dad. I’ve ridden the ups and downs of a blended family, the yours snd mine scenarios so many times. I’ve felt exhausted from the battle, from the responsibility but I think all three are on track, going ok. My 23 years son, is only now just showing signs of maturing, slowly but the signs are there.
You have no idea the worry he has caused me. The sleepless nights. I had to develop strategies to shift my thought of worrying about him to cope with the feeling of helplessness at times. I would’ve done anything to be able to speak with his dad and discuss what we needed to do. There’s never been anyone who I felt I trusted or comfortable enough to really do this with other than a psychologist from time to time.
Not having their other parent to turn to at all has been alienating . I have questioned my parenting skills on so many occasions but I never gave up. I think often, the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept, and there were behaviours that took all my strength to not walk past. By the third child, the third teenager you are exhausted. Parenting is such a hard gig. Only earlier this week I drove behind an L plate driver who clearly was on their first few times in a car behind the wheel. I thought thank goodness it wasn’t me as the parent. I felt for that parent as I watched from behind hand gestures to move more to the right so as to place the car in the centre of its lane and not collide with the parked cars on its left. I was reminded of my now 31 year olds son nearly swiping every parked car on his first drive as we drove up the street away from our house. I was so thankful those years of having to teach kids to drive were behind me now. Parenting however is never over or done. You never stop worrying or guiding your children to be the best version of themselves.
As the 20th anniversary approached I thought about this long and hard. I had to let go, let go of the past. I think reflecting back that for most people their lives are beautiful when young falling in love and marrying and buying a home and having children whilst you also work towards your careers. I can now separate these emotions as part of my young life. Compartmentalise him as part of that life.
I will never forget him and will always love him and what we experienced and created together but I do not want to continue looking back. I want to look forwards.
I have beautiful young adult children, and a grandchild on the way. My first thoughts when I was told I was going to be a nanna was think of his grandfather, my husband and how his DNA will continue on into the next generation. How wonderful that is. That whilst new life is created and born he will never be fully gone. His substance, the genes that made him such a good human live on into the next generation.
Even prior to this news I had said to myself as the 20 year anniversary rolled around, enough, I have lived with such pain in my heart for so long, I want to be free.
Free of the heartache, the missing and longing. Free to be me, to live with a lighter heart. Free to move forwards without the pain. I owed it to myself. I have worked hard to keep my life and my children’s lives moving forwards and not remain completely stuck. I’ve opened my heart to another but still lived with a silent pain. But I give myself permission to say enough. Let go!
Earlier this month I walked down to South Cottesloe beach. I stood on the white powdery sand, looked out to the sea, wind in my hair and felt the happiest I have felt in a long time. It felt like pure happiness. I was free. I was in my happy place. A place that I have created new memories and had happy times with my partner and kids. The place that over the past 14 years became our family holiday destination. A place that when I go there I’m filled with joy. Yep I am free. I can now fully appreciate the life I have.
Love Lucy x