Today a woman in my Brave Ladies Club posted about the rules she lived by after the death of her husband for the first year.
1. Stay out of bed (No Sex)
2. Get out of debt (To the best of your ability)
3. Clean out your closet physically and emotionally.
BOOM. Well, there you go. I commented to her....."YES!" Why? Because I did these and more the first two years after my husband died. After a couple of months of pure pain, drowning grief, numbing days of depression, PTSD, panic attacks, and feeling completely lost? I decided to make my own rules for my life after loss. Rules that my soul was telling me would get me back on track, onto my new path, and would help to give me the time and space to heal my heart. Inspired by the list that was posted in my group this morning.....I give you my own personal list. Do with it as you wish. You might think it's totally bonkers, you might think it wouldn't work for you. All of that is valid and ok. Each persons road to trauma healing, grief mending, and stepping out and creating a life after any tradgedy? It's unique to that person. What works for one person like excercise, travel, or hours of talk therapy will not always work for the next person or the next 1,000 people. It is wonderful to hear what helped others out and up and over their hurdles in life so you can take what resonates with you and see if it will help to heal your life. My list? Here you go.....
1. No dating. I did not date until one month before the 2-year date of my husbands death. I knew that I was not ready. I knew that if I put my heart out there that I might risk going deeper into my grief if I got my heart hurt again. I had to take the time to take care of myself and find out who I was now as a single woman in the world. I did not want to bring anyone new around my children. I didn't want to fall into the heart trap of believing that a new relationship would heal my heart. When I felt all alone, hopelessly lonely, and like I wanted so badly to fill that hole in my heart with the attention from a guy? I went for a hike. I did some writing. I read a book or ten. I took a class or watched a documentary on something I was interested in. Instead of filling up that void in my heart with a guys attention and company? I focused solely on healing myself so that I could take care of my children. I put my love life aside and decided to focus on me.....something I hadn't done in many, many years. It's one of the best things I ever did for myself. I waited almost two years to go on a date. I have dated since that first date but I haven't found a guy that meshes with my heart, soul, and life plan. I haven't found a guy worthy of meeting my children. I have chosen to stay single in a world full of "How to get a guy or How to snag a husband" articles. I'm content on my own. I have control over my own shit. To win me over? To get a place in my life, in my heart, and on my couch? You would have to be on my playing level of life. A human with a huge heart, books on their nightstand, fire in their soul, compassion in their veins, service on their mind, and muddy hiking boots by their door. I tried dating and it taught me alot about this "new" me and I highly suggest for others who have experienced loss or trauma to take dating off the table for at least one year. I still have an open heart and welcome the universe to send me not a knight on a horse but a man in a flannel that has a library card, a state park pass, his own life's purpose, and knows how to treat a woman. Is he out there for me? I don't know and I'm not looking for him. I'm busy with my own life, my children, and my writing. Maybe someday I'll trip over him out on a hiking trail or bump into him in the line at the bookstore. My words of wisdom to you who is reading this.....male or female? Heal your heart, get your life on track, mend your trauma before you start dating again.
2. No alcohol. I gave up drinking for over a year a few months after my husband died. Why? Because one glass of wine would not make me feel giddy and happy it would make me feel sad and depressed and I didn't want to risk anything. I was terrified of suddenly wanting to drown my pain in a bottle of wine so I cut it out of my life and I put my fingers to the keyboard when I was feeling the need for something to help me through the dark moments. I was so depressed at times and it made me feel more awful to even think of celebrating life with friends and having a lovely cocktail. I had to step away from it until I was feeling grounded, steady, and able to enjoy life again and be in control of my emotions. How did I know a deep part of my pain and heart were healed? I could once again go to dinner with a friend and enjoy a glass of wine with no thoughts of guilt that I was enjoying life and no thoughts of fear that this was going to make me sad and cry later that evening. It's ok in life to step away from things after you have experienced trauma. You are so very sensitive after the universe pulls the rug out from under you and it's ok to remove things from your life until you are ready to add them back in later.
3. Decluttering my closet, home, and soul. I donated my husbands work car. I sold his truck. I donated most of his clothing. I cleaned out every closet in our home and only kept what was useful and memorable to my children and I. I decluttered my soul by stepping away from my social life for awhile. I skipped out on parties that made me anxious. I stayed home from events that felt like a trigger to my panic attacks and grief. I only surrounded myself with a small circle of people who I felt at ease around. Now almost 3 years later? There are so many relationships in my life that are changed or non-existent because of my tragedy. I have come to full acceptance of this. Flow with life. Flow with the change. Post trauma or loss? Not everyone is going to want a seat or know how to fill a seat at the table of your life anymore and that's ok.
4. No moving. I wanted so badly to run away, sell my home, and move to another state after my husband died. I allowed myself to entertain the idea of moving, look up new homes and places to live but I made a promise to myself that I would stay in our home for at least one year so that I didn't uproot my children's entire life before we had time to truly heal and figure out our life after loss. Almost three years later and I am still in the home I shared with my husband. I have now lived here for going on 15 years and I'm glad I didn't run away. This home might hold a lot of painful memories but it also holds joy, love, and hope. In some ways this house saved me. It was my refuge from the world. The place I could hide away to heal when I was in a dark place in my heart. Will I live here forever? Probably. I will most likely live here until I'm old and grey. Coming and going between travels. Filling my walls with my childrens art and treasures we find on our adventures. Always keeping the door open for my children no matter what age they are. Their bedrooms will remain in this home forever so they always have a safe place to come to, a safe place to live, a safe place to call home. And maybe one day we will move but I'm grateful that I didn't run that first year when my mind and heart were scrambled and I couldn't truly think about my future.
That's my list. Am I telling you that you have to do or try all of these? Absolutley not. You might do none of these or the complete opposite of these and you might be just fine, you might heal and find your joy again in a different way. I share with you my path, my journey, my choices so that you can learn to listen for your own inside of your soul.
Improve your life first before you step back out onto your new path.
Take care of you and your heart and soul before you dive into any new relationships.
Get yourself on your new path before you dive back into life with a mended heart, clear head, and balanced soul.