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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Emotional overtones

I have begun to dissect this feeling of being overwhelmed and decided that there definitely is an emotional component to it. There is always too much going on-but when I couple the amount of work to be done with emotional turmoil, it puts me over the edge.
Last week, I made a vow to myself to dismantle Bruce's office and I have made some good progress. It was harder than I thought-too many memories buried in the books and the paperwork. Much of the stuff evoked the past-some of it happy, some of it not, some entirely neutral. But it was a glimpse back and of course I both worry and welcome that without the things-those times are not retrievable. They remain buried deep with all of the other thoughts clogging up my brain.

And then in the middle of the week, there was the Emergency Room drama with my son and the resulting worry and emotional "hangover" the next day. It took a full two days to work it through and I continue to be a bit emotionally unsettled.

I have trouble articulating how I feel-almost like a fog engulfs me and I get lost in the emotions that bombard me. I know that it sometimes contributes to the inertia, interrupts my sleep and preoccupies my thoughts. I guess I have always responded to the emotional tugs before the cognition kicks in. I can (thanks to years of therapy) take all of this apart and provide a perfect rational response. But the emotional sensors are still on overload. I just got to keep on going, set small tasks and work through the turmoil. I know that I am strong and capable.

Even though I am sometimes beset by my emotions-it is who I am. Contributes to my passion, my enthusiasm and my empathy for others. Now I just have to learn to tame it and do good work while emotionally challenged! Small steps.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Before Bruce died, I worried all the time about his health. I was aware that his Dad died at an early age. In fact many of his family members died prematurely. Bruce always said that he was not going to live long-when he made it past 50 we were elated and began planning for retirement. Retirement was not something he thought he would ever need to consider. But even though we were a bit relaxed and figured we had made it past 50 and we were home free, I still worried. There was always this underlying anxiety. Any medical event could rattle me and cause me to become very anxious after I dealt with the issue. When Bruce died, although I was devastated, a part of my anxiety died with him.

Yesterday, I realized that it was not gone, just dormant. My 27 year old son ended up in the Emergency Department due to a pinched nerve. I was concerned when he had symptoms radiating down his arm but even more shaken when he fainted in the ED. I realized that my worry was not over. He is fine, thankfully. But I am so traumatized by the event. Perhaps it is the worry in combination with the getting rid of Bruce's things. I am emotionally overwhelmed, tired, sad and yes-worried.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

stuff revisited

I decided it was time to get rid of Bruce's stuff and even as I write this, I feel a sharp pain. Is it betrayal? I know how much his stuff meant to him. As a boy growing up, he often felt deprived. As an adult-he so enjoyed the fact that he could have some of what he wanted. He loved his stuff. And he collected and saved much of it over his lifetime. The emotional cloud descended as I attempted to sort through his office at home. I found lots of his treasures: the collection of credit cards that he used since he was first able to obtain one, the collection of matchbooks from every restaurant he went to (some of these with me), the collection of toys that used to decorate his office, the batman memorabilia, the pens, the cameras, and so on. There were memos and old ticket stubs. I relived my past with him through much of the stuff that I needed to sort.

And as it did so many months ago, it occurred to me that we so value our stuff and often fail to put what these things are in perspective. Aren't they just things? Maybe not-maybe they represent who we are and what we value. But the sad fact is that we cannot take the stuff with us when we die. And often the value that we place on the stuff is not shared by anyone else.

Since Bruce was a qualitative sociologist-I imagine that this is the perfect research project. But then since there is so much to go through and sort-what would best represent him?

So my plan is to sort through and systemically remove his stuff from my life. It seems as if there should be a special ceremony for this-because his presence is so evident in the stuff that remains throughout the house. I thought that I was ready for this but I am feeling irritable and out of sorts. But it has been long enough and I have decided that it is time.