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Friday, August 31, 2012

Hierarchy of Needs

Back when I was in my Nursing Program-we spoke a lot about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  Interesting that most of the time we refer to this for childhood development or illness requirements.  As you can gather from the image above physiologic needs are the most basic, followed by safety, belonging (and love), self-esteem and then self-actualization (we may aspire to this but never quite get it).

I am revisiting this theory to try and make sense of how "needy" I feel.  While it is true that my basic needs are taken care of-food, water, shelter and warmth-higher needs have been in jeopardy during my loss.  Safety needs are absent first and then the love needs come into play.

Although I do not have the time today to fully articulate some of my concerns or understand the neediness that seems to drive me-I will revisit this in future entries.

Something more to think about......

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Loving Being Loved

I miss being loved.  And while this statement is easy to misconstrue, it has definite hidden meanings in my world.  On the one hand-the obvious is that I miss Bruce and his loving me.  His love was in part due to need-is that the way it always is?-not sure. 

And I know that I am loved by others-by my children and family and friends.  I am lucky that way because I can love and be loved in return.  What I am talking about here is different-it is the physical act of being loved.  Not quite the same as sex although sex may be involved.  Since moving into the dating world-I have thought about this quite a bit.  The physical act of making love-if one is open to it-involves so many expressions of giving love.  The kissing, hugging touching can evoke not only the physical sensation of pleasure.  It can also impart an emotional lift-like nurturing, feeding etc.   And this is what I miss........

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home - Part 3

This morning I attempted to go to a morning of wellness with some friends.  As I drove closer to my destination a feeling of sadness engulfed me.  Since I returned to California, I have had a lump in my throat-
I do not usually cry-not even sure how I can push myself to this release but it does not happen.  I feel the lump and my eyes threaten to fill with tears and then nothing.

I made some excuses and then headed "home".  My haven-my place where time stops and I have some measure of control.  There really is a sense of security for me at home.  I will spend the day wrapped in this cocoon and hopefully will be able to venture out tomorrow for work.

Not sure what triggered this latest emotional landmine.  Was it the fact that New Jersey reminded me of the Pennsylvania where we raised our family?  Was it seeing my mom settled in her new home?  Was it the return home to a place where Bruce no longer existed?  Is it the promise of the Fall Academic Year - the close of the summer?  The upcoming holidays and the acknowledgement that my husband would have been 58 years old?  Is it the loneliness?  The lack of a warm human body next to me in the morning-appreciating me, loving me, even being annoyed by me but yet still present-always present?

I get so tired of the work of keeping this all going.  My shoulders are thin and I feel the weight.  I know that I can do it but wish that it was easier.  Maybe home is the solution today-and maybe that is enough...... 

Home, continued

I am back-back "home".  It does feel as if this is where I belong.   I guess there is an actual place that I call home.  I am reminded of my trips to summer camp as a child.  I used to bring a hammer and nails with me to camp and the first thing I did to unpack was to hang up some flannel shirts around my bunk.  Even then, I needed some visuals to create my space.  A space my own.  A space that allayed my anxieties and gave me comfort.

I came in Friday night and closed the door and immediately felt the silence.  I still have a hard time coming "home" and having him absent.  Yes, this is home but there is definitely something missing.  True, I am comforted by the familiar-but still remember how it was to come home to him.  And so I spent the day yesterday on the verge of tears.  Hard for me to cry-a door that won't open for me.

So home for me is where I am comforted and also challenged.  Where I gain my strength and where I confront my weakness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I have been thinking about home.  Where is it-is home a place?  I moved so much when Bruce and I were young marrieds, we moved for school and for 1st, 2nd and 3rd jobs.  We moved 3 times since coming to California.  Home to me was where Bruce was-now that he is gone-where is home?

This week I am visiting my Mom in her new home.  Her old home was where I grew up, and I did not get a chance to say goodbye to the homestead before she left it.  And in her new place, I am surrounded by some remnants of the past.  There are pictures of me and my sister in the same old frames, there are some of the same items that existed before - and yet the feel is different.  That was also true when I used to visit her in her old neighborhood and it was hard to recreate the feeling of the past.  Everything changes with time.

I guess home exists in our hearts.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Calling in the troops

It occurred to me that I want to start every entry with the phrase "Since Bruce died....."
There are few things that have so marked my life-so I guess I think about the line drawn with the death.
Pre death, post death. 

I am still the same me-but the world I live in is so different.  For one thing, I am learning to call in the troops.  Relying on others is very difficult for me.  Part of that was the disappointment I faced as a child and a young adult.  Hard to count on people and so it made me realize that I needed to take care of myself.  I imagined a strong woman, able to care for herself who never had to ask for help.  I could do and manage everything.  Bruce fed this image of me as Super Girl.  And when I reached out and needed something-there were times that the reality was startling as there was no one there. 

I have since understood that people are very preoccupied and that although they may wish to help, they are overbooked and time gets away from all of us.  I am learning to give freely and not judge when others cannot do the same.  Calling in the troops this summer has meant that I think creatively about getting help.  I have paid an organizer, established a group of high school students to help with house stuff, and even recruited a bunch of students to help with a research project. 

My latest call for help relates to the emotional turmoil that I wrote about in the last post.  So Tuesday since my therapist is out of town, we did a phone session, yesterday I had an appointment with my rabbi and last eve my psychiatrist.  I cannot survive in this world completely independently-we all need some help and I am not afraid to pay for it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roller Coaster World

I think that I have always been an emotional person, very passionate and dramatic.  The highs and lows though take a toll and it is exhausting.  Being caught up in loss has made me re-examine myself, have I always been so up and down?   So impulsive?  Trying to live in the moment makes it difficult to examine the past and the past "me".

There is definitely an up side to passion and drama.  Life is exciting, stimulating and motivating.  My kids accuse me of falling in and out of "love", and the beginning and end of these short relationships are extremely taxing.  Being caught up in the re-awakening of my senses is also distracting.  I guess I see the positives but am a bit concerned about the impact of these short bursts of super charged emotions. Of course, intellectually it all makes sense.  Woman faces sudden loss after 34 years of marriage, woman a bit unhinged, gets some control over life, but remains depressed, then is reawakened and starts to become re-acquainted with the world, with men and affairs of the heart. 

I do not want to lose the passion and enthusiasm for my life.  I believe it is an asset that I can get excited about small things-like an ice cream cone on a beautiful SoCal day.  But I also would love to tame the side effects of the excitement a bit.  Is there a drug for that?  Would meditation be an answer?  I guess it is time to explore.

Yes, the roller coaster ride continues and I am hanging on.  I give myself some credit for being brave - after all I am afraid of heights-maybe not the emotional kind-but who knows?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back in Time

It has been a busy month.  It started with a fractured foot and has now become an adolescent girls diary.
I have been dating and I have experienced a variety of emotions and experiences.  All of it interesting, some of it painful, a few bits of pleasure added in.

What I have been left with is a few thoughts about grief street and the state of the world:

1. The loss prevails.  Every relationship or coffee date that disappoints brings me back to the emptiness of the loss and the concern about the future.  Even though I struggle to stay in the present, I long for a future that is not solitary.

2. Nothing has changed since I last experienced the dating world.  Men are still elusive-they are emotionally unavailable or afraid of commitment - I had hoped that there would be some difference between men in their twenties and men in their 50s and 60s.

3. Dating is still a roller coaster ride and I have never cared for roller coasters.

So I continue to hobble along-need to be emotionally grounded and not so high and low.  I am hunting for some mental help or some brand new drug. 
And so it continues.