I don’t know how to explain it. I feel like Woody in Toy Story 2 with a broken arm, never going to be the same toy again. I feel like I should be thrown into the trash pile with the other broken toys.
I am shrouded by a dark cloud of doom and gloom. It feels like a death sentence: a solitary life of being the pathetic single mother to three children. I cringe when I hear people refer to me as a single mother.
Oh no, I want to tell them. I didn’t sign up for that. No, no, no.
But it’s even worse. I’m an only parent. I still liked the guy (on most days). I went to bed and the next morning that was it. No goodbyes. No time to prepare. This wasn’t supposed to happen yet. This was supposed to happen in 30 years. Not now. But I am forced to accept this reality whether I like it or not.
I remember the pajamas I wore when the firemen crowded in my house. I remember the last dinner we had together–food from a place I have yet to go back to. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I just knew. I remember walking to my bedroom to change into clothes and putting on all black and not being in a hurry to follow the ambulance. Once they tell me, that’s it. I knew. They fractured his ribs. I had to talk to a coroner. A coroner! I sat at a mortuary and paid for a niche. I had to tell my children that their father wasn’t ever coming home again. I had to throw his favorite shoes away.
They should have just flung me into a pit of fire.
I keep thinking that I will wake up and this will all be a nightmare. This can’t be real. Sometimes I pause at his picture, lingering, pondering my own sanity.
In my head, I feel like the victim of the biggest injustice in the universe. I’ve always been a rule follower. I never got in trouble at school. I earned good grades. Graduated from UCI in 3 years. I’ve always worked hard. I don’t lie. I don’t cheat. I’ve been responsible with my health. I’ve never touched a single drug. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. And yet I’m the one lightning struck.
My rational side acknowledges that the universe doesn’t care what I have or haven’t done. This is a fascinating devastation of one’s sense of self. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been enthralled with Sartre lately. I read his words and I find myself having an intellectual crush on his writing. He knew! There is nothing. Nothingness. Nothing, nothing, nothing. And yet I have lived within societal and self-imposed rules all of these years. For what? For nothing. Maybe to some people this is depressing, but for me it is comforting and liberating. There is no meaning. It just is.
And yet, that doesn’t completely make me feel okay.
I often wonder when I’ll feel “normal” again. Joan Didion talked about her year of “magical thinking.” Does that mean I have four more months of this left? It’s not magical. It’s a horror show on repeat, looping through my brain. Sometimes everything is okay. The next minute I am suffocating. I’m happy. I’m mad. I’m okay. I’m ready to die. I don’t want to die. I like my life. I hate my life. I want to start over. I want to run away. I’m happy.I’m mad. I can’t do this anymore. I can do this.
All of this is piled on top of what is always lurking beneath the surface, right below my exterior, right there: the perpetual feeling of being completely alone to wallow in this misery. To figure out how to breathe. To face tomorrow alone. To not have all of the answers. To be scared, to be strong, to keep going for the family. By myself. Always by myself.
I hate him.
I miss him.
I hate myself.
I remember the “I am responsible” shit I tattooed on my arm., but it’s too hard. All I can do is pretend right now. I can’t really be happy. I can only promise to be responsible for keeping my head above water. I can’t commit to anything else.
There’s apparently a textbook process going on here.
On any given day I hover around the rocks. I’m not sure I can describe the deep, searing pain I feel. It weighs on me. But sometimes I am capable of swimming out to the mourning and acceptance waters. I always end up back on the rocks, banging my head against one, until I can swim back out to acceptance. The reorganization isn’t there yet. I can’t conceptualize my life beyond this misery. I’m still convinced my life is over. Logically I know this can’t be true, but you can’t reason with certain emotions. All you can do is persevere through them.
For now, I am in a holding cell. I smile and do my job and take care of my kids and try really hard to keep moving forward, but inside I am an unrecognizable beast filled with lots of ugly thoughts swirling around in my head. I don’t mind you all knowing the beast is there, but I try really hard to prevent you from seeing it.
I find you to be a courageous woman… I lost my two daughters to death one after the other leaving me and my life in a totally unexpected chaos. I am understand how each moment feels and how each single thing/person on this earth brings in a story of thousand scars in the heart. May God bless you with happiness inside…
Thank you for your comment and sharing. I can’t even comprehend the death of a child. I’m so sorry for your losses.
Thank you for writing about the realities of life. I came to this page through your article on tinybuddha.
I have been in depression for 3 months due to my own mistakes. It is very hard to live in grief. We are struggling as a family (I’m unemployed at 29, and my dad’s business is down). Reading about the experiences of others gives me courage to fight and move forward.
I wish you happiness in life.
Thank you for your comment. I think a lot of grief stems from life not going as we planned.
I planned, took a risk, and failed miserably.
I’ve fallen back to the point where I started from 5 years ago.
I totally feel like the me from 11 years ago. I love this quote from Nelson Mandela: I never lose. I either win or learn.
hi Teresa, I saw your post on TinyBuddha and just wanted to say that I loved your posts and am so touched. I also wanted to say that you’re doing a great job and I’m sure your kids are SO proud of you. My mom is also a single mother and is often referred as “the single mom”. I think the world of her and the older i got, the more i realized how hard it must’ve been for her and I am SO proud of her. Thank you for sharing your story/thoughts and best wishes to you and your kids, they’re lucky to have you! ❤
Hi Lisa, thank you for comment. I appreciate it.
I found your article on tinybuddha.com and I wish I didn’t have to say this, but it is comforting to hear the exact things I am going through coming from someone else’s mind. I lost my husband August 2016 and I think I’ve kept it together for the most part, but there are definitely days where I don’t know how to live, and I hate saying that I’m a widow and hate the feelings other people have the moment they realize they have no idea what to say except, “I’m sorry for your loss”. Anyway, I just want to say appreciate you putting yourself out there and sharing your life. You seem like a pretty great lady!
Hi Beth, so sorry for your loss. Not a fun club to be a part of, but nice to know there are others who know what it is like. We are not alone!