Thursday, May 15, 2014

{My place in Life}

Among the long list of things I'm learning to navigate,
or tying to navigate,
or sometimes completely failing to navigate,
is me trying to find my place in life again.

When Trav's illness started affecting him the point that leaving the house was to big of a chore,
I remember feeling really lost.
Sometimes at night after Travis would fall asleep,
I would mourn the loss of our old life.
I remember just crying-big fat ugly tears and thinking life couldn't feel harder.
(Ha!)
I remember feeling like I was losing him.
Knowing that he was dying, even though we hadn't heard those words yet,
it was just so painfully clear to me that it was coming.
And I hated watching him lose himself.
 It was unbearably hard-and I look back thinking 
"I cannot believe I made it through that".

But, I still had my place.
It was by his side.
And I had Travis.
And I could tell him exactly how I felt, no matter how hard it was to say,
or for him to hear....I had him.  And my place.
So while everything in the world felt wrong....it also felt right.

But now,
that little pocket of safety Travis always provided for me,
and that safe spot that comes along with marriage is gone.
And
I just don't fit in anywhere anymore.
That-well that just makes me miss him all the more.

I have wonderful, wonderful friends.
They are thoughtful, incredibly giving, caring, hilarious, and ALWAYS there for me.
And while I never regret any of our fun nights,
they always end with me coming home feeling a bit out of sorts, 
because it's clear that I'm not 
"one of them" 
anymore.

I can't join in conversations about marriage anymore.
I can't complain about him coming home late from work,
not helping with yard work,
not saying thank you for dinner or helping with the kids.
No more big group dates with our friends,
and man, I miss that.  I miss seeing their husbands chat with T about golf,
about neighbors, yard work, work and whatever else those men chatted about.
 I miss just taking it all in and seeing that side of Travis.
Sometimes these conversations happen and I just feel so outside of myself.
I miss that pocket of safety.

Even with family,
I've lost my comfort.
Travis was my partner-
in every game we played...(which was many!),
he was my partner....team game or no.
He would pick on me last,
and if I won (which was not as often as he!)
He'd always say, "If I couldn't win, I'm glad you did." 
He made us an even number-and we went hand in hand everywhere we went.
So now,
I sometimes feel like an intruder going alone.
I feel strange asking them to dinner, or anywhere...
because instead of saying
"wanna come with us to dinner?"
It's 
"wanna come with me?
And that seems so strange to all of us.

So I don't really fit in there either.
Not that that stops me from coming, or trying, 
but it just doesn't feel right-and I wonder if it ever will.

My friends and family are incredibly sensitive to me. 
(I can bet that as they are reading this, they are probably on a group text about how they 
need to be more careful when I'm around...FRIENDS: no.  That's not the point of this post. And FAMILY, no, I don't mean that anyone should change!
Because if I have to get used to  feeling awkward and out of place, I'd rather do it with you then anyone else!)
I love my friends and family, and wanna make it clear that this post is by no means to call anyone out,
because my support system is the absolute best,
it's just my life has changed so drastically,
and....
I feel like a misfit.

I have made some really lovely friends who are also widows.
We met by social media....my first time meeting someone via the Internet...
my sweet Dad was nervous they might be axe murderers....
They aren't.
They are lovely, amazing, strong women who have gone through a lot.
I mean, I don't feel like it's my place to share their stories,
but wow.  These women.  
Amazing ladies and instantly dear friends.
I thought I would meet with them and feel like I had my place again...
people who were just like me!

And while they completely understood so much of what I've gone through the past few months,
and some of the daily challenges we all face,
I still don't fit in 100%.
(And I am sure that they could say the same thing: One has twins, and has raised them all alone their entire life span, one has a toddler-and her husband had brain cancer-and she surely faced some things that the rest of us didn't face, and one has no kids to carry her sweet husbands life with her....)
So while we all get each other, and understand a lot about each other...
we, together, don't fit into a seamless puzzle-and we won't ever understand exactly what every journey has been like.

I'm older then all of them.
(Is that not the saddest thing you've ever heard.....I think I'm a young widow...but these girls are just painfully young and it's heartbreaking, and makes me feel pretty blessed that I had the years I had with T.  These girls didn't get enough time.  I didn't either, but they reallllly didn't...if that makes sense.)
They have either no kids, or really young ones,
and they've been widows for a good while longer then me.

I wanted someone to be just like me.
I wanted someone who had kids my exact age,
and understood our cancer battle...who did the same treatments, the same amount of time.
Same tumors, same locations, same ages...and someone who faced
awful death that Travis faced...
and on the drive home I thought about this and felt a little sad that I didn't find that pocket I've been
missing so much....

And then I realized that the only person who would ever fill that void,
is Travis.

No one will ever know exactly how our life changed together.
No one will understand how cancer changed us, as a couple, and just as people, 
and ultimately how death changed us.
And I had to face the hard fact: 
my place is gone.
It left with Travis,
and I have to find it again on my own.

I have to fill the void-the void of not fitting in, or knowing where I stand,
with common ground.  With patience with myself and others.
I can't be upset when I have nothing to contribute to the marriage conversation.
I will not be angry or hurt when my friends vent about marriage.
I will be grateful that I had that. 
I will be grateful that I once had that spot...that great spot where your thoughts are understood
by someone else, and you had a partner even in a game that shouldn't have been a team game.
And I will learn to let that go, as much as I can, because if I don't, I wont easily find my place again.

As I've written this post,
one I've been thinking about for a good few months,
I've had to stop to tuck in Roo.
Get her a water bottle.
Adysons asked if she can just read "one more chapter" twice.
And I feel so completely in my element that I can't imagine me ever feeling like I don't have a place...
so obviously, Travis lives on in them,
and my pocket overflows when they are around.

Socially-I'm an outcast.
At home-I'm content.  And I think that's progress.  A few months ago I wouldn't have been able to say that.

So progress is being made. I didn't see it till now, but it is being made.

I guess, for now, that's enough.

2 comments:

Trisha said...

Thank you for writing this Hayley. I think of you all the time. In my own selfish way I feel a little lost when I try to think of ways to reach out to you. Your family and close friends are what you need...I totally get that! But what this post made me realize is that there are many layers to your support system...ripples of people that you maybe don't even know are thinking and praying for you!! And like you said, while no one person really understands the full extent of what you've gone through, I hope you know that your place in life inspires us all! It ripples out to so many and we are strengthened and touched by the eloquent way to that you share your feelings. We are all blessed that you let us in and I hope that you feel strength from the army that prays for you daily. Love you!

Hannah Bechtel said...

You're the most inspirational misfit EVER!