Wednesday, December 02, 2020

The Tyranny of Memories #ROW80 #NaNoWriMo

Ed & I Embarking This Night 1978

 This season between September and February is a minefield of memories that tyrannize me with explosive emotions.  Emotions that tear-N-eyes me.  This year tho that minefield will extend past Valentine's Day to our last sleepover mid March, the event in late May that destroyed my hope followed by June 7, the day I informed him I was done face-to-face as I retrieved my belongings from his apartment.

If not for what happened in late September, my year of anniversaries would be over June 7, 2021.  Which puts me at the halfway point right about now.  But instead the round of 'anniversaries' reset on September 28, the day I learned his body had been found.  So I'm back at the beginning and it is all still too fresh and raw to talk about coherently.

Being willing to walk away from a marriage is not the same thing as being willing to be a widow.  The complex of emotions around that is so tangled and thorny I can't touch it with words yet.

I spent the month of November processing via writing and re-reading posts, journals and emails and living in my memories.  If not for my NaNo project being tied in to it I may not have kept it at such an intense level on a daily basis for this long.  Based on my history of processing things in this way, I expect there will be a positive payoff in the future for the intensity of the work I did in October and November but I also recognize that I can't keep that intensity up indefinitely going forward.

So I'll be backing off some and over the next few days do some thinking on how that will translate as to my ROW80 goals.  My actual goals as stated at the start of the round do not depend on me continuing to work with the triggering material once NaNo finished.  So it is primarily a matter of choosing a new project for the wordcount. 

 Backstory highlights and high and low notes:


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Mud Pie a la Mode #NaNoWinner2020 #ROW80


I'm not feeling it.

The usual NaNo win euphoria is MIA.  It feels a bit like the win is a scoop of ice-cream atop a mud pie, rendering the ice cream as inedible as the pie.

In spite of this having been the second worst week in the grieving journey since the end of September and in spite of having begun the week with a deficit that required a 3K a day pace I managed to cross the 50K finish 24 hours early.  Yet I don't feel like a winner. 

I just feel muddy.

This is partly due to having wallowed in the mud emotionally all month and then using that mud as the raw material for a story that is supposed to be fictional.  The other part is feeling like a fraud for having essentially abandoned all pretense of following a plot about ten days out and taken up residence inside one character's stream of consciousness as she cleans up her dead husband's trashed trailer home and ranges over the 45 year history of their relationship going back to high school.

Since it ranges in and out of the waking, sleeping, hallucinogenic and reverie mind states it is surrealistic even without the element of personal memoir mixed in.  It is most definitely a muddy first draft.

But I do believe that unlike many NaNo novels before, I will continue to work with this one beyond the end of November because it has become an indispensable element of my grief process.

 Backstory highlights and high and low notes:


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Meltdown #ROW80 #NaNoWriMo

Dis wut missgn u feelz lyk

After over a week maintaining a fairly stable mood with the grieving on a slow simmer and the tears playing peek-a-boo for a few minutes a few times per day, I had a major meltdown this afternoon.  I had expected this week to be hard though.  I just hoped it wouldn't devolve this far again.  And I can't blame it on sleep deprivation this time.

The trigger was the fact this was Thanksgiving Eve and last year on Thanksgiving Eve I took Ed shopping at WinCo for a major Thanksgiving bash menu and then spent the week with him through Sunday evening.  

On Thanksgiving day last year I helped him in minor ways to put together the full featured Thanksgiving spread and then pack up servings for three plus leftovers to send over to Mom's by early afternoon.  Then Ed and I ate on the rest of it for the rest of the weekend and I still took some more home with me.  It was one of the happiest memories of our marriage with hope running high and only the shadow of Sunday evening hanging over it.

I can't believe that six months later we crashed and burned our marriage and four months after that Ed died.

I spent the last week in a state that felt like it might be the 'acceptance' stage but if it was I'm apparently not quite ready to live there yet.

One of the projects I worked on this week was collecting all the relevant text from Joystory posts in 2013 that reference the 'lifequake' that was the unwanted indefinite separation that has now become permanent.  

I began reading my 2013 blogposts starting with January 1st on Sunday and  I made it all the way to the end of May as of last night and there had been no sign of any impending meltdown.  Some minor tearing up a few times but there were more moments of actual joy in being reminded of some of the high notes of those months.  

Reading these posts also reminded me of how far I've come personally and thus confirmed for myself that my choice to give up on us had been necessary to avoid having all my progress sabotaged yet again.  But knowing it had to be doesn't make my arms feel any less empty.


Gathering those posts counts as part of the file scavenger hunt that is part of my Round Goals tho.  After I finish with the 'lifequake' posts I'm going to reread and harvest all the emails we exchanged during the same months.

On the NaNo front: I got way behind having maintained an average of 1K per day until a few days ago when I stepped it up to 2K a day.  Now my stats page is telling me I need 2500 per day to finish on time.  That's doable for me.



Sunday, November 22, 2020

Bedwriting #ROW80 #NaNoWriMo


Bedwriting-- will soaks yu in streamz of consuchas

Have had a fairly calm week.  I'm sure that has much to do with having put a very high priority on sleep.  I'm almost starting to worry that things might tip too far in the other direction but until I actually am getting over 10 hours per day for over a week and still feeing like it isn't enough I'm going to assume I'm just working off the deficit.  What is actually happening is I'm averaging 5 to 6 hours followed by 1 to 2 hours awake followed by another 1 to 3 hours asleep.

I spent a lot of time on my bed between 9pm and 9am the days Mom was home and when she was gone this weekend I spent way more than that.  But I'm not necessarily sleeping or trying to sleep that whole time.  As I described in my Good Grief post in October, my bed is set up for reading, writing, watching video and listening to music and audio books.  

This weekend I was intending to have a movie or TV series binge but kept putting it off--holding it out as the carrot for so many to-dos that I ran out of time.

The to-dos were  ROW 80 Goals, NaNo catchup, shower/shampoo and putting order back in the chaos of my wardrobe created by six months of not putting things away after looking for something to wear, after items returned from laundry, after the mess I made packing to go pack up Ed's apartment and the return followed by last weekend's washing up of Ed's laundry and adding the items I wanted to keep to all those piles.   

So shortly after Mom left Friday afternoon, I gathered all of the clothes chaos onto Mom's bed and then set up my writing station on my bed and proceeded to go back and forth between them for the next 48 hours.

I kept intending to reward myself with one video after tending to the clothes for a time or tending to NaNo for significant wordcount.  But I always seemed to choose reading instead and then often fell asleep while reading.  I think I sensed I didn't have it in me to stay awake for an hour to two hour video by the time I had given myself permission to 'play'.  

Besides the book I was reading was Game of Thrones and that was also one of the Series I've been watching and I'd decided a couple weeks ago that I'd gotten confused by the series as it entered Season 2 and wanted to catch up in the books before I returned to the videos.  Well I had finally caught up as of late Saturday yet I kept choosing the book, now the second,  A Clash of Kings, over the video.

But as I fell asleep reading in the wee hours of Sunday, I still thought I had time for my video binge on Sunday late afternoon as Mom usually returns after 7pm but I learned as I was waking up at 10am that she would be returning before 5pm.  And with meal prep and kitchen clean-up added to clearing off Mom's bed and the shower/shampoo... Well a two hour time slot for videos just wasn't going to happen.  So here I sit two hours after Mom's lights out getting my ROW80 check-in put together--which was a task I forgot to put on my weekend to-do list--and I still haven't put in any NaNo words today.

I do have a strange habit of holding my carrots just out of reach for so long it seems I never catch hold of them.  I've been holding the video binge carrot out for months now.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Coping Schemes #ROW80 #NaNoWriMo


When what you want is hopelessly beyond your reach
Learn to want something else

The last three days have been much calmer than the three culminating in the wee hours of Monday morning as I was posting the last check-in.  Since then I've managed to apply some of the advice coming from various sources including myself and have been passably productive with my goals except for the ones requiring harvesting my files.  I hesitate to put a number to any of it but I estimate it is a bit better than 50% of the rest of them. 

I knew at the time I was writing Sunday's post that the weekend events had created the perfect storm for knocking me off my equilibrium: Being forced to give up my birthday plans for a video marathon and NaNo catchup to deal with the urgent need to do up Ed's laundry which meant having to be confronted with memory triggers.  Spending those hours doing his laundry with my cousin who let me talk endlessly about him, our marriage, the breakup, his death and packing up his apartment.  All of which created a needed catharsis but also an emotional rollercoaster I couldn't get off even once back at home and this led to difficulty sleeping which led to sleep deprivation which is my major nemesis.  

Sleep dep plus emotional volatility creates a nasty feedback loop for me that devolves quickly into inner and outer chaos.  At least I've learned to recognize the symptoms now within a day or three instead of after weeks or months and I have methods to apply to reverse the trend.  I've made sleep the highest priority since Monday which has helped me feel less chaotic inside which has helped me start to address some of the outer chaos in small ways.  

Like I started to put my craft table back in order so I could start crocheting again. It will take a few more short sessions at that task before it's safe to get a project out but I'm looking forward to it again for the first time since the phone call. But in the meantime the activity of putting the area in order is itself helping like a positive feedback loop in which creating order in the outer realm creates order in the inner which leads to being able to envision and enact more order in the outer and so on and so on.

One of the things that helped me cope though the summer months after the devastating breakup with Ed followed by Mom's stroke was the sorting and organizing project I worked on which I've not returned to since getting the news of his death September 28.  I think I need to get back on track with that. Starting with finding places out of sight to store the things I brought back from his place until they are no longer such emotional triggers.

The possibility of dehydration was raised for me several times in the past week even before I speculated about it somewhat facetiously in Sunday's post. I have been addressing that.

When I described the wee hours foot cramps waking me up to my cousin she told me it was dehydration and deficiency in magnesium and potassium and gave me some tablets to tide me over until I could send for my own.  I've not had another episode yet so there's that....

I've found solace in journaling and working on my NaNo novel even tho I can't distract myself from the grief triggers with it because it was designed to give me the space to process the grief the best way I know how and that is by writing.  It's more constructive than crying, yes but that isn't why it helps.  

Whenever my emotional state gets so chaotic that all I can do is cry or worse, numb down and stare into space for hours, that is the result of my having lost the ability to organize my reality with words.  I believe this issue is second only to the sleep deprivation in stabilizing my moods and keeping me grounded.

One activity I've actually enjoyed throughout this ordeal is sharing episodes of the old sitcom Family Affair with my Mom at dinner on most evenings she is home.  This involves me setting up my Kindle Fire with an external speaker so she can listen as I stream off Amazon.  I will pause every time she she can't understand the dialog or the visuals are needed to understand the story to explain the scene to her.  Thus it takes us 35 to 40 minutes to watch the 25 minute episodes. (For those new or needing a refresher: Mom and I have the same degenerative eye disease, RP, but hers is 24 years more advanced than mine.)

I've actually been surprised by laughter while watching Family Affair and have experienced joy in witnessing Mom's enjoyment.  I get a kick out of it when she 'gets' the joke and laughs after I've described the visual elements that put the extra kick into the humor.  Sebastian Cabot as Mr. French has the most amazing facial expressions.

Having my blog subtitle be 'story is my joy' is not a casual tag line.  It is the pure truth and I know that reading, writing, watching or listening to story of all kinds is a source of joy and healing for me and a must to make room for in my daily life.  I am determined to have my video marathon this weekend while Mom is gone.

I am also eager to return to serious reading.  I've managed to read a bit every day but it amounts to less than 5% of what was normal for me.  Getting lost in the story requires a focus I've not been able to maintain.

I am really looking forward to picking up the crochet hook again.  It is hard to believe it has been nearly two months.  I know that the rhythmical motion is soothing as is the steady creation of structure out of a string.  Without that rhythmical motion of crocheting I've devolved into more obvious autistic behaviors like rocking and swaying in my chair, tapping my fingers or small objects against myself or other objects, nodding my head like I'm listening to music when I'm not and tapping the tip of my tongue against the roof of my mouth. 

Another way I can get the rhythmical motion is by getting on my mini-tramp and that has many other benefits to physical and mental health.  I've known for awhile that I need to do that and keep putting it off.

Yet another coping tool I've known to help in the past is classical music.  Beethoven, Bach and Mozart are the three I can name right off that I've experienced significant mental and emotional relief after listening to them.  The most helpful of all was Beethoven's 9th symphony and especially the 4th movement known as Ode to Joy.  I once called that my personal anthem.  It has been awhile since I listened to it.  Past time.

OK that is plenty of coping schemes to get me started and it is past time I post this and get to bed.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

How Many Tissues Will It Take? #ROW80 #NaNoWriMo

Seriously.  This is wearing me out.
I fear I'm going to wear out what's left of my audience if I keep posting about it.  Yet if I make this topic taboo I'll probably end up not posting at all just like I did in 2016 when so many of the topics occupying my mind became taboo for posting.  When I decided to re-commit to writing and blogging again, I knew it meant committing to truth over taboo so I guess that also means committing to truth over stats if it comes to that.

But seriously!!!

How many tissues will it take?

I ask because I emptied a box this evening.  It wasn't full when this ordeal began in late September and it never occurred to me to make note of its level at that time but the experience of reaching into the box and finding the bare bottom called my attention to the issue and has me wondering if I will be using them at the same rate by the time I finish the fresh box my sister gave me tonight.

But seriously!!!

Where do they all come from?  It doesn't seem I'm drinking enough extra water to account for them.  In fact I am drinking extra coffee to replace the energy expended. 
And Oh Boy does it use up energy.

Grief crying is a full body workout.  Every muscle from the face and neck to the fingers and toes are in play.  And then as if to repay me for their torture the muscles in my feet and shins wake me from one of the rare sound sleeps with cramps that force me to get up and pace the hall until I can walk normally again.  But when I try to crawl back into bed as often as not a single toe twitch will set the spasms off again.

At least that muscle spasming has one good thing going for it.  It co-opts the grief spasms.  Even though the pain can be an agony that makes me want to scream it completely distracts me from the urge to fold up over my crossed arms and silent-howl into my pillow.

Did you know that in grief you no longer own your body but rather your body owns you?  That grief inhabits the hind brains and the blood and tissues of the organs? That it refuses to be contained or comprehended by the frontal lobe?  That every time reason claims a foothold and proclaims itself in control again grief swings a sucker punch with a sense-memory dredged up out of the viscera and suddenly it is as if no time at all has passed since the phone call that broke your heart?

Did you know that grief makes you feel chilled?  That your teeth chatter and your muscles shiver and your ribcage tremors and the goosebumps crawl up your spine into your scalp?

Did you know that grief makes you feel fevered?  That your face gets hot and your skin sore like sunburn and sweat pops out of every pore as it does in a sauna?

Did you know that grief melts fat?  The weight I struggled to take off all year at the rate of two or three pounds a month has fallen off at the rate of a quarter pound a day for the last six weeks.  I've dropped from a size 20 snug to a size 16 snug in less than two months.

Or maybe that's all been water weight.  Twenty pounds of tears?  I could believe it.  

I suspect that the hard time I'm having today is fallout from spending Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings at my cousin's house doing Ed's laundry.  Handling his clothes and bedding entailed too many triggers of those visceral memories.  She sent the last load over to me this afternoon and this evening's tissue tugging started after I finished sorting the basket full into keep and give-away piles.

Yeah.  I'm keeping some of them to wear myself.  Is that too weird?

Doesn't matter if it is.  I'm committed.  It's part of the process for me.

Plus I talked my cousin's ear off for hours both days.  And bawled on her shoulder. I knew I was talking to someone intimately familiar with grief because she had been her parents caretaker for over a decade before their deaths a few years ago and she lost her 16 year old daughter in the late 80s.  It was that daughter's death that was the inspiration for my story Blow Me a Candy Kiss.  I thought I was consumed by grief when I wrote that but now I know that was just grief nibbling around the edges.


ROW80 goals and NaNoWriMo quotas have gotten shorted since Friday when my plans for a catchup weekend were flummoxed by discovery that the 12 bags of Ed's laundry had been exposed to the rainstorm after wind blew the tarp off them in the wee hours.  I had been getting back on track between Sunday and Thursday.

Well, I'll just have to remember that I did do that which means it is doable.

And I did get some NaNo words in this morning using my new Windows tablet in bed.

Backstory highlights and high and low notes:


Friday, November 13, 2020

Happy Friday the 13th Birthday

Happy Birthday Song - Puddles Pity Party 

So it's the first birthday without Ed. 

Well, I knew this would be one of the difficult milestones but so far it's not as bad as I'd expected.  I can't quite claim to feel 'happy' but I'm not a puddle this week and that's an improvement.  

I give Puddles the sad clown some measure of credit for that.  I've developed a weird obsession with watching his song covers videos since I discovered him last weekend. So I'm celebrating my birthday with Puddles Pity Party singing Happy Birthday followed by another one that most closely fits my mood today: Azure.

I was planning to have a private movie festival after Mom left for her weekend at my brother's but now it looks like my main activity today will be doing Ed's laundry.  I'm trying to round up a ride to the laundromat as the tarp we had over the bags in the driveway blew off in the storm last night.  

Thanks Ed for the interesting birthday present for my Friday the 13th 63rd birthday.  You always were a bit of a prankster/trickster.


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