A Burden I Didn’t Know I Was Carrying

A few days ago, I wrote about rethinking this whole blogging thing. Since I had nothing else to write about, I’d been writing about the one thing I know — me — and I’d come to the conclusion it wasn’t healthy or smart to put so much of myself out there.

I thought it would be difficult to break the daily blogging habit of almost three years, but in the end, it was simple. I did what I felt like doing, which was keep my thoughts to myself. Actually, it wasn’t that I wanted to keep my thoughts to myself, but that I didn’t want to have any thoughts in the first place. It’s hard, of course, not to think, but it’s one thing to let one’s thoughts slide into the mind and then slide right out again, and another thing to try to sift through all those fleeting thoughts, capture one, and then expand on it for a blog topic.

What a relief to just let the thoughts go.

And I was right — the world did not come to an end when I stopped blogging every day.

What I found interesting is how this new non-daily blog habit has made itself felt. It gives me two or three extra hours every day. I imagine my breezy writing style makes it seem as if I jot a few words and then simply publish what I write, but it takes a lot of work to make something seem light and easy — writing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, adding tags to the blog so it will show up in search results, preparing a photo, publishing the blog, republishing to another blog, posting the reblogged link on Facebook. Even better, because I’m not blogging, I have no need to check Facebook and the blogsite and my email because there are no comments to respond to. So yes, a lot of free time!

Without having to think about what I am thinking, and without having to examine my days for a topic, I have a lot of free mental time, too. And I know that Socrates is wrong: the unexamined life is worth living. In fact, it might even be worth more than an examined life.

And then there’s the whole compassion fatigue situation. Because I am not a therapist or a grief counselor, I never would have thought such a state would apply to me, but over the past twelve and a half years I have mentored (for lack of a better word) hundreds of people through the worst of their grief, and I am truly fatigued. I have always felt powerless in the face of other people’s grief, but knowing at least to an extent what they are going through, I tried my best to listen and be kind, but now I am having a hard time summoning up any compassion or patience. I understand that to them, grief is new and ever-present, but to me . . . not so much. My life with Jeff is now far in the past and so is my grief for him. In fact, I barely remember what I went through unless I am reminded by people who want to talk about their grief. So, without having to deal with other people’s grief, I have a lot of free emotional time, too.

I don’t regret my work on behalf of grievers, in fact, I’m glad I could help, but now it’s time for me to let that part of my life go. So for those of you who need help with your grief or who simply want to talk about what you are going through, please check out the various grief forums and online grief support groups. I know a lot of people who found them helpful and comforting, and I am sure you will, too. (I will, of course, continue to respond to comments left on my blog.)

So, what am I doing with all this free time? Not thinking, that’s for sure. Not feeling much, either, except lightness at having shrugged off a burden I didn’t know I was carrying.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Mindful Routine

What Socrates supposedly was referring to by his comment that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is a life spent under other people’s rules and under the rule of other people as well as being stuck in a mindless routine without ever stopping to figure out what you really want. Perhaps a life of mindless routine might not worth living (I certainly wouldn’t want to, and for the most part, I managed to live on my own terms), but for sure it would be unfulfilling.

Apparently, people in droves are coming to the same conclusion, hence the phenomenon known as “the great resignation.” So many employees did their jobs without really thinking about what they wanted because they had to work so they could pay their bills, and these resignees would probably still be stuck in their mindless routines if not for the Bob. The abrupt change in routine changed things for a lot of people and gave them time to actually consider what they were doing. It also illuminated the briefness of life, at least for some people, and made them realize they didn’t want to be doing the job they were doing. (It makes me wonder if the currently vaunted low unemployment rate is less about full employment and more about people temporarily opting out.)

Although the newscasters have talked about this so-called great resignation, there’s been no talk about a change in people’s marital status as far as I know, but I would think that the enforced life change brought about by the Bob could also affect marriages. I do know a lot of people, when forced into close proximity to their mates, realized their shared lives were less than satisfactory. Some were married to abusers and with the Bob had no way to escape even temporarily the trauma of such treatment. Others were simply bored. In a few cases, the couple’s love was rekindled. It will be interesting to see what sociological changes will come from people being forced to examine this part of their life, too.

It does seem odd to me that such major changes are taking place, not because the changes are incomprehensible (because they aren’t; they are totally understandable), but that they are so far removed from my own life. I did start working shortly after the Bob showed up, but that change in my circumstances had nothing to do with anything going on in the world; it was just how things worked out. And, of course, I have no marital status or couplehood to change because that was a done deal more than a decade ago. (In just a few weeks, it will be the twelfth anniversary of his death.)

Even when I think I don’t examine my life (as I talked about in my blog post yesterday), I do tend to think about things and to look inward, if for no other reason than to examine my life for a blog topic. Luckily, there are no great changes in circumstances or thoughts or feelings to discuss, though I am aware of small fluctuations during the day. This close to the anniversary, for example, I tend to tear up a bit now and again, but it’s not worth talking about because of the brevity of those moods. (I hate to use the word “mood,” because they are not moods so much as deep feelings rising to the surface, but there’s really no other word to describe such brief fluctuations in feelings.)

I do seem to be in a routine, however — working, blogging, reading, thinking — but it’s not the mindless routine that Socrates was against but rather a mindful routine.

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What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.