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October 16, 2012

I need direction


Dear Asad,

I am 52 years old. My husband passed away from pancreatic cancer on November 4, 2006. His family would come to visit my husband while he was sick. They visited but didn’t help at all. Sat and watched me run around half crazed with fear and worry. His parents went as far as to contact police and social workers and other assorted personnel in an effort to take custody of my husband while he was in ICU. I had to fight them and ultimately one that battle and was able to care for him until his death.

His wish was to have his family treat my two children the same as his biological child. He had legally adopted them and his parents attended that proceeding. Moreover they gave the appearance of being happy and accepting of the adoption. When my husband was first diagnosed he begged and pleaded and insisted that they remember he had 3 children not just the one biological one. His parents said they’d honor his wishes. They didn’t. Additionally, my husband was adamant that his family not attend his funeral. I followed his wishes to the final letter but it infuriated his family. I didn’t care as I was the one who had to ensure my husband’s wishes were carried out. I felt it my responsibility even if it made others angry.

 I did not leave my home after the funeral for approximately a month. No one came over to see me. We were members of a church, my husband being an elder in the church and I went to see the Pastor. I literally asked him, “where have you been?”. Do you not care about me? Isn’t there a passage in the bible that states “take care of widows and orphans?” He gave some silly response that I don’t even remember now as its not worth remembering. But in essence he had no reason but for his laziness and lack of compassion and maybe even knowledge. 

I had one remaining friend who entered into my life a few months before my husband died. She was extremely helpful in all aspects and even served as a champion for me in some occasion. She ensured I was still alive and brought food and other life necessities to my home. Unfortunately, we are no longer friends. I started feeling better and stronger and she started feeling pushed away to the point one day we had a heated argument and the friendship broke entirely. I have since contacted her an thanked her again for her help as well as apologized if I had done anything wrong or offended her. 

4 months after my husband died I received notification of a lawsuit filed on behalf of his son (who was an adult) and filed by my husband’s former wife. The lawsuit was funded by my husband’s parents. They wanted my home and 100k for the benefit of my husband’s only biological son. The laws in the state we live in mandate that my husband has 3 children legally. A share-share alike provision.

It was long almost 17 months, and it was hard this legal battle. Fighting people that promised to love and protect me and our children. They’d attend every hearing and frown at me. They’d berate my daughter at times or ignore her other times. During the course of this legal battle my older sister contacted me. I had not seen nor heard from her in almost 14 years due her drug use and other bad behaviors. She contacted me to tell me our mother was dying. From the same cancer that killed my husband. My daughter and I immediately flew to the next state to see my mother. She wouldn’t let me in to see her at first but I suppose her heart softened slightly and she reconsidered and I met with her. 

I would drive 500 miles on Thursday after work and spend the weekend with her. Then drive 500 miles back on Sunday to go to work on Monday. I repeated that for a month or two until it became too much stress for me. As the lawsuit was still ongoing and work was stressful and I was grieving my husband. Additionally, my siblings…a twin and older sister and brother who are 2 years older and also twins fought me constantly and bitterly. I had proposed to move my mother to my home to care for her in her final days, with hospice assistance of course. My mother wanted to go, my siblings objected. They hadn’t bothered to see her in years so I was confused as to their objection. Ultimately my mother made the decision to move with me and we made the 500 mile trip to my home. 

As is usually the case with pancreatic cancer my mother passed away. My siblings didn’t bother coming in her last days even though I called them and offered to pay for airfare to expedite their arrival. They accused me of stealing things from mother’s home and accused me of influencing her to change her last will and testament. Which I did not do. My older brother received the entire estate and I was and remain perfectly fine with that outcome. 

The lawsuit concluded around the same time with a ruling entirely in my favor. 

I do not have any contact with any of my siblings whatsoever. My sister had called a few times but was mean, horrific, abusive and highly negative. I had to block her from contacting me in any form.

So with all the clutter gone I was finally able to start to grief my husband’s passing. I was very sad, depressed, lost and confused but went to work anyway. I cried every day to work and every day coming home. Coming home to an empty house is painful. However, time passes and that does ease the pain. 

My son who is in the army came home occasionally until one day he met a woman. She took a dislike to me though never met me. I knew my son and his girlfriend had conflict, often as he would call me and tell me. I kept my thoughts to myself as I did not think they would stay together long and there was no reason to aggravate the situation if it was temporary.

One night my son came home. He was drinking heavily and I said something to him about his GF. He physically attacked me. His sister contacted the police. While they were in transit to my home my son broke doors, punched walls, damaged other things in a rage. The police arrived. My son was calm then. I talked to them and explained that my son had just returned from Iraq, his father has died and perhaps life just crumbled for him. All was fine I told them. They left. Almost immediately my son attached me again. He did not stop until I was knocked out on the floor and his sister screamed. Suddenly it was as if a light switch was turned off and there was my son again. Crying and begging for forgiveness and just wanted to cuddle me like he was a baby all the while apologizing. I told him I loved him but this cannot happen. Ever. He told me he would seek help for his anger. He agreed that there was a problem and that he would seek help for it immediately. He did have to get several stitches in his hand for damage he did.

We continued to talk, my son and I for a week or two after the incident. But he suddenly started to become busy and/or unavailable. 

A few months later my son married suddenly married this woman and called me to tell me so. A few hours later he called me again and asked about getting an annulment. I drove up to where he was living immediately to see what, if anything I might be able to do to ease the problem. His wife was cold and unwelcoming and unresponsive to any question I asked. Ultimately they were both sent to Afghanistan (both military). I have not spoken to or seen my son in 3 years though I send him messages on the internet occasionally and tell him I love him and to contact his sister. His sister sends messages and he does not respond. I know now that he is divorced from this wife and she is in another country now. 

The friend I mentioned above was in contact with my son at all times. What was the final break to our friendship was that she had information about my son, his life, where he was living, etc., but would not tell me what it was. She issued an ultimatum that if I “cut her out of my life I will get no information about my son. If I remain friends she will keep me informed.” She was not giving me any information and an ultimatum regarding my son was to me unacceptable as I felt she had no right to withhold from me. 

At the urgence of a friend I started to go out to different event, venues, etc. 

I was introduced to a man from a mutual friend. We were together for 16 months. An emotional roller coaster caused (mostly but admittedly not all) by his behavior. 98% of the time we were very well matched. He was aware of my husband’s passing and that I talked about him but it did not bother him or intimidate him in anyway.

He announced 3 weeks ago…almost as a side note to a mild conversation… that he was moving out of state for work. I asked, “what about us? A future?” His answer was simply, “I don’t know. I didn’t think about it.” That hurt and I told him so. 

He was moving his things slowly into my home as he had to move out of his house. However, he picked a fight with me out of the blue and packed up all his things and left. I told him he need not pick a fight to make it easier to move as it seemed a convenient way to end things…angry instead of sad. 

I find myself now completely immobilized. I was laid off from work, after 15 years employment with the same employer, this past June and have not worked since. I don’t want to leave my house. I am filled with anxiety to the point of not being able to eat and I can feel my heart racing. The anxiety causes me to be awake at night into the wee hours and I cannot stop my thoughts from racing. I feel numb usually but when I do feel I feel like crying. I just don’t know what I’m crying about. I do not wish to think its self pity because it feels different than that. I just don’t know what it is. I think about just selling my house and moving. But to where? I am wondering if the grief process for my husband was not completed and the end of this relationship with a man who told me that he loves me even as he was backing his things has triggered something. Or I’m just grieving the end of this relationship. Maybe both. 

I have tried to force myself to get up and get out but its very difficult. I do leave the home when necessary but don’t stay out long. Finances are tricky which prevents me from taking a trip or going to events that would perhaps help me get past “this”.

I don’t believe I did anything wrong in this recent relationship. If I did then it was subtle and not damaging. I took care not to say harsh words, do wrong things or inflict any negative behaviors. I had learned how to be a good partner with the knowledge I gained from my husband’s illness and subsequent death. 

It was chaos at times in this relationship. It was good at times too. Intellectually I know I should probably be relieved that its ended. It has ended on a good note and we remain friends. For now. Emotionally though it hurts. My husband’s passing set the benchmark for me in emotional pain and I can honestly say this does not hurt as much as that. 

But now? I took inventory. I suddenly find that I have no friends. Where they went I do not know. I think they are just busy with their lives and usually I’m the one they went to with problems they cannot fathom that I have difficulties and may need help. I have sent a couple friends some very specific messages basically clearly stating I need you. I received no responses. 

The loneliness I feel is tremendous. The sadness is almost overwhelming at times while at others its almost manageable. I know that there are millions of people in the same or similar situation I am in and that I will meet new people one day. But emotionally it doesn’t feel that way. 

My first husband has recently contacted me after 17 years of almost no contact whatsoever. We divorced without argument or discord. He and I are in agreement that we simply grew apart. He wishes to make amends for the abandonment of our children. He feels we have something in common now, in addition to 2 adult children in that he remarried as I did and his spouse died of cancer too. I wonder if his contact with me now hurts or helps me in my situation. I also wonder if it matters since his contact is about him and his demons rather than me and mine. 

My thoughts race constantly. I am anxious constantly, I find it hard to breathe, I can’t sleep and I cannot focus on anything for very long. My ex boyfriend calls or texts me though an all those symptoms disappear. It’s a matter of hours essentially that he will be moved from this state and into another. The likelihood is probable that I’ll never see him again. I then wonder if I am simply addicted to this man. Can that happen? If so the only cure for it is passage of time along with his absence. Is this temporary and I must only be patient? Or is it simply that I was able to finally love again after my husband? And now its being taken away? I think about him all the time along with the knowledge that he is not thinking about me. 

I never imagined my life being so empty. Empty of people. I have always tried to be a good friend to others and I have discovered that not all people care to be the same type of friends. 

I pray for direction. I pray for guidance. I pray for goals and objectives. I pray for motivation to pick myself up yet I cannot find the will to do so. That alone makes me feel ashamed and wasteful of my life.

What is wrong with me? Why can’t this heavy weight lift off my shoulders? Why can’t I remove this elephant off my chest? Just accept what has transpired and move on. I tell myself today just be happy! Or try to be at least. Act as if I am happy and maybe the feelings will come. It doesn’t work.

I Need Direction

Dear I Need Direction,

You have been through a lot. The past few years must have seemed like a roller coaster ride of pain, heartache, abuse, sadness, misery, anxiety, depression, nervousness and uncertainty. It’s a lot for anyone to bear. Made all the worse by the fact that you had to go through it all alone; without having a shoulder to cry on, without having anyone in your life who would hug you and assure you that everything would be fine, that it was just a matter of time before you would be happy again. Suffering pain or loss is bad enough but to experience it all alone compounds it.

You are and have been a very brave person. You fought whatever obstacles life threw your way and won most of your battles. Not everyone is capable of that.

How and what you are feeling right now is natural and due to many reasons. One, you are alone. You don’t have anyone to share your feelings or experiences with. Friends or family – everyone left you. More or less, everyone is gone from your life due to different reasons. Some people went away from your life because they passed away, others just abandoned you and left to live their own lives. There is no one to console you, support you emotionally, to share your feelings with, no one to talk to discuss things and try to make sense of them.
Misery loves company. If your ex-husband has contacted you, don’t shun him off. He may have contacted you out of his own needs but it might be good for you too. You are absolutely alone. You would benefit from having someone in your life who’s has been through similar circumstances.

Second reason is that you didn’t get enough time to fully process the effects of all the incidents that occurred in your life. You didn’t get the chance to feel them and deal with them at your own pace and terms. One after the other, difficulties kept on coming and you were tumbled along by life from one situation to another.
An example of this is that you didn’t get enough time to grieve your husband. You had to deal with his family as soon as he passed away. That must have been an awful time for you. What with the pain of your husband passing away and on top of that your in-laws bringing a lawsuit against you. That distracted you from grieving the death of your husband in the manner and time that you must have wanted or required.

Third reason is that you didn’t get closure in most of your relationships. In nearly all of them, people just left you without formally and appropriately ending ties with you. You were left in a lurch in almost all of them.
They might have done it for various reasons, one of which you figured out yourself……”he picked a fight with me out of the blue and packed up all his things and left. I told him he need not pick a fight to make it easier to move as it seemed a convenient way to end things…angry instead of sad”.
Not getting closure is painful. We keep on trying to figure out the reasons why the relationship(s) ended. We make excuses for others and usually end up blaming ourselves for the failure of a relationship. This is extremely unhealthy as it destroys our self-esteem and prevents us from fully moving on and starting new and happier relationships.
If your ex-boyfriend is leaving you and you believe you won’t ever hear from him again once he moves to another state, then before he leaves try to get closure for this relationship. Otherwise it would be more painful for you once he’s gone.
If possible, try contacting everyone who left you and have a heart-to-heart talk with them. Otherwise, write a letter to each individual and in it state everything that is going on inside you. Be explicit. This would help you in getting some closure. You need not necessarily post these letters.

I think about him all the time along with the knowledge that he is not thinking about me”.
To be in love with someone and in return not being loved by them is extremely painful and emotionally humiliating. It brings all sorts of insecurities and erodes our self-esteem. You need to counter that. Every human being is beautiful and unique. All of us have some greatness in us. You need to understand this. You need to understand the fact that if he doesn’t want you in your life, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong you. On the contrary, he might be the unlucky one who can’t see a good thing when its right in front of him. Think about that.

A disturbing thing is that one after the other, the people in your life have left you. Your friend, your partner, your kids, your siblings – none of them are there for you. Also you had an estranged relationship with your mother.
Have you ever tried looking for reasons why this happens to you all the time? Have you ever considered the possibility that inadvertently you might have pushed them away? Are you pushing them away because of your personality, temperament, insecurities, etc? Or are you one of those unlucky people in life who is surrounded by selfish people who leave you as soon as they don’t want anything more from you? This is something that you need to ponder on and try to come up with answers.

All that happened, happened. It can’t be changed. You can’t go back in life and change the course or outcome of events. It’s done.
What you can do though is to try to make your present and future better. It might be difficult but it’s possible. Start by taking things one at a time. Write down a list of all the things that you now want from life, both short and long term. It could be anything. Nothing could be too trivial or too big to be out of reach. Write down everything that comes to your mind. This could be an ongoing task with the list being revised as many times as you want, whenever you want. After making this list, start by taking one item at a time and try to accomplish it. This would give you goals and objectives in your life along with the desire to accomplish them.

Another thing that you could do is to involve yourself with social work. It would help a lot in calming you down. It has a deeply gratifying effect on one’s soul. It definitely would take a lot of your anxiety and pain away.  It could be a source of peace, contentment and thankfulness in your life.
Helping out others who need your help would  take your mind off your problems. In time, you would start feeling that your problems are not as big and insurmountable as they seemed before. This would bring lightness in your life and demeanor.

Another thing that could be helpful is travelling. Travel to some place. It doesn’t have to be far and expensive. It could be to somewhere near that fits within your budget. Travelling would allow you to see new places and meet new people and take your mind off your problems. It can be therapeutic and entertaining.

You spoke about selling your home and moving. That would be a bit drastic and unsettling especially in your condition. Instead try to find your next job in another state or country if possible. That would take you away from the place which has been the epicenter of all your problems. Sometimes moving away helps. If you believe it would be helpful for you then go for it.

I know that there are millions of people in the same or similar situation I am in and that I will meet new people one day. But emotionally it doesn’t feel that way”.
It’s good that you haven’t given up all hope and believe that eventually you will meet someone. Keep this hope alive and make yourself receptive to welcoming new people in your life.

It’s good that you are praying. Praying helps a lot. The belief that GOD is there to help us out of our problems…..that’s a powerful and soothing feeling. Keep that up.

There is nothing wrong with you. Just give yourself time and be true to yourself and others. Things will definitely get better.


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