I started writing this about a week ago…

Concentration. Focus. The ability to plan and prioritize, and then carry out tasks.

Yeah, not so much. Not these days. On good days, I am a body-in-motion. On bad days, even the simplest tasks feel like hauling cement blocks to the attic: laborious and frustrating and why even bother. Some work days, it’s all I can do to get out of bed, get dressed, and leave the house on time. On my weekends, the “shoulds” and “have-to’s” and “really need to’s” are overwhelming. I make lists, and that helps. If I can find my lists.

Because I lose things. Most of them I find, eventually, but then I’ll lose them again. A wise friend said this would happen. She said for the first year of her bereavement, she lost her car keys about once a day. So far it’s car keys, wallet, purse, the socks that I just got out of the drawer and the never-ending game of “checkbook, checkbook, where is the %@$&ing checkbook?” I would tell you everything that I’ve lost but I can’t find the list.

I forget what I set out to do. I get distracted, so I give up, or I fall asleep.

At some point, the machinery just has to stop.  My physical stamina is diminished. I’ve developed aches and pains, some related to my day-job, some from lack of restful sleep. While we were in rehearsals for “Ruth,” I got less than five hours of sleep a night, for several weeks running. Sleeplessness exacerbates fibromyalgia, a condition that I was diagnosed with ten years ago, yet still halfway don’t believe in. But it sure feels real during a flare-up.

My sleep patterns are flip-flopped. For most of my life, because of anxiety, I’ve had trouble falling asleep, but rarely had problems staying asleep. Now I fall asleep too easily. It takes me forever to finish a book. I nod off in the bathtub. (That problem actually began when Mark was ill.) And forget sleeping through the night. I have to be extra-careful nowadays. Fatigue is dangerous. Once, late one night during dress rehearsal week for “Ruth,” I fell asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, I was on my own street, very close to home, and nothing happened except I walked in the door, mumbled something to my mom, and walked down the hall and fell into bed.

It’s not all about grief. My body is also going through THE CHANGE. In the midst of working full-time and having a show, and trying to be a good mom to two 15-year-old boys, the big fat wet hen MENOPAUSE has come to sit on me. The “peri” has dropped off my “menopause.” The mood swings are no big deal, but the hot flashes – oh dear god, I am living inside my own personal Houston.

To combat my misery, tonight, after a long day at work, I am throwing a party. Because everybody does this grieving thing differently. A good friend spent much of the first year after his wife died avoiding parties and social gatherings. He felt comfortable in small, intimate groups of family and his closest friends. For me, parties and social events and work are my escape. I do prefer – ache for the company of those in my inner-circle, but I avoid situations where I am the “third.” That’s torture, being the leftover. That’s where I feel it most keenly: loss, loss, loss, loss, loss.

Now, what was I doing before I came in here…?


About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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2 Responses to I started writing this about a week ago…

  1. Suzanne Lavender says:

    Darling—I’ve been through that CHANGE. I love the idea of the big wet hen. I’d be on the subway in NYC, and suddenly have a hot flash and boom–start stripping off clothing left and right as fast as possible, much to the surprise and probable chagrin of my fellow passengers. And then, BOOM again, get cold and start piling it all back on. It’s so fun!! Sleep is still not what it used to be for me—and it’s been nearly 10 years (I started early!!!). Anytime you want to chat about whatever egg that big wet hen just laid on you, call or write!!!

  2. Alan and Ann Woods says:

    hang in there; I lose things all the time, and they almost always turn up (the checkbook was, most recently, in the drawer where it belongs, of course the last place I looked!). Onward!

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