Too many forks and not enough spoons

Too many forks and not enough spoons

CW: death, grief, widowhood, mental health

Dear Tim;

A couple of weeks after you died, I was putting clean silverware away, and I had a passing thought – “when we broke up, and Tim moved out, why didn’t he take any of these damn forks? Jesus, I have so many FORKS.” – heartbeat – [stares at forks] – heartbeat – “Oh. Right.”

We didn’t break up. You died. I’d never had a partner die before… only ever gone through breakups. You were, in a lot of ways, larger than life. How could you be dead? You couldn’t be dead. That was just … incorrect. So we must have broken up. That’s the only other way you’d be gone, right?

A few days after you died, a friend asked me what it felt like. I told her it felt like when you’re at a restaurant and the server brings you the wrong food. You’re not upset about it, you’re just like, “this is not what I ordered.” And so they take it away and say they’ll be right back with the food you did order. Only I’m still waiting for the server. I didn’t order a plate of husband dying. I’ll just sit here and wait until you bring him back, ok? Sigh. Brains.

Anyway, my point is… I have a lot of forks.

I don’t, however, have a lot of spoons. Actual real silverware spoons, yes; but emotional spoons? Not so much.

I don’t know, Tim, if you would have understood Spoon Theory. Not because it’s difficult to understand, but because you had a bit of a blind spot for seeing that things you never experienced were in fact, happening to other people (insert story about that time you told me you didn’t think sexism was a real thing because nobody had ever discriminated against you because of your gender) (I’ll just wait while some of you sit with that for a moment). Spoon Theory is a metaphor for how hard it is to get through the day when you have a limited amount of emotional and physical energy (“spoons”). You wake up with a certain number of spoons (say, six of them) and everything you do that takes energy that day, takes one of your spoons away. When you get to “no more spoons today” you can’t do anything else until you get a good, solid, healing rest (like that’s easy?! But “rest” is a whole ‘nuther discussion).

A lot of days, I get to about the end of my work day (or even earlier), and I’m flat out of spoons. I can spend the last spoon feeding the dogs and cats… and I probably still have to feed myself. Or take the garbage down to the curb. Or still do some work for HaldeCraft. Or maybe I’m supposed to go out and meet friends for dinner. Or maybe I had a planned phone call with a good friend, not knowing that earlier in the day the Internet was going to go out while I was printing labels and I’d have to troubleshoot everything and figure out how to get my labels done and packages out. So that spoon I was saving for a conversation with my friend? Gone.

I’m fucking tired.

And I’m fucking tired of being tired all the time!

I don’t mean this in a “I’m so tired of grieving about your death” way. But I am tired of being so tired all the time. I need to do something for myself that is going to give me the mental space, the breathing space, the emotional bandwidth, the spoons, to work through the things I have to work through. I can’t keep going with “I only have so many spoons and I have responsibilities that need to be done OR I have things within myself that need to be examined but I can only use my spoons for one of those things.”

While you were still in the hospital, after you came out of the coma but before things got worse, some of my friends asked if I was thinking about therapy. Fuck yes I was thinking about therapy! But. I wasn’t thinking about anything that would take me away from the hospital, take me away from advocating for you since you couldn’t speak for yourself. So I put it off until … well, I told myself that I’d put it off until you weren’t in the hospital any more, but it was one of those… I hope that he’s out of the hospital because he’s in a rehab center learning how to walk again but I’m going to plan for him being out of the hospital because he’s in a nursing home and will need 24/7 care for the rest of his life…. Or because he’s died. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

I got a therapist a few months after you died. I don’t NOT like her, but… her method of therapy is “here, let’s give you more Prozac since the level of Prozac you’re on doesn’t seem to be working, and come check in with me in three months.”

I need something different than that. The Prozac isn’t helping. Just waiting for medicine to make me better isn’t helping. I need a more hands-on therapist, someone who’s going to help me figure out how to clear my mental table of clutter so that I can work on fixing things that are broken – fixing them one at a time, instead of just looking at everything and feeling overwhelmed and not even knowing where to start.

I owe that to you, because (I hope) you wouldn’t want me to live in a constant state of anxiety without you. I owe that to my pets, so that I have time and energy to adequately take care of them, not just feeding them but cleaning out the cat boxes on a regular basis and cleaning out the tortoise enclosures and having the patience and time to sit with each of them and make sure everyone is getting attention and is well. I owe that to my friends and family, so that I have time and energy to generously share with them. You can’t pour from an empty cup and my cup has so many fucking cracks in it that it should be a sieve. But most of all, I owe that to myself, because I deserve to live well.

So I’ve started a journey to live well, Tim, and I’m going to be posting about it over the next couple of weeks. It’s actually a journey that’s been going on for almost eight weeks now; I’ve just been waiting for a few final answers to start talking about it because I know my loved ones would have questions and I wanted to have those answers.

It’s a journey that’s ultimately going to be so good for me – I already feel much more centered than I did two months ago, and I can only see it getting better (even if the road is rocky sometimes) – but it’s a journey that I might not have started if you hadn’t died. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I guess we’ll see where this takes me.

9 thoughts on “0

  1. You have a way of opening up your brain and laying it out in words others can relate to – thank you!

  2. Kid, I took prozac for awhile.
    I got to where I had trouble getting up out of the desk chair I was so tired.
    Just something to know. When I weaned myself from it, (never just quit), I got better. Oh I had sadness and anxiety but I wasn’t so ghoddammend TIRED.

  3. Your words…..literally hang in the air to be read, absorbed, mulled about and digested. Poetic, truthful, and no doubt, part of healing. Keep writing, keep searching, keep advocating for you, because YOU are so worth the journey. We’re all here with you loving you and surrounding you with a spoon in hand to support you. You are a rock star.

  4. Same. Same every word and feeling. I told my mom the other day that there’s really no such thing as “self-care” when it’s only you. I can’t take a day off and do “nothing” because there is so much that needs to be done. If I take a day off work it’s to do laundry or see a doctor. I can’t take a vacation because I have pets. Boarding the dog and getting someone to take care of the cats means I don’t have money for a vacation. I have to keep a couple of sporks on hand for when I run out of spoons but still have obligations. It’s usually a half-ass job, but it’s something.

    If you can find a therapist that really helps…. find out of they do online visits because… same.

  5. None of my business, I suppose, but – That therapist was not a good one from what I see you say about her method. I see the drug as a possible reason for confusion and exhaustion, especially if alcohol use is also involved..
    Experts say
    “Interactions Between Prozac and Alcohol
    Healthline › health › depression › p…
    Combining Prozac with alcohol can quickly lead to increased sedation. Having even one drink while you take Prozac can cause extreme drowsiness. This effect can …” and so on.
    I was quite fortunate many years ago to have a good friend who was studying to be a gestalt therapist. He shared his knowledge and learning with me. Short version – he had a firm belief in listening to clients, discussing what they said, not telling them what to do (lead them to figure it out for themselves with discussion) and never suggesting drugs as a solution. So, I hope you did not follow her ‘advice’ and drug yourself into oblivion. Therapy can be great if properly applied.

  6. I am the genuinely happy person I am today because of excellent mental health care. Medication stabilized me and still prevents depression, but 2 years of intensive therapy using methods tailored to my condition is what allows me to be happy, even (gasp!) joyous. This is the best gift you could ever give yourself. And remember, when it feels like the dam is going to break, let it. That’s when it started getting better.

  7. I know that tired. Much less physical than mental. Everything feels like a monumental effort. There is never enough rest.

    I’m proud of you for taking care of yourself. The irony of all of this is that as much as you need therapy, the idea of finding it is overwhelming and exhausting.

    You’ve been through so much in such a short amount of time—in the middle of a pandemic no less—and you’re still upright. You win.

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