Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Got the Shakes...

...but not, sadly, the Hippy Hippy Shakes.

A day or two after I moved in, I started feeling faint or dizzy when I was walking out and about in my new home town. A few years ago I would have been straight down to the doctor's, demanding tests, but I'm older and wiser now and I am pretty certain that it's all to do with moving house, so I thought I'd talk about it here a bit, in case it helps anyone else.

It only happens when I am out walking, rarely in the house. Sometimes I feel as if I'm about to faint, sometimes I just get dizzy, sometimes my legs feel heavy and about to give way - not nice! Worrying about it, of course, only makes it worse. I realised, after a day or two of the symptoms, that what I am probably having are little teeny mini panic attacks. I am furious with myself for being so weak but, as so often has happened in the four years since the Golfer died, my body deals with the grief and the stress in its own way, even while my brain is fixing a determined smile on my face, making lists of things-to-do and stating in a loud and clear voice that it will be conquering all challenges in a forthright and no-nonsense manner.

And that's just what has happened this last four years. My brain has got on with living, making plans, working hard, being brave; meanwhile my body has often gone its own way, with me feeling unaccountably sad, even though I had DECIDED NOT to be feeling that way, or having physical symptoms that brought me to my knees last year - very annoying, inconvenient and instructive.

Before I was widowed, I would have had little sympathy with a woman who was still struggling or feeling incomplete four whole years after the death of her husband - I blush to think of how insensitive I must have been. And if it was not for hearing the experience of fellow widows, I would be certain that it was just me being a wimp. But over and over, when I talk to friends who are widows (some of them who read this blog!), we find that our experiences are incredibly similar and we are all shocked that we can still be feeling so bad all this time after the death.

I remembered yesterday, as the knees gave way again, that the first time I went to Tesco after the Golfer died, I had had a similar feeling - that my legs simply would not carry me the short distance from the car to the supermarket; I felt simultaneously frozen to the spot and giddy from the sheer unbelievability that he might no longer exist - how could Tesco continue to function when he didn't exist? The thing yesterday was that I felt worse then than I did that day back in Tesco, and that was what I wanted to share with you - that you can actually feel worse years after the trauma that occurred, but not to be frightened by it. I take it, in my case, as a sign that my body is relaxing sufficiently in this new place, after four years of being ridiculously brave, to weaken a bit and exhibit these symptoms, and that must be (eventually!) a good thing. Live long and prosper, my fellow rosehips and prunes!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moving House - Moving on?

Hello my fellow rosehips and/or prunes. It's a while since I blogged here, mainly because I was getting ready to move house and didn't want to jinx anything by talking about it here. Well, I have now moved house and am more or less installed in a lovely house on the sunny Clyde Coast. I've been here a week and am, despite the unseasonably good weather, feeling ghastly.

The thing is, what you forget, at least, what I forgot, is that it's not the moving house itself that is the third most stressful thing you can do in your life, it's the settling in afterwards. It's like having a baby - people tell you how difficult it's going to be and what you, in your innocent ignorance do not realise, is that what they mean is the months and years (and years!) after the birth. You get home from the hospital feeling very proud of yourself and you think - "Right, can I have my gold star now please, and then we'll get back to normal" and you discover that, instead of being treated like a princess for being so brave and so clever, you are up to your neck in extremely smelly nappies and baby sick and are so sleep-deprived that you are beginning to understand why it is used so frequently as a successful method of torture.

It's the same with moving house. You get the damn thing sold, despite the financial slump, you find a pleasant house with a great view, you get your removal men sorted and you think, "Great, this is going to be lovely. I am on top of things. It's going to be like being on holiday when I get there." And you arrive and discover that, though the house is indeed lovely, you can't get a TV picture, you can't get digital radio an ony of your half dozen DAB radios (no signal, it turns out), the nearest Homebase is a 40 minute drive away and the house so jollily situated on the seafront is a goldfish bowl into which every pedestrian, every passing coach party and every seagull feels quite free to stare and, on occasion, point.

Ah, you see, I've come not only from living in the countryside, where a car passed my windows once every 20 minutes or so, and a walker about twice a day, but the neighbours were so private/self-sufficient/unfriendly that you could have died and they wouldn't have noticed. Actually, you could probably have run an Al-Quaida training camp and they wouldn't have noticed. This was one of the reasons I moved away - I was SO lonely. Well, there's no need to be lonely here! You could stand at your gate and you'd be talking all day. It's great but it's different - hence the stress.

Moving house (and I SHOULD have known this because I have done it before) is about more than boxes, mortgages and removal men. It's about new neighbours, new parking arrangements, new shops and routines. It's also about missing your friends and wondering if you have made a hideous mistake. This is, of course, the first time I have moved on my own. I was straight from parental home to marital home and then always had the Golfer, let's be honest, in charge with me more as camp follower. Now I get to make all the decisions which is sometimes great - yes, I AM going to have the biggest room to store all my books in and I AM going to dig up all the grass and plant a wildlife garden - but it also INCREDIBLY lonely - there's no-one to share the triumphs with - look, I've found the computer cable after only a week of searching! - and there's no-one to share the burden with. If I decide to sit down and admire the view for a while I know that, when I get up, the heating will still need to be programmed, the operating of the gas fires understood and the remaining hundred boxes unpacked, flat-folded and disposed of. It makes me sigh, I have to admit.

So I am excited to be in my new house, and I am certain that I did the right thing in moving. But I miss my friends and my routine and I miss having the Golfer around to share it with. He would have loved this house - it would have been his dream retirement home, and I'm not sure if I should therefore be happy to be living here or if it just makes it sadder.