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Friday, June 16, 2017

Good Grief & U2

I have been reading Theresa Caputo's new book Good Grief -- you may know the author as The Long Island Medium. The cover of the book states Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones and Learn to Live Again. I highly recommend it to anyone going through the grieving process.

I purchased the book "pre-publication" online as I had seen her on a talk show promoting the book, so really didn't know what to expect. But I am a big fan of her show. And got a discount purchasing it pre-publication.

When I first got the book, and got to the end of the first chapter -- there was an "exercise".  I hate exercises in books and usually skip them, but this exercise (which she calls "healing moments") started out Even if you don't change out of your plaid pajamas, you are going shopping today. Then she went on to pretty much demand the reader to go the nearest bookstore immediately and buy a journal that you really like the looks of because I (the reader) would need this to write in for further exercises. hmmmm

I read this sitting on the back porch with Kona having just gotten out of the pool and it was 4:00 p.m. and believe me, I never leave the house to go shopping at 4:00 p.m. but you know what -- I got up, got changed, grabbed Kona and headed to the nearest bookstore.  Man, that Long Island Medium can be persuasive....

So I bought the journal, a beautiful one.
My Journal
So fast forward to the present:

In Chapter 11, the exercise is to find an activity that your loved one couldn't resist. Then invite their spirit to join you in this activity.  And know that if you felt Spirit's presence at any point, it was real....

I had thought about that one for a long time. I don't necessarily do the "exercises" in order, and sometimes think about them for awhile. One of the exercises had been to "share" something your loved one enjoyed (food, drink, whatever) and also share a story and I did that on May 28th with our little Celebration of Bob's Life.

Anyway, so this week my friend Hillary and I went to the U2 concert, and I thought perfect! I will invite Bob (in spirit) to join us as he also loved U2. I didn't tell Hillary this, because I didn't want her to freak out thinking a ghost might be traveling with us in her back seat. Or worse, think I had completely fallen off my rocker.  I did wear one of Bob's favorite shirts and it felt so much like he was with me, hugging me through that shirt.

The concert was held in a outdoor stadium-- and it rained pretty miserably through the first act (One Revolution) and then just before U2 came on stage I looked up in the sky, the rain had stopped, and there was this incredible double rainbow that extended from one end of the stadium to the other and was directly across from where we were seated (so folks on the other side of stadium didn't see it at all).


And I tapped Hillary on the shoulder and said, "Look! A rainbow!" and she looked up and said "Can't you just imagine Bob sitting on top of that rainbow."

Which gave me a shiver. And as Theresa Caputo says "know... it was real." Hillary snapped the picture above, it doesn't do it justice --this double rainbow was huge, flawless, bright and incredibly beautiful. And I do believe, a sign that Bob was there with us....

And by the way, the concert was fabulous!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

EMDR Dreams & Emotions

Since doing EMDR, my dreams have changed. Before, when I dreamt of Bob, the dreams were always about "losing" him -- i.e., I'd see him, then he'd disappear and I would be frantically searching for him meanwhile something like a hurricane or flood is happening at the same time. Frantic dreams. Anxiety dreams. Awful nightmares.

The other night, I dreamt of Bob and he scooped me up in his arms then suddenly we were flying, floating in a starry night sky and I felt so deeply his love and I thought, this is heaven, I was in heaven with him...

Then another dream, instead of "losing" Bob, I 'found' him at a flea market -- and I said, "There you are!" and he explained that he hadn't died, but been kidnapped and forced to divorce me by his ex-wife -- and then we grabbed hands, and ran toward the exit and I kept thinking if I can only get him to the car... and then, as they say, I woke up.

My therapist says these "dream changes" are a good sign that the therapy is working. Though, to me, the first dream felt more like an actual visitation instead of a dream.

My last session was especially hard -- a lot of emotions/memories came through that I wasn't expecting. Especially rage. Rage at Bob's family, the way they treated him in life and the way they totally disrespected him (and our marriage) after his death...  I wasn't prepared to feel any of this, pretty much thought I'd gotten over it -- but guess it was all just buried inside and came spewing out like so much vomit.

I am skipping this week's session as Hillary and I are going to a U2 concert (my all time favorite band) -- and hoping this will keep me feeling a bit "high" this week, and not wanting to break that spell.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

EMDR

So I got through my first two sessions of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, and I can tell you this is not a therapy for the faint hearted.

For those who are unfamiliar with this process (as I was) it works like this:

The therapist sits very close to the patient, and I mean close, almost knee-to-knee. She then moves her hand back and forth in front of the patient's eyes. Some therapists hold an object in their hand, others (like mine) just use two fingers close together.  The back and forth movement is quite rapid and sweeping from far left to right. I (the patient) am to follow the movement with only my eyes, keeping my head still and sitting still. While doing this (the first time) we talk about the traumatic experience, in subsequent sessions I only have to visual it.

Walking into my first session, I had known that we would be using May 28th as the trauma we would be focusing on, but I was thinking we'd be using the events of the entire day, i.e. my finding Bob dead in his bed, calling 911, paramedics, police, the men in black, etc. etc. but no this was not to be. Our focus has been simply on the most traumatic part of the day, which was me, waking up, finding him dead.

So the visual is this -- I wake up, am startled because the sun is shining and Bob didn't wake me up with his usual "Good morning! The sun is shining!" and so I call out to him, receive no answer, run to his bedside, find him on his back, eyes wide open staring at the ceiling, and me screaming his name, trying to shake him awake and screaming No No No! over and over and over again.

And as the therapist moves her hand back and forth, we go through this scene, reliving it, over and over and over, sometimes 15-20 times during our one hour session.

Oh. My. God.

Of course, there are breaks in-between where she asks me how I'm feeling both physically and emotionally, she writes down my reaction, asks if I want to continue or visualize my "safe" place for a moment, take deep breaths etc.  Then after the one hour session ends, we talk about how I am feeling once again and compare that to how I was feeling at the beginning of the session. It's quite amazing the emotions that break through, some like anger, I did not expect. And this anger was directed at Bob, like "After all I did for you, this is how you pay me back, you bastard!" Whoa. I was so pissed I wanted to kill him, but couldn't because he's already dead. ha!

The only light-hearted part of the session was Kona, who usually lies by my feet during therapy, but could not do this because the therapist was sitting so close to me and so I had put Kona to the side and told her to "stay".  Unfortunately that day, my therapist was wearing a skirt, and, unknown to us, part way through the session, Kona somehow wiggled her way between us and suddenly up popped Kona's head from underneath the therapist's skirt! Oops! (I noticed at the next session, my therapist was wearing pants -- lesson learned.)

Anyway, I can't even tell you how shaken up I was after the first session. I almost puked on my therapist. She's lucky I didn't. I went home exhausted, both physically and mentally.  I slept 13 hours straight that night (I have had been trouble sleeping).

Yesterday I saw my shrinkologist (you know psychologist or psychiatrist -- whatever she is, I always forget, so I just call her my shrinkologist) and told her I was doing EMDR with my grief therapist and she told me that she was proud of me for taking this step. That the unexpected emotions (like anger and guilt) are things I've been holding inside and need to get out in the open and release them in order to heal. She also said it will be a long process, sort of like digging a swimming pool in your backyard with only one shovel as a tool.  And just like digging a swimming pool with a shovel, I will be exhausted.

It's hard work. My next session is Thursday. I'm not sure how well it's working, too early to tell, but I'm not giving up yet.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 28th -- Bob's "Memorial Celebration"

I did have friends over on the 28th, spent some time poolside, made one of Bob's favorite dishes for dinner, and we ate picnic style in the backyard. We also "smoked" cigarettes (those who don't smoke "smoked" candy cigarettes) and took a shot of Vodka in his honor and I demonstrated Bob's version of a Tarot Card reading which he called "Bob's Happy Tarot" (he would take all the "bad" cards out of the deck to do "his" readings and he would do them with a very funny accent which I tried my best to imitate, his readings were always hilarious.) And I also showed my friends our wedding video and the party video with Bob and I dancing.

It was a good time (we laughed and cried) and though I was nervous at the beginning, everything went very well. I was glad to finally do something in his honor, as I never had a funeral/wake or real service or even an obit in the paper as I was so shocked, and alone, when he died, and it was just me, Chris and one beloved home health nurse at his cremation  -- So this was a "Celebration" of his life, a little late.  And although most of the women who came are from my widows group and never met Bob, they said they really felt like they knew him by the end of the day.

Here are some pics:




Meanwhile, I had my first EMRD therapy session last week, and will have my second tomorrow -- it was very emotionally and physically draining and found I could not even blog about it --- but feel I need to go on and try it again..... stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

2 Years Ago

Doesn't seem that long ago -- seems like just yesterday --- then sometimes seems like 100 years ago ----- miss him and love him so much still.... RIP Sweetheart. I love you.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Therapist Session

So, went to my therapist yesterday and told her I wanted to try the EMDR therapy --cause I'm thinking it can't hurt and might help. So we spent much of the session discussing how to prepare and what to expect...

First what trauma event to focus on -- that was easy -- the day Bob died.

Then "code" words or signs that I can give her if it's too much for me to handle.... and stop the session to take a break.

Then to find a "safe place" to go to -- and I'm thinking, huh? Run to the ladies room?!

 But no, this is an imaginary place or a real place you feel safe --and I told her I love the water, the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the bay, I grew up by the Mississippi River and water has always had a calming effect for me-- but all these calming places had sad connotations as they were places I would go with Bob --- so is a "safe" place still "a safe place" if it is also sad memory?...

So after some discussion I mentioned my swimming pool (which is water) and was supposed to be a therapy pool for Bob but he died before it was put in, and I decided to go ahead and put it in anyway and it is calming  (and I am so glad the contractor talked me into putting the "water features" in it) which means deck shoots and a bubbler so the pool sounds like fountain -- and I did recall the first time, after the pool was done, and I bought a lounge chair and table and sat next to the pool with my cig (sorry still smoke) and a drink and reclined back and immediately thought "jeepers, I could live here!" and then laughed because ha! I do live here. How about that?

OK -- so the "safe place" is the pool.  Then my therapist said I needed a "container" like a box or basket or bucket or garbage can where I can put "stressful emotions" into --- and I say, "Do I have bring a box, bucket, garbage can or picnic basket to my session or--- what?"  Oh no, this is just an imaginary box/basket etc....

All righty --- I imagine myself running from the room to the "safe" ladies room with a picnic basket full of bad memories.... yikes!

I am not sure about this --- but our first session is scheduled next Thursday....

Meanwhile, tick tock, tick tock --  Bob's death anniversary is May 28th -- and I feel like it was just yesterday -- and am back to puking in the morning, pulling down the shades, wanting to hide/drink/dissolve into nothingness.

I have invited some friends over on May 28 --- so I won't be alone -- but now I'm wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew..... cause really, I just want to crawl under the bed and hide.... and now I'm committed to making dinner for 6 (count em) people, plus cleaning up the house, getting everything ready and .... yikes -- what have I done?!

I will keep you posted --- thanks for listening/reading