My Grief Journey...Continued With An Easting Disorder and Depression

After a wake up call with depression and an eating disorder, I went into full blown action. Also known as:  Keep busy! Really busy!

I married my high school sweetheart and the dream was that we would buy the house, have the family and live happily ever after. We bought the house, had the baby but a year later, I was divorced. Boy, I didn’t see that coming. One night he came home and said he didn’t want to be married anymore, just like a scene from a really bad movie.

Suddenly, I’m a single mom without a job. Remember, my dream was to stay home and raise a family.

I struggled with depression the first time in the early months of being married and went to the doctor. He explained to me that this was not unusual because even though marriage is a good thing, it is also a major life event. Did you know that getting married is on the list of top ten stressors for people?

Up until that point, my life was pretty sheltered. I went from living with my parents to living with my husband.  Like most of us, I wanted to be married and I was raised to be a wife and mother.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned I was grieving a loss. The loss of my childhood, my freedom, the familiar. Yes, these are losses too. Even when we decide to make a change we have to let go of something else, even if it’s the past or the way it “used to be”.

Once we were separated, I struggled again emotionally and became depressed. I was like the walking dead. You know, going through the motions,  doing “things” and moving but with a foggy brain. I was not really functioning. 

I was blessed with having people that loved and cared about me. At some level, I knew my daughter was being cared for by my family so I checked out mentally and emotionally.

I also developed an eating disorder, anorexia. 

I was literally shrinking and, thankfully, my Mom took me to the doctor. I didn’t even put up a fight, because I was numb to everything.  I was so thin, the doctor threatened to put me in the hospital if I didn’t gain weight in a week. 

That was my wake up call.

Funny what gets your attention. I was so afraid of the hospital that I knew I had to snap out of this thing, whatever it was. 

So I sprung into action and got a job. 

I was determined to provide for my daughter and myself, so along with the job and I took classes at night.  After all, I had to prove to myself and the world that I didn’t need a man to take care of us. (That part I went a little extreme but that’s a separate story.) 

I hated the job. The pay was bad and the environment was even worse. I dreaded the days because of the job and I dreaded the nights, coming home, alone, carrying the weight of caring for my daughter and a house. Feeling like a failure. 

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

My determination to do it all and without a man to take care of us meant getting a better education so I could get a better job. 

After three months, I got a better job. Not necessarily a better paying job but the environment was better and the benefits included night classes.

It was literally all work and no play. 

And so it began. 

I thought I was doing the right thing, busying myself with good things that would help my daughter. I missed the part that what my daughter needed more than anything else was a mom.

As  many of us do, unknowingly, I lived out grief myths. They have a tendency to become the norm and we don’t realize how much they are actually keeping us from healing and living full lives. 

Myths of Grief

Busy Yourself:

One of my personal “favorites”. I was doing this one really well. I was not dealing with my emotions, I hid them, actually I buried them so deep it took years for them to surface. And it’s easy to hide the pain and loss when we are so busy there is simply no time or room for them in our lives. 

Be Strong for Others:

I thought I needed to be strong for my daughter. When you suppress or hide your feelings you are delaying the process of grieving. As a Mom, of course we are to care for our children but not to the extent that we deny our own feelings. 

Replace the Loss

I was also told by many people; “You are young, you will get married again!” While the statement was not intended to be hurtful or negative, it did not make me feel better. There’s just something about a statement like that (while maybe true) says the loss didn’t matter or count at all. Yet, it did matter and it did count and I have a beautiful child as a result. But it did plant the conflicting seed that I needed to have another man in my life.

GriefMichele Woodall