DECEMBER 22, 2019: “How To Re-Traumatize A Widow” …

BoundariesI struggled this morning as to what if anything to say about “the very first social event without my husband” last night because honestly, I am just so overwhelmed and TRAUMATIZED all over again! So perhaps I’ll just lead with some friendly advice for anyone out there who unbeknownst to them struggles with “unhealthy boundaries” …

To begin, here is what Wikia.org says about “personal boundaries” (and please DO click on this link THIS VERY IMPORTANT LINK for more information when you are either extremely bored OR extremely ready to conduct a quick self-examination as to where you are on the boundaries spectrum):

“Personal boundaries are an aspect of psychological boundaries and are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. “Personal boundaries” define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won’t do, what you like and don’t like … how close someone can get to you.”

One last advice I’d like to offer against what again I’m sure are seemingly innocent comments and remarks from well-intended people. I appreciate being told “I’m so beautiful”. Truly, I do, and I’m not trying to sound like a self-inflated ass, but I am in fact aware of “how I look” and yes, I agree, I am clearly not unfortunate looking. I comfortable writing those words out loud here now in this space because only I know how long it finally took me to find my actual reflection in a mirror! It took a hell of a lot of work on behalf less than a handful of people to get me to finally “see me” the way other people see me on the outside. Eternal is the gratitude for my very firstAngel from Flight 438“, because all “this” started with him! Then Zack picked up where he left off and I will NEVER forget that day in his apartment he grabbed me by the arms and physically forced me in front of the mirror while he stood behind me repeating: “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! LOOK AT YOURSELF CATHERINE, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! SAY IT! I’M NOT LETTING YOU GO UNTIL YOU SAY IT!” And then I did, and here I am. Yes, I am beautiful. The irony here is the first time Zack ever saw me in January of 2009 my presentation was “yah, not so much”. If he were still here he’d be the first to admit that I looked like a freaking train wreck. I was in the worst shape of my life, hadn’t been sleeping, was physically disfigured in the most egregious way, and about five minutes away from my final nervous break down. He used to say, “Every time she showed up at the gym she looked kind of like a homeless person”.  So trust me when I tell you – our love story did NOT begin with “wow you’re just so beautiful”. He loved me as I was, scars and all, for the very first time in my life, and for that precious reason my fallen King’s mirror of not only my reflection but most importantly my soul will always be the standard by which I judge anyone’s regard for my “beauty”.

There is probably not a human being on the face of this planet that doesn’t appreciate verbal affirmation from others, and yes, compliments in the right dose are an integral part of how our confidence is assimilated. But over and over and over again? “You’re so pretty. You’re so beautiful. You are such an attractive person.” Okay, so tell me once and that’s it! Anything more is not only overkill, but moreso the polar OPPOSITE of what has ever attracted me to a man. Observations, judgments and validations about “my surface” in my life before Zack were more than half of what made me sick in the very first place and nope I don’t care if someone thinks I’m beautiful (at least not on the outside). Quite frankly? THAT REPELS ME! Yes, this is a boundary issue with not only me but quite possibly many struggling people out there. Such an OLD cliche’ but true nonetheless: DON’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY IT’S COVER!

Well this was a long post. I apologize. Actually, nope again, I don’t. These things needed to be said and now that I’ve said them I feel much better. Guess I just needed to remind myself about the boundaries I’ve fought so hard to understand, respect and build in the first place. So with that I guess I’ll just have to find a way to be thankful for my re-traumitization last night. It was a lesson for me, for sure, and now maybe a lesson for some of you. There is indeed a time and place for everything – EVEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GRIEF! If you know someone has been through a trauma of any kind and you want to talk to them about it, just ask them first if they want to talk about it. They may want to. They may not. The choice should be theirs though, not yours.

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7 thoughts on “DECEMBER 22, 2019: “How To Re-Traumatize A Widow” …”

  1. Thanks for mirroring my feelings on “space and my own personal boundaries”. My lack of a willingness to talk about my grief in the loss of a loved one or being asked to relive the horrors of being a combat medic in Vietnam doesn’t make me a bad person!

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  2. YES SIR YOU ARE CORRECT! That’s the thing about scars, and actually, even “gifts”. They are OURS! And only ours. We’ve earned them, LIKE IT OR NOT, and are free to give share or not share them if we want to, when we want to, how we want to. Period. In being honest? I was a “boundary violator” myself for the longest time because I was raised in a family of origin WITHOUT THEM. I had NO idea what they were, much less how to recognize or respect them in others OR maintain them for myself. Now I know better. And for the record, I’m terribly sorry for the unspeakable realities, visions and horrors that must truly be lurking within the confines of your mind. Can’t EVEN imagine. You do with them as you must, for your own sake OR the sake of others. ON YOUR TERMS, IF YOU CHOOSE!

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  3. My beautiful cousin…..the next time you are ever in this situation, or any that make you uncomfortable, please know that you can and should get up and walk away! You are not bound to be the recipient of another’s rudeness, no matter how freaking sugar-coated they try to make it. Rude or not be damned! Protect your bubble babe! And if you need someone to hang out with who can be politely rude, just call me! It is a trait I have mastered with the many years of working my career field. Lol

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  4. Cat,
    Your blog brings out all of the emotions people experience daily. Hurt, pain, sadness, laughter, cheer, self preservation, the wall we build around our hearts to shield pain, remorse, and even torment. Most people want to say, get over it, move on, “someone I know went through the same thing and they are doing great!” That is not what people need to hear. They mean well but they have no comprehension of what someone who has lost a partner, a child, a parent, even a friend is experiencing. The “new normal” is not a way of life. It is this time, this place where we are right now. I hate the phrase personally. I wish you healing, comfort, and understanding in your journey. Be strong and take care of you!

    I put my words and feelings into my music.

    Warmest regards,
    Jimmy

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