FLEET SPEAK

“Am I Crazy?”

 

This question makes me smile just a little bit.  Were you to ask my daughters (or anyone who knows me personally) if Carole is “crazy”, they would nod emphatically, or laugh out loud in response or regale you with a story or two.  And you know what? I would happily admit to being just a little on the "crazy" side, because when used in that particular vein, it is an adjective that implies spirit, laughter, unpredictability and fun.

Photo by Pamela Marches Photography

However, there is a sobering side to believing that one is crazy and unfortunately, too many widowed are feeling that way; either currently or in the recent past. 

 

I see sentiments from widowed such as these every single day:

 

“I'm so scared and feel like I’m going crazy”.

“I can't focus.  I know that I’m going crazy.”

Everyone is telling me that I should be “over it” by now – but I’m not.  I feel like I’m going crazy and I’m sure everyone thinks I’m crazy too.

 

The worrisome part is that these wonderful people (and so many more like them), actually believe that they are either now or are about to go “crazy” simply because they are widowed and baffled and / or they aren’t “over it” as quickly as those who surround them would prefer.
 

“Crazy” has sadly become a synonym for “confused” or “overwhelmed”, and we need to fix that.  Rare is the occasion that we have to deal with grief, pain, anger, work, children and practical matters simultaneously.  Then throw in the fact that you likely don’t know what to do first or in what direction to turn – and let's be honest, you’re not exactly surrounded by experts in your daily life who can readily help you.

 

You are not crazy, you are not going crazy, nor is there anything wrong with you, simply because you are widowed and your mind may be spinning just a bit.  You are dealing with a veritable tornado of emotions that are mixed up with all of the “have-to’s” of widowhood.  Those “have-to’s” can encompass everything from financial transition to the thank you notes that need to be written, to learning how to function in a new life for which you did not enroll. 

 

The quickest way to alleviate feeling “crazy” or overwhelmed is to start writing everything down.  Everything.  I’m a big believer in lists and datebooks (yes, even in this day and age of digital everything and much to the dismay of my daughters).  When you get everything out of your head and onto a to-do list that you can see in front of you, your mind will automatically calm.  I have always referred to this as “emptying the garbage”.  Get all of the have-to’s out of your head and onto a pad of paper that you update every single night before you go to bed. 

 

(P.S.:  I’ve never had a calendar or a legal pad “crash” or lose data on me either).

 

What to do about the Emotion Tornado?  Keep on writing … in an actual journal, with a real pen.  Journaling will not only help you get those feelings out of your head and onto paper, it is also a wonderful way to chronicle and actually see your Healing Journey in progress.  Study your ups and downs; discover what gave you peace today or what set you off last week.  Take time for this peaceful activity either last thing before bedtime (a great tool to help you relax) or first thing in the morning – whenever your house is the quietest.

 

Now onto Part II of “Am I Crazy” and one of my very favorite subjects entitled, “The Opinions You Never Sought or Needed From People Who Have No Clue”.

 

Has someone told you that you are “going crazy”?  Have several “someones” told you that you are crazy?  Do you believe it?  If so – why? 

 

There may be those who may have unilaterally decided that you are “crazy” because you still cry when you hear the special song that belonged to you and your late beloved.  Others may think you are crazy for keeping their photograph in your wallet.  Still others may just be plain ol’ uncomfortable at being around someone who is dealing with grief the best way that they can.  These same people have no problem voicing their unsolicited opinions to you and the unfortunate fallout is that you call both your sanity and your judgment into serious question. 

 

I lost my Mike many years ago and have since remarried a man whom I love very much. For lo these many years – including prior to my remarriage – I have been able to look at pictures of Mike with no problem whatsoever - in fact, our wedding pictures are often included in many areas of the media. I still carry one of his police department business cards behind my drivers license that contains a funny message he wrote to me on the back. I can listen to what were our favorite songs; even the song to which I walked down the aisle on our wedding day.  We always include his favorite ornaments on our Christmas tree and we have enjoyed watching family videos from years gone by that include Mike in them.  I write for and teach widowed from all over the world using my own personal experience - and it is a job that I love beyond words.  Many people do cry when I share our family’s personal journey and story; yet I am quite capable of sharing my story without my own tears getting in the way of writing, teaching or lecturing.

 

However… I cannot watch the wedding video.  Period.  I have not watched it since Mike was diagnosed with ALS in 1998 and I imagine that I never will.

 

Sure – I have thought about watching it many times.  I have looked at it languishing in its lovely beige satin case with the gold embossed lettering at least a jillion times.  I have even picked it up once or twice.  I cannot bring myself to watch it.  No matter how much time has passed, it is something that I simply cannot do.  This exquisite memento has since been passed to Kendall for her enjoyment – which I wholeheartedly support and she deeply treasures and appreciates. 

 

Now…does this make me “crazy”? 

 

No. 

 

Does these mean that I have not healed and moved forward? 

 

Hardly. 

 

Others may think that I’m crazy – or silly or stupid or “stuck” in the past. 

 

Guess what? 

 

I don’t care.

 

…and you should not care either. 

 

I am going to once again encourage you to remember that this is your Healing Journey.  This is your path that you have to travel in the ways that you see fit.  Anyone who would deign to classify you as “crazy” truly does not deserve the pleasure of your company.  Such people are only causing you additional pain and self-doubt…and you have had quite enough of both. 

 

Who has either the right or the ability to define your comfort zone(s) for you? 

 

No one 

 

In all earnest, if you do feel that you just cannot move forward in a healthy and positive way; if you are having disturbing thoughts or any ideation whatsoever of causing harm to yourself, you are STILL not “crazy” – but I absolutely encourage you to get help.  Scroll down this page to the "Resources" section below - and then PICK UP THE PHONE!! Those of you who are regular visitors to WWS have seen this suggestion many times before because it bears repeating over and over again…you do not have to go through this all by yourself; nor should you even try. 

 

Take heart, take hold and take a loving and helping hand.  There is plenty of help available…starting right here.

FLEET-ING THOUGHTS

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After I became widowed, I used to receive a lot of comments from people to whom I refer as the ‘You Should Be's’. Whether it had to do with being 'over it' (which is a myth), when to start dating again (which is really nobody's business), financial issues (which is really REALLY nobody's business) or just about anything else, the You Should Be's never failed to chime in with what I 'should be' (or 'shouldn't be') doing with, to and for my newly widowed self.

After putting up with the You Should Be's for about a year, it finally occurred to me that not ONE of the You Should Be’s had ever experienced widowhood firsthand. I'd finally had enough.

One day, after hearing about what I ‘should be’ doing (for what felt like the millionth time) from a You Should Be repeat offender, I smiled at her and asked, 'What has YOUR widowhood been like for YOU?'. I never had the problem with her (or any other You Should Be) ever again. Coincidentally - or perhaps not - most of those You Should Be's are no longer a part of my life.

There is a huge difference between people who ask HOW you are doing out of genuine care and concern and those who tell you what you SHOULD be doing, based upon their opinion of how you are conducting your Healing Journey. Learn to distinguish the difference between the two, accept and embrace the genuine care and concern with grace and do not hesitate to let any You Should Be's in your life know exactly WHO is in charge of your Healing Journey.

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WHAT'S HAPPENING??

  • TUNE IN: Join Carole on WRCR 1700 and Hudson River Radio's "Angel Quest" rado show with Karen Noe' on May 7 at 10:15 a.m. ET / 7:15 a.m. PT.  Watch/listen live at  www.HudsonRiverRadio.com

  • IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Check out Carole's appearances:

** "Open to Hope's International Day of Hope and Healing Conference. Click here to watch Carole's presentation, "When It Comes to Your Grief...Watch Your Reach!".

** "The 30-Minute Hour Podcast" with Eric Twiggs and Ted Fels. Click here to listen or watch

** "The Crazy over 40's Life" with Caroline Brown" Click here to listen

** TO LISTEN TO ALL AVAILABLE PODCASTS FEATURING CAROLE, GO TO SPOTIFY, APPLE, iHEART OR YOUR FAVORITE STREAMER AND SEARCH "CAROLE BRODY FLEET". SELECT RADIO AND TELEVISION APPEARANCES ARE AVAILABLE BY CLICKING ON "MEDIA ROOM" ABOVE

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RESOURCES

 

Included below are resources that you may find helpful in pursuing your healing journey.*** 

 

CRISIS INTERVENTION AND PROGRAMS

 

* National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255. Help is available by telephone twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week. www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

* National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Providing, support, education and advocacy for those suffering from mental illness and for those who support them. If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact NAMI at (800) 950-6264 or at info@nami.org

 

* Alcoholics Anonymous:  www.aa.org

 

* Narcotics Anonymous:  www.na.org

 

* National Eating Disorders Association: (800) 931-2237 www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

 

* Gamblers Anonymous: www.gamblersanonymous.org

 

* Debtors Anonymous (compulsive shopping / spending): www.debtorsanonymous.org 

 

* Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA): www.sca-recovery.org.  

 

* Mental Health America (“Cutting” or other means of self-harm): www.mentalhealthamerica.net

 

SERVING THE WIDOWED COMMUNITY

 

* The American Widow Project: www.americanwidowproject.org:

 

* TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) www.taps.org 

 

* Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation at www.sslf.org and www.campwidow.org

 

* Social Security Administration www.ssa.gov

 

* Department of Veterans Affairs (for military widowed and surviving family members): www.va.gov

 

***Please note that no suggestion and/or recommendation is meant to replace expert medical or legal assistance. Carole Brody Fleet, her representatives and / or employees or assigns do not receive any remuneration whatsoever for any recommendations made herein.