Transitions and Assessments

VictoriousWhen we mourn, it is for our loss; no matter the loss, we mourn a change to our circumstance. The degree of our mourning, the style of our mourning, how we grieve it is deeply personal. No other person can tell us whether our mourning is too great or not great enough, too short or long, appropriate or inappropriate considering the specific loss we have experienced. Whether we are heartless, or instead whether we feel too deeply our loss. Grief is very personal, expressed in both public and private it remains nonetheless a very personal expression.

Oh, I know there have been countless studies and pragmatically I understand the stages of grief, truly, I do. I also understand I have been hit with perhaps too many things all in a very short space of time and I haven’t processed one thing before being punched in the head by another. Rationally, I ‘get’ that I am not working through the stages of grief in the manner people expect, or showing the outward signs of grief for the individual losses in the manner others expect of me. I also know this makes people uncomfortable.

I can’t help their discomfort.

I can’t even particularly gather the energy to care about their discomfort.

In fact, I do not consider their discomfort as relevant to what is needful for me, for my life, for my future. This week I have done some soul searching, I have done some foot stomping, I have done some staring in the mirror and asking myself some hard questions.

  • What do I want?
  • What is important to me?
  • What do I need?
  • What are my core values?
  • How do I want to live the rest of my life?

These were important questions for me to ask and answer. I don’t know that I have fully answered all of them to my satisfaction; I have started though. This morning I woke to a comment on my previous post (Not Strong) filled with malice and written purely with the intent to hurt. I considered simply sending it to Spam rather than answering and perhaps I should have, but I allowed it to stand and I answered with exactly the anger I felt, perhaps the anger I needed for others who have treated me without care, compassion, empathy or respect.  I found though, this comment simply pushed me over the edge and so I let it stand.

I saw this quote today and it struck me;

“Do what you feel in your heart is right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” Eleanor Roosevelt

This is the truth, isn’t it? This is part of the answer to all of my questions, the first steps toward moving forward. Not fearfully, not ashamed of my failure but instead proud of my success. I shouldn’t hide who I am, dim my light or attempt to fill the bucket of other people’s expectations, I have been doing this my entire life and it did not make me joyful, it did not create a happy home, nor did it make me want to get out of bed and gladly go to work every morning. What fulfilling everyone else’s expectations did to me was slowly kill my soul. When I allowed people to speak to me as if my humanity was not worthy of respect, without saying “No”, whether from a family member, a loved one, a friend or an employer or even a stranger in cyber space; what it did was diminish me in my own eyes.

Is the sadness over? No, probably not. It has been less than three months. In this short period, I have lost a beloved husband, I am unemployed and I have lost a mother no matter the relationship. These are all very difficult losses and hard to process, especially on top of each other the way they have been. The reality is, I have a right to feel sad, I have a right to be pissed off; I have the right to feel any damned way I want to feel. This is hard, there is no other way to say it but this is hard.

Hopefully, I will have more good days than bad days. I keep looking for silver linings, I truly do. I have had a number of decent prospects and am committed to finding the ‘right’ job not just any job that is one of the answers. Life transitions are difficult, I know that.

As to the rest, I hope those of you who read and hang with me, who offer your support and advice will continue to do so. I know, I haven’t been my normal self. I will get back there.


  1. Hello there…
    Well I agree with some of your commenters above. You don´t need to reply or even let that person know that he/she has caught your attention. I enjoyed your perspective on the whole issue. And I think you wer absolutely right when you said that ” fulfilling everyone else’s expectations slowly kill your soul”. Your blog is outstanding. Great to came across your posts!. Best regards, Aquileana 😛

  2. Gray Dawster says:

    I am just calling in for another read of this one and of course to wish you a very happy week, doing whatever makes you feel good, so perhaps some girlie shopping will be a good start 🙂 😉 Have a brilliant start to your Monday my sweet friend 🙂

    Andro xxxx

  3. So glad you spammed the comment that caused even more pain. I have learned that when a person is grieving a loss, the best thing we can do is sit with them in the dust while they are wrapped in sack cloth and ashes (Job’s state in the OT) and mourn with them. It is best to keep one’s mouth shut when it comes to advice (unless asked) lest we become Job’s counselors and drive a well-meaning stake through the heart of the wounded. You are in my thoughts and prayers, my friend.

    • I didn’t spam the ugly one my friend, I let it stand to remind me some people are just plain nasty. I sent her and any future comments to the ‘ugly’ folder.

      You are so right though and I am learning a huge lesson about life transitions and grief. I thought I knew all about this stuff. I didn’t. I am so grateful for the friends I have both in life and here. I have been lifted up, beyond measure.

  4. Those hateful and rude commenters… I do hope you have more days of hope and happiness coming your way (I’m sending you kind thoughts right now) than the bad days. Maybe you can feel my cyber hug ((hugs)))) — I hope so! I delete any negative comments I get so that’s always another option. xoxo

    • Christy, Thank you!! I do feel the cyber hugs and all the positive reinforcement I get from those who have been in my corner. You cannot even begin to imagine how uplifted I feel.

      I usually delete negative comments, relegate the cyber-bullies to spam and let it go. This time, for my own reasons I let it stand. In the future with this particular person, well she will be treated like any other bully, no place in my little section of paradise.

      Hope? I do have it, believe me I do. It is just hard to grab and hold right now. Hard to look at without a bit of jaundice. But I have it.


  5. Hello Val,

    I read that comment and your response. If people don’t have something nice to say – they should simply shut up. If anyone does not like what you write in your blog – they can go elsewhere and get a life (because they obviously don’t have one).

    Luv and hugz for a friend,

    • Eric, Hi

      I struggled with what to do with that one. My decision to leave it up was a pragmatic one. My decision to reply was not, she and I had locked horns before. I think I was more offended by her choice to go after me on a very personal level. So my response was ‘heartfelt’.

      In the future she is relegated to my spam folder. While I do not expect everyone to agree with me or treat me with kid gloves. Now and again, I like anyone could use a bit of tough love or swift kick in the rear, truthfully it should not be done with a steal toed boot.

      I am working through it. Good news I hope on the horizon. One thing at a time. Always just one thing at a time.


  6. “Life transitions are difficult, I know that.” Talk about your understatement!

    Grief is a process, not a coat you can shrug out of when the thermometer hits a certain, proscribed number of degrees.

    I read that comment and I don’t want you to think I agree; I don’t. But maybe she was trying “tough love” to get you moving. You are entitled to your feelings and your grief for as long as you feel them. As a practical matter, though, I would hate to see you wind up unable to pay your bills.

    • Peg, I am certain that person thinks she is attempting something that looks like ‘tough love’. Don’t care, it was ugly and cruel. No one gets to do that to me or anyone else, especially a stranger.

      Life transitions? Well yes, the break-up of a marriage; loss of work at the same time; and death of a parent all within 90 days might be considered life transitions. You are right, I can’t take off my grief as if it was a coat. It is mine and I have to walk through it at my pace.

      As a practical matter, I won’t go broke and I have always been able to pay the bills. I might not love dipping into my savings, in fact I hate it. But I have always had savings to cover emergencies.

  7. I think it’s good that you’re not trying to grieve based on other people’s standards. Grief is a personal process — yes, maybe it makes some people uncomfortable, but fuck ’em. You grieve in your own way, on your own terms, and in your own time. It may be tomorrow, or a few months from now, but the ground will gradually start feeling a little more stable beneath your feet. Until then — you do what you can, and call it a day.

    Hugs to you my dear friend.

    • You are exactly right. Each step, forward and backward is personal. I am working through it. I think right now some of the problem is boredom John. I need to be working again, I need to be challenged and out of the house, focused. Fear is a terrible thing, each time I take from my emergency fund my heartbeat stutters.

      Hugs back and thank you.

  8. Sorry to be late getting here, Val. To be honest, I don’t understand anyone leaving nasty comment. What a jerk. I’m glad, having read the comments above, that you blocked that person from commenting in the future. Hang in there, my friend. And come visit us!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I am always so happy to see you, it warms the cockles of my heart (cheeky of me). You know Kathy, I don’t either understand why some people are just mean, I suspect it somehow makes them feel better about themselves. I am not so savaged that I find pleasure in hurting others, I suspect this is the difference in people how we react to hurt.

      As to visiting, you are on the top of my list. Just as soon as I know what work looks like I am planning a holiday and Ecuador is the place.


  9. singleworkingmomswm says:

    You will not only return to your old self, you are building more and more upon your true self. I know this! Did you just get the tattoo? I love it! And, I also love the quote you posted. I recently went to see Maycee’s therapist to make sure I was handling things correctly as of late with regards to her anxiety, since I’ve been an emotional wreck at times, crying a lot, etc, especially with putting down our horse. My mom made a comment to me that was a bit of a jab-non-intentional, I think, but a jab nonetheless, that knocked me out of my pity party immediately. She felt that I was being “too emotional” in front of Maycee and “too open” with her about things in life. Our therapist asked me, “What do you think about that?” I said, “Well, I think it’s important for our kids to see that we are not always “ok”. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. And, as long as I explain what is happening and don’t shut down and stop being the mom, it’s positive for her to experience the emotions, too.” She said, “Then own it! Be the parent you believe you should be and stop worrying about what your mom or anyone else thinks.” Then, she agreed with my take on it-and that was nice! Ha, ha…anyhow, thinking of you always. One day at a time! XOXO-Kasey

    • On the tattoo, I got it back in December. It had been planned for a while, in the back of my mind. There is a story behind it since the ‘leaving’ I have gotten that plus one more with two more planned which is the last of them I think. Perhaps I should tell the story of all one of these days.

      You therapist is right I think, we do need to own our sadness just as we own anything else. It isn’t always easy to walk through these emotions. It certainly isn’t easy when others expect us to be ‘okay’ with what is going on around us, to be ‘strong’, to be a ‘rock’. That is simply bullshit. I think that is what I have been fighting against, no one in my life wanted me to mourn, to grieve like a normal person. My response was ‘really’?

      I am so sorry about your horse. I know this is hard for both of you and I hope both of you find solace with each other.

  10. I can relate to so much of what you said. I’m going through something similar. List the top stressors in an average person’s life and I seem to be undergoing all of them at once right now. As you know, major transitions in life bring lots of pain and sadness, but eventually the light will shine again and illuminate your true path in life. Thinking of you in your journey, Val.

    • I know, I think that was the point. Well maybe not the entire point. I think the entire point was that we all go through the process at our own pace and in our own way, input from the gallery as to how and the timing isn’t helpful. I hope you are doing as well as you can, just as I am. I will think of you as you go forward, I will also visit you when you write. Maybe we can encourage each other to do as well as possible!

  11. Val, I am still cheering for you and believe in you!

    • Thank you, me too.

      Slowly but with some certainty I will get there. It is simply harder now than before. But that is fine, I suppose things are just that way. I do so appreciate all the support I receive.

  12. Yes, Val, you will get back there. And knowing that, is half the battle. I hope in the end you decided to spam that comment you mention. Words that come at us from malicious intent shouldn’t be given the time of day, or the opportunity to shine in your light. Let them recede into the darkness, like vermin. It is where they belong, after all.

    • I blocked the person Monica, in the future they will not be able to post. However, for the sake of reminding me I am leaving the comment where it is. You are right, malicious and mean doesn’t have a place, bullies don’t have a place. However, sometimes we should be reminded, historically they have been part of our path from where we have been to where we are going. I have had a few, as have we all.

      That is the real reason I let it stand and the reason I will let it stand, but no more. Each day Monica, I find it a little easier. Stumbling doesn’t hurt so much, ‘no’ hurts but challenges, each day.

  13. I contemplated putting this on my own blog with the story of how it came to me, which “coincidentally” came back to me when flipping through radio channels in the car I landed on this song the other day. Maybe one day I’ll write the story, but for now, maybe it’ll help you to hear it.

  14. You are right the sad will always be there but what you are sad about will change, at first it is easy to be sad that a long term relationship failed, it is sad to think you have lost your best friend that children have lost the perfect home, but eventually you become sad for different reasons, sad the ex lacked the intelligence to recognise he just screwed up the best chance at happiness he will ever have, sad your children have to see their father as a fallible human rather than the superhero they should be able to see him as. You get sad that you wasted so much energy trying to please someone who could never allow themselves to be happy but with the sadness is also pity for the fact their life will never be as fantastic as the one you are having. And you might not feel it now, but you will look back one day and ,because I know you are reading this thinking BS, because lets face it that’s what we all think when people tell us time will heal us and make us whole again, the truth is time has nothing to do with it, the only path back to real happiness is learning to love yourself again the way you deserve to be loved xxx

    • Thank you Paula. I wish it were only the end of the marriage that was causing the dip in my spirits, if it were perhaps I wouldn’t be struggling so much. Yes, that hurts. Thankfully there are no children, thankfully that isn’t part of it. I will never see my marriage as wasted energy. I am sad for both of us. I am sad it ended. I am sad it ended as it did. But honestly, there is more that I haven’t written about, maybe someday I will. Now? No, I am not prepared to take apart what I think went wrong, yes, I think we both played a role. Now? I simply have to take it all in.

      You are right though, now I have to put myself back together. Learn to trust myself. Learn to take care of myself.

  15. frigginloon says:

    Hmm, well girl, sound like you got angry? That’s the way. Told you. Get ready with the FUs and just keep reloading.

    • Loon, it isn’t over. I suspect, as I said the sad will still be there and I have the right to feel what I feel over all of it. But, also as I said, I will always do what is necessary to move forward. As to getting angry, why yes I did. It was your little malicious friend that pushed me over the edge, she who is now barred from further commenting.

      I will reload. I will move forward. I will also have bad days. All of it is I think perfectly normal, perfectly human. I will make adjustments and do what is needful to live and live how I choose.

  16. Damn skippy you will. Just like that beauty on your arm, you are victorious… if for no other reason than being able to say, “I will overcome on my terms rather than someone else’s cockamamie idea of what I should do.” Promptly followed by a rather large raspberry. (See Archie Bunker.)

    I love you dearly.

  17. Eleanor Roosevelt. You chose well in quoting this remarkable woman. She had to put up with a lot in her life and somehow came through a strong and determined woman who in her own right made a contribution to society.

  18. I think this proves you’re healing, Val. I didn’t know what to say after your last post because I could tell you were incredibly depressed. First of all, forget your ex! If he was so insecure that he couldn’t tell you to your face that things weren’t working out and then runs home to his mommy, then you don’t need him in your life anymore. Second, I know what it’s like to go long periods unemployed. Millions of us have endured that ordeal these past few years. But, while you’re probably tired of hearing people tell you how strong you are, the fact is – you are strong! You wouldn’t have made it this far without being emotionally and psychologically resilient. There are people who would disintegrate if they went through a fraction of what you have. Please stick around.

    • I am Alejandro, truly. Sticking around? You couldn’t beat off with a stick. If that means I over share now and then, well it just is the way I am. But, the journal is piling up with what I think of the world as well, so expect to see my thoughts on the world again soon.

      Strong, yes I suppose so. But human also, you know? I guess I just want that acknowledged.

  19. Yes you will get back in the driving seat again.. And Yes you will need time… And Yes we who love you will be here to to laugh with you when you are ready to laugh again…. And I know all things can only get better…. Believe it… Love you Val… Sue xox

    • I know, I truly do know. Laughter is slowly coming in small doses and with small things, but coming. Oddly Sue, it is coming along with the fury. Maybe this is what was missing, the fury.

      I simply had to allow myself to feel the entire spectrum.

      You cannot begin to know how grateful I am for all of you.

  20. This is such powerful post! Not sure if you noticed the same quote on my blog, but if so, I’m glad that it helped. I’ve learned that you will really stress yourself out trying to please EVERYONE. It’s exhausting in every way, shape and form.

    I pray for God to give you strength as you go through this difficult time. When you feel like your at your lowest, the only way you can go is up. Continue to be strong 🙂

    • Kelly, Hi

      Actually your use of the quote inspired me. I added the rest of the quote, Eleanor Roosevelt has always been one of my favorites, I remembered this one and it was so appropriate to what I was writing at the time.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts, and prayers. They are most welcome

  21. Dear Val,
    Welcome home so glad your back! I missed you!
    Your cyberspace friend,

  22. Forget the rest; you’re the best. The best you can be for YOU. No-one can tell you how to feel. No-one. Ever. One step in front of the other. That’s all you can do, the best way you can in this world.
    Methinks, you are making progress. 🙂 Good prospects, you say? See. Progress and in less than three months. Polish up those pearly whites. Dazzling.

    • Imperfect, I am beginning to think this is actually an acceptable state of being. Failure is simply a part of being human and acceptance of our failures as a part of our potential for learning shouldn’t be devastating but instead perhaps simply embraced. You are so right Tess, one step in front of another, one choice at a time. Progress, little bits at a time.

      My biggest part? Choosing to live life for me, on my terms and without guilt.

      • And you will choose to live your life for YOU because you are worth it.
        My last relationship ended because I chose to be myself, imperfect and seems I disappointed the other half. Tsk. Tsk. He tried to tell me how to feel as well. Goodbye Charlie.

  23. Nice to see a hint of a smile in this post Val. Hope you’re starting to feel at least a small amount better.

    • There is a hint, I am beginning to feel as if I can walk through it. With support and a kick in the proverbial now and then. I am frustrated by some things, including my own seeming inability to move past some of the sadness. But this will come. I think it is a matter of making decisions.

  24. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    I’m tempted to look at the comment, but equally tempted not to lest it fill me with grumpiness just before bedtime. I’m sorry reading it wasn’t a choice for you, but absolutely trust your judgment on the reply/not reply front. This post in total made me think of another empowering thing I read yesterday:

    Love you in all your shades. Hope there’s good times coming. ♥

    • Don’t read it, it is malicious and mean. On the other hand, I trust you implicitly and so went to read your link before responding.

      I loved it, not only did some of it make me laugh, it also made me think. Thank you. It was perfect for my state of mind. It also fit directly with one of my questions.

      There are good times in the future. Perhaps different than I had planned originally. That is the thing isn’t it? Letting go of what we planned and letting in the new. I have to do this.

  25. Perfect. Smiling in your direction, Val.

    • Thank you Honie. I hope perfection becomes more attuned with mood, or is it mood helps to drive more perfection?

      I will certainly take the smiles.

  26. Val, I actually loved this post, it was so clear sighted, honest and full of wisdom and insight…
    It was inspirational to read ,and also reassured me that however much we may care for you, we do not need to worry about you. You have enough skills and wisdom to steer yourself where you want to go, . and only you know what the right timing for that will be. Go well… Valerie

    • Oh Valerie, thank you. Wisdom and insight? Thank you again. I am walking through this, perhaps more slowly than I would like, but nonetheless walking through it. You cannot even begin to imagine how meaningful all the wisdom and support from my wonderful friends here in the blog world has meant, I feel so uplifted.

      I will be good, I will stand up and my world will brighten up. Perhaps it will be different than expected and planned for. I suspect this is part of what I am mourning right now, but change is part of life and rather than allowing the lemons to rot in the window I will learn to make lemonade.

  27. Valentine, Keep looking towards the silver linings and focus on what YOU want and what YOU feel, Explore your horizons, As you once told me in the times when I was most hurting. Warmest loving hugs!

    • How our words come back to bite us! Thank you for reminding me Andy. It is fine, likely even good that you do so. Sometimes it is difficult to remember our own admonishments to others, we care for even when we know in our hearts it is the right path. I am getting there, I am working on it. Truly I am.

  28. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    You go, girl! you are going to be just fine. 🙂 I know it.

    You have every right to allow yourself permission to not be so strong anymore–or, to be STRONG!

    You’ve already said it: it depends on you. You are quite the powerhouse, no mistake about it.

    Be who you want to be. Give yourself permission. Always! Cheers, D

    • Your faith in me is so appreciated and welcome. I am grateful. The decision / choice of focus was simply a shift that needed to come, saying the words was only the first step. Feeling the words, that was an entirely different thing and it was harder than I thought. I am getting there though.

      Powerhouse? I will absorb that next 😉

  29. Gray Dawster says:

    It is time to stop worrying about what others think and be a little selfish, do your own thing, act on gut feelings and above all be whom you are that is definitely one of the most important things to do now. No more second guessing as to what someone else may think, just think it through and act upon your own instincts.

    You are a sound and level headed young woman Val, and so, so many other delightful things, all that make you, you my dear friend 🙂 🙂 Stand tall and brush yourself down your life starts again right here my sweet friend and remember, you are a wonderful person, and more importantly you always have been 🙂

    Andro xxxx

    • Andro, you always have the most positive thoughts and I am grateful for that. I think sometimes I ignore what others say about me because it doesn’t fit my view. Now, I need to start listening to the positive thoughts of others, absorbing these things and allowing them to become of how I view myself.

      I haven’t done this in the past. I commit to doing it in the future.

  30. Dear Val,
    Eleanor was a wise woman. And so are you.

    The thing, or one thing, about grief was that it is different for each loss, and it changes and it changes people. There are no instruction manuals. You need to get through it however you can.

    But I must say, I can’t believe that some troll would be nasty. Heartless. And I haven’t read it.

    You are making the right choices, my friend. Keep going. Don’t look back and listen to your heart, your friends when they help.

    • Wise words Elyse. I am taking them into my heart and moving forward, including listening to friends and letting people help. The letting people help me is something I have always had a difficult time with, one of my biggest failures truthfully. I think I know where this comes from, but I also know it is a fault that should be eliminated.

      So, I am imperfect. Others are also imperfect. I do not have to demand perfection from myself and need to stop beating the hell out of myself and others. But, I can demand people treat me with respect just as I treat them with respect. That is, going forward, part of listening to my heart.

      Thank you Elyse.

  31. Val, I was thinking of you this afternoon and wondered where you were on your path, Also how you have an amazing way of cutting to the chase with words that weave a picture, rather than just text on the page. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, sure there are defined steps but they aren’t meant to be sequential, or even done the first time around. It is what it is and when you’re ready, you will know.

    • I am just walking the path laid before me Tao, kicking stones out of the way and sometimes picking them up and putting them on the side if they are pretty enough. I am learning a great deal about myself in the process, somethings I need to learn other things I would have preferred to have kept in the closet till a later date.

      Wisdom though, well it chooses its own time doesn’t it? I am learning I must open my heart and the door to my soul. Just let it in and accept what the world wants to teach me. Even if I feel overwhelmed.

  32. Good to see you’re taking those small, necessary steps. A little at a time ’cause you have dealt with a lot at once. I’m rootin’ for ya. I had to dust off my pom poms…Okay…So what if they were from the fifth grade…Anyway, you will be back and strong. Also better. May be cloudy in seeing that but there’s always that inner umph that lifts us when we can’t.

    • It is the small but important ones that get you there, don’t you think? Not saying my bed doesn’t look wonderfully comforting, but honestly there are things to do, people to meet and frankly life to live. So, while I suspect the funk will grab me a few more times before it is all said and done, well I just have to be prepared and start to move forward, with small steps if that is what it takes.

  33. **** how we grieve it is deeply personal. No other person can tell us whether our mourning is too great or not great enough, too short or long, appropriate or inappropriate considering the specific loss we have experienced***

    beautifully expressed, Val.

    & TRUE.

    People are abundantly uncomfortable w/ people who are mourning. After Kay, those particular people were erased from my every day life.

    I just couldn’t stand them…to be honest.


    • I have been blessed, most have been extraordinarily kind and compassionate. Most have been loving. Most have kicked me when I needed to be, knowing I just needed to be dragged, kicking and screaming out of the house for a breath of fresh air even if it was just for the day. I have been blessed by people here, with kind words, offers of hugs, offers of friendship and an ear / shoulder when I need it.

      I have truly been blessed. Yet still, to ask me to act in a manner contrary to first my nature and then my feelings, it seems I don’t know just mean spirited.

      I love you as well.

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