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Too Much Time To Think

April 11, 2011

What is it about a long drive that makes me think so much? Photo courtesy of Mark Hamilton

I can’t escape myself when I’m driving. On the 75-mile drive to my father’s house this past Friday, I found my emotions spiraling out of control. This is what happens when you have too much time to think.

I’ve been really busy at work the past couple of months, and desperately needed a few days off. My closet was completely out of control, as I hadn’t folded laundry in months, resulting in it being an impossible feat to find a matching pair of socks or any item of clothing I really wanted to wear. My daily routine of picking out an outfit consisted of wearing whatever was the least wrinkly and at the top of the clean clothes pile. My messy environment was making me feel anxious and overwhelmed. So, I took a few days off. In this time, I cleaned my closet, my car and the rest of my house; caught up on my favorite blogs, napped and watched movies. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think. At first this was all very productive thinking. I felt like I had some good perspective on my life. I felt very balanced. And with my surroundings clean again, I felt like I had cleared some of the clutter away from my brain as well.

And then Friday came. I was going to visit my father, spend the day with him and go with him to his radiation treatment.

I mentioned previously that my dad was recently diagnosed with cancer. Initially, he told me it was prostate cancer, but I think he was confused, because it’s actually testicular cancer. He’s had surgery, and now he has to undergo 18 sessions of radiation therapy.

This whole sickness with my father has really scared me. I understand (from what he’s telling me, anyway) that the radiation treatment is mostly preventative and that he’s going to be OK, but this episode has been a scary reminder of how fragile our lives are. It’s scary for me to think about losing my dad. I can’t imagine losing anyone in my family. I don’t know how I’d survive.

I feel somewhat guilty being so scared about my father’s sickness, especially when a very close friend of mine (and one of the strongest people I know) is dealing with a more serious illness with her father. I feel for her and pray for her father every night. And part of me doesn’t even want to mention what’s going on with my dad, because I know how hard of a time she’s having. I even considered not mentioning it on the blog for this reason.

But I’m scared. I love my dad and it is really hard to see him scared too. He’s always been such a strong and hard man, and I’m struggling with seeing him in this new light. And the only way I know to deal with this is to write about it.

On the 75-mile drive to his house on Friday, I couldn’t stop crying. Literally could not stop. I never imagined I had enough tears for an hour and a half drive. All the “mind clearing” activities of the past two days were wasted. Every song made me cry. Even songs that should make no normal person cry had me sniffling.

What in the world was I crying about? Everything, or so it felt like. My dad. My ex fiancé. My quarter-life crisis. The fact that VCU lost. (Okay, not really. But that did suck.) My car is falling apart. I accidentally bought waterproof mascara and I hate that stuff (it’s impossible to get off!). The fact that I’ve been so down lately I haven’t wanted to write. Actually, that’s not true. I want to write – but the posts that are within me lately are somewhat depressing. I’ve been too embarrassed to write that while I’m okay 95 percent of the time, 5 percent of the time you would think that my life came crashing down just yesterday. There are moments when I feel just as sad as I did last April when I canceled my wedding. It’s like a year didn’t pass by at all.

I keep thinking ridiculously morbid thoughts about how it’s possible I’ve lost my chance to have my dad walk me down the aisle. I know – dramatic much? But on the ride to his house, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Who knows when I’ll get married, and where his health will be by then. It’s only been in the past eight years that I’ve built a really good relationship with my father. I don’t want to let go of it any time soon.

And, I keep thinking that the only person in the world with whom I want to talk about my dad’s health struggles is my ex fiancé. His dad recently struggled with cancer too. I want to tell my ex all about it. I want him to hug me and tell me it’s going to be okay. I want to hear his voice. I want him to call me – for once. Last summer, I asked him to give me space and not to call me anymore, and he has definitely respected my wishes. So any time we’ve talked since then, it’s been initiated by me. It’s likely that if I don’t initiate contact, we’ll never speak to or see each other again. That’s hard to swallow.

In my spring cleaning of the past few days, little reminders of my ex snuck into my life. In an old purse I haven’t worn in forever, I found a list of things I needed to get before we went to Jamaica for our six-year anniversary. Sunblock. A new swimsuit. An anniversary present and card. Reading this list, I felt myself wanting to jump back in time and enjoy what I’d had. The good memories are the ones that haunt me now, not the bad.

In my closet, I found a button up shirt I stole from him the day I moved out of his house. It is an ugly shirt, some dowdy brown plaid that I was never a fan of, that as I walked out of his house with my final boxes, I snatched off the floor (knowing the whole time this was probably a bad idea and that I was nuts). I don’t know if he even misses it – but it’s been in my closet for a year now. And damn it, it still smells like him.

As I was cleaning and found these little trinkets of him, they made me catch my breath and I felt the old, familiar ache in my heart. But I didn’t let them stop me. I didn’t pause or allow myself to feel sad. I just went on with my cleaning. But suddenly, driving on 64 East to my dad’s house, I found myself crying for that shopping list and that shirt. When is he going to go away? How do I remove him from my thoughts? Will I ever be healed?

Suddenly, my journey was over. Time flies when you are crying inconsolably. I got off the highway at the same old exit, drove by the familiar sights and into the driveway on Summerlake Lane. I parked and the tears stopped. They were just done. All out. When I walked inside, my dad gave me a huge hug. I didn’t tell him how scared I am for him, and I certainly didn’t tell him that I’d spent the past hour and a half crying. And he didn’t notice, thanks to the waterproof mascara, which must have been a blessing in disguise.

I thanked him for taking the day off so I could spend it with him, and for allowing me to go with him to his treatment. And then I spent the day being supportive of him – which is what I came to do.

**I should note that I hesitated posting this today, because while it’s all very true, I wrote this when I was feeling particularly vulnerable and I am feeling much better now. Perhaps the emotional car ride was exactly what I needed. Going through these bouts of sadness remind me that I am still healing. But, when I am able to recover from them and find ways to feel better, I am reminded of how strong I am and of what I am capable.  So maybe my moments of sadness are helping me. That’s what I’m choosing to believe. And I wanted to share this in case anyone else is going through a hard time too.**

56 Comments leave one →
  1. 2blu2btru permalink
    April 11, 2011 11:13 am

    Nice going, Catherine; now I’m terrified to wash the clothes and dishes piled up in my house for fear of what my decluttered mind has waiting to torture me when I’m not preoccupied with clutter. And I was doing so well with the cleaning effort.

    Seriously, we all get stuck in a rut mentally at some point in time. We used work and getting things picked up and “together” to mask those feelings. They had to boil up and come out eventually. The great thing about that is that once in the open, you can deal with them and get rid of them for good.

    • April 11, 2011 3:14 pm

      Thanks, 2blu! It is strange, when I had all that mess around me, I could really focus on the mess and getting it cleaned up. But then once it was gone, there was sort of a feeling of, “what now??” and I think all my emotions came crashing down on me. But, I don’t want my experience to keep you from doing your spring cleaning :). Because, now that I’m feeling better, I am much more relaxed and calm with my clean house and car!

      You are so right about using work and doing other things to mask your feelings. I totally think that’s what happened here. I had some time off, to just think, where I would usually be busy thinking about work (and it’s been a crazy couple of months so work is much of what I’ve been thinking about). So I kept myself busy by cleaning. And then when the cleaning was done, it all went to hell. But I’m out of it now, which is the good news! And, I feel sort of purged of everything. So that’s good too.

      Thanks for your comment and support!

  2. Zak permalink
    April 11, 2011 11:29 am

    I wrote a post recently. It’s the first time I recall writing something bitter and mean and just plain one-sided towards me ex. She and I have been divorced for two years, separated for longer than that. And it’s just now that I can finally write it out.

    My point is that everytime I thought of her before this post – which I still don’t know if I should ever publish – I wanted to defend her, remember all the good times. I still got depressed – and still sometimes do – when I think of her. But I think of her less all the time.

    Have you ever seen the movie Swingers? If not, it’s okay. The speech here is still relevant. Sometimes I just need to watch the last 30 or so seconds to remind myself of those simple facts. Maybe it will help you.

    Anyways, my last opinion is this: don’t be afraid to post what you feel, whether it’s already past or not. Your blog is your blog, to post what you want, when you want. It’s not you trying to infringe on anyone else. If someone doesn’t like what you wrote, they can stop reading. Writing for me is theraputic, and I presume it is for you, too. So write, and don’t be afriad to just be you.

    • April 12, 2011 8:35 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment. I actually haven’t seen Swingers, but just watched that scene you linked to. I loved it!! It is so true and so … damn, it’s just right on. Thank you so much for sharing it. Also, I’m off to check out the post you finally put on your blog. I’m proud of you for taking a chance too. 🙂 I definitely agree, writing is incredibly therapeutic. I really don’t know what I would have done the past year without it. I appreciate your encouragement to write about whatever I want (no matter what other people think). It’s really helpful. I do get self conscious sometimes on this blog, not only because my coworkers, family and friends read, but also because I’ve gotten to know my readers so well that I worry what they’ll think too. But sometimes, I need to let that worry go, I think. Thanks again 🙂

  3. April 11, 2011 11:33 am

    *Hugs* I hate being able to relate.
    Chin up love.

    • April 11, 2011 3:15 pm

      Thanks, Just Saying. I’m sorry you can relate – but I appreciate your support and offer a hug to you too 🙂

  4. April 11, 2011 11:51 am

    I had dreams about one of my exes on Saturday night/Sunday morning. And it made me cry. And I don’t know why. Maybe exes were in the air this weekend?

    Anyway, you’re amazing and if by some strange chance there’s anything I can do to help, please, let me know.


    • April 11, 2011 3:18 pm

      That’s it – exes in the air. Or maybe it has something to do with Mercury going into Retrograde. Either way – sort of sucked. I hate feeling these setbacks that really make me doubt where I am right now. Sorry to hear your dreams set off some bad emotions too. It’s strange how a dream can stay with you in that way and really affect your day emotions. Thanks so much for your offer of help … you are already doing so much just by offering and I always appreciate your kind words!

      • April 11, 2011 6:41 pm

        I recently read an astrological whatever that suggested until April 23 that we all rewind, relax, repair, reconsider and rethink. I think it might be because of Mercury. Either way, I’m looking forward to April 23 — when things can start happening again!

        I’m sending you love! You’re amazing and you don’t have to doubt anything.


        • April 12, 2011 10:17 am

          I had a dream about my ex with his girlfriend last Thursday… and it put me into a funk the next day. Even when I recognize my progress, some things still set me back.

        • April 12, 2011 9:50 pm

          The dreams are the worst! Especially when they feel so real — they do have a way of sticking with you for days. You’ve made so much progress, I don’t think you’ll be set back for long!

  5. April 11, 2011 12:42 pm

    This reminds me of what I wrote about depression last week, which is way off my normal type of topic, but sometimes things just need to be said, you know? I know how hard it must have been for you to hit that “publish” button, to make yourself vulnerable, but I think we (humans) for the most part like to know we’re not alone. And we’re not going to cut you down for being honest about your pain, because we all feel it from time to time.

    Just know that you will be okay, that you are not alone, that the truth is that everything is changing all of the time, and all we can do is love what we have when we have it. If you dwell too much on the past or fear too much for the future, you forget to enjoy life right now, as cliche as that sounds.

    • April 12, 2011 8:40 pm

      Actually I thought of you when I wrote this post. I thought about how it must have been hard for you to put that out there, especially considering the subject matter of your blog (mine is a bit more personal, just by its nature), and how it meant so much to me to read those similar thoughts coming from someone I read and respect. You know? And then I thought, if I felt that way, then why not put this on here. This is how I felt, if only for a limited time. Maybe it will help someone else. Thanks for your kind words – I know I’m going to be OK, it’s just in these very sad moments I have a hard time remembering that it’s not that way all the time. I feel like the sadness is going to last forever. I have been trying very hard to live in the present. I used to have a plan for everything, and I’m not doing that anymore. It has really helped me a lot. It’s hard to feel like a failure at some arbitrary plan if you really don’t have much of one at all 🙂
      Thanks for your comment and your support. And thank you for writing about the hard stuff on your blog too!

  6. April 11, 2011 1:45 pm

    It’s other people’s vulnerabilities that allow us to accept our own. Thanks for sharing something from your heart so honest it could reach mine.

    • April 11, 2011 3:19 pm

      Thank you, My Parents. That was very beautifully put – and made me feel much better about my depressing post :). I appreciate your comment and kind words.

  7. April 11, 2011 2:15 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your inner thoughts. It must have been hard, perhaps now reading this you feel a little better that you’ve been able to express the emotions that have been looming under the surface.

    I can’t even begin to imagine losing my parents without getting teary eyed, so I can only just imagine how you must be feeling whilst your dad is going through treatment.

    As my cousin says, have faith – all will work out for the best.

    • April 12, 2011 8:45 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It was hard, mostly because I know a lot of people expect me to be doing so well by this time, that I feel like sort of a failure whenever I post something like this. I just need to stop being so hard on myself. And faith that things will work out for the best can’t hurt 🙂

  8. April 11, 2011 2:19 pm

    I drive for hours for work and have gotten caught up my thoughts during them, so I understand that. Glad to hear you are already feeling stronger. Know that your feelings and fears for your dad aren’t invalidated because your friend’s struggles are tougher. It’s great that you realize that you are in a better position, it will help you be a better friend to her and be able to be supportive to her, but do use your other outlets to get the support you need.

    • April 12, 2011 8:48 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I can’t imagine driving for work – I really do have the tendency to get lost in my thoughts when I’m driving. More than any other activity. I’ve missed my exit before because I was so deep in thought! This is particularly bad when I’m going through a rough time – it can be a little all consuming. Thanks for your perspective on my dad and my friend’s struggles. It’s been something I’ve have a hard time with – feeling allowed to be afraid and concerned about my dad, when I know what she is going through. I hope they are not mutually exclusive – I can be supportive of her, realizing how serious their situation is, all the while still being scared for my dad and thinking of him. I appreciate your thoughts.

  9. @robsmithiii permalink
    April 11, 2011 4:04 pm

    I just recently started following you on Twitter since you are from the Richmond area and followed me. I read this today and of course my first reaction is recognizing how easy it is to get caught up in feelings while having a lot of time to think. I find myself doing this and it has helped me in the past in various ways. I do think that allowing yourself that time is more of a positive thing than a negative one if you are able to move beyond dwelling. This process must be different, though, because the problem has not yet resolved itself. The only advice that I can give to you is continue being resilient. Your honesty about your situation shows that you do have personal strength and that you are thinking constructively. Writing down what you have thought in times of vulnerability is helpful because it is a way to approach eahc problem.

    As little as words from a stranger may help here, I will certainly say a prayer for you and your family.

    • April 12, 2011 8:56 pm

      Hi Rob,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I love to hear the thoughts of people who stumble across my blog for the first time, especially because they are not so ingrained in my story. It feels like “strangers” (although most my readers are strangers but I feel like I know them quite well) may be able to offer a less biased opinion. But anyway, I really appreciate your support. Writing about this does help, and to be honest, I think that the time to think and mourn (if that’s the right word) on this trip felt like a release. Maybe I just needed a good cry. I do need to always make sure I’m not dwelling – that’s not productive at all. Thank you for your prayer offer, I really appreciate it.

  10. Amy permalink
    April 11, 2011 5:57 pm

    Damn..I can totally relate. When you feel not only your mind but your heart are neutral about your ex and then Bam!..not so much. I had this happen just the other ex texted me with dates he would be out of set was a ten day stretch. I texted back and asked if he was going on vacation with the response being a short and cold one(in my mind) of “Yes”. I was instantly feeling sick and sad. Just a year ago we were planning a long vacation together. I called my Mom sobbing (as I always do at my most vulnerable) and of course she said just the right thing to make me feel somewhat better. So I def. feel your anguish about your Dad’s health. You never want to contemplate a parent’s mortality..imagine a world where the two people you KNOW you can depend on the most won’t be there. You are a good daughter being there for your Dad in his time of need. I will have him in my prayers.

    • April 12, 2011 9:00 pm

      Hey Amy,
      Thanks for sharing your story. It is amazing how the sadness can just sneak up on you, isn’t it? I call it “sneaky sadness” in my head. Just really catches me off guard sometimes. I too, call my Mom when I’m feeling really sad. You said it so well “imagine a world where the two people you KNOW you can depend on the most won’t be there.” That world sounds AWFUL! I can’t do it!! But – one day – I’ll have to. I just need to enjoy the time I have now. And hopefully, my parents have raised a strong enough woman to handle it. If I’ve learned nothing else this year it’s that I can handle more than I ever thought. Thank you very much for your comment and your prayers 🙂

  11. 2NewBeginnings permalink
    April 11, 2011 6:18 pm

    Hang in there girl! I am having to purge myself right now and lately I have been finding boxes of pictures and such, I’m like do I throw them out, what do I do with them? And I have to say, even though I have moved on and feel good about where I am, those pictures, that stuff brings up some mixed emotions, because I’m human. And that is okay, nothing to be embarrassed about. I wish I had an outlet like you to feel free to talk about those things. If I brought up those mixed emotions to my friends by speaking them out loud, I know they would be judging. Not that they are not true friends, they would just be scared that I was contemplating not ending the marriage and all. Which is not the case. It’s okay to feel, and you are coming up on your year so of course you are going to be having mixed emotions. Not to mention what your Dad is going through. It’s a lot to handle. Glad to see you are doing better though. Just remember, it’s okay to let yourself have moments like these and dust yourself off and get back up, what is not okay is to dwell on them and let them stop you from living and moving on. Which is not the case with you. 😉

    • April 12, 2011 9:13 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I totally hear you on the photos – what to do with all my photos plagues me some. You are probably in a similar situation as I am. I have so many photos of very important experiences and memories, but all the photos from the past seven years include him. If I were to just throw these photos out, it’d be like throwing out the past seven years of my memories. And that’s not fair – they were mine, and they got me here. Until I’m strong enough to properly handle the photos, I’m keeping them in the back of my closet. It comforts me to know they are there (and that I didn’t throw them away in a hasty decision), and I will address them when I can.

      As far as an outlet, I do feel very lucky to have this forum to discuss how I’m feeling. But, it’s not without flaws. I mean just the other day, someone suggested that since I was still sad (because of this post), maybe that meant my ex and I were meant to be and we should get back together. I don’t believe that to be true. I can be sad and miss him, but still know this is right. I still know I want and deserve better … and he’s not right for me. Sure, I still have hard times. But I would never have had to have that conversation if it weren’t for this blog – those thoughts would just be in my head. BUT – I’ll take this blog over the alternative any day. It’s been so integral in my healing.

      You are right about the year anniversary… something about it has left me uneasy. But, it’s just another day… and I have to be more positive and affirm to myself that I am doing well. And I’m only going to do better as time goes by.

      I’m thinking about you through your cleaning (purging), and know that you are so strong that you’ll be fine. You are my role model! And, if you ever need an outlet, you are welcome to write a guest post here. You can stay completely anonymous 🙂

  12. April 11, 2011 7:49 pm

    Sometimes a good, healthy cry is exactly that: healthy. As far as getting over your ex, I can’t possibly give you any sort of indication on a timeline, based on my guest post last week. Even when you think you’re completely over him, I’m sure he’ll come creeping back into your mind someday when you least expect it.

    What if you did call him? Maybe that wouldn’t be the end of the world…

    • April 12, 2011 9:23 pm

      Ugh… the ever present question of, “What if you did call him?” It’s a slippery slope. I want to call him, and talk with him and see how he’s doing. I want to tell him all about my dad. But I don’t want the sadness of when we get off the phone, and I don’t know if I’ll talk to him again. And the sadness knowing that we won’t be together again – I really can’t fool myself to think it’ll work. It won’t. So it just prolongs things, talking with him. I can’t really explain it that well. One of the things that’s made me sad lately is what I told my mom last night. Her and my dad divorced when I was six. I said, in a way, you were lucky you had children together. You have that common bond that will keep just a piece of your love alive. You will always know how Dad is doing, through us (the same way you found out about your ex’s new marriage through your kids). So you are kept informed. And, in a small way, you stay part of your ex’s life. There is nothing tying me and my ex together anymore. There’s no reason for us to talk. All loose ends have been tied. No more excuses to call. It’s really and truly over. And that’s really hard to take, considering I was planning on spending my life with this person. I just can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that I may never see or talk to him again. I don’t know why it’s so hard. I almost wish we had something that could help me stay up to date on his life – his health, his parents, etc. I just feel really disconnected.
      Anyway… I appreciate your comment. I really did empathize with your post last week. It’s nice to know you can be over someone and they can still creep back into your mind. Makes me feel less stunted in recovering from this … maybe this is all normal. And I think you are right on the cry – I felt much better after. It’s probably something I needed.

      • April 13, 2011 3:59 pm

        The ironic thing is, I wish we didn’t have that bond tying us together. I’m not wishing away my kids, of course not!, but it’s kind of a pain that she and I will still need to be in each other’s lives, to a small extent, at least until the kids are grown and living on their own. If I wanted to move to New York tomorrow, for instance, I could not. My freedom is limited because I would have to clear it with her and there would be child custody ramifications galore. I’ve often wished I could just sever all ties. But, that’s just me.

        • April 18, 2011 8:52 pm

          Mark, it’s interesting to see your perspective on this – thank you very much. Helps me appreciate my situation a bit more… while part of me wants what you have in a weird, almost sick way, I realize that in the end, I’m probably much better off. Thank you 🙂

  13. April 11, 2011 9:41 pm

    I send your dad prayers and will keep him in my thoughts. Your line “The good memories are the ones that haunt me now, not the bad,” resonated with me. I feel like this every day and I too wonder when I will ever be able to move on. I want to, but I feel stuck. Thank you for this post and for being courageous enough to share your hard times as well as your good! 🙂

    • April 12, 2011 9:26 pm

      Thanks for keeping my dad in your prayers. I really appreciate that. It’s funny you said that line resonated with you. I almost deleted the whole paragraph when I was editing myself and trying to get the post shorter. But that line, for some reason, felt so true that I simply couldn’t delete it. I’m glad it resonated with you too. I appreciate your comment!

  14. April 11, 2011 10:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. Let me just say (and from the earlier comments Im sure it’s already clear): you are definitely not alone.
    Im so sorry to hear about your dad, but the prognosis sounds positive and I’m sure the radiation therapy will be a huge success!
    As for the trip down memory lane, dont beat yourself up, it happens to all of us. I had a similar experience last weekend. I went to a ball and a song was played which I havent heard since I was with him, it was a song by an artist who I was listening to a lot during that time, so it just reminded me of him. And then somehow throughout the weekend, there were more and more reminders. It’s been over 2 years since we broke up, I still have those moments but its the first time its happened in months and I definitely find they occur less regularly now. Also, I dont seem to get as sad or if I do, it doesnt last that long.
    Chin up! It does get better. Remember, you make the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time. Have faith in yourself 🙂

    • April 12, 2011 9:30 pm

      I appreciate your comment and your sharing your experience. It’s good to hear that while it may take a while for this to go away completely (and that there may be some moments that remind me of him, like your experience) they will be fewer and less intense. I have experienced that, and I’m looking forward to a time that I’ll go months without one – right now I’m only about to go about a couple of weeks before I have a weak moment. On faith in myself — that’s something I’ve been working on all year. I’ve always been one to doubt my decisions, but I need to learn more faith and trust in myself. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  15. ACommenttoMake permalink
    April 11, 2011 11:28 pm

    My friend made me read this, and I almost wish she hadnt. She thought I could relate. And she was right. It’s interesting, too, that even in the midst of really serious things (you know, like your dad having cancer…) We can still have those moments….And I find myself (now, more than ever) asking myself the same questions: When is he going to go away? How do I remove him from my thoughts? Will I ever be healed?

    And then the disclaimer topped the cookie for me! Metaphorically, the journey to healing is an emotional car ride….sometimes a little longer than an hour.

    • April 12, 2011 9:32 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by and reading/commenting. I’m sorry too, that you can relate. I’d rather you couldn’t. But I find solace that there is someone else out there that feels the same way. I like the metaphor you made from this about the car ride – I guess I didn’t quite go that far (I’m not the best with metaphors!), but it really does work. Wish I’d thought of it myself 😉
      Take care of yourself… it’ll get better. Has to, right?

  16. BeneathTheSpinLight permalink
    April 12, 2011 12:49 am

    It’s funny, long drives with my loud music is the only time I can quiet my thoughts.
    I’m having a lot of trouble getting rid of The Boy From Last Semester, references of him seem to sprout from the ground these days. A lot of accidentally driving past his apartment, where I spent so much time for two months, people who don’t know our past talking about how successful he is. I’m wondering when he’ll stop coming around. Somehow, though I know this sounds crazy, I realized I’m leaving this state and moving across the country to escape my memories of him. Who knew he would change my life in such a way?
    I’m glad your moments of weakness have made you stronger in the end. You’re such an amazing person Catherine!
    I’m glad the waterproof mascara helped hide your tears from your Dad. When my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer he told me all he wanted from me was positive support. He’s doing much better now and I’m sure your Dad will be fine as well! The word “cancer” invokes fear in everyone, and rightly so, but there are a lot of quiet success stories out there. Your Dad will be one of them.

    • April 12, 2011 9:40 pm

      That is funny – on this ride, I put on happy music, talk radio, anything – nothing stopped the tears. They just wanted to come no matter what. The main thing that quiets my thoughts is watching TV – as bad as that is!
      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a rough time getting rid of The Boy From Last Semester. It’s amazing how certain people can stick with you in that way. Two months, seven years… either way, the memories and the sadness can eat away at you. And trust me, I feel you on moving away. Many times I’ve dreamed about leaving this area and starting fresh, where no one knows me or my ex, but I just love being so close to my family so much and I enjoy my job, so I’m not ready for such a change. While you may never have expected someone you only knew for a few months would alter your life in such a way, isn’t it a little.. exciting? Maybe that’s not the right word. But the fact that this person changed your life in this way is so full of opportunities for a more positive experience. Think about how meeting the right person for you will change your life. It’s exciting and overwhelming to think about all the same.
      Thanks for sharing about your dad (and I’m so happy he’s doing well!). I am glad my father didn’t see me that way too. It’s the last thing he needs. I just want to be supportive and loving. Your comment is a good reminder of that.
      Thank you!

      • BeneathTheSpinLight permalink
        April 13, 2011 12:42 am

        It is a little exciting. It’s a little more exhilarating. Refreshing. Promising. Most of all, at this particular moment in time, I think it’s petrifying. I had so many wonderful experiences with him for the two months he was in my life, every memory of him is happy… until the last memory. And that last memory, the parting of ways, that’s the one that altered my life.
        I know a lot of my lifestyle is influenced by my slightly pessimistic (I prefer “realist”) attitude toward life and the discouraging things that have happened so far in my adult life. It’s so hard to see past the negative sometimes that I dig myself deeper into everything, trying to dig so deep that I come out on the other side. Sometimes I find the motivation to shift my perspective and then when I’m picking up the pieces I get blindsided again. It feels that way at least.
        I love your positive outlook though, I admire your attitude so much! Hopefully one day it’ll rub off on me. 🙂

  17. April 12, 2011 10:27 am

    My heart goes out to you. You mention it has been almost a year, but, again, it’s only been a year! You’ve come so far, and done so much. I think it’s OK, if not healthy, to fully grieve everything.

    My dad said to me a few weeks ago, “Look how much your life has changed in a year,” as tears streamed down my face. A year ago I was planning a wedding with my boyfriend of 5 years, living in the house we made our home, had the job I wanted, etc. “It’s OK to feel the way you do,” he added. I think we need to cut ourselves some slack here. You’re dealing with a lot and doing it with class.

    Thank you for this post. I wish you and your dad/family all the best.

    • April 12, 2011 9:44 pm

      Thanks, KD. Your comments always warm my heart, especially considering all you’ve been through too. And I consider you to be so very strong. You are right – there’s nothing wrong with cutting ourselves some slack. We’d worked with the cards we’ve been dealt… and I think we’ve both done pretty well for ourselves. Let’s both take your dad’s advice. I mean, for me especially, beating myself up isn’t making a positive difference either. I’m sending (always) good thoughts your way too. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you!

  18. April 12, 2011 8:58 pm

    I knew you had strength, but this just further verifies that. We all break down and feel like we need a good cry. Hell. I consider you lucky because, in all honesty, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had a good cry…and there have been times where I have felt the need to just fall apart.

    It’s easier to say don’t look back to the past and go through the “what if’s” than to actually not do it. And though some memories may hurt while others heal just remember that all of it. Every good and bad and neutral thing you’ve had happen in life, or just in the last year, has made you this present day Catherine.

    And she’s pretty damn awesome.

    • April 12, 2011 9:48 pm

      Aww, thanks Matthew. That means so much to me. I am proud of who I’ve become. I certainly like myself a whole lot better than I did a year ago. I’m a much more resilient person than I ever knew. I’m a better friend now, a better daughter, a better writer… I’m doing things that make myself happy. I really have improved myself, and I like the “present day Catherine,” as you say, way better than the old Catherine. Thanks for the reminder of that.

      And don’t worry about not crying in a long time. I cried enough for both of us :). But if you ever really need a good cry, I have some suggestions. Movies, books, best Oprah episodes… we’ll get a tear outta ya. Haha 🙂

  19. April 13, 2011 1:57 pm

    Wow, Catherine, it takes honesty and courage to write a post like this. I’m very sorry to hear about your dad’s health scare, and I’m sending prayers that he recovers quickly.

    It’s hard to see what happens when our parents become vulnerable. It’s such a paradigm shift, because, even as adults, we still see them as invincible. So much progress has been made with cancer research. My fingers are crossed you’ll all see a happy ending to this story.

    • April 18, 2011 8:49 pm

      Thank you, Maura. That means a lot to me. You are right about how we feel about our parents. It’s very strange for the dynamic to shift, and then eventually we have to take care of them. Part of me always thinks my parents are going to be around to care for me, you know? I appreciate your kind words about my dad, I’ve got my fingers crossed too. My mom’s always going through a scare of her own (we found out late last week), so it’s a bit of a double whammy on me. But I’m trying to be positive and tell myself that all will be OK, with both of them.

  20. April 13, 2011 7:33 pm

    Sometimes you think it’s all better and the next day the emotions and memories come back full force as if no time has ever gone by. I always find myself to be much better after I’ve cried it all out.

    It’s a hard road isn’t it?

    • April 18, 2011 8:53 pm

      It’s harder than I thought it would be, that’s for sure. But I have to stop feeling like a failure when I get upset, because you are right, it does feel better once I’ve cried it all out. So what’s a few (hundred) tears? Maybe I should learn to embrace them a little more 🙂

  21. April 16, 2011 11:23 pm

    Rumors have been swirling at work that my boss is getting rid of our insurance. This at a time when I found a lump in my breast. I decided that if I had no insurance and the lump turned out to be malignant, that I’d just give up. Too old to have my own family, too young to die.

    I know it sounds dramatic but I’ve been under a bit of stress lately. I haven’t written on my blog for such a long time because I’ve got so many hostile things going on that I just can’t share them without everyone thinking I’m a complete nut job.

    The lump turned out to be a cluster of 6 to 8 cysts, so no cancer. But I understand the large number of stresses we have and the emotional toll it takes on each one of us. Family is amazing and important; they know who we are and love us anyway. We really need to be more gentle with ourselves.

    • April 18, 2011 7:43 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through. That sounds really scary, especially with the fact you faced possibly having no insurance. Trust me, I’m no stranger to overly dramatic thoughts (ie, my dad’s never going to be able to walk me down the aisle and other such thoughts). It’s so hard when you feel certain things, but you are aware enough to know that you sound crazy, but it doesn’t make you feel any different. I’m so glad that you are going to be OK – and I really hope your other stressors get better too. You are so right that we need to be more gentle with ourselves… I also think that we need to take care of ourselves like we would someone else. You deserve the best, and you have to be sure to take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. For me, writing helps – but I really hope that you find something that makes you feel better. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way 🙂

  22. May 9, 2011 8:13 pm

    I broke up with my boyfriend of three years last week. It’s been a slow but inevitable demise. Right now, I’m mostly relieved and excited about all the new adventures life has to offer. However, we spent every single day (for the most part) of the last three years together. So, I know that when it does hit me, when I’m doing dishes or reading alone in bed or craving our favorite cuisine, I’m going to go into meltdown-mode.

    Reading this post helped me to remember: It’s going to be okay. I absolutely AM going to cry, I AM going to hurt. But it’s okay. I can feel sad, I can miss him…and it will be okay. The sadness WILL go away.

    If I keep focusing on the positive, reading your blog and enjoying life, it’s going to be okay. So thank you so much for writing this. Thank you so much for helping me remember that my fear of loneliness & being sad/scared/sappy is not enough to keep me in an imperfect relationship (not that any relationship is “perfect” but this one was more “imperfect” than good).

    • May 17, 2011 9:25 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your breakup. You sound like you are in a really good place though. You really are going to be OK. I promise. There will be moments when it doesn’t feel like it, but those moments will pass. Just give it time. And it’s totally OK if you miss him. I still miss my ex some days. It doesn’t mean that I made the wrong decision or I’ll never be happy – it just means I spent so long with him and I miss him. It’s normal. And you will go through this too. But you’ll survive in the end :).
      Thanks so much for reading my blog and I’m sending positive thoughts your way.

      • May 20, 2011 3:54 pm

        Thanks, Catherine! I have a question for you. On the REALLY bad days, when nobody else is around to stop you and there isn’t work/school/friends/family to distract you, how do you keep from calling or texting him? What’s your advice for actions/conduct to get through the bad days?

        • June 1, 2011 11:32 pm

          Sorry for my delay on this, I’ve been out of the loop a bit. My advice would be to find a friend that you can call when the urge to call him gets overwhelming. My favorite breakup book, “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” suggested that you have someone to call instead. Instead of him. And then when you call that person, you just say, “I’m calling you instead.” If that’s not doable, you have to do something productive instead of sitting around and just thinking about it. Someone on this blog gave me the advice that I can allow myself a certain amount of time a day to be sad… say, 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, I can cry, scream, do whatever I want. But when they are over, I have to move on. Watch a movie. Write. Read a book. Cook a lavish meal. Anything that will keep my mind busy and my heart preoccupied. It will get easier as time goes on. But you will have slip ups. Don’t beat yourself up. If you make yourself feel like a failure because you called him when you really didn’t want to, you’ll end up in this self hating spiral. Then you’ll be sadder. And call him more. If you mess up, move on. Do better the next time. But do everything in your power to find new interests, hobbies, rediscover old passions (mine was writing – which is where this blog comes in). And remind yourself, always, that “this too will pass.”


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