Yes, I’m still here, and thankful to be so.

It’s been hard to write. My thoughts are so scattered, and most of my energy has been poured into coping strategies for managing this upended world in which we find ourselves. Like so many of you, I am sheltering-in-place at home, working remotely, going out only to shop for groceries once a week or so.

I am an introvert so being alone is normally my comfort zone, but this. This is more than a respite for introverts. This is isolation, and it’s hard. Yes, as an introvert, I have always needed downtime, alone-time, to recharge my batteries, but this prolonged isolation is unbalanced, unhealthy. So, while we have been physically distanced, I have strived to remain socially connected with texts, phone calls, video chats, and 6-foot conversations in the neighborhood or on the local walking trail. Still, it’s not enough.

If routine was important to me before, and it was, routine has now been elevated to ritual. I am growing concerned about how structure can too easily become stricture, but for now, I need it. I need it to stay sane.

Regression. There’s been some of that, too. This is an emotional landscape that I am familiar with but had moved on from; the anxiety of leaving the house, the panicky feeling pulling out the neighborhood, the flight response at the store.

I’ve had some more grief dreams. They seem to crop up more when I’m not intentional about processing feelings on the regular.

In one dream, Paul and I were in our “home town” where we lived for twelve years, but we were leaving. We said we would visit on weekends and during the summer. When I woke, I was disoriented. Then, I thought, “Oh, that’s right. I’m by myself now. We’ll never go back there together.”

One day, I fell asleep on the couch. As I was waking, I heard Paul on the stairs. I called out to him, “Honey, will you get my eye drops, please?” Yeah. I actually said it out loud before I caught myself.

I’ve had anxiety dreams, too, where the roof is leaking or I’m chasing fire. Yes, chasing flames and trying to catch them in my hands, but they keep slipping through my fingers. I keep trying to grab them, but I can’t.

I’m also having recurring dreams about the television show Lost, particularly the portion of the show where we are introduced to the character, Desmond, who lives alone in the underground bunker, the guy who has to push a button every so many hours or something terrible happens.

BUT! There has also been progress. Check this out!

Yep! I’ve been able to focus on healthy food habits; shopping, eating…and cooking! As in cooking just for me. This.is.huge. For the first time since Paul died, I can honestly say that I am doing a good job of taking care of myself. This feels like a major shift for me. It feels like I’ve moved past something, not like anything is behind me, but more like I’ve cleared an important hurdle.

So, now what? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Probably because the isolation of being home alone and physically distanced from others has been extreme. I can clearly see now that I am so very capable of managing on my own and could do so for as long as I want…but is that what I want? Ohhh, now there’s a question! It’s the first time it’s even occurred to me to ask myself if that’s what I want, and if that’s not what I want, if I don’t want to be on my own, what then?

As usual, I have no idea what comes next, but I am so grateful for how far I’ve come in this grief and healing process. Making gratitude a continuous practice and staying focused on connecting, learning, and growing have made all the difference. Despite all the uncertainty in the world right now, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m going to be ok. Come what may. I’m going to be ok.

Here’s our quarantine, porch picture for posterity; surrounded by my fur-children, my constant companions, badly in need of a day at the salon, no make up. Just me. Smiling and grateful for the Lord’s provision, for the struggles that have made me stronger, and looking forward to what’s next.

Be safe and stay well, my friends, Malia

9 thoughts on “Yes, I’m still here, and thankful to be so.

  1. Laura Ward

    Beautiful & that’s the most I’ve seen in fridge & freezer in a longtime!
    You’re going to be better than just okay; you are going to thrive!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Steve

    Have you always had pets? Some have told me that a cat or dog would be good for me but i have never been a pet person. The turmoil of emotions seem like a pet would be more than I can handle.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. maliadunn

    Soooo, yes, I have always had pets. And, yes, sometimes grieving people find that a pet is helpful for lots of reasons. First, the company. Pets make good companions. Second, pets have a therapeutic effect on most people; reducing heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, calming anxiety. Third, it also gives people a purpose, something to focus on outside of themselves. An added benefit is that people who have pets, in general, get more exercise and get outdoors more frequently. Finally, pets are often comic distraction. My girls keep me in stitches most of the time. They are a laugh riot. All that being said, some grievers find that the responsibility of a pet is “too much”. The yellow dog in the photo is a perfect example of that. Her owner passed away, and the owner’s partner just could not manage her so she came to live with me. So, then, how do you figure out if a pet is right for you? Maybe offer to pet sit for a friend or family member and try it out, a weekend should be enough for you to tell if it’s something that you think will be beneficial to both you and an animal. I personally believe that anyone who gets a pet should be thinking more about how they will contribute to the animal’s life and care than vice versa. But that’s me. Hope that was helpful. Probably more than you bargained for, ha! Be well, Malia

    Like

  4. Erika

    Your photo is beautifully authentic and contains the natural cheer you possess. Your stockpile of real food and not just carrots is a suite I am grateful for.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandra Redfearn

    Such an uplifting message. Painful process but such comfort in knowing that we had strength and skills that I didn’t really consider before. So thankful for God’s abundant grace and love ! Wishing you good health and special blessings!

    On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 3:01 PM Party of One, or Life after Death wrote:

    > maliadunn posted: ” It’s been hard to write. My thoughts are so scattered, > and most of my energy has been poured into coping strategies for managing > this upended world in which we find ourselves. Like so many of you, I am > sheltering-in-place at home, working remotely, going” >

    Liked by 1 person

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