Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Confessing" Too Much

What I'm about to type will not surprise you.  In fact, after you read it, many of you will be saying, "Well, duh, Catherine.  You didn't see this coming?"

Nope.  I didn't.

I'm going to use that dreaded word should - you know, the one my therapist keeps telling me I need to abandon.  But I should have seen this coming.  I should have known better.  I should be more prepared for this kind of stuff.

But I'm not.

The last few weeks have been kind of hard.  No, wait.  They've been extremely hard.  I don't think I've had a stretch this tough since Brad's been gone.  And you guys have seen me through some rough moments.  So that's saying something.

This should be a time I'm enjoying.  I should have my shit together.  This should be a celebratory moment in my life because I've worked so hard to get here.

Okay. Enough of that.


January 7, 2014.  That's the day I've had circled on my calendar for over a year - the publication date of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow and the day I felt sure my life would change.  This last Christmas passed by in a blur.  New Year's was a non-event.  It was all just a lead up to January 7th because it was a day I worked pretty damn hard for.

And it was great.  The book launch was well attended and we sold out of books.  The days passed as I heard from more and more readers who truly seemed to like the story. 

"I know now I'm not the only one who goes through all of this stuff."

"I feel less alone."

"I cried on one page and laughed on the next."

Every review and response I received was exactly what I'd dreamed of.  People got it!  They understood what I was saying!  They felt like reading the book was like talking to a new friend - one who really understood them.  If I could have listed my goals with this book...those responses were it.

"Enjoy the moment!"  I kept telling myself.  "Soak it all in!  This is your time!"   More book signings and speaking engagements, emails and congratulations.  Everything that I had been looking forward to for years was finally happening.

Never once did I allow myself to feel sad or overwhelmed, never acknowledging that while getting a book published is a wonderful doesn't have to make me happy all of the time and that this is somewhat of a heavy load to carry alone.  Any time I felt those negative emotions creeping in, I'd tell myself, "A ton of people would give anything to be where you are now.  What the hell do you have to feel bad about?"

And then my body basically just stopped and said, "I'm sorry.  I can't take this anymore.  Your lack of self-awareness is pissing me off."

And no one was more surprised than I was.


I know, I know.  I should have seen it coming.  But the thing is, I don't feel like I was moving at a break-neck pace.  I didn't feel like I was constantly on the go or physically exhausting myself.  The problem is...I don't think I took into account the mental burden I was carrying.  That I had looked forward to this moment so much and it was finally here was one thing.  That I felt like I needed to be "on" all of time, responsive and there for everyone was another.  And, let's be honest, that I was telling my story again, over and over in such a public way, has probably had something to do with it - even though I thought I'd gotten past the point of that bothering me anymore.

I've started feeling uncontrollably dizzy - like I have vertigo.  This has lead to nausea which has then lead to panicked breathing and more dizziness.  The best way I can explain it is that my body goes into "fight or flight" mode, which then leaves me completely exhausted.  I think my anxiety has been building, even though I've done my best to roll my eyes at it and tell it, "I don't have time for you right now" - and now it visits me in a way that can't be ignored.

For someone who has always been a people person and loves going out and having a good time - this has been a terrifying and somewhat life-stopping experience. 


I am now, I hope, in what I consider recovery mode.  Back in therapy (which I was foolish to give up).  Making doctor's appointments with people who I'm hoping will help me work the physical part of this problem out.  Actually saying no on occasion and not feeling guilty about it.  Not checking my email at 10:00 at night.

This last week, I basically turned myself off.  Because I really had no choice.

Here's the thing.  There are so many people out there who talk about writing their story but, to be honest, very few people actually do it.  There is a reason for that.  

It's HARD.  

I've had many people ask me if writing Confessions was therapeutic.  And you know what?  It really wasn't.  It was difficult in every sense of the word.  What was therapeutic about it was that I created something that I wanted when Brad died.  And that is what has helped me.  It wasn't the writing, but the purpose behind it.

But sometimes I wonder if I focused so much on how this book could help others, I didn't take into account what it was doing to me.  And as we all know, when your mind won't acknowledge something, your body will take over in a way that can't be ignored.  And so all of that "I should be enjoying this" and "I don't have time to feel bad" has lead up to this point in my life.

And now I have no choice but to feel it all.


  1. Wise words, dear Catherine ~ and bless you for sharing them with all of us. Writing a book is very hard work, and most people do not realize how hard it is ~ in all of its aspects (including marketing and selling what you write). It does not make you rich, and most people don't realize that, either. I think that when you put your heart and soul into a project such as this one, there can be a tremendous letdown afterward, as it may not be nearly as wonderful or as exciting as you had expected it to be. Good for you for getting yourself back with your therapist and checking in with your physician. This post is in the very same vein as your book: completely honest and very, very brave. You're still keeping it real, and for that you have my deepest admiration and respect. ♥

  2. I have tried to keep up a journal, writing down my thoughts and emotions as time passes. In fact, I have thought about writing a post for your blog. It helps to write it down but it also reopens everything up again. I can't imagine how much came to the surface for you with actually publishing your book, meeting people, talking about your story over and over again. Thank you, as always for sharing your story and experiences. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and give yourself a break. Relax, breathe and heal.

  3. I have wondered if having the book be such a success would bring on feelings of guilt....unearned guilt, but guilt just the same because there would be no book if you husband hadn't died. I hope I'm saying that right and you know what I mean.

  4. Dearest Catherine. I am so sorry you are feeling this way but yes it is understandable. Take time out and listen to your body. Rest, mourn some more, breathe and be kind to you. You HAVE done a wonderful thing and it has helped so many people but now is time to help you. Thank you for all your efforts and now you may rest. Hugs S xxx

  5. It is funny how sometimes even a good thing can get you. I think we all have less of a capacity for... I am not sure how to word maybe upheaval, then we used to have. Even under the best of times we don't deal well, with the cage being rattled

  6. I'm of the mind that anything that happens anymore, be it good or bad, causes an emotional shift in mind and body. Not to say it didn't happen before Joe died - but it's different now. There's an undercurrent now that wasn't there before. I'm glad you talked about it. Wishing you comfort, and well needed down time - Marsha

  7. Perhaps the reason you’re feeling down is not due to all of the hard work you have put into the book, and not due to the feeling of having to be “on” all of the time and responsive and “there” for everyone. Perhaps you’re feeling down because you have achieved success at something very important to you but Brad is not there to share it with you, admire you for it, and congratulate you. Just like all of the special moments of his children growing up that he has missed sharing with you, this is your big moment that he has missed. The one person whose love and admiration is the most meaningful to you above all others is still gone, and your achievement is a painful reminder that your life continues to move forward without him. Rest and grieve for now. But know that he’s smiling down at you, applauding you, and that you will stand tall again. You’ve made him proud.

  8. Dear Catherine, I am so glad you are taking a long and much deserved break, seeing your therapist and getting your body back. I admire your writing your book. I have several author friends and over the years I have watched what they go through to get a novel or a self-help or historical book to market. I see them not making money after all their work. I also see them writing because they have something to say...just as you do. But by watching them closely, reading their manuscripts, seeing so much of the process...I have kept postponing "the book" writing since my husband died. I know i have something to say and that it would help others but I also know I am not up to what I would have to go through. Your post today helped seal the deal for me at least for a while..a long while. So thanks for your honesty and please, please continue to take care of you. The book is out there and it is great and it will help others. You did time for you and congratulations for doing it and for now taking care of you.

  9. I believe everyone in the widowchick world wants nothing but the best for you and wants you to take care of yourself. You have been fearless and honest and an encouragement for all of us. Now the caregiver much take care of herself. I work in healthcare and daily I tell the family members of my patients how important it is to care for themselves. Your children and other family need you, and when you are ready, we would like to have you back. As we often tell new widows ... be kind to yourself. {{ hugs}}

  10. Thank you all for your kinds words of support! I know we all have these down times and just need to take a breath. I feel like I'm slowly, but surely getting back on my feet.

    Much love,

  11. Catherine, You said yourself that everyone will grieve differently. The creation of your book is your manifestation of your grief and it is a beautiful thing. It is the one big rose that bloomed in the thicket of that thorny prickly rose bush. We take vacations from our grief to get things accomplished but when we come bakc, the grief is still there. Perhaps that is what you are going through. Similarly, I have moved 6 times since the year my husband died, in 2005. And i started a bussiness, closed it, and started another . Infact I have never been so damn productive in all my life. But the grief is still there. It goes away for awhile but it never goes away totally like I would wish it could. This is something we widows need to face isn't it ? I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me of the irony of life, and for helping me laugh again, and for showing me that it is O.K to laugh.

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