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    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2015 edited
    Five days ago I was bobbing around the bathtub drain like I said and then I wasn't and then I was yesterday for a while and today I feel fine again. I don't normally chart the daily blips and valleys and said I don't pay attention to moods and that is why. My moods are like walking a dog off the leash - all over the place and full of non-objective energy. And when that 40lb lug charges at me full tilt, I open my arms and let it because, hey, it's all me. I just watch where I'm going.

    In the same way you can see the second hand sweep around but can't ever see the hour hand move, you can't see the daily and monthly and yearly move either - but, they are obviously and not obviously moving all the time.

    If I was in charge I would have every six year old plant a seedling because I don't care how dead you are to the world, as that thing grows and you pass it once in while, that child growing up gets something whether they ever care or not.

    If someone asked me to describe this experience in a single word I would say it was brutal. I might be saying that to someone who nods knowing what brutal is because their iphone stopped working that morning. That doesn't matter because it only matters that I see and know what I think has happened to me. And as I've said, I think Alzheimer's ends for them when they die, but it continues in us until we heal from it.

    That means the delightful experience of trying to identify my real feelings about my wife and what happened to us, from the still present conditions it caused in me. I clearly developed anxiety of some kind which I still have. I can't tell whether I have depression or I just sigh for a living.

    I'm not re-opening the insane asylum (on resident thread), but I do live by a single 'headline' and it's my job to see to it that I'm tackling all things in that single sense. I need to get better and there isn't any part of me that resists the idea that I still have issues from what I've been through for ten years. That means if I don't protect myself and work with this, then no one is and that is not happening.

    Joan got some help from a therapist. I've consistently said that's what we all need. I know that I watch my markers for that very reason because if I can't see actual progress, then I'm going to find some therapy from a professional. I'm not stupid and this stuff is so real that depression alone without any other condition can take a person out for years. I've watched that and know it's true.

    What are those markers? I don't hesitate to go out. I used to. The world doesn't feel alien. It used to. I know what I'm out of, what bills have cashed, what day it is, when I showered, what's coming up, and I didn't used to. I look out the window and wonder what I will do and answers come. They didn't used to. I get disappointed and I know I will over-react and learn to shrug. None of that was there. I feel confidence in myself and I feel strong and I'm ready to do battle and I can tell you the things that happened that cause me to know that. Like an hour hand and a monthly hand on the clock they never move and they're always moving. Talk to me about how to know what's going on with us when we don't have objective markers because I don't see it. I don't like swimming with my eyes closed.

    Dianne didn't have a single religious bone in her body, not for a single minute in the 46 years I knew her. But we're not in her beliefs. We're in mine. And in mine I talk to her (marker here is that doesn't get weird) and I don't get reminded she's passed by anything anymore because I've integrated her just like I did with mom and dad. That's my life now and just yesterday I played the one song I could never play and when I did I called out "this is for you dood" because it was and I didn't have a reaction to hearing it other than that I'm getting better.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2015

    I'm not a subscriber to the tragic hero figure. The tragic hero is too self absorbed by half. I have been damaged by AD and that is the living reality because I am the one alive. We were both brutalized by AD but that is over. I wish this hadn't happened and that she was here with me and I'm incredibly sorry she's gone. Those stay and are respected. Everything else is garbage and along with her clothes and personal things, I'm busy throwing them out.

    I don't accept when I'm anxious about something. I kick in that I have anxiety and try and take charge of what the situation really is. If I don't have some kind of plan of how I action my words, then they remain words and are no help to me when I need it. I'm going to have to go for months and look back and see I haven't really over reacted to much for a while. Then I'll let anxiety be what it is. Not before.

    We go to school to learn. We take job training to learn. We consult professionals to learn. We join similar groups to learn. We read to learn. But somehow that never applies to being happier. After all just because it works EVERYWHERE else doesn't mean anything. I'll tell you what it means. The average person is crazy and what that means is that you're perfectly normal.

    I get to do whatever I want within the limits of my reality and I need to learn to value that and give myself time to get this gunk off me I earned for her. You can think of that as a bleak landscape but I don't see that. I want it. I want to be happy and I don't want to waste this life. Helping myself figure that out in time is like a virtuous circle. I didn't just make that up. I've lived it and there isn't anything that will take me off this road.

    That lunch with the boys. They've been double A loud mouths in all the 35 years I've known them and so was I. The answer here isn't that they should defer to my needs in my damaged state now. The answer is that I get out of my damaged state and rejoin them where I belong. Which means that for the 253rd time since April 1 when my mind shouts "hey they hurt me!", I tell it once again that's a dead end and not where we're going. Suck it up batman because we're going over here.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2015
    The levels of mutual dishonesty in normal life are breathtaking at times. People aren't lying left right and center, they're accomodating their comfort zones. Comfort zones aren't a phrase; they're what everyone spends time in. 'Normally'.

    An example is the person who doesn't demand from those around him anything he doesn't demand of himself. Which many nod as reasonable - whereas it's free license to push others around because they're pushers. No relaxing! I'm not good at that!

    Or the person who always complains how their 'other' is dominating them and if they leave replace them with another dominant person.

    In that same way I'm dishonest when I say I want more contact when what is ripping my lungs out is how much I need and want the intimacy I had. The chatter while both live their lives entwined without restraint, all by itself, is priceless to me.

    In that same way I'm dishonest when I don't admit that that's the thing I want more than anything. Without reference to anything else; that I want to be part of an all-in partnership where you get to be witty and funny and thoughtful and kind because it does something to your gut when you see your other half smiling and where you're other half feels and acts pretty similarly - however the nuances of whatever notes are played suits either.

    You can't fake that. You build it up and prove it out together and get water under the bridge before that becomes something real. Falling in love is different. Nobody sees anything straight when they fall in love anyways because the chemistry in both bodies has changed like an electric wire that jolts whatever it wants with wonderfullness. If I actually feel that with anyone, and it's mutual, I'm going for it in the same way I went after Dianne.

    On this thread which is exculsively about afterwards, I'm not pulling many punches or wasting time explaining things anyone reading has a degree in.

    So, the truth of the core of what gnaws at me is that I have lost the intimacy I deeply need. And that truth goes back to high school where I know I'm the marrying kind and I was going to be marrying someone. I didn't think that way but it's the truth.

    Here's another truth. Clinical damage isn't a frigging phrase. Even I can't stay aware that I spend much of my time in some way in the movie 'People Don't Want To Spend Time With Me' even while I spend that same time in the fact that I don't really want to spend time with them. I realized that two days ago. In fact I woke up early and I went to the computer and recorded it the quickest way I knew how. I sent myself an email and went back to bed. In the morning I fed the cats, got coffee, and knew I had a thing I realized - and couldn't no matter how much I demanded it - remember what it was.

    I know this game. You never look directly because you change it. And there it is in the email. That truth that is now going to help me. I spend all my time wondering why people don't help me (in numerous indirect ways) and unseen, the truth is I don't actually want to spend time with the real people I know - I want to spend time in intimacy again. The thing I deeply need and have lost. Why don't they provide it??

    I'm deflecting the pain. And I need that so strongly I can hardly keep these truths connected and in my mind. Why do I so often use the word 'fight'. Because that's what this is.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2015

    Knowing how I really feel has got to be valuable even if I have to fight myself to see. I'm in safe hands because I'm not hung up that doing what's best for me within myself is wrong in some unexplainable way. The truth is that we're SUPPOSED to be ourselves.

    I already have things parked I'm not dealing with right now. You can find them under the RAW file. But I'm owning this. I don't want to pretend it's everyone I know's fault that they can't give me what I miss so very much

    But I need to own this now and learn to live in it. I need to graduate from the transfering where I've already shown I will react because of what doesn't exist, except in my own clinical damage. That's what that is. I want to heal this part now which would be one step in living more healthily and living what I believe.

    Yesterday I was thinking about this and opened up to the kinds of things I would like and imagining them. Fantasizing about it. A voice inside said hey, how about some respect for Dianne? She died 66 days ago. But I've done work there too and I shrugged and answered that 'you' dying wasn't my fault and wasn't going to be sucking the joy out of everything going forward because I'm supposed to be fine again. I can't tire of reminding myself of that because I'm the only helper here.

    There are always more levels you see and there are always more veils behind the veils. I'm not killing off the tiny green shoots breaking through the ground while I pretend I'm gardening. Fantasizing about wanting something in life again is fragile stuff after ten years of enduring and denying. Guess what? When it first happens lots of people tromp on them because they're surrounded by painful things.

    It doesn't just take time to grow a garden. It takes work. In this case face my fears and my issues when I can. This post documents a marker I also talk about. I don't spend time with people the way I want to because I'm not ready to engage with new people where I can bluntly see that my old relationships with their limited connections isn't what I mean - so it's definitely going to have to be new people. I refuse to say new people but that's the only thing I mean.

    It's time to start stopping my coping mechanism of transferring things to my old relationships so that I don't have to face the truth that not only am I so lonely I could scream, but that what I mean by that is a thing that takes years to achieve and so at the least is years away from me. Sorry Wolf.

    Now I thought about buying myself a new car. You know, a material substitute for what I can't have. But I gave myself something else instead. You go and be yourself Wolf. Whatever that is. And what that is, is now self evident, if not literal.

    Wolf: "The world is my oyster."
    Me: "No. You're too damaged to go out."
    Wolf: "Hey! Where are the car keys?"
    Me: "Lets have a nice bowl of soup."
    Wolf: "Have you seen my cut-offs?"
    Me: "I'm getting the leash."

    Oh well. It could be worse. I'm not sure how but I'm sure it involves Kevin Bacon.
    Yes, I'm feeling that also, Wolf. Even more now than I did when my husband was just in a facility. The idea of intimacy in the future was just something to wonder and think perhaps I would enjoy again in my next life. I started looking at the spam that comes in my email from the various dating sites and all that does is make me feel the loss even more. I want what we had. Then I think he hasn't been gone that long, I shouldn't be thinking about it yet. But my mood and thoughts change with the weather which changes every five minutes here. Half hour ago it was snowing, then it was just cloudy, now the sun is out for a few minutes before the next big cloud rolls over.
    A new car is fun but usually that is because you have someone to take a drive in it with you. The pleasure would be short lived for me. I did the same thing with a new big tv. But it has the same programs and stupid shows that the old tv had. Which would be fine if Marv were here to watch with me and hold my hand while we watched together.
    I also am "so lonely I could scream"…….but no one is around to hear so why bother?
    Jules and Wolf, I have the same feeling. I think after a good, close, long-term marriage where one breathes out and the other breathes in, we do just miss that kind of relationship beyond words. I think we just have to be kind to ourselves and treat ourselves well…be our own best friend so to speak--at least for the meantime. I don't see anything wrong with making a purchase if it's something you want or need and you can afford it. A new car is fun, and so is a big TV.Maybe there was a trip you always wanted to take, but your spouse didn't want to. Hey, why not? There are lots of ways to take care of ourselves, and I think we should be doing it. (I know I've said it several times, but getting a good, comfortable, full night's sleep still feels like a spa vacation!) I think it's just something we have to get through one day at a time, trying to rise above the foggy, sad, nostalgia and loneliness to try to have some day-to-day quality of life…it can be little things like making ourselves a good dinner, or taking a long walk--maybe reading an interesting book or watching a good DVD. That isn't giving us back the intimacy we've lost, of course. I just ache for all those little moments of everyday life…the comfortable routine…of just being in our home, doing things our way, enjoying the moments--he was way too old for me, of course, but we liked to live the same way, we liked each other, and we used to literally talk for hours. And not just talk…if you know what I mean.
    So how do you live the rest of your life without that person? One day at a time, just trying little by little. Our lost spouses would not want us to be unhappy and drowning in grief forever. I know that new love is a possibility for all of us, but these things take time, and I think in the meantime that taking good care of ourselves for now is probably the best investment we can make toward a happier future.
    I think you are right, Elizabeth.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2015
    I think the best way for me to sum up any future relationships is that I would be lucky to have them and they're theoretical.

    I have far more immediate things in my face right now one of which is somewhere between me having new waves of bad feelings now that feel the worst so far - or, that I'm realizing more how awful my life actually is.

    For better or worse after Dianne went into a home, I sat here by the phone and I visited her. When I started doing that I was honestly in such a deep hole that I can hardly describe it. It's early but I think there may be a second wave, where as we start coming away from closure of the active nightmare and that stops moving and sits in peace for a while, then deeper parts of our protected and shellshocked selves begin looking around more like our old long lost selves - and this might be called the process of what HAS happened beginning to assimilate with our long pushed away selves.

    I know that's a bit convoluted. I'm beginning to see two distinct stages. In simple terms: what IS happening (includes everything up until the funeral and notifications), and then what HAS happened which is the process of assimiliation afterwards. I'm not talking about feelings. I'm talking about what the personality is going through. The very intricate nuance we watched them lose.

    I lived the evidence that the nuanced personality we were increasingly gets buried and hidden, and in my case that was to a large extent. I'm not suprised by that either. We were EOAD and had no children or close family ties. I've written about that day in July 2012 when I felt like myself in a safe place suddenly and in doing so also felt how far away I was from the real me and for how long.

    I need to see whether what appears to be true here actually is. Which is that Wolf is very upset about what his deeper sensibilities are moving back into and it's difficult to describe the mixture of resentment, despondence, saddness, and stunning realism that are like a whole new set of weirdos that are trying to move in.

    Don't forget there is a polarity here as strong as trying to get two same pole magnets together which is that for a long time the field lines were aligned away from you and to them and after they pass the field lines re-align and now they align towards you.

    In a simplistic way the thing you pushed away is coming back. The real you with increasingly normal feelings instead of the real you increasingly pushing normal feelings away. (It's more than feelings but..)

    But just chicken soup for the soul isn't a complete therapy now. That's far too entrenched in victimhood where I was a victim of this frigging tsunami that wrecked everything over ten years. There has to be a rebuilding component that isn't just more pressure to be normal and good luck.

    What's increasingly being hinted at is that I need to start thinking differently. Like in terms of winning.

    Let me point out first how really awful and bad human beings are at this. What do I know about heaven? Well, after six thousand years we've got a gate, some harps, some clouds, and everything is wonderful. What do the romance novels do? They ride off into the sunset together (after the hot whatever they were doing).

    And when you strip it down what is it we're trying to do? Be happier. See the problem? I can drown you in a mountain of philosophy about what life means. I can drown you in self help books none of which help the majority of people who read them. I can even drown you in wiring diagrams and cook books and on and on - but, I cannot point you to a method proven to work to make you feel happier.

    People simply are terrible at this (I'm not just saying it) which is why nobody is able to get past some fuzzy something after six thousand years of trying. You can think every person in all those ages wasn't hoping the whole time to be happier but I'm not buying because it's the same human beings being pumped out in Ur by the Euphrates in Mesopotamia back in Abraham's time as it is in Duluth or anywhere else at this very moment.

    The reason people have trouble figuring out how to feel better is because the second you turn towards it your face pushes up against the boundry of human knowledge. Here's a horse. Ride off into the sunset.


    Ur is Sumerian founded in 3800bc roughly. It was just off the Euphrates river. The Euphrates is one of the rivers bordering the garden of eden (Genesis 3:14). Abraham was born in Ur (Genesis 15:7). The people in Ur were the same whack jobs that live in (pick your city) now. And the rulers of those city states were men, so guess what they did? That's right. They got along so everyone could be happier. No they didn't. They attacked each other and took their stuff. (sigh)
    Wolf, I get it about the waves of bad feelings. This bereavement thing is just not linear. It has surprised me how just when I think I'm doing much better, it comes back and hits me again, harder than ever. Resentment--not so much (because he was so much older, he probably always was going to go first), but...Despondence--check. Sadness--absolutely. Stunning realism--yup, check with red ink. I don't feel pressured to be "normal"--whatever that is--I am pretty much your ordinary, neighborhood person. But the re-building component is a big issue. I feel like those temples in Kathmandu that have crumbled into rubble and have to be re-built from the ground up. They will never be the same, but what are they going to look like? It will take time, and a lot of work, thought, and creativity to re-build those temples, just as it will to re-build myself.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2015
    I agree Elizabeth, but notice they are generally setbacks going forward and I'm fine with such a reality.

    The ownership of going forward is mine. Which is why I'm back pushing the rock uphill again today. I notice we don't advise anyone in normal life to wait until things happen to them. What we advise instead is that if you want something in life, you have to work towards it.

    I saw this morning that my abused cat came up after breakfast for a pat even though the other cat was already here. I watched her because normally she will react to the other cat more than she will go for what she wants. Not today. Today for the first time in her life she walked right up beside the other one at my feet and looked at me with that look that says "pat me". I patted both of them at the same time beside each other. That's a breakthrough for Tahia where Bandit has felt entitled her whole life.

    I also see that Tahia is getting older. She's eleven now (what a shock all this lost time is) and is starting to age. It doesn't matter because I want us to have as good a life as possible even if we're all fading in time. That was true minute one anyway.

    I've said how much of my thinking is reactive to those around me and what they do and say. I've also talked about how I'm restoring my cat's equanimity as I can where today's post is part of watching and guiding that.

    In one instant this morning I understand I am Tahia reliving the abuse of the past and being what that does. Taking current events or future events and memories and weaving strange fables of deceit and comeuppance that don't really exist and aren't going to hurt me - without ever really seeing I'm doing that even when I talk about it because I keep moving to another one. I also come back to the same ones without ever tiring because it hardly registers that my mind is doing that even though I can see I am. Leaving my xfriends alone just means behaving like this somewhere else.

    Nine years so far to take Tahia from peeing in fear when you touch her gently to schmoozing and playing even if you're rolling her around on the carpet or squeeze her in your arms. She knows I won't hurt her and even that there's such a thing as accidents and if I call her and say "sorry I didn't see you there" in my voice - she takes the risk without wavering much.

    What she was is me now. The abuse is over but I'm still living it. And I also believe that if I were shown a real kindness (which with my needs right now would have to be huge in the league with my cat), then I would also pee myself because I can conceive such things, but not for me. I taught Tahia to believe again. I taught her her own equanimity and all it took was nine years of complete committment. I have no such thing.

    If I were an animal and not a human being with speech and self awareness, and I wanted to be COMPLETELY honest about how badly the big hole inside feels, I would shiver in fear and pee myself to express it.

    Not pretty. So tempting to be shallow and say 'too much information'. Except there is only me here. And if I do not help then no one does. Avoidance by comfort zone is excuse for cruelty, and in the same person that is one of the very few who has always spoken of the awareness of this here and who has made real sacrifices for my wife and even my cat - I still wrestle inanely with myself to believe it, and therefore address it.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 28th 2015

    Reacting to the past in my present is the future I build until I come to believe new things. This is true no matter how damaged my present state may actually be. Right there in spades is the joke patient heal thyself. I live that joke. The prisoner wasting away in the unlocked cell because they can't conceive to open it and walk out.

    We were EOAD. Dianne was always going to die from this. In the seven years since her diagnosis where I understood that, there wasn't much pent up denial about what I lived steadily for those seven years including the last year or two where my main concern was that she die without pain and torment. She died peacefully.

    Add in that I've been living alone for 3 1/2 years and talk to me about what major crisis I'm supposed to be going through now. The shock of her death and it's final reality, yes. Feelings that can now come out because it's over, yes. Powerful reactions to her passing, no. I had those in 2008 and there they felt overwhelming. But that was seven years ago.

    Why say those things? Because there are no valid reasons for me not to try and break through into fully accepting my life and noticeably going down that road. It's my only path that includes my own integrity because I believe every other direction is a lie.

    All the woods that we must navigate to come to mindboggingly simple things. Learn how to enjoy what life has to offer and learn how to get up believing I want that. Dianne doesn't enter into that, never did, and the future I live whatever it is will prove that.

    Dianne will always be welcome with me. It isn't her I have to get over. It's the abuse. The only real difference between Tahia and me is that I'm older on my timeline than she is and she can't help me the way I helped her. You're all very welcome. Now wake up Wolf. It's time to let go of the abuse and read about Stockholm Syndrome.

    I think my sister is gradually coming down the road of letting go of her abuse. I do punch and judy shows for her where 'grandpa' gets exposed as the pathetic garbage he was. You can't be nice 95% of the time and also abuse children where 55 years later I'm still trying to undo his crimes. On the other hand why can't my sister let go having survived his creepiness? She's never taken in that mom died five years ago because she won't accept what happened there either.

    I've come to respect damage. I've seen strong people swept away and never come back because of their reactions to events. I know the machinery and how it works and by both I see this is possible. I can see that while I'm still here, there is little about me which has continuity of meaning and no lack of evidence that I am damaged which is that I live the reactions to past events.

    This is real. And I'm in it. I want out. I believe I should get out by working for it a step at a time without delay and that I should not give in to wanting out in any other way. I believe both are necessary. I believe I have been doing that for years now to continue but not to heal. That is one thing that is different. The other is that I continued for her which made sense to me but I need to heal for myself which is a dense fog. So I go into the fog because there is no other thing.

    I don't expect to change snapping fingers. I expect to live what I believe and to take ownership of getting there. Right now that means figuring out how to keep ownership of the fact that I am the problem. The victimization and abuse which is the only way I think of caregiving in terms of the caregiver are still my reality even though they have ended some months ago. If I don't try to reach that so I can 'get it', then who will? Oh that's right. Time heals all wounds. What garbage that is. Time alone changes nothing but what time it is. Distance from events make their impact lessen. You're welcome to that. I'll be over here trying to figure out how to stop being a victim of abuse where everybody else left months ago when it stopped.
    Wow, Wolf, I had to think about this one for awhile. You're right, I think, that surviving Alzheimer's caregiving and loss…and coming out on the other side…is like surviving abuse. To me, it feels like I've been in a war, in a combat zone, and have come back into the "normal", civilian world where people are still living their "normal" lives and cannot really relate to what I've been through. Or maybe it's like having been in prison for a long time, and then being released into a world that doesn't seem familiar anymore. You and Tahia are survivors together, and I can see how you can relate to each other. You have to be kind to yourself just as you are and have been kind to her.

    I see Alzheimer's caregiver recovery as being a situation, not a problem. You're right that we do imprison ourselves in an unlocked cell…but we need to get through the apathy, lethargy, anxiety, depression, sadness, loneliness, etc., etc. that imprisons us…before we can walk out of that cell. And I think it's a process…probably we start to be able to walk out of the cell for short periods…then run back in…then come out…for a period of time. Who knows how long it will be before we are out of the cell entirely? I had thought over the years that once Larry was gone--as much as I dreaded and feared that day--that I would get my life back. As we surviving spouses know all too well, that is not the case at all. We don't get our lives back--we are left dazed in the rubble like the Kathmandu earthquake survivors, and we have to start re-building in a new and unfamiliar world.

    I don't think we are going to "heal" exactly. I think we integrate the experience and the loss over time, and that it becomes part of who we are. I am already finding that I have a much stronger sense of self-- of what I want to do with my life-- and that I am far less willing to give up what I want for what someone else wants. At the same time…and I know this is contradictory…I think I've become nicer, kinder…much more caring of other people's feelings and problems. I have certain strong boundaries, but I also want to be there for others if need be. I was like that before (42 years as a nurse,a wife, a mother), but I feel it more so now.
    To Wolf, Elizabeth, Jules, and everyone like me who keeps reading this thread.

    I'm trying to figure out exactly what we are doing here. I feel like I'm deeply involved in this discussion even though I haven't posted anything. I spent the last two hours rereading this second page and I can't seem to get it out of my mind.

    As wolf has stated, it's all about the situation we are left in after our care-giving days are done. After all the bad times we've been through as caregivers it's so difficult to forget about them and move on. It seems as though we are continually remembering, analyzing and reliving these bad times over and over again. They are so much a part of us that we can't forget them. I think i's called grieving.

    We grieve over the loss of our life's partner because of an accident or cancer but in our particular case, we have been grieving for years over our loss, since the diagnosis was made, and when death actually comes, it's a blessing for both of us. So why am I still grieving after my Dear Helen was diagnosed seven years ago and completely gone for almost three years?

    I think that the answer may be that I'm not grieving for the loss of my dear Helen, but that I'm grieving for the loss of the happy life I once lived. If I can accept this as the truth, I'm sure that it will be much easier for me quit grieving altogether. Because the happy life I've been grieving over can be replaced by another happy life. So all I have to do is figure out how to do it, and I think I've done just that.

    All I have to do to be Happy is to try to make someone else happy and I'm happy because I'm perfectly free to do that. There are so many ways to make others happy. Everyone here has contributed to my happiness by just sharing their stories on this site. and I can do the same. Another secret I have learned is that I have to keep myself busy. And with my computer and the internet I can easily do that.

    These are just my thoughts from off the top of my head..........GeorgieBoy
    You are so right, GeorgieBoy!..."because the happy life I've been grieving over can be replaced by another happy life". I've done that and now my days and entire life are so much better!
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 29th 2015 edited
    Hi George, I'm learning about healing. That's what this thread is about. I'm happy for you Vickie.

    It's a seperate thread so those of us in the middle of dementia don't have to deal with all this too.

    I'm never going to forget Dianne who I had for 46 years. It's all harmonious with caring people anyway so it all blends together. Meet someone caring and you will blend all your cares in time.

    Think of this as tracking a moose through the woods in the snow. It's not just the footprints, it's all left along the way. What's it like to struggle through the afterwards trying to find yourself and 'move forward'?

    Well, how would anyone know?, because nobody talks about it. Not when something happens like news. Not on an anniversary. The actual journeys as they are wrestled with and experienced.

    If it wasn't like that I would long have found evidence of that but there is almost none. It appears not to be a major concern how to get out. I can't imagine why unless people are quite useless actually helping themselves in deeply meaningful ways. It's not my mantra you know. It's true.

    I think contact and communication are powerful things in our state which I might summarize as healing. But that healing really does lead to a journey somewhere else. When we have external events that move our concerns materially then we do, otherwise it's this which is find the ways that help you take a step to stop sighing lets say.

    Maybe one day someone will read this thread and it will help them. You never know. I've invited everyone to share in their own thoughts, concerns, and experiences in journeys towards an afterwards if you like. I invite everyone again. I have committment to seeing through the recording of what I thought was relevant as the changes occurred and let the evolution of the posts fill in the backstory that actually happened. Others can do the same or frankly whatever they want to say about 'afterwards'.

    I'll explain in a different way with two little stories. The first is what I'm leaving and the second is where I haven't arrived yet.

    In Grumpier Old Men (the sequel) Walter Mathau sits in his comfy chair flipping the channels bored to tears telling his son how his mother used to make these pies where she was allergic to rhubarb and she made them anyway. The son is concerned that he spends so much time thinking about these things. I can understand him though.

    In the movie M.A.S.H., in the last scene as Hawkeye drives out of the camp the commander looks at Radar and asks "Did Hawkeye just steal that jeep?" And Radar answers, "No sir. It's the one he came in."

    Walter ends up doing alright. His life changes when he meets Sophia Loren (played by our lovely Vickie here) but he played a grumpy old man to a tee. Hawkeye didn't just steal that jeep. He stole it early in the movie. Radar knows that. All is as it should be. Look for me there.
    Welcome, Wolfe, you will be here.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2015 edited


    We are grieving. What is that?

    When I type grief into google I get this:

    Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions.

    And also:

    Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems. Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way.

    And something from the Canadian mental health association:

    People experience grief in many different ways—and experience many different thoughts or feelings during the journey. People may feel shocked, sad, angry, scared, or anxious. Some feel numb or have a hard time feeling emotions at all. At times, many people even feel relief or peace after a loss.

    Grief is complicated. There is no one way to experience grief. Feelings, thoughts, reactions, and challenges related to grief are very personal. Some people have thoughts or feelings that seem at odds with each other. For example, someone may feel very depressed about their loss but accept the loss at the same time. Many people find that the intensity of their grief changes a lot over time. Holidays can often bring up strong feelings, for example. People work through grief in their own time and on their own path.


    So, apparently, grief is any response you have or don't have which you shouldn't avoid while you're on the journey to somewhere which isn't explained any clearer either. No one says peep about how to tell it's over which is in our own time and on our own path all of which is as useful as snowshoes in Miami. You recognized yourself in some of the descriptions and that's the extent of the enlightenment. Yes, how not shocking whatsoever.

    Here's an effort by that same Cdn mental health site:

    "Here are some tips to help you through your journey:

    •Connect with caring and supportive people. This might include loved ones, neighbours, and co-workers. It could also include a bereavement support group or community organization.
    •Give yourself enough time. Everyone reacts differently to a loss and there is no normal grieving period.
    •Let yourself feel sadness, anger, or whatever you need to feel. Find healthy ways to share your feelings and express yourself, such as talking with friends or writing in a journal.
    •Recognize that your life has changed. You may feel less engaged with work or relationships for some time. This is a natural part of loss and grief.
    •Reach out for help. Loved ones may want to give you privacy and may not feel comfortable asking you how you’re doing, so don’t be afraid to ask for their support.
    •Holidays and other important days can be very hard. It may be helpful to plan ahead and think about new traditions or celebrations that support healing.
    •Take care of your physical health. Be aware of any physical signs of stress or illness, and speak with your doctor if you feel that your grief is affecting your health.
    •Offer support to other loved ones who are grieving. Reaching out to others may be helpful in your own journey.
    •Be honest with young people about what has happened and about how you feel, and encourage them to share their feelings, too.
    •Work through difficult feelings like bitterness and blame. These feelings can make it harder to move forward in your life.
    •Make a new beginning. As the feelings of grief become less intense, return to interests and activities you may have dropped and think about trying something new.
    •Think about waiting before making major life decisions. You may feel differently as your feelings of grief lose their intensity, and the changes may add to the stress you’re already experiencing."


    I've gone to other sites and this is a reasonable sampling. I should mention it's also under bereavement which mostly points you to grief. I'll tell you what I see. A blank canvas called done.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2015

    And no mention whatever that when a dementia caregiver loses their spouse, they gain an additional source of depression, anxiety, and the usual suspects. I openly defy any qualified doctor to seperate these states and identify grieving in us. There wouldn't be a point. But there is a point in understanding that we cannot tell either.

    When we put them into a home we finally sleep. Having them in residence gives some chance to rest.

    When they pass we have all been released from the grip of the disease. When the next months pass there is a healing going on which is the truth that the direct suffering is over.

    When the dementia caregiver enters afterwards they do so in a weakened state which is not normal because the experience of caregiving causes that and those effects can be major.

    There are actual and seperate effects going on simultaneously and that's likely to continue for some time. I do feel relief that the disease is over. One of those exerpts talked about that. Strong and different things are going on at the same time and in numerous different directions.

    Each moment in those different directions causes ripples in the pool. He's at peace but how horrible. I'm lucky but I'm not. I want to love again what am I doing. I can do this look the fabric of space is ripping. Beautiful and horrible. Strong and fragile. Forgiving and retribution. Storm and peace.

    [The scene is a doctor's office. There is a couch but the doctor is sitting behind his desk and there is another person sitting in the chair across from him. The room is done in blue. The doctor is putting his long fingers together thinking.]

    "Yah. I vud sayy zat you are in your kaleidoscope period."

    "Oh, I see. What do I do about that?"

    "Nothing. Enjoy the view."

    "Isn't there something more I can do?"

    "Write a book. If you do, call me."

    [He puts his hand up by his ear to show how and then points to his watch]


    My summary: Grief is a blank canvas seen through a kaleidoscope. And I'm glad I could help.
    Thank you Wolf, You've really summed it up .... As you always do.
    I am getting so much from this thread and come back to it regularly.

    I describe my life as "plodding along." Not how I want my life to be yet can't shake that notion despite support groups and counselling. My counsellor is concerned I am "stuck in grief." Stuck in grief - fascinating concept with evidence through google of a pathological condition. Really? I don't think so.

    I increasingly know, nobody, but us know what the Alzheimer/dementia journey is like and the exhausting toll it takes.

    You are all giving words to my experiences. Thank you sincerely.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 1st 2015

    I'm sure the counsellor is dedicated to helping you but I'm also sure it's invalid that you could possibly be stuck in grief.

    The situation you are in is changing and unfolding and getting worse. You may be somewhat ahead of the appropriate grief quota of a certain day (there's no way to measure that to tell), but it's impossible for you to be stuck in grief while the disease is going on.

    What's more likely is that the counsellor is trying to find ways to encourage you. I wouldn't give up on having access to a counsellor just because I don't agree with everything. Don't forget that something in you is signalling to this person to say that.

    Dementia creates victims just like cancer or a random accident does. It's completely sane that you feel some amount of grief. I doubt the amount of grief you feel is the issue. I would come away from these sessions trying to remember or even writing down the things the counsellor said that sound like they might be helpful.

    Input of any kind to victims under duress is not going to be met with a normal reception. I don't react normally to input now but it's getting better enough for me to see that.

    I would bet the counsellor's motive is to try to help empower you a bit in difficult circumstances. I would let them keep trying to do that for you.


    The first reaction is likely to throw this in the counsellor's face. The reason is because you are trying to survive both this disease and as yourself. That's really hard right now which is why it feels really hard. There's a reason you're seeing this person which is they may be able to help you. I wouldn't give up on that no matter how I react because the next time they might actually help.
    Thanks so much for your feedback Wolf. I agree completely.
    This counsellor does indeed help me a great deal. She is an expert in grief and loss and I suspect you are right - she might be trying to gently nudge me. I will ask her next week.
    We are all at our own place and pace and two of my important tasks are compassion and patience with myself and whatever progress or not that is being made.
    I don't want to be "stuck in grief" but I think it's hard to get unstuck. I told my children that of course we will grieve but we don't want to wallow in it. Right now, though, I'm afraid I'm wallowing in it.
    • CommentAuthorAmber
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2015
    Interesting discussion. I know life does go on and you are the author on how it will look.

    In my case after a year of hubby's placement I was sitting in my living room by myself as usual and I said "is this it? Is this how I want my future to look like me sitting here with no one to talk to and tell the stories of my day?" My answer was a resounding "No!" so I picked myself up, dusted myself off, got moving and got living. Now 6 months later my life is becoming a good life. I still go and visit hubby and make sure he has good care but once I leave the NH I get back to living my "other" life. I was lucky to have met and fallen in love with a great guy. They are out there. Thank goodness I thought I would only get one good love in my life but I've been given a second chance.

    So this is how I am writing the next chapter of my life....taking a chance at love and finding my joy and smile again.
    Yes, they are out there, Amber. I'm so happy for you! I, too have found a great guy - thought it would never happen - but it did and life is now good again! My sister says she hasn't seen me laugh so much in years! It's a wonderful feeling to feel the love again!
    • CommentAuthorFiona68
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2015
    Vickie and Amber, I am so very happy for both of you. Though I'm not looking for a new love, I do find that I'm stuck in this pit of despair and Amber's post reminded me to dust myself off and get back to living. A pity party once in a while is not bad, but mine has gone on too long. Thanks for the motivation.
    Fiona68, I wasn't 'looking' either. It was totally unexpected and by chance. I had just gone through the terrible Christmas holidays of losing my son 4 years ago Christmas Eve, then losing my DH on my birthday in Nov. 2013; sold my house and everything I had and moved to a very rural small town near my sister but didn't know anyone else. I was at my lowest - when he appeared out of nowhere in January. His wife died of cancer four years ago and he took care of her at home as long as he could - very compassionate and caring person. The last four months have brought me back to the land of the living and feeling. It can happen!
    • CommentAuthorAmber
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2015
    I wonder if, for some of us, we need permission to get moving forward. Like if we go and get back to living we are some how being disrespectful and unfaithful to your living spouse or deceased spouse memories. But in reality all we have left are memories there will be no new ones except how they are dying this slow death.

    Well we're not dying we have lots of years ahead of us and we are being disrespectful to them and ourself if we do not live it to the fullest. So for what's it worth you have my permission to find your smile again. To feel the sun on your skin, to laugh, play and yes even find love again. We only get one shot at this life live it to the fullest.

    I hope this makes sense.

    PS I'm going to spend my summer sailing around the gulf islands off of Vancouver on a 36 foot sail boat with my new love. Doesn't that sound better than being stuck in sadness.
    I am truly so thrilled for you Vickie and Amber!! How wonderful. Thanks for telling us about your new loves.
    Embrace, enjoy, and indeed live fully.
    I long for this myself but so far feel too broken with the disease. Time will hopefully help. I crave that glorious feeling of "linking arms" for lack of a better term to navigate and share life with that special someone.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2015 edited
    I'm very supportive of all relationships whether during or afterwards because I'm supportive of love and more specifically, that humans sharing their time when they like each other is a much fuller life. Conversely, I'm against anyone being denied this basic and fundamental joy in life because of their past resume without any concern for circumstance.

    I point out however that becoming interested in someone else does not mean rays from outer space hit you and change you. The other person did not slip you a potion or shoot bolts of anything into you. The entire change in outlook and feelings was turned on by you. Meeting the other person was the catalyst that authorized you to feel differently.

    Prior to that meeting, there was no such willingness to feel good inside you. Afterwards there was because you turned that switch from off to on.

    Can people change how they feel when they want to? Are you kidding me?

    The common idiom here is that getting over what happens takes years. Unless you meet someone you like in which case it takes five minutes. And everyone walks away nodding that's true. What a planet.

    No one is saying that meeting someone solves everything. Meeting someone changes your outlook substantially though where it might be fair to say that you add positives which have power into how you see your life now.

    I come away from this happy that all signs continue to signal that I'm right. Do I have the power to do this? Absolutely yes.

    It's music to my ears to read Vickie's last posts. I knew Amber had met someone. I have nothing but wishes that it all be good and encouragement. I couldn't be feel more supportive because all things continue to prove it's within us.
    Amber, meant to add I live on one of the southern gulf islands. I know we do not have the option of connecting privately on Joan's fabulous site, but if we did, I would get in touch to see if you, your new love, and I could get together for a glass of wine over the summer.

    Enjoy your sailing summer in these fabulous waters!

    Wolf, thank you and I so agree, "The common idiom here is that getting over what happens takes years."
    • CommentAuthorAmber
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2015
    Katherinecs. Ask Joan for my email yes let's get in touch!

    Wolf: sometimes I'm not too sure what you are saying...very interesting way of wording things. So if you are saying if you change your thinking you change your life but it's up to you. Then I agree.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 5th 2015
    That's it exactly that if you change your thinking you change your life but if we just say that everybody nods and moves on because most of us know inside that it's up to us. That's not the same as getting traction in our lives and I don't believe saying things neatly is going to help me work through this. I don't believe it's going to help anybody else either.

    I would always know that anyone who is going through changes in how they think must then also be going through changes in their life because those are natural pairings. Either moves the other.

    I'm not interested in making major changes to my life right now but I am very interested in making changes to how I think. I know one moves the other but I've decided which is the cart and which is the horse. My outlook and my acceptance aren't going to change in a flash, but they are going to change like a glacier if I do nothing because adding time steadily does change things where for example it keeps adding distance from the events; but, if I give the whole job to time alone I don't see why I'm not helping.

    Sufficient acceptance (two fuzzy words together), we might agree is a state where we are no longer aware of the distortions in our emotions that are here now and we feel overall like ourselves in the moment. Where being reminded of it doesn't pull you into it's vortex but is just the very sad thing it actually is.

    I don't believe 'acceptance' has anything to do with moving on in our lives. I believe people can move on in their lives without having anything about what happened resolved or at peace within themselves. I don't believe you have to move around at all to work towards acceptance. I believe instead that the foundations are almost entirely emotional first and spiritual second.

    The likelihood that any one of us has come out completely unscathed is quite low. Some do. It's far more likely that our emotions and feelings (in my mind they're different) and outlook are in a state of duress. That's why emotional first because while our spirit may be strong enough to handle things, it wouldn't change that the person actually has emotional damage.

    It's all fuzzy which is why it sounds that way. What precisely are: emotional, spiritual, acceptance, damage. It's even more unique to the individual than our saying that if you've seen one case of AD, you've seen one case of AD. None of these ideas have been fleshed out in society anywhere because they're not first level importance to society.

    When you add in that conceptualization isn't important to society either because it's not bad at getting cream to rise and we don't want everyone conceptualizing everywhere, we want you to drive in your lane, do your job, pay taxes, and raise the kids. A healthy society has 2.5+ children on average because you need about 2.2 to keep the population even. Society DOES have certain objectives and your mental and emotional health isn't one of them unless you become a problem.

    So, here I am in a damaged state where I could have that verified by a qualified person but it's already clear and everybody would shrug and say that I'm grieving which goes on for fuzzy time because society has been disgraceful so far at not bothering to apply real science here because there's no money in it and few grieving people become a problem in society.

    Except grieving people can take down a plane full of people suddenly or blow up a building. Or is that depression? Or is that mental health? When are we going to stop shuffling from one fuzzy word to the next?

    Why say these things? Because you're not going to get proven help because it doesn't exist except in qualified therapy. The reason is that the world wasn't changed one bit by our spouse getting dementia and dying. It's our world inside us that was changed and that's mental/emotional/spiritual which is why no help except qualified therapy.


    Here's a short scenario. See if you can spot which person is stuck and which person is moving 'forward'.

    Waltrout is talking to her sister Mabel. Waltrout went through dementia with her husband who then had to go into a home and last year passed away. It took a huge toll on Waltrout. Mabel wants her sister to have a life again and they don't live in the same state so she says "I think it might be time for you to get on with your life".

    After the conversation Waltrout is:

    A. So tortured that her sister would be so insensitive that it causes turmoil inside for days.

    B. Shaking her head that her sister thinks you can snap your fingers but knowing what she meant.

    I understand this is strictly philosophy of beliefs. No belief system is better than any other; they're just different. In mine I have to work for what I want and I can grieve along the way because working for the life I want doesn't get in the way of grieving. It gets in the way of staying stuck.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 5th 2015
    OK, I'll bite. And, yes, there is a correct answer. If Waltrout selects "A," she is stuck. If Waltrout selects "B," she is moving forward.

    As far as Mabel goes, she apparently did not lose a husband, so she has no need to either be stuck or move forward.
    Association fun: While reading Wolf's latest treatise, Marcel Proust's name popped into my conscious mind. I know of Proust, but only that he wrote some very long works with minute detail about his life. So I looked him up and discovered "The Proustian Effect."

    What is the Proustion Effect? It's what happens in your brain when a smell unleashes a flood of memories, taking you back to a particular time and place.

    Very interesting. One of the tests for AD is the smell test because loss of smell can be one of the first manifestations of the disease. In a circular sort of way, we have smell intertwined with memory in The Proustian Effect and Alzheimer's Disease where both smell and memory are lost.

    What does this mean? Nothing. Just interesting associations.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 6th 2015 edited
    The title of this thread could be about change.

    Did you know an 80 year old's periphery vision is half a 20 year olds? Did you know you can relearn and reclaim that in a few sessions of mental exercises?

    Do you know why older people find it harder to do complex tasks? Because the narrative running through their mind while they're doing it has almost more of their attention than the actual task. We can greatly improve our focus though whatever age.

    Do you know how often a 20 year old's eye scans? Seven times a second. An 80 year old scans twice. (Eyes dart around constantly drawing more information from the scene). This can be increased and the eighty year old can re-learn that within months of starting to train. If you do you will notice a great deal more.

    Neuroscience. The study of the nervous system.

    The central nervous system is the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is the nerves within the body but outside the brain and spinal cord. It's quite an intelligent design and the most complex thing we know of.

    So, can we change dramatically?

    Oh sorry. I didn't mean to insult everyone here. Since everyone here has already shown how dramatically we can change.

    I really do apologize to a group of people who threw out their cherished and deepest needs so that they could become servants of the doomed needs of another. A group who gave up years of their lives and allowed no part of their own horrors or denial to deflect them for long. Who had to hold a rope just to breathe and went back again and again to see it through.

    I'm speaking to one of the most intimately educated groups who all have a doctorate in managing dramatic change within themselves.

    What was I talking about? How I plan to change. Again.

    How did I change the first time? I kept going back at it. How do I change this time?

    Why did I do that the first time? It was the thing I believed in.

    Why can't we get to first base here? It's for us now. So we won't.

    Why do I keep saying people are retarded at this? Because this is the grand canyon of all examples available in life so you just really have got to be kidding me.

    You don't have to guess if you can. You've done this already. But that was for someone you love deeply.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2015
    I'm no longer a member of the club nobody want's to join. That automatically entitled me to membership in a different club which I decline. Have I ever been married before? Show me the relevance and I'll answer the question.

    I do walk around saying "I'm Wolf. My wife died." That's because it happened 80 days ago and I'm wrestling with accepting that that shocking fact is true. It's not what the salesperson needed to know but they'll get over it. It's what I need to know so bear with me.

    A lot of switches flipped when she died. I'm not aware of all of them but I can see some so far. I judged my tribe by how they reacted to Alzheimer's. It's more honest to say that I was shattered by that almost universally. There isn't any Alzheimer's in my life anymore. In my case I had wanted peace in a fight everyone else had long already left and I was doing all the parts. I didn't forgive, just stopped doing pantomime in an empty theatre. I also know these differences of view are unresolveable if I bring them up. Underneath, however, I do catch myself hacking and slashing someone for what they did and didn't do. I get that though.

    The widower switch did flip. So did the single switch. Am I married? No. Another switch that flipped is relationships. Am I free to enter one? Yes. Is that on my mind? No.

    Another switch was I own everything now. Another was a large sea change in income and expenses. Part of these 80 days has been watching that the nursing home charge didn't show up, that her pension stopped, that all the changes actually happened. Like a little kid I went to get the mail and checked my balance every day until recently where all the things that I had to change actually landed. I still have a half dozen things to do and I'll get to them in time.

    Another switch was worry about Dianne. I stopped. I turned on the worry about Wolf switch over three years ago. In the last two years of watching out for her, I was more concerned and spent more time worrying about me. That shouldn't require explanation because she was dying in constant care but I had major issues without any help.

    It's no exaggeration to say these last few months have been full of change. From when she started going in and out of palliative in November and my crisis in December and her death in February and my outlook in May. All of them feel distinctly different and yet cover just six months.

    I'm tired of Alzheimer's. So it's good that I can freely move away from it. I can't imagine holding onto any part of it where it's only remaining reality in my life is the remaining affects in me. It's the rust of the brain that killed my wife. What importance should that have in me in the future? Almost none. Some of my friends have died in the meantime. Of what is comparatively irrelevant.

    Even though I can see the changes, I don't believe them yet in the same way I don't believe an insurance salesman in front of a recent widow. There are too many motives floating around by half for me to heavily invest in any conclusions I already think I see.

    I'm also not hoping to get better in the next months, anymore than I'm hoping to suddenly be able to play the piano. I'm not in any hurry to 'arrive' anywhere while I'm in an obvious state of flux.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2015

    I have paid all my dues. I still have some time left but when I don't know 'now' then I must be clueless about the 'future' and those words don't actually mean anything tangible. What I need is more tangible. The only thing once I do my chores that I should be doing is learning how to have more fun right now.

    You can say feel better or be myself or any yahoo phrase you want because either you are talking about it or you are doing it and I'm long done talking to myself about it and am doing it where the backbone of this thread is my notes along the way.

    I care about everyone and I watch to see if someone needs help where I can do something. Stop and think though that with all the different things I've said over the years they actually plot closely to the nearly straight line that runs from what concerned me in my first few posts to the end of this thread. As I've always said, I never know what I'm doing, but I can always explain in detail what I'm trying to do. See Dianne through this. Come out a whole person.

    The answer to the question can we find a full life without romance is almost everywhere. History and literature are teeming with this discussion and it does seem obvious to me that everyone, everywhere, who overcame obstacles and embraced their life had one.

    They are also teeming with the discussion that other's wanted one but there were obstacles.


    As I said, I pull few punches in the off topic thread that is actually only about this and I'm my own drill sargent I don't like very much. On the other hand I'm here to learn how to enjoy my time and when I do my instructor will already have vanished.

    Think of this as a Fellini film (dark and dreary) that you have to turn into Sound Of Music. You're the producer. You're not the director, the actors, the writers, the soundman, or anyone else. You are just the producer. When you have Fellini dancing happily you can call this done. You can pick your own examples and metaphors. The words change nothing.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2015
    It's what used to be called Queen Victoria day up here which is really the first long weekend of the summer. Every year there's a mass exodus to cottage country where farmland ends about a hundred miles north of here where the laurentian shield breaks through and for thousands of square miles it's endless lakes and cottages and rugged country. When you grow up in Ontario, you also grow up swimming in lots of freshwater lakes which was one of our favourite things.

    Today is a bit overcast and cooler but two days ago it was hot and sunny, and I went for a long drive along the Grand River. I rolled my windows down and looked around taking in the vitality of the area I now live in. I stopped along one of the trails and took a long walk exactly where Dianne and I went for one of our last walks together where I had to hold her hand or put my arm around her to guide her in walking. It was teeming with wildflowers and the river widens there with some minor rapids. The air was full of geese and ducks and red winged blackbirds all calling about one thing or another. I felt the sun on me and looked down at my feet realizing they were my legs, walking. I sat for a while on a rock listening to the little brook emptying into the river and remembered how all these things used to give me energy and made me feel the harmony of natural life. And I felt again how all these places and all the places I've known are all still there both changed and still the same.

    My neighbour behind me set up a big tent in their backyard yesterday. They're about ten feet down the slope right outside my window and I watched more people showing up and could hear that vibrant chatter and the laughs and the louder comments all wafting through the air like a singular thing they were all sharing. I thought about how that would have felt oppressive most of this last decade and how many times I was sitting in groups like that having a great time being part of it. It's different now. I'm not trying to tolerate or saying let them have their fun; I'm feeling how great that is to really belong to groups in mid life and I'm grateful that so many things that were closed are genuinely opening again in my feelings.

    My best friend called me last night from his cottage. We talk about everything at a million miles an hour. I broached the start of a subject I intend to weave in now which is my best effort at opening a deep and ongoing dialogue about belief. Some of my tribe believes I should be moving on and it looks like I'm not; but, that's wrong. I need to start the long road of bringing my friend along because two years from now I'm very likely to have filled up my life with the things I now believe in. He can't find that because his deepest outlook is still dominated by wrestling with what happened to him years ago. I don't believe in that and while I have quite a ways to go still in coming around to a healthy outlook, I am not my own roadblock. Recovering from my experiences and relearning how to be me are my roadblocks and they have no lasting chance because while I respect them I work every day at changing them. That's getting easier because while changing by doing works to an extent, changing by believing is the real workhorse. Changing by doing adds buildings to the landscape. Changing by believing rewrites the landscape.
    "the real workhorse" indeed...and re writing the landscape is what we must do; though it is a long process and I imagine will take the rest of my life as I learn who I am now. Now that I have lived through this horrible AD caregiving experience. I like myself, and am proud of how strong I have become in many ways.....but I am still so vulnerable and a little afraid at times. Not having George with me anymore is not what I had imagined my life would be like at my age... but I will continue to help myself recover and grow in my long standing and ever changing beliefs. I take comfort in seeing my grown children who not only resemble George physically, but also in their personality traits. We have even gotten to the point of remembering and laughing at the humorous events. I have 2 grandchildren too.... my 12 yr old granddaughter misses him very much; my 3 yr old grandson was born a week before George died....and though they never actually met on this earth, I believe their spirits crossed as one departed, and the other entered the world. This thought brings me great comfort.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2015
    Bella, I hear you loud and clear. I share much of what you said in that I'm proud of how strong I am but I'm still vulnerable and afraid at times too.

    I haven't made a new real friend since 1975. I've met and worked with literally thousands of people some of them for years and I have new aquaintances I've met just this year. But not a friend. I haven't even thought of making a new one in 40 years.

    My focus was the opposite. Like most people I tried to manage and to cultivate what I had and it all seemed to be going quite well until Alzheimer's. It's not that my friends and family were poor - it's that almost no friends and family deal with AD well. I had two who went through it with me all the way and that's not bad.

    My world upside down is Alzheimer's and has little to do with anything I or anyone around me did. And my future happiness depends on me discovering my own truths where I see no other chance. Tomorrow I want to think about why I feel confident I can make new friends when I haven't wanted to make a single one in fourty years. Somebody around here isn't being honest and there's only me so that's not good. I need to know my own truths or I have no chance. That's just my opinion.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2015 edited
    Wolf, If you have not made a real friend since 1975, that means you never made a friend as an adult. So you have no experience doing this. Here are some suggestions.

    -- I suspect that you did not make friends because you were married for your whole adult life and you and Dianne were so close. So maybe you did not need friends.
    -- Single people really need friends, or at the very least, close acquaintances. It's a question of survival.
    -- People are acquaintances before they become friends. So to make a friend, you need to first make some acquaintances. One of those acquaintances might move into the friendship zone.
    – Friendships are born of common experience. The more shared experiences you have with others, the greater the chances of making a friend, or at least a close acquaintance. Every real friend I made as an adult was someone with whom I had a common experience - working for the same employer or on the same project or just in the same profession, designing our gardens, fixing up our houses, etc.
    -- There is an inevitable attrition rate. Friends die, some of them turn out not to be friends at all, and of course some friends drop off the radar when AD arrives on the scene.
    -- There is no reason you can't start making friends now. You're obviously thoughtful and interesting, you're probably fun to talk with, since you have great sense of humor and a wide knowledge of popular music and culture, you seem to have a real interest in Canadian history and culture, and you are a cat-owned person, which means there are hundreds of people like you who are being ruled by cats and who are looking for someone to commiserate with.
    Sometimes you just have to push yourself to make a connection with other people. We all know that.
    My DH, his mom, and my dad could talk with strangers and end up with friends. Must be something in their DNA or just confidence? I find it hard to figure out how to start a conversation. My sister shares my affliction. I think the shared qualities my DH, MIL, and my dad had was willingness to go beyond polite conversation at the grocery store or golf course and actively invite the “stranger” into their lives – want to get a coffee, want to golf, want to come over and see my garden type of thing? Kind of scary but they would take the (safe) risk. They must not have been afraid to be turned down. Confidence.

    A new collegue at work told me about her backpacking trips alone. Holy crap!! She has no one to go with so she just does it alone so not to miss out of life. Fly to New Mexico and have an adventure, no problem. Joan has been writing about not waiting around for life. I need a shot of that confidence. I am just a widow since April 6 and I hate it. Now have 3 other friends who are widows and we can relate to each others problems and grief. But I know I will need to get a backbone and get out and meet other people.
    Hey Wolf..........You say that you haven't made any new real friends since 1975.
    I can understand that you consider a real friend someone you can associate with
    and go out to dinner with. But how about all of your unreal friends on this site.

    Real or unreal, Wolf, I consider you and all the rest of this gang here as friends
    that I could not have done without during my bad days. You are a great friend,
    Wolf, and you have done a lot for me. GeorgieBoy
    Nicely put, georgestreit*9-4-12! I would be pleased to meet in person any of my support friends on this site. We have a common bond.
    I totally agree GeorgieBoy and jules. Even though I have never "met" anyone here, I truly feel as if you are my friends. You are the only people who get what I am going through and that is one solid foundation for friendship to me. Fascinating how this all can develop online.

    At the same time, I am so with those that are struggling to make friends. This is the first time in my life where I do not have a close female friend. My last one left as she couldn't handle all I was going through with my husband. She wants to surround herself only with positive people. I understand this but do feel betrayed. I know from here, others have experienced similar.

    Great ideas offered on how to form new friends. Some struggles I have are varying energy for getting together with people. Some days I am up for it and others simply can't. I really dislike having to take a rain check with people. And, I don't feel I have much to offer others at this time. I have succumbed to care-giver burnout. I am slowly working on some interests so I have other things to talk to people about. It is hard work.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2015 edited
    George, You are 100% correct. As jules says, we all have a common bond. The only thing that separates us is physical distance.

    katherinecs, I ‘m so sorry about your friend. I would feel betrayed, too. She is clearly not cut out to live as an adult in the real world.

    Keely*, I am so sorry about the recent loss of your husband. As far as talking to strangers goes, I am not an outgoing person, either, so I don't usually go to events that are purely social unless I know someone else who is going. However, sometimes I go to events where a program will be presented, e.g., a tour of an historic area, a lecture on horticulture, a demonstration of birds of prey, etc. There is often a social hour afterward but there's not much risk of rejection since the people there expect each other to talk about the program.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2015
    Myrtle, thank you for helping me and noticing my incredible cattributes.

    Between Dianne and I we made 20 new friends in 1975 that lasted a lifetime. Dianne brought 4 from her work, that was the year the basketball team included the wives where there were 7 other couples, and we met one couple on our own. All of them lasted a lifetime except that 5 have now passed. The four from her work are the x-friends and the husbands of the team are the boys I talk about. In those boys is my best friend and the other male friend who navigated through those years with me.

    I understand about confidence. I didn't have any in high school or anywhere before. I understand what a destructive block it is to not know what to say. I studied acting to a serious degree and comedic timing and serious philisophical works about what humour was and what laughter was and how it plays out in different parts of the world (zzzzzz) which changed my life because I gradually learned the skill a lot of which was learning that watching ourselves gets in the way of being ourselves. I'm still in here just like in school because I've never become stupid enough to see myself as anything but me. The reason isn't reticence because I'm proud of certain things, it's the dislike of noise interfering with the purity of the thing.

    In the last 15 years or so of my working time, I could only succeed with the success of others and my life experience then made me try to learn how to identify and instill what other's seemed to need to become stronger in the groups they led and the goals they had to achieve so that I could achieve mine. That life experience changed me forever. I learned so much about what people are and how each person has their own blockage.

    I believe that some events in life can create confidence. Like meeting someone who keeps showing you they really like you. Mostly though I think it's all part of the great bipolar design of life experience as a human being. We are self aware and so often bundled up in our own unique blend of constraints which so very often don't actually exist except in how we see ourselves. Because of what I know and took me most of a lifetime to learn, that makes me weep.

    "I'm a walrus" thinks person A. "What a lovely person" thinks person B. Unfortunately neither thinks anyone would want them and neither is comfortable making conversation so they don't find out that, no, actually they fit together nicely thank you very much.

    Someone once explained to me how to be a successful salesman. Get the twenty no's out of the way to find the yes. The job is not to convince everyone or to get torqued out about being turned down as the end of your life. Learn that the job is to find the yes's.

    George, thank you for several times taking the pain to let me know that you can see that I'm here and watching out. That fills my soul. But like all things pure I tip my hat and then take no notice because doing the thing is the thing and nothing else is that.

    I also agree with you and with Katherine and Myrtle and others that these relationships we have here are important and that we really are all members of the same club. I would say there that many also have a push and pull relationship with this board and that while that's normal on every board, it's accentuated here many times because of the real and horrible things that have happened to us. Losing our loved one like this is horrific. I urge us all to keep coming because expression of any kind is important in finding steps along the way.

    I'm still thinking about this but I'm going to post what I've got next and then talk about that. As always, anyone is welcome to talk about whatever they like including themselves or anything whatsoever because everything is possible when we search.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2015
    I'm starting to develop a profile set. So far I've found myself answering the questions below. I'll just show them and then post about why I'm doing this.

    Where am I welcomed?

    Who wishes me harm?

    To what do I belong?

    Who is willing to help me?

    What pleases me?

    What do I believe in?

    What do I want?

    What am I willing to do?
    Love these questions Wolf. I am going to write about them in my journal. I add, "Who am I now?"

    Since posting my above note, I thought about how the last few Christmas's have been so hard. I regularly thought, "Ok, breath, it will be fine, breath, at least I can share the day with my friends on"

    And I did in the lodge and here. Blessings my friends.