21 weeks.

Today is 21 weeks from when my world ended. The day I found My sweet Viking after he passed away.

Thank god for my therapist. She’s trained in trauma and CPTSD treatment and has been amazing. And Spouse and my friends have been loving and supportive.

And no, I am still not “okay.” And I know that I don’t do anyone any favors if I try to say sure, I’m okay. Because I’m not.

What also sucks is that my executive dysfunction has roared back with a vengeance now that I’m not in “survival mode” and am starting to truly…process. My sleep schedule is practically non-existent at this point, too. Which, being a writer, is pretty fucking devastating, to be honest. Because I kind of need my brain to work.

My therapist assured me that this, too, is part of the process, but we might be looking at a med addition/adjustment in a few weeks because she’s worried I am heading toward clinical depression territory, but because of my history of bad side effects with some medications she wants to try a few other things first, and I agree with that. (Because before my world ended, I was actually starting to really do pretty good despite the long covid and everything else.)

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Yesterday, I was chatting with one of Russ’ sisters and she referred to me as his spouse…and I good-ugly cried for at least 20 minutes after. Because in a poly situation it’s one thing for your close friends and family to default to referring to you as that.

But for a “vanilla” person, especially his sister, to acknowledge that instead of just calling me his “girlfriend” or “partner?” To know that he’d spoken to his sister about me in those terms?

I honestly had no idea how much my soul needed to hear that. Because in my heart Russ absolutely was my spouse, and I was his. We were together nearly two years and were making life-long plans together. We were going to have a hand-fasting ceremony next year. We planned to eventually move in together. He even turned down a lucrative job offer out of state because he didn’t want to leave me, even though I’d told him if he really wanted to do it that we’d figure out a long-distance relationship somehow.

And so many other things, too many to mention.

That’s a spouse, even if legally we had no “rights” to each other like that.

But bouncing around in that liminal space between “grieving” and “widowhood” had impacted me even more than I realized, and I know it’ll be a topic of discussion with my therapist in next week’s session. Because it’s easy for the rest of society to look at my situation and say, “Okay, your boyfriend died. You still have Spouse. Move on, it’s five months on now.”

But…would they say that to someone who lost a “spouse?” Probably not, if they have an ounce of empathy in their soul.

I am a widow. And I need to process that the majority of “society” won’t see it that way, and learn to be okay with that and drop the outrage I want to feel on Russ’ behalf because to me it feels like they’re not just discounting a massive portion of my grief, but that they’re DISRESPECTING Russ by withholding that acknowledgement.

That was a massive breakthrough in my thinking. I know Russ wouldn’t want me to feel that outrage, because he wouldn’t give two shits what others think. So it’s another item on the list to work through.

And then last night in my dreams Russ came to me and held me the way he always used to and said yes, I was his spouse. And when I woke up this morning I didn’t start the day crying despite it being a Thursday, I felt the first tiny modicum of peace since I descended into this fucking hell 21 weeks ago.

Baby step.

Because I know now it wasn’t “just” grief over losing him, and the trauma of finding him, but it was also that little jigsaw puzzle piece of my soul needing that simple, small acknowledgement from outside my immediate circle who knew “US” as a couple that, yes, I lost my spouse.

Baked into this whole situation is the growing dread that knowing how horrible this loss is, when eventually I one day lose Spouse…how do I survive THAT?

I try to identify one baby step a day, even if it’s just getting out of bed. And in my right ear I hear Russ whisper, “Good job, baby,” the way he always did. The logical part of my brain knows he wants me to go on and survive this. To one day be “happy” again even though all the plans I’d had–WE’D had–up until 21 weeks ago included US being and doing them TOGETHER.

Meanwhile, I need to keep treading water and try to keep taking baby steps, even if it’s only one a day. Because I know that’s what Russ would want me to do. Frankly, there are some days where that’s the only thing that does get me out of bed is hearing Russ in my right ear gently coaxing me out of bed. “You have work to do, baby. Do this for me.”

That’s all I can do, I guess.

Miss you, Russ. Miss you so fucking much. Love you, baby. Sweet dreams.

21 weeks.
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