The Meltdown

I haven’t been around for awhile. Truth is, I didn’t want to be here. This father just had no more wisdom in his tank.

I didn’t want to be here in upstate New York either. Truth is, I didn’t want to be anywhere. I was content going through the motions.

And, I haven’t been feeling well. Springtime allergies hit full force, limiting my sleep and drive.

And it all came to a head a few weeks ago on the last leg of a 1,600 mile, two country, three day house hunting trip in Maine … admittedly a long haul, even by my traveling standards.

There I was on the New York Thruway, one moment listening to a medley of Four Seasons songs and the next sobbing uncontrollably on the shoulder of the road, my mind racing in a thousand free range directions.

I had to pull over because, literally, I couldn’t see the road through my tears. I’m not sure how I even maneuvered to the shoulder through the maze of cars, trucks and semis. But there I was, having a mental meltdown as intense as the days following my wife’s death seven years ago.

Without saying a word, I mentally challenged everything in my life. I was angry. I was sad. I was melancholic. I questioned my past. I questioned my present. I questioned my future. I questioned the meaning of my life. I even questioned my faith. And I had this overwhelming sense I was alone … totally A-L-O-N-E.

I haven’t shared this with anyone except anecdotally with a close friend who knew something was amiss. Normally a glass half full guy, I just didn’t even care if there was a glass. She just intuitively knew … and wasn’t afraid to gently chide me somewhat back to reality.

She started by stating the obvious. I was exhausted and the incident was a natural consequence. But she added I hadn’t “let go” of Karen yet … not forgotten, but moved on. She said I always talk of or refer to Karen in everyday conversations. Even my trips to Maine are because that’s where she wanted to retire. “What about you? What do you want?”

It was sobering. I hadn’t realized how much Karen’s memories had become a staple of my life.

And that, probably, is part of the problem. I do want to move on but the hole in my heart isn’t getting any smaller. I mean, Karen and I had 40 years together — that’s 60% of my life … 60% of my memories … 60% of my experiences. My life is our life. My memories are our memories. My experiences are our experiences.

As I get older, I find myself being drawn back to my roots. I know I can’t go back to the 60s, but those days were so carefree. I mean, literally, life was good. I didn’t have to worry about my health, my wealth, my well being. As long as I had a couple bucks I could go where I wanted, almost whenever I wanted, grab a burger and fries and still have some jangle in my pocket. I was learning about life and love with anticipation. Now I’m watching it all in my rear view mirror. Today’s world is not the same as it was 50 years ago. Today I do have to worry about my health, my wealth and my well being.

What do I want?

I have no idea. Yes, part of the attraction of Maine is because of Karen. But I have come to love the state for its simplicity. I can see myself in retirement {okay, how many people really retire to Maine?} sitting on the porch overlooking a lake, river, stream, pond or ocean — reading or writing and just soaking in the ambience. I can see myself sitting in my easy chair watching a roaring fire — reading or writing and enjoying the atmosphere.

But I could see the same scenario in Wisconsin, upper Michigan, Minnesota {why am I attracted to the cold?}, the Jersey shore or the mountains of Virginia or West Virginia.

The only thing missing is someone to share it with. I would love to have another relationship, but I don’t know if I could. I don’t think I could go through another person’s sickness or pain. I feel too helpless. And I do know I wouldn’t want anyone to go through any of my sicknesses or pain.

Those are the muddled thoughts that filled my mind a few weeks ago, reducing me to a teary pile of poo. Those are the muddled thoughts I still wrestle with.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in confession, growing old, growing up, Memories, thinking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Meltdown

  1. Angela says:

    Joe, I am so moved by this …you articulated what I believe are very common feelings in a great many of the children of the 60’s. I can honestly say I have been going through pretty much the same thing all this past winter. I finally got away for 2 weeks to sunny Florida, and when I returned to cold and still snowny NJ, I did feel a little better because I had a change of scenery and charged my batteries a bit. The feeling of being alone haunts me as well. If it weren’t for my family and my grandson in my life, I would probably already have checked into the equivalent of a Betty Ford clinic for the terminally lonely and depressed.
    Sometimes it helps just to be able to vent to someone and realize that we are not really alone. There are millions of our contemporaries who feel exactly the same way we do.


    • I also have a strong support system with my children and grandchildren. But they have their own lives. Sometimes I feel like a fifth wheel. I needed the meltdown. It was building. Hell to go through, but a necessary step to reassess my life. We have to stand strong … for ourselves first then those close to us. Thanks for your encouragement.


  2. My heart hurts for you, Joe. Just so you know – i did miss you around here and I wondered what happened, but it seems that several faithful bloggers have decided to take a sabbatical the past few months, some of them without warning and others announcing they were just done with the blogging thing. I will add Joe to my prayer list and remember to pray for whatever God has for you to be made evident so you are filled up and no longer alone – in whatever capacity God chooses to fill the vacancy.


  3. Jim Matthews says:

    Joe, Wow great to vent and allow yourself to be human. I wished I knew you at Don Bosco reunion. I am a 78 DBT graduate but, your openness will allow the Lord to fill your heart. Just planted a garden here in Marlboro, NJ. In August of 1996 my daughter Tara Lynne entered her fourth month on earth. Laura and I accepted this child with open arms and the bounty of God’s love. Dr Bob Ginzburg found a grapefruit sized tumor in my chest on my 36 th birthday. It was a malignant cancer Leiomyosarcoma, sounds like something one throws in a salad today. I was dazed and bewildered to as feel like it was a dream. All I did after the resection of tumor at Sloan Kettering was to read and jump off the world. I would hold Tara Lynne and gaze out the window. It was my Mom , Ellie that came to me and shook me one day. ” Jimmy she says, You must get healthy and raise this girl , she needs a Father !!!! ” Do you understand!!” Well after reading a book and deciding to go vegetarian and juice like I was to live again…… I am here and she is a freshman at college. I accepted two boys to follow Derek And Sawyer holding up the rear. Today, it does seem like a dream, I am grateful since the survival rate for this cancer maybe 30%. Yearly I travel to Hugfest and see folks, trying to grapple with this disease. One day at a time with God’s grace , I give back. They say to survive something like this makes you stronger wiser and more balanced. My prayers will continue to go out for you and your Family. PS When you come back to Jersey we will go for chili dog or burger. My oncologist Tommy Eanelli DBT 78 always gets me to break down and go over to the dark side for a day a year… Vaya con Dios, Jim


    • Glad to hear you’re a survivor! Sometimes you just have to break down to slow down and re-focus. Enjoy the kids! They do grow …much too fast. I’ll let you know when I go back to Jersey. Take care.


  4. Maryanne says:

    I am so moved too and tears fell down my face reading this, as I can’t even imagine the pain of loss of a spouse. I’d be nothing without my husband (and this from a very independent woman too, our love is just that strong!) It’s good to cry and let it all out. I had a day like that too, yesterday. Keep wrestling with your thoughts, the answer will come to you in time. (((HUGS))


  5. Pingback: Five Minute Friday — Meet … Greet, Thanks and Praise | Father Says…

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