My name is Nikki and I have restless life syndrome.
It comes and goes.
It ebbs and flows.
But it's always there.....coursing through my veins and keeping me hyper aware of each move that I make in my life after loss.
What is restless life syndrome? It's like restless leg syndrome but it's your soul feeling like something is missing. It's your soul feeling like it's not quite at peace yet....it's not calm. Maybe it's waiting for another bomb to hit your life or maybe it's waiting for the next phase of life after loss to begin.
Either way, it's a feeling that is difficult to describe.
But, I'm guessing some of you out there will understand. You will understand that sometimes you just want to pack up your past and move forward to a "new" life. You want to pack it all up and go on an adventure, fall in love, move away, or just start a new project to calm your spirits and let go of another piece of what broke you.
You feel like taking a train, an automobile, or a plane to your next destination. No, you can't run away from your past but you can find peace inside of taking a chance on new adventures.
It's like thinking to the universe, "Ok, my spouse died. My life blew to bits. I've gone through all the hell and mud of grief and I've climbed out of that hole. I've found purpose in my work and joy inside of my children's happiness. Now I'm ready for my next life, my new life to begin."
It's a feeling.
It's a buzzing in your head.
It's a wondering if this is it? Or is there some wonderful new life, relationship, job, or move ...just out on the horizon that I can't fully see yet? Or I can see it....it's so clear....it's right there and I'm restless. I'm tired of being the strong girl. The tough girl. The one who does it all alone. The one who doesn't need anyone. The one who lost her best friend, her spouse, her dreams, and her future and she's like........"Hey, Universe. Give me it back. I want my family life back. I miss having a partner. I miss having someone in my life every single day that cares about my happiness, my well-being.....someone who gives a shit about me and doesn't just check in on me once a month. I want my own person again. A new best friend. A partner in life to tackle the joy with, the dark times with, and to sit on a porch with in peace watching the sunset while children play in the long grass of summer."
Sometimes I feel that I've been frozen in time.
Why do I still do some things the same way I did when my husband was alive? Am I waiting for him to walk back in the door? Am I staying here in this town, in this house.......for me or for other people? Loss of a spouse at a young age really makes you think about life and what you want. I'll turn 39 years old this year. For the past 2 1/2 years my life has mostly been about death, grief, dark times, and then it's been about healing, service to others, joy, and overcoming so many things. I'm ready for the next chapter of my life while I'm still youngish. I'm ready to do things that seem reckless to others. I'm ready to take a chance, take a jump, and not let time or distance scare me or fool me. Time is man made. You can meet someone and know them for two years and still not be sure if they are someone you could build a life with. You can meet someone and know them a few weeks and already feel content. Don't let time fool you. If you find something or someone who makes you happy? Go for it. Throw all of the endless dating rules articles on the bonfire and watch them burn. Do what feels right in your heart, in your soul, in your gut.
How do I calm my restless life syndrome?
Nature, writing, helping guide others in their lives and grief to take the focus off of my own inner storms, and spending time with people who light up my days.
Have you felt restless after the loss of a spouse?
Take the time in small quiet moments to ask yourself why you think you are feeling this way.
Do you need more time to yourself?
Do you need a career change to fill up the empty spaces and extra time in your life?
Can you start a new hobby or volunteer somewhere? When we lose a spouse......we sometimes gain time. How? I used to have a husband. I had his work clothes to wash and iron each day, his lunch to pack, love notes to write to my best friend, date nights on weekends, family dinners to cook (we often cook way less for one adult and small children), his hobbies to enjoy with him, a buddy to fix up our house with, and someone to plan tomorrow, the next day, and the next 40 years with. Losing that person has freed up a lot of my personal time even if just in my own mind because yes, solo parenting is a 24 hour a day job with no one to roll over to in bed in the middle of the night and say, "Hey, it's your turn to go calm down the crying toddler."
Do you need to reconnect to your spirituality? Often when we feel restless we have disconnected a bit from ourselves for so many reasons. Find time to refocus on yourself, your friendships, and getting yourself in nature because that is where you will find peace, calm, and time to think about where your life should go from here.
Yes, sometimes we should live "Day-by-Day"....but sometimes this is hard when you're experiencing loss and grief. Time already goes slow. So slow. You can hear each tick on the clock. One day can feel like one year. And because you know what it's like to lose a spouse, for your children to lose their parent, to have to re-start your entire life and fix things that fell apart because your spouse is gone...........You want to live life......now. Not later. Not down the road. Not in the future. Not in a few months or in five years. You know all too well that tomorrow you could lose your own life. Another bomb could drop and you just want to soak up any happiness that you can get while you're still here, still youngish, still healthy, and still full of life.
Today to calm my own restless life syndrome I'm going to go for a hike. I'm going to write for a couple of hours. I'm going to make plans with girlfriends. I'm going to play with my children. I'm going to message the man I've been talking to for weeks now and see how his day is going because he can make me smile from miles away. I went on a solo road trip last weekend to visit him and we had a wonderful time. We laughed, we had awesome conversations, we reminisced about days long gone since we know each other from our hometown, we talked about our goals and dreams for our lives and I very much look forward to seeing him again very soon. But, that's a story for another day. Today, I'm going to remind myself what it is that I want from either road of my life. If I'm in serious relationship in five years what do I want to do today to help create that future? If I'm still single at 50 years old what type of Airstream camper am I going to buy to tour the national parks with? Either life is beautiful. Either life will fill up my heart and create meaning.
Restless for what is on the horizon for my life. Maybe it's the winter weather and having more time at home to cozy up and think.
Maybe all I really need is an adventure.
Pack the Jeep. Hit the road. Set up camp with my littles and build a fire.
Sometimes, all we need is a little adventure far away from home to calm our restless life syndrome.
All my love, Nik