Sometimes I wonder how I’ve survived my grief. How, despite my multiple prayers that God would just find a way of making me die quicker without me topping myself too, I’m still bloody alive and kicking. For a year and a half, a big part of my survival was the relief and wonderful numbness that comes from drinking a lot of booze (read about my problems here). I also grief shopped like crazy, to the point that the second bedroom became a walk-in wardrobe. Then I got back to my pre-grief slightly podgy round the edges weight and ran out of money. Something had to be done. If I can’t feel ok, I might as well look ok!
In the past month, I’ve been significantly quieter with my writings as Eerily Cheerily because my real life as an actual person, a ‘normal’ 29 year-old living the London life, has taken a healthier turn. The tears and snot are very much still a feature in my life, but I feel like my ability to work this shit out has improved just a bit. In my quest to look good and eligible, I got Botox so the evidence of grief that was etched on my face in the form of forehead wrinkles has been obliterated for at least the next six months. I’ve been drinking less wine so the calorie intake is reduced by about 500 per day. The frequency of drunken sexual antics and drunken typing has therefore diminished too. I haven’t accidentally slept with Boy Widower. Tinder Girl #5 – who I’ve barely written about out of fear of upsetting her if she discovers I’ve spilled any secrets on my blog – has a real name during discussions with my friends and keeps a toothbrush at my place. I’ve met her sister. I bought a Nutribullet and use it for more than making pina coladas. I am a new woman. I have, however, as my last blog post about my adultery shows, had a little overall dip in mood because I think I’ve reached some sort of acceptance of my new normal.
Then there’s this one particularly miraculous thing that has happened to me though – I joined the gym. Wids, take note. This exercise shit is helpful. It’s quite literally the first time in my existence that I’ve done exercise willingly. Despite the fact that my apartment building has its own little gym upstairs, I have used it about five times in as many years and that was only to tone my arms in advance of my wedding. At school, I got out of playing any sports with a risk of damaging my fingers because my career as the next Vanessa Mae of flute-playing mustn’t be jeopardised by a netball. The only gentle sport would have been swimming but, thanks to notes from my sympathetic mother who has a fear of drowning, I was permanently on my period and couldn’t go in the pool because I didn’t know how to use a tampon.
This exercise shit is helpful.
Now, I have the discipline to get up at 7am to go on my little iPhone app and book classes to go to straight after work. I am the smug looking girl who has a rucksack of gym kit on the tube. I actually look forward to going and sweating my arse off surrounded by people who will always be cooler and fitter than me. Who would have thought? My fabulous gym is called Gymbox and I have no excuses not to go because it is on my way to and from work and also next to a branch of John Lewis where I regularly buy unnecessary scatter cushions and ridiculously expensive linens. I favour Gymbox’s group classes which all involve ridiculous mashups of exercise. They brand themselves at ‘the antidote to boring gyms’. There’s Voga, a combination of doing Madonna vogue moves with yoga, Aerial Pilates, Circus Tricks, Ripped and Stripped, Tone and Twerk, Ibiza Retreat, #Gains (I don’t know wtf that one is or why it requires a hashtag). The list goes on. There’s literally something for everyone but I think there’s some sort of unspoken rule that to be eligible for membership, you need to be under 35, hot, and have the ability to tolerate the pumping beats at nightclub volumes which pipe through the speaker systems. Sneaking peeks at toned bodies and perky boobs in the changing room is therefore rather fun for a lesbian widow like me.
It sounds contradictory, but I find rest at the gym. It’s a rest from my grief because no matter how hard I try, I end up laughing during my classes. At commercial dance class, I concentrate solely on remembering the sequence and not looking like a ballet trained white girl in front of the rest of the dancers whose hip hopping bodies are too Bootylicious for ya, babe. No time for grief. My favourite class is called Rave. We each have a little trampoline and two glow sticks, and we bounce around for 45 minutes in a dimmed room to 90s club tunes that take me back to my school disco days. It’s exhausting and totally nuts, especially since I’m watching myself in the mirror doing the routine to childhood anthem, Whigfield ‘Saturday Night’, and can’t help but chuckle at the insanity of it all. No time for grief.
I felt like Julia Styles in Save the Last Dance
Today, on a rainy Sunday of all days, I dragged my widow ass out of bed to go to ‘A to Z of dance’. This encapsulated dancing to fast paced African beats, doing that body wiggling thing that only hot Beyoncé-like black girls can do without looking ironic. Bless her, the instructor was extremely patient and good, prompting us with descriptions such as ‘stir the soup’, ‘hotdogs’, ‘touch yourself’ and so forth. Towards the end of the class, once we were all confident with the routine, the room was split in two and we had a dance off. I felt like Julia Styles in Save the Last Dance. It was a million miles away from being a baby suicide widow. It was a million miles away from being Eerily Cheerily. I was just me. Happy me.
There’s no undying, only undying love.
Widowhood hurts. There’s a feeling that varies in intensity of utter despair and like your heart is about to burst. Whether it does ten years down the line after losing the love of your life, I don’t know. I sense that it won’t. However, I can vouch for the pain’s continuing presence at two years out. I haven’t had a conversation with her in two years. I haven’t fallen asleep with her in two years. I haven’t sung the theme tune to CSI with her in two years. I haven’t been shouted at for leaving my shoes in the hall in two years. That length of time is going to get longer and longer because there’s no way of her coming back. There’s no undying, only undying love.
Discovering something new that gives me a break from that, makes me laugh, makes me feel energised and alive is so, so welcome in my life. So thank you Gymbox. Exercise is good for you. Who knew?