“The world has tilted, and everything seems askew, right? Standing on the edge of everything you’ve known is scary. Staring into the black abysses of the unknown is bone-chilling.”

COLUMNS | by Celia Iannelli |

A faint glow paints the horizon and seeps into your bedroom. Still half asleep, you stretch out your arm to the other side of the bed only to find it empty. Your heart begins to beat in some chaotic rhythm while your head begins to pulsate.

You are jolted wide awake.

Choking back tears, you are finding it hard to breathe.  You are completely blindsided, again.   This is not a reoccurring dream, this is reality.

This is your cold-water morning. 

You lie in bed wide awake and wonder if it’s really the darkest before the dawn, concluding, perhaps, that the dawn themselves are the darkest.  You gulp down half a bottle of water which does little to relieve your parched mouth.  With sweaty palms and wobbly knees, you roll out of bed. Even with these turbulent emotions, there is another day to get through.

If you have suffered a death of a spouse or a divorce, you may relate to these feelings. 

The world has tilted, and everything seems askew, right? Standing on the edge of everything you’ve known is scary. Staring into the black abysses of the unknown is bone-chilling.  You may feel like you are strapped into a run-away roller coaster of emotions.

And take it from me, a two-time widow, this is not, by anyone’s definition, fun. The end of any relationship triggers many grief emotions: anger, guilt, blame, idealization and attempts at reparation come unbidden; however, the witching hour seems to be 3 a.m.

These unwelcome emotions aka “scary monsters and super creeps” will rent a large space in your brain, forcing sleep to find other lodgings.

Thoughts like:  I should have, could have, my fault, keeps one tossing and turning, ad nauseum. Some wonder if they are the worst person in the world; while others, usually the wounded party, feel they have reached sainthood.   

The relationship may have been lacking, yet it’s hard to remember what brought you here. We love and hate the same person. How maddening is that? Sleep may or may not return; but, one thing is for certain, self-recrimination, martyrdom, shoulds, woulds and the like, will not change a single thing.

What to do when faced with one’s own aloneness? We adapt, with enormous difficulty, to the altered circumstances of our life, modifying to survive—and survive, we must.

Seeking therapy is the first step in learning to cope with loss. Having someone listen, without judgment, is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

During the impossible times, I’ve stumbled upon a new best friend: me! 

Yup, no matter how badly you feel, no one can do this for you. You are the only person that can rebuild your life — and it’s no easy task.

Be kind, gentle and patient with yourself as you would with any friend.

The Beatles’ hit: “With a Little Help from My Friends” rings true — sometimes. At times like this you find who your friends are — and are not.

Any newly “alone” person will tell you the weekends are the pits!

If widowed, your friends may be well-meaning, however, the world goes ‘round two by two. Like migrating birds, many friends depart, in two’s. It’s a phenomenon.  I’ve lived it; I’ve heard it from others.

If you are newly divorced, your shared friends may take sides. This is a biggie, so say my divorced friends.  Some weekends you luck out and have the kids and life seems almost normal — “almost” being the operative word. 

Speaking of kids, never put down your Ex. Trying to bribe the kids is childish. (Who’s the adult?) Avoid giving them the third degree, even if your Ex is dating. (It’s hard not be curious, I know.) The kids are traumatized and need reassurance. The push-pull some parents engage in further erodes the fabric of a family that is already under duress.

Being identified as twosome and now being a “one” takes a boatload of adjustment.  The friends who stick around may invite you out.  You go from a lonely “one” to an uncomfortable “third” (wheel.)

Redefining yourself helps.  I didn’t want to be defined as the “black widow.” Surely, I am more.

Find something that interests you—a prop of sorts. Remind yourself that you are resilient. Being a “one” is a tricky place to be. Awful, as it may seem, go the movies, dinner, a local watering hole and if there is no one around — remember your best friend. 

Begin dating.  I know a gal who joined a dating site and scored herself a date every Saturday night to pass the weekends. That is, until she met one special guy. One Saturday night morphed into every Saturday night and now they are a” two.”

Harry Nilsson’s song “One “nails it. 

He sings: “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

Walking over the hot coals of pain, loss, away from the past and into the future takes courage. You may emerge a little burned and bruised.  However, once on the other side, you  can begin to live your life forward—with purpose.

Celia Iannelli is a news columnist who lives in Suffolk County and writes from her sometimes off-kilter perspective. She’s a people person who finds humor in everyday, mundane situations — yet knows about the heartbreaking curve balls that life can hurl. You can email her at ceilmars@optonline.net.