Losing someone you love changes you at the very core of your being. Whether you like it or not, simply put, you are not you anymore.
Well you are obviously still the same person physically, albeit with a couple of extra kilos stacked on from the early days, chowing down doritos and binge drinking cheap wine on the couch while watching home movies and bawling for days on end. But inside, deep in that unquantifiable part of us we call the soul, you are forever altered.
Which is quite disconcerting when you come to realise that the old you has flown, or is in the process of flying, the coop. It’s weird and icky, confronting and scary. It’s hard to put a finger on what it really is.
For me it ebbs and flows like the ocean. Sometimes it feels monumental, like a king tide on a full moon, observations of my new life crashing down on me in ceaseless waves, and sometimes it’s barely perceptible. A mere ripple in an otherwise normal day.
Things, particularly social, don’t evoke the same happiness they once did. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can feel omnipresent for weeks on end. Even some of my favourite foods have lost their tasty appeal in the wake of cooking and then eating alone. Thank fuck wine still tastes delectable.
I feel like a casual observer at times, looking down on my day to day life with a despondent eye. Apathy has become my shadow. Passion and zest are forgotten words at times.
But there is a lining. Not silver as such, more of a washy pastel grey, but one that holds a promise of fresh hope.
It offers the chance for reinvention.
It’s not often during your time on this earth that you get to say “fuck it” in such a glorious fashion to life as when you have lost your beloved. When the time came for me, it wasn’t easy, but bloody hell it was the best decision I’d made in a long time.
I was moping around wallowing in self pity in the weeks and months after Renee passed on. I was literally waiting for the clock to tick; waiting for the kids to go to bed, waiting for them to go to school, waiting for the day to end. Waiting for it to be an acceptable time of the day to crack open a bottle. Day after day after day. I was waiting my life away.
Surrounded by the memories of a shared life that was no more, I was on a slow and steady path of self destruction. Friday drinks out would see me come home on Sunday. A glass of wine with dinner would end with every drop of booze in the house gone. I was lost for direction. No clue what I needed to do or even think about.
An opportunity was presented to make a move to the Byron Bay area for 12 months to regroup and take stock, which initially I shrugged off. But as time wore on, the idea grew on me. Sun, surf, sand, WARM WEATHER and an outdoor lifestyle. It certainly ticked all the boxes Renee and I had dreamed of over the years.
I decided to place the decision in fates capable hands. I applied to a school for Grace and if she was accepted we were going. If not we’d stay put.
She got in, and here we are.
As we left Melbourne for the long drive up I remember being anxious as all fuck. Would it work? Would we be ok? What would I do without my friends? Is it too much to pull the kids away from everything they know after losing their mum? What the hell am I even thinking!!
But as the road grew longer behind us, a new feeling replaced the dwindling anxiety. Hope. Just a hint, but definitely there.
Questioning thoughts turned from concern and worry, to ideas and possibilities. A new start awaited. For me, for the kids, for life.
Three weeks into our 12 month stay, and anyone who has visited this little slice of paradise will understand, I had already decided that we weren’t going anywhere.
A big part of the contentment I find living here is that I have no history. The people I have befriended only know the person they have just met. Sure they know my story from what I have divulged, but they don’t know the old me. They don’t know who or how I used to be, my personality, my habits. Which means I get to be whoever I choose from here on in. And this, my furry friends, is the pastel grey lining I mentioned earlier before my waffling began.
The move to the northern rivers has given me the chance to reinvent myself. To ditch habits and patterns that either didn’t serve me or held me back from forward motion. I have quit smoking, started surfing, learnt the ukele, become almost vegetarian (thanks to Grace) and have grown a (rather pathetic) beard. How very Byron of me. 🤣
So although I still ebb and flow with the turmoil of grief, and apathy and anxiety threaten to overwhelm if I drop the ball for even a moment, I am making the changes that will lead to a better me. To a happier me. To a happier family.
Losing Renee broke me. I will never recover from that, and I don’t think I want to. But that doesn’t mean that I have to suffer, that I have to be miserable, that I have to be a self destructive moping Dad.
So I won’t. I’m different now and that’s ok. I accept it. I welcome it.
Oh wow…. what words…. you are an inspiration
Just A Dad really… the strength and courage it took for that move… and to find a new path… goodness… you are incredible. I have tears… how proud Renee would be of you
Fuck I am sitting at work bawling… beautifully and honestly written… it really has touched something inside me
Sorry! I didn’t aim to upset people!
Just A Dad no don’t apologise!! It’s nice to be moved to tears, a reminder that you feel…
I can relate to so much of this, as you know. I long to be a place where nobody knows me or my past – only that which I choose to share. I often think of it. And no, you won’t ever recover from losing Renee, but you’re honouring her in a wonderful way, and choosing to live a beautiful life for yourself and your children…go you
Thanks Melinda x
What a courageous journey 🙂
You have quite the talent for explaining shit I can relate mate
Thanks mate – that’s whole point of this.
You continue to amaze me Chris Martin.
Thanks lovely x
This is so beautifully written
Nicely written Chris Martin! Kenna would be so proud of you and your gorgeous kids..xxx
Thanks Hales – I hope so! Although she would probably be on my back about earning some money 😉
Perhaps but that will come. You’ve done a lot in the last couple of years and should be proud of that!
Once again… thanks for expressing exactly what I’m feeling!
Anytime mate 🙂
And I as finish the last sentence the beautiful rain starts trickling down while I sit in my Zen den & makes me tear up & smile at the same time. You’re such a beautiful soul Marty. So brave & so loving & so real. I know what it’s like to pack up & leave & start again. Forever you feel like you have this other “old” life you carry around with you in your heart that no one really knows about. Until you visit home, then you’re reminded that you’re both those people – always you but also ever evolving & changing & growing. A gift. A gift you get from being courageous & taking the plunge. Renee would be so proud ❤️❤️❤️
Wow – so beautifully written Jess, I couldn’t agree more! Love you x
Love you too!!
Beautiful written, how inspiring:)
Brutal & Beautiful mate!
Love the old and the new you Marty! Beautiful words mate.
There’ll always be old mate 😉
This is beautifully written. And makes me want to move to Byron Bay.
You wouldn’t regret it!
Very inspiring words and so well written. Wishing you all the best for your future journey xx
Nice one bro
I really do think that you are an incredible human. Your writing is brilliant and honest and hits home for so many of us. I am so blessed to have you as a friend. Renee would be so proud of you – she always was – and that little piece of paradise you live in is insanely magic. I too long to be in a place where nobody knows me or my past – or only that of which I choose to reveal. I often think of it, if only my circumstances would allow. But hey, there are always Byron holidays to look forward to. xxx
Oh I’ll get you up here one day saurus xc
Just A Dad I’m gonna hold you to that!! 😉
We love ya buddy. Looking forward to catching up soon in the sun if only it be for a day or two. xxx
Us too – love a road trip!
One of your best, most relatable pieces Chris. Thanks.
It would have been wonderful to have met the old you Chris and your beautiful Renee. And we so love the You you, the now you and whoever else you that evolve into. I’m so glad our families met as we both started fresh in Byron Bay. Have a beautiful day dear friend xx
Right back at ya lovely x
I needed to read this today .. thank you
Glad to be of assistance 🙂
Nice one man. Welcome to this part of the world. You’ve got balls the size of grapefruits being able to put your shit in coherent sentences let alone posting it up for everyone to read.
Thanks mate – appreciate the vote of confidence 🙂
Have you lost someone too?
You are forever altered but it doesnt always have to be negative as you have learned. Nothing can take away the great life you had together and the memories you made. They are forever. Hardest thing to do is embrace the new life but sounds like you are on the right track. xxx
Exactly Karen 🙂
Beautiful Chris Martin!
Thanks for the share too 🙂
Powerful and so true.
This may sound bizarre, and I’m not sure why you occupied my subconscious… blame it on a double shift as a nurse and the fact we almost lost my ‘favourite’ patient but I dreamt about you last night… I dreamt that I went to your house which was hosting a MASSIVE party There was drinking, music, laughter and more drinking. You were really happy and smiling and my brother Daniel Stanley Keilty and a few more of your high school friends were there Not sure what it all means but it was a fun dream all the same, so thanks haha
Well that sounds like me and the old boys to a T!
Another post I totally get!!!
It’s like fight club – only people in fight club truly understand it.
You are leading the way for the rest of us who have also lost the life of their lives and are trying to be a solo parent whilst grieving!
My husband said #attitudeisachoice and you are making great choices!!!
Thanks Cristy! Love the fight club ref. 😂
You most certainly made the right, albeit initially courageous, step. You are an amazing dad and person in your new form, even if you’re still growing into yourself. It was great to see you and the family last week, I wish I’d got more of an opportunity to talk with you further about your posts… next time.
Thanks Brenna – was great seeing you guys too 🙂
There is always hope.
Byron represented this new canvas. You didn’t / don’t have to be your old you. You don’t have to be ON all the time.
Hopefully it will help With the healing. Although i think it already has.
Chris – you write so well – didn’t remember you as so academic at school …,,,
Lovely post. So real. Thanks for keeping it real.
Haha – thanks Leanne. I think I tried my hardest to be non-academic 😉
Really connect with this one chris one thing that losing a partner you are forever changed i struggled with letting go of the old me till i relized its ok to be a different person letting go of that is not letting go of your love one its letting go of the pain and destruction. Big hugs and respect.
Perfectly said Michelle x
Good on you Marty, you are a good man and a great dad. Keep moving forward with happiness and life. You are on the right track !
Cheers mate 🙂
Mate you’ve got a way of explaining things that make so much sense to me and I can relate quite closely. Cheers bud.
Glad I’m not alone 😉
That’s just how I feel , he’s said it very well …
Glad you can relate 🙂
Wow! You are an amazing writer – so real. You are also helping others to stop and appreciate and be in the moment with the love of their life….Thank you.
Very humbling Stephanie – thanks 🙂
Never liked the old you anyway aaarrgh
Can totally relate, your doing a great job, you fit in perfect here, love you writing very humbling
Ingrid Heggie (I didn’t read the whole thing but bits of it could be relevant??)
U are such an inspiration to me atm mate Renee would be looking down so proud of what u have achieved and the great father u are and always will be ur posts at times when I feel weak give me strength and hope and I thank u you so much you have really made me think about my own life in ways I would not normally think about your not just a dad but great man and an inspiration to many stay strong mate
You know what really floats my boat? This post has been seen by over 15,000 people. This is bloody awesome – I love that this community share and tag in order to help others. You are all amazing people 🙂
Found this blog totally by accident and I’m glad I did. Last week I reached the first year of my life without my partner of 34 years and the mother of my two young boys. I’m now ‘just a dad’ and even after a year I’m still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that my beloved Sue is no longer here and won’t have the chance to see her two young boys grow into men. This blog has shown me that there are people feeling a lot of the things I feel every day and that there is a point to getting up every day and carrying on. You’ve become one of my heroes – thank you. I’ll keep reading and I’ll keep going.
Mate just saw this – so awesome to hear positive feedback. I’m Sorry about your loss, I hear you ✌️