Cheers To The End of Survival Living

It’s been four years since my wife, Renee, passed away. The time has passed incredibly fast, yet has been a long and protracted ordeal at the same time. In retrospect, and not surprisingly, I realise that the four years have been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: survival.

Dealing with the loss of your best friend and partner is hard. Actually, it’s fucked in more ways than I’m able to pen. But throw in the responsibility of not only raising two children on your own, while also trying your best to guide them through their own grieving process, all the while trying to maintain an outward appearance of positivity, stability and security — well, then things go from plain fucked to stupendously fucked.

It hasn’t exactly been a picnic, I can tell you. Mental, emotional and physical fatigue have been a near constant as we have (now hopefully) dragged ourselves through the worst time of our lives. Not to say it has all been doom and gloom: thankfully, kids have a tendency to seek the happiness abundant in our world and rarely ruminate on history or fear the future. It’s a fact I will forever be thankful for; one that I truly believe has been the major catalyst in the successful navigation of what I now reflect on as our “survival period”.

So how do I know we have traversed this period, I hear you ask? Great question, and I’m glad you are interested! 

A couple of things have happened this year that have begun to change my focus from just making it to the end of the week to picturing the next few years ahead. And I say picturing because you can stick your manifesting, law-of-attraction bullshit where the Tony Robbins doesn’t shine. I vision-boarded and positive-affirmationed the shit out of life for three years and — surprise surprise — things still went down the shitter.

So no, just wishing and believing the best will happen is a load of horse shit, IMO. 

Back to reality now.

The big one with the greatest effect on my state of mind is that my dear son Albi started kinder this year (NSW doesn’t have prep), which for me has meant four-and-a-half days a week of both kids at school. Yipp-fucking-hee — more days to surf and more time to dedicate to my appreciation of fine wine!  Kidding. To me it means I finally have time to dive back into that much-maligned essential part of life — work.

I have been doing what I lovingly refer to as “bits and bobs” since Renee passed, but due to the pressures, physical and mental, I have not been able to commit to anything concrete in nature. I would find my levels of anxiety and stress skyrocket the minute the words “timeline” or “due” were mentioned. I took on a basic painting job once, one that would normally have taken me two weeks; it took me 13. I even had to pull out of a simple website build once mid project, as I was literally imploding from the stress and anxiety.

This, I have found, is an incredibly powerful depressant. Not being able to cope with what was once a normal part of life, something I would do with a proverbial one arm tied behind my back, is a massive blow to your self-esteem, to your self-confidence, to your ability to believe in your own decisions. Decisions which of course now remain unvalidated as a solo parent. And once your self-confidence is shot — man, that is a deep hole to climb out of.

Thankfully, kids have a tendency to seek the happiness abundant in our world and rarely ruminate on history or fear the future

The other part that has galvanised me into action, and this may seem like a “duh” moment to some of you but is in fact a HUGE thing to a grieving person, is as simple in nature as it is unpredictable in occurrence: I am over just bloody surviving.

I am sick of just getting by day to day. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting for the kids to both go to bed and get out of bed. Waiting to get some time for myself. I am over the groundhog-day nature of my existence and I’m literally excited for anything that breaks through this monotony.

Which is bloody liberating I can tell you! I really is hard to describe the elation of simply feeling optimistic again.

So hear I sit, staring down the barrel of the future. Yet rather than feel like it’s the barrel of a gun, it feels like a runway. And I really just wanted to write this article for all those people that I know are not quite there yet.

Hang on and keep aiming for the end of the week. Fuck, even if you make it to the end of the day in one piece that is awesome. I can’t tell you when your runway will be ready for take-off, but if my experience is anything to go by, just know it will happen.

Just be patient. With yourself. With life. There is no need to rush anything — especially healing of the heart. If you force forward motion before you’re ready — well, it’s kinda like driving in thick fog; you know you are going forward but just can’t be sure if it’s in the right direction. Best just to wait for the fog to clear so you can see the way.

So here’s to forward motion. To ending the cycle of survival living. To growth and future happiness! 

Bring. It. On.

Chris Martin blogs at Just A Dad. This article has been republished with permission. You can follow Chris on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Join a great bunch of dads (and mums). Subscribe now.