Learning curve

Version 3.0 of Frances is scary. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand it; maybe it’s because there’s no rule book; maybe it’s because there’s no one to help explain the new features. After all, I’m an early adopter of the program. For whatever reason, I’m scared to death (no pun intended). Versions 1 and 2 were easier – I was able to anticipate so many of the glitches because I watched so many people operating on similar programs. I’m in uncharted territory now!

Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.

The old Frances could evaluate any situation with ease and quickly find solutions to problems. She had a mind like a steel trap and could decipher the most difficult situations without batting an eye. Can’t understand something? Frances will help. Can’t decide which choice to make? Frances will calmly help you understand your options. Having a panic attack? Feeling stressed? Need help? Frances will be there for you – she’s the go-to girl.

The new Frances can’t decide what she wants for lunch and gets so worked up over the question that she needs to sit in a corner and catch her breath. She can’t understand simple paperwork and is unable to grasp the most straightforward concepts. The smallest roadblock can cause a panic attack.

The old Frances had contingency plans for everything, and when all else failed, she just went with the flow. The new Frances is barely able to make plans in the first place, and when something goes wrong, she panics and doesn’t know what to do. Want to see her freak out? Put her in a situation that she’s not prepared for – where in the past she’d adlib her way through unfamiliar situations, now she’ll just break down and cry.

It is so scary not knowing what to expect. In the past, I just got on with things and was able to keep a stiff upper lip no matter the situation. And now, well, I just can’t do it. I have to sit in the car for 10 minutes to prepare myself for the grocery store. And if they don’t have something on my list, I panic and don’t know what to do. A couple of weeks ago I went to a shop I rarely go to. I wanted Rold Gold pretzels – all they had were Snyder’s and own-brand. I didn’t want Snyder’s and didn’t know if I’d like the own-brand, so I left the store with nothing and had to go shopping the next day. I know it was just pretzels, but I couldn’t get what I wanted and just didn’t know what else to do.

From important paperwork that I’ve yet to fill out to grocery shopping, I just can’t do the things I used to be able to do. I’ve gone from an independent, capable, strong-minded woman to a big cry baby. Will I ever be able to make instant decisions with confidence again? Will I ever be able to handle being put on the spot again? Will I be able to make plans a month in advance without panicking about something going wrong in-between time? And what if something does go wrong? Will I be able to just roll with the punches one day?

It’s so scary to not know what will set me off or when I will be blind-sided with grief. It’s frightening to think that my emotions are capable of taking over my mind and my entire body and that most of the time I am unable to push them to the side. I’m certain that over time I will learn how to handle these glitches; that I’ll learn a few shortcuts and tricks to make things run more smoothly. But the learning curve is quite steep and there doesn’t seem to be a crib sheet taped to the underside of my grief.

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