Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas

I've always been a bit of a humbug around the holidays... the buildup and expectation that everything be perfect is draining and more than anything just means a lot more work for me! The past few years have been unbearably sad... with bright spots and lots of good memories (ask my mom why we don't drink tequila on Christmas Eve anymore hahaha!)... but it is a descent into a time of year that is for us steeped in pain.

I'm happy to say that this year was very, very different. We pulled off a great Christmas... a good balance of business and low key fun that allowed us all to relax and just enjoy the time together. My kids didn't get a ton of gifts... but they were really happy with what they got. Ivy made her own beautiful presents for everyone and our Asian themed Christmas dinner was so good I'm pretty sure i'll be working that off for the next few weeks. True to form, we started talking about what we're going to have next year before dinner was even finished!  

If there is one piece of advice I can give to new members of this awful club it is this: There is no shame in finding that spark. It may take a long time. You will have to force yourself and you will have to pretend for awhile. It will not be easy. You will have to shed beliefs about yourself, about your world and be truly fearless in doing so. Some of the people you love may disapprove, they may be scared for you. They may fade away. That is OK. You keep going. You check in with yourself, you feel your pain but you also feel immense joy as the broken, empty places scream within you and you treat yourself with love and compassion. Do not wait to love yourself. You are perfect as you are, amidst your struggle and chaos.You must be very, very brave. You've done hard things... and you will do more. You must treat yourself as the sacred being you are and find a way to enjoy your life, just as it is, every single day. I can't tell you how long this will take but I can tell you that it will never end. You will never stop feeling helpless and frightened and anxious and sad... but you must learn to live within that space and love your life with all those dark feelings. They've made you who you are and they will soften. And one day, like a seedling sprouting from the ground and seeking light, you will begin to bloom. 

Who knows what you will become?

I wanted to do this all by myself. Truthfully, I was terrified to REALLY love anyone. Loving someone means that I can lose them... that I very well may someday be tossed back into that vortex of pain. That is my greatest fear, going back to that place. But to deny myself this love... that would be like cutting off my oxygen. I had already decided, a long time ago, that I would live the rest of my life happy. Gaining that happiness means taking risks... I just have to meet the person worth taking that risk for. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's A Jungle Out There

Dating. DATING.


It was rough as a teen, rough as a young adult & by God, rough as a mid-thirties widowed single mom.

A funny thing happened though... at some point,  I just relaxed and began to enjoy the process. If you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince then I've become quite familiar at avoiding catching any warts.

I figured out that I actually enjoyed getting dressed up & having a drink with interesting people... the key is leaving it at that. Not every dinner date has the potential to be your soul mate & once that pressure is off it's actually quite fun to swap stories and meet new people.  Plus the stand up material is pure gold. I went out on a date with a guy who brought me a tie dyed rose dipped in glitter & two questionairres (along with pencils!) for us to fill out... it wasn't the worst date I've ever been on!

What dating has done is given me the space & experience to really sort out what *exactly* I want in a partner & a relationship. What I'm willing to compromise on & what I'm not. It's taught me to rely on my instincts... if something is feeling off, it's because something is usually WAY WAY OFF. That doesn't mean they aren't a wonderful person, it just means they aren't the person for you. I've also made a couple really good friends & you can never have too many of those!

Four months ago I sat down and wrote a letter... to God, the universe, whatever... laying it wall out. This is what I NEED in a partner, the must haves. And these are the things I WANT... would be nice but I not deal breakers.

More than anything, writing that letter made me feel good. I know who I am & what I want & most importantly I've come to a place where I feel good about my life exactly the way it is now... having someone would be wonderful but I'm in a really great place. Life is not what I thought it would be, but it's mine & I'm making it a good one.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Welcome To Parenting, Valerie Style

Hi Folks!

It's your friendly widow blogger with a post less likely to induce depressive disorder and more likely to just piss you off instead. A refreshing change of pace right?

So. Maybe you are like me and you look around and see a sea of other parents out there, struggling under the weight of their ergo baby carriers and organic juice boxes, pleading in a non-confrontational voice with little Skyler or Gavin (so as not to inhibit his burgeoning sense of self esteem or creativity) to please stop playing call of duty in 10 minutes so you two can sit down and do homework together (Which really means you're going to do his homework while he whines and shuffles and says "I don't knoooooowww! It's too haaaaaaard!!!" Right? Yeah, I know. I get it.). I have sat in gyms full of parents one-upping each other on everything from their kids grades and touchdowns to learning disorders. Munchhausen's anyone?

Let's take a little quiz, shall we?

How many times, when asked about yourself or your hobbies or interests, have you answered by describing your children and/or their hobbies? How many of you simply drew a blank?

How often is your free time/weekend time completely consumed by your kids activities?

Do your kids schedules dominate your families routine? 

When was the last time you completed a project of your own? Spent a half hour wandering aimlessly in a museum? Went to a film that wasn't animated?

Ugggh. Do you hear that wooshing sound? That's your life, passing you by.

Becoming a parent is one of the purest, most difficult joys a person can experience. It is a process of immeasurable love, nobility, patience & humility. But the truth of it is that our kids need us far, far less than we need them.

See, I have this crazy notion that your children may have come from you but they are. not. you. I've met some parents who forget that. They seem to keep trying to re-live their past through their kids... pushing in places that just don't need pushing and ignoring truths that would create an even richer, more dynamic relationship with their children. Don't get me wrong... everyone needs guidance and direction. But acknowledging that you have this amazing, nearly independent little human running around that has their own thoughts, feelings, intrinsic values, outlook... we can influence, we can gently suggest. We sometimes have to draw the line and take a hard stance. We often have to be the bad guy. But there is nothing as magical as the selflessness involved in loving this alien being you've helped to bring up... watching them thrive & loving them as they are.

Our culture currently promotes the ideal of the frazzled, chronically busy and burnt out parent as some sort of badge of honor. We are to sacrifice our sanity, our health and our happiness on the altar of success as society dictates: the  job, big house, flashy cars, cool gadgets & kids who are perpetually BUSY.

Do we ever stop to think if that is what is actually good for our kids? How about encouraging a few healthy passions? How about making time for boredom as a learning tool? I can't tell you how often my kids have built amazing things with cardboard and duct tape because they were bored and I didn't rush in to entertain them.

I have a confession: I have never enjoyed "playing" with my kids. Set me up with a board game or a craft, making dinner together or hanging out doing something we all enjoy and, especially as they get older, we have a great time. But playing kitties or superheroes or whatever? Nope. That's what you have playmates, each other and imaginary friends for. And frankly, my kids have never needed anyone to play court jester. They have big brains they put to good use and a healthy expectation of what Mom will and will not do for them.

Becoming a single parent has been, by far, one of the greatest challenges I've faced. I'll admit that sometimes I simply throw my hands up and yell "I can't do this!" Having my life derailed means figuiring out exactly what I need to be happy & knowing that in just a few short years, if I do my job right, my babies will leave the nest and I'll only be able to embarrass them when they come home to raid the fridge and do laundry.

So, call it selfish if you want. I'm cultivating a life that is definitely centered on my children but with plenty of room for me. Figuring out what I want and where the yellow brick road is leading me. Interestingly, I've found some fellow travelers along the way. Our kids may not be the future Ivy league-rs (or they might!) but they are INTERESTING PEOPLE. And the world needs more interesting people.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Different AfterWords

Writing this blog has been, by far, the healthiest way I have coped with Jason's death. The earliest posts are things I find difficult to read at times, yet I am strangely and fiercely proud of them. I'm still not certain it conveys a completely accurate look into my life, because I am usually writing when overwhelmed by emotion, when the words almost bubble over and I can't type fast enough. But it isn't sugarcoated. It isn't dressed up or down. It's a chronicle.

It's been 946 days since Jason died. 2 years, 7 months and 4 days. Yesterday and an Eternity. Sometimes contemplating the mere passage of that time is enough to bring on panic, time is something I have never been easy with. On better days it feels merely perplexing... how is it possible that he has missed so much? And shouldn't we get a little break now? Shouldn't we get a five minute phone call, a check in at least? It's absurd still, to think that I will never talk to him again. It is still unfathomable.

There is so much I want to write, yet I don't. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't pollute this space with anything but my pain, but that pain is the same thing that keeps me away from writing more, on the days I feel hope and determination to carve out space of my own in a new life I didn't want and didn't ask for, but am living nonetheless. And that is the crux of it. I won't accede to that old cliche: time heals all wounds, I still want to punch people that say that to me. But time has given me the breathing room to look around, take stock, and decide that I need to make some happiness happen.

Friday, August 14, 2015

41 aka Some Terrible Poetry

When I look at the blinking planets
I see the stars that were your eyes

Swirling eddies and streams of light
Your soul now in the jewels of the universe

If only the gentle fall of the atmosphere
Held some semblance of your touch

Created and never destroyed
Loved and never lost

Happy birthday, my love. I still miss you the way I did just moments after you left us. I'm beginning to realize most of us just learn to go on carrying that void, that emptiness, with us for the rest of our lives. Is this the price we pay to know love in our lifetimes? I don't know.
Maybe, for me, it is. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

From the Depths of the Drowning, That We May Reach Land

I haven't written since April? That doesn't surprise me all that much, summer has been action packed and flown by. Bullet points then:

  • I started my own business! Go take a look and then book an order
  • I also got a new job as the office manager for local Modern Woodmen of America financial representative Lisa Minardi. So if you need insurance or magic money help (cause seriously, she's amazing...), I can hook you up with that too!
  • The kids are in Jujitsu 3 days a week, 2 separate youth groups & Ozzie's just finished up football conditioning, which trained twice a week. They each went to camp, went out of state for a big family vacation and we got to go to our beloved family camping trip with dear friends this year. I have basically been a taxi service for a lot of it (shout out to my parents, who also get in on the taxi rotation) and my kindle and TED talks on my phone have been my best friends. I joke about it a lot, but I'm thrilled that they are busy and happy. 
  • Ozzie has caught the fishing bug from his Papa and Uncle's and is bugging me for rides to the river constantly. Ivy gave it a try and decided books, crafting and AC are more her speed (takes after her Mum). 
Things have been for the most part good, just like life I guess. This Fathers Day was certainly more sweet than bitter. We got Jason a balloon, wrote notes to him and tied them to the string, went out to our spot and each told a favorite memory, said a prayer, shouted an "I LOVE YOU!" and released it into the sky. There were tears, but mostly memories, and the knife didn't cut quite so deep.

A couple of significant things have happened for me.

I think, 2 years and 5 months later, that I am finally in a place where I have accepted that he is gone. If you have never experienced loss this may seem silly or even dumbfounding. "Yeah, of course he's gone. He's dead. What did you think happened?" Well, prior to Jason's death, I would have been right there with you. 

I always liked to think I was a very practical, pragmatic person, who could be faced with a setback or problem and simply take a minute and then take stock and either begin again or look for a solution. I know now that facing how very much I am actually not like that began 6 years ago, when I was diagnosed with a rare birth defect/kidney disease. I thought I could simply do what I always did and knuckle through, ignoring it until it took me down. Instead it began slowly chipping away at  my health in a way that has left me battered and abused by the medical system and questioning my own sanity. It has also led me to a place where I now know that doctors have only this tiny little finite amount of help to offer. I am chronically ill and in pain every single moment of the day and I am the only one who can make a good life out of that fact. It is very difficult to know that, but so freeing at the same time. I trust God and I am trying to care for myself as he/she would. 

So, where were we? Ah, acceptance. Well, yes. It's taken a lot of hits, awful losses, huge and tiny ones, a lot of times where I felt punched in the gut and I simply didn't want to get up to realize that much of what I blustered and built up as practical was actually denial, deflection. Pushing things down and putting them off. Dealing only with the now when an eye on the tomorrow would really have been the brave  move. You can see something with your own eyes, you can speak it, you can live without someone... but in your heart and soul, you still may not accept it. It may take a really long time. And it REALLY hurts when you finally do. But until you do, you cannot begin to heal. 

Which leads to another part of acceptance. I think the night I made the first move toward acceptance was when I was finally able to verbalize why I was stuck where I was. It was something that hadn't even really been a fully formed thought in my head... but when I said it out loud it was one of those "Oh Shit!" moments, where you gasp and shock yourself with your own truth. My mom and I were talking, err, she was talking and I was sobbing, and she asked me why I didn't think I deserved to have a happy life. Because I was (and sometimes still am, working on it) convinced that I didn't. That I would raise my kids to be happy, healthy adults and then I could just fade away somehow?! And I said it "Because that would mean I didn't love him enough!" Sad. And not true. Even I know that and I'm just like Jon Snow. 

So, those two things kind of lifted the darkness for me a bit. Enough to give me some momentum. I'm doing good work, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I'm trying, and I''m happier than I was. And I know THAT is what Jason would want, because that is what he always wanted when he was here. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Little Venting

How's this for a dark thought? Sometimes I think "I only have to keep living until the kids are grown up with families of their own. It will still hurt, but it won't be as devastating then. Then I can let go." Sometimes, that thought is the only thing that keeps me going. As if by putting some finite amount of time that I have to keep living will make it easier to bear.

I wish that thought didn't bring me so much comfort. I wish I could feel excited for what lies ahead in my own life. But I'm not quite at that point yet. I hope that someday I will be. But right now, it feels like I've had all my innocence burned away. I know now, that the worst really can happen. And that it can happen again. I am TERRIFIED of losing anyone else. I don't think I could come back from that. I'm certainly not coming back from losing Jason, not much at all. And that is why there is a wall building ever higher within me. As much as I try to remain open to the blessings of my life, at my core I am scared and angry and so incredibly sad that most of the time I don't understand why anyone would want to be around me. I need love and I love desperately and at the same time I hold some part of myself back because how do you regrow parts of your soul that are lost?

I engage in ritualistic thinking, torturing myself and pretending that I am just being prepared for when something happens. Forcing  myself to think about my children, my family and friends dying or just no longer wanting me around. It won't make me ready. You don't get to be ready for that. It just makes me sad and paranoid and cold. Very, very cold.

I'm still smoking and I am so disgusted with myself. And yet I get irrationally angry if anyone dares to mention that I need to quit. I wake up at least a few times a week, heart pounding and imagining the day I get my own cancer diagnosis. Or the day the emphysema or COPD leaves me  unable to breath. It is SO STUPID. I hate how weak I am. I don't want to be a burden to anyone.

All I want is to protect my kids, to love them and hopefully help them to become the people they are supposed to be. And maybe, be happy. Be happy again. I will never get to be that person that I was, that trusted in the future. That felt lucky and safe and secure. There are boogeymen out there and they are real. But some day, I don't want to be so scared anymore.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


... It isn't just an awesome George Michael song. (Oh my, I'm really dating myself now aren't I?)

I've never been religious, but I've always had a keen interest in the purpose of life and the various philosophies that we humans employ to make sense of our universe and our place within it. I read the Bible as a teen, along with the Qur'an, books about Jewish faith (our ethnic heritage on my mothers side), Wicca, New Age religions, Native American traditions, Agnosticism, Athiesm and Buddhism. I always manage to find something useful and inspiring in the studies I've made into various spiritual paths.

But I've never been an absolutist. Let me rephrase that: I am definitley capable of absolutism, but I am very fickle within that mindset. I have a tendecy to vaccilate between absolute belief and outright disbelief. I don't think this is neccesarily a bad thing. I've always had the ability to see things from many different sides and question my perception. As I get older this trait becomes stronger, as I accept how much I really don't know about anything.

We weren't raised in any one religion. My father came from a Christian background, while my mother was raised in the beliefs of reincarnation, karma and meditation. I went to church on sundays with my grandmother and remember my mom teaching my brothers and I how to relax into a meditative state.

For most of my adult life, I have called myself an "open minded, hopeful atheist". Or maybe Agnostic. I have always believed that there is something beyond our physical plane, some higher purpose for our daily struggles. And it has always been apparent to me that the major religions all have similar tenets regarding birth, death, sacrifice and afterlife.

In the hardest moments of my life, I have unfailingly turned to God. What or who that God is, I was and still am not completely certain. And I'm ok with that. But there has always been a part of my soul that, fundamentally, believes in God and destiny and fate and the purpose of suffering and sacrifice to advance toward enlightenment.

Some time after Jason died, I began to have odd little moments of peace and understanding. I began to see that even though one of my greatest fears became a reality, that I was not completely alone. I began to pray more often, oftentimes feeling silly. But it helps. It isn't always pleasant... there are many angry thoughts and feelings that surface, times that I have to just ask "Why?". In my darkest moments, it is the loving presence of grace and mercy that have given me the strength to sob and rail and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have no real explanation for it. I still question whether it is real or simply a feeling my brain manifests in order to protect me from myself.

After the very real moments of feeling the presence of something so much bigger than myself, I realized one night that it is ok for me to have faith. That it is required for me to continue on, to make myself happy, to raise my kids to become strong, independent people with a moral compass and compassion for themselves and others. That fellowship and worship and reaching out to God doesn't make me weak or silly or wrong in any way. That sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. I did just that when I married a man who I had only known for 5 months and the reward was a love that shaped me into who I am today. I've done just that everytime I've stepped out of my comfort zone and taken on a new challenge that has made me stronger and happier or at the very least a little wiser.

I am human and I will make mistakes. I have the right to change my mind, I have the right to follow my instincts and listen to my heart. I have the right, no... the responsibility to continue seeking a higher power to guide me and reveal to me my true purpose in this life.

I go to church now (not often, but I don't believe that church is the only way to connect with God... for me, it feels more important to incorporate a love for God in my everyday, mundane life) and a few months ago I my son and I were baptized together. That doesn't mean I will ever be religious. But I DO have faith. I have learned to quiet my soul and reach out for a power that no earthly thing can give me. I've developed a relationship with God that feels just intrinsically RIGHT. I absolutely feel a connection with the teachings of Christ, Buddha and the solidification of a spiritual journey that lifts me above the pain and heartache of the everyday.

I fully admit that at times, I have been embarrassed by my change of heart. I have feared the judgement and derision of the people in my life that do not share those beliefs, but it is something I have to let go of. Because my journey is mine alone. I would never, ever belittle someone else for their beliefs or seek to change thier minds. If I am asked, I will freely share what God has done in my life, but I absolutley understand that everyone is different. I also don't ever want to feel that I am better than anyone else because of my beliefs. I truly believe that a life well lived, with compassion and love and kindness toward others is the only requirement for being a good person. I don't agree with many many of the fundamentalist laws of the Christian religion (that a loving sexual relationship outside the bonds of marriage is a sin, that loving someone of the same sex is a sin, that there is only one true path for salvation)... and I realize that some people will not see me as a moral human for those beliefs.

But I really don't have a problem with that.

God gave me the mind & soul that I was blessed with and I truly believe that acceptance, love and compassion for ones fellow man and generosity of spirit carry far more weight than strict adherence to rules written by man millenia ago. I believe that following Jesus's example of service to all mankind and boundless love and sacrifice are the most important lessons that one can learn and seek to emulate.

This new-found faith is helping me to heal and accept. Life will always be hard, we will always have struggle. But accepting and moving on from our setbacks, our mistakes, our own little tragedies... there is where we can show our strength. In the hard moments, that is where we can seek to be more than the sum of our circumstances. Faith bolsters me to accept and perhaps even welcome the hard stuff, knowing that I then have an opportunity to learn another lesson, to become stronger and appreciate all the blessings that I have been given.  Amen!!


This is something I wrote that I got to share with our congregation before my son and I were baptized. As I tried to make sense of the fledgling faith and hope that I began to feel, I realized that I've been on this spiritual journey for far longer than I thought and I'd like to share a little bit about that process.

When I was a little girl my brothers and I would often go to church with Grandma on Sundays. I'm sure, in its own way, it is a good church... but it wasn't good for me. There was music,  but it was somber, a constant theme was how lowly we humans were, how imperfect and flawed. Maybe it was just my age or the way my brain works... but I never felt God's presence there. I didn't feel the glory of the Lord, the Love he has for us. All I could feel was how imperfect I was. And I internalized that feeling. I grew to hate church. I felt a false truth... that I didn't deserve God's love and grace. That I could never be worthy of it. 

I was a particularly sensitive kid. I swung between extreme shyness and a love for being the center of attention. I was odd, I loved reading and digging up worms and pretending to make magic potions and drawing by myself at recess. I didn't have many friends,  but I did have a big chip on my shoulder. I felt worthless and awkward and different. Over the years, I rejected God. I grew a thick skin and a "Don't mess with me" attitude. I felt the pull of God, but down deep, I just knew I didn't measure up. I had no faith. So, I rejected religion. I prostelysed science and believed I was better than the silly believers while secretly yearning for the peace and conviction they seemed to have. It wasn't something I would admit, even to myself.

I met the man who was my best friend, my soulmate, at 19. We married 5 months after we met and we made a beautiful life together.  We became the parents of two amazing, dynamic children. We were Atheists. My husband had endured a hard life, full of pain and rejection. He was hardened by the circumstances of his life and he was very much a self made man. He was amazingly intelligent and he blazed his own trail out of an early life full of pain, addiction and poverty. The little family that we made together was the fire that led him to become a successful business man and an excellent father, protecter, provider. He encouraged me in every new passion I had, but for most of my 20's my focus was being his hearth and home. He made the money and I was a stay at home mom, student and eventually found my way into a field I loved and excelled in. We were happy. We fought sometimes,  of course.  But we had a strong marriage and great plans for our future.

The first time I truly felt the presence of God was when my children were born. That first breath... It was miraculous. It was something I couldn't explain away with science... the magic of a new life, born of the love we shared, it was otherworldly. I prayed silently, almost embarrassed by my impulse to plead with a God I wasn't sure existed to give me the strength to be a good mother.

In December of 2012 my husband, a man who rarely got so much as a cold or flu, began having a strange stomach ache. Two weeks passed, as the pain got worse, before I finally convinced him to go to the doctor. He was diagnosed with diverticulitis but, 2 rounds of antibiotics later, the pain was steadily getting worse. He was finally rushed to the hospital after a botched colonoscopy for exploratory surgery on January 25th 2013. Two hours later, I sat outside with a doctor who told me my 38 year old husband was riddled with cancer. There was no mass to remove, it had grown like a clinging vine and it was everywhere. In shock, I asked if he was going to die. The doctor told me "Not on this admission". He gave me no hope, no assurances that Jason would come through this. He knew what he was looking at, but he wouldn't tell me the truth. I knew it anyway. I knew, in my very soul, that the man I had loved for the past 13 years, the man who was as necessary as the air in my lungs, was going to die. I didn't want to acknowledge it, but somehow I just knew. The doctors gave him a colostomy and closed him up and told me they wouldn't have a treatment plan until his biopsy repport came back and an oncologist looked at him.

My brother Nathan was the first to come be with me while they finished Jason's surgery. I sank to my knees when I saw him, sobbing, and we prayed. Funny how my first instinct was to plea to a God I was certain didn't exist. But I did it anyway. And I kept praying over the next week,  pleading for a miracle,  promising the changes and sacrifices I would make if he would heal my love. Asking to switch places, because I couldn't bear the thought of a life without him. We got the final diagnosis two days later... Stage 4 pancreatic, stomach and esophageal cancer. The prognosis was that with chemo, if his body could survive it, he would live another couple of months.
Obviously, our world shattered. Jason tried a round of chemo,  which only speeded up the process of his death. He chose hospice when it became clear that he was not going to survive. He quietly and bravely accepted death and chose to live out the rest of his time on earth as he wanted it... at home, where he could hug and love on his children and sleep beside me. For three weeks, we got to say goodbye. We said all the things that we needed to say, he tried his best to prepare me for the things I would need to do after he was gone. He wrote the letters he needed to write and basked in the love of our family and friends. I cared for him at home, with a lot of help and support. Our family was changing,  growing tighter. Jason spoke of how loved he felt, how proud he was of me and our children. A staunch atheist,  he began to think about the after. He felt a strong sense of serenity.  He told me several times that he didn't know what would happen when he died,  but that he felt a strong presence of peace... the conviction that he had been a good person and had done his best and that he felt he was moving on to something good. God was with my husband, I know that now. God was guiding him to acceptance and giving him the strength to say goodbye. I know that in the end, he knew it.

Jason died at home February 17th, 2013... three days after our son's 13th birthday and a week before our thirteenth anniversary. My entire life lay in shattered pieces. I didn't know what to do, how to comfort my children, how to go on living when I felt dead inside. 

My family and friends are amazing. They held us together and rallied around us. The shock set in and I was in such a fog, such enormous pain that I didn't know how to deal with. And I was angry. If there was a God, how could he do this to us? Why did my husband have to die when there were so many bad people out there who got to live?

I ran from the pain, in whatever way I could. I drank, did whatever I could to ease the pain. But it didn't work, and it was eating me alive. 

There has been a lot to learn. I have stumbled and fallen, over and over. My children and I have been in therapy, support groups, whatever we were "supposed" to do to go on. I've been suicidal. I'm heartbroken in the very literal sense of the word. I have a chronic illness that has spiraled out of control over the last few years, a physical representation of a life upended.

I can't tell you when it happened. There has been a quiet yearning for a long time, a wish for peace and understanding.  All I know is that for the first time,  I felt an answer.  I felt God's graceful, loving presence. I watched my kids get involved with church and youth group and begin to heal in a real way. I started praying. Something cracked open in my soul and God's love rushed in to begin to heal me, to help me understand,  to help me accept and let go. I feel God's presence now. I understand that I don't have to be perfect to feel his grace.

Things have been happening as my soul opens up to accept God's love, to understand the saccrifice Jesus made for our salvation. It is really hard to ignore and explain away when God is making himself known in your life everyday. I'm never going to be perfect. I'll probably never be a perfect Christian. I still have questions. I'm still not sure of what I'm doing. But for the first time in my life, I have faith. I know that my husband is at peace in God's grip. I am putting myself into His hands. I am beginning to heal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stuck, Kind Of.

I'm having a bad time of it all. It's been going on for much longer than I'm comfortable with. I feel just absolutley washed out and pathetic and whiny and angsty and ANGRY. So, so angry. I'm trying really hard to keep my head up, but I'm not doing a great job.

It's gorgeous outside, but the only time I feel comfortable is at night, like a vampire. I desperatley want cold, wind and rain. The world is shining too brightly and I'm dead set on shutting it out.
Stupid things make me mad, send me into ugly crying fits. My truck won't start. My son is going to be in high school. I can't find my favorite black sweater and I can't quite remember what his voice sounds like anymore.

I can't stop reprimanding myself: You should be able to handle this. You shouldn't be this sad, unbalanced. You should be doing more. You have so much to do and you are just dragging yourself through the days, it's dramatic and embarrassing. You know what's important and you let yourself get completely overwhelmed by the small stuff. IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS YOU SHOULD BE BETTER.


I don't know. I really don't. I pray, I ask for help. I feel like a barnacle stuck on a huge rock, drying out to a husk and getting pounded by waves I have no control over. I'm embarrased to be so sad still, but I may be this sad forever and eventually all the people who love me will be sick of it. I feel selfish and self absorbed and ridiculous. Things haven't healed right or maybe they just aren't healed yet.

It will be ok. It will, I know it will someday but I'm impatient. So just let me rant and rave a little more and make it through this day and then the next.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Another Year

Yesterday was two years.

I feel the way I imagine a hiker lost in the woods does. You follow a direction, you're making good time, you might even be enjoying the fresh air and the world around you. You're scared, but you're pretty sure you're figuring it out. And then you see the tree you marked a few days ago and you're plunged right back into despair and terror.

I think, anyway. I've never been lost in the forest. But I've definitely been here before.

My natural response is to batten the hatches and hide. To curl up and hang on until taking a shower or grocery shopping or having a normal conversation with other people doesn't paralyze me with anxiety and the utter apathy lets up a little.

I've been told I'm strong.

I'm not.

I fake it, a lot. I feel it, every now and then. Mostly I'm just holding on by the skin of my teeth and I truly don't understand how everyone around me doesn't see it.

For me, being strong is action. It is taking the bull by the horns and wrestling it whichever way I want it to go. Strength is getting things done. It isn't crying every time the wind blows. It isn't hiding and staring at the walls and waiting for the storm to pass. But times like these, I just can't. It is all I can do to keep breathing, keep praying for light, keep my brain from going over all the mistakes I've made and will make again.

It isn't any easier yet.

I bounce back a little faster maybe. I know there will come a time of reprieve, when I will feel stronger, have more hope. Be able to pat myself on the back now and then.

I wish I had the strength to get back up right away. To trust in peace and security and all the things I know to be right in my little world.

See that's the thing that all the inspirational stories don't tell you. You may win the war but you will not win every battle. They gloss over the parts where you feel so broken and pathetic and awful that you wake up wishing you didn't. So maybe there is some strength in admitting that. Acknowledging that you won't always want to fight on, to keep going. That you won't always be able to. That you may get knocked down and lie in the dust awhile. You may get grimy. No one, especially yourself, will want to look at you. You will hurt and hurt and hurt and day by day you will try a little bit more.

Until you see that damn tree again.