A Simple Hello…

Happy Sunday to you all!

I’m grateful to be at what some of us consider the end of our week and some consider it to be the beginning of the next week. No one likes to be caught in the “middle” of many things, but this is one time the middle is a good place to be. Take a few minutes and think about what you accomplished this past week. Was it a lot? A little? Nothing? Nothing isn’t really a factor in this question, because if you woke up every day and that’s all you did, you still did something! I’ll admit that this past week started out by showing all the signs of being a week where I would have to dig in and “embrace the suck.” Thankfully I was wrong. Very wrong! Monday was the worst day I had and by Wednesday I was back on track. Getting knocked down isn’t fun, nor is the pain we experience, but we have the ability to get back up and keep moving forward as long as we can breathe. I’m still breathing.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to incorporate into my life since my husband died is the knowing that every time I wake up from a nap or a full night’s sleep: the sting of loss is new in that very second. Daydreaming brings the same sting as well. And if the daydream is about him, I usually have tears streaming down my face without even realizing it. It’s okay. I would rather feel the sting 10,000 times a day than to never experience it. That sting lets me know that he was. And that he is. And that he will be forever in my heart.

As I look back over the life of my blog, I see so much pain and anguish and sadness. I also see strength and grit and and tenderness. Let me admit here and now that I know there were times where it seems I was unfair, and I was. This blog was born out of the worst type of pain I’d ever experienced up until my beloved died and the pain I wrote about sometimes came across as hateful. I really can’t apologize for where I was, though I know I should. I know I’ll never hear an apology directed towards me, and that’s okay, too. The further away from the events of May of 2018, the less power they hold over me. God hasn’t given any of us a spirit of fear, and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. It’s the same for the pain of grief. The further away from the date my husband finally succumbed to the ravaging effects of his stroke, the pain of grief becomes less harsh. The sting? I can deal with it. I almost welcome it, like I said. It lets me know that he was loved and that I was, too.

I’m not a perfect person, I don’t want to be. I’m perfectly loved and that’s what really makes it possible for me to push my way out of the darkness and live in the light. When we sink to our knees in prayer, we don’t always get the answers we WANT. We get the answers we NEED. We all know there is a difference between want and need. What happened recently isn’t important anymore, it’s what I’ve learned that makes all the difference. I’ve forgiven myself and pray for forgiveness from the person I hurt. I know the saying is “forgive and forget” and I’m good at the former, not the latter. Each day I wake up is another day towards forgetting. This is an area of my life I need to work on. I try, and fail. And try again. And fail, again. Don’t we all?

When life doesn’t turn out like you thought it would, leave the darker parts of it behind you. Let the sun shine upon you and warm your battered spirit. When you cry out to God or the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in and you get no response, look deep within and try to be patient. The answer is out there somewhere, and it will come to you when you truly need it. I got my answer about this past week’s turmoil on Wednesday and now it’s a solid comfort to my spirit. I hope you find the same peace.

Be well dear readers and remember, in a world where you can be anything, please be kind! Until next time…

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

I went…

The last few days have been a struggle. I wandered down the rabbit holes of estrangement, regret, self-doubt and a host of other mostly negative places… Let me explain.

I went down the rabbit hole of angst on Monday past. Something happened because I had the audacity to think for myself. Something I’ve gained a good deal of insight into since my beloved died almost 14 months ago. Beware… thinking for yourself and of others should come with warning labels! Actually, I think there is a manual for that, it’s called the Bible. At least in this house that’s what is. If you’re not a believer, you may see the warning manual as light, positive energy, the calm before the storm… I’m sure you get the picture.

Angst. Not a welcome brick in the backpack of life that I carry. Someone reached out to me in the early days of March (the 2nd) and presented a simple proposal. Did I want to be a part of something to honor someone we both love? Yes! Sign me up! I was told that I’d have more information by that weekend, and never received anything else. I try really hard to not push this person in any way, the fights that usually ensue have a tendency to crush my already shattered heart. I waited for almost 3 weeks before taking matters into my own hands and sought the information I needed to make a decision. Not a good thing… This has become a massive issue. I’ve been accused of overshadowing, being overly dramatic and was flat out punched in the gut (metaphorically speaking). I was going to do something kind for the person we both love, and still will, just not as part of the original proposal. Both the proposal initiator and I deserve peace, and I’m not biting my nose off to spite my face, I’m just tossing the brick of angst into my sea of tranquility and moving forward.

I went down the rabbit hole of anger because of the scenario just described and I’m happy to write that I’m not angry anymore. What’s the point? Monday was just a shit day, and I reacted poorly, I admit it. I apologized, though was told that just because I say something doesn’t make it true. That’s correct. This is not one of those times. I’m sorry I engaged in a back and forth and threw stones at someone else, I lost my composure. It happens to ALL of us from time to time. Just because I love this other person I don’t have the right to act out of ill will. I realize that. What I also realize is there are ways to avoid this kind of crazy cycle in the future. I can stop trying to make this person see my heart. I can stop wishing this person would lay down the daggers and swords and knives that seem to be permanently buried in my back. I can look ahead, focus on that which is good, and take steps in a different direction. Check! This morning I woke up refreshed, with a happy demeanor, and with the knowledge that the joy I always seek is just beyond the horizon of forgiveness. I forgive myself for acting poorly, and I forgive the other person as well.

I went down the rabbit hole of self-doubt after this happened, but I don’t live there. I’m human. You’re human. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Self-doubt stop being my companion a long time ago and that’s one brick I won’t ever knowingly carry in my backpack. I matter. And if I only matter to me, that’s enough. I know that’s not the case, but as long as I keep my eyes and heart focused on Jesus, I know I’ll always matter to Him. That’s more than enough!

I went down the rabbit hole of many more feelings simply because I am me. I’m broken, but there’s so much beauty in the brokenness. I’m tenderhearted, and that tenderheartedness is often mistaken for being overly dramatic or too sensitive. I would rather have my heart crushed 1000 times over by this particular person than to crush someone else’s heart. I’ve learned so many positive things because of the conflicted relationship between us and sharing those things with others through this blog is a healing thing for me. I’ve been told that my blog is inappropriate and not appreciated, that’s okay. I’ve been told that I only tell my own side of the story. You think? It’s MY blog, not a community free for all. I’ve been ridiculed, demeaned, thrown away, burned in effigy, forgotten, hated and scorned because I write this blog. I’ve also been loved, supported, thanked, trusted, hugged and encouraged by people around the world through my blog. The old saying is “You can’t make everyone happy all the time” and I know this to be true. I wish I could, my empathetic self almost demands it. As long as I continue to serve others, apologize when I mess up, (which is frequently) and walk with my hand in the Lord’s, I’ll stay out of the rabbit holes more than I’d be in them.

Thanks for reading. In a world where you can be anything, I hope you choose to be kind.

Photo by Guillaume Meurice on Pexels.com

Finally…

Finally… Look up the definition of the word and you’ll see where I’ve been. “After a long time, difficulty or delay.” (Oxford Language Dictionary)

As a courtesy to those of my followers that may not believe in God, I want to tell you up front that this post will be pretty saturated by my faith. I try not to write about it extensively, but this post calls for it. I won’t be offended if you choose not to read further, and should anyone choose to leave derogatory comments on my site, please know that I’ll just delete them. Thanks.

Finally… I saw him. People talk about seeing their loved one after death in things like butterflies, birds, and the like. I hadn’t experienced that until this morning at precisely 5:30 a.m. EST. I woke gently for once, my cat not making unreasonable demands like she does most days. She was tucked against me, I was warm, and slowly opened my eyes. He was there, like, right there. Standing next to our bed, his head covered by a white hood and I could see the folds in the cloth he was wearing. A simple draping of fabric laid across his broad shoulders and chest. His steady breathing, and the most encompassing sense of peace. Am I insane? Probably. Do I care? Not at all. I’ve been pretty raw since it happened, but not in a bad way. It just felt so real. I know it was him. I’ve often written about hearing him and that still happens. Music is the connection between us and that will never change. I hear him almost everyday. Seeing him? I can’t even…

Finally… I’ve started chasing my degree and my dream to write a book. I’ve been working hard at becoming a student in the 21st century, and it I have to tell you something. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! I’m living proof! At the age of 59.5 years old, I squashed the inner demons of self-doubt, second-guessing, and over-thinking. And I continue to that every day! It’s not easy, but if something is worth having, it’s worth working your butt off to get it. No matter who other people think I am, the only true opinions that matter are my own. And God’s. Without the foundation of faith I am once again standing on, I couldn’t make my life make sense. People hurt one another. I’ve hurt people I love. I need the healing that only He gives. I want to be connected to others, of course I do. I like people and we’re not created to be alone, so it only makes sense that I would need/want to feel connected. Being connected doesn’t give the person on the other end of that invisible cord the right to hurt me. Nor I them. Things happen. The cord snaps. Sometimes you can bring the ends back together and bind them in a fashion that holds fast again. Sometimes the ends are frayed beyond repair and at some point you have to recognize that things will never go back to the way they were. Wherever you are in your relationships with others, I pray that you’re happy. And whole. That wholeness for me comes from God.

Finally… I’m happy. In the most basic and simple of ways. I’m happy. I have a wonderful family, a few amazing and closer than my own skin friends, and a life that doesn’t look like much to most, but it’s all I need. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be happy again, especially after the death of my husband, I would’ve done one of two things. I’d cry, or tune you out. I still cry, but not like I did a year ago. I try not to tune people out, I fail. We all do. When you get tuned out, it hurts like hell. I don’t want to do that, or feel like that, ever again. The Lord promises us good things, and sometimes those good things come out of bad. Sometimes we have to struggle and beg and cry out to Him to find the answers to our whys. When the answer is revealed, you”ll know it’s from the Father above. How? That I cannot answer. You just know. I know I’ll feel left out or discarded again, it’s human. When I do, I’ll cry out to Him. I’ll hit my knees and pray. Simple, profound, and overpowering. Happiness isn’t impossible to find, it comes from within. And from Him.

Finally… I can look forward and see a little of the path I’m on beginning to blossom with blessings. My best friend is on the transplant list for a kidney. By summer she may have one. After almost 5 years and countless roadblocks, things are beginning to look up. Literally. I can’t fathom losing my spirit sister, and I have very selfish motives for feeling that way. I have never had a friend like her, we are one spirit in two skins. Please pray for her when you read this. God knows who she is and who her potential donor is, that’s all you need to remember. He’s clearing the hurdles in a mighty way as I type. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is no joke. Please consider becoming an organ donor, or even a living donor, if you feel led. Giving the gift of you, in some form, can alter a life. A family. A community. The world…

Finally… I’ll end here. I wish the snow would! It’s snowing here in southwestern PA, and it sucks. I’m so ready for warmth and sunshine and outdoor play time. I hope that if you’re reading this, you’re happy and warm and safe. If you have a partner, hug him/her. Just because you can. Please pray that God continues to help me heal and move from grief to peace. I’m hopeful that somewhere out there is a person willing to accept me as I am, and that I can open my heart to someone else again. If companionship for me isn’t part of God’s plan, please pray that I find the inner strength I’ll need to live out the remainder of my earthly life in service to others. For, with, and because of Him…

Chapter One…

Hi All,

Yesterday was the very last day of the “first” year. The first year without my husband physically on earth was the 10th of February, the 23rd of February 2021, was the day he was laid to rest. The 23rd of February 2022 was the last day I would say “it’s the last of the firsts” without him. So many firsts take place in the first year after someone you love dies, and not just for me, but for all of us who loved him. The very first “first” was our youngest daughter’s birthday, just two days after he passed away. For the first 378 days we all marked the first birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter, his birthday, etc… I’m sure you get the picture.

On my Facebook today I shared a memory that I had written about how to begin Chapter One. It made me cry, of course it made me cry. Then it gave me the idea to share what the first year (chapter) of my life as a widow has looked like. It wasn’t nearly as dark as I expected it to be, though there have been some extremely dark moments. Chapter One hasn’t been as lonely as it could’ve been, though there have been moments of soul-crushing loneliness. Chapter one has almost seamlessly turned into Chapter Two, and while I realize that’s how life works, I find it amazing when I look behind me and see where I am. And to be here from whence I came? How is it even possible?

Chapter One greeted me with pain and grief and confusion. The starkest memory I have of Chapter One started as my husband took his last breath. I couldn’t breathe. I’m forever grateful that my sister-in-love was with me. She held his hand. And she held mine. She held me while I sobbed. Then came the phone call to my son-in-love. He was the first person I called; I made a promise to my husband to call the husbands of our daughters before the girls. Once I got into contact with him, I had to make the phone call that I knew would crush our youngest. No matter how many times I think about that call, I always feel the same white-hot stab of pain. I know I had to call her; I knew I would break her heart. I knew, and I still know, that I shouldn’t feel like I hurt her on purpose, but I can’t seem to find peace when it comes to this one thing. No matter what happens, there is never a good time for bad news. Never. Our family was shattered. Once the formalities were over and the business of grieving could begin in earnest, Chapter One became something I feared.

Fear can destroy even the hardest of hearts, and I was not going to cave into fear. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep, not an unusual thing for anyone to do when their person dies. It’s a natural thing to dwell in despondency, at least for a while. I’ve had a few people tell me how “lucky” we were that we knew he was dying. Lucky? That’s a subject for another day. Whether death is sudden or drawn out as my beloved’s was, the end result is the same. There is nothing “lucky” about the end result. Chapter One started off with despair and angst. Over time, and with some serious soul searching, I have begun to write Chapter Two. Chapter One gave me some wonderful gifts, yet it also took a lot from me. I’ve learned that I’m much more in tune with myself than I’ve ever been. I’ve learned that my boundaries matter. I’ve learned that the tender heart that I’ve always loved having (even when it breaks) still beats within my chest, it just beats a little differently now. I’ve learned that no matter how much you try to help someone else, if they don’t want your help, your efforts are in vain. I’ve learned that forging my own path forward doesn’t look like anyone else’s path and I’m so okay with that. I’ve learned that I’m going to be okay and that I’m going to thrive in whatever life the Lord gives me.

Chapter One has given me the most personal view of love and loss that I’ll ever know. I lost my person, but not his love. Love doesn’t die when the body does, nor does it die when your broken heart feels like you’re bleeding out. I’ve become closer to God than I ever thought I would be. Ever. I know I’ve said in the past that I try not to be “religious” through my blog, and I’m not. My faith has been forged in the fires of death and loss, and my walk with God has become my armor against the darkness that death and loss bring us all. I cry out to Jesus and can feel His presence shine down on me when I can’t look up. I seek His hand to hold when the trials of life become bigger than I can manage on my own. Death is part of life, and pain is part of death. That pain? That pain lets me know that what my husband and I shared was real. That pain? That pain becomes encouragement when I meet someone new that’s on the same journey I am. That pain? That pain started Chapter One and gave me the grit and stamina I needed to start Chapter Two.

I hope this makes sense to those of you reading. I’m beginning to thrive, bypassing the survival stage of grief. I’ve worked my butt off trying to figure out who I am now as a woman. I’m still a MiMi, a mom, a friend and a person who cares about others. I’m also a woman that can appreciate the trials of Chapter One, even the ones that were made bigger because my heart is tender. Chapter One taught me that self-care matters, that boundaries are necessary and that I matter. I miss my husband. How could I not? And… I know that should God decide I’m to live another 30 years on this earth, I’m going to do my best to live as He would have me do. I’ve walked through the valley of the shadow, not around it, and the view from this end is now beginning to show promise. I seek joy again without even realizing it. I share my heart in all its brokenness with others, and I praise God that I am His beloved daughter.

Chapter Two won’t be all sunshine and roses, of this, I am sure. I’ll face demons. I’ll experience more trials. I’ll flounder and stumble and get lost from time to time. When I get lost, I’ll seek my inner compass, point the needle towards Jesus, and step out in faith. I have no doubt that my guardian angel(s) can see me. I absolutely believe that I can defeat the demons that I’ll face because I won’t be fighting alone. In my weakest moments I know God will carry me. I know when I look behind me there will be many times that I’ll see only one set of footprints in the sand. Or snow. It snows a lot here in southwestern PA. In spite of the coming setbacks, trials and tribulations, I say bring on Chapter Two…

Photo by Barb Enos. View from River View Cemetery, Charleston, SC.

Broken

Broken…

What does that mean to you?

Hello Friends, I’m writing today about a subject that looks different for each and every one of us. Broken, by definition (Oxford online dictionary) means: 1.) having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order. 2.) (of a person) having given up all hope; despairing. I have been, and am, both. The second description is less of who I am than the first, though it wasn’t all that long ago in the reverse. I am no longer despairing. I haven’t given up. I’ve accepted. In that acceptance I’ve found that I have hope, though at times the hope is fleeting. Fleeting is better than non-existent.

Broken isn’t always bad. Sometimes we need breaking. An addict that wants to become and stay sober has to break their habit of drug use, drinking, anger, etc… As humans, sometimes we have to break cycles of addiction, abuse and neglect. More often than not, we become chain breakers of repeated circumstances. Of chains cast upon us by generations past. Being broken can open doors to the healing that we all crave. And need.

Broken people hurt people, and the cycle of brokenness is perpetuated. As you know, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I started writing because my husband and I were estranged from our oldest daughter. She accused us (mostly me) of heinous things, and the power in those statements damn near ruined us. Damn near. What has happened since the estrangement began is beautiful, yet sad. As time marched across the vast emptiness of shattered and broken hearts, we were growing without realizing it. We spent the first year trying to find a way to make sense of a non-sensical situation. A letter came. Another boulder to break the miniscule, and I do mean miniscule, healing that had begun to sprout through the cracks in our hearts. The letter became a tool in the healing process, not a detriment. We knew the day that courier showed up at our door that we could remain broken and struggling, or that we could accept and move forward. Without her. We chose the latter. Accepting that you’ve been thrown away like nothing more than a gum wrapper is beyond difficult to process, not impossible. Seven months after the letter arrived, my husband suffered a catastrophic stroke that would ultimately end his life. More breaking…

Breaking someone’s spirit because you can doesn’t make it right. I’ve done this very thing and am grateful that I, too, was broken because of my actions. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to be as right as I thought I did. Being right, or winning, isn’t winning anything if the victory is hollow. I’d rather lose a fight to hold onto peace and experience healing than to win an empty cup. Sometimes acceptance becomes our trophy, we just have to be willing to be open to what the lack of fighting may bring.

Being broken sucks. Plain and simple. If you’re shattered and experiencing so much pain that you can barely see, breathe. Just breathe. Sometimes being able to breathe is all we get when the white hot pain of brokenness rains down on us like a violent storm. Don’t bother with the umbrella, the winds of pain and heartache will continue to rip it out of your hands. Stand as strong and as fast as you can manage to against the tempest. Lean in. Breathe. I promise there will come a day when sunlight breaks through the proverbial darkness. You probably won’t recognize the light at first, I didn’t. As you put one foot in front of the other, your path becomes more well lit. Someday, you’ll look behind yourself and realize you’ve made progress towards that sliver of sunlight.

It’s been almost a year since my beloved died from that afformentioned stroke, and my heart is healing, yet stays broken as well. I’ve made many changes in my own life over the past year, and I’m proud of myself (mostly) for the way I’ve learned to accept what is, and isn’t, part of my life. I’ve moved. I start college (after a 40 year break) next month for my English degree. I’ve attended conferences that offer peer support to America’s families of its fallen heros. I’ve found a church that I like and I’ve met some wonderful people there. I also feel regret. I’ve lost people over the past year because I’m healing in a way they don’t understand. Part of the journey to heal our brokenness brings more brokenness, how could it not? It’s okay. I’ve adopted a new fur baby that makes me laugh out loud with her silly antics. I spend time with my youngest daughter, her husband and their terrific kids. I pray, without ceasing, for myself and others around the world. Music is never not on in my apartment. Music is like breathing for me, I can’t live without it. I’m learning that there is so much beauty in my brokenness that I can’t contain it all and I feel compelled to share it with all of you.

Being broken is hard, that’s for sure. What we choose to do with our brokenness is individual to each of us. For me, the hardest part of being broken is finding a way to accept myself when I make a poor decision. I’m human, I hurt, and the self-recrimination I place on myself after a poor decision can last for many, many days. Even many months. It’s when I get to a place where I can look back behind myself, that I see the healing that’s happened.

Go, be broken, and live. It is possible. Give yourself ALL the grace and mercy you deserve and forgive yourself. Forgive others. Life is messy, and this broken woman in Southwestern Pennsylvania hopes that you can see the beauty in the mess…

Photo by Barb Enos

Trees

It’s been a while, thank you for reading…

I’ve been praying a word a day since 1/1, a guided devotional supplies a new word each day. Today’s word is tree. It got me thinking that growth is always possible. Even at its weakest stage, a tree will reach towards the sunlight to be fed. I am as a tree, sprouting, reaching growing and seeking the water I need to survive. The Living Water supplies all my needs.


Job 14:7 reads; At least there is hope for a tree; If it is cut down it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.


As the one year anniversary (angelversary) of my beloved’s death approaches, I can feel myself wanting to hide, to become dormant as a tree in winter. Still living, but resting so deeply, the trees appear dead. As a grieving wife, I’m incredibly sad. As a grown woman, shaped and molded by the life I’ve lived, I know I’ll continue to grow if I just nuture the roots of my being. Sunlight, clouds, rain and time all contribute to the nurturing, all gifts from the Father above.


No matter what you do or don’t belive when it comes to God, I hope you all know that you are part of my growth, even if you can’t see it. I’ve been planted in fertile and giving ground, and for that I thank God. As my journey towards relationship with our Heavenly Father continues, know that without the support of all of you, I wouldn’t grow. You are my sunlight, my rain and my soil…

Charles River in Bellingham, MA. Photo by Barb Enos.

Dear America,

Dear America,

I stopped watching and reading the news months ago because your intentional decline is not something I wish to participate in. It’s shameful that we, as a collective nation, vilify and sabotage one another for nothing more than monetary and political gain. I never thought I would become apathetic towards the nation we served for so many years, yet I have. How is it okay for politicians to promote gun ownership over the right of high school students to live? Follow the money trail…

When did it become permissible for people to show such blatant hate towards one another? Not a single one of us can prevent the color, or lack thereof, of our skin. This is a racist nation, no doubt about it, though within this nation there are people willing to reach across the proverbial aisle and hold the hand of someone who looks different. Those who are unwilling to admit that America has failed people of ALL colors? Follow the money trail…

You don’t want to get vaccinated? Don’t. Plain and simple. I’d like to ask you to pay the increases in MY health insurance to cover the costs of YOUR treatments. Not willing? Follow the money trail…

You want to prevent safe abortions for women in need? You claim to be “pro-life?”  You’re not, you’re pro-birth. Life happens between birth and 18. Who is going to support this babe that was forced on a 14 year old child that was raped? Who is going to provide a life to the homeless teenagers and women that society has turned its back on? Where is the pro-life movement in these situations? Follow the money trail…

America, if you think you’re still a powerful and respected nation on the world’s stage, think again. As a nation we are rapidly heading towards a failed state status. If you’re not white, rich and of the male gender, you simply don’t matter. Why? Follow the money trail…

My rant may make you mad, it’s supposed to. I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t live in a grand house, just a small and older apartment. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does. I believe in God, and I have many friends that don’t. I walked away myself many years ago. I came back because I was nothing without Him. Whether you believe or not isn’t something that I can make change, but I can pray for ALL souls, and I do. It’s MY time I’m wasting if that’s what you think. MINE, not yours. I have seen with my own eyes what the Hand of God can do, and I choose to follow Him, not the money trail… Do churches succumb to the almighty (not) dollar? Every single day! Are all pastors, priests, clergy, and churchgoers above reproach? Not by a long shot. Am I? Ah, not even close. I am one among millions lost and struggling to find a place in this country where love is present in spite of politics and money. I am one among millions that never seems to be heard by the masses. It’s okay. God hears me, that’s all I need.

This very morning I made the mistake of reading the headlines and am appalled, as I always am these days, by the level of hate, discourse and downright meanness of the press at large. ALL of it. I bleed for this country that once showed such great promise, but is now so divided, I’m bleeding out. If my bleeding to death on the altar of America would solve our problems, I’d willingly sacrifice myself for the future generations to know a kinder, more accepting place to live. I don’t have enough money to buy a politician, and I pray I never do. As a people, we are to blame. Yes, we are… We vote the same people into office year after year after year, and yet seem surprised that things don’t improve! Do you know the definition of insanity???

America, I miss the promise of you. I miss the days when respect was normal and kindness mattered. Now it’s all about dumbing down, fleecing, blaming and, most importantly, money. Follow the money trail…

Noise

Noise, by definition, is an unwanted sound considered unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. To me? All I can say is is noise is so much more than that which disrupts the ears…

I find myself disrupted by noise quite frequently throughout each day and as I struggle to understand why, I begin to see the changes in myself that are flawed, yet at the same time, perfectly beautiful. I’m a neat freak, I admit it. I also choose to live a minimal lifestyle. Both things, for me, bring peace from the noise of the world around me. I’m not a recluse, though there are days I think I would love to be. The world is a harsh, noise-filled, rat race. I’m not a rat, I don’t race around with seemingly no direction at all. I’d miss the small, intimate moments of joy that would pass me by if I lived my life trying to “just accept” the noise around me.

Not all noise is unwelcomed. Can you even begin to imagine what we’d all miss without noise? The sound of a baby laughing out loud for the first time comes to mind. How sad would it be if we just decided we didn’t want to hear the laughter? How empty would our lives be without music? People who are deaf still enjoy sound as they know it, and the vibrations of life become much more enjoyable when they learn to hear intentionally. We should all be so lucky as to hear with intention, being able to shut out the noises that divide humankind. What about being able to shut out the noises that live inside our heads? Those noises? That internal voice? I’m on a lifelong journey when it comes to being able to discern which noises, which voice, to listen to. As I age, I find myself more in tune with myself, and the noises that bring angst to my heart and spirit affect me greatly. That affect is not always positive, so I work my way through the thought processes that bring negativity and try to find a positive result.

I recently spent some time away from home and was exposed to the type of noise that not only triggered great sadness in my heart, it left me so overwhelmed that I can’t begin to shut it off. I’ve tried. I’ll keep trying, though I’m sure this is another journey that will last years. I’m pretty resolved to the fact that the only way to make it through this journey is a shoulders back, head-up approach, yet my shoulders are exhausted and my head is so damn heavy right now. When does the noise actually abate enough so I can hear myself think? I can stand on top of the highest mountain on earth and scream into the sky, yet no one will hear me. I can run myself to the point of exhaustion, and no one will be there to catch me when I fall. I can cry. I can hide. I can fight. I can give up. I can talk. I can listen. All the while the noise will still be present. Managing the noise as best I can is really all I can do, though how to manage it is a mystery not easily solved. Nothing worth having comes easy, including the absence of too much noise.

Is your life too noisy? Too messy? Do the noises and messes feed off of one another and leave you feeling like you’re bat shit crazy? Are you like me, a highly sensitive person, an empath? I have the capacity to feel so much, and the capacity to hear noise that a lot of people can’t. I’ve spent a great deal of time becoming the person I am right now, and I like her. I like that I’m able to hold myself accountable for my mistakes. I like that I don’t need to have the approval of others. I like that I can make my way in this noisy world. I like that I’m strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when I need help, and brave enough to actually ask for it. I like that I can focus and re-focus on the joy-filled moments my life gives me, even knowing that struggle lurks just around the bend. Struggle isn’t a bad thing, it helps sharpen our coping skills and adds tools to the toolboxes we all have to have to survive. Using those tools, both old and new, is a choice we all have to make for ourselves. Coping with the volume of noise I’ve been exposed to over these past 4+ years has been made more tolerable because my toolbox has what I need in it. Coping with the increase in volume pertaining to the noise I’ve recently been exposed to is going to be tough, I have no doubt about that. I can, and will, find a way to turn down the noise. I have to…

Be well, dear readers and know that I appreciate you all. Very much! Be kind, stay safe and turn down the noise whenever you get the chance!

Triggers…

What is a trigger in regards to mental health?

In mental health terms, a trigger refers to something that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme overwhelm or distress. A trigger affects your ability to remain present in the moment. It may bring up specific thought patterns or influence your behavior.

(definition copied from Google search)

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything, in any form. I’ve been so busy moving, unpacking, and driving back and forth across the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania that my laptop has begun to feel neglected. So has my mental health. I can’t begin to stress enough how much my mindset affects every facet of my life.

Every. Single. One.

Every. Single. Day. 

Not a day goes by where the hamster wheels of grief, sadness, loneliness, misgiving and misunderstanding don’t seem to turn. And squeak. It seems they never stop. They do, however, slow down from time to time.

The date range of October 2nd thru November 18th is loaded with triggers for me and my family. Especially this year, the year of “firsts” without our beloved “Grumpy Poppy.” My husband was half of the heartbeat of our home, and now that heart is irrevocably broken. On Oct. 2nd, 2019, I hugged my husband for the last time as he hugged me back. A full on body to body hug on our front porch. The kind of hug that had I known it was the last one, I never would have let go…He was leaving for an extended trip to New England to visit family. I watched his truck fade from sight as he drove away from our little ranch house in the Lowcountry of SC. Little did I know Oct. 2nd would become a triggering date. October 20th, October 30th, November 2nd, November 8th, Veteran’s Day and November 18th are now all triggering dates for me. They always will be. My hope is that as the wheels turn and squeak through this time period, they will surely spin with less force as my endurance grows. Am I ever going to forget? No. Absolutely not. Perhaps the best I can, and do hope for, is that the triggers, when pulled, lose their force as time marches on.

When someone we love dies, a part of us dies, too. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I’ve spent the days since my beloved died trying to find that one piece of me that died when he did. I know I’ll never find it, though my spirit keeps watch for the tiniest glimpse of even a reflection of light bouncing off the missing piece. I think that piece was the one piece that gave me strength to deal with triggers. I don’t know what to call that piece, other than missing, and that’s okay. Missing seems an appropriate thing to call that one piece. It sums up what I’ve been doing since my husband died. Missing him. Missing our life together. Missing his hugs. Missing his presence. Missing the me I was as part of an us. 

When our minds and hearts pull the triggers of our emotions on us, most of us are not able to recognize the “why” of our reaction to the discharges. At least not right away.  I know I’ve floundered through these past couple of weeks trying to figure out just why I have been soooooo sad. The obvious reason speaks for itself, but there is more to it than the loss. And the triggers. I’ve been so hyper-focused on moving from MA to PA, I didn’t consider that when it actually happened there would be a massive let-down. I had to say good-bye, again, to my brother-in-love, who flew from FL to MA to drive the rental truck to PA. My daughter’s family suffered the loss of their beloved dog to cancer. Triggers; being pulled over and over and over again. We spend our time planning and researching and setting-up our lives, not realizing when the goal is met that we are left standing on the other edge of accomplishment. Yes, I moved. I found an apartment I can manage on my own. I’ve saved for this life-changing event, remained focused and determined, and yet the sadness was, and is, my constant companion. I’m not sad I moved, but I am sad that I left my family and friends in MA. I achieved my goal of being closer to my grandchildren, but I wasn’t fully aware of the fact that the move would be far more expensive emotionally than financially. 

I reached out to TAPS.org (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) when I finally crashed into the wall of myself. I’ve cried and sobbed and begged for relief from the ever present pain of the triggering dates and memories. My Peer Mentor is amazing, she helps me see that the hamster wheel can, and will slow down. She also helps me realize that I can continue to move forward in peace, as long as I give myself some grace. We HAVE to feel, it just happens. I wish it didn’t, but it does. I remind myself frequently that the pain I feel is in direct relation to the loss of my husband. The pain helps me remember that what we shared was, and is, REAL. He was, but more importantly, still is, my person. He always will be. The white hot pain of his loss will become more of a glowing ember, it’s just going to take time. There will be more triggers before there are less, and I need to be ready to face them head-on. TAPS.org will be right there beside me; they’re right beside all of us. TAPS.org is a family of broken people, and I firmly believe that being broken together is far better than being whole apart. None of us are meant to be alone. While each and every one of us needs alone time, and that’s healthy, navigating the twists and turns on the pathways of grieving sometimes means we need to be carried by others. Others that “get it.” I get it…

Be well, dear hearts, and remember always that help is readily available to all of us. The TAPS.org family, of which I am honored to be a part, is a phone call, text, and/or an email away. There are many worthy non-profit agencies available to us, we just have to seek them out. The triggers will come, and when they are firing faster than you can understand, trust your gut and reach out. You are NOT alone…

Photo by Barb Enos Revere Beach, MA.

Building a Better Boat…

Hello!

It’s been a bit, but I’m still out here and still moving forward. I just heard Build a Better Boat by Kenny Chesney and it prompted me to take a bit of a breather during these final, frenzied days in Boston and share my heart. I’m moving to Southwestern PA next weekend and while I’m looking forward to it for many reasons, I’m also very nervous. The song made me think about what’s been going on since I made the decision to move and gave me a moment to pause and reflect.

I don’t really want to build a better boat, I have to. Life has an uncanny way of pushing us along even when we absolutely refuse to step on to the platform of the ride. I’m not the type to hide in the corner, even when my flight instinct kicks in. I have, however, become the type to try and work my way through whatever roadblocks are thrown in front of me. I’ve learned that a lot of the roadblocks are of my own making and as I work through whatever the situation is, the situation becomes part of building that better boat. Sometimes I withdraw, and though others may not understand my withdrawal, I have to sort myself out first. I’m tender-hearted. I can’t (and don’t want to) change that. I’ve learned that being so makes me more misunderstood by others. I don’t know how to make someone understand that my silence and lack of interaction isn’t about them, it’s about me… and while that may sound selfish, it’s not. It’s self-care. And that’s a blog idea I’ve written about previously. Self-care is imperative for all of us. If we run on empty all the time, what do we have left to give anyone else? Life is full of moments where self-care can be, and will be, viewed as selfishness. It’s an unintended consequence that happens when I put the brakes on and face the roadblock head-on.

Building a better boat takes patience, something I never wanted to have to learn. The last 4 years of my life have been beyond erratic. Painful. Lonely. Confusing. I’ve been lost and found. I’ve been kicked and slapped by fate so hard, the sting will never fade. I’ve deliberately hurt those I love the most, not because I wanted to, but because I’ve had to. I’ve learned that some things, no matter how much they matter to me, matter to no one else. I can’t begin to let people know how sorry I am that my time frame for working my way through the hurts and grief and misunderstandings is so unpredictable. It takes as long, or as short, as it does. Patience is a virtue we all need more of and I’ll gladly be the first to admit that I lack it at times when it’s needed the most. Other times I possess so much of it, I don’t recognize myself. I left my husband in 2017, I managed to leave him without his knowing what was coming, and three days later, all I wanted to do was turn that car around and drive straight back into his arms. I broke him. I broke me. I broke our family. Three days after I drove out of our driveway, I wanted to go home. He was beyond hurt, and I am sorry. I know he knew that. He was enraged, and hurt, and beyond broken. So was I. He found the strength to say that we needed to see where the separation could take us and that I needed to be patient. He knew me better than anyone. He knew what an impossible task that would be for me. Patience didn’t come easy to me, it still doesn’t. 7 weeks after I left him, I went home. We worked hard to rebuild the marriage that I burned to the ground… The beauty that was painted from the ashes became something we never lost again. Patience played a huge roll in our reuniting, and because we practiced patience, we were able to build a better boat. Together.

Building a better boat is hard. There’s not a single doubt in my mind that it’s an impossible task to complete alone. There are moments I feel like I’m standing on the edge of an abyss so deep, and so dark, that if I lose my balance, I’ll simply disappear. Sometimes I think we may all want to disappear, and seeking a little personal time is okay. The boat I’m building is smaller than the boat that capsized when my beloved husband died. The new boat will have a minimal amount of stuff on board, but the deck, the berthing compartment and the galley will be absolutely full of memories. The memories of a life well lived, and a love so true, will be the wind in the sails. The storms will surely continue to roll in and toss the new boat from side to side, but the strength within the foundation of the new boat will prevail. I’ll proudly and humbly steer this new, smaller boat as steadily as possible, knowing that from time to time I may need a life saving ring tossed into the waves. I don’t have a choice about moving into the open waters on my own in many ways, but I do know that I have many life rafts waiting on shore should I need them.

Building this new boat has been challenging. I don’t necessarily think it’s better, it’s just different. My life is different now, not better. I miss my sailor (he was a US Navy sailor) and I miss the anchor he was in my life. I miss the hugs and the warmth and the adventure. I miss what could have been, and am trying hard to be comfortable in facing what is. The waves and storms and riptides will pull my new boat in a million different directions, but my heart will always be seeking the true north that my beloved was. No compass will ever point me in a direction where he doesn’t exist…