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

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

Seven…

Three years ago, in 2017, I was driving the 1000 miles from Boston to Asheville. After a very painful, 7 week spilt from my husband, we comitted to try and put our marriage back together. We. As in two.

I left because I thought if I could just make my husband see how mean he was, maybe he could find a way out of the misery he was in. Without me. By the third day of separation, I started to realize that I was so verbally abused, and abusive, that changes had to happen for both of us. As individuals and as a couple.

I hurt so many people when I left, and some of them will probably never truly forgive me. It’s okay. My husband forgave me. I’ve forgiven myself. After three years time, I no longer seek, nor need forgiveness from those who won’t give it. My husband forgave me, our families forgave me, and most importantly, God forgives me.

Six months after returning to Asheville, our lives were upended again. We were vilified as parents, thrown away, and forbidden to see our oldest grandson. I’ve often wondered if the reasons given for the estrangement weren’t made up, and was the estrangement a form of retaliation? Retaliation for the pain I caused when I left my husband? The reasons for us being thrown away don’t matter anymore, we were able to stand against the pain together. My husband held my hand, I held his. My husband let me cry in his arms, he cried in mine. We stood up for one another, determined to keep moving forward.

Seven weeks later, (seems there might be a commonality going on) I spent a weekend in Charleston, SC, loving on, and being loved by, the daughter and grandkids we were allowed to love. That trip was the application of stitches that started to sew back together my shattered heart. When I got home, my husband was gazing into the backyard and didn’t know I was there. When he realized I was standing behind him, he turned to me and said “I think we should sell the house.” I asked why before considering what he’d said, and he answered with “my Poppy heart is lonely and I want to love our grandkids.” I said yes to selling without hesitation.

After the decision was made, we spent the next seven weeks getting ready to list the house. Cleaning, purging, updating smaller things like doorknobs, hinges, painting, and replaced the roof. Busy times. Very busy times.

We listed our house on August 3rd, had a full price offer within 24 hours and closed on August 30th. We packed up a large POD, a storage unit, and headed north, to Boston. Again… Just for a visit, though. I had found a smaller house on a quick weekend trip back to Charleston, but our close on that property wasn’t until Sept. 28th. We took our time driving to New England, stopping often to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, the Pocono Mountains, and the changing colors of fall in New England.

We had been in New Hampshire about 7 days when my beloved mother-in-love tripped over a threshold and fell. She broke her femur and I am so glad my husband and I were there when it happened. I called 911 and by the time my husband came down to the garage, we could hear the sirens. Off she went to Manchester, later to have surgery and go to rehab. She did well and went home after we left.

I write all this to let you all know that life happens. Sometimes we determine our own course, at other times we are pushed along the road of life, even if we don’t want to make the drive. Since moving into what should have been our last home, we have sold that home, purged again, driven thousands of miles and settled in New England. My husband’s stroke in October of 2019 has been the determining factor in all decisions made since, and we are both exhausted by life now. Yet it seems there is more to do…

Not being able to see my husband in hospice is slowly killing me, and he is incredibly lonely. How could he not be? I’ve been trying to make sense of the non-visitation rules, but I can’t. I’ve been trying to keep myself from falling apart, I fail. What I can do is remember that my husband and I rebuilt the foundation of our marriage on the Rock that is Christ, we put ourselves and our marriage first in a non selfish way and that we choose love.

This part of my life hurts. There are no words out there to describe how hard it is to watch your spouse die. Now I can’t even do that. I call every day to check on him, but not being able to hold his hand, kiss his face or just sit quietly with him is beyond comprehension. He’s dying. Alone. Physically. My husband never walked away from his faith like I did, and the promises we depend on to keep us strong are just that… strong promises. We share an unbreakable bond, and that bond is what will keep me going after he’s gone.

Darkness comes. Often. More often than I would like. I spend my days praying for the man I love more than my own life. I pray that the peace and rest he so richly deserves finds him. And finds him soon. I pray that I will be strong enough to let myself fall apart and just be. I pray that the broken hearts that have already shattered because of my husband’s stroke be healed with love, and time, and grace.

Thank you for reading this, and please know that there is a day, somewhere down the road, that light will shine upon you again. On me. On my family. And friends. The storms don’t last forever… right? They just feel like they do…

Photo by Barb Enos

A Little Heavy…

I don’t normally share about my faith. Today I was reminded why that is, and why I am so guarded.

Shattering hurt comes to all of us, and being able to admit that is one thing, sharing it publicly? A completely different experience altogether. I fully admit that I have hurt people, both with intent and without. Seeking forgiveness for my actions seems elementary, but it’s not. Forgiveness of self is never easy, but it is possible. Asking others to forgive me isn’t easy, but then again, nothing worth having should come easy. I want to be able to appreciate someone else’s forgiveness, not take it for granted.

I started a five day study today on forgiving what we can’t forget, and I see so much of my brokenness in the first day of reading, I don’t think I want to keep going. I will. I know the best things in my life have always been born out of great anguish and tremendous struggle.

Whether you believe in God or not doesn’t mean you can’t forgive. Forgiveness is a human moral, not a religious one. Did your husband cheat on you? Did your adult child throw you away? Did someone steal something from you? No matter the wrong committed, you can find the strength to forgive. Forgiveness of others and of self make the weight of being broken a little lighter. At least for me.

Today is day 7 of not being able to see my husband and the first day I didn’t wake up crying. I know I’ll cry somewhere along the way today, but I’m thankful my eyes stayed dry this morning. Not seeing him makes me angry. And sad. And confused. All things that I need to forgive. Daily.

I’ve been told many times over that I’m “too” forgiving, and all that statement says to me is that the person(s) making it are hurting so much, they’re blind to their own pain. I never want to be so blind to my hurt that I can’t, or won’t, learn from it. Life lessons are just that… life lessons. I may not have been the best student in school, but I fully intend to learn the lessons this life teaches me.

I’m very thankful for all of the support shown to my husband and me throughout this most difficult journey and want you all to know that. I know I draw into myself. A lot. Sometimes the pain shatters me so much, I can’t see past it. Sometimes the pain is so hot, I feel like I am dying in the fires of hell. It’s after the burning I find that I am being forged like iron, the forging gets me ready for the next round of pain.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I know this post is a little long. It’s more personal than most, but my heart cries out to share this journey from time to time. Today seemed a good day to share. I am still hurting more than ever, but I see a bit of light through the cracks in my heart today and I can only hope that my words encourage someone else to forgive that which can’t be forgotten…

(I do not own this meme)