MY Thoughts About Deep Grief

This has been an ever evolving post. I began listing my thoughts & feelings back in June of last year. I wanted to be able to look back at this process and remember how I felt going through it. To see if I was actually crazy like I felt at times or if later those emotions would be understandable. Answer? Understandable. So here are my thoughts on deep grief:

A process understood by no one until they have lived through it. A “period” of your life when living is the most painful thing to do. A realization that your life will never be the “normal” it was before, & your new normal is unwanted. A time when people are uncomfortable around you, & your loss is more compounded by watching them walk away or feeling isolated from them. Being so uncomfortable in your own skin, you hate to be alone but are too depressed to reach out to anyone else. Listening & watching everyone else continue their lives while feeling cemented to your pain & yet being stuck in the need to remember leaves you feeling crazy & lost. Wishing & praying everyday for a rewind to never have that last moment with the one you love. Never wanting to admit that your feelings inside are so sad, so lonely, so uncomfortable because people may think you have lost your mind, so you smile & say the right words at the right times to make them think you are fine & progressing. Realizing that the “normal” you also died that day, to be replaced by a new version with a permanent hole in your heart & life. Struggling every day to find a place of happy existence. Feeling a disconnect even when with the people you love the most-like you are never fully present. Having superficial conversations when people are uncomfortable with any discussion that may include your loss or feelings about it. Learning to forgive people for their neglect of you during a time you needed them most. Learning how to reconstruct a relationship, even if it is only broken in your mind, in order to save it. Learning to do deep introspection to process & shelve the pain. Seeking God for purpose of the loss, purpose of the relationship, purpose of your life. Granting yourself freedom to cry, remember, love & long for someone. Recognizing that very little in this world is worth the loss of a relationship, so few things are worth a heated & ugly argument, yet also realizing that boundaries are necessary for your healing & learning to set some. Understanding how far a hug can truly go for someone. Realizing when others have a loss, that words are futile, lack meaning, & support really comes in the form of presence & depth. Allowing God permission to work His will in your life without trying to stand in the way-because you are too tired to do so. Learning how to love people’s uglies-because they are worth it. Struggling to practice self care-showers, rest, healthy food, exercise. Recognizing that some days, bare minimum effort is worth a gold medal. Understanding that you are now the stinky cheese with some people, and being ok with it. Getting used to having your emotions on display for all to see, because they are spilling out of you uncontrollably. Having your “filter” disconnected. Learning to enjoy that, just a little. Walking through the first year being the hardest-every memory in your head rears its glorious head throughout that time, causing reactions from tears to laughter & back to tears. Accepting how the second year still sucks but at least it doesn’t suck the wind out of you. Holding onto every single memento you can-toothbrush, random pieces of paper, the tape used to hold your nail on, the jeans still bloody, every picture ever taken-looking at them often & wondering if it helps or hurts but not caring because it’s what you need in that moment. Feeling ashamed of your lack of progress because some of the people around you need you to perform as before. Using the process to heal other hurts so when you finally reach a healthier place, all of you is truly healed. Releasing anything that is holding you back in life, old beliefs or old vows, so that you can let your heart shine into other’s lives. Granting yourself grace & forgiveness for taking as long as you need. Knowing when that time has been fulfilled & you can let go of some of the grief. And comprehending that doesn’t negate the relationship or the loss, both are still very relevant, but are no longer a crutch or a wall.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the pain never really ends but that you can actually survive, laugh, be regular, just differently than we were “before.” But it also is ok to know that the difference is because you were able to love someone that will never leave your heart. While the pain seems overwhelming & unbearable, our greatest honor to someone we lose is to carry on with the memories we have & share our vulnerability when another person suffers a devastating loss by giving them the compassion we received or maybe didn’t receive but needed.

I have come a long way since that cold, horrible night last February. I don’t want to ever live through something like that again. But I know I am where I am now because God showed me mercy, showed me my real relationships, but more importantly, showed me who I am to Him. I am worthy of being loved again. I am perfect in His eyes. My heart is whole, & in a corner of it resides a special person that I was so very fortunate to love.

How did I get here?

I suppose by now you are starting to understand a little bit about my background. I still look around at my life and ask myself “How did I get here??” What happened to me? So, to bring everyone up to speed on how I got “here” at this point in my life, I think I will quickly mention a few key points about myself. Maybe after I’m done, it will be more clear as to why I have been encouraged to create this blog. I genuinely hope that as I continue to draw these & other experiences out in more detail, people struggling with depression, anger or unforgiveness due to similar circumstances will begin to see how I continue to drag my butt out of bed each day. Maybe they will be given some hope, even some healing.

I was conceived on Christmas Eve, in a Sunday School room. My parents were never married, I wouldn’t even say they were in love. My biological father gave up his parental rights prior to my birth and moved halfway across the country. He came back when I was 10, and as long as it was convenient for him, I was his favorite hobby. If he had a date, or a family, well, he gets busy.

My mother married a man when I was almost 2 & he adopted me. He was a decent man, never made me feel as if I wasn’t his (unlike comments still being made by my biological father.). My mother is a borderline personality. If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself blessed. I will go more into this another day. Short version, she likes drama and is quite manipulative. My adopted father is co-dependent. I spent most of my life trying to please an unhappy mother and giving in to my father’s constant begging for peace.

In the 3rd grade, my friend’s brother molested me. I never told anyone this until high school and even now, just a select few. The summer between my 5th & 6th grade years, my adopted grandfather began molesting me. Yada, Yada, Yada… very little contact with him following this. Also, more in another post. But please hear me when I say, YES, these experiences impacted me greatly. However, allow me to SHOUT OUT from the rooftops, that I REFUSE to allow myself to be considered a victim. Sexual abuse is a horrible crime, and mine in comparison to many others was practically nothing. No, I’m not minimizing it, but others have gone through it on a much greater scale. I just will not allow those two disgusting men to take any more from me than they already have. I promise, we will discuss in greater depth another day.

I married a man at 21 that my mother loved. Yes, this was another attempt to please her. It didn’t work and I wanted to be dead. We divorced before our second anniversary and in 6 months I married “Mark.” We had dated previously, I was blindly in love and spent the next 16 years on an emotionally abusive roller coaster. I mentioned this relationship briefly in the Independence of a Simple Girl post. When he cheated on me, I left my husband, my son and my home. Long story, but it worked best for our son to remain in his home & I couldn’t afford it alone, so I left.

Mark and I tried having children of our own but I was unable to conceive. My lady parts were broken. After 7 years, we adopted a 4-year-old boy. I was over the moon crazy about this kid. Fast forward 12 years. “Dylan” became belligerent, manipulative, mean, dishonest and destructive. When I enforced the boundaries I had established for my home, he and his friends, robbed me, stole my laptop, TV, jewelry, numerous other items and then threatened my life. I had to get a restraining order that is in effect until he is 19.

The robbery happened on February 3, my best friend/boyfriend of 16 months shot himself with my brand new gun, first bullet ever fired from it, on February 20. I was there. I was under the influence of a full Xanax (remember, I usually only take half) and I had also had a drink. I was exhausted from no sleep in 17 days, being homeless because I couldn’t stay in my apartment after the robbery and Andrew had come to get me, taken me back to his place so I could sleep somewhere I felt safe in. We were discussing dinner plans, things we were going to do this summer, taking a quick trip to get away because my life had been so uprooted. He had 10 guns of his own, but mine was a revolver and he didn’t have one of those. He was playing with my gun. He asked me what I wanted for dinner. I flippantly said “whatever.” I turned around to dance to the music that was blaring. I heard the gun go off. I expected to see a hole in the wall. Instead, I saw his feet. He was on the ground. Bleeding. I called 911, I remember screaming that I loved him. That I needed him to stay with me. That I couldn’t do this alone. I begged God to make him ok. I prayed for him with all of my heart. The police came with the ambulance. I was trapped by an officer in his bedroom while they worked on him. I was put in the back of the cruiser and taken to the station for questioning. The next time I saw him was at his viewing.

That was almost 5 months ago. I cannot begin to describe the emptiness inside of me, because it is empty. Nothing is there to describe. I miss him more than words could ever say, more than the tears I still cry, and more than the minutes I lie awake every night. There is no word adequate enough to describe the physical pain I feel in my heart, the loneliness I feel from him leaving me, the fear I feel about trying to maneuver this life after all of this grief has turned me upside down. Wanna know how I keep going every day? Me too. I truly have no idea. I wish I had some wise words to walk you through your own pain. I don’t. I just know that each foot we put in front of the other will lead us to our future. A future I pray holds the happiness I have been missing for the last 40 years. A future I pray allows me to put Andrew’s memories on the front shelves of my mind, but the pain on the back, on top, where I can’t reach them to continue aching and crying over him every day. A future where the people I know that are also struggling to pull themselves out of bed each day, have finally reached a place of peace. A future where our worlds are no longer tilted and dangling us over the edge, but we walk safely within the confines of normalcy. Big dreams? Yes, I know. But I’m an eternal optimist because after 40 years of surviving, I have no other choice.

So again, why read my blog? No clue. But the above is true, honest and only the beginning.

Sending my love,

Matilda Grace

Panic Attacks and Hilarity

I can tell the anticipation of my next post is reaching epic proportions so I will not delay any further. My fans are anxious to see what this post is going to reveal. Well, so am I. Quite honestly, I have no idea where we are going today.

Maybe we should talk about my week. I work. A LOT. Today I worked my 27th day in a row. I am off tomorrow. Then back to work for 12 days. I am also an insomniac. When I say I’m tired, that is a general, all the time feeling. When I say I’m exhausted, I haven’t slept in weeks. Right now, I’m exhausted. I don’t think I have had a full night of sleep without prescription assistance (meaning 6 hours, still with interruption) since February of this year. Even with my little chemical friend, I usually wake up numerous times, getting 4-5 hours.

I am not a fan of sleeping pills or anti depressants so I won’t take an Ambien unless I am really struggling. I’m not judging people that take these medications regularly, I just personally do not like the side effects I have from them. As I say this, I must also remain honest, admitting to you that when I was given the Ambien and the Zoloft in February, I was also given Xanax for panic attacks. So I do take medications as needed. The Xanax I requested to stop my anxiety from causing my blood pressure to rise giving me a quicker sense of calm. I actually planned to take the Zoloft but after feeling lethargic and nauseated for 2 weeks, I had to have an emergency surgery (NOT related to the medications). I just never started back on it. At that time, I also stopped the Xanax and the Ambien, as well as not continuing on the pain killers. I was quite proud of this new, less stoned version of myself.

This week, I took both. I began having some panic attacks again in the last few weeks. I am functional through them. No one knows I am having one. I don’t scream hysterically, cry uncontrollably or have full body shakes. Well, I guess I do have some shakes, usually in my hands. And crying, depends on what song is on the radio. Most of the attack is internal though, I FEEL like screaming, crying, crawling under my desk. I FEEL like grabbing my keys while running for the door. I FEEL like curling up in bed with my covers over my head never to surface again. I FEEL like telling people off, trying to bring them just a small glimpse of the pain that I am in non stop. Instead, I pop half of a Xanax, clinch my fists, grab a tissue and sit with tears rolling down my face as I silently work at my desk.

This week, I had several co-workers stop by and ask how I was doing, well meaning, genuinely concerned friends. They were hoping I was going to say that I am great. That I no longer miss Andrew. That my smiles are not hiding my sadness. The response they got was a red faced sob. I burst into tears every time. Typically, I am able to give them the obligatory smile, politely nodding and giving the expected answers to the questions until I am able to satisfy them into thinking that I am doing just fine.

I know I mentioned on a previous post that that I have great friends and family. Let’s discuss this real quick. These co workers have seen me through some UGLY experiences. I adore them. I know without a doubt my life is blessed in a huge way because every day they love me no matter where I am. I only hope I am repaying the blessing. My job is not the single, solitary place I have friends of steel. I have a wonderful group of friends from church and I am very close to a lot of my family. Surprisingly, even many of my friends on Facebook have reached out to me, despite not having been overly close to some of them in years. I am surrounded by pillars of strength in each arena of my life. I never take this for granted so I tell my friends and family I love them at every opportunity. I had learned this lesson even before losing Andrew. I lost several family members within a very short time frame and began to understand how limited and unknown our time with people truly is. I do not want the people in my life to question if they are loved by me. So I try to say it often, but more importantly, show it constantly, show it unconditionally.

Last night I had dinner plans with a group of friends from church. A couple had moved out of state and were home for a few days. We met for pizza, grabbed some gourmet desserts and headed back home to sit and catch up. As this group of 6 chuckleheads sat around talking and laughing, I was snapping pictures on my phone. We played a game and I finished the night with an eyeliner handlebar mustache (Insert the obligatory “I mustache you a question.” comment) and glasses. We ate, bonded, laughed, played, but mostly, we loved. No uglies. No panic attack. No Xanax. My heart was full of love from this silly group and it gave me hope that my future won’t continue to be painful. It was also full of hurt, because I knew that if Andrew had been here to join us, he would have loved watching me drive away with that mustache.

I guess there is no “lesson” of the week. I promised my raw reality, this was it. Panic attacks and hilarity. I realize that is a bit of a wide spectrum of emotions but if you were in my head, bouncing around in this A.D.D. mess, you’d get it. That’s my life every day. So I guess that’s it for now.

Just in case you don’t hear it from anyone else, I LOVE YOU! Have a phenomenal week.