Posted in friendship, Life, love, Musings, People, random

One Year, Three Months, Five Days

One year, three months, five days. That’s how long it’s been since you left this earthly plane, on to whatever comes next. Which means that one year, three months and six days ago, you were still doing whatever it was you were doing- talking, smiling, popping up here and there as you were wont to do. No idea that the minutes of your life were winding down, down, down. Oblivious. I think about this sometimes, and it scares me a little bit. It’s a hard truth to swallow, the way we live our lives so blissfully unaware that this might be it- this might be our last day, our last hour.

Anyway, God, I fucking miss you this morning. Grief is a strange thing, isn’t it? Weeks pass, and the pain recedes, and then I wake up one morning, like I did today, and it just hurts, oh so very much. It still seems impossible to me that you are gone.

There is no way for me to describe or quantify or make sense of what you meant to me, how my life was altered because of you, or how it changed when you died. But I know that my life WAS altered, and your death stole something real from me. Because of you, I learned that love can evolve in all sorts of different ways- when you stop trying to fit a relationship into a box, stop trying to label and categorize it, and just let it be what it is, something wonderful can happen. The connection between us spanned decades, and changed many times, ultimately mellowing and becoming something rich, that I cherished. Knowing you were out there, somewhere, knowing that you would be there if I needed you…it mattered so much to me.

Your surprise visits were often the highlight of my week. Just drinking coffee with you out on my front porch, or playing board games with Cam. Getting to hear you laugh and seeing you be silly and playful with my kids lifted my heart. I just enjoyed your company. It had become as simple and easy as that.

I was not blind to your faults. I knew you well enough to worry about what the future held for you, to worry about where your life would ultimately end up. We even discussed it a time or two, with me lamenting what would happen to you when you got old, joking about which girl would end up taking care of you. “Oh my God,” I groaned, “It’s going to be me, isn’t it?” And we laughed, because it seemed far away and preposterous. I suppose it wound up being a useless worry, didn’t it? But for the record, I would have gladly taken on the job. Not that you ever would have wanted to be in that position, of course, but I would have done it. In a heartbeat.

The point is, I guess, that I loved you. I love you still. I used to feel angry sometimes, resentful that I so completely loved someone who could never love me back in the same way. It wasn’t as if I had a choice- we love who we love, and that’s all. But now I’m grateful for all of it, I really am. Because of you, I know I am capable of loving someone unconditionally, exactly as they are, with no expectation and no need for them to do anything to earn it. I realized that long before you died. I know I made it clear to you. I’m so glad I did, and so glad we were friends.

I just really, really miss you today.

Posted in friendship, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

Most of the Time…

miss you

 

I am fine, most of the time.

And then, some days, like today, I miss you. I miss you being in the world, and I miss knowing you will be by, eventually, to check in on me. To check in with me. I miss the possibility of you. I miss that so much that it feels like the wind has been knocked out of me, and I want to double up and protect myself from the hurt, the physical pain of your absence.

I feel guilty for missing you so much. I have lost grandparents and friends, and I miss them all, of course I do. But this longing has legs, and it keeps creeping back up on me. You were…you were YOU. There is no one else that I looked at the way I looked at you, and I can’t help that. I’ve never known what to do with that information, not when you were alive, and even less now that you are gone. My love for you was almost embarrassing while you were here, and it is inescapable now that you’ve died. I keep bumping up against the truth of it, the way my heart won’t allow me to deny it, not to myself, not now. You may be somewhere else, but this weird relationship lives on. Not that it feels unusual for me to be in it alone- I spent a lot of time this way. But you always showed back up, always. Not this time.

What can I say? That you never had any business messing with me? I was so young, and you should have known better? Yeah, it’s true, but…I’m so glad you did. Should I say that I am sorry that I loved you, and I feel so bad for the hurt my loving you caused? I am. I’m sorry for the hurt I caused, but I’m not sorry that I loved you. I will never be sorry for that. I have so many regrets about my life, but that has never been one of them. I have loved others after you, and I will probably love others still…but I know that I will never love anyone the way I did you. You only get one love like that.  And besides, I will never be a nineteen year old girl again, able to love with reckless abandon, able to invest so much time in her devotion. I wouldn’t want to.

All these memories I have…you were the only one who knew, besides me. The way we would laugh about the crazy, stupid things we did. I never thought when I was with you, I was never afraid. I just knew you’d keep me safe, and you did. Now I remember alone, and it’s all tinged with sadness. What fun are memories you can’t share with the person you made them with? It’s just me, crying like a dummy in her kitchen, running to change the song that popped up on shuffle because it hurts too much right now to hear it.

I’m sorry it’s over. I know your life was not what you imagined it would be, and I know it wasn’t how you wanted it, and I know you wanted to change. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you were after. I hope wherever you are, you are happy and peaceful, and with your mom and dad, your sister. I hope you hear me when I talk to you, and that you know that I pray for you every single day. I hope you don’t get annoyed when I am weepy, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

And I’m so glad I chased after you, the last time you visited, and demanded one more hug. I don’t know why I did, but I was just so happy to have seen you. It was a good hug, and the expression on your faced stayed with me- amused and maybe a little baffled, like you wondered why I still liked you so much, after all these years. The answer is easy…because you were you.

You were you, and tonight I really miss you.

Posted in Addiction, friendship, Life, living, love, People, random, recovery, twelve step

First Times

Nimbus

I think you get to a point in life, a certain age, when you think most of your “firsts” are behind you. At 42, with the life I have lived so far, I certainly felt like that was true. And then something happens, out of the blue, that knocks you right the fuck off your feet, and you realize how wrong you were. How wrong I was, I mean. Yeah.

I’ve started this before, and had to abandon it, because it turned into something I didn’t want it to be. You see, I lost someone I cared about the other day, and it was sudden, and awful, and I was not…because you cannot ever be…ready. I was GUTTED. I couldn’t get my shit together. I have never in my life fallen on the floor because I literally could not stand up beneath the weight of what I had just learned, but I did that, I did it when I heard about this death on Monday morning. I fell right on the floor. The tears did not waste a moment in coming, and the sounds that I made for the next two days were feral and weird and would have been embarrassing if I gave a fuck. Which, by the way, I did not.

I missed two days of work, but I have been checked out all week. I can’t seem to get my thoughts to move too far past this event. “Joe is dead.” my head keeps reminding me, as if I could forget. “Psst- Joe died.”

And here’s the thing: I don’t really cry. It’s been a concern of mine for a while, like- is something wrong with me? Is something in there broken, that I never cry? This has been a real worry I’ve had, one that I have discussed with friends and even with my therapist. I’ve thought about getting acupuncture, or that kind of massage that unblocks your fucked up energy, whatever it’s called. I honestly thought I had problems (Oh wait, I do. But that’s not what I am talking about, thanks). What I had was just a bunch of little shit not important enough to cry over. Because I have cried this week. A lot.

I don’t really want to write about Joe. I just don’t. I will say this much- anyone who knows me well, knows that I loved him. I’ve let a lot of friendships fall to the wayside as my life has changed, but I held onto his. I am having a tough time imagining my life without his visits for coffee, or playing cards with my six year old and I. I liked talking to him so much. He made me feel like I should be proud of my life, as if he were proud of the life I have made for myself. I can’t even put it into words without making it sound so paltry, and it wasn’t, so I’m going to stop. The point is, I will miss him.

Back to first times- so, this is the first time that I have ever tried to go through something like this without putting a drug or a drink in my body to change the way I felt. I have to say, it really sucks. I mean, Jesus, the FEELINGS I have had to FEEL this week. Oh, Lord. It’s like the difference between turning on your kitchen sink, and smashing open a fire hydrant. I realize that if I want to hold onto my clean date, intoxication is not an option for me, but man, a stiff drink would have been really welcome at a few points these past few days.

There is a reading in Just For Today that talks about loss in recovery. I always skip over that one, because it seems so morbid and jinxy to me. I hate that reading. It just came up not too many days ago, and I skipped over it again- such a downer. I think I should probably go read it, now that I am feeling less volatile. What I really feel like is this: I’m glad I got to grieve this death clean. My friend deserved all those tears, and that grief, for the loss of his life. That probably sounds so weird, but I know what I mean. I’m not trying to put down the way anyone else copes with grief, not even. I’m just saying, for me, I’m happy to get to be fully present for it. If it had to be this way, I want to show up all the way.

It’s Friday. I have to go into the office today, and be around people for the first time all week, and I think it will be okay. I think everything is going to be okay. I am just going to keep doing this because that is what we all have to do, right? Life really does go on. The world stands still for a beat…and then it just goes on. Rest in Peace, Joe. I love you.

 

 

Posted in family, friendship, kids, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

Fallout

Fallout: 2. A secondary and often lingering effect, result, or set of consequences.

THE-PAST (1)

 

I have been dealing, lately, with the next wave of fallout from my choice to end my relationship. It’s weird, because it’s been nearly a year now, and I often think that if I am not totally over it, I am pretty close. Then, something will happen- a song will come on the radio, my daughter will ask me an innocent question, and a wave of grief so startling will roll over me that it is nearly panic. It leaves me questioning my entire set of choices between now and then…which is, of course, ridiculous. Anyone with eyes can see I have been a million times happier since I finally put an end to all of the chaos and fighting, the drugs and the lies, the anger and upheaval.

I am proud of myself for trying so hard, out of real love, to make something difficult work. Sometimes I beat myself up for pouring so much into something that could never have worked, but I didn’t believe that while it was happening, and the truth is, I had to know that I did everything within my power before I walked away. I think before he and I were together, I really believed that if two people loved each other, that was all that really needed to be true for a relationship to work out. I had to learn that there is so much more to it than that- for two people to be happy and healthy together, they first need to be happy and healthy as individuals, and then they are charged with the very difficult task of somehow managing to maintain that, while figuring out how to build a life together. You can love the shit out of each other, and if one or both of you is a mess, or wanting a different version of the same thing, or can’t see eye to eye in certain critical ways, it just won’t work.

I am even more proud of myself for finally finding the strength to get out. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life, much harder than the familiar misery of staying together. I was used to hating who I was when I was with him. I was used to being angry, insecure, mean, erratic, volatile, and sad. But it was killing me. I don’t think that when he moved out the last time I really thought it would stick- how many times had we been down that road? But I kept holding out another day, then another and another, until finally I even started believing myself when I would say ” We are never getting back together.” (Credit: Taylor Swift, LOL)

I would not have it any other way, now. As I said in the beginning- I am so much happier now. I could not undo what has been done if I wanted to, anyway. What we were, for better or worse, is over. We couldn’t go back if we wanted to.

But Autumn is upon us- my first one alone in over seven years. I don’t know about you, but Autumn is the season for families, in my mind. Spring and Summer are fantastic times to be single, but the minute Autumn rolls around, I start looking around for my security blanket. In this case, I guess mine is a two hundred pound man. Who knew?

I woke up two days ago, thinking…maybe I am ready to start dating again. Maybe it is time. That night, I was at a meeting, watching the fire crackle in the hearth, and the candles flicker on the mantle, and I thought how nice it would be to go home and crawl in bed with someone…but not really someone. Him.  Yesterday, I was out with our daughter, and I picked up some food and headed to the beach. I pulled into the parking lot just as a song came on that reminded me of him, and some horrible times he put me through. I realized that the beach we were at just then was where he had been working a construction job when we first started dating, and I would bring him lunch, we would sit on the beach and flirt with each other.

We had no idea, then, that seven years down the road we would be this- more broken than we started out. A child between us that we both loved desperately. A mountain of bad choices  and broken promises trailing behind us. A bad taste in our mouths over each other, and two broken hearts. I sat in my car and cried facing forward so my daughter didn’t see me. And I realized that I wasn’t really ready to date, not yet. I am still in mourning for what I gave up, as hard as it was, and as sad as it was, it was still very significant to me, and it was a loss I felt, and still feel deeply.

I certainly will not go back. But I will honor my grief and myself until I am ready to move on.

Posted in advice, beauty, family, Goals, inner peace, kids, Life, love, People

What Can We Do?

change

The pain, for me at least, has not really gotten better. Judging from the conversations I have had out in the world, and the things I see on Facebook, the things I am seeing here on WordPress,  it is not getting better for anyone. If anything, the shock has worn off and it hurts even worse.  The pictures of all of those beautiful babies smiling, just another arrow through our collective heart. The whole world is walking around, wounded and heart sick. What can we do? There is nothing that can be done…I keep hearing myself say these words, that awful, helpless feeling welling up in me. We cannot go back in time, we cannot give these children and their teachers their lives back, we cannot even truly ease the pain of the people left behind, longing and mourning for them.

Still, the desperate best in us has come to the forefront again, the way it always does when a tragedy of this magnitude unleashes itself upon us. There are petitions to sign, tributes made, candle light vigils held across the world. Our compassionate, beautiful sides, too tender, we think, to reveal all the time, are the faces of most of us right now. Yet I wake up in the morning afraid and tired, still feeling like my hands are tied, that none of this really HELPS at all. I know this is not really true, on a certain level, and that any kindness and compassion we pour forth now is a gift that the world desperately needs- the truth is, this world has become a place too dark, too individualized, too alienated from it’s own humanity. If that weren’t true, it wouldn’t take a tragedy so horrific to bring us back to earth again, finally able, for the briefest moments, to remember the gift of right now, right here, what we can see, smell, touch, taste, hold close.

There is beauty everywhere, too. We forget so easily. How many times have you been face to face with a beautiful sunset, purple and pink and orange and yellow, and barely registered its existence, so worried about traffic or hell bent on getting back to your empty house to get the dishes done before dinner can be started? How many times have you run out to grab something from your car, and the full moon shone down, but you were too tired to let it take your breath away? I live mere blocks from the beach, and sometimes days pass before I can even be coaxed into looking up, taking it in. Last night, I sat on the couch, absorbed in a book, and I looked up to find my two year old staring at me solemnly with her enormous green eyes, just looking and looking. My heart lurched in my chest because I could see that her eyes were telling me the story of her longing to be near me while I sat there, a thousand miles away. I picked her up and held her in my arms, kissed her cheeks and buried my face in her golden brown curls, and thought about all of the parents in Newtown who would give their own lives, without a backward glance, to have the chance I had nearly passed up. We are a peculiar animal, humans. Great with big concepts, while failing miserably to see what is right in front of us.

This morning it occurred to me that perhaps there is something I can do. There is something all of us can do. We start at home. We take full responsibility for our lives and how we conduct them, agreeing that the example we provide is as important as the advice that we give. For me, this means being present, not being afraid of my teenager when she acts up because I am afraid of all of the discord. It means putting my foot down, not accepting unacceptable behavior. It means following through with predetermined consequences, no matter how much better things seem, or how much work it is for me.

I can make the world better by being a better mother and raising better children. I can make the world better by taking better care of myself, trying not to die of lung cancer or emphysema due to my inability to reign in my own addictive behavior. Killing myself is not going to help my kids at all. This sounds stupid, but if you really think about it, it’s a great example of what I mean- thinking of the ripple effect, the things we do that are not really just to ourselves, but effect everyone around us. It is high time we take responsibility for ourselves and for each other.

The first step is ourselves. The next is our families. Then we need to learn to widen the net, to put down our phones, shut off our TV’s and laptops, and begin to know the people around us. This means our neighbors, our children’s friends, their friends parent’s, the people at church, at the grocery store, at work, at the gym. We need to keep our eyes open and see what is happening in the world around us- so that maybe, when one of us is very, very ill, next time, we can see it. Next time, maybe someone will see what another could not.  I think it could be the difference between life and death. These little changes, the difference between existing and living.

Please, let me know what your thoughts on any of this are. I would really love to know what your mind has been whispering to you about what has happened and who we are or have become, as people.

Thanks.