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.

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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.

Posted in family, kids, Life, love, People, Uncategorized

I Don’t Know How To Write This…

candles120As a writer, the thing I know how to do when the chips are down, when something strikes me or inspires me, when something saddens me- is write. But this…this I don’t know how to write about.

I’m sure that my mind is much like your mind is, a  swirling mess of emotions, vacillating between disbelief, horror, grief, anger, shock and heartbreak. I find myself imagining what it must have been like, in that school, yesterday, then I am glad that I cannot. It’s that bad, that unthinkable, that I can’t even imagine what it must have been like. My mind has no capacity for this kind of thing. It is literally unimaginable.

What we know so far is this: A twenty year old young man killed his mother yesterday. Then, he traveled to the school where she worked and opened fire in two classrooms, killing six adults and TWENTY small children. He then killed himself. I can’t help but to say this- if only, if only, if only he had simply turned the gun on himself first…then none of this would be so, so bad. There is a very small, human part of me that registers, even in the face of all of this, that even one life lost is too many, even a very sick, very dangerous life such as his. But still, why could it not have been just him? I think we all want to know why- why ANY of this happened, what caused it, what happened to trip his switch, WHY didn’t we somehow know, see the signs? And I think that is a really important line of questions that we do need to discover answers to if we want to keep this type of tragedy from happening again. I think it is incredibly human to want to know what happened, to know why, because we need it to make some sort of sense so that we can cope. But I don’t think this will ever make sense.

I just keep thinking about the families. I keep thinking about the presents under Christmas trees for kids that are GONE. I keep thinking that, right now, some mother in Connecticut finally dozed off for five minutes and had to wake up and remember that this is REAL. That her son or daughter, her BABY, is dead. I keep having moments of unbearable sadness, crushing grief, wild despair because I imagine myself in her place. And I am so incredibly grateful that it is not me, that it is not my daughter, gone. That I can, right now, stop typing, run into the other room, and touch my daughter’s warm, sweet, sleeping face. My heart is just broken by the knowledge of all that was lost, yesterday. The lives of far more than twenty children and seven adults lost- just the tip of the iceberg, really. I don’t know how to say what I mean, but I think, if you have children or nephews and nieces, or little brothers and sisters, you know. The destruction of lives radiates out into the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, big and little brothers and sister, grandmothers, grandfathers, neighbors, best friends.

All bets are off, now. In a few days, we will start to go on with our lives, we will begin to heal the way our resilient selves do- we are not in the midst of it, and we are so blessed. But it has marked you, somewhere, I promise. You will pay attention for a long, long time to how you say goodbye, I love you, goodnight. You will look at the people around you, the ones you love best, in real time, seeing them not just as fixtures in your life, but as they are- beautiful, precious, prized parts of your heart. It is too bad it takes something beyond comprehension to bring the truth into sharp focus- that everything we strive for and grab at and prioritize is NOTHING compared to the love we give and the love we get in return. Nothing else means anything.

God help us all.

Posted in beauty, inner peace, Life, love, People

The Joy of Everything

courtesy of Tony Ludovico

It occurred to me today that there is one thing I value in myself above almost any other thing. It is the ability I have retained since childhood to feel extremely joyful over the most mundane little happenings. The excitement I have about living my life, and where things may go, and what the future holds for me.

Right now, although I am in a sad situation (the end of a long relationship, the feelings of sorrow that I couldn’t pull it off ) I find myself so excited, at the same time, about what is going to happen next. I am scared, yes, that things may be a little harder around here- I won’t have the same income, I won’t have another parent to take over when I am tapped out…but the possibilities of where my life can go are really limitless.

Look, when you are in a bad relationship, when it has gotten to the point where you feel the tension in your body when his car pulls up in front, and every word you exchange with one another is less than charitable or kind, it feels like a weight on your back. That weight has been removed, and, aside from the sadness, I feel incredible.

My dreams have roared to life again. I am making plans and seeing paths I just couldn’t see before, I was so mired in all the negativity and obsession over what was going on with us. Now, I have let go, and all of this beautiful, amazing stuff has rushed in to fill up the enormous space that relationship had taken up. I can breathe freely, now.

Even as I write this, I feel a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, because I’m so, so sad that this is the truth. I would’ve chosen us over anything, and did, for so long. I wanted it to work. It just couldn’t. I just don’t think that love should be that hard, not all the time.

What I see is that our relationship was like a  tumor (God, this is a really insulting analogy, and I’m sorry, I just can’t think of anything more appropriate right now.) blocking the blood flow to some vital organ. Now that it’s been removed, I feel alive again. I mean, you know, when I’m not sobbing uncontrollably. Jesus. I sound so bipolar right now, I hope my shrink doesn’t get a hold of this.

So, here it is. I am sad. I am so happy. I am scared. I am excited. When I am not crying, I am laughing. I am mourning one thing, while beginning something better. I feel peaceful, all of the time. I am not lonely. I am sleeping soundly. I think all of this means that I am healing.

There are moments tinged with sadness. The rest of the time, I am aware of the joy of everything.

That’s all.