Saturday, February 11, 2017

Moment of the Week

I currently have 3 blogs, lol.  Amazing for someone who has had both writer's block and limited time to write over the past year or so.  There's this one, obviously.  The second, A Moment's Glory, I started about two years ago as a spin-off to this one.  I even said goodbye to Glimmering Through Aspen.   My third is one, Fresh and Fabulous:  Capturing Your Inner and Outer Radianceis what I use along side my "business" or better stated my hobby as a Lemongrass Spa consultant.

I go through an ebb and flow on each of them.  Right now I find myself with a mild flow on each.  I have even added a new feature on A Moment's Glory, called the "Moment of the Week" to help keep the flow going.  "Moment of the Week" is just a way for me to think about and appreciate something that has happened to me during the week no matter how minuscule it may seem.  It's also a good way to focus a day of writing and to help prevent writer's block, ;).

After yesterday's post here, I felt that my moment of the week from two weeks ago fit in perfectly to show exactly where I am at this point.

MOMENT OF THE WEEK

I had just dropped my son off at school on Wednesday morning and continued along my own daily path to work when Fields of Gold  by Sting came on the radio.  That song always brought warm and loving imagery to mind when Dale, my late husband, was alive.  It was unofficially our song.  After he passed away, I was so laden with a multitude of emotions that the song lost its innocence.  I just couldn’t listen to it the same as I once did.  Until Wednesday, and as I made my beeline commute to work on Brooklyn side streets, you could say that I got swept away.

Long after the shock and confusion surrounding his death subsided, it was the bad memories and guilt that hung around.  Guilt being the more powerful of those two forces.  It’s taken almost every bit of the nearly 6 years since his death for me to finally feel those tight grips loosen up.  Wednesday morning, they let go and I managed to listen to the whole song without a bad memory or an ounce of guilt (my nemeses) interrupting.  It was warm and it was sweet and I cherished every moment of that 3+ minute song.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Recovery

They say that there is a grieving process that one goes through when a loved one is lost. The 5 stages of grief according to Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross are 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance (PsychCentral). 
A death by suicide is different and a loved one's suicide can trigger intense emotions. The stages of grief differ slightly.  
  • Shock. Disbelief and emotional numbness might set in. You might think that your loved one's suicide couldn't possibly be real.
  • Anger. You might be angry with your loved one for abandoning you or leaving you with a legacy of grief — or angry with yourself or others for missing clues about suicidal intentions.
  • Guilt. You might replay "what if" and "if only" scenarios in your mind, blaming yourself for your loved one's death.
  • Despair. You might be gripped by sadness, loneliness or helplessness. You might have a physical collapse or even consider suicide yourself.
  • Confusion. Many people try to make some sense out of the death, or try to understand why their loved one took his or her life. But, you'll likely always have some unanswered questions.
  • Feelings of rejection. You might wonder why your relationship wasn't enough to keep your loved one from dying by suicide.  (Mayo Clinic)
Now that I am approaching the 6 year mark to the beginning of the end, memories and emotions for me are beginning to stir.  Six years has given me time to heal and to be able to reflect on where I was and where I am today.  


In the early days of this blog, when I was in the beginning-middle of recovery, I couldn't see as clearly as I do now.  And reflecting back on the stages of grief, I can look back and say that my state of shock did not last for long.  There was the initial shock that began the moment I found out, but it didn't take long for that to fade and to only be hit with it sporadically over the years.  Even now, 6 years later, for no particular reason I will think of Dale and say to myself, "I can't believe he's gone."  I suppose there will always be that shred of shock, but not in a sense that is binding.  I believe shock never stayed with me for long because I lived with a suicidal man for years.  Many times he led me believe that it wasn't going to be if but rather when.  I lived my life revolved around that fear he bestowed upon me because somewhere inside, I believed him, and I tried to do everything that I could to never let that happen.

For me, the first prominent stage was confusion.  I saw things in Dale in the last few months that I had never seen before.  He had spoken of the demons, but for nearly 13 years, he kept them at bay.  I was confused as to how one could get to the place he was at, not just towards the end, but his entire life.  Why did he feel this way for so long?  Why wouldn't he seek help?  What happened in his life before I knew him?  Was it depression alone?  Did he have borderline personality disorder?  What role did I play?  Was I an enabler?  Why didn't I see this storm coming?  How could I have been so unprepared? I would look back on our lives and see things differently, but was it correctly?  Did my perspective change?  I. was. confused.  I wanted to understand.  But the more I thought about things, the more confused I became.  It took more than a year to begin to let go.  It was so difficult, especially with my introverted personality.  By nature I think and process.   However, I came to the point where I had exhausted all of my thoughts and questions due to the inability of ever having them answered.  He wasn't here.  I wasn't getting any answers from his family.  I knew everything that I would ever know.  I had to accept what I knew to be true and let go of the rest.  

Dale's death broke my heart.  It was a devastating and traumatic loss.  However, I never found myself in despair.  Sometimes I wonder if raising my son completely alone kept me from despair.  I had no time for it.  I had a child to attend to and there was not a single day that I didn't get out of bed to take care of that child.  I also never felt rejected by Dale's choice.  Admittedly, I thought that after our son was born, he would have been enough to keep Dale going.  I never saw myself in that place, but my son, I believed hoped that he would be enough (what a burden to put on a child).  I do not believe that it wasn't about my son or myself not being enough.  Dale didn't think that he was enough.  He was a terribly tortured soul and from the beginning, I always felt more sad for him (even though he was gone and in peace) than for us (my son and I).  

It took years for anger to make its presence known.  In a way, I understood what he did.  I didn't and never will think that was the right choice or that it ever should have been an option.  But despite what he left me to deal with, I couldn't be angry with him.  Again, I was deeply, deeply saddened for him. Broken-hearted, alone, and confused... but I was alive.  I had a beautiful son and a life.  I was thankful for all that I did have.  It wasn't until I was in "a good place" that I was able to open up the doors to anger.  

One of the things that I had told myself from the beginning was that despite all that happened, I was not a victim.  I was an active participant in my life (even when I was a mush of a person and I wasn't making choices, that in and of itself was a choice).  That mindset made me not regret my decisions and my life with Dale.  (If you haven't read much of this blog, the situation was much more than the suicide).  Those thoughts gave me power, power because I felt that I had control over my life.  It was a necessity, especially at that time.

It wasn't until about 2 years ago or so that I couldn't help but to compare my life with John to that with Dale.  I even went further to compare my life in my twenties (I married Dale at 23) to John's and to other friends in their twenties.  I didn't have many fun, exciting, young and carefree experiences because (even though I didn't know it at the time) life was already strenuous.  I was taking care of a sick person without ever even knowing that I was doing that.  That made me begin to feel resentful towards the life that I had with Dale because I felt that I missed out.  That's when the anger trickled in.  I have had to retell myself that I was there, I made decisions.  I need to take ownership over my past.  And I have and I do.  Hindsight is always 20-20 and I have to keep that in mind.  I cannot change the past, and to be honest, I am not sure if would even want to.  All that I can do is make the most of today and to experience life to the fullest so that I don't look back and have any regrets on how I am living my life right now.  

I also worry about my son.  I always will.  Whenever he gets upset and down on himself, I can't help but to have an internal panic attack.  I can't help but to be worried about his mental state, or his future mental state.  That causes me to become angry with Dale.  I am angry with him for giving my son a predisposition.  All I can do is fight with all of the nurture I can find and hope it kicks nature's ass!

Guilt.  Guilt has been by my side for 5 years.  It found me well before Dale took his own life. It found me when I finally spoke up about my unhappiness in our marriage and the lack of respect that he had for me... which led to his unraveling.  It punched me in the gut when I got the phone call.  It was there whispering in my ear as I tried to work though all of my confusion.  It laughed at me when I began to find happiness again.  It was there day and night and even in my dreams.  I was swimming in guilt.  I knew that it wasn't my fault, that it was Dale's decision.  But I also knew that by my speaking up (which I had the right to do), I caused his derailment.  It may have been an accident waiting to happen, but I was the trigger that led to his end.  I felt guilty that I still had a life.  I still had our son.  I was happy to be alive.  I found beauty in life, even in the darkness.  I felt guilty that I was healthy enough to do that, when he wasn't.  I felt guilty for finding enjoyment and for finding happiness.  Guilt really threw its all at me when I found John.  Maybe it knew that I now had the artillery to beat it.  But for the first two years with John, I was almost consumed with guilt.  What I felt most guilty about, was that I liked my life better now.  I was happier now.  Life was good.  It wasn't heavy.  It was healthy.  Everything was just... better.  God, that was sooooo hard for me to admit.  Even now, I feel a tad bit dirty for say that.  But its true.  My life is better now than it was before.  

My mind battled my guilt mostly through my dreams.  I believe that's because I wasn't awake to put up my guard to protect my true thoughts.  My dreams let me expose them in a safe place, within my own mind.  I worked through it in my dreams.  And I would say it took me up to about the 5 year mark from Dale's death for me to feel the clutches of guilt begin to release itself.  

Since then, I have noticed that I have been thinking about Dale more.  When I think about him now, I can do so without the bad moments ruining the good.  I couldn't do that before because I was protecting myself.  Now, for reasons that I don't quite understand, it's safe.  I can go there.  So I have and as a result, I have begun to miss him more than I have in a long time and that is a strange place for me to find myself in.  For the first time in almost 6 years, it's mainly just me, without shock, confusion, anger or guilt.  What I am feeling is genuine and untainted by the stages of grief.  It's new and I haven't fully processed it yet.  I suppose that is why I am back here writing and sharing all of this.  I can't imagine its a bad thing though.

I Vow...

We knew that we wanted to write our own vows before we were ever even engaged.  I had ideas swimming in my head as to what I wanted to put into my vows, but when time came to actually put them down on paper, I was stumped.  I didn't know how to organize and to explain and to show what I was feeling and what John meant to me.  So I went back to where it all start, and it started with this blog.  So to fully appreciate this post, you may want to read more of this blog or all of it, in case if you haven't. I'd start with the beginning, just sayin'.  ;)

Five years ago, I began a new chapter in my life.  One where I began to look at life through a whole new lens.  It was a profound experience of self discovery and what emerged was a desire to find affirmation to the new thoughts and beliefs that I acquired along the way. So many of my thoughts revolved around love and what it truly meant to love and to be loved.  What I grew to believe is  that the love between a husband and wife is like no other, but that this love only existed through proofs.  These proofs are in the way in which you are looked at.  The way in which you are spoken to and listened to.  The way in which you are touched.  The way in which you are made to laugh and the way in which you are still capable of finding individuality in togetherness.  I believe that these proofs create a place where your beauty shines and all of your imperfections diminish because of their irrelevance.  It’s a place where you find yourself happiest because you are safe to be your true self. And it’s a place where you want to go when you are up, down or anywhere in between because this place is home. 
John, you have breathed life into my thoughts and hopes and have affirmed that I am not a crazy person or atleast that I am not the only one, lol.  You have made my beliefs a reality and you are my amazing. 
Despite all of the years of adventures, heartaches, and happinesses that we did not share with one another, our paths crossed at precisely the right time.  I am grateful for that and for you.  So without further adieu… 
I promise to you to never lose sight of what brought us here today and to love, respect and appreciate you for all that you are and all that we are. I promise to laugh with you, cry with you, and grow with you as we adventure through life together.  I promise that you will never find a better Internet steal than the 2 for 1 you found in Ewan and myself.  I promise to stand by your side to celebrate in your successes, to encourage you in times of doubt, and to take your hand when you may fall.  I promise to be as proud and as happy as I am today to be your wife… all the days of my life.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Aspen

I don't know any other way to explain the connections that this blog and my wedding had than to share directly it's impact.  This is the "thank you" letter that I gave to each of my bridesmaids.

Over the past year, I had a lot of crazy and indecisive moments that I reached out to you on, on more than one occasion.  However, there were certain things that were an absolute no-brainer for this wedding… John, Ewan walking me down the isle, you, and an aspen leaf.  Out of all of the little gifts to you and all of the details in this wedding, the aspen leaf carries a true significance and purpose.  Trees represent life.  An aspen tree’s significance in nature is that it is one of the first plants to regrow after a natural disaster has destroyed the land.  The unfortunate part is that once the land has healed and recovered, the other plants, that were able to grow as a result of the nourishment that the aspen’s provided the land; they take over and often the aspen trees die out.  Five years ago when the life that I knew was destroyed, I turned to writing to help me recover, heal, and regrow.  Glimmering Through Aspen is what I titled my writing and it wasn’t until I was writing my vows to John that I realized the full extent the parallel between life and nature.  Since meeting John my writing has decreased and I very rarely visit it these days.  However, the words in my vows came directly from the raw and genuine thoughts from my recent past.  John fits seamlessly into my beliefs and that is how I know and have known for so long now that I have found my missing half with him.  Thank you so much for sharing in this special time in my life.  I couldn’t imagine doing it without you by my side.  And should you ever find a time in your life when you have to start anew and rebuild, I am proof that there is a deep and true happiness that can be found again, but also that it’s in the lonely, dark times that the happiness is reborn.  I’m not sure if this is the best “Thank You” note for a wedding, but it’s original, if nothing else.  :)

I hope my sister-in-law doesn't mind this close-up.
Each of my bridesmaids wore an aspen leaf necklace.


I carried my own.  

Yes that is my son walking me down the aisle.
And yes, it rained on my wedding day!

Can you guess what the next post will be?  ;)