Tag Archives: loss

Structured rambling

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If the past few weeks has taught me only one thing, it is that time waits for no one.   I have some serious goals for myself, including getting the book I have been writing for years, done!     So I am setting structure for myself.  I will be painting, walking, writing each day.

I have always steered clear of structure.   I guess I think if I don’t do it, I am a free agent and no one is telling me what to do.   But doh!   What if this is good for me?  And I know it is, so get out of your own head and make it happen!!!  (me to self)

Thoughts today have been on my mom.   Missing her.   Her Siberian Irises are in full bloom, as well as the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart, and more.      I talk to her when I am outside because that is where she spent the majority of time when she was here.

As true with any loss, if only we could have “one more” everything.    I was fortunate to have her for so long, but it wasn’t long enough.  And then a friend and I were walking our dogs and talking about how difficult it is when a parent dies.   It really is so hard.   The day after my mother died I woke up and the world was a different place for me.  There is no other way to describe it.  I felt vulnerable, because my biggest protector in life was no longer here.  My girlfriend described it this way.    When you have your family, your parents, it is like you have this safe house with loved ones.  When a parent dies it is like the roof is blown off.     I nodded.   Vulnerability.

Those closest to me know how difficult the first year has been without her.   Winter was hell.   Also as true with loss is the painful reality that we feel on the first birthday, holiday, without them.   The “firsts” of everything hurts.   Sometimes I feel her essence and I am very grateful for this.   Until you lose a parent, you will not fully grasp how hard it is.   The day we lose my father will be a frightening day for me for several reasons.   I pray it isn’t soon, but I also pray he will not suffer with this “Lewy Body Dementia” shit.    But I know too much on it.

I have been thinking about life.   You are raised, schooled, taught, and then you start your own life.   You find a spouse, or significant others, and  most will have their own families, children, and then grandchildren, etc.    With this life you are constantly growing, learning, because there is no quicker way to learn than to teach something!   I wasn’t able to have children.  So my life has been different, but not bad.    I believe in “What’s meant to be will be”.   Children for me, was not meant to be.   Have long since accepted that.   But I have been active in my nephew and nieces life and always will be.  They bring me much joy, they are entertaining, they are perfectly imperfect beings.  I just love them.    But they are busy with their own lives.    As they should be!

A lot of my friends are single.   A lot of my friends are childless.  Many of us have furry kids.   Lilly brings me much joy.    It wasn’t that long ago I had two dogs and three cats.  I used to say “Every single self employed artist needs five animals!”    But truly, they were so important to me, and I was fortunate to have them, and had friends and my mom to help me here.   My animals probably spent equal time with my mom when I travel taught.    It was funny to see the “loyalty” shift back and forth.

With the exception of my australian shepherd “Brody”, all others were rescues.   And it’s interesting when you rescue an animal, or so you think, and then you realize that they rescued YOU!!   I had to put my cat Zoe down because she was sick and I didn’t have the money to get her treated.  It has tortured me.   I feel like I failed her, and while she lived 14-15 years, my other two cats were 19 when they died.   Anyway, I prayed daily for them all to stay healthy (I had adopted them when I was in a relationship and we lived together).    Little did I know Brody would outlive him!

Rambling, and that’s okay.    Doesn’t matter if you are single, married, straight, gay, white, black, I hope you do have loved ones in your life.  I hope you have experienced this.   I believe there is only a couple things we take when you die… love and love!    I hope when it is my turn, I will take with me much love.   Peace to all reading this.      xx

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And once again, the pendulum swings

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May has proven to be a difficult month for me.  In between praying for death with an abscess tooth, I have lost two women who were both significant in my life.

First, a woman who was like a second mom to me.  I met her at 19 years of age.  I would go to her, numerous and various times throughout my life when battered by the world and events.     She would help me make sense of it.    When in my early 20s tragedy struck when my brother’s girlfriend was in an automobile accident, killing both her (18) an her 14 years old cousin.)  I went to grief counseling, I went and talked to a couple pastors, none offered me the acceptance that came until I spoke to Judy.   I will never forget her words, that just helped me through this difficult time.  “What makes you think God only wants to be surrounded with old souls?”   I think of this statement whenever I hear someone young has died.

Judy was an intelligent woman who kept up on world affairs.    She loved her family, her partner, her friends, and I was so fortunate to be one of them.    When she smiled, the world smiled, it was such a nice scene.  I hope I always remember her smile.   She encouraged me, time and time again, and guided me (when asked) throughout my life.    I remember learning after stopping by to see her, that she had metastatic breast cancer.  I stuck pretty close to her after that.   Weekly contact, visits when I could.   I am so grateful that I did this, now.   I wanted to help her, as she has helped me throughout my life.  She was wise, patient, and incredibly kind.  She was so good to me, and I miss her horribly.  I can’t think of her without tears running down my face.  I know time will help me learn how to live and accept life without her, and she always told me she would always be there for me, even when I couldn’t see or hear her.  How blessed I was to have her on my side.

This morning I learned that my 90 year old mentor and friend, Barbara passed away.   It really hasn’t fully sunken in yet.    You know that protective denial we are sometimes gifted with when the pain is more than we can bear?   Barbara was an amazing artist, worked in several mediums.   She had traveled a lot, had seen so much in her long life.  I loved hearing her stories.  She was always so generous with sharing them.  The small town we live in will undeniably feel this loss, a community will grieve together.

Having only high school art class as education, I learned so much from Barbara.   She had a keen eye, an eye that instantly told me where my artwork needed work.    She was so creative, always painting for charities, for fund raisers for her beloved church, and writing articles for the Historians, or papers.    She had presence.   When she would attend my art classes, my students would look at what I did, then they would look over to Barbara to see what she did!   It was comical.   “When are we going to learn what Barbara just painted?”     I liked to jokingly take credit for all her artistic abilities and talent, I am smiling recalling this.   She taught me, and many of my students so much.

It’s been tradition for over a decade now that we would have a private ornament class, she, her niece, and myself.     The last time was in October of last year and I remember when her niece and i were looking at Barbara’s finished ornaments and realizing how much she had lost.  She was seeing things differently, forgetting, and i know that moment when we both saw this, we both started mourning for her then.   It is so sad to see someone you love with failing health.  It was hard to look at her last ornaments and not grab them to fix them.

I could go on and on about both of these beautiful women.   And I will in separate writing.    I am going to be 58 years old this year, this is the time when “losing people” typically begins.  It’s a cold fact of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier.    When I learned of Barbara’s passing I wanted to call my mom, she passed last year, and then I thought i needed to call Judy, who just passed two weeks ago.  My life as I know it, and the luxury of having these quality women in my life has changed with both their passings.  You always think you have more time…  at least I did.

So today, I just want to talk about these losses.   To suggest to you to reach out to those you love, even if for a brief phone call or visit.   Time waits for no one, and while both of these women lived much longer lives than others i have lost and grieved for, their presence, their smiles, their strengths and weaknesses will be forever present in my heart.    I know I am a better person for having known both of these women, and I know I am a better artist for having studied with Barbara for several decades.  How fortunate I was, how fortunate I am that I will take all they gave to me with me as I face the future without them.   Right now it seems fairly dark, but I know, this too shall pass, and the many gifts they taught and gave me, I will try to give to others.

As the rain falls outside my window, it matches my emotions.   Today is a hard day, May has been a tough month, and life is so short.    The pendulum of life and death has hit hard this month.   And this, too shall pass.

 

And the beat goes on…

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Sometimes amongst the monotony of everyday life I find myself taking a deep breath, in awe of the personal growth I recognize in others, in myself.  Today has been one of those days that provide evidence of my own growth.    I sometimes wonder about others life experiences, what event in their life caused the most personal growth?

Things have been “clicking” for me the past few weeks.   I attribute it to the loss of my mother a year ago.   A difficult, strong woman who could plow anyone over with her opinions.   I was very grateful she was on my side!   But more than that, I attribute my growth to living life without her.

I know I was fortunate, and still am to have my dad at 57.   I am grateful for this.    I am also grateful for my own ability to forgive others, to look beyond past hurts or painful times and set myself free of anger, angst or stagnancy.   I don’t forgive another for them, I forgive them for me.  I learned this many many moons ago.  I do know how to forgive, I have gifted myself with this many times.  Others close to me have said “How do you do that?  How do you forget that?”    It really isn’t about forgetting.    It’s about moving forward, putting the unfortunate moments behind, but I never forget.

It’s been a week or two of sorting through feelings, examining relationships, behaviors, and recognizing that, in which I would like to change in myself, to add quality to my life.   Today I’ve been tossing around disappointment.   When someone you love disappoints you.   And when you realize, as you take stock, that this isn’t new behavior, but old, and perhaps the harshness of some everyday life events has exposed in myself an ability to see that which I couldn’t earlier.

Why do I see some people the way I want, with blinders?  Why do I seek accountability from a person who has rarely if ever been accountable?  Is this about the persons behavior or my own?   For me, it’s about my own.   Why look at someone with blinders?  We all know the “love is blind” saying, and yes, I do love the person who disappointed me.  What is it in my psyche, in my minds eye that hasn’t allowed me to see, or more important, just accept without expectation that which I’ve seen throughout my life?

I can’t change anyone else.   I know the pain of trying.   I also know the pain of defending someone I love who wasn’t “pulling their weight”.   I know the difference between helping and enabling, and I know the pain of failed outcome doing both!

I will find my way to forgiveness, because i just don’t have the desire or energy to hold onto the weighted disappointments.   Life has taught me that I cannot have peace without acceptance, and this situation is no different.    So how do you “love” someone, and detach with love?    This is old alanon teachings.   When I was regularly attended AlAnon I learned so much about myself, some things I’d rather have not seen.   But I also learned tools that helped me detach, give the other person the dignity of making their own decisions, even if I think they are heading in a direction that I think is dangerous.

I think sometimes about desensitizing.    Every time i read the news I think of how much I have desensitized, how I HAD TO for survival, and then also to move from survival mode to actual living!  Detachment with love is not desensitizing.  It is releasing expectations (also known as premeditated resentments), quieting my judgement, my fears by offering prayers or good tidings to this person, and then focusing on myself.   Clearly there is a difference for me.

Tomorrow will be an easier day.    I have sat all day with the uncomfortable feelings that I used to “eat” away.   I’m no longer wanting to harm myself (by bingeing or overeating) because someone else has ticked me off or acting like an ass.    For this realization alone, all the feelings of disappointment were well worth the ride to get here.    I am responsible for me, and only me!  I’ve no children, spouses, or dependents.    I will always offer to help those I love who are helping themselves, but I’m going to stick to improving, always, the quality of my thoughts, time, and thus, my life.

 

Experience, Strength and Hope

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The past couple of weeks has gifted me with answers to a couple incidents in which I pointed fingers to another.  What was that gift?  “For every finger you point, there is three pointing back at yourself!”     Wow!   Basics of Life 101!

Today marks a very sad occasion in my life.  16 years ago my sweet kid sister took her last breath on earth.   At 38 her life was plucked out from under her with the nasty, insidious disease of cancer.    Darlene was an old soul, a kind soul, she worked hard and played hard.   I think back on her life and I am so grateful that she lived her short life, well.  She really did.

Those close to me know I mention this every year, and at least weekly I mention the cancers in my family, or the losses I’ve experienced.   It isn’t “to dwell”.  It is that grief has been the hardest walk I have ever been through in my life.   Last night I said “goodbyes” to an online friend who I believe is in final stages of dying from cancer.   It wasn’t easy, but I did it.  And now I am offering prayers for her, that this please be over for her soon.  Too much suffering.

I mention loss and cancer because both are a big part of my life.   Every day, it doesn’t matter how many years it’s been, I have to make choices to live my life the best I can, with realities that aren’t easy, not in the least.    I’m not “stuck” in grief.   Part of my daily choices are to live my life to my best, accepting my own shortcomings and issues, and there are many!   Some day I succeed, other days I have a hard time getting out of my own way, but because of what I have been through with family and loved ones, I try to make my life and each day purposeful, I do this for those who I have lost and no longer have that opportunity.  I do this because they have taught me to appreciate myself and my life, the earlier which is my greatest struggle.  There isn’t enough time in this day to share my struggles, nor am I into sharing them for the world to see.  I will share on some, because it’s part of healing for me, and my hope is that if my blog(s) help one other person through a crap time in their life, then my own suffering isn’t in vain.

At this age, and well over a decade of living alone, I have come a long way baby!  I will always be the person who wants to help others, I will always offer experience, strength, hope to another, always.  But what has changed is that I must do this for myself, first.    The world doesn’t need to know nor do most people care what I’ve been through in my life.   Thank god!  Otherwise I may be another “celebrity” that idiots look to for answers!   Yes, I said it.   Celebrities too often have a larger sense of self importance than the rest of us.    I’ve learned that it is important to take care of and love myself, to have self respect, but equally to know heightened self importance isn’t the authentic person that I consider myself to be, and aspire to be.    I’m reminded many times why we have two ears and one mouth!   To listen!

This week I am starting anew with some self care things, and rather than to beat myself up because I had lost my way to these, I am proud of myself that I picked up the phone to make the phone calls to help myself.  I didn’t discuss this with anyone, it was something I did for myself, something I recognized I needed.    I’m getting far too old to keep beating the shit out of myself for being human.   Will I do this perfectly?  Um, probably not!  lol.

I have been enthralled in feelings of fear for someone close to me, someone who I love.  Every essence of my being says they’re headed for trouble.    But this time, I have the experience of watching another person I love self destruct.  There is nothing joyful about it.  It is hell, first losing respect for someone, and also “waiting for the shoe to drop”.   The fact that I reached out for help for myself tells me I have learned that the only true person I can save is myself.  And if someone doesn’t care that much about themselves, no matter how much I love them, (and I do love deeply), I cannot fix or make another person love themselves.    With that said, it doesn’t mean I stop loving them.

So today, on this day, I am remembering my sister(s), her antics, her love of life.   I miss her more than words can say, but I know i always will.    I’m not a believer that “time heals”.    I don’t think it does.   I think time teaches us how to coexist with whatever it is, for me today, the loss of my kid sister.   I had to do the work, I had to walk through the barbed wire fence, and scratchy bushes of grief to get to where I can recognize when I’m in need of help, tears, other.   In the beginning, it just isn’t impossible, at least it wasn’t for me.  The waves were too often and inconsistently.   Nor am I right now, allowing the very fear I walked in losing a love to alcoholism, with another person close to me.  My job in all of this is to take care of myself (and I’m still learning HOW to do this).

I guess I could say today there has been tears, I am thankful for insight gained today, and I am grateful for where I am and who I am today.   Getting “back on” a train isn’t as hard as trying to catch it at 90 mph with insane thinking!   I am grateful.  I hurt, I feel, I have sadness, but I also have choices to help myself, I am learning!   And for me?   That’s enough right now.  I am learning.  I am also very grateful for the many friends in my life who gently remind me to be kinder to myself, and sometimes this happens when they are beating on themselves or other.   Detachment doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it means I offer prayers for them, help when asked, but I first and foremost take care of myself, first.
Love to all reading this

 

 

 

One Year Anniversary

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Today has been a hard day.  Although not as hard as it was one year ago this evening,  when my mom took her last breath.  I was blessed with my mom for over 56 years of my life.  While not every moment was hugs and kisses, that long span defined our relationship, mother and daughter, and friends.

For the first time this morning, I sat and read all the comments friends had left on my facebook page one year ago today, about 600 of them.   I knew I didn’t have the strength prior.  Crocodile tears were in abundance.   With some, telling the honest to goodness truth about this “passage of life”, “Donna, you will never get over this, you will  think of her everyday and you will miss her everyday, but I am here to help you”…  They are right.  Never in my life will I stop missing her, and everyday of my life, just like I have with both my sisters, and Jim’s death, I will think of her, and I am very grateful for that.

My mother was quite a character.    People, friends would tell me how strong I was, and then they’d meet my mom and smile “Omg, I can see why, now!”   I am smiling.   My mother’s strength and love had carried me through a lot in my life, and throughout HER life.  You never know what a person is going through, unless they tell you.  My mother kept a lot to herself, as do I.   She never liked that I blogged, because she felt I put too much out for people to read or see.   But writing, sharing for me, is how I get through. “Mom I wouldn’t blog about my sex life, even if I had one!”   She would roll her eyes and shrug her shoulders, head out the door to the gardens that she so lovingly cared for for decades.      How grateful I am, today, that I had my mom as long as I did.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye, and gives it a wink.”   – Gina Carey

My relationship with my mother was strong, complicated, ever changing.   We argued, we made up, we argued some more, we laughed.  We were always “doing something”, because my mom could not sit long.   Unless she wasn’t feeling good, and then you’d find her cozied up with glasses on, nose in a book.   She helped me with my studios past and present, renovating my home, and it didn’t matter the dozen or less times we weren’t speaking, if I needed her, all I had to do was call.   She was amazingly resourceful, I have never known anyone (but my father) who had the talent to fix, repair, replace ANYTHING!  Except of course, addiction and alcoholism.

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”  – Honore de Balzac   

Like many of us, moments from my childhood reared pain in maturity, but I had long since forgiven my mother for the manner in which she treated me, because maturity showed me my own imperfections, and I not only loved my mom, I liked her.   I wanted her in my life.   So in my late 20’s after years of “therapy”, I forgave, and freed myself of the disappointment, harm that I believe only happened because of the hell she had lived through.   I still struggle daily with self defeating behavior, but it’s all mine.  I am the only one who can change that, and someday’s I succeed, other days,  not so much.

My relationship with my mom in my 40’s and 50’s were the best.  Both single, we looked out for each other in a world that wasn’t always easy to exist in.  A therapist once described my relationship with my mom as “spousal”.  I laughed.   Um, no, CLEARLY she was always the mother!   And I smile.   We spent a lot of time together, enough that I know I will for the rest of my life have memories of her, us.   I could go on and on pages long, of the countless things my mother did that helped me, but I’d rather save them for the days ahead when I need to remember them.     In my 40’s and 50’s she was my greatest support, particularly when she gave back the care giving I did for her through her cancers, and she, through my own.

A friend said to me after she passed “Donna, I knew your mother had been through some shit in life, I knew it just by her stance alone “Don’t mess with me!”   I laughed and nodded.   Like mother, like daughter there.    Our lives ran parallel in many ways, both affected by another’s alcoholism, both betrayed in marriage, both creative souls, financial duress, heartache and disappointment.   There were times we laughed so hard I had to go take a shower, because the tears ran down my legs.   One way we did differ was when I would do something REALLY stupid (and that happens a lot) the first thing I would do is call my mom and tell her.  She would say “And don’t go sharing this with everyone either!”.    But of course, I did.   As soon as I hung up the phone I called one of my girlfriends and share my stupidity, because I learned long ago how to laugh at myself, and my many true friends love to laugh as much as I did.  Laughter is healing, and my favorite emotion is laughter through tears.    I had a lot of these with my mom.

There were horrific times in my life, one being when I found out Jim (love) died.  I drove from Watertown, NY, stopped for a 2 hour visit to see his parents outside Albany, and my mom begged me to get a room for the night, I lied to her and said I would.   A few hours later when I arrived home (was bad driving conditions) she was up, waiting for me.  “I knew you wouldn’t do as I asked!”   We sat up that night and talked for hours, and hours, and hours.   We both cried that night.   I was sharing the agony of knowing he had self destructed, Jim was a good person, we had a nice life together, but his alcoholism was a deal breaker.   That night, as I shared about my conversation with his parents, I knew then, my mothers tears weren’t just for me or Jim.   I believe she grieved for her brother, and his children,  to whom they lost to alcohol, too.   It was an area of her life that she rarely spoke of.   It was then the first time I realized, all the times that she watched me walk through the talons of alcoholism, she didn’t offer any advice, only offer to help where she could, and of course, prayers, except the last event when I told her “I need to tell him to leave.”   She then encouraged me to remove myself from the now alcohol ridden relationship,  and did all she could and more, to help me through this difficult time.  How many times did my words or my actions hurt or recall pain from her own life?   But my mom just silently dealt with it on her own.  We spoke usually daily, and it was a rarity when she wasn’t at my house at least once during the week.   She co-owned all 5 of my animals, as she took great care of them (and my home, when I travel taught).

Over a span of 17 years, there were numerous trips, later on to Boston for her surgeries, and trips to chemo, and doctors.  It was very hard to be my moms primary care giver.  Our last trip to Boston was straight out of hell, and I told her on the way home after complete emotional breakdown pulled over on the side of a road at 1am in Boston, “I can’t continue doing this mom”.   For a while I felt guilty about it, because I knew, when I could no longer do the long trips to Boston with her, that the disease would take over, and that is exactly what happened.  That’s a very hard reality for me at times, but I know, I was a good daughter to her, and I did everything I could and then some.   My own health issues needed tending to.   But through it all, today I am nothing but grateful that I was there for her, and I did all that I did for her.   I will carry this with me throughout my life’s time.

I recall being admitted to MGH (Mass General Hospital) for cellulitis.  This happened after an exchange surgery (reconstruction for breast cancer).  I had left the house that morning telling her not to worry, they were going to give me a shot in the ass and send me home with a bottle of bigger pills!    I called her, crying, could barely catch my breath “I’m being admitted”.   You are what?    “I’m being admitted”.    “Omg, okay, are you okay?”   “No, mom, I’m scared”.    “It will be alright, Donna, we will get our prayer warriors right on this”.   Also recalling seeing my doctors face color and expression change as he lanced open my right breast right then and there.  “Am I going to be alright?”    “I don’t know, Donna, but we are going to do our best and you will be in patient for awhile”.    “Mom, I am going to be on Bigelow 9” (Ever seen MGH, HUGE! I was on the 9th floor of Bigelow building).   “Gigolo what, Donna?”  BIGELOW MOM, BIGELOW!

It’s been a challenging year.  When she died the next day, the world felt different.  I no longer felt brave or safe.  How could I?  My greatest protector was no longer here?   A friend asked me if it (grief) was harder than I thought it would be.  “Yes, yes it is”.  Having the sad experience of losing my oldest and youngest sisters to cancer, and Jim to alcoholism, I knew it would be hard.  I just didn’t know exactly how hard it would be.

A few years ago my Uncle, her youngest and only living brother of 3 passed.  We needed to clean out his apartment, and notify next of kin.  We had four cousins we only saw when very small.   We needed to send them paperwork, so I found one cousin on facebook, I will never forget the day we, she learned, that her nephew, Brady had died of cancer.   Her face turned white.   She took a deep breath and sat down at the table in my studio.  Clearly distraught.   We have a couple gene mutations in our family, and are a gene pool you wouldn’t want to swim in.   I knew what was going through her mind was hard for her, like maybe SHE DID give us the mutations.  She uttered some words softly, one being her brother’s name, and her nieces name, and then headed out to the gardens that brought kept her busy and brought her peace.  I will never know what she was thinking, but I knew it was quite painful for her.   This was a really hard night for both of us.   Nor I or my siblings ever asked either parent to be tested, and we certainly didn’t look to them with blame.   They too, were victims.  But I sometimes would find my mom quiet in reflection, and I know she struggled with the idea that she may have passed down her cancers to us.

I know she is with me.   She will always be with me.   I talk to her daily, and while I have received “signs” confirming so.  Today’s sent me to tears yet again.  I am trying to finish the last project we collaborated on, a victorian desk, and somewhere between A – Z, I had lost the front plate for the keyhole.   I looked in my pocketbook 3 times.  Nothing.  I called my girlfriend, it wasn’t in her car.  I was ready to head back out to Home Depot where we had gone and I realized I hadn’t grabbed my phone.   I prayed to St Anthony, and asked my mom to please, please let me find this plate.   Two seconds later I slid my hand into my pocketbook to get my house keys (which were my moms set), and out with them in my hand was the keyhole plate.  For me, that was a sign that she is with me.   I find comfort in that.

“Her damaged petals are what made her more beautiful than all the other flowers”-  a.j. lawless

I was not easy to parent, so I’ve been told.  And she wasn’t an easy mother to parent in later years.  She was stubborn, impatient, hmmmm sounds familiar?

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it”.  – Mark Twain

 

Temporary Insanity

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I have been a bit insane the past few hours.    No, not a Hannibal Lechter persona, but too much sugar, overly stimulated and obnoxiously enthusiastic.     Let me tell you, it really doesn’t make for a great mix.

But what I want to talk about tonight isn’t how crazy I can get, but how I have grown, even around the crazies.  For one, I can sit back, look at my behavior and feel whatever it is I am feeling, and sit with those feelings.    For example, when I realize I’ve been a bit tattered, I recognize that.   And then the “frantic” thinking comes in, how I have to fix, fix, fix whatever it was that I think I did so wrong, or who I offended.  I keep my hands busy as I work my way through the emotions of the moment, not an easy task for a right brained outrageously over sensitive soul!     Then somewhere, in its own time, I forgive myself, I acknowledge what it is that I need to do, many times an apology is in order, but in apologizing, I am not beating myself up, nor am I painting myself as a crazy person or add unnecessary drama to an already cluttered scene.  Once I have calmed myself, I simply apologize for my actions, or reactions, or obnoxious enthusiasm that others sometimes put up defense to.

Sometimes it takes me a while to write the apology, because it has to be sincere, and while I always taint whatever it is I am doing with humor, (and sometimes displaced humor) I am being altruistic with my apology and sense of humor.  Humor that many may think is dark, perverse, or  thwarted towards that “insanity” thing again!  But I swear to you, humor is one, if not THE BIGGEST tool I have in life.     There really isn’t too much I cannot find humor in, and I surround myself with friends who “get me”, and love me just as I am… imperfect.  Perfectly imperfect.   But I was not designed to be perfect, nor NEAR perfect!   That title belongs to a being I cannot ever compare myself to!  Because I don’t believe this “being” will ever compare me to another as well.   It helps me gain perspective, composure, and the ability to laugh at myself is healing.

Now, in order to find humor in others actions, words, I believe we first have to be able to find humor within ourselves, and make fun, or light of that which we do ever so swiftly, and incompetently!   Because that is what I was designed for.   To learn, to grow, to step outside of my safety zone, to forgive myself,  (and others) as I do others (well, for the most part).   Because if i don’t forgive myself then I am inviting the reign of depression, and oppression into my soul, and that is NOT a good place for me to be, nor to subject myself (nor others near me) to!

The next step in this developmental growth is to not only earnestly, honestly apologize with sincerity, but to detach from whatever THEIR (my victim, hmmm that’s too hard of a word, let’s say “the unfortunate receiver  of my craziness!”      Time used to control me.   I am one where learning “delayed gratification” took a few decades to grasp.    Now time helps me cope.  It doesn’t change what has been done, nor give (nor should it) excuses for my ill behavior, but in that time I can center, focus, and release that which used to hold me bondage to.

I do care what the person I’ve made amends to is feeling, but I have to also let that go.   They are on their own journey of discovery, recovery, or plain survival!    So to keep myself and my side of the road clean, I detach from it, from them.    Time will reveal what is meant to be, or not!   I’ve learned that life is like a 100 piece puzzle.   Sometimes I immediately am granted 60 pieces to that puzzle, but the other 40 pieces are only revealed over that four letter word again “TIME”, and I’ve also learned not to expect clarity in all aspects of my life, my puzzle.  That 10-20% of missing pieces can have its own speedy pace of the “why’s” or “how comes”.  Words that are really best used by the adolescent, experiencing whatever it is he or she is seeing for the first time.   I haven’t had much luck at picking up those words or questions.   It just leads me back to the path of bondage and insanity.

So tonight, I’ve made my amends, and when I crawl my tired butt into bed, I will pray that if it is meant to be, please let my apology be accepted.  To also offer whatever it is needed to and for the “receiver of my craziness”!

What a tongue twister this blog has been.   Be well,  be honest, be kind, and if you have inherited a nasty need to beat yourself up…..  Let it go.    Practice self love, practice real love, practice real people and life.    It is amazing what this “self love” stuff can do.     I just want to end with one more platitude, if that’s the word.     Every day I hear people say “Time heals”, particularly around loss.     Well, I disagree.     Time never “makes right” that which has been lost, or passed, but it DOES help us, teaches us how to COEXIST with this loss.   There is a difference!

Sending love and light to whoever is reading this!

 

 

Darkened corners, finding hope

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A serious talk tonight, as serious as I can get, anyway.   Have learned to laugh at almost anything and everything, but this topic, NOT.

My 14 year old niece has been with me for several days.   She wanted to watch a series “13 reasons why” on Netflix, so I agreed.  She had already watched some episodes.   It is about a teenager who is bullied and raped in a school that idolizes their male athletic team.   Not all, but many were guilty of what I stated above.   This beautiful, kind, young teenager takes her own life, and leaves these tapes telling why she decided to end her own life, sadly.   Now I’m trying to decide where to go with this blog from here.  It certainly showed the torment of her parents, and how her death has affected her friends.

I don ‘t want to share too much on this in case you haven ‘t watched it and plan to.  I will add that before each episode the audience was warned of graphic, violent, hard topics.   And at the end of each episode gave hotline numbers and offered information on where to go if you are in need of help.   I was impressed with this.  I was impressed with it all, because I am a truth seeker and speaker.  These two traits can make me very unpopular, very quickly.  I don’t do it for that.  I just strive for the truth and as hard as I try to relay my view, opinion, or what i believe to be the truth in whatever, I’ve learned that a lot of people go about their lives with very little honesty.  Honesty with others, their honesty to themselves.   It’s rather sad.

Now I am going to tell you how this two season show affected me.    I am going to speak on the topic of suicide, so please choose whether you want to read this knowing that.   I am also going to unveil a dark side of what it’s like to live through four major depressive disorders, and working on the fifth.   My late mom would prefer I didn’t share such personal things, but for me, it’s not that I have shame, and I’m so tired of the antiquated stereotype, and stigma around mental illness.   I’m tired of the lack of help I, and others I know with their own mental issues are seeking,  needing.     We need to do better here.  So my sharing is so if I can help just one other person from feeling alone, slighted, branded with mental illness, wanting help but not able to find it, then . it’s worth my sharing this part of my life.

I could relate on many levels to this young teenagers struggles.   Each time she decided to give her life “one more try”, and giving others a chance to possibly reach her, or help her, they disappointed her.  I have on numerous occasions in my life, had my own “Why NOT to, and WHY TO lists going.   I’ve saved a few only to serve as a gauge, to remind myself of the progress I have made, and the strength and courage I have had living with major depressive disorder.   I have contemplated suicide on numerous times in my life, and in the not so far away past.   So as I watched this show, I was relating, and at times was choked up.  I’ve had family member and friends who have succeeded at taking their own lives.   I see the hell family members go through.  The questioning, the guilt, the anger, a before they turn the corner to once again pose the question “WHY?”

For those who read this who have contemplated the same, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone in your struggles.   And should you ever need an ear, drop me a message and we can set something up.  I’m not looking to be anyones therapist, but just a human being reaching out their scarred hands to another one in the depths of despair.  There have been times that I have gratefully made it, but in absolute shock that I have made it as far as I have, given the darkness i find myself in.

I don’t believe I really want to die, I just want some peace, and when in the throws of it, I can see no other alternatives, and as many friends and family members I have, when I am at my darkest, I isolate from family and friends, and my thinking is so distorted that I cannot think of anyone to call!    I don’t believe others really want to die either, I think suicide comes when they just cannot take any more pain, because someone who is depressed IS IN IMMENSE PAIN.  I obviously cannot speak for everyone, but when I hear someone has taken their life, I say a prayer for them, or a few, and I pray that i hope they found the very peace they longed for, and I do believe they find it.     If only they could’ve held on one more day, night, if only something good would happen, and then the added problem of distorted thinking, can they see it if it is there?

I’m sorry for anyone who has lost a child, parent, grandparent, friend, niece, nephew, sibling to suicide.  My heart goes out to you, and I do say prayers for families who are left with the aftermath, the questions to a puzzle of 100 pieces in which you probably get 50 or 60 pieces too, maybe a few more here and there over time, but to a healthy mind, it is just a stupid, selfish thing to do.     I don’t think it’s selfish.   Sorry.    I think every person has their breaking point, and while many who struggle with this at one time or ten in their lives, they reach a place where they can’t see any other solution, and that is sad.

I can’t tell you how many times ai have reminded myself “It’s always darkest before the dawn’, and I’ve held out, hoping for light, warmth soon, and it has always came.    Maybe not in my timeframe i want, but relief does eventually come.      It really does.   But the distress and pain those who have done this and succeeded on their loved ones is overwhelming.

I have made and set some rules for myself.   Some of you reading this are probably thinking “what a fucking whack job this woman is!’, and that’s okay, your entitled to your opinion, but I could never follow through with taking my own life while my parents are still alive.  I could never do this to them.    Having just lost my mother, and my dad having major health issues, and fails a bit everyday, I think about the pact I made to myself.   What will happen should my father die before me?

My meds are kicking in, and I would like to continue this blog tomorrow, as I want to talk about the things that people do and can do that help me when I am in the darkness,.  They don’t even know they are doing it.     I want to talk about the signs and struggles of those with mental illness, particularly depression.   I want to share my story and my experience to help another and to help myself.   I do not feel so alone when I write, and I know we are never alone, whether we have no family and friends or not!

Stay tuned for more on this topic.   For those reading this, I wish you peace, love, self love, respect and most of all I wish you HOPE.    Hang tough.  It’s so true, it is always darkest before the dawn.

Love to one and all.

Mothers day

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Today we celebrate Mothers Day.  This will be the first time celebrating this since my mom passed two months ago.    I’ve been thinking about how I could honor her, how I can transform the emptiness in my heart that I feel for her.  My world will never be the same, and that is okay.  Death is part of life, I have learned this and have had plenty of opportunity to practice it’s presence.

My mom was the strongest person I know.   A friend said to me the other day “I remember your mom’s stance, that alone told me how strong she was”.    I nodded, and spent some time pondering this.    Without a doubt her stance was tough.   She was unafraid to address anyone or anything, and that was pretty amazing.  Sadly it was because she had been through a lot in her life, she knew pain intimately, and at 80 she didn’t mince words.   At 80 years old her demeanor, her stance could easily be interpreted with these famous words “Go ahead, make my day!”

I have a cousin who was born with cleft pallet.    Medically the professionals were ready to insert a feeding tube (60’s small town care).    My mom stayed up for two nights designing a bottle that would work for her.    She succeeded.  I did not know about this until after she had died.   I wasn’t surprised to hear this.  My mom was a very intelligent woman who read constantly, chose books and reflection over television.    She could’ve been so much more than just our mom, or somebody’s wife.  In fact, she was so much more than that.

She was a voice for those who didn’t have one, or who were too weak or afraid to talk.  She was a pillar of strength and determination when it came to solving difficult problems, and a force to be reckoned with when it came to her family.    She instilled in us the importance of family.    She was benevolent when it came to her skills.  She loved to bake for others, surprise them with pies, and she made a kick ass crust!    She would do “whatever it took” to get things done, and help her children with whatever they were dealing with and in a way that she would inevitably take over, which today I can think about and smile, at various times in my life I sometimes wanted to smack her!   (I am a passive person, trust me, if I hit someone it was because they deserved it, but I never hit my mother).

Spring was her favorite time of year.  She had a green thumb, loved the outdoors and nature, and would come in to tell me every Spring which plants survived the New England winter, with a childlike wonder that always brought a smile to my face, she was joyful when gardening, grooming the yard.  Once a year, when the budget allowed, I would take her to her favorite nursery for Mother’s Day and she would run around with a cart and choose whatever she wanted.   She LOVED this.  These times were wonderful, though the dogs would be bored waiting in the car, and then highly annoyed with how little room they had to maneuver in after we loaded all the plants!     Then there was the planning of where to plant all that we bought.  She would ask my opinion, and then do whatever she wanted anyways.   Again, today I can laugh at this, but there were times we had words, and I would ask why she wanted my opinion when she never considered it?    It’s amazing to me how humorous I find this today.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

I often would  pick her up for appointments or visit her with a Dunkin Donuts coffee and two old fashioned donuts, her favorite.   She would eat one and feed the dog the other.    The other day my side kick and I went to Dunkin’s and they informed us when we ordered an old fashioned donut that they were no longer making them!     For me this was a sign that my moms time to die was right on schedule!   I say this lightly, honestly.   I know an average person would shrug it off, not me!

In my early 20’s I was going for a job promotion and was feeling nervous about mathematical testing for such.  My mom met me in a bank parking lot, with pad of paper and pencil, and taught me (retaught me) about fractures.    I aced the test!

She loved her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchild.  But her first loyalty was always to her children.   It would upset her if she saw inequities or any of us being taken for granted by their children, or mistreated by them.     I was childless, so the focus was on the spouse or partner, and believe me, after 3 long term relationships with alcoholics, there was plenty there for her to decipher or dislike!

If there was only one thing (which is not the case) she taught me, it was every day you get up and dig in, get busy and do what is in front of you.   I think about this everyday, particularly when I’m trying to talk myself out of bed!

She swore like a sailor, and one time my sister and I were counting how many times she said “the f word”, she asked what we were counting… “26, 27, 28, 29….”, the usage quickly added us as we exited the house!

I am my mothers daughter.    She taught me by example so many things, a few that I’m going to pass on sharing, but for the most part today I will think of my mom and smile, welcome the tears that will fall, and are falling, as I face this first “mother’s day” without her.

Happy Mothers Day, to all you mom’s out there.  Hope your children do something kind for you, and if they aren’t able to for whatever reason, I hope you can find joy in their memories, or the love that being a mom taught you!    I”m a mom only to four legged critters, and I am a good mom, at that!

 

Grief 101

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It’s just over three weeks since my mom died.   A good friend asked me if it’s harder than I thought it would be, the answer is NO.  I always knew it would be hard.  But what has surprised me is the areas in which it is affecting me.

For one, self confidence.   I consider myself to be a fairly brave, very strong independent woman.  And I just realized a couple weeks ago that I’m old enough to be classified as “Senior Citizen” on Wednesdays at JoAnn’s Fabrics.  I’ve traveled up and down the East Coast, all over this country and others by myself.  I would think very little about driving an hour or two here or there to score a good find from Craigslist, or the like.  I don’t feel comfortable doing this right now.  I don’t feel confident enough to do this.  I’m really shocked at this.

I don’t feel safe in this world, since the death of my mom.   I always knew, wherever I was, went, I could call her and she would come to my rescue.  For a couple of decades we have been each others main support, both single women living on little, we helped each other.  My mom was a huge help to me in areas that I many times lack or slack in.   I cannot attribute this to anything else, believe me, I’ve tried.

In every room in my house, there are memories of my mom.   She always rolled up her shirt sleeves and jumped in when it came to cleaning, repairing, maintaining, and a couple years ago, renovating and ultimately redecorating again.  It is s hard for me to fathom that she will never again step foot into my yard, my house, nor spend hour upon hour working in my yard, her flower gardens, because they really were hers.  I haven’t worked in my flower gardens for a couple of decades, she did it all.  Now she loved doing it, and she was very good at it.   Will I take care of them?    Can I take care of them?  Will I know how after all these years?   There’s a little bit of fear here.  I am feeling fear.   Because many things that she did to help me, I had to stop doing so she graciously took over.

I find my tears come in waves, and triggered by many simple things.   I pulled out a folder of my decorative painting designs and my heart sunk.   My mother was a huge part of my success here, she made e prepping surfaces or house or dog and cat sitting.  Back in those days I had five animals for her to care for!

Another thing that is happening that I didn’t expect.  I feel like I need to know everything, because she is gone.    I identify with these feelings when I found out many moons ago I was pregnant.  OMG I need to get my act together so I can be a good parent!  Only now, I need to get my act together because my mom isn’t here to help or assist

Sleep is being affected.  I wake up every hour, only early morning hours offers good sleep.  As a result, I am plum pooped.    I was so tired the other night after finishing things up downstairs that I slept on the couch.  I didn’t have the energy to go up to my bed.   I have been on this journey called grief many times, and I know it’s a hard hard walk.   I either forgot or the loss of my mother is proving to be one hell of a challenge.

I miss my mom.   I miss her voice, her outspoken manner, and more.    I know in time it will get easier adjusting to this new life, life without my mother.   While grateful I had my mom for the first 56 years of my life, it doesn’t matter at what age you lose your mom, for me, anyway,  it’s a colossal loss.

 

 

 

 

 

Familiarity

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My sister left for home last night.     On my arrival home from bringing her to the airport, I found tears running down my cheeks, I had felt it coming, there was nothing I could do or tell myself that would deter this, so I just let it happen.    My mother is gone.  She will never again step foot in my home, we will never work on another project together, we will never fight again, she has passed into the unknown.   I had to DO something, I had to get my hands busy because my mom wouldn’t like for me to get lost into grief again, so I pulled out a frame I had found at a thrift shoppe and filled it with pictures of family members we’ve lost, my mom and my two sisters.   I was happy with the way it turned out, even though it took a couple hours longer than it should’ve, but what else was I going to do?   I cried my eyes to sleep last night while watching Frasier.

The world seems foreign to me now.   Just like it did when we lost our kid sister.   It isn’t nearly as kind or caring, and I have one less source of unconditional love, one less person I could depend on if I needed her.   Everything in my world has changed, again.

Today I drove to Walmart for a few things today, and found myself walking aimlessly around the store.  Going from one end, to the other, back to the first.  I had my list on my phone what I needed to get, and I looked at it at least 4 times while there, and still came home with one thing I forgot to get.   What is this?  What am I feeling?  Why am I feeling like this is “Scatterday?”, I felt familiarity, and as hard as I tried to distract myself, engage myself in things like $1 a yard Waverly fabric, or yarn clearance, I just couldn’t get into it.  My creativity was on strike, and I found myself doing stupid things, unable to focus, unable to make a sound decision on sachets for my bureau.  What the hell?   Looking at things I  had no idea why, and dodging people I knew, it finally hit me.   GRIEF.    This is grief!  Of course it feels familiar.   No wonder my stomach was upset, and when i heard the screaming child in the next aisle over, I felt as if every nerve ending in my body was exposed to this, breathe, breathe, breathe.  I was talking to myself, and found myself saying, thinking “GO, GO NOW!”  Like Hannibal Lechter said to Jody Foster’s character in “Silence of the Lambs”.  Harshly, forcefully.  I went right to the self check out.

It’s been 13 days since my mom died.   Today is the first day I’ve been on my own without the security of siblings since we said goodbye to her.   Today was no longer about the end of my moms life, today is about the beginning of my life without my mother.

I filled the basket with sugar related items, this is how I feed my hurting heart, my aching soul.   It will only last a day or two and then I’ll get mad at myself for doing so, and hopefully, with the help of a tight wasted, uncomfortable pair of jeans, will walk away from sugar and seek water, food, nourishment.  I know there is absolutely nothing I can eat that will take away this pain, or sorrow.   But I will still do it.   Because for a few minutes I feel normal, I feel peaceful, I feel nothing.Spent some time on the phone today with my cousin and sister, also texted with my brother.  We’re all “checking in” on each other.  I’m grateful for that.   And while the list is short today, I did do one kind things for another, which always makes me feel better.  I delivered some lemon frosted shortbread cookies to a friend who is in rehab for a broken hip.  She said “I’m sure you’re in a hurry.”  I replied “No, I’m really not, I’m just not right, and I just want to get home to my cat, my beads, my brushes, my comfy clothes, safe in the confines of my humble little abode.

So now, post sugar fix, my energy level has been depleted, and I will either take a nap, or engage myself in a project like I did last night.    Whichever I do, whichever I choose, I will be kind to myself, and allow myself to feel this pain, to face this loss, this significant loss.