phases of me

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{the phases of me in the story of my husband’s death}

1/ the me in my final moments with my husband before he left, the goodbye that I didn’t know was actually goodbye. he kissed my left cheek twice in a row and then rubbed my upper outer arms up and down and told me he was just trying to reassure me. he had gone to bed early tired, and this was the second time i had found him awake in the living room overnight saying he couldn’t sleep because his stomach was hurting. this final time was 4:30am. I don’t remember what I said in return after he said he was just trying to reassure me. I didn’t know what he meant and thought he was trying to get me not to worry about him not sleeping. I went back to bed to get some more sleep not of course knowing he snuck out the front door and drove away in the dark with his phone turned off about thirty minutes later.

  • Name: unassuming worried naive grouch who just needed more sleep. Wisdom: love is not all knowing no matter how deep and true it is.

2/ the me that couldn’t find him anywhere at 7:29am and knew immediately something was wrong, yet having no idea he was on a road trip driving three thousand miles to the farthest nw corner of america.

  • Name: silent screamer on high alert all throughout my body. Wisdom: there is only so much you can do at any given moment no matter how much you care

3/ the me that only slept 3 ½ hours the first six days he was missing.

  • Name: terrorized wife and mother in flight or fight mode constantly. Wisdom: the human body can survive extreme conditions we never thought we would face

4/ the me that called the police and filed a missing persons report in which they misquoted me and said I thought my husband had recently shown signs of depression, and that misquote hit the local news and newspaper.

  • Name: angry teary-eyed bitch. Wisdom: people sometimes push agendas onto the grieving to make themselves look and feel better

5/ the me that began having panic attacks for the first time ever.

  • Name: a little girl scared out of her mind and body. Wisdom: the body always speaks the truth, especially when the mouth can’t open wide

6/ the me that farmed out the children and tried to explain that maybe daddy was having a midlife crisis and just needed time away to think.

  • Name: wishful thinking denier. Wisdom: the kids needed to be shielded

7/ the me that never allowed suicide to enter as a blip on my radar of possibility of what was wrong. I thought the worst case scenario was that he wanted a divorce and we would co- parent well because he is such a kind man and we still loved each other.

  • Name: denial B sides. Wisdom: the he that I knew never considered it as an option either, he wasn’t himself anymore

8/ the me when the two strange cops came to the door at 6pm on the eighteenth day and told me very coldly on my front porch that my husband mr. wood had been found deceased in nevada by a gunshot wound to the head.

  • Name: holy shit mother of the god I don’t believe in. Wisdom: grievers shouldn’t have to educate and advocate all the fucking time

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9/ the me that locked everyone out of the house and gathering my children on each side of me on the living room couch and told them their dada was dead while my older sister sat nearby.

  • Name: having entered hell on earth. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

10/ the me that sat overlooking a lake and somehow wrote a goodbye poem to him to be read at his military honors service.

  • Name: the great sadness melting my bones. Wisdom: love transcends all time and space and knowing

11/ the me that helped my children say goodbye to the body of their father in a casket and show them his right foot so our youngest would know for sure it was really him, because his hair was cut and colored and he looked like someone else we didn’t know.

  • Name: a wide awake nightmare I was sleepwalking through. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

12/ the me that went to nevada with the kids and father in law to talk to the detective that was first on the scene, clean out his impounded car, meet the citizen who actually found his body, and then to see where he died and paint a rock that his body was leaning upon.

  • Name: the love child of the twilight zone and an alternate universe. Wisdom: you can go into that dark place and kiss the ground and cry tears of blood and make it back out alive

13/ the me that never found any note but I wish I had found piles of letters for each child.

  • Name: raging tsunami. Wisdom: I know what he would’ve said if he could’ve said it, I know.

14/ the me with some factual probable answers mixed up with strange facts and odd particulars that only leave more questions.

  • Name: mad scientist. Wisdom: not everything can be known fully, or everyone, even that one

15/ the me as a solo parent.

  • Name: juggler and expert ball dropper. Wisdom: I am somehow enough even as I feel maimed and missing vital parts

16/ the me on two anxiety meds twice daily just to function on a decent level.

  • Name: dissociative dating sex bomb. Wisdom: people are fascinating and many are stupid jerks but touch and sex can really help the constant ache of cell deep grief

17/ the me mothering my oldest as he came out to me four ½ months after his Dad died.

  • Name: achy clueless anchor. Wisdom: a child knows themselves better than you know them. Believe them.

18/ the me losing two homes and moving out of state to attempt some kind of new start where we had never lived before.

  • Name: whirlwind survival mama. Wisdom: the stranger on the inside needed a strange land to live in, so that the inside matched the outside to bring some equilibrium

19/ the me that is sitting in darkness with some dusk evening light seeping in while birds chirp and dogs lay sleeping.

  • Name: tentatively hopeful. Wisdom: the silence isn’t always screaming now

20/ the me that doesn’t know me anymore, that doesn’t know the person that was born from this tearing away.

  • Name: Stranger in my skin. Wisdom: I would throw it all away to have him back but somehow the metamorphosis has some beautiful wings that are fluttering open and that slays me and bandages me all in the same movement. How can this be?

{zt 2019}

**inspired in part by prompts from isabel abbott**

keep living

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i used to think i knew what happened when people died. i comforted myself with images of heaven, of a better place, of no more crying and no more pain. the reality is i don’t know what really happens when someone dies. i can guess, but i don’t really know. the old adages don’t bring any comfort anymore. truth is brutal to swallow.

i used to think i had experienced the worst traumas i ever would. i thought i had seen enough of my share. childhood sexual abuse, the divorce of my parents, acquaintance rape in highschool, clergy abuse in highschool and college, being asked to leave a church due to said clergy abuse while they encircled the hurting pastor and his family, the stillbirth of my second child, the miscarriage of my fourth child, losing the scaffolding of the christian faith and christian god that I had built and based my entire life upon…and then the sudden disappearance of my husband and his suicide eighteen days later.

i am sitting here tonight, six and a half months later, still trying to figure out how my life turned into this. supposedly there comes a point where you figure out how to stop asking the questions, how to stop trying to figure out what the hell happened, how to keep the internal tsunami at bay that still desperately wants to save him.

i cannot imagine another man in my life, although i want it and parts of me feel guilty for wanting it now. maybe i want it this soon because of how it all ended. but the reality is that i am not a loner. i don’t do life well without close friends and without a man i love who also loves me back. there is so fucking much i want and need to be different from here on out, but before i nail down all those specifics i just want another human being to look me in the eyes and tell me they see me and that they believe i’m going to make it up and out and away from this ground zero. i want to believe that i can trust again, that i won’t let fear dictate my life from here on out because of all the staggering losses.

there have been days i have wanted to box it all up and call it quits, but really that is not an option i want deep down inside, nor is it an option i would ever pursue. giving up, throwing in the towel, no fucking way. feeling hope again? i sure as hell hope so. feeling wanted again? yes, please. i didn’t die when he left our house quietly one sunday morning. i didn’t die when he pulled the trigger to end his own life. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i am alive. i am here. i get to be here. my life is no small thing. i don’t take my own life lightly, i don’t hold it carelessly. i’m here and i want to live. i want to keep living. and i will as best i can.

i wonder sometimes what becoming a widow suddenly and traumatically is supposed to look like and feel like. i wonder if i’m anywhere within normal or if i’m just totally screwed up and can’t even tell. i just don’t know. does anybody really? i know it’s not all black, there is still color. it’s not all tears, there is still laughter. it’s not all sadness, there is still beauty and enjoyment to be found. if you had asked me a year ago what i thought life without him would be like i never would’ve guessed right. it would’ve been too far outside my lived experience. but I can tell you now. it’s hell and it’s not hell, it’s a nightmare and yet it’s not, it’s horrific and maddening, and yet on some days it’s mostly just exhausting and confusing. and every now and then some normalcy seeps in the cracks of this shattered life and you see flickers of light that tell you that you are still very much alive, and life is still very much worth breathing for.

{zt}

secular parenting

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I almost said no to this podcast interview. I am not very far down the road of parenting in a post-Christian belief system. I said yes, and I am so glad I did. The interview questions were engaging and validating, as well as challenging. I walked away from this panel feeling more alive and more truly myself. Thank you again to the Women Beyond Belief Podcast for allowing me this space to be myself and share some stories from my experiences. For anyone who takes a listen, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I hope you are encouraged!

{zt}

bird

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To be a bird and fly away
Up where problems are distant and no one is asking for anything

To be the wind, eternal and a dancer in the skies, going wherever it wants with no boundaries

To be the ocean in all its majesty, strong and relentless, committed to it’s course over and over again

Another life beckons but the call is faded into the background, muted against a backdrop of pain, needs, necessities and duties

If I were a bird where would I fly away to?

If I were the wind where would I gather my current gentle or rough?

If I were an ocean would I swallow my own self up or stick to my routines, well versed and ready for anything?

Another reality awaits for me, I can almost see it, almost smell it, is it all smoke and mirrors of my own wishing?

A bird doesn’t care, it doesn’t worry like I do, it has a perspective I can never have with my feet on the ground.

Tonight in my dreams I will fly away.

{zt}

 

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(pic image credit wordswag app)

women beyond belief podcast

Pic credit: Women Beyond Belief website

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Deconversion has been such an ugly beast of an experience for me. I never chose this place for myself, and if I had a magic wand I would wave it and make a good and loving God real. Unfortunately there is no magic wand, and there is no good and loving being in the sky to entrust my life to. I’m who I must entrust my life to. I’m slowly learning to trust myself, but all the decades of indoctrination of how bad I was apart from God really did a number on me. I’m having to unlearn so much about myself and the world, and relearn who I really am, who I have actually always really been separate and apart from anyone else.

Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be interviewed for my second podcast appearance. I’m so excited about this new podcast for women and about women who have deconverted. There is such a need to hear the voices of more women in this post-theist community. Wendy Marsman began the Women Beyond Belief podcast just this month. I’m honored to know her online, to be a small part of this project, and am so grateful she is using her knowledge, experiences, and expertise to carve out a very much needed space for women to speak up and be heard. Thank you again Wendy for giving me this opportunity. I was so encouraged by the process and the interview, it was incredibly validating and meaningful beyond any words I can come up with. Truly an honor.

{zt}

grief as water

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Grief is ever-changing like the moving water in a river or ocean, never stagnant or completely still. There is always something happening, something stirring under the surface or above, or both. Sometimes grief is a like a river in how it winds and twists and turns. Sometimes grief is like an ocean with its strong currents, undertows, and merciless waves coming again and again and again. Sometimes grief is like a ferocious hurricane over the waters, gathering force and spinning out of control, bent on destruction of some sort or another, affecting whatever is in its path. Sometimes grief is like the constant drip drip drip of a leaky faucet, always there and annoying in an innocent dutiful naive manner. Sometimes grief is like a rainstorm on a tin roof that sings a comforting song with its melody.

I hate grief. And yet. It is cleansing and clarifying, and altogether terrible and sweet and relentess, all rolled up into a world of its own. Like water can be, at times it is comforting and warm; but it can also be jarring and dangerous, even life-threatening. It is a world I never feel I belong in, yet when I visit I no longer feel a stranger there, I feel like it is a place I have been before and know well, yet wish I never had to visit again. And yet. I often feel connected in ways in the throes of grief that somehow feel solid, that allow me to feel close to what and who I have lost. That closeness seems at times to fade or go in and out of focus, like a tether to that long lost loved one, or a camera that just cannot seem to find its sweet focus spot anymore, the connection changes as the grief changes. Some days it is undeniably strong and unavoidable like the pain of a fresh burn; others it is a faded other-world-ness dream of a life lived in an alternate space, a space that often seems just out of reach if I try to touch it. Grief crashes, drowns, tricks, surprises, contorts, burns and cracks, and yet it also envelopes, hugs, clears, strengthens, and straightens. Grief is ever-changing.

//

No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

{Heraclitus}

//

It is Good Friday, my third one since I knew there was no real personal Jesus or God in the sky watching over me or in my heart as close as my own breath. I wonder if some people think I am no longer a Christian because life just didn’t work out how I wanted, because my baby died, because people were so cruel to me, but no, it isn’t those things at all. It is because noone showed up. It is because of the silence and the lack, the nothingness, the non-existent. The empty space unfilled by a God who was begged to sit down and pull up a chair. I was met by noone but myself in that most deepest of places, then I knew.

I am angry today. I am crushed. I am gutted. None of it is true. Why am I fighting this dead horse that has been beaten to death with no life left in it? This is the strange odd way of grief. It has swooped in and stolen my breath away again. I am choking on my own silence, I find words hard to speak, hard to write, hard to find. The grief is burning today, it is flooding, and I am screaming silent screams as I thrash to find a limb to grab ahold of in this terrible awful place. Will I ever get over this loss of God? How long will I grieve Him? How does one let go of something that let go of you, of someone such as He? I wonder if I am slowly losing my mind sometimes, the grief is a bit maddening at times. I don’t want to be here, I want to be over this, over him, beyond all of it, in the peace and freedom that I have only tasted drops of. I don’t know where to turn, who to say anything to, isn’t everyone tired of hearing this? I will survive these tortourous waves, I will not be pulled under, I will keep fighting for myself and my life, there is much to live for, I know this, I deeply know this. But today is not a good day, this good friday, and yet, I am still here, and that in and of itself is a very good, a beautiful thing. I am where I am. I feel what I feel. Even now I fight internally to allow myself to just be where I am. To know what I know. To have lost what I have lost. Grief is allowed. It is necessary.

{zt}

**If you read this will you find a way in the big crazy world we live in to let me know? Just a very small hello across the cyber-lands? I need to know someone out there hears me and is just simply there, in my corner, cheering me on. Anyone there?

 

 

labyrinth

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outer symbol matching the inner angst.

when they connect with one another i am always a little bit jarred awake, as if i have been sleepwalking in my life and someone just shook my shoulders till i looked them in the eyes.

here it was, this physical representation of what i was going through internally.

labyrinth of the heart, tucked away off the road at the back of a park.

unexpected and beautiful.

i walked around and around, twisting and turning,

wondering when and if this was ever going to end.

it was small and large all at the same time.

difficult and easy, a combination of sensations.

exhilarating and monotonous all at once, like life often is.

where was this leading?

who would I be when I got to the end?

who am I as I take each step, ever-changing?

like a maze that goes where you think it does, and yet where you don’t

will the way out ever present itself or are you stuck here forever?

wandering, pondering, supposing, trying to figure it all out over and over again.

the road away from a supreme being to rule your life is a tricky one;

if only the inner life could be navigated so easily as this.

an external truth mirroring a horrific internal battle no one else could see but me.

some days on the walk i give up and sit down, no more progress to be had,

other days i limp, some days i stride confidently, everyday it takes courage.

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i asked myself: who do you listen to now?

what do you put your trust in?

what can you actually depend on?

is anything really true anymore?

am i true?

am i trustworthy?

can i chart my own course?

can i believe myself?

will i listen to me?

has it really been me all along?

at the end of it all the arrows point back to me.

this is where the answer is, has always been.

i must show up for my own life, no one else will walk this road for me, nor could they,

it is mine and mine alone to traverse, no matter how much i bleed in the traveling.

me. i have circled around back to myself.

welcome home to yourself.

{zt}

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