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

//

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}

old woman of grief

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you’re fucked you know

there is no way out of this

there is no waking up

this is not a nightmare, it’s reality

look at me

look me in the eye

we have to do this together

take my hands

let me help you

you can’t pretend i’m not here

you can’t wish me away

i’m here and i’m not leaving

I can’t leave

I’m here because of love

love is here too

and she isn’t going anywhere either

did you think it was just you and me here?

oh no no no, open your eyes dear one

you are very much not alone here

and neither am i

there’s love, kindness, courage, rest, as well as anger, betrayal, depression, and misery

i wish i had a magic wand to wave

but i don’t

i know it’s hard to accept the reality of me

but i need you to

you need you to do so

he does too

come sit with me and stroke my hair

put your head on my shoulder

you can rest here

you can cry too

i won’t ask any questions

and you won’t have to explain

just come

{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}

 

//

(pic image credit wordswag app)

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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love stayed

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When everything else fell away, love stayed

When consent wasn’t given and my body used and abused, love still was with me

When he gathered us all up to say he wanted out, that he wanted to divorce us all, love still clung on

When he cut me with his sharp words and relentless control, even then I had love

When another love was offered, a forbidden one, one not meant to be, the lasting love caught me as I fell to my knees

When they kicked me out of their midst, like a disease that needed to be gotten rid of, love dug down deeper in me

When they whispered behind my back and plotted against me because they couldn’t bring themselves to line my truth against their versions of reality, love treated me like they should have, love embraced me without shame

When she loved and cut ties with man after man after man, when love couldn’t seem to find her or us with all the imposters, still the love I speak of stayed

When betrayal within your blood ties came and you felt like the breath was knocked out of your lungs, disoriented and confused who really was who they said they were, love coiled vehemently, unwilling to let me go even if she did

When her heart stopped beating and she was born without breath and life, love got wider to encompass all of the broken shards that were left of me

When old friends turned their backs with mumbled excuses and cutting lies, love stood strong in contrast to their weak facades of caring

When those meant to accept me turned on me and instead towards those who really had their allegiance amidst shallow rules and untruths, love told me I could still raise my chin up steady and strong

When another one was here and then gone oh so briefly, it was only love that was able to seep into the bleeding places and offer any comfort

When the house of faith brutally tumbled to the ground, like one which had a faulty foundation that gave way one dark night unexpected, love remained as the dust of a repentant life almost choked me in the releasing of itself

Love surprised me in its loyalty, it was a severe mercy that always held hands and remained, never let go, was present at every turn, even in the dark and in the silence, and now in the light

Love brought me to myself

Love was always what I was looking for

Even now, when the days and months are peppered with anxiety and sadness, the love still mingles in, it still shows up the loudest, is the brightest color

When mothering strong willed kids day in and day out threatens my grip on sanity, love will continue

When I long to find community and my bigger purpose in serving humanity, yet all the valleys I’ve had to travel through have worn me down and shaken up my purposes, love will guide me, this I know now

When my beloved loves me on the many hard days, when his kindness cushions the blows of everyday life, when he loves me so very very well, love is here

When everything else fell away, love stayed

Love won’t let me go

living within the edges

//

I want to say that she was real

She was mine and she was here

I want to say it changed me forever

Touching her toes and fingers

Holding her, singing to her

But it wasn’t enough

But it had to be didn’t it?
I want to say there was no divine reason

No lesson for me to learn

This wasn’t punishment for past sins
I want to say that the world doesn’t like grievers

They want to choke us with flowers and sunshine and frilly words

But don’t they know we just need their presence with us?

We just need them to sit with us in the discomfort, to let us be where we are and know that it won’t always feel the same
I want to say that grief is a fickle thing, it twists and turns and shows up unexpectedly
I want to say that I will never get over you.
I want to say that I will never get over her either.
She was mine too.
I want to say that trying to figure out why didn’t work
The days and years kept rushing past, waiting for no-one or for anything to be over and done with before it started ticking again
I want to say that I still haven’t tied up all the strings in my heart left hanging and shredded
I want to say that I’ve threaded them all back together as best I can, because there was no-one else to do it for me
I want to say that I love you
I want to say I miss you and you and what your lives would’ve been like
I want to say that it is true that love and joy and grief and gratitude all live together, with none ever canceling all the rest out
I want to say it is all a delicate dance
I want to say I don’t know why but I know things now I didn’t know then
I want to say that I am determined to live and be and soak in as much as I can in the time I have left here
I want to say that loving you and knowing you enriched my life more than it tore it apart
I want to say I’m learning to live within the edges of all the unknowns
I want to say that I am fighting my way through and that life in all it’s curves and intersections is still beautiful to me.

//

#october15th #october15 #pregnancylossremembranceday