phases of me

//

{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 that night, 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, of course not 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.

9/ the me that locked everyone out of the house, and gathered 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}

love stayed

//

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

no more sleeping giant

to whom does one go now?

screaming into the silent endlessness;

there was no answer.

to whom does one cling?

what are the new absolutes?

old truths now as rotting caverns;

even colors look different now.

am i finally awake now?

for decades a sleeping giant?

if I could find a solid place for my feet,

if only just large enough upon which to stand.

is there anything in the universe to help me?

I know where to go now

I know what to cling to

I’m no longer screaming

No more sleeping giant

I am fully awake

Fully alive

Eyes wide open

I know where I’m standing now

I know where to get the help I need

Love

Love is what was left

Love is what I’m calling home now

Love is what is real

//
::words to a silent god::

I get to be here

 ​                                     ::

I wrote the following in May 2013, three years and four months ago.
                                     

                                      ::

“This song (Stay by Big Daddy Weave) has been speaking to me for months now, as I am sure it has many people who take a listen. For me, it speaks to me on the level of feeling so far away from God for so long now. People call this sort of season all different things, the dark night of the soul, a grand canyon experience, a desert time, a wilderness experience etc. I don’t know much these days but I do know that as much as my feelings may want to tell me differently, God has not left my side, He has not stopped working on my behalf intervening in my life and in the lives of those around me. I have felt like a runaway, like a child lost and afraid, but I cannot deny the truth that reaches deeper than the emotions that come crashing down: God is here. He may not be showing up in certain ways I have wanted him to, or speaking in ways I would have preferred, but he is here nonetheless. I have felt so faithless. Thank God that He will and is coming to find this runaway and bringing me back home again. The darkness lies to us, our feelings lie to us. Grief lies to us, and even happiness lies to us. God is the way, the truth, and the life, nothing else can fill those sovereign places. I am no theologian, I am no strong Christian. I have been wounded deeply, words don’t explain or suffice, but I cannot live the rest of my life angry with God or defined by my past hurts and failures. I don’t know how to hear God again like I used to, I don’t know how to change myself or my heart, but thankfully God knows where to find me, how to speak to me, and how to change me. So, I’m still here, still reaching out, still crying out, still hoping, and still trusting on some small level. I believe, help my unbelief. I know that I know that I know that He will.”

(me, 2013)


                                        ::

To say I’m at a radically different place now is the understatement of the century. It is staggering to read words written in that place where I was standing at that particular time. I cringe at the words, my breath catches in my throat, I begin to feel twinges of that old record of desperate searching playing over and over again. Somehow I survived about 7 years there in that place. That season had been going on at full force since 2007, when our second child was stillborn and I had a watershed moment with the one I clung onto as god, the one I had devoted my life to, hook-line-and-sinker. It was time for all the faith, all the years, all the service, all the prayers, all the reasons piled upon reasons….It all came to an abrupt crescendo. It was do or die. Show up or sit down. Speak or hang up the phone. Put your money where your mouth is. It was time for reality to come down and be real. I’m not talking about people or money or circumstances. I’m talking about one on one, me and god. God and I in the ring. On the phone, hand in hand walking together, however you want to view it, but he and I together, the unseen becoming seen no matter all the loose threads, no matter the questions. If he would just be in it with me, be present with me even if nothing else changed but the aloneness.

Here’s the thing. The reality. The truth. The real deal. The way it all came down. The end of the story. The rest of the conversation. He didn’t show up. He didn’t ever find me. He never came. He didn’t rescue me. He never broke the silence. It’s not that he didn’t change my circumstances or give me a vision, it’s that nothing happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. He was absent. Silent. Because he was never there to begin with.

I showed up to my own life

I found me

I came running to myself

I came to my own rescue. 

I did for myself what I never thought possible, what I never understood was conceivable became conceivable.

All the soul-stripping shame,

The slow drip of constant not-measuring-up-ness,

Now I’m running into my own arms.

And into the arms of those who really love me, the real me,

The me I lost track of as a child,

The one buried alive underneath all the rubble of the shoulds and musts and have-tos.

Now I understand this moment is really and truly it. This is where I am alive, not some random point in the future or some distant far off land where I will live forever. But now. Here and now. This is the real life, the real deal. This is no dress rehearsal. I don’t get to do it again down the road, there are no do-overs, no eternal wonderland within which all can be made right. 

Now. 
Now is the time. 

I get to be here, get to be alive. At such a time as this, for real. 

Here’s a favorite song of mine for you today, it has been a favorite since I first heard it years ago even in the midst of trying to wait for a god to show up and save the day. Even then I knew deep down on some level. “The Riddle“, by Five For Fighting. 

There was a man back in ’95

Whose heart ran out of summers

But before he died, I asked him

Wait, what’s the sense in life?Come over me, come over me

He said Son, why you got to sing that tune?
Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon

Let an angel swing and make you swoon

Then you will see, you will see

Then he said

Here’s a riddle for you
Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

Picked up my kid from school today
Did you learn anything causin’ the world today

You can’t live in a castle far away

Now talk to me, come talk to me

He said Dad, I’m big, but we’re smaller than small

In the scheme of things, well, we’re nothing at all

Still every mother’s child sings a lonely song

So play with me, come play with me

And, hey, dad
Here’s a riddle for you

Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

I said Son, for all I’ve told you

When you get right down to the

Reason for the world

Who am I?

There are secrets that we still have left to find
There have been mysteries from the beginning of time

There are answers we’re not wise enough to see

He said You looking for a clue

I love you free

The batter swings and the summer flies

As I look into my angel’s eyes

A song plays on while the moon is high over me

Something comes over me

I guess we’re big, and I guess we’re small

If you think about it, man, you know we got it all

‘Cause we’re all we got on this bouncing ball

And I love you free

I love you freely

Here’s a riddle for you 

Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

>>Youtube Video of The Riddle <<

{words to a silent god ©2016}