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**

wall of suicide

//

I feel like my heart has been jerked from my body and thrown out into the cosmos. I thought it would never return to me, that it, that I, was lost forever. Lost not only to myself but those others still here who relate to me and love me. Having your person die is a tearing away of cosmic proportions. There is no small part of you left unaffected or untouched.

Little by little, piece by piece, I am returning to myself and the pieces are rearranged. Nothing is what it was before. That wall between before he left and after he left, it is impenetrable, unscaleable, and unable to be busted through. The wall is not even an actual wall, it is though it is another time, another place, another dimension, and there is absolutely no getting back there, no matter how hard I try. This wall is final. It represents an ending, an ending of so many things. But the truth is no matter how much at times I just want to continue to wail at the wall, it is also a beginning point. Every step I take away from the ending point is a step towards what is to come and what is the now. It is something we scream against yet fight to accept all at the same damn time.

I don’t want the changes, yet I must have the changes to survive. I don’t want to love again, yet I actually really do. The emotional whiplash caused by your partner dying is almost indescribable. I’ve never experienced anything as horrific as finding out they died by their own hand and having to sit your children down and tell them their Dad is dead and why he is dead. Suicide is its own brand of horrible, it’s own breed of monster. It rips you to shreds until you yourself feel dead inside, yet slowly life begins to arrive at the door and, as blood does, it seeps back into every crack and crevice.

{zt}

>>>>>{this was a guest post a few days ago on the Widow Dark Thirty blog, found HERE}

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}

everywhere yet nowhere

//

you are everywhere yet nowhere

upon waking you are on my mind

falling asleep filled with images of you

our wedding picture in the living room

family picture in the dining

grief is like food coloring into water

there is no chance of remaining untouched

it colors everything, every space

nothing left alone or unchanged

even when I make my coffee thoughts of you come in

simple things, complicated things, you are in them all

and yet I cannot find you

I cannot hear you or see you

I wonder where you really are right now

are you here in the streaks of sunlight?

the warmth of the light on my skin even when the air is so cold?

or are you actually nowhere? 

I hope you still exist somehow, someway, somewhere

I’ve begged to hear from you in my dreams but nothing comes

no secret signs or magical assurances

your absence is more present than you

everywhere yet nowhere

{zt}

hello suicide

//

I’m scratching and clawing my way to you right now in this very moment just to be here, to show up and tell you what a horrible mindfuck 2017 turned out to be. My amazing and beautiful husband of close to thirteen years died by suicide in August. It has been the horror of horrors. He went missing in July and we tried desperately to find him for about three weeks. I am almost five months out now from the two police officers coming to my door and telling me what I never dreamed in my worst dreams I would ever ever hear. I’ve missing writing here, and I’ve shared some on select places on social media, so this may not be a shock to some of you. Even now as I sit in a new state, in a new house, after a hellacious Christmas that at least my children enjoyed, I want to scream as loud as I can and run across the world to search everywhere for him, to find him, to save him, to bring him back.

On one hand I’m ready for 2017 to go the hell away, but on the other hand I’m not ready to enter a new year he will never experience, where he will not be here to make memories with. Life has not become all darkness, but the darkness touches everything on every level. I’m a fighter and I will keep fighting, but I never thought in my worst moments that life would become what it has become, that his life would come to such a traumatic end, when he was such an incredible beautiful soul.

I’m stopping now, it’s too painful and costs too much right now to say more. I leave you with an Everyone’s Agnostic podcast interview follow-up I did about two months ago where I’m able to talk about what happened to my husband.

Please for fucks sake if you are reading this and feeling suicidal, reach out for help, don’t go it alone. Please. Stay. Stay alive.

{zt}


say what?

wp-1489623821710.jpg

//

“Don’t let a boy get his hands down your pants!”

That was the extent of my official sex education, and it came from my grandma when I was a tween. She declared it nonchalantly as she sat at her sewing machine working on a project. Alrighty then, thanks for that. My parents were silent on the subject. I learned about my period from a “bad” girl at middle school who came in the bathroom while I was in there and wondering what in the heck was going on with my body. I had heard everything pertaining to sex was taboo and bad from my fundamentalist-go-to-church-every-time-the-doors-were-open religious upbringing. Judy Blume, Harlequin, masturbation, and my uncle’s porn blooper videos and magazines were my best “unofficial” teachers. Yes, you read that correct. Go ahead and chuckle, it’s okay. But here’s the thing, what I thought was horrible and what I thought was pure and right were all mixed up and tossed together, I couldn’t separate it out, and it was information overload from all the “wrong” places. Maybe, maybe not.  I wonder sometimes who I would have grown up to be had I not had such a tight noose around my neck from the purity culture shoved down my throat from day one.

The stage was set very early on for sex and shame to be synonymous and linked irrevocably together. My parents never showed physical affection towards one another in my presence, and frankly didn’t act like they really liked one another all that much, tolerating was more like it. My father was very authoritarian, and I was wise to never step out of line, or else. Experimentation made shame worse, friend rape doubled it, then having my pastor want to be more than friends clinched it as a marriage of shame and blame that would last my entire adult life, until now, because hopefully we are on the verge of much needed divorce, shame and I.

Yes, you heard that right. On a basketball court in Mexico, on a mission trip, I was approached and asked about being more than friends. With my pastor. Who was married. Whose children I had been babysitting. Who had been pastoring my current boyfriend and his family most of his life. For several years, this abuse of power and position was happening. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I craved the affection and the love. As the months and years passed he poured into me emotionally what he saw I was lacking. I saw in him what I thought I wanted in a spouse some day, a family of my own, at times I saw the kind of dad I had always thought I needed, other times I saw what I wanted in a partner. I had no one pouring into me and he stepped up to the plate. I was starving and he saw that. My parents had divorced just before we moved to the area with my Mom, I was reeling from the changes, and I was in the middle of highschool and all that goes along with that. The emotional affair began very early on and quickly. I knew our connection was wrong and cried everyday, but couldn’t stop myself from being involved with him it seemed. I remember wishing someone else saw what was happening and hoping they would come talk to me, to us, that someone would make it all stop, make us stop. Things had fallen apart with the boyfriend I thought I was going to marry, he was emotionally and verbally unhealthy and possessive, we had broken up, and this pastor had provided much needed support during all of that mess too. Part of me wanted to reconcile with my old boyfriend, to make things right there, he was the socially acceptable one I could be with anyway, it wouldn’t be so ugly with him. And surely he would grow out of the immature, hurtful stuff right? I did try to patch things up a bit with him and hide the “affair”. The pastor and I had hoped we could simply bury it and stop and noone would ever know. So we tried that, yet the emotional affair continued. The years culminated in a short sexual relationship lasting only a few weeks near the end of it all.

The watershed moment came when he woke up one morning and decided he was telling the church and his wife, but he wanted to know if his wife wouldn’t have him anymore if I would have him. I had been living in a basement apartment of their home for a few months, so he just came downstairs and made the life altering pronouncement, I said yes and fell to the ground. He left me there to babysit and never came back. Two elders from church showed up at the door several hours later telling me they knew everything, and that I needed to pack my things and leave. My heart fell to the tips of my toes, I felt betrayed and hollow inside. The bad one had been found out, I was the enemy. The “A” on my forehead burned into my skin. They asked me to pack my bags and leave, that the pastor and his wife were waiting down the road to come home, but I needed to be gone first. I couldn’t even say goodbye to the older child, she was away at camp. I was so heartbroken as I packed my things and hugged the two young boys. In the following week I met with the board of elders at the church. I was told that someone had to leave, not everyone could stay, and they had decided that since the pastor had been with them nine years, he needed to stay, and I had to leave. I was referred to a counselor where the church was paying for eight sessions, and I was told I could not come back to the church.

The pastor resigned that following Sunday, naming his sin of “adultery” but not naming me, but everyone knew it was me. I was seen at a local movie theater by a member of the church I had been tossed out of, I was called a whore out loud in the front lobby. I was the other woman, the one who slept with the pastor and almost broke up their family, the one who caused their beloved pastor of nine years to resign. He stayed in the congregation for another year or so and then moved across country to pastor another church, one he is still pastoring to this day, 24 years later. Parting ways was excruciating, the sadness and guilt ate me alive. Depression came into the picture, not surprising, yet shocking in it’s ruthlessness. I had a bottle of tylenol poured out into my hands, a mountain of pills that I almost swallowed. Somehow I looked into the bathroom mirror and into my eyes and I couldn’t go through with it. Now I see there was another realm of reality going on that I didn’t recognize then. I realize now that we never really stood on equal ground, that it really wasn’t an affair as I had always thought. We were not both adults equally consenting to engage in a sexual affair. I have lived under the suffocating shroud of shame for 24 years now, half of my entire life, and all of my adult life. I thought I was used goods and could not be used in ministry and that my chances of finding the kind of husband I hoped for were ultimately gone for good. I have always been treated as though I was more to blame, that I somehow must have seduced him and had plans to ruin his family and his life, as though in the quiet of the night I schemed about how to ruin him. No one told me until just a couple years ago, 21 years after the “relationship”, that what happened to me was really clergy misconduct, clergy abuse, clergy sexual abuse. Until finally someone called it what it was. Someone said, this wasn’t what you have thought it was all your life. Do you see how it is not even truly consensual when the scales of authority are so terribly out of sync?

Everyone pretty much treated me as the disgusting other woman who does not know how to act around married men, and someone to always be suspicious of. My story has been used against me at times. I have been accused where there was no fault, suspected when there was nothing but innocence, had my honesty and integrity questioned because of my history. Why is it that it is I who has seemed to pay the steepest price for what happened? I can’t describe how deep the shame grabbed ahold when I was accused of seducing my pastor, trying to break up a marriage, and soiling my family reputation, being kicked out of the church, having the “affair” used against me later, thinking I had ruined my chances of Christian ministry and a godly husband bc of the “affair”. 

I wake up in the mornings sometimes and in that blurriness before getting up I forget that my life has been marked with shame. For a blissful few moments in the innocence of waking I often forget. I wish my life did not have the story that it does, that my history was not so marred with spaces I want to black out with a permanent marker. But we all know life doesn’t work that way, there is no real way to cross out the stuff we don’t like, it cannot be erased. I am learning though that shame does not have to be my constant companion, that I can choose to be on the last lap of shame in my life and one day I can run across the finish line of that terrible ugly race I entered into. I am learning too that what happened to me was not truly as I thought it to be at the time. That it wasn’t actually something I willfully signed up for and knowingly walked into with a free and informed decision. For all these years I have been made to bear the brunt of what occurred. Everyone rushed to restore the fallen pastor, but the supposed adulterous woman was best left to be stoned and condemned, forever marked as someone untrustworthy. So much untruth in that narrative. Now I am finding hope outside of religion, apart from the God of my childhood, the silent and very absent God I want nothing to do with anymore, whether or not he is even there to begin with. I am healing, slowly but surely.

{zt}

borrowed time

//

time aches and haunts and fills and empties all at the same time.

it all seems as stolen moments, the unending pull and tug forward. 

the madness of the days as they circle on and on with a momentum we cannot ease up or lessen. 

we are all on borrowed time.

the days rush past and slow for noone or anything.

there is a frenzy to take it all in before it’s our curtain call.

chaotic beauty.

a love forever chasing us as we chase it.

human to human.

here we are.

we have now.

{zt}