Hope is the thing with feathers

I swear I just had an epiphany and the only thing that I could do is come write.

For years- all my life really- I have wished I was the “together” one.  The organized one.  The one who had it all figured out.  I have wished that my mind wasn’t cluttered.  That I didn’t always have 47 tabs open.  That I didn’t have to choose between feeling it all or nothing at all.

It’s Suicide Awareness Week.  Of course I couldn’t just let that pass by without reminding you that I am that person who stands toe to toe with that monster.  But I win.  I always win.  My gosh, I don’t want that to sound like there are people who lose.  You don’t know the giant they face.  But I do.

I posted on my IG account this morning and as I was replying to a comment I started to say something about how I wish I was the ‘together’ one but maybe I was meant to be the broken one and that was my lightbulb moment.

I AM meant to be the broken one.  And not because I’m ‘brave’ enough to tell my story- it doesn’t take bravery.  I’m just willing to.  I have a willingness and more than that I have a need, a burning desire, to try to help people find whatever it is that pushes them to see what tomorrow is going to bring because I understand how desperate that need can be.

Not everyone gets it.  But I do.

I’ve been told, “it’s not worth it”, “he’s not worth it”, a million other things designed to make me wonder what I was thinking.  Those people don’t get it and I’m so grateful that they don’t, I truly am.  They have been depressed, sure.  Everyone has experienced depression at one time or another in their lives.  The loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, seasonal depression…  Not everyone has experienced depression so severe that you truly believe your life does. not. matter.  You do not matter.  God does not love you. You are not serving any purpose on this earth.  You are not a benefit to any living being.  Your children would be better off without you.  You are not worthy of their love.

I get it and I’m willing or crazy enough to share my stories so that you know that other people are broken, too.

I may require therapy and medication and sunlight and my faith and my family and friends who are so funny it hurts and my social media friends who lift me with their comments and now jogging at a pace slightly faster than what my 77 year old mother walks, but I AM RESILIENT and I am here.  I am here.  And I never want to leave you.

Right now, I am happier and more content with myself than I have been in years.  I am learning how to live for myself and letting everything else fall into place.  When I am all over social media- you know I am okay.  I know I am an over-sharer 😉  But for real- if I’m ‘chatty’, I’m good.  It’s when I’m quiet that I’m not okay.  Just throwing this out there because it’s not an easy thing to self-regulate and also, if you are a person who is annoyed by the over-sharing, maybe it will help to know that it’s a good thing.

If you are struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts, you are not alone and you DO NOT HAVE TO FEEL THIS WAY.  You do not.  You can live a life free of those thoughts.  Maybe not 24/7/365, but life doesn’t have to hurt.  Please reach out.  To a friend, a healthcare provider, a pastor, a teacher, a counselor, a parent, me.  Please don’t be stubborn.  Please don’t be embarrassed.  You are not alone.

If you don’t understand depression but want to help your friends, just pay attention.  Pay attention to changes in behavior.  Your chatty friend is quiet now.  Your friend who loves make-up no longer has any interest in getting ready to go out.  Your artistic friend has stopped painting.  Your friend is giving away beloved possessions.  And know that sometimes people work so hard at hiding from their own pain, that there is no way you could ever see it.  It’s not your fault.

We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.  — Hemingway

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number
  • 1-800-273-8255

 

 

Life’s A Dance You Learn As You Go

We all have parts of our story that we don’t want to tell and open book that I am, I am no different.  There are chapters that are so brutal, it is hard to envision what benefit there could be in putting those words on paper.  I have thought so long and so hard for so many weeks about how and when and if I would ever mention this moment in time.  I’ve always been honest about my journey through the pits and valleys of depression and this is no different.  In some weird way, I feel called to share my story even if it’s just for one person.  It’s not as if I’m some viral sensation, after all.  If you are that one person, you are worth it.

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds.  Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”  — Unknown.

I have typed and erased so many sentences trying to get this out.  I pride myself on my openness, but maybe this time, my family deserves my reservation.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this part of my story because this isn’t what I want the takeaway to be.  So I’m just going to leave it at this.   A few weeks ago, I hit one of the lowest, darkest moments of my life and I’m eternally grateful that it was just a moment in time for so many reasons.  I need you to know how low I was so that you can fully appreciate where I am now.  I need you to know that despair is temporary.

Since then, I’ve learned one of the greatest lessons of my 43 years on this crazy planet. It’s not a new concept. Like a “new to you” vehicle, it just took me a while to take it out for a spin. I finally learned that it’s okay to start putting myself first. That it’s okay for me to be happy and to expand on that, it’s okay for me to actively seek out what makes me happy. I was so busy trying to be what everyone else needed that I was failing all of us and most importantly, I was failing myself.

I’ve been embracing my journey.

I’ve been feeding my soul by going to church. Drinking in the word. Taking notes so I can look back later and reflect on what I want to hold onto. What I need to find more of.

I’ve been washing my face. Stop laughing. I’ve been taking care of my skin. Watching the glow that I’m starting to feel inside again, reflect on the outside. Ive started devoting Wednesdays to exfoliating and Fridays to masks and it’s about so much more than vanity. It’s about making time for ME. Those minutes every morning and before bed every night with my cleanser and toner and moisturizers and alone time. It’s time spent with me. You don’t have to take this literally. The meaning is still there. Take the smallest steps towards self love and self care.

I’ve started jogging. Which is MIND. BLOWING. It’s something that I said I was going to begin years ago when my athletic cousin lost the ability to walk in his war with ALS. I envisioned running in 5Ks, then 10Ks, then half-marathons, (not full marathons because I am 99% sure that exceeds my attention span), and doing it for him, while he is with me in spirit, but I never did. When I started embarking on this journey to find what makes me whole, that was one of the first things that topped my list. I’m 11 days into my program and I’m loving every minute of it. All of the things that I’ve never loved before. The sweating, the pain, all of it, because I’m gaining more than I’m losing.

Maybe it’s trite but in losing myself, I’m finding myself. More so every single day. Right now, I’m more happy than I have been in years. Mostly because I came to the greatest realization of all. Not to put my eggs in anyone’s basket but my own.

The world will fail you. People will fail you. Some days even your own mind will fail you. But tomorrow? Tomorrow may be a ray of light. That’s so worthy of sticking around for. I promise.

All Part of a Plan

I feel like I haven’t blogged in twenty-seven lifetimes.  So, here I am.

I think part of the problem is that I haven’t really known what to talk about.  Do I just jump right back into funny shit my kids do?  Do I pretend like life didn’t go off the rails for a couple weeks there?  I think about blogging a lot.  I love to write and I love to interact with people.  I love it every single time I write something and people tell me that I am speaking their language.  I love to process my own life and my own thoughts by putting words on paper (screen).  In the end, that’s why I’m back today.  This isn’t a marriage blog, a divorce blog, a parenting blog.  I don’t have to define it.  It isn’t going to fit neatly in a box, just like I never will.  This blog is me.  All 987 sides of me.

One thing that I have learned in the last few weeks is the value of self care.  I am changing, I am evolving, I am not becoming someone new- I’m learning to be more true to who I have always been.  I am working on taking care of myself in every way.  Mentally, physically, spiritually.  I’m going to church.  I’m exercising.  I’m working on my diet.  I’m letting go of the shit that doesn’t matter.  I’m learning to worry more about what I think than what someone else thinks.  I’m learning to stop being so judgmental.  The twist is that I’m not really very judgmental at all when it comes to other people, but I’m super judgmental when it comes to myself.  I’m telling that nagging voice to shut. up.

I’m remembering to let the difficult times chip away at all the rough edges.  No grit, no pearl.

Laugh a little, love a lot

“Someone else’s opinion if you is none of your business”. – Rachel Hollis

Wow. I can’t begin to tell you how much that quote that resonated with me, but I’m going to try.

It’s no secret that I have social anxiety. I think that must seem really strange considering how open I am online, but it’s true. In real life, I feel awkward. I get nervous and I stumble over my words. Here, though? This is my comfort zone. My soft place to land. While I sometimes regret how much I choose to share, written words come so much more easily for me than face to face conversations. I can put more thought into what I’m saying. I can hit backspace. I can erase the messy bits.

Part of my social anxiety stems from my insecurities about what people think of me. Their opinion of me- all of me. Are they noticing my messy eyebrows, my bitten fingernails, the gaps in my teeth? Are they judging my clothing or the way I laugh, too loud, too boisterous? “Someone else’s opinion of you, is none of your business”. How freeing is that?

You see, the truth is, there are people out there who don’t like me, and there are people out there who love me to bits. Guess which ones I focus on when I’m feeling insecure and I’m second guessing myself? And I know I’m not alone.

I follow Emmy Rosssum on Instagram. Tiny, perfect, Emmy Rossum. Today her IG story was about how she sometimes googles “what does (insert celebrity) weigh, and how the comments make her stress about her weight, stress about her body. Then she posted a pic of herself with some of her positive qualities written on it, with the implication that those attributes make up who she is, she’s more than a number on the scale. Other people’s opinions about her bring out her insecurities.

There is freedom in not even allowing yourself to consider what other people think because what they think has no bearing on who you are.

I’m a mother. A proud mother. My kids fill me with so much pride. Yesterday I was stalking my 17 year old’s twitter and I saw a post she made where she said, “this is why my mom is my best friend.” No one’s opinion matters more than those of my babies. Why have I wasted my time worrying?

I’m a lover. Of animals, nature, the great outdoors. I’m compassionate. I have a big heart. I am a Christian. One who tries to love and live like Christ did. I may not always be successful, but when I’m not, my opinion of myself weighs far more than someone else’s opinion of me.

I’m a work in progress, just like you.

The Day You Start Moving On

It’s funny how sometimes you have no idea what you need until it’s happening.  You can have weeks of sadness, confusion, lack of direction and then suddenly something shifts.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Today Dad and I met with the hospice social worker and the chaplain.  It was our first meeting with them, an opportunity to learn who they are and what services they offered and also an opportunity for them to learn about us.  How they could help.  After speaking with Dad, the chaplain turned to me and said, “As a caregiver, who is available for you to turn to for emotional support?”  I hesitated, laughed, and said the first person who popped into my mind.  My not quite ex-husband.

Yesterday my ex and I went riding.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here.  The days a little cooler.  The humidity a little less oppressive.  I had no idea how much I needed to be outdoors.  When Thomas asked if I wanted to go ride quads, I didn’t even hesitate.  I followed him down a new to me path and found myself riding through a postcard.

A train used to pass through the countryside here.  I have no idea how long ago.   These days, the tracks have been removed and what is left behind is a path through one of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever seen.  I knew they existed- part of them run right behind our house and I used to hit them almost daily when I was trying to run some of the energy out of two seventy pound dogs.  They pass through the woods, through streams where the dogs love to swim.  Through dirt roads surrounded by corn fields and soybeans.  Sometimes I sit and watch the farm equipment as it moves up and down the rows and I can’t even believe how beautiful this world can be.  I had no idea there were miles and miles of path that I didn’t know existed.  Paths full of trees and shade and dappled sunlight.

I know it’s weird that we were riding together.  I mean recent events haven’t exactly been great, but life goes on.  I needed fresh air, sunshine and the peace of mind that I can only seem to find when the wind is rushing by.  I didn’t go with any expectations or even really any thought other than I needed to be outside and I don’t like to ride alone.  I didn’t go for closure, yet that’s what I found.

So my quad doesn’t have the greatest brakes ever.  Going down any kind of steep hill requires the abandon of all sense of caution and prayer.  I was following Thomas and at one point I managed to find myself stuck on the edge of a rock, leaning to one side and afraid to move because I just knew that if I managed to get myself off that rock without turning over, I was going to be praying pretty hard for brakes on the way down.  In reality, I probably wasn’t in any danger of flipping, I just like to feel all four tires firmly on the ground at all times…  Thomas turned around to see where I was.  The sight of me frozen, eyes like saucers, not even daring to breathe was apparently super funny.  A minute later we were both laughing, I trusted him when he said I could make it down and I took a leap of faith.  There was a lot of screaming (me) and laughing (both of us) but I made it down.  It turns out that not all of our trust was shattered.

Then I got sad.

I started wondering why our marriage could never work.  I watched him riding ahead of me.  Both of us in our element.  Both of us having fun.  Together.  I could ride behind him for days, just enjoying the trees, the adventure, close enough to nature that I can reach out and touch it.  I had to work my way through why that could never happen in order to get to what can.

I don’t know what is wrong with him.  I truly don’t.  I’ve diagnosed him.  I’ve said he’s his own worst enemy.  None of that really matters.  What matters is that when we are trying to be together, something switches off in him.  He’s not happy.  I’m not happy.   We are both always searching.  I just choose to focus my search on ideas, words, psychology, scriptures.  We both have our own band-aids.  The truth is, if we were together right now, we probably wouldn’t have been riding at all.  If we were, he probably would have been more annoyed than tickled when I got stuck.  I probably would have been anxious.  Instead, I was carefree.

We completely suck at being married, but we are usually really good at being friends.  Not that we didn’t almost manage to find a way to ruin that, too.  Me by thinking we could start over like the previous decade never existed.  Him by… well, always searching for band-aids.  Temporary fixes that don’t fix anything.

I don’t know how to explain how I can still be friends after everything that’s happened other than I just can.  It’s a choice I made.  There is not one thing about me that he doesn’t know.  There is nothing that I could ever think that I would be afraid to say out loud.  I need that.  When everything came out a couple weeks ago, that is what I was grieving.  Not my marriage.  My best friend.  We don’t usually mess that up.

I’m a huge believer in finding the lesson.  The day after “the big reveal”, I was devastated but I also knew that I was never going to stop wondering about my decisions regarding moving on or trying to stay in our marriage unless God basically hit me with a hammer.  The amount of guilt that I felt over Jace not having what he wanted- his parents together- was overwhelming.  The big reveal was God’s hammer and as much as it hurt, I was grateful to know that I wasn’t doing any of us any favors by trying to hold on.

No, everything isn’t just back like it was.  I’m a different person now.  I know that in time, Thomas and I are both going to have other people in our lives that fill that best friend role and honestly, I’m looking forward to that day.  I know someday there will be a man who wants nothing more than to ride through life beside me.  I hope that Thomas finds the person who heals his soul.  I hope that the four of us can share some of the best moments of our lives together.  Our children getting married.  Grandchildren being born.  I truly look forward to those days.

For once in our time together, I think we are both on the same page.

Trust Is a Luxury

People say that I forgive too easily.  That not everyone deserves forgiveness.  What they don’t know is my motives are selfish.  It’s just me, trying to breathe.

I grew up in chaos.  Anger.  Conflict.  I don’t know who I would have been if not for that.  Would I have battled depression?  Would I have battled my head?  Would I have spent my entire life trying to measure up?  The worst thing in the world is to know that you will never know what you might have been.

As an adult, I abhor conflict.  I hate it.  Typing the word fills me with anxiety.  I can’t bear it.

I wonder if everyone spends their life searching for that one elusive thing.  Mine isn’t happiness- I know and have known happiness.  My children fill my heart with more happiness than they will ever know.  I don’t even think that it’s love.  I’ve known that, too.  I never knew what love was until I held Will for the first time and knew that I would die for him, no questions asked.  Yes, I know and have known fierce, animalistic, unconditional love.  Three times over.  I think what I crave is safety.

I forgive because I can’t tolerate the alternative.  I forgive because I need forgiveness.  I forgive because I have to.  I just don’t forget.