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.

The High, The Hurt, The Shine, The Sting

Depression is like the ocean.  A riptide.  Dangerous currents that want to drag you under even when you can still see the shore.  That shore may be within swimming distance but it might as well be in another world.  That’s what depression is.

A couple weeks ago, we saw suicide hit the news again and I thought about blogging then.  It’s a subject that’s always close to me.  It’s my lifelong companion.  My truest friend.  I used to blog about funny things, though.  I used to be funny.  I didn’t want to blog sadness anymore.  I wanted to make you laugh.  So I didn’t blog.

I guess one thing that my children may never know is the hardest thing I have ever done is stay alive for them.  They have seen me work, sometimes more than one job at a time.  They have seen me prepare meals, wash their clothes, run around trying to find what they’ve lost.  They’ve seen me mourn, they’ve seen me struggle, they’ve seen me tired.

They’ve never seen me stare at a bottle of pills.  They’ve never seen me daydream about turning the wheel when I’m driving alone and the perfect drop off appears.  They don’t know that in my mind there is such a thing as the perfect drop off.

I don’t want to be this person.

I want to be happy.

I want to be carefree.

My happiest moments are with my babies.   But they are growing up.

My mom can no longer carry on a conversation with me.  My dad is dying.

I’m just so tired.

My ex and I briefly tried to get back together.  See, things were confusing.  It’s hard when that person is still your best friend, or supposed to be.  He was telling someone else everything he was telling me.  He was scheduling vacations and applying for jobs 1,000 miles away.  He was promising to move if only she would stay.  He was making plans that would effect our children and I was sitting here blindly letting our child think we were becoming a family again.

I don’t think that I can forgive myself for that.  I should have known better.

He will be so mad at me for saying that.  He never wanted me to air the dirty laundry.  I didn’t want to either but our reasons were different.  I wanted to be mature and also, I was embarrassed.  He didn’t want dark actions brought to light.

Depression is a black cloud.  It’s a swarm of bees.  It’s loud.  It gets in your ear and it just. won’t. stop.  It tells you that this is it.  This is all it will ever be.  You, always chasing things that fly away.   You, getting the courage to leave and those little mosquitos coming back for another round of blood.  You being everything.  The ripest peach that they can’t stop taking bites of and the bruised one that is no longer appealing.

Depression tells you that it’s okay if you finally just go to sleep.

What I really wanted to blog when suicide hit the news was different then.  I kept reading comments about how suicide is selfish.  I kept thinking that survivors were reading that and they were reading painful lies.

I’ll say again what I said before.  My children will never know that the hardest thing I have ever done for them is stay alive.

If someone you love lost their battle, that decision was gut wrenching and agonizing and not fully thought out.  That decision was coated in a dust of grief and pain and disillusion.  That decision would not have stood up in a court of law.  That decision was breathless.  That decision might have been a weakness but I can promise you that it was one out of a million moments of inhuman strength.

I added a new medication to my regimen in hopes of getting my fibromyalgia under control.  In doing so, I have noticed the suicidal thoughts creeping back in after months of sitting in the light.  I will be diligent in having my meds adjusted again until I’m back in my sweet spot.  I will do it for my kids.  I only wish that I was doing it for me.

“Depression is living in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to die.”  — unknown

Depression is your friendly, funny, 40 something soccer mom who loves Pinterest and Krogering.

Depression is someone just like me.

 

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful

I’m the baby of five and eleven years separates me from the youngest of my siblings.  You can rest assured that I’ve been asked at least fifty-eleven times if I was a mistake.  The short answer is no.  Have you ever known me to stop with the short answer?  Okay, so you know that this time is no different and you know that I have a story to tell.

My grandfather, my Mom’s dad, was an electrician, and they moved around quite a bit.  When they lived in Kentucky though, they lived about a block and a half away from where my dad grew up.  My mom and my dad went to the same school during those years and walked the same sidewalks and my dad thought my mom was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I made my mom tell me this story.  She was so very shy.  She knew that Dad had a crush on her and so she would see him coming and she would cross the street to the opposite sidewalk to try to avoid running into him.  Lord knows that every socially awkward statement that has ever come out of my mouth was the exact reason my mother opted to go with avoidance.  I regret nothing.  I wish.

By high school, my mother was living in Michigan and my dad was in a military boarding school.  Their lives had moved in totally different directions.  Mom graduated from high school and got married.    Mom had four children in like a really short period of time.  Which is why when I say she was always the most patient person alive, I can speak with confidence.  Dad joined the Army, got married and when the Vietnam War began he found himself in Japan.

Then the unthinkable happened.  My mother’s first husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.  My mother was a widow and my siblings lost their father.  I can’t imagine what that time was like for my mother but she ended up packing up her four young children and moving back to Kentucky.  Around the same time, my dad was newly divorced and also making his way back to Kentucky…

So this is NOT where I’m going to pretend that their marriage was magical or perfect or even hard in the way that every marriage is hard because I don’t think that would be accurate or fair.  I think it was pretty difficult.  But I also think that my mom really really really loved my dad, (and I know she still does), and I know that my dad really really really loves my mom and always has.

Dad is in the hospital.  It’s becoming the norm lately.  I guess that’s how it is when you have stage four cancer.  I have sat with him through appointment after appointment and over and over I have heard doctors ask him what he wants.  What his expectations are.  What his concerns are.  What questions he has.  Over and over I have heard  his answers begin with, “My wife has Alzheimer’s…”

Tonight was no different.  The cardiologist asked him if he wanted them to try to resuscitate him if he coded and Dad began with his usual, “My wife has Alzheimer’s.”  Then he continued with the same responses I have heard him give every single doctor since he was first diagnosed.

“My wife has Alzheimer’s.  She’s in Calvert City.  I just want to be able to drive there to see her.  I don’t want to be too sick to do that.  I just want to be able to see her as long as I can.  She looks forward to seeing me.  She has the biggest smile when I walk in.”

Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but maybe love doesn’t have to be.

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful life.

 

there’s freedom in a broken heart

I kind of had an epiphany this morning.

I initially woke up at four.  Buddy likes to wake me up around then.  He cries until I go open the door, then he stands there for a few and decides if he wants to go outside or not.  I’ve decided that he’s got to be a member of the twilight bark and he’s listening for his people.  One time I refused to let him out and he pooped in my bathroom.  He’s basically the size of a Shetland pony so that is something that I never want to experience again.  When he wakes me up crying, we go stand at the door…

My head was killlllllling me.  My sinuses are awful.  I had made plans to try out a new church this morning and I was supposed to meet up with a friend who goes there.  I was so close to cancelling on her.  I never make plans because if it’s not my anxiety that gets in the way, it’s my body or I have a migraine, etc.  It occurred to me in that moment how much I was the biggest obstacle in my life.  If my head was going to hurt, it was going to hurt. It didn’t matter if I was at home or at church.  So I got up, I snorted my Flonase, drank my coffee and stopped letting myself stand in my own way.

When it comes to God, I don’t believe in coincidences.

I met up with LeAnn and we found our seats.  There was an older man stepping into the baptismal tub as we were listening to the band.  “Well that’s weird,” LeAnn said.  “People don’t really get baptized that often, unless it’s Easter or something like that.”  I didn’t really think much of that at the time.  The band played a few songs and then they began to play a video of the story of the man being baptized this morning.  He was a marine.  When he was a young marine, he was deployed and fell ill with malaria one day.  He wasn’t able to do his job the following day and one of his buddies filled in for him.  His buddy was shot and killed that day and this young marine was left with the realization that he not only narrowly escaped death, but his buddy died because he was filling his spot.  That’s when I knew that I was supposed to be right where I was today.

Combat, survivor’s guilt, PTSD, TBI, all of these things have turned all of our lives upside down.  I feel a kinship with anyone who walks this road because I know what a difficult, confusing, lonely, desperate road it can be for both the sufferer and for the people who love them.

In my last blog I talked about Thomas and I separating and my recent confusion and in the last few days he and I have had so many discussions about our relationship going forward.  See, for me, nothing has really changed other than our address.  While Thomas was absolutely, 100% the love of my life, the last couple years of our marriage we weren’t much more than roommates.  So for the last year, I really haven’t felt much differently than I did when we were actually married.  The last few days he and I have had a lot of conversations/arguments over my need to start figuring out my own way but he likes things just the way they are.  I have been truly struggling though.

Guess what today’s topic was?  Both the importance of boundaries and how important it is that you are spending time with people who reflect what you want out of life.  Thomas and I almost never went to church because we could almost never find a church that we were both comfortable in.  When I told him how much I loved church today he asked me if he would like it.  I laughed.  Of course not.  Like, we both love our kids and that’s probably where our commonalities end.  He likes the old school hellfire and brimstone and I don’t respond well at all to raised voices and threats.  Neither of us are wrong.  We just are who we are.  He needs what he needs and I need what I need and when we tried to achieve that together we ended up just giving up because we had to sacrifice too much of ourselves to meet in the middle.  Neither of us reflect what the other wants out of life.

My kids have talked to me off and on the entire time I’ve been writing and I feel completely all over the place with this post. I guess what I’m getting at is I have realized a lot in the last couple days and I am taking baby steps towards getting my life back.  Thomas and I will probably always be close.  I was with him during his darkest, pre-therapy, pre-medication times and we have seen hell together.  We truly have.  You know how old veterans can spot each other in a crowd and instantly connect even if they have never met?  That’s us.  We have bonded through combat.  I’m still reclaiming my life, though.  Just putting up a few guardrails.