Where’s the anger

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Yesterday, Wonder Woman’s Xbox stopped working.

As she was trying to get it going I was in the kitchen washing dishes and I thought I felt tension settle across the room.  I thought I felt anger and my anxiety spiked.

Waiting for the explosion.

She calmly moved furniture to get to the cords and I stopped washing dishes afraid that the sound of the water and the dishes clanking would be annoying to her.

Waiting for the explosion.

She looked on her phone, probably for solutions, while I sat at my desk, a tense ball of nerves ready to run.  Fighting the urge to shut myself in the bedroom.  Trying to figure out how I can fix the problem when I don’t even know what the problem is.

Waiting for the explosion.

And then she realized she couldn’t fix it, and she said, calmly, “It’s broken. Sadface.”

And I’m still sitting there, a ball of nerves.  On the edge of tears because of tension that was really never there.  I’m waiting for an explosion that won’t come.

“What will it help for me to scream and yell about it?”

Well, why didn’t the rest of the people in my life realize that?

And in turn, why didn’t I realize that?

It just happened, as I’m typing up this post, my backspace key got stuck and I start yelling “No, no, no, no, no!” as more and more of the post is deleted.  I’m yelling, I’m frightened and angry and being loud about it.

Wonder Woman asks loudly from the other room “Is everything alright?”

But what did it really help for me to react that way about it?  It didn’t help me get the key unstuck quicker.  It didn’t save precious words from being deleted off the screen.

It is my natural reaction to a situation though.  It’s the reaction that was trained into me, and one I’m working very hard to train out of myself.  I get loud and angry when things go wrong and I expect the world around me to do the same.

Except loud and angry is very scary to me now.  I no longer handle it well.

I don’t think I ever did.

I don’t even handle my own anger well.

But that anxiety, expecting the explosion, the gut tightening, feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s all about to go very very wrong, is something that I can’t quiet, yet.

But eventually I’ll learn.

I don’t have to prepare for explosions of anger that may not happen.

And I don’t have to explode when things go wrong, there is another way.

And I’ll keep learning and relearning these lessons as time goes on.

It helps to be loved by such a calm, quiet, gentle, Wonder Woman.

That makes it a little bit easier.

 

So long and thanks. . .

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

The Kidlet is all grown up.

This was his first visit home after 11 months gone and it was such a different sort of way to spend a week under the same roof.

Such a different sort of way to relate to each other.

Such a different sort of way to talk with each other.

But while so much has changed, nothing has.

He walked in and opened the fridge, asked if there was anything he couldn’t have, then grabbed what he wanted.

He still climbed in bed beside me and cuddled and talked.

He still sat on the floor in front of me while I brushed his hair.

He still picked on me endlessly, this time ganging up on me with his girlfriend and Wonder Woman while I jokingly fought back against the onslaught.

I was so afraid, in the days leading up to this visit, that we’d spend the time fighting, like we did before he left.  So afraid that we’d fall back into the old dynamic.  That I wouldn’t know how to relate to my son as an adult that lives on his own and runs his own life.  How would I go about making the switch with him under this roof again.  Would we be right at each others throats in an instant.

And instead we’ve spent the time enjoying being with each other.

It’s a different sort of relationship.

I’m so proud of who he is and I can finally see, first hand, in person, how much the way I raised him shaped him into the man he’s become.  I can finally say I’m proud of the job I did.  Most people were completely against how I raised him, homeschooling when I could barely keep a roof over our heads, not following a curriculum, not punishing him, and just walking away from almost all of the traditional parenting methods.  But I now see that, for him, it was what worked.  He’s an amazing human and I’m proud of myself for doing what I knew was right.

I’m happy to see him, enjoying the time I’m spending with him, but tomorrow morning I don’t think it will be as hard as I thought it would be to watch him go.  He’s just a flight away, and while I’ll look forward to the next trip, in the meantime I’m looking forward to having my routine back, and he’s looking forward to his.

He’s done what we all hope our kids do.  He spread his wings.

And he’s doing better than any of his parent did.

I’m so fucking proud of my kid.

How did she die?

This is a Really Real Widow Post

Parker dying is a dividing point in time for me.  So today, while talking to my mobility driver about my hair, I told him how I colored it all sorts of colors before, but that after my wife died, it’s been pink, and then pink with a purple stripe, ever since.

Of course, he says he’s sorry to hear that she died.

Which I either ignore, or respond with “me too” because how else am I really supposed to respond to that.  I grew tired of thanking people for that sentiment about a week after she died.

I know they don’t know what else to say, and honestly, I do the same damn thing when I hear that someone has become a widow, but . . .

I’m getting away from the point of this.

The next thing he says is “How did she die?”

Now, her dying wasn’t the point of the conversation about me dying my hair.  It was just something I said in passing to denote the passing of time, the moment I switched from a lot of different colors, to one uniform color.

“She died by suicide.”

*SILENCE*

“How did she die?” is the question everyone wants to ask, but suicide is the messy answer that no one really knows how to respond to.  It’s the cause of death no one really expects someone to say out loud.  Even with the stigma around mental illness disappearing because more and more people are speaking their stories and living their truths, death by suicide still has this ick factor to it when I drop that bomb on people.

Oh shit.  Did she really just say that?  Now what?

I’m getting better about not mentioning my widowhood.  I don’t whip out my widow card every chance I get anymore, and I don’t feel the need to use it as a dividing mark in time, most of the time.  But, it’s also frustrating, because for me it is such a big mark in time, it’s such a big part of my existence and who I am.  There is such a big defining line of Before and After and sometimes I feel like I need to explain to people that things changed at that point in time because I became a widow.

But really, I would save everyone a lot of trouble if I’d learn to keep it to myself.  The more I disclose the more they want me to disclose and then I get frustrated over their reactions.

I can’t control their reactions to my story.

But should I have to hide my story so they avoid the shock over my answers to their questions?

It’s a hard line to walk.

Early on, I needed the shock value, I needed the sympathy.  I needed to be different and to stand out as one of the few, the widows, us who have been through this hell.  I needed people to know because as much as I hate hearing “I’m sorry to hear that” I needed people to hear my story and my pain.

Now it isn’t about that, I don’t think.  Now, it’s mostly just habit.  I dyed my hair lots of colors, and then my life was forever changed and I realized I didn’t need to avoid pink because life was too short, and pink became the symbol and the armor that helped me survive.

Now the pink hair is just trademark me.

The same mobility driver called me Punky Brewster and I think that fits.

But for a very long moment, he was silent at the mention of suicide.

And then he felt it was okay to ask me all kinds of questions about what lead up to it.  Questions I felt okay answering because I want people to know Parker’s story, and my story, but sometimes the questions are exhausting.

The reactions are exhausting.

I’m learning when I should speak my full truth, and when I can speak without sharing it all.  Who deserves the whole story and who just gets small parts of it.

I don’t always have the energy it takes to speak my story.

And even when I have it, I don’t always have to spend it.

Six years ago . . .

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Laying in bed, flipping through the pictures from 6 years ago today.

Wedding photos, taken at the court house, my mother behind the camera taking a dozen shots for every pose to make sure she got the perfect one.

I have over 100 edited pictures from that day, saying our vows . . . standing around with family and friends . . . Parker and Draven and I holding the marriage licence that meant so much to us . . . cutting the rainbow cake and feeding it to each other, almost neatly.

I’m in a shirt with huge flowers that I said was perfect, but really, it was the only thing in my budget that I could find last minute that had any green in it.  Green was my favorite color back then.  The shirt is not my favorite, but it worked, and I still have it and will never get rid of it.

We were smiling, real smiles that went all the way to our eyes.

Flipping through the phone and looking at the pictures on Timehop I wonder if the people in those pictures have any idea how much life can change in 6 short years.

Parker and I thought we knew.  We had been through so much in the 6 years we had been together at that point.  But really, we had no idea.

She was such a light in this world and it’s hard, sometimes, to look at those pictures and realize that it’s a light that’s gone out.

It’s hard to see the smile that goes to her eyes and realize those eyes are shut forever.

Those lips will never form that smile.

And I found myself looking through the pictures and ignoring her part in them all.  I couldn’t look at her face, her eyes almost shut because her smile was so big.  I couldn’t look at the way she was looking at me with adoration.  I couldn’t let myself see what was really there because seeing that meant realizing what’s really gone.

Today I have been replaying that day in my mind, over, and over, and over.  It was the bright spot in the middle of some really dark times for us.  I look at those pictures and see how much joy there is on her face and it’s so hard to believe that the depression won.

How?

How did something manage to put out that bright light of hers?

I thought I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with Parker, and I wasn’t.  But she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with me.

I miss my ghost wife.  I miss her smile, the way here eyes squinted and you knew it was a real smile.  I miss a lot of little things that most people don’t even think about.

I even miss our fights.

I want her back in this world.

The world deserves her light.

Happy Anniversary up there my firefly.

Guilt of Grief

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

There’s so much guilt mixed up in grief.

It’s like, no matter how much I try to just sit down my title of widow, it’s just there, and even if I could sit it down, I’d feel guilty about that, and the fact that I can’t sit it down, makes me feel guilty because I have a girlfriend.

This last week has been one of those traps.

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage.  I know it’s something I want again and I know it’s not time yet, however, I’m still preoccupied with thoughts of Wonder Woman and I, and when, and if, and how, and, and, and. . . . it’s just what I do.

Who? ME?  Overthink?  Yes!  Always!

And then I realize my wedding anniversary is coming up, and I feel guilty because I got a few days into February without even realizing that it was the month I was married to Parker.

And then I feel even more guilty because I don’t even have any feels about the upcoming anniversary that will never be celebrated.

And then I feel even MORE guilty because I wonder if I somehow did remember, subconsciously, that it was my wedding anniversary and if that’s why I was thinking about weddings and marriage and Wonder Woman and I, and how wrong is it to think about a wedding to a dead woman and then have thoughts of marrying the woman I love now?

And there’s all this guilt floating around.

And I’m beating myself up over all of it.

Either I grieve too much, and it’s too much to put on Wonder Woman.  Or I don’t grieve enough and I’m not paying enough widow penance.

All of this is internal guilt, no one that matters is putting any of this on me.  Wonder Woman has never once said my grief was too much, and has always left space for my grief and Parker in our relationship (even when I think we don’t need it).  But I often wonder and worry, what isn’t she saying.

And what is the outside world thinking.

And then I also just judge myself even without thinking about any of that.  If I’m not still crumbled in a ball on the floor a few times a month did our time together really count?  If I can move forward this “quickly” was I really in love or I was I just faking it.  Did I imagine that first year of grief, was it really as bad as it seemed, maybe I was faking that too.  How did I go from all of that, to barely remembering that 6 years ago tomorrow, I said “I do” to the woman I planned to spend “Always and Forever, Forever and Always” with.

But it is really nothing, now?  If it was really “nothing” would I be sitting in the college library tearing up over those thoughts?

Grief is different now, but it’s still there.  Of course it is part of my relationship with Wonder Woman, because it’s such a huge part of who I am and you can’t have me without having that part of me.

Did my anniversary make me think about weddings?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that doesn’t change the way I feel about Wonder Woman and the thoughts I have about our future together.  It’s no different then seeing a wedding on TV and that being the catalyst.

Letting myself free from the guilt is hard.  But I think it’s a part of the grief.  It’s a part of my journey.

Everyone has a different path, and sometimes I forget that the path that I’m on is perfectly valid and okay.

I’m allowed to do this my own way.

And I don’t need to carry the guilt.

The Quiet Before the Storm

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I feel really good these last few days.

There’s some lingering depression where I can’t quite figure out what I want to get into and nothing seems interesting.

All of my pain issues are flaring and all of my everythings hurt.

But I’m handling both of those things well, because otherwise I’m stable right now.  I feel good.  My emotions are in a pretty upbeat place.

Yesterday I cleaned and cooked and made a rotisserie chicken for the first time (chicken bondage anyone?) and then made chicken stock from the carcass in preparation for chicken soup today.  I did school work and DBT work and just got a whole lot done.

And in between I mindlessly scrolled Facebook for way too much time because I honestly couldn’t figure out what to focus on, nothing could hold my interest.

The Kidlet will be here in less than a week and I’m super excited about that while also stressing about all of the things I stress about before someone comes to visit.

It’s very strange to stress about those things before my son gets here, but he no longer lives under this roof and this is no longer the house he left.  I’ve been looking around and seeing how much has changed now that it’s Wonder Woman and my space and while the address is still the same, he will be walking into an entirely different house.  Very little stayed the same.

I wonder how much he changed.  I wonder how much he will think I did.

I worry about the dynamic we had when he left and how hard it will be to avoid that dynamic now that he’s visiting and staying here for a week.  In theory it should be easy, he’s an adult.  A man living on his own with his own agenda and his own rules.  But old habits . . .

I would hate to see us fight on his first visit back home when we’ve mostly avoided it the entire time he’s been gone.

But overall, this has been a really good few days.  I’m able to keep my anxiety at bay, taking it as it comes and not ruminating over it for too long.  All I can do is my best while he’s here and worrying about it now won’t do a whole lot of good.

Same with worrying about my next crash.  It’s sort of inevitable that I will have one, probably sooner rather than later, possibly within the next few weeks if history is any indicator.  But worrying about it won’t stop it, and will only take today’s good mood away.  It feels good to be able to sit the anxiety down for a bit.  To recognize that it’s there, feel the feels but not let it overwhelm me, and then put it away.

This may be the calm before the storm but I’m focusing on the calm, instead of waiting for the storm.  I can deal with the storm when it gets here.

Duality

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

As hard as I try, sometimes it’s really hard to get the complexity of my emotions across in written form.

Like last night, for instance.

I wrote the piece on my emotions surrounding Parker, I sat here with tears streaming down my face, but moments later I was okay.  I was going about my daily life like nothing was wrong.  I wasn’t sad and it wasn’t weighing heavily on me.

I had gotten it out and let it go for the moment.

And sometimes it’s like that.

I write about hard stuff.

I’ve had a hard life and I’m working through a lot of that.

And there are a lot of times when that hard life knocks me off my feet for 5 minutes, just 5 minutes.  I write about it, I spill my tears onto the keys and onto the screen and let myself get fully wrapped up in the emotions for as long as it takes me to get the words out.

And then I pack it away until the next time it can’t be contained any longer.

Break

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere.

Well, I guess it isn’t from nowhere.  I know what triggered it.

A friend shared a meme, a comic strip.

“I don’t want to die.  I don’t want to stop existing.

I just . . . want a break.”

Parker was going through her own version of hell.

She needed the off ramp.  Not permanently, but just to a rest stop.

Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to ask for that and even if she did I wouldn’t have known how to give it to her.

How do you give someone a break from a life that’s surrounded by struggle.  How to you find the moments of joy when you feel like all of the joy has been sucked out of everything.  How could I help her to see that there was still life worth living.

How could I have given her the break she needed.

I do know, if love could have saved her she’d still be here.

And that goes both ways.

If her love for me could have saved her she’d still be here.

If her love for Draven could have saved her she’d still be here.

If her love for her mom, and her sister, and her niece, and her friends could have saved her.

She’d still be here.

And if our love for her could have saved her she’d most certainly still be here cause she had a lot of people that loved her.

That still love her.

But I can’t love her back to life.  I can’t go back and give her the break she needed.  I can’t go back and show her how much life is still worth living.  I can’t show her that things get better, that even the hard times have good things written all over them.

One of the hardest things is the fading of memories as time goes on.

I can’t always recall the sound of her voice.

I can’t hear her laugh when I try.

I can’t remember what she smelled like.

And for the life of me I can’t remember the last time we kissed.

Memories fade, even when we don’t want them to.

But I wonder what would be different if I could have given her that break that she so desperately needed.