Grief gets easier.

This is a Really Real Widow post.

One benefit to writing these and posting them on Facebook is that as the memories come up I can see how far I’ve come.  I can remember the past and see where I am compared to then.  I can see what lessons I didn’t learn in the moment.

I remember, when Parker first died, people told me it would get easier.  I couldn’t believe them. They told me I’d stop noticing the anniversaries and that eventually I’d even forget what day she died.

I couldn’t believe them.

I wasn’t ready.

It felt too raw.

It’s three and a half years later.  I no longer notice each 8th of the month, even though I haven’t forgotten what day she died.  I just had to count back to see how long it’s been, I’m no longer counting the months as they go by.

My birthday was a huge grief trigger, even last year.  I am getting older and she is not. I’m older then her and that wasn’t supposed to happen.

This year, I remembered Parker on my birthday (I remember her almost every day). I noted that I was, yet again, adding another year over her.  I had those pangs of grief.

But they were just there.  I was just the grief that’s woven into the fabric of me.

The pain didn’t define the day.

I didn’t spend part of the day in bed crying.

It is fully integrated into this new normal.

I just couldn’t believe it when people told me this early on.  I didn’t believe it would get easier.  She was so big in her life, and I expected that it would stay that way in her death.

But, most of the time, I’m comfortably widowed.  It is a part of who I am but it no longer defines my existence.

I have a friend who was very recently widowed. I would never begin to tell her what path her grief will take. Every journey is different. I will sit with her in her agony, as it is now.

I still remember those early days.

Through Facebook memories I still read about those early days.

I see my pain coming through my words.

The despair. The hope. The need to maintain connection. The realization that life as I knew it would be entirely different without her.

It does get easier.

I just read something that said grief doesn’t get smaller, we get bigger.

The Parker shaped hole in my heart is much easier to live around.  The edges have smoothed and I don’t trip over them so often. My heart is much larger, giving me room to avoid that hole.

Birthdays can be about me.

Birthdays can be about life.

Birthdays can be about the present.

About the moment I am living in.

The life I am living.

Grief gets easier.

But I will always miss her.

I’m not a girl.

This is a Really Real Gender Post.

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile. Trying to decide if I wanted to really put myself out there with this.

But it’s my birthday, and I want to start my next year of life being authentically me. I can’t preach radical vulnerability, when I am refusing to be vulnerable because it’s uncomfortable.

This is a long one, I’ve read it about a dozen times trying to shorten it, and it’s just not happening.

I’m non-binary, and my gender is somewhere in the middle, in flux, strange (as in different), queer.

I prefer the term genderqueer.

I’ve let go of the notion that I have to be female, because society tells me I’m a female due to the body parts I was born with.  And the more I accept this, the more comfortable I’ve become. I feel like me, I feel like I’m free to be me.

I’m not fighting to overcome something that feels inherently false.

I’m able to just be, and let things settle where they will.

And it’s scary as fuck.

This has been hard for me to understand, so I know it’s probably hard for some of you.

How can I love dresses and skirts and bright flashy things, and not be a girl?  How can I have a vagina and these incredible boobs, and not be a girl?

Because those things don’t pertain to gender.  Gender is separate from all of that.

“Some genderqueer people continue to identify partially with one gender, others do not. What they share is a deep, persistent unease with being associated only with the binary gender assigned to them from infancy—apart from that, their expressions, experiences, and preferences vary greatly from individual to individual.” (Taken from an article on Slate)

So what does this mean?  What changes?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Now that I’ve realized my feelings all along were because I’m genderqueer what do I need to change to feel more at home in my skin?

Mostly it’s an internal thing.  I feel more at ease knowing I don’t have to be something I’m not. I can just be me.

I have decided to switch to they/them pronouns, however, she/her is still acceptable. She/her mainly bothers me because people are just assuming I’m a girl, because I look “like a girl.” It feels uncomfortable to have society at large assuming I’m female just because of the way my body looks.

My brain doesn’t feel the way my body presents itself.

I’ve realized that you can’t look at ANYONE and assume their gender . . .I mean, you can, because anyone can assume, but the fact is, just because I look female and wear a female body, doesn’t mean my brain is female.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that and accept it.

I don’t expect everyone to understand. I expect there are more than a few people that will refuse to use they/them pronouns, probably quite a few people who think I’m full of shit, and there’s even some people I’m blocking from this post because I’m just not ready to go there with them.

I’m not going to hide this from the general public, and have an internal fight with myself, constantly, just to avoid making some people uncomfortable.

I’m still Tina, I’m still quirky and open and lovable.

I’m not a girl.

And I don’t think I’ve ever been, I just wasn’t ready to be this open.  Not with myself and definitely not with anyone else.

I hope everyone will listen to this part of my story with the same respect and understanding as you’ve all listened to the rest of my story.

And if you can’t, kindly show yourself out.

Part of Self Care

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s really easy to get wrapped up in crafting.  I get to sit in one place and let my creative mind flow, distracting me from whatever else is bothering me.

Distracting me from depression,

from housework,

from showering.

Distracting me from life outside of the safe space by the computer.

I just saw a post from this time last year, and I was in the same head space.  I am able to peek out for small bits of time and clean the house, or go spend some time with some friends, or do self care in other ways.

And because of that, it is hard to recognize how pervasive the depression has been.  I mean, I’m still functioning, so it can’t be THAT bad.

Except I dread leaving the house.  Not as bad as it was, but it’s certainly there.

I have to bribe myself into the shower, a part of depression that no one wants to speak out loud because it just seems incomprehensible to those without depression. It seems gross.

Even brushing my teeth takes focus and effort and willpower.

But I don’t FEEL that bad. I’m still smiling and laughing and finding things to be happy about.

My writing is almost non-existent.  I just can’t find anything to write about. I can’t find a reason to stop my other forms of creativity and put fingers to keys.

Except this is part of self care too. My writing is a big way that I process. A big way that I pull the blinders off and actually focus on what is happening.

My writing is my place to get really real with, not only everyone else, but also myself.

I’m still not sure how to break this cycle. Leaving the house is hard, going to the gym is harder, socializing feels like a chore.

I went for a walk the other night, and when Mickey was going to meet up with me to walk, we ended up driving to Starbucks instead.

It was just easier than the physical effort of being cold and miserable outside.

I remember a time when I couldn’t walk very far. I remember what it felt like when I started walking further and further distances. I remember what it felt like to have goals and aspirations around fitness.

I have no idea how to get that back.

I have no idea what to set as a goal.

I don’t even know if I care, to be honest.

But I am beating myself up about it. While still making excuses not to go.

I guess I care enough to give myself shit for not doing what I know will help.

This shit is hard, friends. Even when mental illness isn’t trying to kill me,

it’s keeping me from living.

 

It’s been too long.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve put fingers to keys.

Tonight I told myself I would write but it took a lot of pushing myself to follow through. As soon as I put in my headphones and started my writing music, I realized how much I missed it.

I’m still fighting this never-ending, low-key depression. I feel better, but I also have to constantly remind myself to do things like, plan dinner, feed the animals, take a shower.

I’m just kind of existing, but at least I’ve been leaving the house again, which feels nice.

It was scary being stuck in the house. I don’t want to go back to that time in my life.

Athena (the new kitten) has helped a lot. She keeps me on my toes whenever we let her roam free. “Nope, don’t do that . . . wait, get back over here . . . don’t climb the wires . . . where did you go, now?”

It’s loads of fun!

But, she’s so sweet and cuddly and falls asleep on my chest when I hold her and pet her at night.

It’s nice that Wonder Woman and I are raising a pet together, instead of just having the ones we came into the relationship with.

Athena is ours.

I finished my holiday cards and they got mailed out today.  Over 50 handmade cards.  It kept me going through my depression and now I’m looking for the next activity to immerse myself in. I’m sure I’ll have another project dreamed up sometime soon.

Crafting is a lifeline during the dark times. It works as a distraction that I can one-mindfully involve myself in. It feels more productive than my time spent playing video games, although I do that, too.

I still don’t have a whole lot to write about.

Things just . . . are, and that’s the hardest time for me to write.

It’s easy to write about the extremes.

But it’s been too long.

I’m glad I put fingers to keys again.

 

But I’m not suicidal.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m not suicidal.

I haven’t left the house since Friday.

I’ve been stuck in my own head.

Yesterday was DBT and

I

. . .just

. . . couldn’t

. . . quite

make it out the door.

. . .

Who am I kidding?

. . .

I couldn’t even change out of the clothes I’ve been wearing for 4 days straight.

. . .

I’ve cleaned the entire house.

I’ve cooked meals.

I’ve crafted and created and even sold things.

Everything within my safe little bubble.

I’m stuck in my own head.

Who am I?

I don’t want to face the world when I can’t even figure out what the world should see when it looks at my face.

I can’t figure out how the world should know me.

I can’t figure out how important it all is anyway.

And I can’t figure out if I want to share that part of my story because I don’t know if I even want it to be a part of my story.

If I ignore it will it just go away?

If I speak it will it become more real?

There’s a lot going on up there in my head right now.

I’ve let myself run out of one of my medications because I need to leave the house to get it.

My body is revolting against me. It doesn’t help that I ate the ever forbidden potatoes. I know better. I know they cause inflammation and inflammation is my worst enemy. HS (Hidradenitis Suppurativa) can go straight to hell and right now it’s taking me with it.

My brain hurts.

My body hurts.

And I’m not suicidal (but that won’t last unless I get my mood stabilizer back on board).

There have been a few random passing thoughts.

“If you were dead, this wouldn’t matter.”

But they are easily brushed aside.

Right now I’m stuck in my head and I’m stuck in a very ouchy body and this body and this brain are trapped inside of the house, because there are far too many steps between these 4 day old clothes and making it out that front door.

And it’s easy to say, I’m not suicidal, so I must be fine.

Because when “suicidal or not” is your measuring stick, almost anything looks good enough.

But this isn’t good enough.

Not even a little.

But digging myself out of my own brain, when every move hurts and my body wants to explode, is a very slow and painful process.

And every process starts with the first step.

I guess I should take the meds I never took this morning.

How is it already 7pm?

How is it already Tuesday?

But I’m not suicidal.

 

 

 

It really is this good.

This is a Really Real Relationship post.

I’m all about radical vulnerability. Being wide open, and raw, and honest.

And I realized that while I’m showing all of the sides of mental illness and widowhood, it feels like I’m offering a Facebook version of my relationship.

And that’s not who I am.

It’s not what I’ve ever meant to do.

And honestly, I want people to know that things CAN be good, even with shitty mental health and a shitty traumatic past, and even with a relationship that’s just, almost, perfect.  I deserve good things, and things don’t have to be perfect to be good.

Wonder Woman and I have a really great relationship.

Over two years in and we haven’t had a single fight. We haven’t raised our voices at each other or said harsh words to each other even once. We apologize almost immediately if anything has even seemed passive aggressive. We even apologize if we’re grumpy or in a bad mood.

We really are sickeningly sweet.

But.

We have hard talks about hard things. We have some areas of our lives and our relationship that are really hard to work through. We are polar opposites in a few areas.

We are gentle with each other about those areas. We are respectful. We are understanding.

And, we get help with navigating those areas from a couples therapist, because the view from the outside is much clearer than the view from within.

It helps, and we always come out of our sessions with ideas about how to move forward, together.

I think there’s this view that couples therapy is for couples that are falling apart.

That it’s a last resort.

It was one of the first things we went for when we realized we were hitting road blocks in some areas of communication.

Don’t get me wrong. We have GREAT communication. But some areas are just HARD when we are so different. Different histories, different traumas, different preferences.

Different ways of communicating.

So I’m writing this post for two reasons.  One, is because I realized I was offering this “facebook reality” of my relationship, and I just don’t like that. And two, is to help with normalizing couples therapy, because really, what’s wrong with getting an unbiased outside perspective?

Vacation

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But also a bit of Mental Health thrown in there.

We never took vacations.

It’s one of my big regrets from Parker and I, but also from Kidlet’s childhood.

There was the year we traveled from Maryland to Florida to see our families.  That was our only family vacation in the 8 years we were together.

I think once we came from Florida, to Maryland, tagging along with my mom.  I guess that was a vacation. During that trip we managed to go over to DC for part of a day. Parker had never been to D.C. and she absolutely loved it.

A few years later when we were living in the homeless shelter up here, we met her family in D.C. for the day while they were on their vacation.

But vacations weren’t really on our radar.

Keeping the lights on, paying off the rent before the eviction notice expired, stretching the food stamps by making it to the food pantries on time. Making it to countless doctors appointments.

Those were the things we worried about.

But not vacations.

Wonder Woman and I leave for vacation tonight. I can’t count the number of overnight trips and vacations we’ve had in the 2 years we’ve been together. This is a belated anniversary trip, something we wanted to do, but couldn’t quite afford to do in September, so we were able to put aside some money and make it happen a bit late.

We’re going to a cabin in the mountains. The mountains are Wonder Woman’s place, she loves the cold. Mine is the beach and the warmth.

We’ve done lots of beach trips, it’s time to hit the mountains. I guess I can bundle up for a few days.

We have a fireplace in our cabin, and there are fire pits in the resort.

I guess I can handle that.

I still have great memories of going to the beach over Christmas on our first vacation. Hanging out in front of the fire together.

I look forward to repeating that.

I still feel weird taking vacations. I still have to remind myself that I deserve nice things. That I deserve happiness. That I deserve to travel and have these experiences.

That I deserve stability.

I’m so used to struggle that it’s hard to settle into stability.

It’s hard to feel comfortable with packing for a trip. It’s hard to avoid overthinking it.

It’s hard to find the balance between “bring absolutely everything you might need” and “if you forget something you can just buy it.”

It’s hard to find the balance between over planning/letting anxiety win and waiting for the last minute/letting anxiety win.

It’s hard to find the balance between being thankful for what I have now, and grieving what I didn’t have then.

We never took vacations.

I deserve this life.