Speak Up, I Can’t Hear You

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve talked before about “shining light into all the dark spaces.”  Often, that’s what writing is for me, a way to shine light into the deep dark areas of my mental illness and remove the power that goes along with hiding it.  It’s a HUGE part of what I believe in.  Removing the stigma by “Sharing my story and speaking my truth.”

Except, when I’m suicidal, the fog grabs hold of me and silences me.  It tells me, if I reach out I’ll be attention seeking, or bothering people with my whining.  It tells me people don’t want to hear that I’m fighting those demons again, for the umpteenth time this year.  It tells me I have to do it alone, quietly, without bothering anyone else.  It tells me no one else has the time or energy to deal with my crazy.

But this is dumb.

The second I share my struggles…

The second I put finger to keys and hit send…

The second I put sound to lips to be heard by another’s ear…

…my pain lessens.  The load is lifted slightly.

It’s almost like, shining light into all the dark spaces, makes those spaces a little less dark.  (Who woulda thought!?!)

But first I have to be able to see my way out, enough, to find my own voice.

Sometimes people are reaching in, and I can’t even find my voice to tell them.

Sometimes I don’t even know what I need to say, except, “Help”, and I don’t know what help I need, except someone to just be there.

I know, when I’m in that space I can totally understand why Parker didn’t speak up.  It’s hard to reach out from within that void.  It’s hard to find my way out of the fog far enough to ask for help.

I think it takes a different sort of strength to ask for that kind of help, to admit to that kind of pain, over and over and over again.

For now, those thoughts are quiet.  I have no doubt that they’ll find their way back at some point.  All I can do is prepare myself to do battle again, and to reach out to lighten the load a bit.

 

Given Up

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And a Really Real Widow Post.

One of those ones that maybe blurs the lines a bit.

Yesterday, one of the people who run the DBT group said, basically, with so much that has been thrown at me in my life, it’s great that I have such a positive outlook, and that I keep getting back up.  A lot of other people would have just given up.

Well no shit.  I only got 2 out of the 3 of us out alive.

That’s not saying that Parker gave up, because I refuse to believe that.  But she couldn’t keep fighting anymore.

People say that my words help them and others.  People say that I’m inspirational.  People say that I’m strong.  People say that I’m doing better than I think I am.

Mostly, I’m just doing everything I can figure out to do to stay, fucking, alive.

Because I know the alternative and right now, out of the family that went through that hell, more of us have lived then have died, and I’d rather not flip the ratio.

What does giving up look like anyway?

Is it even death, really?

We HAD given up!  Parker and I spent a lot of years in a state of giving up.  We weren’t living, we were just waiting for death, not moving forward, completely stagnated.  There was no hope, was no joy, was no reason to keep going but we didn’t even care enough, most of the time, to look for a way to die.

Until she did care enough to look for a way to die and she succeeded.

Which gave me a reason to care enough to look for reasons to actually live.

I hate that it took Parker’s death for me to see how important life is.  At the beginning, I often said that she died so I didn’t, because I was headed down that road.

So, I guess I get what they mean when they say someone else would have given up.  But it’s not really an option for me anymore.  Been there, done that, and now, I’m living for two of us.

I’m carrying the weight of a dead woman on my back because I have to keep living, really living, for her too.

Giving up isn’t an option.

Fighting Hard

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW:  Suicidal thoughts, loose talk of plans, hints at death.

I feel like I’m in a war zone.

One minute it’s quiet and calm and everything is peaceful and fine and the next I’m being bombarded with ugly thoughts that just won’t quit.

Not good enough, never going to succeed.  Never going to make it, what’s the point.

Of course that isn’t what I’m pushing for.

When it comes to my relationship, my wonderful, loving, amazing relationship, I start thinking about running, thinking about how we would both be better off if I just left now, save her the ridiculousness of dealing with me and who I am when I’m like this.

Of course that isn’t what I want.

My brain starts searching for ways out.  Ways to die.  Reasons that everyone would be better off without me in this world.  What’s the most complete way to finish the job.  How can I make sure I end it.  I go so far as to look things up online when ideas cross my mind.   “Overdose on xyz” “how much xyz is fatal” “death by xyz”  I wouldn’t want to leave the job half done.  I think about the note I would leave on the door, telling Wonder Woman to call 911 instead of coming in.  I wouldn’t want her to see my body.

Of course, I don’t really want to die.

These thoughts are my enemy.  I hate that they are there.  The problem is, sometimes I start to believe them.  Sometimes they take hold and I fall down the rabbit hole.  It’s a deadly path.

The less I want to think something, the more the thoughts come.

Sometimes I can ignore them.  Sometimes I can just let them be thoughts, let them pass through without them taking hold.  Sometimes they aren’t even there.

But right now they are loud, and ignoring them feels impossible.  Right now they feel like they are attacking me from every angle and the more I fight the worse they are.  I can’t find my way to accepting that they are just thoughts and just let them be.  I can’t find my way to peace with them because they feel so ugly and so hurtful, and sometimes they feel so true and so real.  They feel so scary and so tangible.  They are so inconceivable and so possible.

And I’ve seen where they lead, I’ve felt the cold, stiff, outcome with my own two hands.

I don’t want to die and yet sometimes I do.

I just want it all to stop.

Monday Question of the Day!

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If you could convince everyone in the world to do one thing at least once, what would it be?

I would convince everyone to do a professional photo shoot.  Photos are so important and no matter how many reasons you convince yourself that you need to wait to be thinner, happier, have a better home, better reason, better clothes, more money, etc.  Just get the photos done.  I’m so glad my fiancee and I went and I really wish my late wife and I would have made the time/found the money to get a set done at least once.

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Flash

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Sometimes the smallest things take me back.  Driving home on mobility today the driver commented on a street near my house that was incredibly steep.  I responded it was no fun to walk it.

Suddenly I could just barely see, over on the sidewalk, Parker walking up the hill beside me, holding my hand, on our way home from the mall.

Lost in a daydream I barely remember finishing my conversation with the driver.

These flashbacks are treasured gifts.   Moments in time that I get to relive, remembering Parker, still breathing, beside me.

I never know when they will show up, I can’t will them into existence.  Most of the images I see in my head are from the few pictures we took over the years, or from that final moment that I saw her, which is forever etched in my mind.

When she shows up in my dreams, she’s often just outside of the frame, I know she’s there but I can’t see her, can’t touch her, often can’t even quite hear her.  I can no longer recall her voice at will.

But sometimes I get this rare gift, and I can barely see, Parker walking up the hill beside me, holding my hand, on our way home from the mall.

Gone Too Soon

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post
but it’s one of those that is
also a Really Real Widow Post.

TW:  Mention of death by suicide.  Mention of suicidal thoughts

I check my Facebook memories every day.

I’m looking for old conversations, or pictures.  Those hidden gems from Parker or Kidlet.  Memories of Wonder Woman and I first meeting.  Signs of my growth.  Patterns of my various labels, mental and physical.

Today there was a note that a friend had sent to me 5 years ago, saying wonderful things about Parker and I, and how we were raising the Kidlet, and how amazing he was.  Parker and I met this friend while we were living in the homeless shelter.  She was a younger girl, sweet as could be, with a bright light in her eyes.

She was going to change the world.

I remember the day, it was only 5 months after she posted the note on my page, I saw people start posting on her page that she was gone too soon, and that they couldn’t believe she decided to go out that way.  I remember how hopeless I felt that she had died, and that it had been so long since we had seen each other.  She lived so far away and transportation was such an issue for us.

Gone too soon.

I thought of her after Parker died.  Wondered if they ran into each other up there.

Parker had just started a college semester.  Just that day her last book had been bought.  She had picked a new major and was excited about becoming an X-ray tech.  We were finally starting to see some light at the end of a very very long tunnel we had been in.

Gone too soon.

When I’m in the depths of my suicidal thoughts, I can’t hold on to the feeling that Parker and our friend left this world before their time.  All I can think of is getting out.

Right now that seems so foreign.  I can’t imagine wanting to walk away.  There’s so much left to live for, so much left to do.  I have degrees left to get, I have words left to type, lives left to change, words left to be heard.

There are sunrises and sunsets that still need to be seen.

But then the clouds obscure my view, and all I can see is the pitch black nothingness.  I just want to escape, just want to make the pain stop, I just want to free myself, and everyone around me, from the burden that is my life.

I have so much love left to give.  There’s so much love left to receive.  I don’t want to walk away.  It’s not my time, it’s not the end.  I won’t let myself be

Gone too soon.

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.

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.

Missed

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Yesterday was the 8th of the month and I didn’t make a suicide awareness post.

I think I missed it by a day last month too.

And the fact is, the 8th doesn’t have the punch it once had and while I still think suicide awareness is important, I’ve stopped watching the calendar like a hawk and I don’t notice the date as often. I don’t even think about it approaching.

My grief is still changing.

It’s becoming more and more a part of me and the punches to my gut are happening less and less often.

While at the same time I ended therapy yesterday by tearing up and saying, “I miss her.”

I think I’ve found other ways to discuss and promote suicide awareness. I think my 8th of the month posts are less important while the subject matter is just as important as ever.

I no longer need to count the months she has been gone, and mark each one with a post. And when I do, the option is still there. I’m just no longer making myself remember the date out of some sense of obligation to her.

It’s not making her any more dead, or any more alive to mark the date that way. It no longer serves me well.

In a way, it feels like the end of something.

And people told me this would happen, told me the day would come, and I thought they were crazy. I guess I should listen to those who have walked this road before me.

She is missed and will always be missed. And that doesn’t change just because I’ve missed a date.