This year, this decade.

This is a Really Real “Life in Review” Post.

It’s the end of a year.

I figured, just like so many people do, I’d reflect on the past year of my life.  Think about my accomplishments and what I’d like to take with me into next year.

This year I started giving myself permission to take up space.  Physically, verbally, emotionally. I realized that I was allowed the space that I need. Some of the time I was able to hold the mindset that everyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off. I want to get better at that mindset next year and stop trying to shrink myself to suit others.

This year I survived one of my more intense series of suicidal thoughts. I got myself help. I saw that I have a huge community of people who support me, both virtually and locally. I want to be better connected with that community.

I learned that even though I feel like I’m outside of a group, it doesn’t mean I actually am.

I found joy in sending snail mail. Making well over 100 cards in the past 3 months has been so wonderful, and even better was knowing that it put a smile on someone’s face. I want to keep going, and maybe start selling my work.

I think one of the biggest things I learned this year is that it’s okay for things to be stable. It’s not the calm before the storm, it’s just the calm, and life can really be this way without worrying about what comes next. I want to carry comfort with stability going forward.

I learned to live in the moment. That fully accepting what is happening is the first step to finding solutions. Fighting against a problem only takes energy away from solving it. I learned that not being okay, is perfectly okay. That as long as you don’t make a problem worse, you’re doing the right things – you can always build from there.  I learned that it’s okay to ask for what I need, that it doesn’t always mean fighting.

It’s the end of a year.  One of the better years of my life.

It’s the end of a decade.

It’s hard to wrap up the past decade because there’s a giant split down the middle.  The before and the after.

In the before, there was a lot of love, and a lot of trauma, and a lot of resilience, and a lot of struggle.

In the after there’s a lot of growth, a lot of falling (metaphorically and physically), a lot of healing, and a lot of pain.

It’s the end of a decade. The hardest in my life.

I wrote a big long thing trying to list out the good and the bad of the last decade, but honestly, that’s not all that helpful.  The past decade (and the ones before that) got me to where I am now, and now is what matters.

Now is where I want to spend my time.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Dear Ghost

This is a Really Real Window Post.

Today is Parker’s birthday.

I feel like I should write a big commemorative post, except, I’m not sure what I would say.

This is the 3rd birthday she hasn’t been here to celebrate.

The birthday before she died, she was in the psych unit and we had to celebrate a week late. That same day she broke her ankle.

She was in a cast from having ankle surgery 6 months later when she died.

Connections.

I find that my memories are fading quicker than I’d like them to. This is why I hate not having pictures. (Take the damn picture, get in the damn picture.) I have a bad memory to begin with and now there are very few people who still discuss the memories we had. Memories fade. Something I never believed when people first told me after she died.

She would have been 41 today. But she’s forever frozen in time.

We don’t get to make new memories.

We don’t get to fight and piss each other off.

We don’t get to joke about how 41 is worse than 40, because now she’s OVER 40.

We don’t get to make each other happy.

We don’t get to share a life.

I still miss her even though my memories are fading. I still miss getting her balloons or cheesecake each year.

I miss seeing the smile on her face the year that Draven came home from his dads on her birthday. She felt like it was the best present in the world to have him back after 2 months.

She loved him.

She loved me.

And we loved her.

Today we are supposed to be celebrating her. Showering her with love. Filling her feed up with birthday wishes.

She acted like she hated the attention and hoopla while at the same time wondering why she didn’t get a whole birthday week.

Her mom would be baking her a cake the next time we went to see her. I wonder what her mom does to commemorate the occasion now. I miss her too.

Today is my ghost wife’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Parker!

I don’t feel like fighting.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

CW: Suicidal Thoughts and talk of Suicide.

“I don’t feel like fighting this shit today.”

That’s the text I sent, from my bed, as I cancelled my plans to go to the gym. I had been in bed for too many hours to count, only getting up long enough to take the dog out and feed her.

And eat. Eating through emotions just reminds me that everyone was right, that surgery would have been detrimental.

I need a shower.

But my bed feels so inviting.

I can still see happiness just outside of my reach. I know it exists, I know I have a chance of getting back there.

That makes the suicidal thoughts not as scary.

But I’d still be quite content with a bullet through the head. I hear the gunshots in the back of my mind. I know it’s a wild, random thought. I know that it is better than something that’s within my reach.

There’s a reason I don’t want guns in my house.

Ever.

I don’t feel like fighting this shit today. I don’t feel like being skillful or effective. I don’t feel like doing what works.

It feels like too much effort. It requires energy I just don’t have today.

So today I spend all day in my bed. Getting up to sit at the computer in the dark.

I don’t know where this came from. This sad anger that wants to explode out all around me.

I don’t know why I never release this storm on Wonder Woman. I’m thankful I don’t. I never want her to see that side of me.

I never want to make her feel like that.

I never want to be that person again.

So I push it down.

I still wonder where it came from.

And then I remember. I need to buy a cheesecake in the next few days.

Kidlet and I are going to eat cheesecake together over video chat.

For Parker, on her birthday.

The third birthday she’ll never get to celebrate.

11-4-78.

A date I recited over and over again after she died. Everyone needed that identifying number.

A date I couldn’t remember for the first 3 years we were together.

A date I will never forget.

A date she took off of Facebook so I’d have to remember it myself.

The body has a way of reminding me when these dates are close. No matter how much I try to avoid the inevitable crash beforehand, it always catches me. The days before are always harder than the day of.

The day of, I can celebrate the life that was, the days before I just remember that the world goes on without her.

I wonder how many of the people around her still say her name. I wonder how many stories have been forgotten. I wonder how many people still keep her alive with jokes and tales of days past. I wonder how many people still remember her.

I wonder how many people she influenced. How many people still carry a bit of her in their lives and in their personalities. I wonder how many life changes her death put in motion.

I wonder how many pictures have been taken because she’s no longer here.

I don’t feel like fighting this shit today. And that’s okay.

Today I sit with it. Today I remember her. Today I mourn what was lost, what will never be.

Today I keep her alive through my tears and my anger and my sadness.

Tomorrow I keep her alive by fighting with everything I am.

That was scary.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Friday night and Saturday morning were hard.

I came home from therapy and just crashed emotionally. I was grumpy and I was exhausted.  I tried taking a nap. I woke up and couldn’t drag myself out of bed.  I had a concert to go to that night and I stayed home instead.

I’m really upset that I missed that concert.

I ended up spending 15 hours in bed while my brain was silently screaming.

“No, no, no, no, no! I don’t want this to be back again!”

I woke up Saturday and wanted to cancel the gym, wanted to cancel my date that night. I wanted to cancel life.

Suicidal thoughts quietly passed through, barely noticed.

“No, no, no, no, no! I don’t want this to be back again!”

I could feel the depression wrapping its arms around me.

Luckily, I’m surrounded by amazing people. Lots of people. Wonder Woman, who lays with me in my sadness. Mickey who gently tells me we’re still going to the gym. My girlfriend who tells me we can stay in instead of going out. People who give me space, surround me with love, and offer encouragement.

I went to the gym even though I didn’t want to. I went to my DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) group. I felt the weight lifting off of my shoulders. I started to feel like maybe it would be okay.

I still went out dancing that night. I allowed myself to have fun, even though my brain still isn’t completely back where I’d like it to be.

I kept moving forward.

And now, things seem a bit brighter again. I see the good in life.

I’m glad this passed quickly, and I didn’t get stuck. I’m thankful to be surrounded by such amazing people.

I feel good!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I feel good.

I. Feel. Good.

I’m euthymic.  I’m not manic, not depressed, not suicidal. Even the passing ideations are leaving me alone.

It’s been over a month since I’ve had a mood episode.  I almost never get a whole month free from this shit.

It’s nice to see who I am when I’m stable. When I can separate my personality from my diagnoses.

I keep questioning, am I actually hypomanic and just not seeing it? But I’m still sleeping, I’m not spending every last cent, I’m not cleaning my entire house in a frenzy.

Yeah, this is the middle ground that I spend my life looking for.

The medication comes with side effects, but I’m learning they’re worth it for the benefits.  I actually had a pdoc appointment where we didn’t change anything.

This is one of a handful of times that’s happened in the last 7 years.

Life is good.

Life. Is. Good.

It’s nice to see that. I can see both the positive and negative aspects of my life right now, and I’m fine with them. I’m working to change the negative where I can.

I’m not sure there’s a huge point to this post. Maybe it’s just that I share all of the negative with everyone and I’m making sure to share all sides of the story.