Well Played . . .

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I took the dog out tonight and the yard was filled with fireflies.

Normally it’s a big deal being that Parker was my firefly and all.

But tonight, it was meh. They were just fireflies.

No Big Deal.

It’s kind of where I am with a lot of my grief. Things that meant a lot are no longer as big of a deal. I’m moving forward. It doesn’t mean I’m leaving her behind, it just means the pain is fading. Unfortunately the memories are fading too.

It’s not all good.

But I stood there and watched while the dog was doing the thing that dogs need to do in the front yard. Trying to look in the right spot while one blinked. Catching them just out of the corner of my eye.

And I realized one was getting closer.

And it landed on the door jam right beside me.

And I smiled.

Well played, Parker.

Well played.

What Takes Courage?

Today riding home in Uber I was doing what I always do and yapping away about my day, group therapy and mental health treatment in general.

He asks something along the lines of

“Do you think focusing on your problems helps?”

I explain about getting at the underlying emotions and figuring out what’s hiding in there.  About coping skills and how to distract yourself and that sometimes the focus is on living in the moment and not just in the future with upcoming worries or the past with the problems from then.

I mention that mental illness is just an illness like heart disease and that it takes medication and also symptom management and eating right, exercising, lots of different things to try and manage the illness.

And eventually the topic moves to suicide.

“That’s the cowards way out, if someone believes in a higher power, with enough faith . . . ”  etc, etc.

Well, my late wife was a Christian woman, she loved God, she also managed her illness to the best of her ability, and she still died by suicide.

“Your what . . Oh, I’m so so sorry, I wasn’t saying . . . ”

And the conversation continues.

“You know, it dawned on me, it takes a type of courage to complete that act.  Someone must be in a lot of pain to follow through with that.”

Eventually he asks how long she battled that illness.  I told him, I didn’t know exactly, I knew she had been a teen when it all started for her, but that I’ve been fighting them for at least 22 years, spending the greater part of most of those years fighting against my own brain to stay alive.

And he says . .

“Now, THAT takes courage, battling your own brain for years and years just to stay alive.”

When we got to my house he said.

“You know, you educated me today.  You’re just talking but you changed my mind about this, you educated me.”

When Parker died two years ago I remember sobbing as I typed out “her suicide will never be in vain” and it’s not.  She’s changing lives and changing minds as I speak up and speak out.  It’s hard for people to hear, I see the cringes when I drop the suicide widow bomb, but I also see the people I educate.

Speak your truth.  Let it educate people.

courage

For our future children…

A friend told me to check out her Pinterest for some easy cooking ideas while I’m in PHP.  I hadn’t even looked at Pinterest since long before Parker and I moved to Maryland.  I finally figured out my log in information and realized I was already following most of my Facebook people.  Today I started following the rest of my favorite cooking sites, too.  Finally I started going through my old boards from 6 years ago, the last time I used it.

I found a board I had created, called, “For our future children”  It was filled with pins of cute wooden toys, and 100% cotton clothes, and monkey and frog themed toys, and room designs.

It was from when Parker and I were trying to get pregnant.  She wanted more than anything to have her own bio child because as much as Kidlet was equally hers, she wanted another.  We had a donor and had even tried a few times before she started with the headaches.

And here I am on a trip where there has already been a joke about me coming back with baby fever.

Except I was already hesitant about starting over again when we were trying.  I was totally in it with her, but at the same time, we had an 11 or 12 year old who was mostly self sufficient and left for 3 months at a time to come up to his dads.  I was already starting to enjoy the freedom.  I got my baby fix through doing daycare.

But I wanted to give her the world.

Sometimes I really do question our relationship.  Things got clouded by the horrible circumstances we were in the last half.  It was never easy, but the trauma on top of trauma in 2013 just destroyed who we were and who we were as a couple.

But here I am staring at a Pinterest board reminding me of the hours I spent looking at all of the future things for our child or children that would never happen because one thing let to another, which led to another, which led to her losing her grip.

Today I deleted all the pins, and renamed the board Grief.  I’ll use it to pin all of my articles and blog posts that speak to me.

It’ll be a good way to remember the larger family that never was.

 

Kitchen Floor

Second really real widow post in the same day…..

Sometimes, being a widow, means on a wierdly meaningful day, you end up sitting on the kitchen floor crying in ways you haven’t cried in who knows how long. Sobs that keep coming and restart every time they seem to stop.

Trying to stay quiet because you know your girl is busy in the other room and you do not want her to come check on you anyway, because the tears are okay and you just need that time with ghost wife who right now you hate but you love all in the same moment.

I hate this.

Right now, sitting in my kitchen I can see her sitting across from me, putting things on the shelves when I would come home from the store and couldn’t do it myself.

The outline of memories past, her voice just out of reach.

I. Hate. This.

I don’t want to miss Parker. I don’t want to hurt like this. I want to let it go and “move on” and do all of the things that people say I should be able to do by now.

At the same time I want to shove everyone away from me because while it’s easy to type this across a screen and hit post, the last thing I want is people right here seeing this. Self saving warrior princess, positive Tina with insight and positive things to throw towards everyone is fine, but surviving this, sitting here on the kitchen floor with tears running down my face. Both thanking and cursing myself for making sure the meds are locked up because “those” thoughts are creeping around again.

This side is when I don’t want anyone around.

This is the part where I wonder if I’m loveable and if I’m ready to love. I can’t imagine anyone seeing me here, on the kitchen floor, shattered into a million pieces and wondering just how many more times I’m going to glue them back together this month alone.

The amount of fighting that happens in my brain when I remind myself that sometimes just breathing and waiting and sitting still is what I need to do.

And eventually I’ll pick myself back up, wipe off whatever bits of dried food are stuck to my ass (kitchen floor, remember… it happens, I’m a messy cook) and I’m sure I’ll end up cuddling with my girl and then walking it out sometime tonight.

Ghost wife will still be around for a long long while. Her firefly ass isn’t going anywhere.

And I’m finally starting to feel like Wonder Woman isn’t either. She seems stubborn enough to put up with my crazy ass.

Widowing isn’t for the weak. Damnit Parker. I was strong enough before, I didn’t need this particular set of skills.

Or maybe I did. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Isn’t that what I always say?

I don’t think I’m supposed to be on the kitchen floor.

Guess it’s time to get up.

All Paths . . .

Probably a long post ahead . . .suicide widow post, things I’ve learned, things I forgot, things that I remembered, how things changed . . blah blah . . .

One of the things about being a suicide widow . . maybe a widow in general but definitely my experience as a suicide widow is that my perception of my relationship with Parker constantly morphs and changes.

I loved her. I love her. Anyone who knew us couldn’t deny how much damn love there was and is and will always be.

And everyone knows how much I will stand up and scream from the rooftops about mental health and the wording used around suicide and stigma and all of the everything’s about speaking your story, etc etc.

But, the fact is, no matter what I know logically, emotionally there are so many layers of what has to be processed when both the victim and the person who caused the death are both within the same body.

That’s the long way of saying that one day I see hearts and roses and love, and the next day I see an abusive dynamic that was completely unhealthy, and the fact is, it was somewhere in the middle and at times it was both. We went through a lot of shit, and our way of coping was not always healthy.

That’s the long winded way of bringing me to a memory of the early part of our relationship, and just how much we worked together to meet in the middle of so many things. And how much trauma had changed that part of us.

This Mother’s Day at brunch we started talking about churches somehow and I remembered how when we first met, Parker mentioned how she went to church every weekend with her family.

I actually said out loud. Oh, that’s a deal breaker.

Before that we had talked on the phone around the clock for almost a week. Hanging up the house phones when batteries died to call back on cell phones. But on the mention of church I was ready to walk away because I believed in a lot of things, and that all paths were equally valid . . .but Christianity was one thing I was NOT going anywhere near cause I did not need to be tolerated, been there, done that. I wanted more than that.

Fuck That.

And then we talked more about beliefs and over the next few hours I realized that we had similar beliefs actually. And the first time I went out to Gainesville I went with her to her family’s church. And I felt tolerated.

I told her, I’ll go to church with you, but only when we find one where we are accepted, not just tolerated. And so when we moved to Gainesville I got on the internet and found the website gaychurch.org and we went to a few different churches and eventually I found one that we fell in love with. We were completely accepted there. Kidlet loved it, I got involved, we even helped with the summer program and volunteered on Sundays and were involved with the young adult groups.

When we moved back to Palm Coast I did the same thing and we visited at least a dozen different churches together until we found one that we were both comfortable at. We ended up driving over an hour each way to go to FirstCoast MCC in St. Augustine. We got involved.

Church was important to her. I found a way to make it work for me and she understood my need to find the ‘right church’ even though that meant I researched and we visited a dozen different ones to find the right one. I found the one where we fit, the one that wanted us as part of their family as much as we wanted to be there. Church became important to me. I enjoyed the family and also the insights I gained from the sermons.

When she first said church, I could have just stuck with “That’s a deal breaker.” But instead I looked for the common ground.

I’m glad I didn’t, but I’m sorry that she’d spent so long being tolerated before finding places that accepted her.

This post has nothing to do with church or religion. I don’t want responses to this about how I need to find God again, or how happy people are that she brought me to the church, this isn’t about that. I’m still the same, “All paths are equally valid” person that I was when I met her.

The Mighty – Why We Must Discuss Suicide Openly

This article from The Mighty, along with a bit of my own insight below, is your 8th of the month post.

Why We Must Discuss Suicide Openly

“It’s unfortunate that when an individual tries to express their suicidal thoughts, they are quickly labeled as crazy, psychotic or attention-seeking. Yet once the individual actually takes their own life, they are labeled again as selfish. “They could have sought help” is often heard. What could be worse than saying someone is selfish because they died by suicide, having never known what they were feeling?”

 I have this bridge as both a suicide survivor and someone who has survived my own attempts and fights my own thoughts.

So many of the things talked about in this article are true. The way we talk about those who died vs the way we talk about and to those who are struggling . . .

And I hear and heard both because of who I am. And often the things that were said that are supposed to make me feel better about her losing her battle, make it harder to fight my own. And the things that are said to guilt me into fighting harder make her look like a horrible person because she couldn’t fight hard enough.

And the fact is, we just need to be allowed and encouraged to talk openly. I was able to go to derby this weekend because I knew I had a supportive group around me and if it got bad I could say I needed a break. I even had people asking if I was okay without trying to push me out of what I was doing.

I was able to email my boss and say I’m stepping down hours cause my mental health is slipping and she thanked me for my openness and asked how she could best support me.

This isn’t any different than diabetes or heart disease or cancer. It requires treatment and management and follow ups. And we need to be able to talk about it.

If someone dies from suicide, those left behind need meal trains, and support and comfort, not hushed whispers and “she shouldn’t be saying her wife died like that” ( true story).

I don’t post my struggles for pity. I post it each time it gets bad for 2 reasons. Because for one, it helps me to type it out and be heard.

And for two, I keep hearing how it helps others to see me be vocal. People who didn’t know it could look like this, people who are afraid to speak up. People who are afraid to ask for help.

Parker was the quiet one.

Parker is why we must discuss suicide openly.

23 Months

Widow post , Grief post,

Today is 23 months since Parker died.

We met on 8-8-2008 and were together for two months shy of 8 years, 3 of those were married.

On May 8th 2016 I had no idea that it would be the last time an 8th of the month would make me smile in the same way.

Eventually I’ll stop noticing them, I don’t actually try to notice the date.

I am kind of amazed at how much I don’t remember from two years ago. And also how many things blur.

“Was that before Parker or After . . . . ”

And as a cute side story to that . . . . One of my favorite memories of Parker, Kidlet and I was when we had been together for 3 years or so . . . . it was actually the winter before we gifted her the title of Mother (I know because I remember the house we lived in) and we were discussing something and Kidlet said . . . . “That was Before Parker, so it doesn’t count . .. nothing happened BP, before Parker . . the only things that count are things that happened AP”

Its amazing how much the memory blurs in 2 years. How much you realize doesn’t matter, and what actually does.

I’m actually okay today . . .more okay than I have been in a few weeks.

I miss Parker. I love her and as much as I love my life now, and do not want who I was back, I miss her light in this world.