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.

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.

The right kind of gay for this.

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At some point in the past two years, between Kidlet, Mickey and I, mostly around fashion. “ I’m the wrong kind of gay for that” started getting thrown around.

Mickey and I were shopping for makeup for her niece… “I am the wrong kind of gay for this shit”

I would ask Kidlet for fashion advice (seriously… when you are dressing to impress other people, you have no fucking clue what looks okay). “Mom… wrong kinda gay for this”

I’ve started settling in on my style. It started with pink everything and then I found more and more of what fit me exactly.. the kind of shirts and skirts I liked, etc. Now I’ve found a style of makeup that suits me….

It turns out I’m exactly the right kind of gay for this…

Except I prefer the term Queer, it fits better because it’s less restrictive.

Not what you think . . .

There’s a post I’ve shared a lot of times on Facebook, titled “I’m suicidal, and no, it’s not what you think.”  It’s about one of the grey areas of suicide, with constant suicidal ideations that never go away, even when there is no real plan.

I lived in that area for years.

Sometimes things would build up and it got so bad and so loud that I was afraid of myself and afraid to be alone. There had been attempts and there had been self injury. There were hospitalizations. Parker and Kidlet spent so many years walking on eggshells because I was sick.

And then she died and I very publicly pulled my ass out of the depths of hell and got better.

Except, I forgot the part where you don’t get better from this shit. You get stronger, you learn better coping methods, but you may never fully get better. This will always be part of who I am. I may always backslide, and there is always a chance that I may end up back in the hospital. It may even happen sooner rather than later.

Safe is better than dead, I guess.

I’m back in that space where every little thing knocks me back. It’s a constant roller coaster right now. And some days are very deep and very dark. I want them to change meds and FIX ME.

But it’s not a medication thing. It’s not an exercise it out thing. It’s a brain chemicals fucking suck thing and right now I just need to ride it out and try to keep moving forward at the same time.

I scream so loud on here about how much we need to remove the stigma and scream our stories out loud, but one of the hardest things in the world for me today was spending the entire day in bed, dishes piled up, my house in this crazy disorganized state where I left it mid project from this weekend . . . while Wonder Woman came in and out doing what she needed to do. I couldn’t stand that she was seeing me that depressed, that dark, that done. I wanted to tell her to get out and not come back till I was my normal level of crazy. She wasn’t supposed to see me this way. I wasn’t supposed to be this way any more.

I am petrified of this space I’m in. I’m petrified of backsliding to that person I was . . . I’ve said so many times “I want Parker back in this world, but I do not want the person I was back.” and right now, I feel like that person I was.

But at the same time, it’s also that whole “I’m suicidal and it’s not what you think.” Because I do still want a tomorrow. I don’t want to keep doing this, and I hate who I am when I’m like this, and I hate how I feel when I’m like this, but I don’t want to act on it either.

I still want a tomorrow, even if it means that there will be more tomorrows that feel like this.

Hopefully I can keep remembering that even in the middle of the fog that closes in during the worst of it.

But for now, the dishes are done again, and I ate for the first time today, and tomorrow will hopefully feel a little better.

What Doesn’t Kill

So, here’s the deal. I’m not going to be one of those people that say God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle. Because, seriously . . look at my life.

However, I was one that said this phrase, a lot. But, each one of these things that kept hitting me, kept making me more of the me I was meant to be. And then, after I recovered from each major thing I would look back and say I wouldn’t change a thing because it put me where I am today, and I’m right where I am meant to be.

Now, before I say this next phrase, please realize.

I Want Parker Back. I want my wife back. There is NO denying that.

However. That situation made me who I am and put me where I am right this second. So no, a year ago, I wasn’t already strong enough, because I wasn’t who I was meant to be yet. If everything would not have happened I would not be where I am this second.

And I’m right where I am meant to be.

And I love me. And that, is an amazing feeling.

One Year Ago Today. . . A Firefly Was Born

Losing Parker was such an inconceivable idea that in all of my over thinking, over planning ways, it was ONE thing I had never considered. Parker and I were so strong as an us, that I had never considered a tomorrow without her in it.

I had thought about what would happen if I lost a parent, and how I would react to that. It’s one of those things we expect to happen unfortunately..

For a few years, Draven spent 3 months at a time living in Maryland at his dad’s, and due to him one day turning 18, I’d considered a time when he would not be in my house every day.

But, for the larger part of 8 years, I had never once considered waking up and rolling over without Parker beside me.

We were not perfect. From the outside, we often got comments that we looked like a fairy tale, and parts of our relationship absolutely were. We fit, and we were meant. When you put two people with similar diagnoses that close together, it is either going to be great, or it’s going to be horrible. We were pretty great. We understood it, and all of the parts of it. When things got rough we rode it out together. We took care of each other in ways that not many others would. We saw our weaknesses as also being our strengths. It took a shit ton of work and the people we were when we met, were not the people we were at the end. Some of it good, and some of it bad.

Those who are closest to me right now have heard about aspects of our relationship that I’m viewing through the lens of grief and I’m thankful that I get moments of clarity that I can see that the lens is putting a difficult view on it. I _loved_ her. Every single solitary, pain in the ass piece of her. Every bit of her dual sided self. And you know what, she adored me with every bit of her being.

This amazing woman who is no longer with us made the decision to sell almost everything she owned. She even gave up her BOOK collection . . and not just any books either. In order to get on a bus with 2 duffel bags and come to Maryland, to marry my crazy ass and move into a homeless shelter.

She had a place to go in Florida. But we couldn’t go together. I said I’d come up here and get established and she could follow. But she wanted to come together.

I miss her. I miss who she was, I miss who we were together.

We used to say, “Where have you been my whole life” “Becoming the person you fell in love with”

And the thing was, we fell in love with each other over and over and over again because we kept growing and kept becoming new people together. And sometimes we’d get stuck and we’d hang on for dear life to each other when that happened. And unfortunately, I didn’t realize her grip slipped.

I miss her.

I said early on . . .that her death could never be in vain. I thought I meant that her suicide had to prevent other suicides. That it had to be some grand cause to change the world. I thought I was going to go on a crusade to fix everyone.

I didn’t realize that her death did prevent at least one other suicide. Her death did change the world. And I didn’t fix everyone. But her death has made a huge start in fixing me.

The day Parker passed, I wrote in a message “Now I know how important my degree is. Now I know how important the crisis text line is. She lost her battle, mental illness took my Love, it doesn’t get my life, it doesn’t get another fucking life.”

That day I realized that survival was no longer an option. I either had to stand up, or I might as well lay down beside her, because that’s where the path was leading. I have grown more in this past year than I had in the previous 20. I have achieved more than I have ever in my life.

I finally feel like I’m going to make it, but at the same time, even typing that line brings me to tears because it took her dying to make me realize I don’t have to.

I cannot help but mourn her being gone this past year. As much as I started building myself up to celebrate my achievements weeks ahead of time, I’ve been crying for those same weeks. But I don’t have to focus on that side of grief.

The other side of grief is the growth. The choosing to live bigger and bolder and brighter. It’s the pink hair don’t care, self saving warrior princess.

Thinking back to May of last year. I had home health coming 10 hours a week. I had a hard time standing long enough to cook, couldn’t cook then clean up the kitchen, could barely sweep a room, let alone the house. I had to stop and take a break when walking up the 2 flights of stairs to my apartment. Grocery shopping required a day of rest before and after. I was diabetic, had severe swelling in my legs. I was incredibly sick, and miserable, and barely living. I couldn’t be alone for any length of time..

In the first days and months after she passed every single thing from getting out of bed to showering to cooking dinner was celebrated with a shout of “gold star” from others in the house. Home health care was increased to 20 hours and honestly I was scared, I think everyone was. There was a lot of fears of what if . . . . . . what if I was next, what if I didn’t make it out alive.

But now an entire year has passed. I fucking made it. I didn’t only survive without my wife, my soulmate, the one person I never imagined living without. I also had a open hysterectomy causing surgical menopause and started with a new diagnoses that causes headaches and vision issues.

And I did more than make it, I’m thriving.

I quit smoking, and I’m more active than I have ever been. I’ve gone from struggling to walk ½ mile, to easily walking over 5 miles. I rarely go an entire day without leaving the house and actively look for reasons to get out multiple times a day. I don’t just sit on the computer all day.

I’ve signed in 158 times at the gym since the last week of August (55% of all days since the day I joined). I’ve learned to set mini goals and attain them, 5 minutes of elliptical was a struggle in April, this week I made it to 60 minutes and now I’m looking for the next goal to push for.

I started school each semester and even though I bombed horribly I did what I had to do to control the crash and burn. Even more amazing for me is that I picked up and tried again the following semester. I’m now on my third try and I will make it through this time.

Last spring I couldn’t go to a doctor’s appointment alone. When the ovarian cyst and then surgery happened I needed people with me. Now I attend them all alone, advocating for myself, and firing doctors regularly who don’t meet my expectations. I’m advocating for myself the way I advocated for Parker, and often more. I found myself a primary care doctor who will push for me to get the care I deserve. I’m taking a step back when needed and not letting medical care become a full time job, I’m prioritizing and not letting it become my life focus.

I’m also healthier than I’ve been in quite some time. This is a mixture of so many things. Not just the activity level but also lowering stress. Having more fun, not spending so much time focusing on being sick and what I can’t do and instead focusing on what I can. I’m no longer considered diabetic, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is getting better. My resting heart rate has dropped 35 bpm into the 70s.

I’m riding local busses alone, I’m traveling out of state alone. I can depend on myself to get around where I need to go. When I realize that I’m beginning to depend on someone else I take a step back and make sure I don’t forget to depend on myself.

I’m setting up trips to places alone, without thinking twice about the fact that I’m going alone. I’m going to new houses with new friends without losing my mind about it being new. I’m planning vacations to NYC during pride weekend without worrying about being in the middle of a big city during a big event. I’m not letting anxiety control my life, I’m dealing with it when it comes up instead of letting the fear stop me from trying.

I searched out and started going to meetups alone, including walking away from ones that didn’t work for me.

While I’m not sure that I’m ready to date, I’ve put myself out there and made a profile on dating sites, mainly looking for friends but being open to options. This allowed me to step back and figure out who I was separate from the “we” that I had identified myself as part of for close to a decade, but, going beyond that I’ve actually met people in person, and I’m developing new friendships.

I’m becoming more confident in who I am and letting myself be that person.

I got on the back of a mother fucking motorcycle and I went sledding.

I’m wearing what I want far more often than not. I spent a lot of years trying to blend in and hide. While I had changed my hair, I was still wearing dark colors and long loose skirts trying to avoid people noticing my body. I am me, all of me, and that’s this big, bright, bold manic pixie pastel goth kind of person. Society doesn’t tell me what I can accomplish due to my size, I leave people in the dust at the gym, so society doesn’t get to tell me what’s appropriate for me to wear.

I have been taking pictures and posting them, and it doesn’t matter how perfect they are.

I realized that I will fail and I will fuck up and I learned how to dust myself off and pick myself back up. I’m learning to forgive myself, I’m accepting that it’s okay to be a work in progress and a beautiful masterpiece at the same time.

I became a Self Saving Warrior Princess.

I miss her. I miss her with all that I am and every ounce of my soul. I miss her laugh and her smile and that little wink she’d do when I was losing my mind and she’d catch my eye when no one was looking. I miss her.

I don’t miss who I was. I didn’t have a choice but to grab this new normal and run with it. We don’t get to go back, we don’t get do overs. I don’t miss the old me, and while I absolutely want my wife back, I don’t ever want to forget what she taught me by losing her battle. I don’t ever want her death to be in vain.

Always and Forever, Forever and Always, In a different sort of way. Miss you like mad fucking crazy my dear wife, my dear Parker.

Thank you for being my firefly.