Tag Archives: Disclaimer

Courting Death

silentI woke up at 1:15am with the words of a poem I wrote back in 1990 on my mind. I haven’t thought of that series of poetry in so many years. Grief is strange. It brings up such seemingly random thoughts. Immediately, my mind started writing. I really do need to get myself out of bed when that happens and just let the words pour forth. Maybe then I’d get back to sleep. Anyway, it seemed such a random thing to bubble to the surface. I’ll share those words with you now. Please keep in mind that I was a mere 16 years old.

Isolated and alone
In a crowd of friends
My smile is forced
I don’t want to pretend.
There’s nowhere to turn
No one seems to care
Just turn around
And you’ll see me there.
All by myself
Always alone
As my heart of warmth
Turns slowly to stone.

I’ve read through that series of poems for the first time in many years. The theme is so much the same of what I am feeling now; the isolation and loneliness. As I reflect back, this is something I’ve battled my whole life. I grew up in a very abusive and dysfunctional home. I learned quickly to keep my silence, to not ask for help, to hide my feelings. I tried to commit suicide for the first time when I was 10. Luckily enough, I wasn’t too smart about it. The rod I tried to hang myself from fell down. I never told anyone. I planned about a thousand other ways to do it, but I never had the guts to go through with it.

When I was in 6th grade, a wonderful teacher (and by wonderful I mean a horribly crotchety woman who should never have been allowed around children) told me that I was “not deserving to be a Group 1 student.” This was back in the days when kids were grouped only by skill level. To me, that confirmed everything that I had been told every day of my entire life. “You’re stupid.” “You’re ugly.” “You’re worthless.” “I hate you.” “You ruined my life.” “I wish you were never born.” Yada yada yada. What did I do that caused her to deem me Undeserving? I refused to stand up in front of the class and give an oral report for a science project. I did the project. I did the research and the work and wrote the paper. I simply would not, could not, stand in front of a room full of people and talk. I had spent 11 years silencing my voice. I was told every time I spoke that I was stupid, ignorant, an idiot, etc. How could I possibly stand up in front of the class and show everyone just how dumb I am? I took the F, and I stopped caring about school.

By the time I became a teenager, I had given up on suicidal thoughts. I wasn’t even brave enough to do that. I didn’t, however, give up on courting Death. I courted Death like a hungry beast starving. I teased it. I begged it. I tempted it. I asked for it. At 14 I met another wonderful teacher (and by wonderful I mean a horribly crotchety man who should never have been allowed around children) who kicked me out of class for being unable to answer a question on history. This was the very day I returned to school after almost a 2-month absence with Mono, being in and out of the hospital repeatedly. Nice guy. He kicked me out of the classroom and sent me to the library to do a report on whatever the foolish question was. I wrote his report. Triple spaced, one very long run-on sentence, ending with “A$$hole.” I gave up entirely on school that very day. Again, he confirmed what I had been told millions of times.

I chased Death with a passion after that. There really wasn’t anyone there to help me. Nobody to notice. Nobody to reach out. I honestly welcomed Death should He finally answer my call. I did whatever I wanted to. To outsiders, I looked like just another stereotypical teen going down the wrong path. To my friends, I was the life of the party. I was the girl that would do anything without apology or regret. In truth, I was a broken child. In truth, I just wanted to die.

I’m not sure why all of this came up at 1:15 in the morning. Something about the synchronicity of the feelings I have today maybe. I’m no stranger to isolation and loneliness. They are like long lost companions come home again. Or more like long lost relatives I don’t really want to visit coming again. I know what they look like. I know how they feel. I don’t really want their company. I find my mind falling back into patterns of days gone by.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about suicide Since. I’ve thought it through carefully. I still couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do that to my children. That’s not say I wouldn’t welcome Death with open arms should He finally decide to claim me. I would. I would go willingly, happily, completely without hesitation. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, but this is me. Unfiltered. This is real. I did warn you this was an ugly journey.

I’m both a broken child and a broken woman. It’s my belief that these pervasive themes that encompass you throughout your life are purposely part of your path. It’s something I have to learn to overcome. There was a time I thought I had. Now I know I learned to think, act, and feel differently, but I never actually overcame any of it. I’ve made my peace with the actions I suffered in the past. I’ve given forgiveness to those who hurt me – for me, not for them. I found a strength through those trials that many people never need. I have to somehow find that strength again. I used to say that I’d been through the worst Life could throw at me and came out tougher because of it. Be careful what you say. Life replied with “Oh yeah? How about THIS?”

So, I’m working on it. Every day. Every moment. I’m striving to find that inner strength to carry me through once again. I’m not going to silence my voice even with words nobody wants to hear. Somebody out there feels the same, and maybe my words will open their floodgates too. I know this blog is followed by some teenagers who may be able to relate to my childhood. I thought about this before writing. Should I share this intimately? I decided (obviously) that yes, I should. I’m not the first to court Death as a child. Neither would I be the last. If you are reading this and are having any of the same feelings I did, please reach out. To me, to a truly wonderful teacher (not a horribly crotchety person who should never be around children), to a trusted adult, to ANYONE. Scream it from the rooftops! Never silence your pain.

Strength in Surrender

SurrenderThis is really hard to do. It’s also hard not to do. Blog, I mean. Getting the words out of my head and my heart. Every night when I lay down to sleep, the words start forming themselves in my head. If I wake during the night – or I should say when I wake during the night, there they are still swirling around. If I had the energy, that would be the time for me to sit down and write. Instead, I let them write themselves and then try to remember what it was I wanted to say later. By that time, I just don’t want to revisit it all. Truth be told, I am sick of this whole thing.

I am sick of having these feelings bubbling around all the time. They are always just under the surface, ready to boil over at any moment. I’m sick of being so profoundly sad all the time. I’m sick of struggling to take each and every breath. Day in and day out, it’s a war against Grief, and I’m losing the battle. I’m sick and tired of fighting it. I’m sick of myself. I’m sick of missing Nolan and it’s only been a half a minute since I’ve held him! I’m sick of talking about the same damn thing every time I write. I’m sick of crying. Dear Lord, I have cried an ocean of tears and there is still no end in sight! I’m sick and tired of this whole thing! I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to spend every moment, waking and sleeping, crying out for my son. I don’t want to keep expecting him to walk around the corner with some goofy look on his face or wisecrack comment. I don’t want to stop expecting it either because that would mean that I’ve absorbed the idea of him not being here. I’m so sick and tired of starting and ending my day in tears. I’m sick of being a puddle of sadness and anger every day.

I’m getting better at hiding all this. I don’t know why I am, since I’ve given myself a Disclaimer, which you can read here (but remember to open in a new window): https://livingbetweenbreaths.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/i-now-come-with-a-disclaimer/ Maybe because I’m so sick of me, I figure everyone else must be too. Actually, I haven’t given all that much thought as to why I’m starting to hide. I’ve just noticed that I am. We are having company like we did Before. We are opening our home to kids and families like we did Before. I will be social and seem fine when you come over. I will laugh with you and joke and carry on a conversation. I will fix you a cocktail and ask about what’s going on in your world. Truth is, I won’t remember what you tell me. It’s not that I’m not interested. It’s that my mind is so filled with white noise that nothing sinks in.

I miss my old life. I miss the old me. I miss easily finding humor in almost anything. I miss laughing a sincere laugh. I miss wanting to go out and do things. I miss smiling. I miss taking all the little things for granted. I miss saying to myself “Oh geez, what were you thinking??”  I’ve buried that woman with Nolan. She’s gone too. Not only do I mourn Nolan, but I mourn who I will never be again. I mourn for the mother Li’l N will never see again. I mourn for the wife that DH has lost. I mourn for the grandmother Baby E will never know.  I mourn for the family that is gone.

I don’t want this life I’ve been dealt. I’m fighting against it so hard that it’s making me wonder if I should simply surrender. No matter how hard or how long I fight it, this will never change. I will never have my dearest Nolan back where I want him. I will never be that spontaneous spitfire I once was. I will never have the family I had Before. What would happen if I gave up the fight? Will I be swallowed whole by Grief and never come out? Will I walk in a haze the rest of my days? Will I simply go to sleep and not wake up? I have no idea. I’m not going to win this war. I think there is a certain strength in surrendering to the things you simply cannot change. This is me, raising the white flag. I give up. I give in. You win, Universe. Do with me what you will.

Things I’ve Learned about Grief

grief

After Nolan passed, I started noticing all sorts of weird changes in myself. We all know the stages of Grief;

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

What I felt didn’t always fit neatly into one of those boxes. It still doesn’t. Grief is also not so easily navigated through one phase to the next. You might typically start with Denial, which I absolutely did and still deal with, but the process is more circular and winding back in on itself all over the place. I’ve spent a great deal of time with Denial, starting from the moment Nolan lost consciousness. I Bargained my way through the next two days he spent on life support. I haven’t hit Anger yet, or at least full force. I’m not an angry person, so maybe I won’t. There was a period, and my Darling Husband might say I’m still in it, where I snapped at him unwittingly. I wasn’t angry at him, but I suppose I had a very short fuse and my compassion took a hiatus.

So, I had all these feelings and odd things going on and I decided to write them down. I left the list on my kitchen table for DH to add to, but he never did. Writing has been my thing, not his, so I understand. I was hoping, however, that it would bring us some common understanding of where we each were. We are polar opposites and having vastly different experiences in dealing with Grief. I can’t speak for him, so these are the things I’ve noticed in me.

  1.  It’s completely and utterly overwhelmingly exhausting. The simple act of opening my eyes feels like too much of an effort. Simply taking one breath after the next is a monumental task.
  2. My mind has become unfocused. It’s impossible to think about any one thing for any length of time. Wandering aimlessly from room to room has become a regular thing.
  3. Every task takes longer to complete. This is probably because my mind is so unfocused.
  4. Food tastes different. It’s like everything has lost its flavor. Life has become bland. (Side-note on this: I have seen people in Grief lose lots of weight very quickly. Me? I eat next to nothing and haven’t lost an ounce. Where is that Death Diet??? Can I not get at least one little bit of  help here???)
  5. This should probably be number 1, but it was number 5 in my notebook and I am copying verbatim. MY LIFE IMMEDIATELY DIVIDES INTO “BEFORE” AND “SINCE.” I capped all that on purpose. A long, deep, dark divide has crossed my path. No matter what comes next, every single thing will be either “Before” or “Since” I lost my son.
  6. Grieving differently than my spouse is very lonely. I need quiet and solitude. DH needs to be even busier than “Before.” Nobody else in the world has the same pain as the two of us. Dealing with it in opposite ways makes it so that we are not sharing. We are not going through this together. We are grieving alone even in the same room. I fear the chasm this has started to create. In all honesty, my marriage was in rocky shape “Before.” The statistics on a marriage surviving the loss of a child are not encouraging. This scares me.
  7. Long car rides are a really, really, REALLY bad idea. There is just too much time to get lost in my thoughts. Those thoughts are never good. Down the rabbit hole you go.

I’ve learned from a class in Bereavement that at the moment of Trauma (yes, it deserves a capital T), more than 100 chemicals and hormones flood into your body to absorb part of the impact. That’s what triggers Denial. It will literally save your life because your body could not handle the full impact of the Trauma. I have to agree. I know I couldn’t handle it. Still can’t. Anyway, it can take 3 to 4 MONTHS for your body to BEGIN to process through all those lovely little helpers. You will likely stay a little numb or in Denial during those months. It is approaching the 3 month mark “Since.” I think about that and go blank. Thank you Denial. It seems we aren’t done with each other quite yet.

I now come with a Disclaimer.

I’m new to this whole blogging thing. I’ll be honest, it’s not something I had planned on ever doing. I have been a journal-writer since I was 8 years old. Writing has always been my way of processing my world. It’s never something I ever imagined I’d share with anyone. Everything I thought I ever knew about myself, the world, life, and the natural order of the Universe disappeared in a heartbeat – or more accurately, with the ceasing of a heartbeat.

On July 18, 2014 at approximately 10:15pm my 14 year old son Nolan stopped breathing. I will get into his story in another post. I promise. This is merely me saying to you, whoever you are (and does anyone actually read these blogs?) I’m here, I have a story to tell and a Journey to share. Before we get too far along, you should read my Disclaimer, so here it is:

If you see me, I may cry. If you talk to me, I may cry. If you look at me, I may cry. THAT’S OK. Please don’t let fear of my tears stop you from being around me. I might also, not cry. We might talk and I will run out of things to say. That’s ok. It’s not you. Seriously. You might be afraid of saying the wrong thing to me. Don’t worry. I’ll more likely say the wrong thing to you. My filters are GONE. If you complain about how your “life sucks,” I’m probably going to point out that your kids are alive. Your life doesn’t suck. My perspective has changed. On everything. Go ahead and say Nolan’s name. I will. I might cry, but THAT’S OK. If you see me out, I probably look like crap. I don’t care about my appearance or what I wear. If you’re lucky, I’ve showered. Don’t judge. I’m using every ounce of energy to just get out of bed. I don’t have any to spare on pretenses. I’m different than I was, and I don’t even know myself well right now. I will probably offend you with some of my opinions and thoughts. Too bad. I will never knowingly say something hurtful, but my Journey is emotional and raw and honest. It’s likely that I will say something that will trigger your own issues. That’s your problem. I have enough of my own.

So there you have it. A disclaimer. A warning. I don’t know where I’m going, and this is not going to be a pretty view.

Reader Beware.