Grief

I’m stuck in my grief.

My sweet Dad went home to heaven 6 weeks, 1 day, and 16 hours ago.

And yet the world keeps spinning, groceries get purchased, laundry gets done, and my job continues to expect me to arrive with a smile plastered onto my face.

It’s like I’m walking around in a fog, slightly cognizant of those around me and irritated that they’re unaware of my pain. My heart hurts. I don’t feel happy. Instead, I feel like no one else gets it. Like they expect me to be over it.

I’m not over it. I will never be over it.

My Dad died.

I will never hug him again. I will never spend Christmas with him again. I will never be the same. I am changed forever.

My sweet Dad went home to heaven 6 weeks, 1 day, and 17 hours ago.

Write now

Sometimes being a writer is about as pleasurable as bathing a cat.

I’m referring to my previous post about going dark. Being that vulnerable was awful but necessary. It was how I was feeing at the moment and those moments are often. Hitting the post button after writing that was liberating because I took a risk and had come to a place of confidence in myself that no matter what the response or what anyone thought, I was okay. Writing is humiliating.

I happen to believe that what I write must be the truth, which isn’t always easy. The truth is often difficult for most of us to face. It’s much easier to live in a state of modified truth, telling ourselves what we want to hear and accept. Writing is liberating.

Even writing the first line of this post wasn’t easy. I labored over it for many minutes. Saying I’m a writer is both freeing and confining. Honestly, I’ve spent my life with words – anecdotes, memoirs, stories – swimming in my head. For the most part, I’ve avoided putting them on paper, instead I’ve become a master at finding other things to keep me busy. Writing is exhausting.

It wouldn’t be as frightening for me if I was a writer of fantasy. My brain doesn’t lend itself to fictional characters, mythical creatures, or imaginary friends. I only know how to write about experiences with complete honesty. Mostly complete honesty. Writing is terrifying.

I’ve been known to embellish a bit, sometimes being told that I was exaggerating. Fortunately for me a friend came to my rescue and explained that a good storyteller must spiff up their version of a story in order to make it more enjoyable for the listener or reader. Writing is difficult.

Now I know that I must be disciplined. I have an obligation to myself to purge the chatter in my brain once and for all. I have set goals and have a need to prove to myself that I am capable. I am hoping it will be much like milking a cow. Like the milk, my words will be rich and delicious. And like the cow, I will be relieved to have expressed it all.

Writing is humbling. Writing is risky. Writing is necessary.

Conversation

I found myself caught in the middle of a conversation tonight. And it was a win-win lose-lose situation.

The conversation? Mine. By me. Including only me. Am I the only one who does this? Do you ever have conversations with yourself?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have dual personalities or multiple personalities or some mental defect. (Although some may disagree.) But I find myself having conversations like “you know you should be eating salad instead of chips and salsa!” Or “shouldn’t you just go to bed and try to sleep?” And then there are the arguments. “No! I don’t want to exercise! Yes, I know I need to cut back on sugar. But dark chocolate is healthy, even if it’s enveloped in a cookie!”

And most recently, “what do you have to offer? Do you have value? Is it too late to contribute to society? Are you willing to let a Lupus diagnosis from 20 years ago define you?”

No dual personality, although I suspect – no, I’m certain! – that there is a 25-year-old, beautiful, confident, intelligent woman with a body that has no hail damage, stretch marks, frown lines, age spots, or wrinkles inside of me that’s begging to get out. A woman with a gift.

Either way, it’s a win-win or a lose-lose and sometimes a win-lose situation.

Am I alone? Is this normal for the over 50 empty nester mom who is trying to reinvent herself? Not just reinvent, but remember! Remember the girl I was when I was 18 or 21. That girl! Confidence. That girl! Nothing to back up said confidence. All she had was a belief that she deserved more. That she had a gift. And that girl hadn’t lived long enough to have fear. Fear of rejection, fear of disapproval, fear of trusting. That girl came from a small town where she believed she had something to offer. That girl had the “big fish in a small pond” mentality.

And then, Life happened. She began to view life behind the curtains. No longer was she a viewer, she saw what went on backstage. Behind the scenes. If you’ve ever been to a Broadway show, you sit in the audience and you are entertained and all is well. Lines are rehearsed and remembered and repeated the way they are intended. As a member of the audience, you have no idea what goes on backstage. The chaos. The confusion. The stress. The meltdowns. The forgotten lines. And the realization that This. Is. Live.

No retakes, no do-overs.

Is it too late? Should I put a stop to the conversations I have with myself? Or do I let the world determine my value? Am I too old? I’m over 50. By the world’s standards, am I over the hill?

My brain says “give it up.”

But my heart says GO. PUSH. You have VALUE.

Is that wrong? Is that ego? How does someone recognize their gifts without being perceived as egotistical?

When I was 16 I believed in myself. I believed I had a gift. I wanted to be on a stage making people FEEL. I wanted to entertain, for people to experience laughter, sorrow, empathy.

If it sounds egotistical, I ask for your forgiveness.

It truly wasn’t about elevating my ego, it was about the ability to make people feel something. Even if it was at my own expense. I used to say I wanted people to laugh, even if it meant laughing at me!

We have been given an opportunity to start over. To begin a new season and write our own chapters. Part 2 of our life.

Should I listen to my heart? Or should I be realistic and recognize that statistics indicate that I’m on the downhill side of life?

And still, the conversations continue. Should I post this blog? Should I keep my inner thoughts to myself? Do I really want to know what people think?

Should I press the button? The “POST” button? Knowing that once it’s out there, it’s out there forever? Am I strong enough to handle the critiques?

Pressing the button before I lose the courage or talk myself out of it…

Breathless

You’ve heard the expression “falling off the wagon.”  I’ve done that at least a thousand times when it comes to dieting.  My weight fluctuates like a seesaw – up and down and I never know when I’m going to get bumped off.

Falling has become a characteristic trait of mine – one that I’m less than proud of.  Two years ago I took a spill down 15 steps into our basement at 5:00 am on a Sunday morning.  It wasn’t my fault.  It’s was Meow’s fault.

Meow is our 10-year-old cat who is extremely picky and very vocal.  She embraces her name.  And she has weight issues.

We live in a home that has a basement and that is where we keep the litter box.  The basement has a door that stays closed but has a cat flap that she can use to go do her business downstairs.  And like I said, she is carrying a little extra poundage around her waistline which had caused her to be somewhat fearful of going through the swinging door.

To remedy this, she began pushing open our bedroom door at about 5 am every morning, planting herself next to my side of the bed and then meowing.  Every 5 seconds – MEOWWWWW – MEOWWWWW until I would get up and walk downstairs, open the basement door and turn on the light so that she didn’t have to squeeze herself through the cat door and she could see where she was going.

But the morning of June 8th, 2008, when I reached inside the door to switch the light on, I missed.  I remember looking at the coffeemaker and seeing that the time was 5:35 am, but my memory stops there.  The next thing I know is that I’m face down at the foot of the stairs, it’s pitch black, and when I tried to use my arm to push myself into an upright position it’s impossible.

Still quite foggy as to what had happened, I at least knew that if I wanted help I would have to make it upstairs to the first floor where my cell phone was located.

I don’t know how long it took me to get up those stairs.  But I made it and when I did, I found my phone and called Tom, who was asleep  in our bedroom directly above me.  The only problem was that he didn’t answer.  I thought about dialing 911 but I hesitated because I didn’t want them crashing down the entry to rescue me.  And I wasn’t wearing cute pajamas, I was wearing an old t-shirt of Tom’s and a pair of pajama pants that were too short – nothing I would want the fire department to see me in.  So I did the only thing I could – I climbed the second flight of stairs.

By the time I got to the top, I was delirious from the pain of having my arm do pirouettes and strange contortions, but in addition to delirium I was mad.

The time was now 6:45 am.  One hour and 10 minutes to get from the belly of the basement to the second floor bedroom.

Needless to say, my elbow was shattered and I’ve had 3 surgeries to repair it.  And I can’t even brag about my scar because the wrinkles in my arms cover it.  Bummer.

Which brings me to Monday morning, Tom’s day off.  Yesterday.

I had an appointment for 2 root canals and when I woke up I had already decided I didn’t want to go.  When you know that you’re getting ready to experience great pain, you don’t necessarily feel like jumping for joy.

After 20 minutes of anxiety and battling with my brain as to what I should do, I decided to stretch and do a few exercises to get the blood flowing.  I have a big blue ball that I use to stretch my back and do sit-ups, but typically I wait about an hour after I wake up before I start.  But yesterday morning, I didn’t have time to waste, so I just grabbed my blue ball and reclined, arching my back like a bridge…

What happened next is still a little bit of a blur.  I remember looking at the ceiling and then everything around me spinning before I hit the ground.  HARD.  Yes, it was only about an 18 inch fall, but it knocked the breath out of me!  I haven’t experienced that since I fell out of a tree when I was 9.  The only difference was that when I was 9 I thought I was dying and this time I thought I’d broken a hip, was suffocating, and in an instant my life flashed before me and I saw my children explaining to their friends that I had died from falling off an exercise ball.  And I was mortified!

Even though I wasn’t getting oxygen to my extremely small blonde brain, I remained calm and tried to call out to Tom for help.  He was probably less than 15 feet away from me, but he was in the kitchen and couldn’t hear my gasps for help over the roar of the coffee maker.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, I managed to get enough oxygen into my lungs to get his attention.

“Honey, can you please come in here and help me get up?”

He walks into the living room and asked the obvious, ridiculous question, “What are you doing on the floor?”

To which I reply, “I fell off the ball.”

We didn’t make eye contact.  Because I KNOW my husband extremely well after 26 years of marriage, I knew that once he determined that I was okay, he was trying to remain composed and keep from laughing.

“I can’t breathe, I got the wind knocked out of me and I’m sure my hip is broken,” I said in my most pitiful voice.

“Do you need mouth to mouth or are you just trying to get out of your dentist appointment?”  he asked.

Yeah, right, I purposely fell 18 inches off an exercise ball so I could get out of going to the dentist.  If I wanted to get out of a dentist appointment I wouldn’t do something that lame.  I would do something far more dramatic like chopping off a finger or my entire leg, but certainly not fall off an exercise ball!

All in all, I’m fine.  I have a bruise on my derriere and although I haven’t been to bed yet, I have a feeling that I’m going to wake up with some sore joints.

I gave my hubby another small memory to file away in his brain in the folder marked, “Now look what she’s done!” but more importantly, he took the exercise ball away from me.  Dog gone it, I’m grounded from exercising!  How sad!  Bring me some double-stuffed Oreos – celebrate good times, come on!