Tag Archive | grief

Anniversaries…

In the last year, I have been examining people and their motivations, including my own. It hasn’t been any easy process, but I’ve felt that I have needed to get more nuanced in the details of human behavior. I want to understand where things have gone wrong in my own relationships, and what I could do to not fall into that trap again.

Here are some things I have learned:

I have a hard time letting go.  I love hard and try hard.  I miss you a lot longer than I should.  Long after you show that you don’t deserve me.  Long after you walk away and replace me.  I’m working on this, but I’m not really sure how to stop caring about someone.

Your ego got in the way of a successful relationship.  I really just want to be treated well; with love and respect.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  I don’t want to be subjected to your narcissism, or your contempt.  I don’t want to have my boundaries belittled or trampled.  I don’t want to be raged at when I offer a suggestion or advice that you don’t agree with.  I’m not questioning your masculinity (although if this threatens you this much maybe I am); rather I just think a partnership includes a two way dialogue and input.

I want a man who acts like a man.  I don’t want to have to make all your appointments for you, or remind you 4,743 times to pick up something from the store before you actually get it.  I don’t want to have to worry about whether you filed your taxes or paid your bills or if you ever put money into savings.  I want you to take care of your shit, and do your share of taking care of the shared shit.  I want to let go of the reins sometimes, and leave things in your capable hands.

I want to be surprised sometimes.  I want a man who plans the weekend getaway, who gets the groceries for camping, who takes care of the arrangements so I don’t have to.  That’s been a rare thing in my life.  Too rare.

I need to trust.  That’s been the hardest part of this journey of mine; the disintegration of my ability to trust.  When your words don’t match your actions.  When you caused my tears yet you do nothing to try to make them better.  Trust issues are the death by a thousand cuts.  I sometimes wonder if I will ever trust a man again.

I want to hear the truth. And I want to hear the apology when it’s needed too.  I don’t accept you turning it back around on me and blaming me for your behavior.  I’m certainly not perfect, but I do apologize when I have been wrong or hurtful.

My therapist said that the best deceivers can keep up the facade for about six months.  That’s probably about right.  It’s so discouraging to think that by the time you even start to see someone for what they are, you may have wasted a half a year.  I don’t have a half a year to waste every time.  Every half a year I waste is a smattering of gray hairs and worry lines.

We always want to believe that the one who went away… still longs for us.  But chances are they don’t.  You may cross their mind in a season of unease.  Hard times always make us reflect.  But when they’re engrossed in a career, family, life in general, they aren’t thinking about the person they left.  Remember this when you find yourself wasting precious time on the ones who walked away.  They walked away.   — Alfa Holden

I’ll keep trying to get better at letting go.  It’s sad that of all the skills I thought I would need to know, this one is the one I need most.

 

 

 

Choose Kindness

This year has been the holy hell of years.

For me, at first it was the the losses.  Losing my horse, relationship and friend within 6 weeks of each other in the middle of the worst part of the lockdown last spring.  It’s been the isolation.  The loneliness.

At the beginning of the pandemic, these were the things that were getting me down.

But lately, it is something else entirely.  We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  People should be filled with hope.  It is spring; the light is back and the weather is better.  But I’m struggling…  I’ve been thinking a lot, trying to figure out why.

Lately, it has been the absolute vitriol that emits from the mouths (and fingers) of people who once were (or at least seemed) kind and reasonable.  It’s the disregard for people’s feelings; it has turned into hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  It’s the not knowing anymore who you can trust; it’s best to say nothing rather than cross someone.  It’s the lies, the twisting of facts and the misrepresentation by meme…

I see some of my friends’ social media posts laced with profanity, name-calling anyone who might disagree with them.  I see other friends using an opposite tactic – the I’m so enlightened/morally superior and I just can’t understand those morally inferior peons that believe something different.  It’s tiring.  It’s draining.  The only thing I know is that opinions are like @s$h*l&s; everybody has one and they all stink…

I wonder if people think about the fact that you might someday need that person who has a different viewpoint than you.  Maybe they have an in at that job you really want.  Maybe they own that horse that your daughter really wants to ride.  Maybe they can pull a few strings to get your husband that oncology consult…  Why napalm the bridge?  Maybe kindness really is the best policy. It used to be that you helped your neighbor.  Now it seems like you first ask them to fill out a 5 page questionnaire to find out if their opinions align with yours… When did we stop being kind?

If it is draining for me to see so much hatred, I wonder how tiring it must be for them to carry it in their hearts.  And I tell you, I am exhausted.  Like about to go take a Vitamin D supplement and an Iron pill exhausted.

Please people.  What happened to lifting each other up?  What happened to straightening each others’ crowns?  What happened to the Golden Rule?  Listen to hear and learn, rather than to respond.  This world won’t last very long if we don’t stop trying to tear each other down.

As for me, I’ll keep trying to claw my way back to happy.  It hasn’t been easy.  I haven’t been ok.  There are days when I feel so let down by people that I want to give up and move to an off-grid cabin in the woods.  I’m not quite ready to give up though…

“She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.” ― Donald Miller

COVID Diaries: Day 365

That’s it…  We’ve hit a whole year.  A whole year of disrupted life; isolation, worry, and all the other things that have gone along with COVID.

On this day last year, we were sitting in my employees’ office, making last-minute plans to work from home.  Sending telecommute agreements to managers to have their employees sign, assigning cables and peripherals for Surface computers.  Testing Microsoft Teams for videoconferencing.  St. Patrick’s Day was the last day that I was in the office on a regular basis.  The official lockdown in Washington was announced on March 23.  Although I have been in to work since then, it is for a day at a time, once a week at most, but generally a day every couple of weeks. 

I mourn everything that has been lost since then, and I have struggled mightily at times.  I haven’t had a real vacation in that time, as I am not a fan of staycations.  I’ve had a few days off here and there, but it isn’t the same as getting out and fully decompressing.  I long for a flight to a far away town.  I long for a road trip to a National Park.  I think I just need to book something soon. 

I continue to believe that COVID has been a huge boost for the early retirement plan.  With nothing to spend money on, I have saved so much!  But I have had a hard time feeling motivated to tackle all the home projects that I ought to do.  Purging all the random crap that I know I should get rid of?  Still not done.  Selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace?  Nope.  COVID has not been the shot in the arm I need to take on these tasks…  See what I did there?  Clearly this lockdown has not made me more witty either! 

Anyway…  15 days to bend the curve and all.  Maybe year two will finally start looking up.

COVID Words of Wisdom: They said I changed a lot.  I said a lot changed me.

How are the rest of you all feeling on this one year anniversary? 

It Wasn’t Real

It is those moments before falling asleep and those moments spent in wakefulness in the middle of the night when I have my most powerful thoughts.  I’m too tired to have my guard up, and it is too quiet in the world to have the distractions of work, friends, home and other obligations.  Whether I like it or not, I am alone in my thoughts.  Lying there, marinating in those thoughts, feels painful and vulnerable, much like writing these words.  Yet, I have to feel it – I have to speak these truths.  The only way out is through…

This week I learned that my former love, a man I deeply loved, is engaged.  It hurt.  I cried tears more forceful and raw than I have in months.  I have struggled to move him to the “has been” pile, and push his presence from my heart.  Even though I have long known that I do not occupy his.  He was a Jekyll and Hyde who went from sweet and funny to critical and even frightening.  But I miss the times when he was sweet and funny and caring.

I have long suspected, but never knew for sure, that our relationship wasn’t “real”.  It was real for me; a man who occupied my whole heart and with whom I wanted to spend a lifetime.  Sadly, I realized over time that it was more a game of manipulation for him, rather than love.  Those sweet, funny and caring times were an act.  He sought to control and had no issues with trampling over boundaries.  He reduced interactions to a zero sum game of winners and losers, in which he was the only acceptable winner.

This week I learned that our stories, the ones upon which he framed our relationship, have been recycled for her.  Of course, I only had a tiny glimpse into the new life he has fabricated since leaving me.  I say fabricated because that is how it feels to me.  I know he created a fantasy in which I was placed on a pedestal, and inevitably I tumbled to the ground when he suddenly saw me as nothing more than my flaws, my imperfections; no longer the Madonna or the angel that he originally believed me to be.  It isn’t as though I changed; but his perception of me did…

I’m sure his pattern is the same in his new life; she is perfect – until of course, that moment when she no longer is.  The only mystery is when.  And when the inevitable tumble from the pedestal occurs, I know the pattern.  The critical comments, the questioning, the name calling.  The “fact-checking.”  I wonder if she knows – I imagine not.  I didn’t.

Meanwhile, I struggle to learn to trust again.  I don’t know if I will ever take for granted that a man may mean what he says, or say what he means.  Every word will be analyzed, dissected, and replayed in my mind at 3 am.  I will probably always expect a man to walk away.  Because I’m not perfect, or I have boundaries, or will not tolerate being belittled, or because he found a new Madonna to believe his stories.  I’ll never really know why – I will only know that he left.

As for my former love, I’m left with his stories.  Whether they were truth or fiction – it probably doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I don’t believe them anymore.  I’m working towards building a new story that includes trust, and I hope one day that is the only one I live.

Continue reading

COVID Diaries: Day 328

I’m exhausted.  Like bone tired, even after what I feel like is a good night’s sleep.  I’m burning the candle at both ends because one of my employee positions is vacant, but the work doesn’t slow down, it just falls harder on the two of us who remain. I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel though, as interviews are Thursday!

There’s a cold front blowing in, well right about now, that’s supposed to bring below-freezing temps, high winds and maybe even snow…  I can’t decide if I want this or not.  The snow part – I definitely know I don’t want the bitter cold and the wind!  I guess it’s fine as long as the power doesn’t go out…  Aforementioned interviews on Thursday and all…

I need a break in a bad way, but the combination of the workload, plus still not being able to go anywhere anyway keeps me trying to buckle down and wait it out. Who else is feeling this way?  Do you have any brilliant ideas to break up the monotony?

Last Friday was two years since my dad died.  Most people don’t remember the day specifically, and I suppose you wouldn’t, but I dreaded it for weeks ahead of time.  I was working, so it wasn’t as hard as I feared, but the days after got progressively harder for some reason that I can’t really explain.  Yesterday was the hardest – low, low energy…  I miss him so much still.

I have an meeting with my financial advisor next week to see how I’m progressing towards my early retirement goals.  After my horse died last March, I put extra money to my retirement fund, because, well, horses are expensive.  I’m excited to find out what that means in terms of the long game.  I literally cannot wait until I can retire!  COVID and lockdown has certainly put that into even sharper focus for me.  I’m ready to really enjoy what I’ve worked hard to build.

COVID Words of Wisdom: “How do you know if a man values you?” You wouldn’t even be questioning it.  –Unknown

 

2020: A Year in COVID

It has been a long, strange year.  That might be the most positive spin I can put on this COVID year…

Usually my year in review sums up my year of adventure, accomplishments and trials.  With the lockdowns, adventure certainly took a back seat, and I found myself reliving more past experiences than living them in the present.  And the trials…  Oh, the trials…

The year started out so promising!  After having surgery at the end of 2019, I was healing and feeling better than I had in a while.  I took a weekend trip to the Washington Coast, and visited Cape Flattery, the northwestern-most point in the lower 48, and walked the beaches at La Push and Olympic National Park.  Although I was moving very slowly, I did manage some walks that could be considered hikes, with plenty of stops to rest during and after.  The King tides that weekend made for a spectacular chance to see the awesome force of nature, and we had a front-row view from a cabin on the beach.  Who knew that that cabin (located on tribal land) would be closed in March and remain closed even now.

At work things went a bit haywire even before COVID, and I ended up spending several months working on projects I hadn’t planned for.  Even now, one large project is still on my plate.  I’m happy to be valued, and glad when I can do some work that stretches my mind, but 2020 provided a bit more than my fair share.  I look forward to the day I can spend more time focused on my regular duties.

In March came the first wave of lockdowns.  My last day working in the office (other than a handful of days here and there) was March 17.  Since then my coworker-cat Cora has been by my side at about 3 pm daily, demanding her early dinner.  Let’s be real – she would be happy if I would give her two or three dinners each day, but she would no longer be able to walk!

But March also delivered another blow.  My sweet horse Biz got sick in early March.  Fever and lethargy.  I drove home early from a trip to California for days of IV fluids, heavy doses of antibiotics and other care.  He seemed to be improving, but at the same time, at 32 years old, I knew his time was short.  I had even asked Tracie, the woman who owned the barn, if he could be buried there on the property, because I just couldn’t accept the alternative that exists for horses. On March 25, Biz went outside on a sunny, spring day, enjoyed the day in his paddock, then died at about 3:20 pm that afternoon.  He lay down in his stall after being brought in, and was suddenly gone.  Even though he was 32, and I’d been expecting this day for years, it still tore me up.  After all, he’d been in my life for over 30 years.  Longer than most of my friends; far longer than any romantic relationship.

I got a bit lost after that.  Locked down, working from home, drowning in COVID related mitigation planning, and lonely.  So when my boyfriend and I got into a fight in early April because he hadn’t followed through on things he said he would do, I was sad and frustrated and wanted a few days to think about things.  Instead of a few days, he left for good.  Not without taking the opportunity to lecture me on every single thing he thought was wrong with me though.  Because that’s how you show someone how much you love them.  And you do all this on Easter – for good measure.  Talk about being kicked while you are already down.  April truly is the cruelest month…

I wish I could say May was an improvement.  I was starting to see the light again, starting to feel like myself again.  The morning of May 15, I woke up thinking I hadn’t talked to my friend Roger in a while and I needed to text him.  COVID had put our beer nights on hiatus for a few months, and I was missing them.  I put it off, because I got busy with work, and then in the early afternoon, I got a call from one of my former employees.  She was calling to tell me that Roger had died that morning in a fall.  He was too young and too special to be gone so soon.  I sobbed…  If you are thinking about contacting someone you care about, just do it now.  Don’t wait – not even a couple of hours…

So three major losses in less than two months.  I really struggled this spring.  I spent a lot of evenings walking, alone, feeling numb.

Summer was a bit better, because I had the chance to hike and get outdoors, things I need so much in my life.  Plus the lockdown had eased somewhat so I could go out to dinner and happy hour with friends outside.  But I still felt lost.  So I decided to give therapy a try.  I think she was honestly surprised when I tallied up all the losses I’ve experienced over the last few years.  My dad, my horse, two close friends, the dream of having children.  And those are only the biggest ones.  I’m not very good at talking about the things that really bother me.  So it was a challenge to have to open up and get real about things.  That has been hard.  And how do you assess whether or not it’s helping?

I’ve cried more in the last two years than I probably have in the last 20 years.  Honestly I’m not a big crier, but the tears have fallen, long and hard.

I think my year might have been easier had I been able to travel more.  Travel has been cathartic and healing for me.  To stand in front of the glacial lake, to see the ancient ruins, to read the interpretive signs and think about what happened at this spot so many years ago.  I put the car bed back in my Honda this fall, but my September camping trip coincided with thick, choking smoke from horrible wildfires.  Thanks again 2020.

I did have some amazing fall hikes and felt real connections with new friends and old.  That was a silver lining.  I have tried to appreciate the blessings that I do have.  Other than the isolation and loneliness that COVID has brought so many, I have not been affected in any real way.  My family and friends have not gotten seriously ill and my job is secure.

I’m slowly feeling like I’m regaining my footing.  It hasn’t been fast or easy, but I’m getting there.  I certainly won’t miss 2020, but I have things to look forward to, and I’m feeling hopeful.  My wish is that all of you find joy and happiness in the New Year and that 2021 gives us a bit more to be thankful for.

 

COVID Diaries: Day 81

Day 81.  81 days since I’ve been working from home, and not seeing people in real life much.  81 days since thrift shops, restaurants, events, travel, camping, and pretty much anything that brings me joy has been canceled or closed.  81 days – I could have gone around the world and been back home with a day to spare – according to that book at least…

We finally got notice on Friday that our county was approved for Phase 2 – a limited reopening…  Dog groomers, hairstylists, retail and restaurants at limited capacity.  Some places reopened Friday or Saturday – some are waiting a little while, just to see.  Camping is open, but smaller communities still don’t want you to come visit.  People are angry, and they have every right to be, about a number of issues.  With all the protests around the country, I wouldn’t be surprised if COVID case counts go up dramatically this week.  Will that mean a new round of closures?

In the last 81 days, life has gone on, as it always does, but not always in the best of ways.  My horse died in March.  My relationship ended in April.  A close friend of mine died suddenly in May (not of COVID-19).  I’ll admit it, I’m sad.  I’m lonely.  I’m tired of not being able to go do much.  I have been feeling a writer’s block lately, even though I want to write.  There are only so many books, puzzles, and yard work you can do before you are just sick of it, and want something new.  I’ve been going for a lot of long walks, but my routes are feeling monotonous too.

My heart is screaming for a vacation.  The beach, the desert, the mountains, the countryside… Anything but a city…  I’m trying to be patient.  I’m trying to appreciate the fact that I’m saving money, saving vacation time, and making great progress towards my goal of early retirement.  This too, shall pass…  When this is all over, I have some catching up to do!

I Chose You

I have never been a person who has done much fighting back.  I’m generally pretty quiet; an introvert, someone who doesn’t make waves.  A rule follower.  Mostly I’ll listen, and assess, or detach to protect myself, but I won’t typically engage.

You can say a lot to me without getting a reaction.  I have mellowed over time; I used to get more worked up, but now I have more of a tendency to go numb.  Conditioning over a lifetime I suppose, and a career where you have to make some people unhappy.  I rarely say much back in these situations; I tend more towards thinking up all the brilliant things I should have said later…  But quiet is likely better anyway.  If it will come to the same result, it seems the path of least resistance at least gets it over with more quickly.  Maybe it isn’t the best strategy; I’m sure that can be debated until the end of time.

Perhaps that gives people the impression that I’m meek.  That isn’t it.  I have simply learned that to engage is rarely productive; by the time you are done lobbing whatever negative opinion you have of me, there isn’t much that I will be able to say to change your mind.  Your hurtful words come from a lifetime of your own hurt, and aren’t likely to truly be about me.  I have learned that lesson more times than I care to remember.  When your goal is not to help but to hurt, the message has lost its meaning.  And whatever I have to say in response won’t be heard, or received, or considered.  I will be talking to ears that hear but cannot listen, and ears that cannot listen cannot change or understand.

My choice is to disengage.  To say I tried, but I could not overcome.  To say that I loved, but it wasn’t enough.  To say that I still love, but I had to let go.  The only one I can change is myself.

The last words I ever wrote to you were, “I wanted us.”  Don’t you know I would have followed you anywhere?  It seems that you got so busy fighting your imaginary rivals, that you forgot that I had chosen you.

 

Happy Birthday in Heaven Biz!

Today would have been Biz’s 33rd birthday…  I still miss him, of course, but it doesn’t hit me as acutely now, a few weeks later.

A few days after Biz died, our local Humane Society started a fundraiser.  For a minimum donation of $20, you could have a portrait done of your pet by one of their volunteer artists.  The catch?  You get what you get, as the “talent” of the artists runs the spectrum, and your portrait would be randomly assigned.  In other words, it’s all in good fun and for the animals!  I made my donation, and emailed a photo of Biz that I like.

This is that photo.  I took it of him in February 2018 when we were standing outside the vet clinic waiting for them to get ready to do his dental work.  He was a bit on edge, and it was a cold, slightly foggy day, but his expression was so regal!  Even in his old age – he was 31 in this photo – he was still a beautiful horse.

Biz, looking regal before the sedative…

I received my finished portrait last week, and I was overcome with how good of a job she did!  I am so impressed at how well she captured his likeness! His curly forelock and mane hair, his white star that got bigger as he became an elderly boy, and even his slightly hanging upper lip.  It is perfect!

I’m beyond the moon to have this memento of my boy.  I hope he’s having fun playing beyond the rainbow bridge.