Day 173/365 Normal Day

Since Dad died in January, I’ve been big on planning things to look forward to – I took a trip of sorts (sometimes two) every month from March onward.  Having something to which to look forward seemed to help alleviate some of the misery I was feeling (albeit only temporarily).

As in…

I feel really depressed…but in two weeks I am going to Savannah with friends. Everything will be awesome then!

And it was...until I inevitably had to come back to my regular life.

I hit some deep lows after those trips.

Then there was the summer –

The girls and I were entirely without a routine, with lots of fun adventures together. It felt as though the entire summer was a break from reality.

The fact that this is the first fall I can remember in which I have not been longing (not even in the slightest bit) to get back into a routine, tells me just how much I have wanted (needed) to escape from “normal”.

Normal without Dad is just not normal. 

Yet, here I find myself, faced with the reality of normalcy – and I am trying not to bottom out yet again.

So far, I’m okay…

Optimistic, even.

Here’s what I’m going to try…

Instead of making big plans* in order to distract myself, I’m just going to work on making today good.

Tomorrow I’ll work on making tomorrow good…and on and on.

I’m going to survive this fall and winter not by skipping ahead, but by slowing down. 

I have had this verse sitting on my dresser for over a year now. I immediately loved it when I saw it, but frankly the sentiment is a difficult one to subscribe to when you’re grieving.

When you are doing your best just to tread water, blessing the day before it departs is just…not happening. Well, unless you are saying, “Thank God that’s over!”  but I’m pretty sure that’s not what Ms. Iron intended.

I’ve realized there is no magic period of time after which I will be healed. I am forever altered; never again completely whole.

Therefore, waiting for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow to begin to find peace and joy in daily life….well, after a while that seems like a waste of a whole lot of todays.

“Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

 

 

{*Definitely making plans to visit Lynette though. I miss her so much.}

 

 

Day 154/365 Summer’s Dichotomy

Eight months ago, my dad passed away unexpectedly. This was very much the impetus for this very blog…processing grief, and finding gratitude.

I’ve noticed an interesting dichotomy with regard to this summer. I almost feel guilty writing about it because in some ways it feels wrong and even perverse, but in other ways it makes perfect sense.

You see, I have had a wonderful summer. Perhaps the best one in recent memory.

How can that be? 

I’ve turned it over and over in my mind, and I have come up with some reasons. I thought I would share them with you…

I have stopped stressing over the small stuff. It sounds cliché, I know. Perhaps when you’ve been through a situation – or two – which have challenged you, you come to understand your own strength. You know what you can handle (and that it is quite a lot).  Or maybe, it’s just that you are better able to recognize what measure of “upset” is really worth your energy…and what isn’t.

I have been (as you may well know) writing daily. I am expressing myself – getting it out. Not everyone is as comfortable sharing their feelings as publicly as I have. If this is the case, I might suggest keeping a journal. Expression leads to release…or as Monica would say, “What gets revealed gets healed.” For me, it has been especially helpful to hear from so many of you with whom my writing resonates. Thank you so much for reaching out.

In writing about many of my friends and family, I’ve been able to practice really seeing them, and focusing on what I love about them. I would recommend this practice to anyone…examining what you love about those you love. It is beautiful.

At the same time, I’ve really practiced adjusting my expectations of other people. Everyone loves in the way they know how, and everyone lives their own life in their own way. Having expectations about how that should look is a recipe for disaster.  Let it go.

Somehow, my love for my children has bloomed more than I ever thought possible. I loved them so much already – I would die for them – but this summer I have wanted to savor them so much more…to soak up every inch of their being. I want to freeze time and keep them close. Perhaps this springs from the fresh awareness of the fragility of life – of recognizing I have no idea what comes next.

I have been unafraid to say NO. If I don’t want to do something (especially socially) I have given myself the gift of saying so. This has been incredibly liberating…and you know what – shockingly, no one has gotten upset! All this time I’ve been afraid of hurting people’s feelings. Guess what – most people don’t want you to do things you don’t want to do.

I have worked hard to create a work/life balance. Sometimes the lines blur when I have an urgent work matter to attend to during family time, or when I’ve had to bring my girls to work with me…but for the most part I have tried to be present at home when I’m at home, and present at work when I’m at work.

I’ve chosen time over money. I’ve opted to work part time this summer. In order to pay people to cover for me at work, I’ve had to rely on my savings to pay my own bills, rather than taking a salary. I’m okay with it.  File that under not stressing over the small stuff, and under awareness of life’s fragility and under gratitude that I have savings!

There’s no greater gift for our children than our time.

I’ve tried new things and explored new places with my children. We are making memories.  I’ve been reminded what a treasure trove those will be for them, many years from now.

I feel more at peace…I think because I’m starting to accept that I am not in control.  It is a liberating thought.

The bottom line is – I’m awake in a way I haven’t been in a while. Not awake in a jittery, nervous sense, but in a….Life is Beautiful sense.

I’m so grateful for everything I have.

I miss my dad every single day and yet his death has somehow made me feel more alive.

 

img_6199

 

 

Day 9/365 – SNAKESKIN

It has been exactly two months since my father passed away, and I have had a very bizarre weekend, emotionally.

Alone for the first time in weeks, I experienced huge fluctuations in emotion – from giddily dancing around my bedroom to Stevie Wonder in my underwear, to bawling my eyes out on my couch.

When I feel truly happy these days it is such an unexpected emotion that I feel a euphoric rush (cue Stevie Wonder). When I actually allow myself to sit in the anger and sadness, it feels like a cracking open.

Holy mood swings.

I messaged a friend earlier and asked her if she thought it was possible that I am actually bipolar. She responded that I am the LEAST bipolar person she knows. (That sounds really funny in hindsight, as if she had previously conducted an assessment of the bipolarishness of everyone she knows). She may be right. I tend to be even keeled to the extreme. I once had a friend spend the better part of an evening trying to force me to “Get angry!” (I never did.)

When it comes to anger, I tend to be measured. I consider what my role was in the situation. I consider what might have led the other person to behave the way they did. I consider whether there is any point in engaging. (I usually decide there isn’t.)

When it comes to sadness, I tend to push it down. I tear up often (whether it be from joy or sadness), but it’s not often that I allow myself to let go and openly weep. Cathartic as I know it will be, the complete release of control in that way is entirely unappealing.

I am open, generous and eager when it comes to expressing love and affection, joy and laughter…but, sadness and anger? No, thank you. I will resist, avoid and shove down those emotions for as long as I possibly can…and I’m finally realizing that may be a problem.

I was not always this guarded. Life has thrown a lot at me in a relatively short period of time. I’ve learned to protect myself. The problem is, despite my controlled response to negative feelings, I still feel them deeply. My skin hasn’t actually gotten any thicker…and I’m growing less and less comfortable living in it.

I recently made an analogy to a friend about wanting to shed my skin like a snake – to peel away everything that was making me feel uncomfortable in my body – the anger, the sadness, the loneliness. He replied that perhaps it is time to do just that.

Wise, indeed.

Except, what I really want is just to get rid of it, this uncomfortable skin – to unzip it and step out, unscathed. I have come to realize, though, that the snake does not just shimmy out of her skin. She does not simply slip it off. She must rub herself against rough surfaces in order to release it. It is hard work. It is no doubt painful, but she instinctively knows there is no other way to be free of it.

I have decided to be grateful for feeling these extreme emotions; these rough surfaces. Without them, how can I ever expect to release this skin which no longer fits?

snakeNew to this blog?  Read what it’s all about here.