Broken Glass(es)

Broken Glass(es)

I did something today, something very simple, that actually holds great significance. I ordered new glasses. Big deal right? Yes. Yes it is.

I had my yearly eye appointment to get my contacts. I wore my glasses there because I was actually totally out of my contacts. While I was there they had me read the chart with my glasses on first. That didn’t go so well! The doctor said, how old are theses glasses? I hesitated but replied, “9 or 10 years old.” He didn’t ask why but said, “wow that is surprising, especially since your prescription has gotten so much worse.” I quickly changed the subject, we finished the exam and then I went back into the main room to talk to the ladies about ordering my contacts. One of them pointed toward a section of glasses and told me that insurance would pay for two pair of glasses in that area. I didn’t say much but humored her leading and looked through the glasses, finding something wrong with each of them. I finally gave in and let her choose the ones she said would be perfect for me. I then sat down across from her as she was processing my order. At this point I am wearing contacts that the doctor gave me. I look over and see my glasses sitting there. The lenses are so scratched up I don’t know how I saw out of them at all. One side of the glasses would close in but the other side would not because of my famous superglue repair jobs.

Get to the point already Joni! 😂😉

The reason I hadn’t replaced those glasses is because I was wearing them the day that my husband and I were in that horrible accident that claimed his life. The craziest thing is that they were one of only a few things that made it out of that vehicle with me.

I remember going off the road and hitting the ditch, closing my eyes and bracing for impact, and then…the scene before me as I opened my eyes. This isn’t the post to spend too much time describing that scene but I will say, because it’s relevant, I saw destruction. I saw a seemingly endless amount of broken glass, among other things. I look to my left and sure enough, there beside me I see those glasses, surrounded by destruction but just sitting there.

So, I hadn’t realized it but I have held on to them for that reason. I couldn’t let go of them. Until now. What may seem small to most was huge for me.

I don’t let go of Jonathan because I let go of those broken glasses that I found amidst that broken glass. I hold him in my heart, forever. As I continue to pick up the broken pieces of my heart and allow God to piece them back together, he is with me. I’m moving forward, without leaving him behind.

And guess what?!! My vision is improved….

The Pain is Worth the Cost

The Pain is Worth the Cost

The pain of losing a spouse and watching your kids grieve the loss of their parent, brings a sorrow that I can’t quite put into words. It’s unlike any feeling I could’ve ever even imagined.

It is said that “it” gets better in time. Just give it time. Time heals all wounds. As well meaning as the one saying these things might be, it’s just not true.

“It” doesn’t get better and it most certainly doesn’t go away. But, you do learn to live with it. It becomes a part of you. Just as the person you grieve leaves an unexplainable void in your heart and life, the impact they had while living leaves an imprint in who you are. As you carry the pain that their loss leaves, you also carry them with you.

Deep grief is the price you pay for deep love. It is always worth the cost.

The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore

The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore

When you don’t fit where you used to, you grieve that like any other loss. But, if you don’t fit anymore, you don’t. Move forward. We aren’t supposed to have to fight for a place in people’s lives.

I was talking to one of my long time friends today and we were talking about regret or being able to go back and take certain things back. I told her that every little bit of our lives along the way, bad and good, make up where and who we are today.

When you feel like you don’t fit where you used to, it can take you to a really low place. It hurts! The thing to remember is; it’s not your fault, don’t stay there. Move forward knowing that God will place you where you fit, perfectly.

Is There Really a Choice?

Is There Really a Choice?

I’ll be honest, there have been several times where I truly wanted to throat punch someone who said to me that happiness is a choice. I often thought to myself, “how in the world is it as easy as saying that I choose to be happy when I feel so bad?” I have even told myself several times, “just make a decision to be happy!”

Ugh, if only it were that easy!

It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that I was going to be happy, the weight of the reality I was facing and the feelings I felt weighed more in comparison to that choice.

I finally realized though, it really is as simple as making a choice. I can wake up each day and entertain all of the feelings I am faced with, all of the thoughts floating around in my head or, I could just tell myself that none of those things matter and it was going to be a good day. Now, I might have to tell myself that very same thing 20 times in that same day but, the attitude I was choosing was much better than the alternative!

Long story short, here is what I tell myself now: “Joni, you either trust God or you don’t.” So yeah, it’s not easy but I am making a conscious decision every day to put my trust in the one who actually has a say in what happens!

One day at a time. Sometimes, one hour or even, one minute at a time.

Bringing Light to Dark Places

Bringing Light to Dark Places

How do you start your day?  Coffee?  Shower? Excercise? Excited to get your day started?Hitting snooze 15 times? Dreading what is ahead?  To be perfectly honest (and this makes me cringe to say this) each morning starts with dread; the moment I open my eyes.  At least, it has been that way.  I would wake up and feel this terrible feeling come over me; a heaviness that I couldn’t explain if I tried.  I would drag myself out of bed, only because I had to because of the kids, and that feeling stayed with me; all day. I felt sad and anxious, overwhelmed and tired; SO TIRED.  I was walking through my day in an absolute fog.  It has been like that longer than I would like to admit.

So, if you can at all relate to what I described, you can understand what it’s like to struggle with grief and/or depression and anxiety.  If you can’t relate, I am telling you, you have something to be extremely grateful for!  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Whether what you are feeling is passed down from family, is seasonal, is situational, is complicated grief, PTSD, and so on… It’s a struggle and it is a very real thing that sometimes has a negative sort of stigma attached to it; which is beyond unfortunate.

Thinking on this subject, especially that part about the negative stigma, I started doing research for statistics out of curiosity.  I first started looking at numbers surrounding people affected by mental health and they are staggering!  I dug a little deeper until I was stopped at the part that just broke my heart.  Suicide.  This is the reason that the stigma needs to be changed!  Mental health is a very important thing and if not taken care of, those with poor mental health could end up in a situation where there is no turning back.  Some of the statistics I read about were relating to those with mental health issues that are left untreated.  Those numbers were just plain scary to me!  Why??? I can only guess that it’s mostly a result of unnecessary embarrassment or shame.  And guess what? I realized that I get it!!!

It took me a long time to realize that I needed help for my anxiety and depression.  Once I knew I needed help, I still didn’t pursue i.  I can’t answer why for everyone else but I can open up and be honest about myself; that will be in my next post.

Some statistics about suicide:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America
  • 44, 965 (Americans) commit suicide each year
  • For every one completed suicide, there are 25 attempts
  • On average there are 123 suicides each day
  • It is expected that the 2017 statistics will show a significant increase
  • Children committing suicide is becoming more prevalent

This cannot be okay, it just can’t!  This is what I call a crisis.  My heart is burdened to get involved somehow but I’m not sure what that will look like.  For now, I can openly and without shame, talk about it.  We have to talk about this and bring light to those dark places so that more people will feel like they can get the help they need!

Wishing time away

Wishing time away

This was written by my beautiful (inside & out) 15 year old daughter who has been through way more than any child should have to go through. She has a gift. It spoke to me and where I’m at in this season of life. It was too good not to share. Hopefully it encourages someone else.

Time is precious. I think about this so frequently, practically all the time. I’ve had horribly sad times, and unexplainably happy times. One thing I’ve realized is, no matter what life is like in this very moment, cherish it. I’ve spent too much of my life, sulking in sadness over the most little things you can think of. For example, looks, people you can’t control, things not working out my way. Horrible things happen in life, and it can break a person. I’ve experienced this, but nothing can ruin your life. No matter how hard the situation, you can always try and find happiness again. Find happiness in little things. If the weathers nice, if you reconnect with someone, a good workout, waking up in a good mood, talking to god, anything. Time flies by, and I don’t want to live in regret by being sad. I’m tired of thinking about all of the negatives or having a fear for the future. God is in control of my future, and everyone else’s. Everything has and will happen for a reason, there’s no need to fear anything. The whole message is, be thankful, be blessed, pray. Everything will be okay, no matter what circumstance, be happy. Life is way too short to live in sadness.

SANGRY

SANGRY

Yep, that’s right, I’m sangry. As a widow, there are lots of days that can’t be adequately described. So what do we do?? We just make up words! So yeah, I’m in sangry mode. I’m sad. I’m angry.

Sangry started on Sunday awhile back as I was thinking back to what Sundays used to look like… I woke up beside my best friend. The day revolved around God, family, and church. We were together. The four of us.

I got to thinking about what a big part of our lives church was. It was our history, our present, and our future. We had so many plans. I had so many hopes for the future. I could see how it would play out. We would do it together.

Absolutely everything changed on June 19th, 2012 when he was taken from us.

Where does one go from there?? We went from a family of four to a family of three. I went from being a wife to being a single mother. My kids went from having a father to being fatherless. In an instant.

As difficult as it was to walk back through those doors without him, I kept my kids in church every Sunday that I was able. For me, it felt like going to the funeral again. Every Sunday. I was trying to “do the right thing.” I was trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. Trying is the key word. What was “the right thing” was no longer clear. Normalcy no longer existed in our world. After 8 horribly difficult months, I realized that there was no way I would be able to move forward while being there every week. There was too much history there.

I found the Lord there at the age of 18. I was only visiting; watching my (then) boyfriend play the drums. A year later he asked me to marry him there; from the stage, in front of everyone. That same year we were married there. Shortly after, we had two children and we raised them there. After making it through some very difficult times, we renewed our vows there. And then… His funeral was there. 

I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t be there anymore.  It hurt too much.

I didn’t want to leave but I genuinely felt like I had no choice. I was torturing myself trying to “do the right thing.” It was painful and I felt completely out of place. So, we started going somewhere else. It was still difficult, just not in the same way. Close to a year later I decided it was time to go back. By that time I had felt much further removed than before I left. But now it was more about conquering something. Walking back into something so that I could say that it didn’t get the best of me. And that’s just what I did.

I won’t go into all of the reasons surrounding leaving for good nearly 9 months ago, but I did. I will say that it was extremely hurtful to watch what “should have been” my life, play out in front of me; a different cast while I look on from the outside.  For those of you who don’t know my history, my husband was the Praise & Worship Leader at our church.  When I thought about the future, it entailed him evolving in his ministry while I did the same with mine.  But, we would do it together.

I did some “church hopping” for awhile but never landed anywhere permanently. And now, I rarely go. Don’t worry (to any of you that gasped with **insert reaction/emotion here**) I haven’t gone to the dark side. I’m no more of a sinner than anyone sitting in a pew on Sunday. I’m just a little lost right now. I still love God. I still pray. I’m just trying to find my own way. I’m trying to examine my heart and my hurts and then search for something real.

My post wasn’t meant to be about church. I only intended to use it as an example as it was such a big part of our lives for so many years. The point is that everything changes when you lose someone that was such a huge part of your everyday life. I’m reminded of what I wrote in 2014:

“When you lose someone that was so much a part of you, you lose your identity too. Learning to live again is so difficult. You don’t know your place, where you fit anymore. Everything is different. Nothing will ever be the same.”

Here I am almost 5 1/2 years later and I’m still so lost.  Don’t get me wrong, I have done a lot of work; I have come a long way. But, I realize that there are still so many things I need to work through.  The sadness, most likely, will never go away although I look forward to it lessening.  The anger shouldn’t last if I allow myself to feel and work through it; eventually accepting things as they are.  But for now, I’m sangry and I’m okay with that.