Purpose N’ Pain

There was a time in my life as a young woman when I felt as though I had gone through more in my life than some ever would in the entirety of theirs. What gave me hope in that was the fact that I somehow, deep down in my heart, believed that God would place people in my path whom I would be able to help. I believed that as I walked through my struggles along this journey, I could be the person for others that I may not have had; that I wish I would’ve had as I was going through something. This hope gave me a sense of peace and it also gave me the strength to persevere and push forward. Hey, why not try to make positives out of the negatives?! Now, don’t get me wrong, that didn’t make the things I went through easy. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have walked through some painful things in my life. I’m just saying that is what helped me make sense of things.

Interestingly enough, that was before the accident I was in that claimed the life of my husband and the Father of my two children. Yes, as much as I thought I had been through before, I had no idea what hell was to come. As strong as I thought I was before, I really didn’t have the first clue what strong was until having to navigate life as a single grieving Mom of two grieving children.

Over time, it became increasingly more difficult to hold onto the “roses and sunshine” attitude of believing that my struggles would be used to help others. As the days passed and I continued the attempt to acclimate to this new life that I didn’t choose, the very thought of that same attitude just made me angry. I had come to the place where I believed that pain must be my purpose in life.

I no longer felt peace in thinking that way. I no longer felt hope. I felt used. I felt cheated. I felt tired. I felt weak. I felt exhausted from trying to be strong. I felt alone!

The journey of navigating through the helplessness that I battled is for another time and another post. But, I will say that I finally got to the place where I was able to think about the way I used to view my struggles in life, in a new way.

This revelation helped me tremendously:

“My struggles aren’t my purpose but, I can take my struggles and give them purpose.”

Don’t be Scared of my Grief

Why are people so scared of grief? 

Why are people so uncomfortable with other people’s pain; so much so that people would rather stay away than actually be there when you are hurting??

I’ve thought about this SO many times over the last five years. For the longest time I have done nothing but make excuses for people. 

But let’s get honest here… 

When someone has a major loss in their life, shouldn’t people be around? Is it that person’s responsibility to reach out and try and get people to be there? Maybe the answer is yes, I don’t know. But you know what?? I think that is not only wrong but it flat out sucks!!! 

Look, I get that people are uncomfortable with other people’s pain. I get that it’s easier for people to assume that the person has lots of people around them and tons of support. I get that it’s easier to just think, aren’t they over it already?? 

Guess what??? When someone suffers a life altering loss, they don’t expect you to have all the right answers. They don’t expect you to fix it. You don’t know what to say?? Let me help you… Just say something! You don’t know what to do?? Let me help you… Just show up! 
And while I’m at it let me help you with one more thing… We don’t get it over it! Ever! 

Taking off the Mask

As a widow and a single Mom to two teenagers, I try my best to keep a positive outlook and show only the fighter in me to the rest of the world. By that I mean the encouraging posts, positive quotes, the articles that inspire me and help me to look on the bright side, and my own writings that usually end with a statement about how I’m going to just keep pushing forward no matter what. I think there are several reasons I do that besides the fact that I genuinely want to be positive and use the things I’ve been through to help others.

  1. No one wants to hear a bunch of negative stuff. I know I don’t!
  2. There is such a thing as putting too much of your personal stuff out there for people to see. TMI people! ha
  3. I don’t want to show my struggles for fear of being judged or to be seen as weak. It’s easier to “wear” a mask and put off the appearance that you have everything under control.
  4. People wouldn’t understand anyway. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t. Until you have been through something yourself you really can’t understand.
  5. This is the toughest one to say and I’m not sure why but here goes… It’s the feeling (true or not) that most people wouldn’t care anyway; at least the ones that you would expect to anyway.

You see, when you have walked this road (mostly) alone, you can’t help but to eventually feel those ways. Quite honestly though, pretending begins to wear on you. Now I am not just talking about pretending with everyone, I am also talking about pretending with myself. Most everything I say comes from a genuine place. I have tried to be strong and push forward. It’s just that while I am doing that, there’s still a reality that is very ugly. There aren’t adequate descriptive words so I will just say that it is heartbreaking, exhausting and painful.

I’m happy to say that for the majority of the last 5 years I have been able to keep myself from allowing anger and bitterness to settle in as well as being angry with God. Yes, there have naturally been some feelings associated with those things but for the most part, they have been temporary; fleeting.

That is definitely not the case in the present. I wish it was different but it’s not. It’s like I can no longer wear the mask or pretend that I don’t have reason to feel those things mentioned above.

As I lay in bed this morning and think about all of the things I am currently dealing with, my mind is racing and going in a million different directions. I think back to what Sundays used to look like and how unfair it is that all of that is but a distant memory now. My heart hurts as I think of how the rest of the world just carries on while we are still drowning in so much hurt, pain and all the struggles that you have to walk through as a result of such a loss. The three of us have to try to live our lives and be a family when we don’t know how to do that without the one who should be leading it.

Here is the conclusion I came to:

You can’t truly work through the hurt and pain until you take off the mask and look it in the face; until you allow yourself to truly feel it. Otherwise, you can’t fully deal with it, put it down and walk forward in life without carrying it with you.

So, I have named the week ahead, “Truth Week.”  I am going to take the necessary time to get real with myself and work through the hurt that I have been pretending isn’t there.  Unless I do that, I don’t think I can move forward the way I need to.  

 

Glimpse of Grief

Silence.

It can be deafening.

Sometimes it’s a choice.

Have you ever been so consumed with your thoughts that you can’t think straight?

Have you ever been weighed down so badly by the weight of hurt and grief that it’s difficult to pick yourself up?

Have you ever been surrounded by people yet had the overwhelming feeling that you are all alone?

Have you ever, although knowing you should maybe reach out to someone, isolated yourself because you feel no one could/would possibly understand?

Have you ever decided not to attend an event, family function, or an invite for the sole reason that you just don’t have the energy to pretend?

Have you ever (painfully) smiled your way through an obligation, all the while choking back tears?

I have.

This is a snapshot, a small glimpse, of what it’s like when you’re in the midst of a battle with grief.

No pretending today.

No positive quotes or sayings. No poems or song lyrics. No encouraging words or insightful thoughts.

I’m going to let that be okay.

Out of the blue, without notice, when you least expect it

It can hit you like a ton of bricks, take the breath from your lungs, knock you down

That is grief, it doesn’t go away

But pick yourself and remember, tomorrow is a new day

Letter From Above

You know I wouldn’t want you to cry, that I always hated to see you sad. I want you to think of me and smile, to cherish what we had. I know it’s been hard, almost too much to bear. But if you would look with your heart and not your eyes, you would see that I’ve been right there. Those nights that you were crying, when you thought no one could hear. I was right beside you, wiping away every tear. When you feel all alone, when you are in despair. Take comfort in knowing, I’ll always be there. I might not be there in body, but I promise that I’m near. My spirit has never left you, you don’t have to fear. Please know I want you happy, cause you were made to smile. You didn’t hear me say it because it was never goodbye, just see you in a little while…

TIME

I wrote that 5 years ago. Although much has changed; so much of that is still the same. 

It’s crazy to look back and see how far I’ve come. 

“They” say time heals all wounds. Does it really??

Most people don’t understand that no matter how much time goes by, you don’t stop loving someone that was taken from you. I didn’t get a divorce. He didn’t choose to leave me. This isn’t something you get over. I shouldn’t have to and I definitely don’t need someone who hasn’t walked this road to tell me I need to. 

There is a difference between being stuck in the pain and moving forward without letting go.

How you live your life is a choice. Grief is not! No one would ever choose this life. 

I’ve learned so much about myself; I’ve grown.  I survived what I, on many days, was sure would kill me. 

And now… I’m learning to truly live again. 

I will never forget though…

Video

Grief n’ Stuff

When you think of the word grief, I think it’s safe to say that you automatically think of the death of a loved one. The process one goes through as they deal with that loss. Although that is accurate, I truly believe that grief is so much more than that.

In a divorce situation, you grieve the loss of a marriage. Losing your partner. Losing what you had planned for you future. Those involved, including the children, grieve the loss of their family as they knew it.

I’ve heard it said before, when someone is terminally ill, you often grieve that person while they are still living. Watching someone suffer in sickness, often times, watching the person you knew before the illness disappear. Knowing that their time is limited, you start to grieve much sooner.

Someone that battles a disease or illness that alters their lives, they grieve for themselves. They grieve the life that they had before, the things they used to be able to do, a life without pain and suffering.

Someone that loses a job that they’ve had for many years, they grieve the loss of what had become so much a part of them, their identity and self worth.

You get the point.

I guess what I’m getting at is that the word really means many things but the constant is that the person is experiencing or has experienced a loss.

Just as we all grieve different things, we all handle that grief differently. Truly, no grief is the same.

You really don’t know what someone is going through unless you have been through it yourself. You can have empathy, you can have compassion, etc. But, not until you have experienced first hand that particular loss, you really just won’t “get it.”

Thinking on this subject has really forced me to reason in my mind, why people act the way they do when dealing with someone hurting or struggling. And it is making some sense to me.

For example, our grief counselor, very early on said to me that I should be prepared for people to not be around. I didn’t get that. With the accident being so recent and the outpouring of care and concern we were shown, that didn’t seem possible. And me, being someone who considers and “prides” herself on being independent, I thought that if that were to happen I could handle it. I was wrong. Much quicker than I could have imagined, I felt alone. Little by little, after the flowers had withered and gone away, the phone calls and visits, etc started to do the same. I can’t completely describe the feeling but it was as if loss was being piled on top of loss, over and over again. I was so lost. I was devastated. I felt those things for myself and also for my kids. I was hurt. I didn’t understand. Hurt turned to anger which turned into bitterness and resentment. None of which I wanted to feel.

As I started the long process of trying to deal with all of those feelings, I realized some things that helped me. That helped me help my children. That hopefully, will help someone else.

What if “they” ___________________??

* are uncomfortable with your pain
* have their own pain and struggles and can’t take on any more
* don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do
* fear that they will say or do the wrong thing
* think you want to be left alone
* assume you already have so much support or people around you
* think that if you need something, you will ask
* are grieving themselves and actually feel the same way you do
* feel it’s too painful for them to talk about or being around you makes it more difficult for them

The list could be endless.

I came to the point of just accepting things as they were. Accepting people as they were. Bottom line, we are all human. We are not perfect. We won’t always say or do the right things. Acceptance doesn’t erase the hurt or invalidate your feelings but unforgiveness will eat you alive.  I have enough to work through so I have to choose to simply let some things go and move along.

We can’t make people be who we want or need them to be for us anymore than they can make us be who they want or need us to be for them.

Honestly, we aren’t supposed to fill the voids. We can’t.

But, consider this… If you know someone who is going through hard times or any of the situations that I mentioned above, maybe just try being there. Just send a text, make a phone call, show up. You don’t have all of the answers and I can assure you that most likely they won’t expect you to. But any one of those things, are simple and can go such a long way.