Weekly Gratitude #10: Three Years

Today is my blog’s birthday.

I started this blog as a way to process and cope with all the emotions I was feelings 5 months post-loss.  I was starting to “wake up” from the grief fog and I felt the need to share my emotions as I have noticed a dearth of information to help young widows.  I wanted my information out there so if another widow stumbled across it, they would know that they were not alone.

I also felt the need to share my story because I wanted others to understand the emotions that a widowed person felt, at least from my perspective.  After all, that is the only perspective I can honestly offer.

So much has changed since that time.

At that time I was somewhere between existing and surviving.

Now I am a survivor and on some days, I might even consider myself to be thriving.

Some locations in my story have changed.

Some characters in my story are the same, but some characters are different. I don’t doubt that all the characters in my life are there (or have been there) for a reason.

When I started this blog, my daughter was a toddler.  Now she is a kindergartener.

As I reread some of my earlier blog posts, I feel that strange dichotomy that widows feel.  The dichotomy where my old life and my old self feel current and they exist alongside my new life and new self.

My last two sentences of my first blog post really hit me hard.

“A part of me died with him that morning.  This is the story of the part of me that is still living.”

At that point in time, my soul was completely fractured.  I felt like an empty shell of who I was and I had no clue how I was going to move forward.

Now it is three years later.  I have survived.  I have grown.

Yes, a part of me may have died the same morning Bryon did but the part of me that is still living has forged ahead.

She has grown back into a whole, albeit different, person.

I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this ride.  As I said the other day, nothing ever lasts forever.  But I appreciate all of you who continue to travel this journey with me.

Stay In Your Own Lane

Alternate Title: Why I hate advice.

Do you ever feel like you live in a fish bowl?

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As a widow, I have felt like I live in a fishbowl.

I accept responsibility for part of that.  After all, I do put some of my most intimate thoughts on the internet because…therapy.

And I also felt called to create a space where other widows  (and other people who may be suffering from an emotional loss) may not feel so alone.  And I have made some cool friends from this blog so that’s a win.

Somewhere along the way, people started thinking it was okay to tell me how to live my life.

I got unsolicited advice on so many topics.

I got unsolicited advice on how to raise my child, how to manage my time, how to manage my money, when I should date again, what my physical and emotional boundaries should be and even on how to grieve and how to widow.

I do not need to be told how to grieve or how to widow.

I even had other widows tell me how to widow.  Yeah…my experience isn’t the same as yours, mmmmkay?

@kerryannmckim

Why do so many people feel the need to tell other people how to live their lives?

Why are so many people concerned with what everyone else is doing?

Why can’t people just stay in their own lanes?

Seriously.

If you are giving unsolicited advice- you must be an expert.

You must know everything about everything.

Maybe you have mastered Life.  Maybe your little plastic car is filled with kids and you have money and always spin a 10.

Your life must be perfect because you have nothing to improve so you are looking externally for something to occupy your mind.  Your life must be so perfect that there is no room for improvement.

Because you wouldn’t think of giving love advice if you can’t hold onto a relationship.

Nor would you give money advice if your credit score is in the toilet.

You wouldn’t give career advice if you are underpaid and hate your job, right?

I didn’t think so.

Before you give unsolicited advice, clean up your own life.

Stay in your own lane.

It’s none of your business how other people choose to live their lives.

Stay in your own lane.

What might work for you may not work for other people.  Because they are not you.

It is so easy to look at someone’s life and to have an opinion.

Keep that opinion to yourself.

It isn’t your life.

Most people just need time to figure their own shit out.

Sure, you can offer to help in a positive manner.

But keep your G-D opinion to yourself.

Give people the space to let them sort out their problems on their own timeline.

If they need your help, they will likely ask for it.

Stay in your own lane.

This also works in the reverse.

If you are living your life, sorting out your own shit and minding your own business and someone tries to offer you unsolicited advice, you don’t need to accept it.

Don’t let it distract you or upset you.

Don’t let doubts take hold.

Stay in your own lane.

Stay in your lane unless you make the decision to change lanes and do it when you feel safe to do so.  Not because someone is making you.

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

Nothing ever lasts forever.

I don’t who needed that message, but here it is.

Nothing ever lasts forever.

But what does that even mean?

Nothing ever lasts forever.

We live in a physical world where time is linear and is always moving forward.

But in addition to the linear timeline, we have so many other factors that are affected by time.  Things like energy, emotions, love, hate,  relationships, money, planetary alignments, memories and outside events we can’t control.  Just to be clear- this is not an exhaustive list.

Things are always changing and nothing ever lasts forever.

The good things don’t last forever.  Relationships can fall apart.  Couples can grow apart or someone can die. Friendships can end.  A job you like may end abruptly.

But neither do the bad things.  Bad things will eventually turn around.  Maybe not as quickly as you may like, but they will turn around eventually.

So if the things are good right now – cherish them because they probably won’t always be good.

And if things are rough right now- try to hang in there.  Things are bound to turn up soon.

Karaoke Side Door Cafe Albany 2012
Karaoke 2012

 

Festivus for the Rest of Us: Airing of Grievances

Happy Festivus!

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I admit that I am a “cherry-picker” when it comes to Festivus.  I do not have a Festivus pole (yet), or do Festivus dinner or Feats of Strength.

However, I do participate in the Airing of Grievances.

And here they are in no particular order.

  1. The fact that my throat chakra is always blocked.  Could it be because no one listens to me, especially my 5 year old who has selective hearing?   Could it be the fact that I have brought once up the truth to people who were important to my life at the time and they choose to believe the lie? Could it be the fact that I don’t speak my mind because I know people won’t understand and I don’t bother?
  2. The new Welcome to Maine sign.  It’s stupid and it was a complete waste of money.

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    The one that has been there forever needs to come back.

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  3. Negative People
  4. The fact that I am an empath and I absorb the energy of the aforementioned negative people.

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  5. The fact that there is not a decent Mexican or Italian restaurant in our town.
  6. The fact that our government is a circus
  7. The fact that so many people didn’t pay attention to their high school Civics class.
  8. Narcissists and Toxic people.  They need help but they won’t ever take responsibility for your actions and they will continue to hurt people for their own gain.  I am just grateful that I am getting better at recognizing those behaviors and I run.

    Difficult People

  9.  People who project onto other people.
  10. Hypocrisy
  11. People who are only religious to make a political statement.
  12. The fact that people can say insensitive stuff to people who are grieving and people tell the one who is grieving that they need to get over it.  Maybe other people need to be more sensitive?
  13. Potholes.  ( I stole that one from Amy in our most recent episode of Xennial Mom Podcast)
  14. Crowds
  15.  People who don’t look inside themselves and people who don’t do inner work.
  16. People who only listen to respond, not to understand.
  17. People who drive under the speed limit.
  18. The fact that I formatted this post with a space between each grievance and WordPress put all the text together when I previewed it.  I am sorry.  Blame WordPress.  (Squarespace is looking more appealing, but I don’t want to have to migrate my data).
  19. The fact I will think of more grievances after this.

Have a Happy Festivus and a Joyous Holiday Season.

 

 

Eaten words

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

2016 was the year Bryon died.

2016 was also the year of a lot of celebrity deaths.

I have very little recollection of which celebrities died that year.  2016 was a bit of a blur to me.

~Kerry’s 2016 recap~

~pretend there is a dream transition sequence like they had in 1980’s sitcoms~

The first three months were pretty normal.  It was winter.  We went on a cruise.  My daughter got an ear infection, pinkeye and hand, foot and mouth disease each about a week apart.  I got pink eye and viral pharyngitis.  Bryon did not get pink eye.  I started running again and signed up for a half marathon.  And Bryon and I watched a lot of 2016 presidential debates.

Then I spent five months splitting my time sitting next to my husband in an ICU room while he clung to his life and waiting in waiting rooms while he was taken off to procedures.  I cried a lot.  I prayed and waited.  Lots of people would bring me iced coffee that I subsisted on.  My daughter got another ear infection and we discovered she was allergic to amoxicillin because she broke out in hives.  

Then Bryon died. 

The biggest before and after moment of my life.

The last four months of 2016 I cried a lot and wondered what the f*ck just happened to my life.

~dream transition sequence~

I vaguely remember a lot of celebrities died.  However I can only remember three.

While we were on our cruise, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.

Are Supreme Court Justices considered celebrities?  They are famous but does famous = celebrity?  That is a philosophical point I will have to ponder when I should be doing something more productive.  Though I do see a lot of fanfare for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on my Facebook Newsfeed so for the purpose of this blog post, Supreme Court Justices will be considered celebrities.

Bryon loved and respected Justice Scalia.  One time Bryon was telling me about a certain Bar that you can get admitted to where you can argue cases in front of the Supreme Court.  If I remember correctly, he said, if admitted, one of the best things was that his name would be read in front of the nine Supreme Court Justices.

Bryon never saw Mean Girls but I told him that I could imagine him having a Regina George moment.  I had to explain the whole Regina George thing to him.

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Once Bryon grasped the idea of Regina George’s popularity, he agreed.  He said he could totally see himself gushing “Justice Scalia sneered at me.  IT WAS AWESOME.”

We took an Eastern Caribbean Cruise in early 2016.  One that would be very ominous.  One omen being Justice Scalia’s death, another death being Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential run.  But don’t worry…I am not bitter about it.  Not at all.

The second death I remember was the death of Prince.  Or the artist formerly known as Prince.  Did he ever go back to being Prince?

I remember that because I was following a spoof Joe Biden Facebook account and when Prince died the spoof facebook account had a condolence posted with a picture of Prince William.  Bryon was aware at the point and I remember showing the meme and he smiled.  Or laughed the best he could.

And the third death of 2016 I remember was Alan Thicke’s death.  Dr. Seaver.

It was after Bryon was dead.

I remembered the fact that despite having a Facebook newsfeed full of Patriots fan, it was Bryon who showed me this genius video from Julian Edelman.

So yeah…I don’t remember much about who died in 2016 because one of the two most important people in my life died.

But I do remember being annoyed with seeing Facebook posts where people bemoaned the deaths of the celebrities.

Maybe these people were just paying tribute and I was blowing it out of proportion in my head.

At the time, this public grief felt disingenuous.

And I spoke up.

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Yes it is sad when someone dies.

These celebrities had family and friends and their death was going to leave a much bigger whole in their lives than us average folk.

Each person has a variety of layers of relationships.  The inner core will likely be your  family and very closest friends.  The next layer would be friends and family you aren’t close to and co-workers.  The next layer after that would probably be acquaintances.  Maybe you have a layer between friends and acquaintances for those people who are in that “more than an acquaintance but less than a friend” space.

Most of us have no more relationships after acquaintances.  Anyone else would be a stranger really.

But celebrities have tons of people outside that layer called fans.

If you are a fan, the celebrity can hold a cherished spot in your heart but that celebrity probably has no clue who you are.

When a celebrity dies, chances are your daily life is not altered.

Maybe, but probably not.

I felt strongly about it at the time.  But tonight, I am have to eat my words.

Admittingly, I was watching Golden Girls and thought about how sad it was that the only living one is Betty White.  I don’t want to think about a world without Betty White, so I won’t.

But tonight, I read the news story about Alex Trebek getting emotional.  I did not see the episode.  This evening slipped away.

I found myself thinking that I need to DVR Jeopardy because we don’t know how much longer we have Alex Trebek.

I am 41 and for as long as I remember, Alex Trebek has faithfully hosted Jeopardy.

He bridges a time in my life when my grandparents were still alive and we talked on rotary phones and cable TV was a new phenomenon to the present day.  If I wanted to watch him, I would actually have to walk up to the TV, which was probably small and black and white, turn a knob to get the TV to turn on and maybe even turn the dial if the TV previously was on a different channel.  If I was lucky, I wouldn’t have to mess with the antenna (because the only TV that had cable was in the living room).

I work in oncology data.  The best way to describe what I do is that I am the person in between the patient record and government statistics.  Our data is also used in medical research.

I truly hope Alex Trebek beats the odds.  But working in oncology data, I know Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer is a grim diagnosis.

I am in awe of Alex Trebek because instead of retiring, he chose to continue hosting the show.  He chose to be continue to be there for us when he doesn’t have to be.

And from what I read in the news, he is tolerating chemo pretty well.

But life is fragile and illness can bring complications.  Complications that we may never be prepared for.

I don’t want to think about it.  So I am going to end this blog post abruptly and stew in my eaten words.  And enjoy watching Alex Trebek for as long as I am able.

Tired

This wasn’t the blog post I was intending to write.

The one I was intending to write had a lot more anger.

So to the people who like to gossip about me…sorry. You will have to get your entertainment somewhere else.

You also may want to re-evaluate your own life.

But what do I know. 🤷‍♀️

Also, I just want to say that Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” is one of the best songs ever written. I discovered it driving one random day on Mount Desert Island, ME during my political days.

Though it shouldn’t be confused with the bar that used to be in Troy, NY.

Here is a picture of Bryon and I at that bar.

I digress.

If you don’t know me by now, my mind goes on tangents.

I used to be embarrassed by it. People told me that I think too much.

As I have gotten older, I have embeaced my overactive mind.

Maybe everyone else should think some more.

Anyway, if you follow my blog, you probably know that I don’t write as much as I had previously.

It’s because I am tired.

You’re probably thinking “Duh, Kerry…we are all tired. You aren’t special.”

While it’s true that I am not special, over the past three and a half years, I probably have had a lot more major life changes than the average person.

I am not mocking those tired from work and parenthood.

It’s rough.

But when you add life changes and grief on top, you become exhausted.

And secondary losses. Because when your person dies, you aren’t just missing your person. You lose so much more; your identity, your sense of security, your faith, your health, sometimes you lose your financial security. Your mileage may vary. Secondary loss is different for everyone.

It’s one thing to be tired from being busy but rebuilding your life brings it to a new level.

Sleeping in on a random Saturday will not make up for the exhaustion I feel.

(Before people freak out, obviously I am speaking in general terms. Everyone has different stressers and everyone reacts differently. And maybe you are working to exhaustion. If you are working to exhaustion, please take a relaxing break. The rest of you…just bear with me.)

I have been too tired to be creative to write.

I am too tired to read.

I started to work out again and I have been too tired to attend my fitness classes.

I manage to scrape together enough energy to work and spend time with my daughter. But I am running on fumes.

Now some of you pseudo/armchair psychologists with Web MD medical degrees might say I am depressed but I know I am not.

I was diagnosed with dysmythia as a young adult. Dysmythia is a chronic, low grade form of depression. I seem to have outgrown it in my twenties.

I am not depressed. I feel great joy and gratitude in my life even if it is alongside anger from losing Bryon.

I’ve just had a lot thrown at me over the past 3.5 years.

I’m just tired.

I just want to stay by myself at some air bnb by the ocean, somewhere warm and just lay down in a reclining lawn chair and listen to the ocean.

Like, for days on end.

If I were to venture out, it would be to get dressed up and go have a fancy meal by myself. With steak and (preferably) Chateauneuf De Pape though a Cote Du Rhone would be acceptable. And something chocolate for dessert.

And I am not trying to be pretentious. I just like a good steak and red wine.

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I travel with packed itineraries. I usually come back from vacation needing a vacation.

But here I am…tired.

Maybe I need to do my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except I don’t want to be as pretentious as Elizabeth Gilbert. She just totally rubbed me the wrong way though I didn’t mind her when I read Big Magic. Though I read Eat, Pray, Love when it came out, long before my life got turned upside down. Maybe I should give her another chance.

When I have energy to read.

Maybe I need to start knitting something again. Something that will take me a long time so I focus on the rhythm and not the finished product.

What do you do to get your energy back? I am open to suggestions.

A message for anyone who needs to hear it

I have no idea who needs this message but it’s here for whoever or whomever needs it.

(And I just googled “whoever vs whomever”. It’s late and I am too tired to make sense of it. I’ll fix this and the multitude of typos and grammar mistakes I am going to make due to the aforementioned tiredness.)

And this is making me think of Dr Frasier Crane, correcting a caller on the difference between “literally” and “figuratively”.

So for those people who want to nitpick my grammer…I got nothing.

Though bonus points if you were amused that the Frasier meme is about grammar since Frasier is played by Kelsey Grammar.

I digress.

It came to me that everyone deserves to be appreciated.

Everyone deserves to be valued.

Everyone deserves to be taken seriously.

When you talk to those you are closest too, you deserved to be listened to.

And what you have to say should be taken seriously.

You might be thinking, “That’s all great Kerry but the world is not all rainbows and smiles. What if people don’t appreciate you?”

And that’s a very valid hypothetical question.

Because not everyone is going to appreciate you.

Because…there are 7 billion people on this planet and there is no way we can appreciate each other.

At least on an intimate, inter-personal level.

I tend to think of it as a sliding scale. Those closer to you should appreciate you more.

Which brings me to the Top 5.

The Top 5 should not be confused with the Top 8…for those of us old enough to remember the MySpace days.

Also, whatever happened to Tom?

I guess he got burned because he way nicer than Mark Zuckerberg. 🤷‍♀️

Anyway, back to the “top 5”.

I am a fan of Jim Rohn’s quote that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

It is so accurate.

But what if those 5 people don’t appreciate you?

Well, then you probably don’t appreciate yourself.

Because you are tolerating not being appreciated.

Remember-

You deserve to be appreciated.

You deserve to be valued.

You deserve to be taken seriously.

When you talk to those you are closest too, you deserve to be listened to.

And what you have to say should be taken seriously.

If those closest to you don’t respect you or appreciate you, you may need to re-evaluate your top 5.

You also should re-evaluate yourself. Maybe you aren’t appreciating those in your life.

Keep yourself surrounded by those who are positive and lift you up.

You won’t be sorry.