Hope

New Years Eve has always been one of my favorite holidays.

It isn’t because of the booze. Though booze certainly can make the night more interesting and add to the excitement.

I am not against a boozy New Years Eve. But if chose to drink… please drink responsibly.

The real reason I Iove New Years Eve is that the feeling of hope and optimism that the next year will be better than the last.

What does it mean to be hopeful?

For me I always hoped for love, wealth, travel and happiness. I think that is natural to hope for those things but did I even know what I was hoping for?

I think back to what I used to hope for and it just seems so innocent.

Sometimes I am ashamed at how simple my emotional worldview was. So black and white. I thought I had everything figured out when really I had about 7-10% of life figured out. (And no one has life 100% figured out.)

But how can hold this against my younger self? She didn’t know. That wasn’t her fault. 

I don’t want to be arrogant towards my younger self but I didn’t understand how powerful hope can be until I experienced true despair.

New Years 2017 I was just hoping that I was going to survive and that maybe “IT” wouldn’t hurt as much.

Since 2017 I have hoped for continued survival, healing and for my daughter to thrive. I have hoped for happiness. I have hoped for a sense of home. I have hoped for stability, security and safety.

I have hoped for answers. Though I know I will never get the answers I need.

I have desires but I struggle to hope for them.

I have come to realize that in order to hope for something, you need to have faith that you can receive it.

It’s hard to hope when you don’t have faith.

Why hope for love and happiness when it can all be taken away, sometimes at a moments notice?

At the eve of a new decade, I find myself at a very strange spot. It’s a place I have never been before.

Parts of my old optimism are starting to come through but it’s hard to reconcile that optimism with the harsh reality that I have lived through.

We live in a society where time is perceived as linear and that it is easy to let go but my experience has proved that both of those perceived truths are not 100% true.

I am struggling to let go of the past partly because I fear I will never experience happiness again.

So that bring me to this point- New Years 2020.

A new decade.

I feel grossly unprepared.

I live to have a plan and set goals, preferably goals that have measurable outcomes.

I always want to better myself. That is a constant.

I used to be a dreamer but I haven’t had a dream in a very long time.

I have spent too much time letter what happened to me define me.

I want to be a dreamer again. I want to hope again and believe that I can be happy again. That it won’t seem ridiculous to hope for love, happiness, wealth and travel.

It’s a tall order.

All I know is after the past 3.5 years, something has got to change.

Another year over and a new one just begun

I didn’t have many expectations for 2019.

I had a rough 2018.  I mean…on top of everything else I was dealing with.  Because I needed more crap in my life.

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I went into 2019 with low expectations.

2019 was a year of change though I have felt stagnant in many areas.  I hope to see more movement in 2020.

Maybe 2019 was a little rough at time but I am not wishing that the door hits it on the way out.

What 2019 meant to me-

Change.  If there was one word to sum up the year 2019, it would be “change.”   Everything changed.  The changes will continue into 2020 and beyond.

Growth. 2019 has been a year of growth, especially with all this change.  I have learned a lot about myself this year and plan on continuing.  I have also watched my daughter grow since she started kindergarten. The downside of growth is that I have a lot of wounds in my life revealed to me but those wounds will make me stronger.

Friendship.  2019 was a year of revelations on friendship. I was burned by some close friends in 2018.  I was hurt and angry.  Some of it still doesn’t make sense but I had to learn that people believe what they want to believe, even if it is false.  I am no longer angry at those people.  I wish them the best in their lives and for all the happiness.  We just won’t play a role in each others life.  It took me a while to feel safe letting others in but those who are in my life now have proved that friendships still exists.  Friends who love me for me and I love them for being them.  I will continue to cherish those friends.

2019 was a year when phoniness was exposed and it was a time to be Real.  I hope I am better at seeing through phony people  Maybe I am kidding myself.

2019 was a year where I had to learn the balance between remembering and letting go.  I know I need to keep moving forward but with every step forward I take, I have to let go of Bryon and that still hurts.  A lot.

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What is in store for 2020?

Do we really know?

I definitely think there will be more change and growth.  I also hope there will be continued friendship.  I look forward to seeing my daughter grow.  I plan to put some energy into my self care and self love.

Look for those topics on the blog.

Stay tuned!

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Weekly Gratitude #7: The Ebbs and Flows of Joy and Grief

This is a bit later in the day than I usually post.

I am sorry about that.

It is that awkward period between Christmas and the New Year.

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So you are getting this post when I get around to finishing it.

I have finished up Round 1 of Christmas and Round 2 will be happening in a couple of days.  I usually prefer when the holidays are spread out.

The first Christmas post-loss was hard.  I spent it with people who loved my daughter and me and I cried myself to sleep.

The second Christmas was a bit easier than the first but the feelings around Christmas were still heavy and sad.

Last Christmas was actually happy and hopeful.

I expected the same this year as last year but this year Christmas felt kind of flat and a bit empty.  I did do a lot of Christmas events for my daughter.  She seemed to enjoy them, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that part of the reason for having a busy schedule was to keep my mind pre-occupied.

You can’t feel sad when you are experiencing Christmas cheer, right?

I didn’t want my daughter to detect my sadness this year.

Christmas (well Round 1) has come and gone.  There were dinners and presents and such.

I went to “Midnight Mass” (at 9pm, which is an abomination if you ask me but that is another discussion for another time) I had the realization even mellowed out grief still ebbs and flows.  My life is busy but at times it still feels empty without Bryon.

It is significant to mention that I am not a religious person anymore (it all feels hollow and pointless to me) but I was at “Midnight Mass” to keep myself distracted.  Last Christmas Eve I took my daughter to the 4 o’clock Mass and remember how long and lonely the late hours of Christmas Eve were.  I was at “Midnight Mass” for a distraction.

Don’t feel bad.  These ebbs and flows of joy and grief are a part of life.

But I am grateful for the following:

  1. The memories I had with Bryon.
  2. The memories I am making with my daughter.
  3. The fact that the sadness I feel right now is nowhere near as raw as the sadness I felt at this time three years ago.
  4. The hope for the future.
  5. Those who continue to give love and support to my daughter and me.

What are you grateful for this week?

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.

 

 

Weekly Gratitude #6: Thank you for being a friend

I hope you all can forgive me for being brief today.  I am writing this on the fly- between work and the festivities going on.  So I apologize for the brevity but please know that it comes from my heart just the same.

I just wanted to take a moment for thanking you for being there.

This post got started in my head because I have been feeling sappy lately and I got a special Christmas ornament in the mail from an old friend.  Isn’t it amazing?

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To thank everyone who has been a friend whether it means you are one of closest friends or an acquaintance.

I am grateful for my old friends, whether they are childhood friends, family friends, high school friends, college friends, political friends (those do exist!), running buddies, old roommates and neighbors, church friends and friends.  Thank you for always being there for me.

I am grateful for all my new friends.  You teach me that you can make new friends at any age.  A lot of my new friends are friends I made because of my daughter.  You know, parents of her friends in all her activities.  I am glad my daughter chose friends with cool parents.

I also appreciate the friends I have not met yet.

I am grateful for internet friends.  Special shoutout to my widow tribe, Sept 2012 brides and to everyone who takes the time to read this blog.  I hope someday to meet all of you.  Well, most of you.  I don’t want to meet anyone who is creepy that might be reading this.  Sorry.

I am grateful for the friends who may not be in my inner circle.  I am grateful for acquaintances who take the time to smile.  You make my day.  I am grateful for awkwardly placed friends in the “more than an acquaintance but maybe not a friend.”  Even if we don’t know each other well and aren’t a big part in each others lives, your kindness does matter.

I am even grateful for former friends.  Not all our times were bad and you sure taught me some tough lessons.  Maybe our paths will intertwine someday though some of you- probably not.  And that is okay.  I wish you the best in your life.

I am grateful for all of you, whether we talk daily or only catch up with years in between, whether we spend time in person or catch up on social media.

Even though I have embraced the loneliness of being a widow, having people who share their joy with me and my daughter does make life sweeter.  I can only hope that I am able to bring you some joy as well.

Thank you for being in my life.

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Weekly Gratitude #5: When grief turns into joy

The holidays are in full swing around here.

Last week we attended the Christmas Tree lighting in the next town over.  We had missed our towns tree lighting due to it being on the same night as gymnastics and swim.

There were crafts and treats and even a visit with Santa.

 

We saw the Grinch as performed by the Frogtown Puppeteers at our local (and historic) theater.

My daughter was in our local holiday parade with her Girl Scout Troop.

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We went to the Downeast Festival of Trees.  I had never been before.  I learned that the trees all have prizes and you put raffle tickets in the buckets of the trees you wanted.  My daughter took my tickets and put them into the buckets of all the trees with toys.

She also saw Santa again and told him she wanted a Barbie.  Because the 30ish she has now isn’t enough.

On Sunday my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop took part in the Wreaths Across America Ceremony.  My father, Local and District VFW Commander was a part of the ceremony.

This week we also had my daughter’s first school Holiday concert.  I am bummed out the Prime Minister didn’t attend but I guess he’s busy with the elections in UK that are wrapping up as I am typing this.  I am also disappointed that I didn’t get to dress her up as a Christmas Lobster.

(Bonus points if you got the Love Actually Reference)

The excitement isn’t ending any time soon.

But this week it dawned on me.

I spend so much time thinking about Bryon isn’t here to see our daughter grow up.

I don’t think about what a blessing it is that I get to our daughter grow up.

It doesn’t mean that it isn’t sad that Bryon isn’t here.

We will never forget him.  Never.

I will always think about the fact that he is missing whatever milestone we are celebrating or what fun event we are doing.

But maybe it’s okay to stop dwelling on it so much.

My daughter and I have many years ahead of us.  Years filled with busy, hectic weekends.

My daughter’s joy has always been my biggest priority.

My second priority has been thinking about Bryon, being sad and dwelling on his death and absence.

And my happiness comes last.

But maybe it’s time to swap the second and third.  It’s a hard thing to admit but being sad all the time is exhausting.

And I can’t believe that Bryon would want that.

My daughter and I are still living on this Earth and it is time to embrace life for what it is and enjoy it.

You deserve credit for your healing

I saw the following meme on Facebook.

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It resonated with me.

Like, really resonated.

Not on the “Yeah, I really like tacos too” kind of way.

Though tacos are awesome.  I am not trying to downplay tacos.  But almost everyone loves tacos.  And if you don’t, you need to re-examine your priorities.

No, this meme resonated with me with my very inner core.

Because I have had people try to take credit for my healing.

The worst thing is that I let them.

I was too afraid to speak up.

So many people helped me.  While I appreciated all the help I received, the truth is that in the whole scope of “healing”, each task someone helped me immensely but my healing was and is a completely separate process.

Though looking back I should have seen the fact that the friendship was so transactional from one side as a red flag.  But that is another blog post for another time.  Maybe in 2020 or something.

2020

When you have been through a traumatic event, you will likely struggle.  And the struggle is ongoing.  I felt stuck for a long time.  Somewhere between “Ugh” and completely wallowing in the depths of despair.

I have come far and today I am saying that I am the reason that I have come far.  #sorrynotsorry

And while I mean no disrespect for those who helped me along the way, it was me.  You may have nudge me along, day to day but the credit for healing goes to me.

I have survived because of me.

I was the one who chose to keep living.

I was the one who had to get out of bed each morning even though I didn’t want to.  And if anyone gets credit, it’s my daughter for being my reason to get out of bed in those early days.

I was the one who trudged forward, going through the motions.  Fake it till you make it was my mantra for awhile.

(Not to be confused with being fake.  No one of substance likes fake people.  Don’t do it.)

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I was the one who spent hours pondering my life and my existence and made changes accordingly.  The vast majority of people are blind to that kind of despair (which is a blessing) and have no idea how empty one’s life feels after a loss of this emotional magnitude.

There is no words in the English language to describe how empty my life felt after Bryon died. Lots of dark thoughts from a dark place.  It was me who had to process those thoughts.

I was the one who cried and cried and cried and cried.

I was the one who had to go through all this items.

I was the one who had to remove him from my bank account and realize that it was another example of erasing his presence on Earth.

I was the one who has to look at my child at every major milestone and think about the fact that the man who loves her the most doesn’t even live in this dimension and won’t get to see her grow up.

Sadly, there are people who glom onto my grief.  Some of them thrive on drama.  Some of them hope to get attention for themselves.  Some of them hope that by downplaying my healing will keep them in a spot of importance.

Whatever the reason, just stop it.

I am the one who gets credit for my healing.  I did (and still am doing) the work, not you.

And if you find yourself in a similar position, don’t be afraid to tell people to stop it.

You were the one who did the work towards your healing.

You made the choice to continue living.

You are the reason for your healing.  Own it.  Take the credit.

You deserve credit for your healing.

No one else.

You, you and only you.