Turning Inward: It’s not you, it’s me.

So January is almost over and I haven’t blogged.

I started 2019 with big plans for the blog.  I even scheduled blog posts into my google calendar.

Then the New Year happened.

And I just didn’t feel like it.

Kind of like Forrest Gump when he decided he didn’t want to run anymore.

I started this blog as an outlet for my emotions and my grief.  I also had hoped to help others understand what a widow went through.

I have tried really hard to be open and honest about my grief.

I do not regret doing that.  Not for one minute.

I know I have helped people as I have also helped myself.

I experienced immense healing and I got to explore my new life and new depths of myself and my personality.

Things began to change.

But I found as time went on, I felt the need to censor myself in my blog.

I put my feelings out there and I feel like people took advantage of my openness.  That they were entitled to know everything and they were entitled to have a say about my decisions.

I got tired of people telling me how I am supposed to feel, how I am supposed to live my life and what my boundaries are supposed to be.

Especially when most people have not gone through what I had.

I have always been a very closed off person with a lot of walls.  Bryon was able to tear down some of those walls but sadly, it took his death to tear down the rest of the walls.

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I’m going to focus on another president and another wall. Because this is America and I can.  Yes, I can.

I believed that tearing down my walls and letting people in was one of my spiritual lessons that my soul needed to accomplish in this lifetime.

I still do.

But the pendulum went too far.

And now I need to learn how to set boundaries again.  Albeit healthier boundaries.

It’s okay to have walls but instead of huge 10 foot walls, I need some of those cute stone walls you find in New England.  Remnants of a colonial time, strong but low enough  to the ground that people can easily climb over them.

My blog stopped being my space.

A good friend of mine pointed out that I feel the need to explain myself in my blog and apologize for moving forward.

This blog, a place that was once therapeutic, has now become a bit of a chore.

Writing no longer felt therapeutic.

In fact, I began to wonder if the blog was hindering my growth and healing.

And it defeats the purpose of why I am writing in the first place.  At least, writing in a public platform.

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So I have decided that I am turning inward for the time being.

I will continue to write, but in my personal journals.

I have come to the realization that while I have been open and honest about my grief, it does not mean that I have to be open about every area of my life.  

It’s okay to keep some parts of my life to myself, my daughter and those closest to me.

And that is okay.

I will write in here when I feel called to write to.

Yes, I am passed the worst of my grief but I still have my moments.  And those moments will always creep up on me.

Or maybe I will be called to write about other aspects of my life.

Who knows?

There is a bright and long future ahead of me.

So for those who have always supported me and my writing, I thank you.

You will be seeing less of me here.

But this isn’t good-bye.

 

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Farewell 2018: Leaving behind fear

 

One of the biggest obstacles about moving forward is the fear.

Fear?  What fear?

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Fear of letting go.

Fear of things not going the way I expect.

fear of life feeling empty.

Fear that I will never be understood.

Fear of re-acclimating.

Fear that I will forget.

I have discussed in this blog about how I am currently in what I think of as “Phase III” of my grief journey.

To give a refresher-

Phase I: The first 3-6 months of widowhood.  My whole world was shattered and I am trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to my life.  Getting out of bed and showering are a struggle.

Phase II: The period between 3-6 months and about two years.  It was the phase where I had to accept that Bryon was gone and I needed to get used to him being gone.

And now I am in Phase III.

Phase III is the phase where I need to move forward with my life.

It’s not just enough to visualize it or talk about it.

I need to do it.

I know I need to do this but there is always something holding me back.

I am excited.

But there are these fears that hold me back.

The fear that if I move forward, then I will have to let go of Bryon.  Of course, I will never completely let go but taking those first few steps are the hardest.

The fear to be hopeful because you don’t want to be disappointed.

The fear that my new life will be unfulfilling?

I need to leave these fears in 2018.

If I bring them with me, they will prevent me from achieving my dreams.

So fear much be put on the imaginary Viking Funeral Ship, set on fire and set off.

What fears are you leaving behind in 2018?

Farewell 2018: Leaving the negativity behind

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2016 was the worst year of my life.

It will always be.

Only one thing could happen to me that could top that but I am not going to entertain that thought.

2017 was a fog.  I was surviving.

2018 was the year that I need to stop surviving and start to live again.

When 2018 started, I had a feeling that things were going to be very different by the end of the year.

I was right.

(Funny how that happens…)

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Was 2018 a bad year for me?

Yes and no.

There was a lot of death.  I lost my grandmother and two friends.

The year was full of hard lessons.

I had to learn that people and things are not always what they purport themselves to be.

I had to learn that I need to look for internal rewards and not to look externally.

I had to learn to release and let go.

I had to learn to live again and make decisions on the direction of my life.

I had shit thrown at me.

But I survived it.  And I am smarter for it.

I learned what was really important.

Seriously, I am 40-year-old woman, who has been to Hell and back and I have a small child dependent on me.  It was time for me to focus on what was important.

Last year I didn’t write much in December.  I was beginning to think this year was going to be the same.  However, I think over the next couple of weeks, as part of the releasing process, I am going to write posts about what I am leaving behind in 2018.

Kind of like a farewell rock tour but less cooler.  A lot less cooler.

I am going to take all the negativity that was thrown my way, put it on an imaginary Viking funeral Ship, light it on fire (again, imaginary.  I don’t want to blamed for starting any fires.) and send it off.

If you have anything you need to release before we begin 2019, I invite you to put them on the imaginary Viking funeral ship.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #43

Today is Friday!  You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  Dinner with Kimmy Gibbler I see her less since she moved up to the North Country.  I miss seeing her as often but this means our time together is even more special.  Love you Gibbler.

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    Swifty’s- Colonie, NY
  2. Those who remember BryonWe had great neighbors when we lived in Albany.  We hung out.  We watched each other’s cats on vacation.

    Our townhouses shared an attached wall.  I am sure they heard Bryon and I when we argued.  When I shared the news I was pregnant, my neighbor said she thought she had heard me throwing up.

    We both moved to our current houses in the same month.  My daughter was born and life just took over.  I am sad to say I haven’t seen them in awhile.

    They were in New York City celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary.

    Happy Anniversary!!!!!

    They had shared their plans on social media.  On one of the days, they decided to visit the five oldest bars in NYC.  (Which sounds totally awesome to this history buff. Maybe my cousin H-Bomb will do it with me).

    I had commented that Bryon took me to McSorley’s (4th oldest bar).


    It was one of his favorite bars in New York City.
    My friends had shared that they shared a drink in Bryon’s memory at McSorley’s.

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    Facebook Photo Courtesy of Frances Esposito

    It still makes me happy when people remember him.  I can accept that he is gone but I don’t want him to be forgotten.  Especially since my daughter will only know him from stories.

  3. Getting three runs in this weekIt finally clicked in my brain that the only way I was going to be able to run another half-marathon was if I started running again.  Funny how that works.

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    Get it?  Christmas Humor…
  4. Encouragement and friendshipI appreciate everyone who commented their support and sent messages about my post last night where I felt like a failure as a mother.  It feels better to know I am not alone but at the same time, I am sad other mothers feel this way too.

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  5. My daughter’s Pre-K teacherI talked to my daughter Pre-K teacher and I am grateful I did.  She was very positive about the situation.  My daughter has had trouble being quiet during naptime.  Her teacher assured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that my daughter isn’t doomed.  She just has a strong personality and she is in a phase where she is testing her limits.  Her teacher said it is very common at this age.

    She agreed with me that having a strong personality isn’t bad, we just need to funnel her energy differently.  I don’t want to take my daughter’s fun away but she needs to learn that she has to respect adults.

    Her teacher also told me it doesn’t matter how small my daughter is in her physical stature, she will be able to hold her own.  As someone who was bullied as a kid, I know it is a good thing that my daughter has no problem standing up for herself.

    I do feel better because I feel like we now have a plan in place that will hopefully correct her behavior before kindergarten.  I am grateful her teacher is positive.  She doesn’t view my daughter as a problem.  She seems the good in her.  I had some hyperactivity issues as a kid and from what I have been told, my teachers were negative about the situation.

What are you grateful for this week?

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What it is really like to be a widowed parent

Being a widowed parent is definitely its’ own type of parenting.

First there are all the difficult questions I have to answer.

“Why is my Daddy in Heaven?

“How come I don’t have a Daddy here?”

“How come my friends have Daddies and I don’t?’

And then come the questions from my daughters preschool friends which are trickier to answer because I am aware that not all families follow the same belief system I do (which is somewhere between “Lasped Catholicism”and Agnostic with some Buddhist tendencies mixed in).  Most of her friends ask questions that are innocent enough though one classmate asked me about her absent father in a very accusatory tone.

Then there is the feeling of being inadequate and overcompensating.

Like I am not enough for her.

My daughter started out life with two whole parents.

And now my daughter is left with one parent.

One parent who has to be two whole parents while she is broken herself.

Because on top of having to be Mom and Dad, I was and still am dealing with grief.

When Bryon was alive, we were a team.  His job had more demanding hours so I usually did daycare drop off and pick up.  But every Tuesday, I had a late night meeting so Bryon picked our daughter up from daycare.

When our daughter was sick, we coordinated who took sick days based on our work schedules.

But now it’s just me.  All the sick days are mine.  All the daycare pick ups and drop offs are mine.  All the lessons, doctors appointments, school functions and birthday parties are completely my responsibility.

As hard as widowed parenting is, I do a pretty good job with that.  (Especially since I work remotely and my hours are flexible.  I am very grateful for my job.)

I like to think I rock this widowed parenting thing.

I am proud of it.

I work very hard at it.  My daughter might be growing up without her father but I am going to make sure she gets the same opportunities she would have had had Bryon  lived.

The price I pay is that I don’t get much “me” time but I will get that when my daughter goes off to college.

Or maybe sooner, like when she becomes a teenager and decides I am not cool anymore.

But despite rocking widowed parenthood, nights like last night still throw me off my widowed parenting game.

The night started out innocently enough.

My daughter was in dance class, learning a new ballet routine.  She was corrected by her dance teacher.  It was for something innocent enough like her stance.

She didn’t like being corrected by her teacher and verbalized that.

Her teacher told her she needed go sit with me.  My daughter let out another verbal statement of defiance toward her teacher and she flops on the ground.

This is not okay.

I go to pick her up because it isn’t fair to her classmates or her teacher to have her flopping on the floor like a two-year-old.

My daughter gets more upset.

I try to calm her down.

She begins to get even more upset that she is missing class.

I try to calm her down so she can return to class.

We leave the room.  We go to the bathroom and she washes her face.

She says she has boogers which is usually the sign that she has calmed down and just needs to blow her nose.

She blows her nose and we go back to class.

She gets more hysterical about the part of class that she had missed.

I decide it’s time to go home but her teacher wants to make another go at my daughter joining class.

I decide that if her teacher is up for it, then maybe we can salvage what little bit of time we had left in dance class.

My daughter calms down initially but she gets riled up again.

I decide it’s time to go home and try again next week and she goes into full melt down.

My daughter is generally a pretty easy going kid.  She does struggle with transitions, especially when I am picking her up from school during an activity she enjoys.  I get it.  She is having fun and doesn’t want to leave.  Her teacher is aware and prepares her for any early arrivals.

She struggles to sleep at nap time so maybe she was tired.

She has a cold so maybe that was it.  I know I am an emotional mess when I feel sick.

Maybe she was hungry but unlikely.  She is very good about vocalizing that need to me.

But I do know that when my daughter gets mad, she gets MAD.  I am very similar. I have a strong personality and Bryon had an even stronger personality.  So it makes sense that she has a strong personality.

Someday her strong personality will serve her well.  Especially when she is older and is aware of that personality trait and is able to use her strong personality to her benefit.

But at this particular moment, her strong personality was causing a major disruption to dance class.

At this point some of the other parents are glaring at me probably because, clearly, their kid has never had a public meltdown.

Some of the other mothers were trying to help me which stressed me out even more.

Because at that very moment, I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and cry.

I couldn’t just carry my daughter out to the car because it’s nearly December and we live in Upstate New York.

But she was melting down and there was no way I could get a coat on her.

I was so embarrassed.

Completely mortified really.

All the pride I feel about rocking widowed parenthood goes out the window and as well as my confidence in my parenting skills.

I am not sure I can show my face in the dance studio again.

In a room full of people, I never felt so alone.

Because that is what widowed parenting is.  Being alone.

I do not have Bryon to take over for me or run interference.

Granted, Bryon and I probably both wouldn’t have both been at dance class but he would’ve have been home, ready to take over when we returned.

And if it he had been out of town for work or at a late night meeting, I could call him and he would make me feel better.  And we could come up with some sort of plan to prevent this from happening again.

But Bryon is not longer here and I am all alone in this.

Sure, my friends who are mothers would be sympathetic but most of them are married and don’t know what it is like to be so frustrated and truly not having any backup.

There is no one else I can turn to.

Because I don’t want to be seen as weak.

When you are a widow, everybody (and their brother) has an opinion on how you live.  Sometimes these judgments are met with offers to help but after I am criticized by someone, the last thing I want to do is accept their help.  Eff that.

I almost didn’t write this blog post because of those people.  Because I am tired of the sh*t but I felt it was more important to share my feelings because there might be another mother (widowed or not) who feels the same way and needs to know she is not alone.

I can take criticism about most things but I don’t feel like opening up myself for criticism for being a widowed parent.  Especially by people who have no clue how hard widowed parenting is.

No one knows how hard it is to do this alone.

For example, I have been told I don’t do enough in relationships.

Seriously.

What do people expect from me?

I am doing the best I can.

I need to be the equivalent of two parents to a child, I work 40 hours a week plus I spent  the past two plus years dealing with grief and processing the loss of Bryon.   And the loss of having a sense of security and the loss of the future as I knew it.

I am only one person.

And I don’t get a day off.

Ball dropping is the norm because my daughter comes first. #sorrynotsorry

People just don’t have a clue.

And yet, for some reason, I feel the need to prove myself to these people.

I constantly feel the need to prove myself.

When Bryon died, several people stated that I wouldn’t be able to stay in New York and raise my daughter by myself.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, a-holes.

Despite what the future holds for me, I am doing okay.  Most days.

My daughter finally calms down enough to put on her coat.  We go outside and she cries because she missed the rest of her class.  Someone walks by and lets out an “awwwww” because she is crying.

I cringe and I am sure I gave that person a dirty look.  She had no clue what I had just gone through.  Though it was dark and I am sure that person did not see my dirty look.

On the drive home, my daughter seems to be back to her normal self but I am not my normal self.

I spend so much time with my daughter that sometimes I forget she is a four year old.

I tend to take her behavior personally.

As if her behavior is a reflection of my inadequacies as a mother- a single, widowed mother.

That her meltdown was because I did something wrong as a mother because if I was a good mother, my daughter wouldn’t have had that epic meltdown.

I find myself saying to her that I didn’t get dance lessons or gymnastics when I was a kid.  Is it even fair to expect a four year old to appreciate that?   And is it her job to validate me because I am overcompensating for things I had wanted in my own childhood?  I am sure the answer to both of those questions is “no”.

When we get home, I park the car and I had my own mini emotional meltdown.

I put my arms up on the steering wheel and I cry.  I bawl.  I hadn’t bawled like that in months. I get teary eyed frequently but I rarely bawl.    The last time I cried like that was last April when I donated my wedding dress.

I question if I should even be crying in front of my daughter.  This goes against my Boston-Irish sensibilities that tell me that the only two feelings I am allowed to express are happiness and anger.

But maybe my daughter should see me express emotion.  I don’t want her bottling up her emotions like I tend to.  Expressing emotions need to be normalized.

I start to feel anger.

I know a lot of widows get angry at their spouse for dying and leaving them.  I have never really gotten mad at Bryon for leaving me.  He didn’t want to die.  He had wanted to live.  I tend to reserve my anger for God and other factors.  If I get angry, it is at the situation.

Then I realize that my anger is really despair.

The despair where I am left just asking “why?”

Why did this have to happen?

Why am I doing this alone?

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

My daughter was supposed to have her mother and father.

I stop crying after a minute or two and my daughter and I go inside.

My daughter is back to normal and inquiring about normal activities.

I needed to sit down for a minute.

During that minute, my daughter manages to find a tube a glitter, opens it and spreads it all over the living room couch.

I feel defeated.

Then there comes the shame.

Shame that I somehow missed any signs of a pending tantrum.

Shame that I wasn’t able to calm her down.

Shame that I melted down.

Shame that even though I try so hard, I still feel like I fall short as a mother.

My daughter gives me a hug and tells me that she loves me.

I love her.

My life is what it is.

But sometimes I still feel broken.

Good Vibrations Gratitude #41 (and a question for my readers)

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here is what I am grateful for this week.

1. The leaf pile.
Every kid deserves to jump in a leaf pile.

2. My neighbors

I have great neighbors. They are nice people who are always willing to lend a hand. Make sure you get to know your neighbors!

3. Winter Boots

The northeast got a November snowstorm last night into today. My daughter didn’t have winter boots yet. I went to Target and was able to get the last pair in her size. Well, the size above but she will grow into them before the end of winter. I was relieved to get them.

4. No cavities!

5. My daughter

Who can resist this?

And onto a question…

If I am Facebook friends with you, this may seem redundant because I asked if I should retire this blog.

I was surprised by the amount of support I have.

Thank you to everyone who showed support

I started this blog to share my grief journey. I am not the kind of person who shares my feelings with the world and this was out of my comfort zone. But I needed to get the emotions out and I felt that I could help people by sharing my journey.

But lately I have been wondering if I have been helping people. Several friends have said that all that matters is if my writing is helping me. It is but I can write and not share it with the world.

And the truth is, lately I have gotten grief for my grief. When I began this blog, I wrote my feelings. It didn’t matter how raw they were. And I was supported.

But now, the rest of the world has moved on. And that’s fine. But as everyone moves on, there is an expectation that I am “over it.”

I am still trying to make sense of Bryon’s death. I probably never will.

In addition to making sense of Bryon’s death, I am trying to make sense of the aftermath. It’s like a secondary processing of the past couple of years.

I am trying to make sense of grief in our culture.

I am trying to make sense of how I have been treated by some people.

I am trying to make sense of why some people remember Bryon and other people seem to have forgotten him.

I am trying to anticipate my future as a widowed parent. Trying to be Mom and Dad.

I’m trying to make sense of being an independent woman again.

I’m also trying to make sense of the possibility of opening myself up to love. (Gulp.)

I also feel a need to help people heal. Hence why I put all my feelings on the internet.

Lately I feel like I can’t be authentic here. I feel the need to tell the truth but the reality is that most people can’t handle the truth.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

So I find myself watering down my posts. And I am not sure that is helpful to anyone.

Last time I was back home in Maine, I had dinner with a friend. She mentioned that I seemed to need to apologize and explain any happiness I feel. She said I should just be free to be happy.

I have been holding back.

I began this blog partly as a way to express and release my emotions and lately I found that I have to hold in my emotions. And all this does is increase resentment that stays inside me.

I have began questioning whether I should take my angst out in a more creative outlet. Like poetry or novel writing.

I’d love to know what my readers think.

Stick with it? Go back to writing my raw emotions? Retire the blog? Write about something different?

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #40

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

This week I am starting something new.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here is what I am grateful for this week.

  1. Hallmark Christmas Movies

    Though I don’t advise actually playing this game.  You will be lucky if you make it 20 minutes.

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  2. Children’s Grief Awareness

    I did not know that there was a month dedicated to this but I am grateful that there is.  At first I thought that my daughter’s predicament was rare but then I thought about it.  First there was my daughter.

    And several friends who told me that they lost a parent at her age.

    And I have widow friends with children.

    And my mother lost her brother when she was a child so that would mean she and her siblings were affected (even though her youngest sibling wasn’t born yet, I do feel that siblings can feel a sense of loss even if the sibling died before they were born.)

    And my best friend lost her mother when she was a child.

    And the sad thing, I can go on with more examples of families within a first degree who have experienced loss.  This is much more common than we think.

    So if you are/were a child that is grieving or are close to a child that is grieving, they are not alone.

    Please be supportive to grieving children and their caregivers and families.

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  3. Attending a political rally

    Last weekend I took my daughter to her first political rally.  She enjoyed the experience though she told me that some people were too loud and hurt her ears.

  4. Voting

    While the New York elections did not go the way I wanted, I do appreciate that we have a right to vote.

    I have always brought my daughter to vote with me.  It is important for her to grow up seeing the process.  I voted around 5:30 pm and it looked like they were running low on stickers but we got one.  And I made sure to post this pic on social media because I heard votes only count if you post a picture with your sticker on social media.

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  5. My parents visit this week.

    My parents came out this week to help me pack up stuff and my Dad fixed a few things around the house.  Most importantly, the elevator on Barbie’s Dream House.

    I didn’t get any pictures except my instragram picture from the 99.  We always go to the 99 because we are #newenglandAF

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    What are you grateful for this week?

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