Good Vibrations Gratitude #18

It’s Friday.  You know what that means-

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.

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Here are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. The fact that this will be a quick blog post without a lot of words because I am getting ready for a Bachelorette weekend!  Fun! Fun!

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  2. My parents.

    Because this weekend is made possible because they came to watch my daughter for the weekend.

    Kimmy Gibbler told me that her son was sad she was going away for the weekend and I said that I think my daughter is thrilled because her grandparents are here.  Bye Mommy!

    Plus, I got to witness this moment.  Pappy couldn’t resist buying his granddaughter a big kid bike.

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  3. Cupcakes and Champagne

    I was feeling kind of down earlier this week but time with my friends always cheers me up.  #tribestrong

    And I want to be clear that the champagne was only for the adults.  The kids got milk and/or water.

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  4. Caffeine

    Because I am exhausted and have been drinking a lot of it this week.

  5. Surviving and thriving

    Life isn’t always easy but I have everything I need.  I am a survivor.  I have clarity.  I am living.  And for that, I am thankful.

    What are you thankful for this week?

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Boundaries

My close friends and I were discussing the role that narcissists have played in our lives.

None of us have a Psych degree but we have all had issues with narcissists whether it was someone in our social circle, someone we dated, someone in our family or if they were in-laws.

Maybe you know a narcissists.  Narcissists do not know empathy to others, they think the world revolves around them and they will tell lies to people to turn them against each other.  If anyone makes them insecure, they try to change everyone’s opinion of the person that makes them insecure so people see them in a negative manner.

Research states that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is rare but it seems that our group of friends have encountered more than our fair share of narcissists.

I have a few theories.

The first theory consists on our influence of others.  I believe that we all vibrate at a certain level of energy.  It could be good energy or bad.  That energy ripples out and effects those around us.  People are affected whether we are spreading love, light and positivity or  if we are spreading selfishness, lies and negativity.

Our behavior affects others.  And other’s behavior effects us.

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Narcissists are confusing beings because they disguise their true selves and most people are fooled.  They pass as perfectly nice people. They are good at fooling people because that is their natural state.

When you are the victim of a narcissist, you feel alone because everyone else thinks that they narcissist is great.

Narcissists can cause a lot of damage in families and social circles.

One theory I have to the inflated perceived narcissistic population is that some people may grow up with a narcissist parent or grandparent and that a child may grow learning that manipulation is simply the natural way you treat people.  These people are probably not narcissists in their core but are merely using the “skills” that they learned from their narcissist parent grandparent.

This theory has a positive spin as a person may grow up with a narcissist parent or grandparent and learn that that is not how you treat people.

My second theory is that some social circles, including the one that I am belong to, are very inclusive and since narcissists are good at hiding their true colors which are not beautiful like a rainbow.  But my social circle does not want to be closed off so we will take the risk.

Widowhood has made me wiser.

When I became a widow, I began to examine every area of my life. Heck, I am still examining and learning.

I want to make sure I am living my life to it’s fullest potential and that I surround myself with love and not negativity.

I began to truly appreciate those who love me and my daughter.

But I also became really good at noticing people who are toxic, people who are phony and people who had an ulterior motive to our friendship.

Before widowhood, I would have brushed off those feelings and given the offenders the benefit of the doubt.

And on top of that, I would have gone out of my way to make sure they liked me because I was a people pleaser.

I ignored my intuition on so many accounts, despite the fact that my intuition is almost always right.

But now that I am a widow, I can spot a phony person right away.  I can tell when a person is trying to manipulate me.  I can see all the ulterior motives.

I have learned to listen to and trust my intuition.

I think it is a widow superpower.

So in the beginning of widowhood, I removed toxic people from my life.  Part of it was necessity.  But mostly because I didn’t have enough bandwidth to handle the drama.

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But then it became clear to me that I just didn’t want to deal with the drama.  I only have so many hours of the day and our lives only consist of so many days and I do not want to spend them with toxic people.

And while narcissists are toxic, there are other types of toxic people.  I just opened with narcissists because they were a clear example and my life had been affected by a narcissist for many years and I hold the greatest empathy for anyone dealing with a narcissist.

Some toxic people manipulate.  Some tear others down in order to make others look good.  Some argue constantly.  Some do whatever it takes to make you feel sh*tty about yourself.

So I took a stand.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Because I was never good at saying no to people.

I decided that I was going to say no to toxicity.

I had to cut some people out of my life.  I needed to keep positive people around me and my daughter and I needed to use what energy I had to focus on the important things.

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And toxic people don’t like being cut out.

They are persistent.

They will try to manipulate you and when they can’t manipulate you, they will try to manipulate those around you.  They will try to change other’s view of you to gain sympathy for themselves.

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Simply cutting toxic people out of your life isn’t enough.

I learned that you need to set firm boundaries.

I used to feel that boundaries were purely a physical matter like having people stay out of the master bedroom or deciding who has a spare key to your house.   Or when you are a kid and your sibling is annoying you and you say that there is an invisible wall that they can not cross.

But boundaries are also emotional, mental, and social.

How you let people treat you is a boundary.  Do you allow people to walk all over you?  Do you let people treat you poorly? Do you let people boss you around?  Do you let people make you feel small?

I used to have a friend in my younger days who would cancel plans with me on a moments notice because a guy asked her out.  I would be upset but I let her do it.  And she would do it again…and again…and again.  I did not have the self-esteem to realize that this behavior was not acceptable and I did not set any boundaries.

In case you are wondering, I have not spoken to that person since my wedding.  It all makes sense to me now.  Before I was with Bryon,  I was a people pleaser and not only did I let people treat me poorly, I would try to get those people to like me more.  But Bryon set the boundary for me.  He would tell me when my friendships were one sided and he would advise me not to put any effort into those friendships.  And this friend did not like that she could not push me around if Bryon was in the picture.

But Bryon isn’t here to help me set boundaries.  It is a skill that I have been learning to implement.

This is my life.

It is okay to stand up for myself.  You don’t deserve to be treated like a doormat.

It’s okay to choose not to hang out with someone because they make you feel poorly.  Your friendship is a privilege, not a right.

It’s okay to delete someone from social media.

Not everyone deserves an explanation about your life choices.

I write in this blog and will continue to do so.  But just because I am open about my grief does not mean that everyone is privy to my personal life.  I have had to exercise my boundaries and make it clear that I determine what I share.

Setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself and protecting yourself (and those you love) from negativity.

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I still get sad sometimes

And it’s been 596 days since I have become a widow.

596 days since my daughter lost her father.

596 days since the world I knew ended and my future was taken away from me.

596 days where I have felt lost and broken.

596 days of wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

596 days of guilt.  Even though my head knows I have nothing to feel guilty about, I still feel it.

596 days of wondering “what if…?”

596 days of guarding my emotions because other people can’t handle them.  Because making sure someone doesn’t feel discomfort for a short period of time is more important than the emotions of a person who deals with or had to deal with this hell every day.

596 days of rolling my eyes when people make insensitive comments knowing that they mean well.  I envy their naivety.

596 days of missing what I had and wondering if I will ever be loved again.  Though my love for Bryon was unique (as every love is) I wonder if I will ever feel that way again.

596 days of feeling like I am on a deserted island.  I know people try to understand but sometimes I really wish I could just be “normal” like everyone else.

596 days of having to work at being happy.  I will avoid anyone that makes me feel worse about my current state of life.

596 days since I have changed but people don’t see the real you.  They want you to be whatever version of you that they previously knew.  Or thought they had. Or they just see you as a broken widow, not the stronger person that you are really are.  The old me is dead or on sabbatical until I decide where those old versions of myself fit into my new life.

596 days of protecting my boundaries.  People will try to manipulate you.  Even people who you thought were friends.  People will pretend they are helping you in a public forum but never pick up the phone or text.  There are people who think that your private life is their business just because Bryon was popular and I have a blog.  But I choose what I write about on my blog and I choose what is private and will continue to enforce that boundary.

596 days of sadness.  And while my sadness rarely breaks me down anymore, it still runs in the background, kind of like an app you forget to close on your cell phone.  Once in awhile, it builds up and you have to deal with it.

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I remember being told that it gets easier.  And it has gotten easier.  But I still miss him.

Sometimes I wonder if it the grief is subsiding or if I am just getting used to Bryon being gone.  When Bryon first died, my whole world was rocked and I was in the “widow fog” for about a year.  Now I have gotten some of my footing back and the fog has lifted but I am more likely to miss the little things.  I don’t have my fog to protect me from reality anymore.

I am so over this whole widowed thing.

When I really died…

When I first started this blog, I said that part of me died on August 21, 2016.

That was the day that Bryon died.

And that is true.

But it is also a lie.

The “death” of me really began on a different day.

My death really began on March 29, 2016.

Two years ago today.

It was Bryon’s 5th day in the ICU.

He had spiked a fever of 105F the day before.

And on that day, his kidney’s shut down.

Then his other organs started to fail.

It all happened so quickly.

Septic shock.

“Your husband might not make it.”

I made phone calls to those close to us.  Friends dropped what they were doing and rushed to the hospital.

My parents took my daughter, then 18 months, out of school because they decided that she was probably the only person who could bring me any sort of comfort, which she did.

I remember saying to my mother that Bryon couldn’t die because my daughter wouldn’t remember him.

I was told that my husband had to be rushed into emergency surgery.

A surgery he might not survive.

It did not seem real.

How could the strongest person I know, both mentally and physically, be clinging to his life?

My parents left with my daughter because everything seemed too hectic for someone that small.

It all seemed surreal.

My husband might not survive.

He came to the hospital to get better and all he seemed to get was progressively worse.

And now I was told he might die.

He couldn’t die.

I needed him.

I couldn’t do this alone.

Our daughter was too young.

Some of our closest friends sat in the waiting room.

In silence.

With fear in our eyes.

Waiting.

Everyone in that room fell somewhere on the Catholic spectrum and we learned what “purgatory” meant.

After what felt like an eternity, we got news that Bryon survived the surgery but it was uncertain if he was going to make it through the night.

It was during the flu season and only two “visitors” were allowed in the room with him so everyone took turns sitting with me by his bedside.

He did make it through that night.

And the next 145 nights.

And while part of me died 145 nights later, the death began on that day.

I lost innocence.

My naivety.

I lost my sense of safety and security.

The old me is dead.

A new me has emerged.

A wiser me.

A more grateful me.

A person who takes life a little less seriously.

A person who isn’t so concerned about being a people pleaser.

A person who has no trouble telling people who go “eff off”.

But today marks the day that where I was forced give up the safe life I knew.

And I am okay.

I am surrounded by those who truly love me.  People who embrace the “new me” and strive to understand what I went through the best they can.  All while they mourn the man they knew too.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that today was tough.

Because it reminds me of all the pain I went through and the loss of a great man.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was having moments.

But it is okay.

I keep those moments to myself.

I only cry when no one is around to see it.

 

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #15

  1. Brunch and Pottery PlaceOur weekend started with Saturday Brunch with friends.  My daughter and I dressed as the Irish-American Princesses that we are.

    It was Kimmy Gibbler‘s son’s birthday this week so we gave him his present.

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    After brunch we went to a local pottery place and painted.  My daughters pig is looking a little bruised there.

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  2. A night outLater Saturday evening, we went went for another friend’s birthday.   We did some hibachi.  I didn’t get any fire photos because I was too busy snapchatting them. The little one stayed home with a sitter while Mommy had some fun.

    After hibachi, we went to a local place for some karaoke.

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    I still maintain this position.

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  3. Day with cousinsSunday morning, my daughter and I traveled to the North Hadley Sugar Shack in North Hadley, Massachusetts to spend the day with my cousin and her two kids.  My cousin and I try to meet in Springfield, MA because that is the approximate halfway point between us.

    We got to sample some wicked good syrup.

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    There were other samples too.

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    And there was breakfast.  This was a double order of bacon because kids meals at most places usually only include 1 piece of bacon which my daughter eats and then she will move on to mine.  So I tend to order double.  Though this morning, she didn’t touch any of mine.  More for me, I guess.

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    My cousin and I decided to head over the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  We had a good time but if you are travelling from Eastern, MA or Upstate NY, I wouldn’t plan a whole day trip out of it.  I also would recommend it for school age kids.  There wasn’t a lot for preschoolers to do.  Not enough to occupy them for a whole day.  It wasn’t like our trip to the Dr. Seuss Museum.

    My daughter and I took this selfie.  Be kind.  I was out late and up early and it was definitely a dry shampoo and minimal makeup kind of morning.

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  4. Reunited in ChicagoI am writing this post ahead of time and by the time it goes live, I will be reunited with my bestie in Chicago!326491_10150501472522841_315275259_o
  5. A special birthdayToday is the birthday of my “sister from another mister” and my daughters Godmother.  I know that her birthday is bittersweet because it is also the day that everything changed forever.I actually met her before I met Bryon.  We first met at the Fall 2005 Young Republican National Federation Board Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She taught a workshop that I attended on talking to a camera.I never could have known that she would end up being such an important person in my life.She was there with many others on the happiest day of my life and she was the only person with me on the saddest night of my life.The truth is that she deserves her own post but I feel like I can’t accurately write a post about her without sharing information that I am not ready to share yet.  And without the whole story, I am not doing the story of our friendship justice.

    I want to write more but WordPress seems to be deleting what I am writing as I am writing it.  And I am too tired to figure it out.

    Happy Birthday!  We love you!

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My last normal day

Two years ago today was my last normal day with Bryon.

It was a Tuesday.

I can tell you that it was the day of the Brussels Explosion but I learned that from Google.

And of course, the 2016 election was going on.  But I don’t remember watching the news or talking about it with Bryon.

I probably did mundane things like change my daughters diapers and feed the cat.

I know I worked that day.

I don’t remember what I wore.

I don’t remember driving into work and parking my car.

Maybe I got a French Toast Bagel with plain cream cheese and a medium light roast coffee from Panera for breakfast like I did most mornings.

No clue what I ate for lunch.

I don’t remember leaving work.

I know I must have picked my daughter up from daycare because Bryon wasn’t cleared to lift her yet.

I don’t remember arriving home.

We probably watched some TV that night but I can’t remember what we watched.

I don’t remember what we said to each other before bed.

For the life of me, I can’t remember a single specific about that day.

It was the last normal day of my normal life and I can’t remember a single thing.

I did not know that the very next day, my life would change forever.

 

 

Three and a half and asking questions

My daughter officially turned three and a half yesterday.

Where has time gone?

Yesterday she asked her first questions about her father.

We were talking and I mentioned that I missed him.

She asked me why.

I said that I missed him being here.

I could see her wheels turning, trying to remember him.  I told her that she was too young to remember him.

She accepted my explanation.

She then asks “Did you touch his hair?”

I said “Yes.”

Then she asks “Did you touch his body?”

I said “Uh…yeah…”

Then she asks “Did you touch his face?”

I said “Yes.”

She seemed satisfied with that knowledge and went back to watching Paw Patrol.

I know this is only the beginning to the questions she is going to ask about her father and why her father died.