My Daily Ransom

Facing the Unknown…

Grief for the Holidays — December 1, 2018

Grief for the Holidays

As the holidays are upon us, some get so excited. They can’t wait to decorate the house, to share gifts with those they love and spend time together. Some love the idea of complaining about having to hang out with their annoying family members or that awkward moment at some point that so many experience. The holidays are meant to be cheerful and happy surrounded by love but for many, that just isn’t the reality of our lives.

My holidays, like so many others, are full of grief. I wish I could head home and spend the day with my entire family. Have a house full of crazy people talking loud, making fun of each other and falling asleep together in the living room. I wish I could buy those gifts that I know my Dad and brothers would absolutely love & cook them their favorite dishes and pretend like I forgot how much Joshy hates baked beans and Allfaye loves cranberry salad. But that’s not my reality. Grief has taken hold of the holidays.

Although I’ll be having grief for the holidays, I also want to have love. I want to remember how I started playing Santa on Christmas at such a young age because my brother Adam let me take over that role. How my brother Josh kept Santa real until I was in fifth grade because he didn’t want me to lose the magical feeling but what they didn’t know was that they made Christmas magical, not the idea of a man in a red suit. Waking up with my brothers and them making me tiptoe into our parent’s room and ask if we could go see what Santa brought yet. These are just a few things I think of when I think of my brothers.

I also want to think about the last Christmas I had with my entire family. I flew home from Texas and Bubba (my Dad) was so excited. He had just been diagnosed with cancer at the end of August and was having a rough time. Just being able to sit around watching football, talking about life, the plans we had for them to come to Texas, and how much we missed each other was so precious. That love that filled that entire house, I can still feel in my bones. I don’t remember any physical gifts but having the whole family there, joking and driving each other crazy was the best Christmas I could have asked for.  Looking over and seeing one of nieces on my Dad’s lap in the recliner, another one with me on the couch, Adam on the other side of us and Josh laying on the floor at my feet while my Mom was in the other recliner. What more would I have asked for? Nothing.

So if you’re like me and having grief for the holidays, think of those times. Remember driving each other crazy, remember the foods they loved, a special gift they just gushed over…do something to remember them. But you can also cry, scream, laugh, lay around all day, don’t celebrate at all. Whatever you have to do for yourself, do it. No one can tell you how to grieve, they can’t tell you how to feel and you won’t know how you feel until that time comes. What I can tell you is that the love you shared is still there. It doesn’t just disappear. And it deserves to be talked about and shown to others.

For the non-grieving ones, I would like to offer you a tip. Talk about those who won’t be here for the holidays. Speak their names, ask questions, learn their stories or ask to be told a new story about them. The worst part of losing my Dad and both of my brothers is that people have stopped talking about them while I never stop thinking about them. People are afraid that talking about them will make me sad but the truth is, it makes me sad to think that they could be forgotten by others. Their stories are so beautiful and some parts truly sad but they deserve to be told and heard.

So talk to those who are grieving about the ones they lost. Let them know that you want to remember them together. Make them apart of the holidays, too. Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing people you love and feeling like everyone else has forgotten them.

 

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To Be Like Tree — October 10, 2018

To Be Like Tree

To be like tree, letting go of me

Fighting to drop off the dead parts but they cling like sap

Dripping slowing down and attracting insects that feed off it

While anguish flows in the veins up through the root

Can’t live without it even though it gives life to the pain

To be like tree, fighting to be me

Trying medication then which to mediation

Breathing in the sweet air of understanding

Swaying easily with the wind

Bleeding out the sores that cover

To be like tree,

be like tree,

like tree…

I am tree.

 

 

The Literal Storm That Brews Above — September 10, 2018

The Literal Storm That Brews Above

As I was on the road driving my four and a half hours back home, there was a severe storm pounding down while continuing to brew above. The entire drive, there were multiple dark and black clouds circling above me. The wind would push and pull so violently to where I felt almost completely out of control. The water flooded part of the road and would throw the car this way and that. No matter where I turned or how hard or gently I held onto the wheel, uneasiness filled the air.

This is a state of mind I am very familiar with.

I attempted to listen to a podcast, “The Hilarious World of Depression”, and my thoughts would linger so much I would have no idea how much of the episode I had missed so I’d have to rewind it to figure out where I fell off. This isn’t new but it happened the entire four and a half hours. The guests and the host are very captivating but when my mind wonders, it’s hard to concentrate. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve stopped breathing and then I start to feel panic because I feel like I can’t breathe unless I tell my body to preform that function.

Thoughts tend to circle in my mind. They usually aren’t rational but in the moment seem like life and death and too often, the latter feels more fitting. Then the thought circles again and again. I find myself exhausted from the miles of running I’m doing internally.

At this very moment, I’m minutes from walking into the door and I feel as if I’ve been up for days. I feel as if I’m completely malnourished. The storm was a physical remembrance of my daily mental health and now I feel more drained than I have in a few weeks. These last couple months have been very challenging with circling thoughts, self doubt and negative self talk.

So where do I go from here? I’m not sure but I’ll try to calm these nerves that are running off the track now.

The Left Behind — May 12, 2018

The Left Behind

I’ve been longing to put down my thoughts and feelings into words on this platform or even just scraps of paper for months now. The vulnerability that I release through my emotions can be overwhelming. I find my physical body frozen in fear while my thoughts continue like a script I’m preparing to present goes on over and over again in my mind. I dream of it, I think of it as I’m driving, showering, cooking, my reflections are very present.

Today I feel very sad. I feel as if I’m not living up to the person I can be. I feel as if I could be so much more for so many other people but my fears hold me so tight. The suffocating grip of rejection or even possibily doing more damage to someone else’s being. How does one overcome a problem they do not know how to solve?

Looking around my life, I realize that being left behind is a ache that you carry with you throughout your lifetime. When you lose someone you love to death, it rips part of your heart, soul, purpose from you. You continue to bleed until the day your own heart stops beating. The fear of a scab healing over doesn’t exist because that wound can never heal.

Sitting here today, noticing that I’ve been left behind by those still living, who have never felt the torment of loss and grief. Their lives continue on as a normal day. The sun still rises and sets the same way it always has. They don’t feel the weight of the ocean waves crashing onto their body day in and day out to the point they’re able to breath and their body is throbbing in pain as it’s smashes against the rocks of despair. They no longer want to be bothered by the emptiness you now hold. They are ready to continue on with their life and you must wish them well as they do so.

This journey of life is a lonely one when you are too afraid to open your wounded heart and when the trauma continues on. When you are perpetually left behind by those who you love whether it be their choice or not.

Moments of Balance in 2017 — December 31, 2017

Moments of Balance in 2017

This year has been a year beyond struggle. The pain has been immeasurable and the anxiety and depression has taken a tight grip.

This past week I have done things differently than I usually do for the start of a new year. I have done some deep cleaning of our apartment, I have found some self improvement projects that begin tomorrow, January 1, 2018, and I went to the store so our refrigerator and pantry will be full for the start of our new year. I have to make a change or I will stay stuck in this hole.

So, I decided to to do something completely different than I usually do. I am going to remember things that brought me balance, happiness and/or joy, even if only for a moment in time. I’m not only going to look back on them, I’m going to write them down. Maybe this can help my soul as I remember all the painful moments over and over again without fail, that these moments can help balance out my overwhelming mourning.

Texting and FaceTiming with my nieces Shea and Puddle.

Sitting with friends outside of Mikey’s house just chatting and watching music videos on YouTube.

Going out to see Split with Pikki and Garrett.

Playing and spending time with Michael and Alexandra.

Being able to talk with Christina about our issues we shared.

Cuddling Brutus,

Going on walks and hikes with Brutus,

Cooking fresh chicken for Brutus,

Having a meltdown but have Brutus pull me out of it.

Cooking home cooked meals.

Eating out at two of our favorite restaurants.

Cuddling on the couch with Justin.

Watching a thousand Christmas movies that Justin loves.

Putting up a foot tall Christmas tree for Justin.

Going to DuQuoin, IL to visit my Mommy. First time we’ve been able to see each other in years just for the purpose of loving each other.

Talking with my Pops on the phone for an hour here or there.

Seeing large groups of blue birds, seemed as if they’ve followed me around this year.

Helping my first Buyer buyer their first home.

Going to Dallas to spend the weekend with Amber and Will.

Spending a week in Washington D.C. with Justin, his Mom and sister.

Working for JB Goodwin.

Meeting new people.

Writing this blog.

Having friends back home that I can still count on.

Getting the text that Ramon was finally born.

Spending time with Xuan and her family.

Being able to text, call or FaceTime Sarah whenever I need to, day or night.

I have to remember that there is still good in my life and there’s much more than what I’ve listed above. I have to figure out how to keep the balance. It can be so hard and overwhelming but it’s something I’m working on each day.

We can all do this together. We can continue to communicate with each other and support each other.

Depression and Grief Are Not The Same Thing — December 21, 2017

Depression and Grief Are Not The Same Thing

Depression and grief are not the same thing although they can coincide or trig the other.

Depression has been something I’ve struggled with my entire life. Grief has been something that has sprung up throughout my life but the past five years has not left my side.

As a young girl, I can remember hating myself. Hating the way I looked, the sound of my voice in my head, the way my hands looked as I wrote and colored, every little thing I did, that made me who I was, I hated. I have journals filled with spewing hatred about myself. My first thoughts of suicide came before the age of 6. I always felt as if I wasn’t good enough for my family. Maybe, if somehow, I was better, smarter, prettier, more fit, more athletic, funnier, happier, so much more, I could make their lives more fulfilling.

I struggled with nightly terrors. I had the same nightmare for years every single night. It never failed. We lived in Pennsylvania at the time and I would dream about a trailer we lived in on a hill (we actually lived there when the dreams started but continued even after we moved). It would start with an army of soldiers that would come marching from the right side of the property where the garden was. I could see them coming from far away and I would yell for my parents and brothers to come into the house but no one ever did. The soldiers would get up to us and I watched as they shot my father, then my mother. My brother Adam and I would hold hands and run into the house to hide with Josh running with us. Adam and I hid in a cabinet together and Josh hid in one by himself. I could somehow see though the walls. I watched as the soldiers came into the house, open the cabinet where Josh was and they would shoot him. Then they’d open the cabinet where we were hiding and shoot Adam, right there beside me. They never hurt me. They would leave after they killed everyone and I would be left alone, crying and begging for my family to wake up. Then I would see them all get shot again and again. I had that dream for years. I’ve had it about a dozen times since I’ve been an adult.

I’m sure that fed my depression as a young girl. My depression and anxiety would hold me so tightly I couldn’t speak. Still at times I would want to say something to someone but I physically couldn’t speak. It’s as if I was frozen and my tongue and throat couldn’t move. The words would repeat again and again in my head but nothing actually would come out of my mouth. That’s another reason I always wrote in notebooks or whatever I could find to write on/it. That still happens to this day.

I had a boyfriend in college who would get so frustrated with me because I would be upset but I couldn’t talk. I’d just grab my notebook and disappear to write. He once grabbed my notebook and said, “Fucking just say what you want! Don’t run away and write shit in this fucking book! Just say it!” If only he knew how badly I wanted to speak. I longed to say what was on my mind but I’ve always felt as if…maybe…maybe I didn’t deserve to feel what I was feeling. Maybe the pain I felt was because I wasn’t a good person or was doing something wrong. I thought, if I’m doing something wrong, or upsetting someone, why should I get to express my emotions. I was in a prison of self hatred with no self worth.

With grief in the picture, now I feel guilty about being upset because my dad and brothers don’t get to have feelings or emotions. Why should I get to have them when theirs were cut way too short? So my lifelong depression gets amplified with the grief of the loss I’ve consumed these past few years.

I know to many this all probably sounds crazy. And maybe it is. But depression can play some crazy games with your mind, with your thoughts, with your life. Maybe this is a new way for me to speak without having to use my physical voice. Or maybe it can be a voice for someone who feels or has felt the way I do or have.

I plan to write more on this topic, for now I need to stop.

 

Not A Day of Remembrance — December 1, 2017

Not A Day of Remembrance

No, today is not a day of remembrance. I remember you every single day. I think about you nonstop. I think of conversations we should be having and at times it feels as if they are happening, right here in this bruised mind of mine.

Today isn’t a day like the rest. It’s not a day to think of you and all the love we’ve shared and experienced together. Today isn’t a day to fondly look upon as if something should be remembered. Today isn’t a day for that. Today created the date to the right side of the hyphen.

That hyphen shouldn’t have that second date. Not yet. That hyphen should still be collecting memories and experiences you should be sharing with us. That hyphen holds more than just a dash between two days. It holds a lifetime of knowledge, understanding, support, fears, loss, heartbreak, love, relationships, family, friends, warmth, weakness, and strength. That hyphen, that dash, is life. That hyphen doesn’t belong there because you’re growth wasn’t finished.

Today is a day of anger. A day of anxiety and pain. If I could stop this day from coming, I would. I’d fight it off with the might of a dozen wolves protecting it’s pack. I’d tear through it leaving nothing behind, not even fragments of it’s existence to peer back at us. I would dismantle any torment felt on this day and create something new. I would make this day a day with no meaning.

 

 

This Capsule That Imprisons Me — November 26, 2017

This Capsule That Imprisons Me

I’m imprisoned by this capsule. A capsule of depression and anxiety. It keeps me from doing the simple things I once enjoyed so much.

Running- I use to feel so free when I would run. The wind I created in still air as I would run off my fears. It was a time I could reflect on thoughts and pain. I could run anytime of day and any weather type. It would just hit me and I’d go. The sweat, the deep breathing and heavy heartbeats pounding my chest was a medicine that I could consume. I could even leave my body and just be a spirit swirling gently in the wind. Mother Earth would heal me, even if just for the moment.

Writing- I’m having to force myself to sit down and write. Before, I would just write; anywhere and everywhere. I have a tote full of notebooks, pizza box lids, Milk Duds box that I opened up and wrote on the inside because something just came to me and I had to let it out. Happiness, sorrow, pain, love, thoughts, moments. memories, a flower I spotted growing in the middle of cement, a beautiful person walking near me; I was truly inspired by so many different things. It’s where I felt whole. I could express my lightest and deepest me.

Working out- I started pushing myself in a way I had never known I could. I was becoming so strong and powerful. I learned how to manifest the pain inside and let it out in a healthy and productive way. I would do research on new workouts, I joined a gym and loved it. I followed people on Instagram and read articles about people overcoming personal obstacles with the power of self discipline and self love.

Social settings- I’ve always been told, “You know no stranger.” I’ve continuously been able to walk into a room and start talking to anyone. People have, without fail, opened up to me and told me their life stories. I was so interested in learning about others and share a little piece of myself with them that it felt so good to be around others. Strangers telling me secrets and peeling back layers right in front of me. What a privilege that I held in my own existence while standing there with them.

I can see all these enjoyments for inside this capsule. The physical pain I feel walking into a room full of people is so intense that I can’t utter the words to describe it. I’m trying to do little things I once enjoyed to spark that excitement I once longed to engulf myself in. I went to a Thanksgiving dinner with a small group of people I did not know (besides three) and I thought about it all day. I tried to prepare myself for questions about who I am and what I do. But the anxiety of having to talk out loud to people just overwhelmed me. I thought of reasons not to go but the notion of my friend and her little girl forced me to shower and go.

Working out and running takes so much energy that I do not have. I’m so tired all the time. Having to shampoo and condition my hair consumes so much of my physical energy that the thought of doing something more feels like a height that I can’t get to. Then I’m inundated with anger. That anger makes me feel irritated by everything around me. The irritation wraps around my shoulders and I feel like a ball of sadness trapping me inside these feelings.

I don’t want to feel these ways or be this person. I started doing yoga and meditating for 5 minutes each in the mornings. I did it for 4 days straight. It felt as if it was helping me. Baby steps to progress each day. Then the physical pain at night hit hard. I was up all night in pain (a pain outside of my depression and something I’ve been dealing with for years now). I have another obstacle that I have to work around and that breaks me down once again.

I want to be…different. Different than the person I am today. Different than this person in this capsule.

 

Linda, My Sounding Board — November 19, 2017

Linda, My Sounding Board

How can I describe Linda? How can I express the feelings I’ve shared with her and the light she gave me? I’m not sure that’s possible, at least not at this time.

Linda came into my life after I reached out to CancerConnect. When Bubba (my Dad) was  first diagnosed with cancer I had meltdown, or in other words a panic attack. I knew I was going to have a very difficult time. I was here in Austin, Texas while he was back home in Conneaut, Ohio about 1500 miles away.

I started questioning how I was going to survive this. How could I be there for him if I was here, so far away from him. I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I started doing research online for resources. That’s when CancerConnect, which is now apart of The Care Communities, shined like a beacon. I called and told them a little bit about my situation of being long distance with my family and not having money to get counseling. They said they would connect me with a counselor who could help. A few days later is when Linda reached out to me.

Linda had experienced giving long distance support for her family when her father got sick. She understood me in a way that no one else did. She wasn’t pushy about getting a lot of information right away. She allowed me to open up as I felt safe to. I still struggle with letting people in, to let others know my true feelings inside but she didn’t mind. She had me start with that day and go back as I needed to. That’s when I knew she was different. She would be there to help me through this painful time of my life and guide me with experience and true concern.

She wasn’t getting anything out of it. She wasn’t getting paid (at least not from me) yet she was so present. She was the most sincere person I had ever met. If I started down a hole that would lead me to more darkness, she wouldn’t cut me off. She allowed me to express the shadows that were weighing me down and then showed me how to crawl out from under them. The power she showed me I had was remarkable. Never had I understood the capacity I had to endure so much.

Within 6 months of my Dad getting sick, he was gone. We lost him early Saturday morning at 1:50 a.m. on February 18th 2012. I was suppose to fly out on Friday but I felt a pull on my soul. I knew he needed me and I needed to go. I changed my plane ticket early Wednesday morning and flew out to Cleveland within 3 hours. Linda told me I could call her while I was there whenever I needed to.

I always felt so weak but she shone lights on things that didn’t make sense to me. I felt so pathetic and broken without any strength left to go on but she saw me in a different way. She understood my weaknesses and imperfections but said that doesn’t mean I’m feeble or inadequate. It means I’m human who’s gone through some traumatic situations and I need to be patient with myself.

I called her while I was in Ohio, after it all happened. After I had sat there holding his hand for days. After calling for the body donation people to come get him. After curling up in his chair where he took his last breath and dreamt of only white for a couple hours. She didn’t say much but just having her answer her phone was significant. She showed me that she cared enough even though she didn’t have to.

That is what set the tone for your relationship. She was there when I needed her. She was still there after I came back from saying Goodbye to Bubba, to the abusive relationship that ended, to starting a new relationship, to losing grandparents and most life altering after my Dad, losing my brothers. She has helped me so much.

Linda has sat on the floor with me as I collapsed on her rug as soon as I entered her room the day after we lost Adam. That’s all I remember about that day. Crying on her rug that had given me so much comfort before. Her presence with that rug soothed me in a way I can’t explain. She’s hugged me and I felt some pain melt away. She would gently rubbed my back as I exited her door and that gave me a sense of ease that I could walk out that door and not dissolve.

Linda and I shared precious and painful moments for over 5 years. I learned so much about her and from her. She became a trusted friend who I love and cherish dearly. The amount of tenderness I hold for her can never be measured. Her pure heart has made a genuine difference in this world.

She retired the last day of September. I have mixed feelings about it for only selfish reasons. I miss our meetings and that rug that soothed me. But I’m happy she’s doing what’s best for her. She gets to experience life in a new way and she deserves that. She can take her pup for hikes whenever she wants, she can bird watch and travel the world.

Linda, the woman who changed my life. Thank you. I truly do love you for who you are.

 

Am I A Vampire? — November 17, 2017

Am I A Vampire?

I’m afraid I’m a vampire. I feel as if I’ve lived a thousand lifetimes and I have to just continue on as I watch everyone I’ve ever loved leave me.

I’ve watched the ones most dear to me leave this earth as I pray to whatever might be listening to take me with them. I long to just be with those ones who left too soon. The ones I’m meant to grow old with but they can’t return and I can’t leave to be with them. I’m trapped here begging to feel their presence and warmth again.

That’s what all this darkness must be, the life of a vampire. I must crawl around in this damp cold life, longing to find that warmth that has disappeared. My skin so fair, my veins easily seen through it’s transparency. The yearning is for the warm blood of those who have vanished;  to pump through their hearts once again, to have them raise to their feet and dance with me.

The daylight hurts my eyes and burns my colorless casing they call skin. I just stumble through my days on autopilot waiting for the sleepless nights to arrive. I spend the nights sleeping for a few hours then my mind races to what I should do as I continue to exist.

For I must be a vampire, there is no other explanation.