My Daily Ransom

Facing the Unknown…

What and Where Are Your Fears? — July 1, 2019

What and Where Are Your Fears?

Fearful Girl
Fearful Girl

What are your fears? Where do these fears come from? Which ones follow you around each day lingering in the background waiting to pounce as soon as you’re ready to make a leap?

Just like happiness, I’m working on recognizing my feelings and understanding them when it comes to fears. Fear is a feeling that I’ve always struggled with, even as a small child. I’ve been afraid of my own feelings, my own thoughts and my own needs, along with unrealistic scenarios. I would fall into pits of fear and become frozen in that moment making it impossible to do what I really wanted or even speak the words I longed to hear slip from my tongue.

Recently, I’ve been able to look at my fears and see them for what they are. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done but it’s also one of the best experience I’ve ever had, too. I’m not saying that I’ve conquered all my fears because that’s FAR from the truth. I still have many fears that I’ve struggled with my entire life but I do my best to work through them each day and not just dismiss them until they creep up again and overwhelm all my senses.

One of my major fears is speaking my truth about my feelings and needs. May times my empathy can take over and I’m afraid that what I want or need will ultimately take away from what the other person wants or needs. I’m starting to understand that speaking my truth doesn’t take anything away from someone else. It simply releases my needs and allows someone else to know what I’m feeling. Sharing my feelings isn’t dismissing theirs but intertwining our truths. But it’s so much easier to write that out than to actually do when it comes to that time. When that fear to speak hits me it’s like my throat, tongue and lips have turned to cement. I’m literally trying everything in my power to move them and speak the words that are playing in my head but nothing comes out. I’m terror-stricken to the point of complete silence and my entire body is numb and feels like I’m wearing a weighted vest that’s suffocating me.

Most of my fears are emotional fears, yes, but I have a few that go along with my grief. A fear that I now hold since my brother Josh passed and I was made a lone sibling. I’m afraid I’m going to die before my parents. That fear follows me no matter where I go and it’s the heaviest of all my fears.  I’m afraid that I’m going to make them into childrenless parents and that breaks my heart over and over again.

So what do we do with our fears and how do we handle them? Well, we have to make a game plan. We have to decide to take steps each day to recognized them and see them for what they really are. For me, writing them down, reading through them and breaking them down has helped me. I try to make a timeline of when I first felt that way and why. Was that fear founded in truth of the situation or was I just afraid to speak my truth, know the truth or accept the truth? Some fears have been there so long that we don’t know where they initially came from so you break it down from the last situation you felt that exact fear. Fears like to hide and manifest in many different ways. We have to do our best to stop ourselves in our tracks when we see our fears taking over. Even if you have to walk away from the situation for a few minutes to understand yourself, it’s worth it.

Fears are scary! They can do a lot of damage but they can also help us grow. Let your fears help you and take control of them.

 

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What and Where Is Your Happiness? — May 28, 2019

What and Where Is Your Happiness?

What is your happiness? Do you even know what or where it is? Are you afraid of your happiness?

I’ve been working on finding my happiness or should I say happinesses. Sometimes I forget that I have happiness in many different aspects, in different moments, feelings, activities, shapes. Sometimes my happinesses last for seconds, minutes, hours, and days. But it always passes which is apart of happiness. It can’t last forever.

Yes, that’s the phrase we all hate to hear, “It can’t last forever.” because we never want the happiness to leave. We want to be happy forever and never feel sad or hurt. Our goal is to always be happy but that’s not life. Happiness is fleeting but only in that specific moment. It finds its way back to us even if it takes longer than we’d like.

For me happiness is something I feel a lot of guilt having and truly feeling. This is a topic I’ve spoken about many times. The guilt that I am privileged to experience sincere happiness when my brothers, Josh and Adam, and my Bubba (my step-dad) no longer get to have is heartbreaking. The guilt, in an instant, can be paralyzing. My happiness disappears and I feel angry or sadness about losing them. And people say, “But they would want you to be happy.” or “They wouldn’t want you to feel this way.” That doesn’t change the emotions I bear during these times. It makes no difference what they would want, it’s how I feel.

So what is MY happiness? How do I find it and accept it? I have started telling myself that I’m worthy of happiness. That no matter what I have or haven’t done in my life, no matter what I have or haven’t said in my past, I am worthy of feeling happiness. And since happiness leaves us so quickly, I can’t allow a split second of it to pass without fully participating in that moment.

So some of my happinesses come from little things and big events. My happiness is living back in Texas where I am able to be physically active each day. I can walk my pups in the morning and the evenings no matter the time of year. My happiness is being with my nontraditional family of my significant other and our pups. My happiness is laying on the couch with my dogs and man watching tv. It’s tasting that delicious dessert I’ve been craving for days (sometimes weeks!) and just allowing the pleasure of tasting it to take over my mind and body. My happiness is getting a text of the campsite where my Dad is staying or a SnapChat filtered picture from my Mom. My happiness is having a career that I enjoy. My happiness is planning for my future and things I want to accomplish. My happiness is laying in the sun reading a book. My happiness is talking with my best friends. My happiness is exploring new cities.

But I also have happiness in other aspects. My happiness comes from learning to love myself. Looking at myself in the mirror and actually LOOKING at myself. The happiness of being able to enjoy being myself fully and completely. The happiness of setting goals for myself and knowing I can accomplish them all. My happiness is knowing that I have talents and I cannot waste them any longer.

So, I’ve found happiness again. And yes, it’s always fleeting just like yours. But we have to know that we are worthy of our own happiness. A happiness that no one else can give us but ourselves. A happiness that no one else can take away from us. Remember, we can never be happy always. We have to have moments of growth in pain and anguish. And happiness may hide away from time to time. But keep working on finding that happiness again because you are worthy of it. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, you are. If I’m worthy of it, so are you.

 

“What Do You Want?” — February 17, 2019

“What Do You Want?”

Do you know what you want? You do ever ask yourself, truly ask yourself with a sincere tone as you would a dear friend, “What do you want? What do you need?”

We should all be talking to ourselves in a way we would our dearest friend who needs us. We should be our own best friend looking out for ourselves but I, myself, have an extremely difficult time doing that. I know I’m not unique in that which is even more heartbreaking.

I’m starting the plunge deep down inside my broken pieces, holding them up to the light and digging through the pain of the past to see where I want to go. I’m tired of the fear of the pain due to the past to continue to dictate the moves I make today. I can’t change what has happened in my life but I have to face those moments of earth shattering anguish to become a better person. Or at least see how I can grow from the deconstruction of what could have been.

Grief is a mistress in the dark lingering just behind that closed door. She jumps out without warning and pours her pain into your veins and shakes your thoughts to the ground. She fights to control your feelings as you melt into a puddle of misery. Your wounds are open and profound. Ask yourself, “What do I want?”

Do you want to stay in that puddle of torture? Do you want to continue to fear those thoughts that squeeze the life from you limbs?

I want to continue to love my brothers and my dad. I want to continue to remember how I felt with them. How a text or call could shine up my face. How their lives have fully intertwined into my soul and helped me become the person I am today, both the happy and the sad. I want to see the beauty in the world and not just the darkness that softly flows beside me.

I want to look in my own eyes staring back at me and see the beauty that someone else sees. I want to believe I can feel heartfelt joy and not feel ashamed of it. I want my naked truth to be seen by the world and not pitied for the pain I endure. I want to feel and give fearless love to myself and others. I want to believe in a journey of understanding and progress.

Now that I know what I want, what do I do now?

 

Adam, My Brother — January 23, 2019

Adam, My Brother

“My brother died so leave me alone!” The first time I said those words I was in fourth grade. A group of us were jumping on Jamis’ trampoline and a couple of other boys came up to me and started making fun of me because my brother was gay.

“Your brother is a fucking fag! He sucks dick and puts stuff up his butt!” they yelled at me from the side walk.

I didn’t know what to do. I was embarrassed for both of us. I already knew that he liked boys because, as his baby sis, I just knew him. Before he ran away to Florida as soon as he turned 18 we were together ALL the time. He was my best friend. I just knew who he was fully and completely. But I didn’t know exactly what being gay entailed so the thought of anyone putting “stuff” up their butt seemed horrifying.

I jumped off the trampoline and ran the half block back to my house. We lived in a duplex up the street above a store. I ran up the stairs then I slowly opened the top door and calmly walked in the house. I stood in the hallway and could hear my mother’s voice in the living room trying to explain to someone that everything was fine. “No, seriously, I just clicked over from talking to him. He was just on the other line. Who said he was dead?”

Those boys lived just a block the other direction next to a cousin of mine and ran to tell her about Adam. She picked up the phone immediately and called my mother crying and confused. Why hadn’t anyone told her.

“I have to go. Let me call you back.” my mother told her.

“Abigail Faye, what the hell is going on?” my mother called to me from the living room. As I turned the corner she looked at me and said “Why would you say that Adam died? That is so messed up! What is wrong with you?”

“The West boys were making fun of me because Allfaye’s gay.” I said through tears rolling down my cheeks. “I didn’t know how else to make them leave me alone.” and I ran to my room.

A few minutes later our cousin was there and I was called into the living room. “Little lady, why would you say that Adam died? That’s a terrible thing to say.”

“Tavon and Taft were making fun of me because Allfaye’s gay.” I didn’t have the words to say that I was tired of them always teasing me and hurting my feelings. I didn’t know how to express the anger they filled me with. How I wanted to jump off that trampoline and punch them in the face and kick them while they were on the ground. The rage I felt when I heard their voices overwhelmed my senses.

She looked me straight in the eyes and said something that has stuck with me my entire life. “You should be proud of who your brother is. Don’t ever let someone else make you feel bad about who he is.” and she hugged me. She may have even said more but that’s what I remember the most. “Be proud.”

From that day on I told everyone I knew that my brother was gay if they asked and even if they didn’t. I told them about my gay brother and all the amazing things he did (even though most of them didn’t matter if he was gay or straight). If I was talking to someone who didn’t know my family dynamics then I’d say “my straight brother” or “my gay brother”.

The amount of pride I’ve always held for being the little sister of my two big brothers is powerful. The strength I’ve received from that power has helped me through a lot of turmoil. I’m so thankful Josh and Adam were my big brothers. I love them so.

 

 

***Names of people outside of my siblings have been changed to protect their identity

 

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.

 

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 switch 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 unable 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.