For many of us, the holidays are just another day. A day to reflect on how much our lives have changed since that (or those) fateful day(s). While many others have to go on celebrating holidays with other loved ones, too often grief is a topic that isn’t discussed. People prefer not to talk about those who are missing so as not to dampen the mood of excitement. What a lonely time to be surrounded by so many but forced to put on a smile and pretend that the grief in our hearts and minds has disappeared suddenly.
I’ve been told, “I didn’t want to upset you so I didn’t ask about them. I thought it would be better not to say anything.” That is a very isolating statement although filled with love and ignorance. I am eager to share ridiculous stories of my brothers and dad. I would much rather be given the chance to speak rather than be silenced by the heedless actions of those who I spend my time with. Grief is desolate as it is. Give the grieving space to be who and where they are during times that are meant to be joyous. Let those who want to share the same stories you’ve heard a million times as they would be told even if those who are missing were still here. We all have those repeat stories we love to tell again and again.
This year the holiday grief has morphed a bit for myself and my family. Both of my beautiful nieces became mothers this year. I have spoken before about the unexpected milestones in our lives and here we are again. I remember the last Christmas I was able to celebrate at home in Ohio with my dad Bubba, both of my brothers, my mother, and my nieces. It was a special time and none of us had any idea that it would be the last.
I am ruminating about how so much has changed in such a beautifully sad way. Those sweet babies will never get to laugh wildly at their grandpa and uncle. They won’t get to sit on Bubba’s lap while he naps. They will miss out on the magical love those three men would have shared with them. And at this moment my heart breaks in a new way. My tears feel different, heavier maybe.
So I am here to remind you that if you care for someone who is grieving no matter the timeframe, ask them if they want to share a memory of their loved ones. Or at the very least, tell them you sympathize with them and their feelings. Give a safe space for them to feel whatever they feel. Not everyone will be ready to talk or share but just holding space will give comfort not many grievers experience.
So to my sweet great nephews Raiden & Xander, I will always hold space for you. And I will continue to do so for your amazing mommies.
The word beauty has been swirling around in my head. The actual letters, bobbing up and down, twisting and turning, a full color animated picture. Bright colors that slowly turn black & white, back and forth. It will play in my mind with my eyes wide open or shut. Sometimes I get lost in the places I see beauty and wonder…do I see beauty in myself?
I find beauty in kind words that float from a stranger’s lips to another’s ear. No expectation of the one receiving the kindness, just hoping to share a smile with another. Witnessing a small gesture, like picking up something that’s fallen without anyone noticing and giving back to the person who would have lost it. That is beauty. I believe beauty has no intentions. It’s not there to be praised or even be noticed. It’s there as a guide. A guide to teach us the way of life, to take our hand and show us where the next adventure is meant to be had. Sometimes that adventure is on the corner as you cross the street and it lasts for less than a minute. That’s the beauty that follows us throughout our days.
I also find beauty in all the expected places. The face of my pups, the big beautiful willow trees, and the soft rain that tickles your face. I find beauty in nature each day and I’m so thankful for our Mother Earth. Experiencing the change of the seasons in slow motion should seem so bizarre but it’s not and it’s so wonderful to explore it. Life is outlandish and that’s what creates all of this beauty.
I’m also starting to see beauty in self-love. To stand in front of a mirror, naked and just accepting your body for what it is; Fingers free of any skin that could be pinched or pulled between them. Allowing your mind and body to recognize each other as one and celebrate that freely. Taking the time to learn what you fancy and what you have aversions to is so important to your own beauty. Being able to set healthy boundaries within all facets of life is one of the great beauties of our journey.
I am finding beauty in myself. Learning boundaries that allow me to grow into the person I’ve yearned to be for so long, as I continue to love strangers in my own way. I am also recongizing the beauty I have to share with those I choose to spend my time with. Being open and valunerable while not holding any expectations for that moment, rather only accepting them and this life exactly as it is. That is beauty.
I want to be beautiful and possess beauty for myself so that in turn, I can give more to others.
Although this post has nothing to do with physical beauty per se, I took a picture of myself to send to my two best friends and nieces for their opinion on my lip stick color. I did not use a filter, just took a quick snap in my hallway. I have never felt so much confidence in my life and I feel like the picture shows that and I feel beautiful in it. I made the choice to share it here.
This is for those who have lost loved ones and for those who want to help support someone who has lost a loved one. I wish I could have told those around me before what I needed during this time of year but I was too deep into my grief to do much of anything. I hope this helps someone just a little.
I want you to know, truly know, that whatever you’re feeling right now is okay. If you’re excited about the holidays, that’s okay! If you’re angry and full of rage, that’s okay. If you are numb and have no idea what you’re feeling, that’s okay, too. It’s okay to be and feel whatever it is at this very moment. And it’s okay if those feelings change in an instant. The rollercoaster of life and grief can spin us in motion without us even realizing what’s happening or where we are going. The only true advice I can give for that is to allow yourself to experience those feelings but to let them go as quickly as they come. Holding on too tightly to our emotions is when we become stuck and I’ve been stuck before and it’s excruciating. Let those feelings move through you like a breeze on your cheek, experiencing it without touching it.
This part is for the supporters. Thank you for being there when many times those grieving are left alone because others are unsure what to do. The best course of action is to physically be there just to hold space. Sometimes we don’t know what we want but what we need is to not be detached. Grieving during the holidays can be arduous and lonely. By letting that person know you want to be near may be what gives them the courage to allow themselves to feel hopeful.
Another aspect that many people seem to shy away from, which can be most damaging, is pretending like the ones lost never existed. People don’t want to say their names because they don’t want to upset those grieving but hearing other’s speak their names give their life even more value. Sharing stories of those who are gone breathes life back into their memory and keeps their spirit strong in the hearts who are left behind. Ask them to share their favorite stories with you and ask why it’s their favorite. People live on through our memories because we love them and because we share who they were and who they are to us in those anecdotes. Those are what keep them closest to our hearts.
Life is tough. Feelings are exhausting. But the love we get to share with those near to us is why we are in this wildly, unapologetic world. And even with the constant soreness I feel from losing my two big brothers and Dad, I want to talk about them. I want to make people laugh by telling them all the stupid things they would do during the holidays!
(Bubba, Joshy and Allfaye, we miss you so much. Make sure Momo isn’t getting into too much trouble. I love you more than ever. Lots of XOXO)
After I wrote my last post I wanted to do something with my darkness I held in both my body and my mind. I felt so heavy like my hands were weighted down and I couldn’t quite move right. As if I was crawling on my knees and elbows on a shore of broken shells and rocks. Each movement causing tiny little cuts stinging in the saltwater as it washed ashore. But I didn’t want to just sit there. I asked where the starting point was and I realized where mine had to be.
My starting point is on that shore covered in blood and pain surrounded by walls of terror and scars. I either needed to pick out the slivers of shells in my knees and arms or lay there and rot away in the fungus that was growing inside me. So I started pulling little fragments out.
The first thing I did was think about what was frustrating me. The feeling as if I was stuck in my home was causing so much frustration. I work from home, clean my home, cook, bathe, do EVERYTHING within these four walls and it can drive me crazy. So as soon as I clocked out that Thursday, I put on my shoes and went for a 4 mile walk/hike. I live in the hilly city of San Antonio so being out in nature was healing. I saw multiple deer on my walk, felt the warm sun on my face then the back of my neck. I saw birds and insects in beautiful trees with a slight breeze blowing the little hairs around my face. It was freeing and relaxing. It was what I needed. I did it again the next two day.
This past Monday I started meditating again. I hadn’t done it in so long and I forgot how powerful it truly is. I only spend about 10-13 minutes in the morning before I start work and I’ve done it each day this weekend. I’ve been using the Calm app and it’s amazing. Having the guided meditation is helping me stay focused on why I’m taking this time for myself. I can feel such a difference in my mind. Yes, I still feel the heaviness and darkness but it’s not as debilitating.
Of course, this is just the starting point and I’m glad I’m here instead of being pulled out by the current of the hopelessness. I hurt my back just a few days into my walking sessions so I haven’t been able to be back out in nature like I was but hopefully within the next few days I can get back out there (doctor gave me limits but it’s getting better slowly). I’m also going to start reading again. I’ll set aside at least two 15 minute breaks throughout my day to read. I’ll be starting “Against the Stream” by Noah Levine.
Having this plan to add one new thing a week has really helped me. They are all small, achievable actions. I’m not expecting to feel safe and happy right away, all at once. I’m allowing myself to enjoy these little things and as they grow, so does my internal calmness.
We can’t be happy all the time. That’s the truth of life for each of us. However, we shouldn’t be unhappy all the time either. What do we do when happiness starts becoming harder to find in our daily lives?
Recently, I’ve been having a harder time feeling happiness or joy. It comes easily to feel happiness for someone else when they share a bright moment or experience they are so eager to shine a light on. I feel true excitement and delight for their happiness in their lives. How special is it that they want to share those moments with me? I would never want to miss any of it.
I don’t think we can ever anticipate when blocks of sadness will wash ashore. And when the blocks continue to build up and get pushed closer and closer by the waves of emotions and daily life, it feels like there’s no way to purge them. It’s almost as if we didn’t see them until they’ve morphed into a wall of wretchedness. Each angle that we face shows us a new contorted feeling of sadness that is now a new encounter; a new wound that we realize needs healed. So with each new wound we observe, comes a flood of fresh tenderness that trickles down into the puddle of sorrow where we stand until that puddle turns into a pond that we are drowning in.
Feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. I’m not sure where to begin. Right now I’m longing for tears that can warm my face and hopefully guide me to a starting point.
I find myself asking that question with “Am” in italics.
Many times thoughts float into my overloaded brain and stick on the top like a fluorescent note screaming in my face. Recently that note screams “Am I worthy?” and I’m taken back for a minute debating it. Then I get back to my task at hand until that beaming question sticks on top once again.
I’ve worked very hard to redirect my thoughts to be kind and loving words to myself. This has been a mammoth undertaking since I’ve wrestled with it all of my existence. Gentle and fierce love is one of the great qualities I have toward others but never inward. I’m proud of the person I’m becoming to myself because I believe it’s allowing me to love in a healthier way to those dear to me. So when this strange feeling seeps in deep with a feeling of uneasiness, I’m confused about what to do.
How do we convince ourselves that we are worthy of so much more than we currently have? Again, survivor’s guilt is a deep-seated sorrow that I carry on my chest as I maneuver through my everyday life. I want to be more and do more than they ever imagined but the question floats in like a fluffy, weightless feather that hits like a brick, “Am I worthy?”.
For many, the holiday season is fast approaching. Nothing can stop it from rolling on in, not even a worldwide pandemic. Definitely not the heart wrenching grief that fills my existence just weeks before Halloween.
You see, for me, it’s not Season’s Greetings. This is the season of loss and realization that I am much more alone than I like to admit. I’m also burdened with a deep sadness that strips me of all my fabricated happiness that I’ve conjured up. It’s the breaking point of where I cannot hide behind the success I’ve had both professionally and personally.
October 31st (or at least very close to it) is usually a fun and exciting time for many. They get to decorate their homes and persons, celebrate being someone or something else while surrounded by people they love or new possible friends. So many different things happen around Halloween for people of all ages. Most get a sliver of excitement within their own boundaries. My brother Adam absolutely loved Halloween. He went all out with decorations and parties. Adam made you feel light as a feather with his magical entrancement of the holiday that ended with the start of his birthday with the strike of midnight, Day of the Dead.
Of course, this is just the inauguration of the Grief Greetings. Not far behind is the blindside of December 1st. It seems to slide me off track like rubber on black ice. Never even seeing it before I realize that I’m spinning out of control with anxiety and flashbacks of that call. Wondering if this has all been a bad dream when I realize his number doesn’t call him anymore.
Then of course, everyone around me is making plans with their families and complaining about someone that they have to “put up with” at the family gatherings when all I want for Christmas is for my brothers to drive me crazy so I can roll my eyes at them and I laugh hysterically. The actualization of never experiencing these moments with them again steep deep into my essence. Moments overcome me when I want to wail my pain and frustration out of my soul and into the chilly air for all to experience.
Grief Greetings. Ah, I am not alone…yet I am. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will come and go. I will inevitably sneak off into the bathroom to cry for my brothers and Dad, wishing them happiness and peace although I really just want them to magically appear when I open that door back up with rosy cheeks.
So as you make your way to your Season of Greetings and Holidays, fully and sincerely enjoy yours for those of us who may not have that ability. Our journeys may not be the same but we all still have love to remember and give.
I’ve never dreamt of a man who would come rescue me. I never anticipated a spark of a love that would glow bright in a darken stretch of loneliness. Then you showed up.
We spent weeks divulging secrets we didn’t share with other lovers. We laid our hearts bare at each other’s feet and had the deepest confidence in our affection. It was pure, it was profound. It was more than either of us could ever envision.
We cultivated a life that we cherished and shared with those around us. Before we knew it we grew into a family and shared all aspects of our lives together. Long enchanting road trips that never became boring, nights of laughter and new experiences that we both loved. We traveled, we entertained ourselves, we adored one another.
Life wasn’t always perfect and I made my share of mistakes. But I will never regret the life we shared. I will hold our years close with fondness and growth. You showed me that I was capable of more than I believed and helped me accept the success I was achieving. For that alone, I am forever grateful.
Thank you for sharing nearly six years of your life with me. Thank you for loving me. Because of the man you are, I am now the woman I am today.
I hope this reaches you. I hope you know that our love was magic and that no matter what, I will hold Side B much closer to my heart.
I want to be angry with you because I feel like that might make healing easier. But I’m not angry, I’m saddened and heartbroken.
The lies that rolled off your curled tongue has stolen the trust I had for not only you but for myself. I no longer trust myself to believe the words that flow from another’s mouth into my ears. I question the genuineness of those who want to exist in my radius. The unprotected love I thrive to share with the world is starting to feel filtered. And that’s life altering.
Thoughtless phrases that trickled from your jaw to my center still ring in my head. Begging you to say something nice to me because I could not receive another put down no matter how innocent you perceived it to be. Replaying moments where I should have spoken up and loved myself more than I loved you. Allowing red flags to wave gently in my face as I pivoted away from them.
Through all of this pain and grief I’m searching for goodness, even a subtle hint. Although it’s uncomfortable to admit this, I feel like the goodness I’ve found is me. I loved you the best I could. I helped elevate you in ways that will stay with you forever. I was the other half of our home that I loved so much. Now I have to be that goodness for myself and do all those things I did for you, now for me. You exposed my weaknesses and through that I discovered patience & acceptance for myself. That’s a gift you gave to me through all the tribulations.
There’s no elegant way to end this piece of brain matter that I deem necessary to share. So, to the man who broke my already broken heart, I hope you read this and feel something.
I’ve made numerous mistakes in my life. I’ve also made right choices. It’s figuring out how to find that forgiveness for myself, the kind where I’m always open to understanding the shortcomings or imperfections of others and seeing why or how they feel and do those hurtful things. But I seem to hold myself at a different standard. Like I’m not allowed to have a misstep and if I do, then I don’t deserve the same love and understand that I share with those around me. How dare I not see clearly the first time and wade through all the bullshit and come out unscathed.
Now is the time I have to change for myself. To look into my swollen red eyes that burn with the tears that have fallen down my rosy cheeks. To tell myself that loving someone and trusting them isn’t something to be ashamed of when it ends up being a mistake. How many times has forgiveness fallen upon those who may not have earned it, at least not at the moment I gave it to them.
So how do I go about this forgiveness? Do I replay all the failures and misjudgments to see where I went wrong? Then will I understand why I did what I did? Or should I start with a clean slate, tell myself that from this moment on I will take care of myself. That I will fill my cup until it’s overflowing with so much self-love and respect that I will never allow another person to mistreat me again. That I will set boundaries with those I care about so that I can continue to learn about myself and have myself dignity.
But I know that I’ll make more mistakes in my life. I’m only human, right? So I can do all those things I just listed but I have to make sure I learn from what I’ve already lived through. I have to go back to how do I forgive myself, how do I trust myself? It’s important to rewind back in time and feel those emotions that I felt when I realized I had made a mistake. I’m still holding onto those mistakes today and not just the present ones that flood my heart and mind of all these misdoings I’ve allowed to happen to me or just accepted when I should not have. It’s reliving the past so that I can heal today because I deserve my own forgiveness. I deserve to truly forgive myself so I can learn to trust myself.
I’m going to take this journey of self discovery and forgiveness. I know it’s going to be a rough and painful descend as I release myself into the murkiness of past trauma but it’s something that has to be done. I’m not sure how long this expedition will last but I know it’ll take some time. I have to unravel the thread and find my way. Each knot untied should lessen the guilt and sting I have held onto for far too long. I have to focus on…me.