Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Crazy Trip...

 Today is the day I always go and get a flu shot. Since this day, five years ago, Pete went into the hospital.  There are always critics out there about the flu shot, claiming that it is toxic. For me, I will always be an advocate. After all there are many sicknesses that our parents had that we never experienced due to vaccines.   But, whose to say really, whether the flu shot would have saved his life.  Maybe it wouldn't have mattered.   My kids all get the flu shot super early, like in August.   I guess you could say we are a little gun shy when it comes to the flu. And not just any flu, the H1N1 virus.   I suppose I could go and give blood. But just thinking about that makes me want to throw up. Thanks PTSD, for that one. Giving blood is a great way to help so many people. I know I am grateful for all those who gave blood for Pete and in his honor.  I don't even know how many bags of blood transfusions he actually ended up having. Damn flu.  However, if you are so inclined go and give blood.  It really does help save a life. (rant over)

 I know we are more than what happened to us. But, sometimes I wish it would all go away. I dont want to remember anymore. I don't want these dates to be reminders of life gone too soon.  I think he always knew he was going to leave this earth early.  Even in the hospital one of our last conversations before he went into a coma, he said "Take care of yourself and the kids, this is going to be a long road." I never knew what he meant.  But, he did.  Damn flu,

 This morning I woke up and thought, what can I do for you today, Pete. And I heard "You can be happy."   At first I couldn't remember what was so happy about this day, and then it came to me.  21 years ago, a beautiful friend of ours, daughters birthday, is today.  A happy event for sure.  These beautiful souls took us into their lives and cared for us when the world around us seemed so bleak.  Its  their love, sturdy embrace, and kindness that we celebrate with them today. As these ideas settled into me, I realized that not only do we celebrate her, but we can celebrate their gift of friendship in our lives.   I recently told a friend that this whole experience gave me a courage I didn't know I had. And she said the most profound thing. "God knew you did. Think of it like this. Your courage is like a plane ticket. If God had given it to you three months before you left for your trip you would have lost it. But, because he waited until you were getting ready to board the plane you have used it to it's full potential."   I think of this analogy and realize that God also placed the perfect people along the way, like stops on our trip, where we could find a hug, a warm meal, and a kind smile.  These stops helped me feel rejuvenated and  while I didn't understand it before, I now see that these stops were God's love and blessings, that helped us get back on the plane and keep flying.

While I don't like to remember the pain, the chaos, and the heartbreak of losing him, there are aspects to it that I gained. A plane ticket of courage, friends that are now family, perspective, Faith and Hope. The Hope that it wouldn't always be this way, Hope that we would find love in unexpected places, and Faith that God never left our side. Technically Pete didn't either. He just changed forms. No longer an earthly being, but a heavenly one. Who stands by our side and hugs us with angel wings.  When people say it "takes a villiage." it really does.  These beautiful souls that we celebrate with today, are family even if they aren't a blood relative. As I have come to find through this crazy journey, the ones I thought loved us for who were, didn't. And the people that never knew us until this fateful event, filled in the cracks, of our heartbreak.  Granted we will always have a scar, but it's this scar, that taught us to fly.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Crazy Recovery.

How many times have I heard people say to me, "Oh, I understand." This makes me want to punch them. Because unless they have had a major life altering loss, you have no idea. . You can empathize with me and that's fine. But for God's sake don't tell me that you understand. Or my other favorite " I could not even imagine what I would do if that happened to me." Which makes me want to respond with. "Try."

   As many of you know my new saga is that I am dealing with PTSD.  And while I understand that this is part of my my "Crazy Journey." In this moment, I hate it.  The rational side of me realizes that this is how I deal with painful memories, and will be grateful for the perspective I will gain. The irrational and angry side wants to scream and yell "No, more." I don't want to keep revisiting these awful images. I don't want to keep coming around the corner and seeing him intubated. I don't want to experience those flashbacks that arise at the most inopportune time.  I just want to create new happy ones to drown out the tormented pain that comes forward.

 The most annoying thing is that no one can understand this kind of "crazy." These are my memories, my flashbacks, my pain. Sometimes I wish I could take my head off and just walk away from it for awhile.  I do take comfort in talking with a friend who has also experienced PTSD. However, this type of insanity feels very alienating. But, the most irritating part of it?  Is experiencing Pete's loss all over again.   The heart wrenching ache is back but in a new form.  As if I am finally sober, and the drunken grief haze, has worn off.  Luckily the difference from then to now is that  I have someone to lean on.  He gives me courage and pushes me forward when I stand in frozen fear.   I am in a new state of crazy, if that's even possible. Before it was that I didn't want anyone to help me, but when they all left I wanted them to come back. I would be starving and make dinner, then sit down and feel full.  I would call up friends for play dates then when they got here I wanted them to go home. The crazy that encircles me now is. Loving a man who lives in heaven and loving a man on earth. Wrapped up in missing him and yet not missing him. Understanding that his body was tired, and yet  mad at him for leaving me here.  I want my old life back, and yet I want nothing to do with it.  I want to move forward and leave these painful terrifying memories behind and take the good ones with me. The ones that are buried somewhere in my mind but only occasionally do I catch glimpses of.

  It's  like being trapped in two worlds. The past and the present. Each day that I listen to that audio recording, I experience the terror and the confusion all over again. Then after the session is done I go to  bed and have dreams of being in hospitals. One night I chased Pete around the whole hospital but never once saw his face.  My most recent one, I was shot in the heart. There was no blood just a big empty whole. I walked through the corridors of the hospital while nurses and doctors walked by as if it was nothing unusual. If I think it through in a rational manner I know its my brains way of sorting it out.  I feel grateful but angry at the process.   Its overwhelming to say the least. My brain gets stuck back there with images that make no sense. Then in the present, I am trying to parent, tackle my fears of driving, manage the finances, maintain the every day demands of keeping up the house. Filled with worry and guilt that I am not being a good mom and finance because the crazy keeps sneaking in. While desperately looking for ways to keep the anxiety at bay and searching for quiet moments to finish my book.  I stand and stare out the kitchen window wishing for a break. But wonder where would I go? I can't outrun the flashbacks, the memories, and the demands of every day.  There is one place I like to go but its not close by, and at this point in my driving homework I can't even drive myself there.

So it circles around. Healing is crazy, grieving is crazy, letting go is crazing, and moving forward with even an ounce of sanity is,crazy.   My new mantra "Thank you God for giving me the Courage and the Strength I need." keeps me going. The hidden joys of remembering something painful and being grateful for the missing puzzle piece falling into place.  I take comfort in strong loving arms that hold me while I cry and loving me even when I feel bat shit crazy.  Delighting in my children's laughter as they hug me tight combined with watching with awe as my children run into J's lap for extra snuggles and tickles.  It's in these moments of sanity I look around and see love where I never thought I would have it again.  I know that if as I continue to trust the process, the blank spots will be revealed and with their reveal I can finally let them go. Where they can no longer sneak up and take a hold of me bringing me to my knees.  I feel as if these memories, and missing pieces that have been wrapped up in a cocoon, will someday be set free into something more grandiose that I ever could have imagined. And for that I am grateful. Which sounds crazy I am sure, But I am a crazy kind of gal. Intense to a fault, yet hopeful that my radiant, strong, confident, wings are emerging. With butterfly wings on my back, God in my heart, an Angel by my side, a loving fiance holding my hand, and my arms full of kids I know love outweighs the doom. After all it was love that started it, love that heals us, but most of all, it is love that binds us together on this crazy recovering journey.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


What is it about grieving that feels like it will never go away? I have moments where I feel that I am free from all of it, then something unexpected happens and I am back in the thick of it.  Its not the same heart break, its just a new level.  There is this saying about how God doesn't give you more than you can handle. But the question remains. Is it that God doesn't give you more than you can handle? Or is it that your body and your brain can't take any more so eventually it just checks out.  Then when you are stronger new "events" which create triggers send you backwards to those places of dark trauma.  A trauma that I didn't even know was still an issue.

 As I mentioned in my previous post I was having more panic attacks and issues with driving.  Sometimes just the thought of visualizing myself driving down the road makes me feel light headed.  Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg.  Dread filled my body and heart as I realized that I needed to get back on a anti depressant, of which I had worked so hard at getting off of, but I also needed to go back to grief counseling as well. Questions filled my mind. How could this happen? I was doing so well. I was healing and moving forward. There is joy in our laughter and love in our hearts. What is going on?  To which I responded "Damn grief,. Why cant it just go away." 

 Recently I have realized one of the reasons why its not going away. One word.. "Trauma."  Trauma surrounding not only the events that took place in his passing but all the crazy, scary, terrifying shit, that came after. There are parts of it that I thankfully can't remember and yet many that are so vivid I wish I could forget them.  It seems that all the grieving I was doing before, about missing him and the hope of rebuilding our life was just the ground work for the other grieving that would take place.  The current grieving is about the effect all that crazy trauma took on my psyche.  According to my grief therapist I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The driving? Is just a manifestation of the PTSD. 

So, where do I start. At the beginning. Luckily she specializes in PTSD and has devised a plan to get me healed and back in the car and eventually off the meds too. Thankfully.  The scary is getting in the car and making myself do it everyday. Drive to the store, drive through the neighborhood, drive with a friend in the car, drive. drive. drive. but not all at once, and not for very long. Its more than the driving though. Its digging deep and bringing out those traumatic moments and letting them heal.  I am not afraid of the hard work, I know it is a process.  Mostly, I just want be able to get in the stupid car and go where ever I want to go.  I often annoy myself.  Just get in the car damnit!  Its not that hard. And yet it is that hard. Stupid grieving! Stupid trauma! 

Three steps forward and two back. I am healing, and grieving, and traumatized and grateful. I feel like a freak of nature.  I want to stand in the middle of my street and yell at the top of my lungs at how angry I am to be in this space, and in the next breath I want to sing God's praises for not only carrying us when we couldn't stand but also for bringing a loving man into our lives who loves us in spite of all our crazy.

So what now? I don't know. I guess do what I always do. Keep breathing, keep writing, keep dreaming, keep laughing, keep crying, but most of all, keep healing. After all God only gives us what we can handle right?   With my traumatized brain and my grateful heart, I relish in everlasting love, laughter from my children and Hope that I will be back in the car driving confidently on this crazy road to healing.   

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Crazy Re-living.

 I have taken a hiatus from writing this blog. I didn't stop grieving, I just went into hiding. Now that I have emerged, I would say that I have become a recovering widow.  With recover comes a new type of healing, its called re living.  The irritating thing about grief, is that re entry into living is sort of like a new form of grieving. I am happy, and yet I still miss him, and yet I don't.  I knew what living life with Pete looked like, but I had no clue as to what living a happy life looked like, without him physically present.   I knew that it thankfully had to be different.  After all, I didn't want the same life now that I had finally woken up from my grieving coma.  So what does re living look like? Its messy, its complicated, its loving, its joyful, and, its bittersweet. I have learned to love in a way that I didn't think was possible.  For me re living takes a special man to come in and not think that we were broken.  What he saw, was a family that needing repairing and re loving.

There are many re-living factors that are just plain hard to over come. I feel overwhelmed. I feel that it is my job to carry every emotion, frustration or anxiety that comes through my front door. Whether it is something that happened at school with Aryanna, or a homework assignment that Petey doesn't want to do, or that Chase Leo is mad that he cant have exactly what he wants at all times. That's just the kids. That doesn't even cover J's emotions, frustrations or what he deals with while at school. In carrying all of these things I have forgotten my own emotions and have wedged them deep inside to make room for their wounds. While irrational as this seems it the only way I know. I think its because, part of me is still stuck in survival mode.   That's what I did before. I carried the kids grief and I carried my own. Now I that I have J, I carry his stuff too.   As if I am punishing myself in some way for wanting to live a happy and crazy life.  

Why do I do this? I don't know. I know that if the roles were reversed I would definitely want Pete to find love and happiness. And knowing my Pete, I know in my gut, that he would want these things for me too.  Possibly this is just another lesson in learning to re live.   I am starting to see the effects of why carrying the family is not such a good idea.   My panic attacks are back and they are geared to a specific part of my life, driving. No idea why. Its very annoying. I used to have panic attacks as a kid and my dad could never understand them. Which is common, people who don't understand what its like, just write me off, as being weird or crazy.  The problem is, is that I have to drive. Drive to pick up the kids, drive to get the groceries, drive to ballet.  Driving is just part of every day life.  I have found myself avoiding going certain places and situations for fear of having to drive on the highway or crowded roads.  Honestly, just sitting here thinking about driving to ballet on Wednesday or a dental appointment that is at the end of the month my heart starts to race, and my hands sweat.  I don't understand it and I don't know how to fix it. Any ideas? 

 The question I seem to struggle with is this, am I afraid to drive? Or is the driving a symptom of too much emotional shit that is still hanging around?  Part of being a mom is caring and carrying the burdens of your family.   So if carrying the burdens feels like re grieving and not re living then how does one cope?  

There is no handbook on grieving just like there is no handbook on how to re-learn to re-live.  I don't know, maybe I am just a crazy red haired lady learning to re live with a recovering widows perspective.