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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sense Memories

     My weekend was filled with these kind of memories. While meeting with my son's therapist, I could have sworn I caught a whiff of his smell...that mixture of cologne, outside, and cigarettes that always hung around his person.  Not exactly unpleasant, but an odd smell to be in the office.  As quickly as I noticed it and pointed it out, it was gone. Friday, I finally got my memorial tattoo, a drawing that B did for me on our wedding anniversary.  It was unfinished, as he passed away before it could be completed.  The artist was kind enough to add sunflowers to the drawing, which were my wedding flowers.  Then, as I was sitting down in the chair, his favorite Jimmy Buffett song came on. Monday, I was gifted a photograph of sunflowers by the artist himself because I had such a strong connection to the photo...visually it took my breath away, and emotionally I was tied to it because he had taken the photo on my family's farm, in the sunflower field planted specifically for my wedding.  Sometimes these experiences happen in groups, sometimes they are a single, fleeting event.

Sometimes it is a song.
Sometimes it is a smell.
Seeing his favorite video game in a store.
Watching our favorite movie.
Seeing the same look in his sons' eyes that I used to see on him.
Running my hands over the brim of his most well-worn baseball cap.
Passing the street corner where he kissed me and told me I was beautiful.
Running across my wedding albums.
Going to the same fair with the kids where we had our very first date.

   These small, fleeting, insignificant things can dredge up memories so powerful that they can take my breath away.  The tears steal down my cheeks faster than I can stop them. Ive gotten better at controlling it, but not always.  Sometimes the memories will trigger a smirk or a laugh or a giant smile that is too hard to hide.  Even now, after 18 months, the emotions tied to my sense memories are incredible.  Positive or negative, the feelings that are dredged up let me know that no matter how far out I am, or how far I feel I have come in moving forward from the greatest loss in my life, there will always be that hole in my soul that will never ever quite be filled.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

This S**t is HARD!!!

     I suppose for anyone who is suddenly thrust into a new life without warning, the change can be somewhat jarring.  There are things to learn that you never had to do before, emotional places you'd never thought you would reach, friends you make, friends you lose, relationships you start, relationships that grenade on you....all things you never thought you would do before.  For me, from the unique perspective of young widowhood, I can plainly say that this shit is hard. It sucks.  I lost my best friend, the one I would run to and talk to when all of the hard stuff happened.  When I grieve, I'm not just grieving for me, but two young, impressionable boys who now don't have a dad.

I grieve for the loss of my hopes and dreams for my little, complete family.
I grieve for the milestones I am going to have to see and do alone.
I grieve for the loss of the one person on this earth who really, TRULY understood me.
I grieve for the loss of fun, happy-go-lucky me.

     I'm even trying the dating thing again, and damn does it suck.  I never realized how intolerant I have become of other people's crap.  Or how fiercely independent I have become. Or how I apparently constantly have "mad face" (aka resting bitch face) on.  It seems like everything starts out okay and then WHACK! The controlling, damaging, negative behavior rears it's ugly head in them.  I get that some, if not most, of the people available out there in the dating scene right now have some baggage. I have more baggage than most, but if there is one thing I will not tolerate is someone throwing their overstuffed baggage at me, expecting me to lug it up and down stairs through an entire airport. Not happening. Own your own crap.  If I care about you, I will help you unpack that baggage, but if you are going to start repacking your baggage into mine, we are going to have issues. A wise man once told me that love should lift you up, not put you down.

So do I just take it in stride that everyone is inherently broken and I should just settle for something that I think isn't right?  Do I just accept that my life from November 8, 2012 forward is just going to suck and I just have to deal with it?  How did I turn from the girl who saw the world through rose colored glasses the the woman who is the world's biggest people pleaser?  Have I really become that bitter, jaded person I was always afraid of becoming? I can't really be that desperate for love, can I?

  Sometimes I wonder if I do these things to myself on purpose...if I get into a headspace where I feel as if I am not good enough for anyone, so why bother pursuing something that I am so sure is going to blow up in my face anyway. Talking doesn't help. Yelling doesn't help. Stony silence doesn't help.                                        

This shit is hard.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Solo Parent Suckiness

          Last week I had the INFINITE (insert sarcasm here) pleasure of having an IEP progress meeting for my oldest son.  I had asked for his therapist to be there, but, as she was unable to attend, she spoke with the learning support teacher the day before.  An advocate was not able to be assigned, so I had to do the meeting by myself. Now, normally, doing these things by myself induces a bit of anxiety, but not a whole lot, as I have done it a couple of times before.  This time, it was different.  A few of the teachers turned it into less of a progress discussion and more of a "your son is not doing any of his work and is totally unfocused and I can't take it anymore" session.  Now, I understand that he is a handful, and I suppose letting me know that there is a huge disconnect between home and school is important, but there are better ways to go about this.  Where I run in to difficulty is being talked to like I am a 12 year old.

Just because I am a solo parent does not mean I am a moron.
Just because I do not have a partner to back me up does not mean you can bully me.
Just because I do this all by myself does not mean you can do a better job of it than me.
Just because I am sensitive does not mean I am not an effective parent.
Just because I am alone does not mean I need to have a man here to fight my battles for me.

     Having to deal with a kid with special needs all on my own is a daily battle in and of itself, but there are sooooo many more things that suck about being a solo parent.  There are so many logistics issues when you don't have a second pair of hands to help you out when you get caught in a timing issue. Like when both of your kids are in different activities and both of them have to be in 2 different places at the same time and you are stuck in traffic and you are not going to get either of them anywhere, let alone get healthy food in their faces and get homework done at a reasonable hour.  Or when you have a super early job or a late class that runs beyond the capabilities of your child care.  Or when one of them is having a particularly difficult time and you need to focus on them for the time being and feel neglectful that you are leaving the other to fend for themselves for the moment.  Or when you feel selfish because you are trying to go to school to better yourself for the good of your new little family and little things are falling my the housework, checking homework, making daily dinners, keeping up on seasonal clothing changes, and keeping the fridge stocked full for 2 quickly growing boys who eat more than a small army.
     So, props to all of you solo moms and dads out there who are making it work!  Any suggestions to keep this harried mom from losing her mind??

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Uncharted Territory

     I find myself today in a new and interesting place. I'm happy. With no guilt.  Yet, there are still a million reasons why I am running away from good, happy joy-joy feelings. You would think by now I would be past the catastrophic scenarios, but no.  My heart and my head are definitely not communicating well at all lately, and I am reeling as a a result.  A current discussion going on with my emotions right now:

Heart:  He's such a nice guy!
Head:  What if something bad happens?
Heart:  He cares about you so much!
Head:  What if it isn't genuine?
Heart:  He is so amazing with the boys!
Head:  If something bad happens, the boys are going to be devastated!
Heart:  He makes you smile EVERY DAY.
Head:  If he ever hurts you, you are going to end up the crazy cat lady.
Heart:  His words and actions and feelings are something you have not heard/seen/felt in a long time!
Head:  What if it is just to get in your pants and then leave you?
Heart:  He cares about you even after knowing everything you've been through.
Head:  He wants you to forget.
Heart:  It is okay to move forward and be happy!
Head:  What if this means you're a bad widow for not being miserable about your dead husband?
Heart:  It is perfectly normal to want to love again.
Head:  It is perfectly awful to want to love again.

     Slowly, I'm beginning to realize that there is a difference between boundaries to keep people from taking advantage of me, and the fortress walls I have built up around my heart and soul to keep people out and to keep myself from potentially ever loving someone.  I think my reasoning is if I love them and they hurt me, where else do I have to go?  I don't think my fragile heart could take much more breaking.  The bandages holding together the broken pieces are not that strong. I'm not that strong. I don't think you get many great loves in your life, and I think I've already used mine up.

Do I give up?
Do I give in?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reflections on a Month of Great Growth

     There were so many things I loved about completing the A to Z challenge during April.  I met new blog friends, really exercised my writing skills, found a renewed interest in writing a book about my journey, and learned a lot about myself in the process.  I wrote about things I never knew I was keeping inside and was able to get in contact with others who are going through the same things.  My posts connected with other people in my on-line grief support groups, and helped family and friends to know how I was feeling.  I wouldn't post regularly to my blog before, now I have an urge to write even more than before.
     As feedback, there are definitely things that I myself, as a novice blogger would do (and will do from this point forward) differently.  I learned that interaction on my blog comes most when I pose a question at the end (thanks for the advice, Susan!), and visiting more blogs will get me more followers and interactions.  Now that school is winding down, there is definitely going to be more time for me to be able to do that.  I came at this challenge rather late in the game after hearing about it from friend and fellow blogger Katie at The Cyborg Mom.  Next year, I think I will be a little more prepared, prescheduling and at least having a title for each letter before the month gets started.  The twitter chats were great, although more than one day a week would have been great...most days I had a tough time attending because of my own struggles.  Most of all, I would encourage more interaction. I know it is hard when you have one or more blogs that you keep up with, but as a new blogger with very few followers I appreciate the interaction and follows,  as well as advice from others who have been in the game much longer than I.
     Blogging has been a source of great catharsis for me, and this month has led to some very interesting reflections on my life that I hadn't really explored before.  I got in touch with emotions that I had put aside for the sake of being able to function in the real world and processed through them with great ease once the were out of my  head and sent into the blogosphere.  I appreciate the opportunity to have gotten my experiences out there and the refreshed outlook I have as a result of this challenge month.

Much thanks to all who have followed me on this journey, encouraged me to continue writing, and provided advice to keep things fresh...I couldn't have done it without you!