My balance…

IMG_1244

I’ve been itching to blog for a few weeks now.  I have had plenty of opportunity, however, I usually need to be spontaneously inspired and I sit and I don’t stop writing until I hit “publish”.  Sometimes it takes all of 15 minutes to blog a thought.  Sometimes hours.  It is usually sparked by something I am feeling passionately about…grief or happiness being the usual suspects (talk about one end of the spectrum to the other!).

Today brings us here by way of both…as I came across this memory this morning.

********

Posted on Facebook 3 years ago:

Wendy Lee Auger is feeling grateful.
November 17, 2015 at 2:35 PM · Sanbornton ·
I believe Life is 10% what happens to you… And 90% what you make of it. 10% of me is pretty broken and hurting… But 90% is feeling pretty good, content and fulfilled. That’s not a bad ratio….

*******

It got me thinking about how I came to be able to focus on the positives.  Even during my negatives.  I know it’s a choice, but it really comes natural for me.  Like that’s how I’m wired.  It then brought me to look at my upbringing, what molded me and my sisters.  The four of us girls are really different in a lot of ways…but we are very similar in this department.  Three out of four of us have had significant losses (all of us struggles and bumps) over the past few years.  Me losing the father/father-figure to my kids from liver failure six years ago…and my next boyfriend to cancer three years later, one sister losing her husband in a car crash five years ago…and one sister losing her son to an overdose just shy of two years ago.  That’s some serious crap right there in our little family.  And you know what?  We all mourn/ed and we all grieve.  And we all will.  And we live.  We find joy in our life.  We all have done it in our own time…in our own way…and we are all working through it still.  But we do it.

IMG_1242

So, if there’s one thing (know there are many) I can thank my parents for…it’s instilling in us ladies to pick ourselves up and keep moving.  Not necessarily by dealing with death…but by any adversity.  I don’t recall any wise words or lessons taught with regard to this, but clearly there’s something there in each of us that made us this way.  Don’t sit there and dwell on what’s not right…what happened to you…or why your life sucks.  Feel it, deal with it and then figure out how to take the next step.

IMG_1243

IMG_1241

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that there’s no looking back or that the pain shouldn’t be felt or visited.  My feeling is that it is a natural and healthy progression of grief to continue to feel it.  Let it be there, but eventually keep it tucked in your pocket so you can move through your days with laughter, smiles and happy tears…and take it back out when it’s time.  Yes, here and there it jumps right out at you with no warning sending you into a grief attack (that’s what I call them), however, I think if you eventually get to that 90%/10% or so ratio…you are doing better than okay in my book.

I am very blessed to have a great man in my life who is understanding when that optimum balance I strive for gets knocked off kilter.  Or that he is just seeing my 10% up close and personal.  A few weeks ago, I was getting in my own head about our relationship…Corey and I are closing in on being together for a year now.  I was doing the typical analyzing thing I do.  I started thinking of how differently we now view each other, and in which ways we still see each other the same.  It’s interesting to me as we worked together for six years prior to our fateful trivia meet up as co-worker friends…leave as something much more night.

IMG_1239

“What about me is the most surprising thing to you after getting to know me more, moving in together and becoming part of my family?” I asked…well, I texted it…that’s how we roll.

My thoughts ran wild before I received his response.  I figured it would be something like that I struggle with organization…or that I sleep with my socks on…or that I always have candles lit/music on…or that I suck as a housekeeper (I knew he would never ever say that to me…but I figured it may cross his mind!!).

Nope.  That wasn’t his answer.

“That you still hold on to so much pain”.

I was mind blown.  In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. But when I read that…I was really shocked.  The grief and pain are such a normal feeling for me, I rarely realize they are even there.  I was sad for the answer (albeit slightly relieved my housekeeping skills didn’t take the cake!), but the more I have thought about it…the more I get it.  He is on the inside now.  He doesn’t just see me at the grocery store, or serving a dinner or a beverage at work…or spying my dance-jam in the new Corolla at the red light.  He see’s me waking up on the “angelversaries”.  The birthdays.  The random days in-between.  He sees me after I filled the paperwork out for school and sports when on the “father” line is deceased.  He now lives with the pain by proxy.  My 10%.

So folks, here’s a few things.

I  wanna say thank you to my parents for whatever, however, you instilled it in us girls to keep trucking on and finding our joy.  Sisters…keep rocking on with your bad selves through all the adversity and what’s handed to you, you’ve got this.  To all of you reading this in your journey of pain and grief…getting it in your pocket will be attainable, please trust me on this.

And finally to my guy, Corey.  Thank you for being you…and letting me be me.  Disorganized me, socks on at night me, lighting candles and singing off-key me, messy me.  And in pain me…sometimes.  Happy me…most times.

pic

 

 

 

Advertisements

Time to Heal…My Own Way.

Healing is a process.  It doesn’t look the same for any two people.  There are “stages” that are outlined for how people usually deal with loss…and I agree with that.  But it’s not an even flow from one to the next.  And sometimes you get stuck in a stage.

I feel like that I am genuinely happy…but even still, I am stuck in the anger.  I am very angry about the closing, and content, of my last relationship.  Not with every waking breath, but it’s there.  I can easily feel pleasure and I smile almost all the time.  That doesn’t mean that right under the surface I am not enraged.

At the risk of pissing off a few people…I am choosing to write about it.  I am getting more and more angry as the days go by instead of it dissipating.  While I am settling into a very amazing new relationship, I am still reeling about the former one.  It’s not keeping me from enjoying one ounce of romance and excitement…but in those quiet moments…I slip to where I just came from.

The letter came in the mail this week dictating to me the outcome of the hearing from the County House of Corrections from last month…the last incident.   The sentence he should have served is suspended with two years good behavior, but the fact that there’s Domestic Violence charges read loud and clear to me and just resonates.  It has snapped me into a bad place.

Shhhhh…..

Right?  I am not supposed to talk about it?

I am supposed to move on and heal…but just don’t say out loud what happened.  It’s not fair to him.  He was wronged growing up.  He’s not a monster.

Guess what?  I think differently.

I think I let a man into my life hesitantly.  One who gave, gave, gave.  “Too good to be true” is what I kept saying about the way my needs were tended to.  Of course, the immaturity here and there and what I considered obnoxiousness at times were smoothed over with the constant doting…for me and the family.  I always worried, though, about the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Sadly, I was correct.

I gave him me.  An already wounded me.  And the biggest part of me.  My family.

My family was treated well by him.  No denying that.   I gave him this family that has been through a ton.  Kids that have lost their father figure.  A little boy that lost his one and only father.  That looked to this guy as his potential Step-Dad.  The only living Dad he would have.  I gave him that.

I am so unbelievably angry that he was so careless with this gift.  That because he had a crappy upbringing, he used that to excuse his violent outbursts.  He used that to excuse laying his hands on me.  Slamming me into the dashboard of his truck. He used that to excuse biting…yes, biting me…like an animal in a fit of rage.  I am still marked from that incident…from over a year and a half ago.

Shhhhh…

It’s not fair to speak of these things.  It’s not fair to him.  He’s not a monster.

Guess what?  I still think differently.

If those things were okay to do to me at the time, I feel they are okay to speak of today.

Why the hell do people think it’s better for me to keep it quiet to protect him?  Protect his feelings.  His honor.  Where the hell were you at two a.m. when he was in a rage and I was doing everything I could to de-escalate a situation that I had no idea how the outcome would be…fearing the worse.   The last one ultimately damaging a lot of people.

Just SHHHHHH!

Right?  I should just be silent and deal with it quietly?  We don’t want to embarrass anyone?

I am not trying to piss anyone off, but I am the one that is pissed off now.  Pissed off and hurt.  Pissed off and trying to heal…

I speak in hopes to heal some of this resentment.  I refuse to purse my lips to protect those that were so careless with me and mine.  I speak to let some of you that are stuck in a shitty situation, whether like the one I speak of or something different…that although there’s this process to go through…and sometimes you get stuck in for a bit…there’s another side to that life.  A decent one. A happy one.

I am holding tight to the hope that this is another step in my healing and I release some of this hostility by opening up more.  I honestly hope that the person that caused me this anger is finding their own way of healing to help them get healthy so they don’t do this to another family, and themselves, again.  I hope his family finds their way to forgiving him for doing and me for sharing.  I hope that if you are reading and you relate and you hurt…you find your path to safety and mending.

Bring on the next stage…

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Do Me, You Do You.

I have so many emotions swimming around my being today.  I don’t really know where to start.  First, I guess…let’s summarize where I am.

I’m nearly 4 months distanced from the end of my previous relationship.  As I have written about, it was an abrupt and explosive ending…resulting in him going before a judge just this morning.  I haven’t seen him since, besides a chance sighting at the grocery store a few weeks back. And if he heeds what the courts have ordered, it’ll stay that way for a few more years.  It was an adjustment for the whole family.  I am still working on the guilt for exposing my children to another loss, and I am still processing everything…trying to take as many lessons with me so history does not repeat itself.  I am mildly comforted with the fact that I know I tried to always do the right thing.  I tried to be as understanding as I could of a troubled person.  Perfect? No.  But, I was not jealous, condescending or abusive at any time.  So, I actually mildly resent that someone close to the situation said that “it takes two” to me soon after.   It doesn’t take two to make an abusive and controlling relationship.  I tried to help and support as long as I could.  Hindsight is 20/20.  I would have walked at three months in, knowing what I know now.  So, the only truth in the “it takes two”…in this case, is that I stayed and allowed it to get worse.

new-love-quote-picture

An odd thing, for me, happened a few days after he was removed.  As a typical procrastinator, it takes me sometime to get motivated to clean, purge…whatever.  Once I get going, I will be on a roll.  Getting going is the challenge.  So, I surprised myself by waking and walking into the kitchen and went straight for the trash bags.  I headed back to the bedroom and I started ridding the room of any and all of his belongings.  It was sad, but a freeing feeling came over me.  Almost relieved.  I knew I was never looking back unless I was looking for a lesson.  My healing was jumpstarted.

As the weeks and months have gone on, I have felt like I have claimed my life back.  It’s a struggle sometimes to keep up with everything, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I have done a lot of self help reading to try and fully understand where I have been.  I have done endless processing of all my past relationships and have been dissecting them, the partners I have had…and myself.  My goal has been to just stay single, for at least a year.   I was thinking maybe forever!  Not swearing off men, but I just knew that I would be a bit guarded and apprehensive to let someone in.  It’s not often that someone can come in and just connect with you in a way that makes you want more.  Trust me.  I dated for years doing the online thing.  Never. Ever. Again.

Well, that was my plan.  Anyone that knows me knows…my life doesn’t go as planned.

A Trivia Tuesday a few weeks back had me at the restaurant I work at meeting a few friends/co-workers for a fun night out.  The three of us were having a good time, and at some point through the night, the feelings shifted and the connection began.  Taking both of us by surprise.  This person I have known for six years or so and never was looked at romantically by me, and me him, was suddenly somebody I wanted to be near and to know everything about.  The two of closed the bar that night.  Since, we have seen each other countless times.  And we plan to countless more.

Cohabitating is obviously not even close to being on the table.  The kids are the priority and for the foreseeable future, keeping our family dynamic as is, is best for them.  We are just getting to know each other on a different level than we had before.  I still am left conflicted at times that it’s too soon.  Three months isn’t a whole lotta time for healing considering what I’ve gone through.  I am not shy about sharing that with him.  Or anything, for that matter.  I am digging the easygoing vibe that’s going on and I am in the driver’s seat to go as fast or slow as I need.  I am taking it one day at a time.  The easy going and one day at a time mentality, however, does not stop the fear from creeping in now and then.  Doesn’t stop me from being  hyper-focused at times that I might be missing a clue that would give away that this person is actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  As the days go on, I am sure that will subside.  Or, I will see what I don’t want to and that will be that.

I know people pass judgement, they’ve told me, they think I shouldn’t be dating so soon or I should “date around” and not focus on just one guy.  First, they may be right about it being soon, but it’s up to me to decide and figure that out.  I have an open dialogue with my children and talked to them about everything.  They are still grieving past losses and they know I am, too…but at the end of the day I have their blessing to do what I think is right.  Second, I am a monogamous being by nature.  I can’t “date around”, it’s not how I am wired.

My head and heart can fall fast if the recipe is right.  I am trying to be careful, aware and methodical.  Sometimes I have little control of this.  But, what I do have control of is my actions.  So, that being said, I will take baby steps with eyes wide open and try to enjoy the ride…wherever that takes me.  I still welcome the view and advice from those around me.  But know that I would hate to pass on the chance at true happiness in a relationship because it’s not the right number of weeks or months after a break-up…and even more so based on what others outside of this home think.

I am doing my best to keep my healing going.  I really don’t think it’s ever going to be completely finished.  My goal is to just keep being me.  If someone comes along, as they have now, and is willing to allow my healing to continue, let me be me, and encourage me to grow and put my kids first…and give me butterflies by their mere presence at the same time?? I don’t want to pass it by.

I’ll do me, you do you.

IMO

As I close my bowser’s window on an article highlighting Matt Lauer and the scandal surrounding him, I find myself getting pissed off again.  I know, I know…there are actual individuals here in this sexual harassment/misconduct movement that were very wrongly treated.  The people who wronged them should be reprimanded and removed from their positions if they took advantage of their power.  I get that and I am not unsympathetic to that.  I just find myself shaking my head with a look of disgust… not at the alleged perpetrators, but the society we live in that views the so-called victims…well…as victims.

I feel people are likening and confusing harassment with abuse.  There are two totally different worlds here, kids.  There are many unfair situations we all encounter…it’s called life.  “I felt I was under his spell”. Are you flipping kidding me??!!  You are damning a person because they were cunning and you were smitten by them?  Take some responsibility for your actions that you slept with a married man…consensually!!! As a twenty-something!  Not a child.  For the love of…

1702332590-quote-Thomas-Hardy-my-opinion-is-that-a-poet-should-43241

So, I sit here self reflecting…as anyone knows me knows that’s where I spend a good chunk of my time.  Why is this hitting a nerve?  Why do I repeatedly find myself so agitated at the situation.  I am usually able to see both sides of an argument, regardless of where I stand…and not get mad about the other side’s views, we are all entitled to them.  I have tried to find what’s relatable to me in these stories and allegations.

The only thing I can come to is that I, myself, have been wrongly treated.  Not in the ways that that are being highlighted…well, I mean yes.  I have been inappropriately addressed.  I have had comments about my boobs, butt…sexual advances.  So what? I ignored, rolled my eyes, sometimes uncomfortably laughed…and walked away and moved on with my day.  Life isn’t always comfortable. When I say that I have been wrongly treated, I am talking about wrongly treated in the way that you can’t just move on with your day.

Now, we all have different levels of tolerance to what we accept, so there really is a gray area as to when someone is crossing the line.  It’s up to us, as adults, to create the line for those around us. And let it be known, one way or another, that it has been crossed.  Like, at the time it happens, not a decade down the road.

Where there is no gray and no expectance of parameters being stated, is when you are dealing with a child.  I was a child once, that you could say was harassed. I was not abused. There was a sexual advance.  My family, for the most part, does not know this (and don’t even try fam, I won’t say more than I am saying here), but I was targeted  by a trusted adult before I was even in my teens…to have sex with them.  I don’t remember the exact words, I remember exactly how I felt though.  I remember exactly where and when.  There was no physical force, the words, though, were very manipulative and were meant to make me trust them more.  That it was the right thing to do.  I was ready, they were sure of it.  And they tried to convince me of it.  And, if not at that moment, they were to be my first…I deserved that, they said.  For it to be with someone that loved me, them.

Well, they weren’t my first, second or anywhere on my list, but they shaped who was.  They shaped how I viewed sex, what it meant, when it should happen.  They, without touching me, took away the innocence of a little girl.  I couldn’t be more proud of my pre-teen self to know better at that point.  She had a moral compass right then, even if it got altered along the way after that…because of that.

I am left reflecting how else I was wronged.  Not harassed, but really wronged.  In my opinion, anyway. Oh, I have a million examples of how people have been rude, said nasty things, people stealing my parking spots when I CLEARLY had my directional on that I was turning there…

But really wronged. So that it still hurts to the core when I think about it. Not just annoyed or verbally violated by a co-worker.  Pain.  My oldest, James, was with me.  We were at Dana Farber in Boston.

Earlier on that day, I received the call.  I had gone to the White Mountains by myself.  That’s where I go to find peace. My youngest child’s father, Mike, had passed away a few years prior and I spread his ashes along the Kancamagus.  I went there to be close to him and to “talk” to him.  I had out loud asked Mike if he would take care of Matt up there in Heaven…show him around….if that ended up being Matt’s fate to join him.

Matt was my boyfriend of just over a year who was battling leukemia.  He  had been through hell with the disease.  I stood by as his cheerleader, and he knocked the sucker into remission, for a time.  The relapse was brutal, emotionally and physically. As was the stem cell transplant he had endured months prior.  I was there for nearly all doctor’s appointments.  And stays he had in Boston, I was back and forth religiously.  Any infusions or transfusions locally, I kept him company.  I wanted to be there, and he wanted me there.  Things went downhill pretty fast over the course of a couple weeks, landing him in the ICU in Dover for a few days.  I arrived first thing in the morning there on the last day, so I could be there for rounds with the doctors.  I was the only one there and when I walked in, I immediately knew things were different.  There was some red medical bag on the couch.  His breathing was more labored.  All the chairs were moved away from him.  I kept looking for the doctors though the glass wall of his room.  Finally, the female doctor came in and ultimately told me that they didn’t feel comfortable caring for him any more in Dover and they were med-flighting him to Boston, but first they were going to intubate him.  Life support.  The room spun.  I was just a few doors down from the room Mike was in, almost exactly three years prior, that I held him as he took his last breaths being taken off of life support. I asked the doctor if she had called his parents, and she said she hadn’t.  I told her I would go call his mother.  I recall sitting on the floor of the ICU bathroom because I didn’t have the legs to stand when I told her.  The family came in the waiting room one by one.  And most came in not warm to me.  I don’t know, to this day, why there was such iciness.  I don’t know if they thought I had told them to intubate, or…I don’t even know.

Matt was flown, I went home and got the kids situated and drove down and spent the rest of the day.  When there, the family decided I wasn’t welcome in the room to talk with the doctors anymore.  I was at nearly EVERY doctors appointment, usually just me and Matt…and there were tons, but suddenly, I was not involved.  It was explained to me that they didn’t want Matt’s ex, the mom of his two kids, in the room because she was too unstable, so this was the only way it was fair.  I didn’t agree, but didn’t argue, I went in the room with him when I could and returned home that night.  A good friend sensed me not able to sleep and greeted me with a coffee in my driveway in the wee hours and chauffeured me back to Matt before it was even light.  The doctors said that it would be that way, unconscious and intubated for days before we knew anything.  So, the next day I took myself for a breather to the Kancamagus.

Then the call.

They were taking Matt off life support.  I don’t know what the doctors actually said, so I don’t know about the decision and if I agree it was the right time. I said I was on my way.  His Mom told me not to hurry, that it would be a while.  I made my way back through Rochester and my eldest greeted me and took the wheel to accompany me the rest of the way to Boston (Thank you, kiddo!).

Then the final slap in the face.  We walked into the waiting room and the Mom explained to me that only immediate family was welcomed in with Matt.  I, who took every chance I could to be there for him, more than anyone else there (his Dad excluded), was not allowed in to even say goodbye.  Not even for 5 seconds to give him a kiss on the forehead.  I just traveled from the mountains to the city to get lumped in the waiting room of everyone who dearly loved him, yet wasn’t close enough to see him.  My every good morning and goodnight was going to die, and I couldn’t say goodbye.  That right there…is being wronged.

(I am clearly still working through this.  That went on far longer than I expected. My blog, my therapy.  Thank you for coming along with me.)

So, we’ve hit on the indecent sexual advances, being wronged, now abuse.

This both brings me way back and also brings me to today.  As much as it would be therapeutic to go into detail with circumstances, there are still children intertwined with my experience with this topic, so I will keep the details light.  My first marriage ended horribly.  I was young and thought things would eventually even out after time…but, the fact is that we were married just under a year.  The last night we were together had me running out of the house in just a t-shirt and panties in the middle of the night in fear for my life.  I was left bruised, not for the first time, and heartbroken.   And my most recent relationship didn’t end much differently.

Now, I know it’s not all about me.  But my life and my experiences are what I have to draw from.  In my opinion, and you are allowed to have yours, is that inappropriate advances, looks, slaps on the ass are wrong, but they are not abuse.  They are not even close to being on the same playing level of being wronged.

I think I have processed my anger with this situation splashed all over the media.  There are people out there that have had horrible things happen to them, much worse than myself.  It frustrates me that people are boo-hooing over what is actually, sad but true, just a part of life.  Toughen up, set your boundaries, and hold people accountable WHEN they are being an ass or making bad decisions…including yourself.

 

 

My Purpose

I have grown into believing that in every situation there is a lesson…and all that happens to us has a purpose.  Actually, if I think back…maybe I am just wired like that. I do distinctively recall a lot of eye rolling from my best friend through high school on when I would sputter “everything happens for a reason” whenever something adverse happened to her.  It drove her crazy!  Maybe it’s that those of us believing in this theory are just eternal optimists that are spinning each situation into having a silver lining to make ourselves feel better…but either way, it works for me that bad things don’t just happen for no reason at all.  I get to learn and evolve as I go.

Well, when someone you love dies it makes you question this theory.  Especially when it is someone who hasn’t lived a full life yet.  Someone who has children…and small ones at that.  Someone who was loved by all and fought as hard as he could and that made no difference.  He went through a hell of a year fighting and being sick for no difference in outcome than if he didn’t fight at all and just gave up.  He is gone.  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  He had plans, WE had plans.

This isn’t an “Everything happens for a reason” situation here.  If that was said to me a month ago…you’d get far more than an eye roll!!  However, I am beginning to look at things a bit differently as time marches on and I get further into the healing process.

I am beginning to believe that we all weren’t meant to be on this earth for 90 or 100 years.  I believe we all have a purpose…some have many purposes. Babies right through to those living 100+ years. When we are taken…our purpose(s) were served.  I’m sure Matt, over his 38 years and especially in his last year, inspired, motivated, healed, loved and impacted many.  I can’t say that there was a reason for him dying, but I can certainly say there was a reason for him living.

So many said to me over the year I was with Matt that I was an angel sent to him and then even more so just after he passed.  It made me uncomfortable because I wasn’t with him to be a saint, out of pity or for whatever reason some people thought (it was nastily said to me by a certain someone after he passed that I liked the “show” of being with Matt!!  I say prayers for that person!!).  I actually fell in love with him and he helped me more than I could have ever imagined in my own grieving process at the time.  Odd that I am left in albeit another time of grief by the one who helped me heal!

I, now that I am moving through my stages of grief and through starting a new relationship, am actually embracing being told that I was his angel.  That was MY purpose for him.  It wasn’t a cruel twist of the universe…as I first felt when he died…to give me love, healing and hope and then snatch it away like a greedy crook.  I look back and know how many times alone we spent cracking each other up.  Rides to the hospital flew by and I swear people thought we were nuts at the laughing and goofing off in the waiting rooms when everyone there was in the midst of a dire situation.  I brought him smiles, laughter and love.  And he brought me the same.  He was my angel, too.  My tears of grief that would arrive in those alone times (especially in the car!) lessened and finally disappeared because of him. The pain in my chest that I held for so long that I didn’t even realize was there…was replaced by feelings of love from and for him.  The grief never goes away, but Matt helped me live happily with it there.  A purpose he had was to help heal me and show me I was able to love again.

It’s nearing five months since he’s been gone.  I am lucky enough, and unlucky enough, to have met someone new to care for so soon.  Grief and a new partner has it’s own set of challenges for both parties.  But I see when starting a relationship without a sickness…which is all I have really known in the past decade…I was missing out on so much…even though I didn’t realize it then.   I didn’t feel like it was lacking anything…it was perfect for what it was at the time.  We were fulfilling a purpose for each other.  Just as this new man in my life is in a role of helping me heal, he is serving a purpose.  I am not sure if this is his only purpose with me and we will part ways tomorrow or next month or next year…or never…or how I am helping him, but he is making me smile and drying my tears (like literally drying them…hence the “unlucky enough” said previously).

purpose.PNG

I am now taking comfort in all the roles people past and present have played in my life.  I am embracing all the lessons, love and healing and trying to let that take precedence over what’s been lost and gone wrong.  Eye roll all you want.

Living in Our (Grief) Trigger-Happy World…

Triggers…the unexpected and probably one of the hardest parts of losing someone you love.   When you are all aboard on this grief train…it’s enough to derail you.  Being that this isn’t the first time I am getting my ticket punched and setting out on this journey…it doesn’t derail me quite as easily, as I know what to expect…however, it seems almost constant at this point.

What’s a grief trigger? A grief trigger is anything that brings up memories related to a loss. What are grief triggers for me?  It would appear that it’d probably be easier to explain what aren’t…but here we go.

Let’s start with the obvious and in-your-face ones.  A birthday.  Matt’s birthday is at the end of this month.  He never made it to 39.  That’ll be a tough day, well, a tougher day…although, learning from my own history, the days before will be the worst when anticipating that monumental day…and the actual day will be okay and filled mostly with good memories and smiles.  Milestones counting out from the death is another obvious one.  First it’s days…then it’s weeks (yesterday it was six weeks since Matt passed)…then it’s months…then you get to the “angelversay” as we call it in our household.  We just passed Mike’s 3rd Angelversary just days after Matt passed away.  September can officially “suck it”. I’m always anticipating those triggers.  You can brace yourself for them and you can plan for your derailment…which, unfortunately, makes it no easier, but at least you have a head’s up.

Then there’s the unexpected triggers you face throughout your days. And weeks. And months.  And years.  I am letting out a big sigh as I just typed that.  My life, since embarking on own my path with Matt, was completely intertwined with him.  We never got to live together (which was our plan as soon as he was “healthy”), but if he wasn’t physically with me…he was on my mind.  Or I was traveling to visit him.  Or I was cooking for him.  Or I was texting him.  Or researching for him.  That makes for going through the days and weeks after he’s gone with a lot of reminders that he is not here.  A lot of free time on my hands that was typically was monopolized by him.  So, even the empty space in my days is a grief trigger.  Having empty space is starting to become my norm, so my new routine is starting to get a little easier.

And then there’s the grab bag of other reminders…the person that walks in the restaurant that looks like him, the song on the radio, the posts and pictures of the Grassdrags Matt was really hoping to introduce me to, looking down at your little boy who’s looking up at you…and drastically resembling Daddy, washing the sweatshirt you stole from him, the random post in your news feed about them…and there’s so many other little and unexpected things, smells, sounds that occur…and regardless of how small or insignificant they seem…they can drop you to your knees, or make you feel like you want to, because the pain is so intense.  Then you pick yourself up and move on until the next one comes along.

Working with the public combined with being so open on social media and through my blog, I come into contact with people daily who knew of Matt’s illness and were up to speed on the final days.  I am friends with a large portion of my customers…some closer than others.  We all catch up with each others’ lives when they visit.  Right up until yesterday I am seeing people for the first time since Matt died who are giving their condolences…hard, but welcomed.  And even harder (for them, not me) are the ones who are out of the loop and ask how Matt’s treatments are going.  That always makes for an awkward conversation…I still haven’t found the right words for that one. More grief triggers.

This becomes the norm.  Life, a series of reminders…triggers.  Sometimes all day…sometimes not for a while.  But forever. I can tell you, years later, I can’t hear an ambulance without being zapped right back to the day Mike was rushed to the hospital only to be gone from us a few days later.  I now know, because of this, that I will never hear a helicopter without thinking of Matt being airlifted to Boston. Throughout your days, I assure you that there are a lot more ambulances and helicopters than you realize!!!

I’m in no hurry to go through this process.  I know from experience that there’s no time limit on when you travel through all the stages of the journey. I will be glad when I am out of what seems like the zombie stage(my own non-technical term). I’ve never seen even a few minutes of the Walking Dead, but I can picture a zombie creature walking down the street, labored, and being hit with bullet after bullet…and they still keep going.  The trigger bullets keep coming, and I keep going.  I am the zombie taking the hits and going through the grocery store by the “Mitchell’s Fresh” sign without outwardly flinching. I am waiting on the customer that uncannily looks like Matt without batting an eye.  I will continue to pour drinks with a smile while a family member sits at my bar and fondly tells stories about Matt.  I will be cleaning the house with the kids when that song comes on…and I will just continue on.  But then I will get in the car alone and let it go.  I will feel it and by the time I’ve reached my destination I will be thanking my waterproof mascara and leftover napkins from Dunkin Donuts on the seat beside me…and move forward.  I will go to bed fine, then hit with a trigger, curl into a ball, get though my grief attack…and then pick up my phone and play my kids and other various opponents in my new favorite smartphone app.

So, what I have learned from mourning Mike and being with Matt, is that the triggers never go away.  Those triggers will be shot at you like bullets, like it or not.  The difference is that over time they don’t need to always be so painful.  They can bring a smile.  A good memory.  Sometimes sadness. Sometimes pain.  But not like it feels in the beginning.

For now, I will be thankful that even through the sadness and pain…and bullets… that I am able to find joy in my children’s smiles and laughter, that I am able to belly laugh whole-heartedly with friends and co-workers…and that I can just merely get out of bed…while it’s still in the a.m… I know that it won’t always feel the way it does today.

Zombie-like or not…I’m moving forward.

And Grief trickles in…

Grief trickles in. Yes, it does.

Unexpectedly, I have a night alone with Brayden. Jamie (my oldest) invited DJ (my next oldest) to his home for the night…and Mackenzie (my only daughter)was invited over a friend’s house for the evening. There go my sitters for my tentative plans…and here goes a night home, just me and my littlest.

Cool. We will do dinner and a movie. Done. Bedtime lasted about two hours longer than the norm…but he’s sound asleep…finally.

My goal, after Bray’s bedtime, was to put in a movie and pour a glass of wine. The chick flick I planned on was more of a “get your tissues ready and have a good cry” kinda flick.

Grief trickled in. I have been so worried and consumed with what is going on with Matt and his battle with cancer, I’ve allowed no time for worrying about anything else. It felt good to let it go. I actually forgot the grief was there. It’s there, it always is, bubbling at the surface and it unexpectedly started boiling over without warning.

When you lose someone you truly love, the grief is always there…I am learning it just comes out differently and at different times. I am happy I am with someone who is willing to stand by me with that bit of instability as a part of who I now am. Who shows no fear or jealousy of that past love.

Thanks, Matt, for getting me through when it “trickles” in. Now, off to find a happier chick flick…