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Posts Tagged ‘father’

Friendship

I’ve never been as depressed as I’ve been these past few weeks. But I told myself that at the end of this week, that would be over, that I’d get up and get on with my life. And lo and behold, I woke up Thursday morning not happy, per se, but not depressed anymore. The big hole of emptiness was gone.

Of course, life is never that easy…I woke up Friday morning with a horrible cold, so getting back to live (exercise, etc.) will have to wait a little longer. Blah.

We (me, dad, and mom’s brother) woke up in time for the sunrise on Wednesday, October 17th. Mom’s brother said a prayer of thanksgiving for mom’s life, and then we all went out onto the deck to scatter mom’s ashes. Dad wanted to keep some in the urn, and I still have some in a small metal heart here at home, so we didn’t scatter them all, but most are there off the side of the deck. It was a gorgeous sunrise. It’s a good place for mom’s ashes to be. It’s a good place for us to remember her being, even if she isn’t really there anymore.

And I took some pictures of the site before I left. Turns out there are some green beans growing there. Who knew? 🙂

It was so funny, when mom’s brother got into town and met us for dinner, he came into the bar where dad and I were waiting and sat down, then started talking…and then he looked at me and said, “And here I am, talking, when I’m just lookin’ at you and thinkin’ about how much you look like your mother.”

“Funny,” I said, “because that’s exactly what I was thinking about you.”

I’m sad that when my mom’s brother is gone, my mom’s stories are gone, too. No one will ever know her like he did. No one will ever know her like I did, either, sure, but he knew her as she was growing up. No one can replace that.

I have an old friend from writing class who has recently begun writing me letters. I always looked up to him as a sort of mentor. I mentioned in one of my responses that I’d been having trouble writing about mom, that it was still too soon for me. He said his mother passed away five years ago, and it was still too soon for him, too. That made me feel a little better. I wish I could write about everything that’s happened. So many of us have experienced loss, and I know that the only thing that can make any of us feel better is the understanding that we’re not alone. If I could write everything down, maybe I could help someone else like my friends have helped me.

And speaking of friends, and the title of this post, I have to say that my ex has been instrumental in getting me through the past few weeks. He was there for me in ways I never expected. If I ever had any doubts about whether or not he cared for me, or about how much he cared for me, they’ve all been erased. He let me take all of my sorrow, grief, and anger out on him, and he was nothing but supportive. I’m both amazed and grateful.

I switched therapists (not sure if I’ve said)…my most recent therapist always made me feel like I was just there as a paying client, like she didn’t really care about me, and that just wouldn’t do. I switched to an RPCV whom I met at a pot luck about a month ago. She’s an older lady, and she’s extremely kind. She’s also the first person who didn’t immediately say that my ex is a selfish asshole and that I should cease all contact with him. She actually helped me see that our relationship wasn’t as one-sided as both of us had thought, but that we gave in different ways: me, more of my material goods, and him, more of his quality time and attention. Neither is worth more. If anything, really, time and attention means more, right? But I’m glad there was finally a different perspective.

Life is a funny place. I think that I’m in a good position to move on and figure out new ways to make a difference in the world. Once this cold is gone, anyway. I’m lucky that my depression didn’t last any longer than it did. I know that not everyone is as lucky. I feel for those people, I honestly do. Real depression is no joke. But no one can save you from it but yourself.

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Confession

Okay.

I’ll admit it.

I’m depressed.

I thought I was depressed once when I was a teenager. I had this blinding moment of clarity wherein I realized that all of my “friends” were fake and that no one really knew who I was. I then immediately lost my faith (I happened to be at a church camp at the time) and did nothing but say I was depressed and cry for a couple of months.

I don’t think I was depressed then, though. This is different.

The best way I’ve been able to explain how I feel now is to say that it’s like there’s this inner core of me that is dead. It has no feelings, no motivation, no purpose, no esteem. It’s just dead weight. It’s like The Nothing in The Neverending Story. And then there’s this outer bit of me that knows I have to go on with life: get outside, exercise, go to work, see people, eat. I just don’t want to.

For the past three weeks, it’s been extremely difficult to get out of bed. I like my bed. It’s comfortable. I don’t have to smile at my bed. I don’t have to answer my bed’s questions. I don’t have to pretend to my bed that I’m a functioning human being. I can just curl up with my body pillow, huddle for warmth under my blanket, and stay safe and unmolested by the world outside my front door.

I’ve been working from home a lot. I’m super lucky to have such a flexible job. I have been making myself go to the gym, where I get a hug from my trainer before she kicks my ass. And I’m being very open about it and telling all of my friends that I’m depressed. I’m not keeping it a secret.

I don’t need to be comforted. I don’t need anyone to tell me it’s going to be okay or that it will pass. I just need to be allowed to be. And I’d prefer to do that being in my wonderful, marvelous bed.

I mentioned some of this to dad tonight, and he told me we didn’t have to go through with our plans for next week (to take mom’s ashes to the beach). I think he missed the point. I need to go to the beach and be with my mother. I need to go through with the ritual of letting her go, which means nothing to her at this point, but a lot to me. I know that after next week, things will pick up again and I’ll get back to some kind of normal routine.

The most unexpected side-effect of this depression is that I understand my ex-boyfriend in a way that I never have before. He deals with this type of feeling all the time. He has his whole life. I am lucky in that I understand what’s going on and that these feelings are temporary. People have been telling him that “it will pass” and “everything will be okay” his entire life, but it hasn’t and they aren’t. I understand things better now…for example, I’ve gotten upset with him before when I’ve reached out for reassurance or comfort and he wasn’t able to provide it. But now I get it: you can’t provide comfort to someone when you aren’t comforted yourself. I tried to explain this to him, and here’s how he paraphrased it:

you used to get upset because I couldn’t or didn’t know what to say to make you feel better when shit was shitty, but since now you’re feeling shitty you know that it’s hard to make others not feel shitty when they’re feeling shitty

And that’s pretty much it. But there’s a bit more…like sometimes the best thing you can do to help someone is to let them know that they are understood and that they are not alone. And I think that’s what he always tried to do. I interpreted that as him not caring and not trying, but empathy might just be the best way he can care for someone else, the most that he can do for someone.

Misery loves company, eh?

So here it is: I’m depressed. That’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a thing. I know why I feel this way. I also know it will end at some point. And I think I have enough strength left in me to pretend that I’m okay until I am actually okay again, though I’d really rather just stay in bed.

I have a very nice bed.

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Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,

When my previous therapist and I were talking about grief work, she suggested that I write you a letter. We both knew I wasn’t ready for that, so she told me to keep the idea in the back of my head and take advantage of it when it was time.

When I was talking to my new therapist about how I felt visiting your house these days, she asked if I’d written you a letter. I said no. Then I started crying and said I wasn’t ready. She just nodded.

As both of them told me I should write to you, I guess I should listen.

I suppose I’m finally ready.

It was triggered by something unexpected: a new CD. P!nk’s new album, The Truth About Love, was released yesterday, and I was listening to it in the car today while I was running errands and then heading to the gym. Song #9 is “Beam Me Up.” I started crying after the first verse and didn’t stop until I turned the car off at the gym. Then I listened to it on the way home and started crying again. I put it on the computer while I was settling in and just kept crying. (I’ll put the lyrics and a link to the song at the end here so you can hear it.)

I think this means that I’m not okay and that I still really, really, really miss you.

I’ve tried to be very Buddhist about this whole situation. I know that death is inevitable and that attachments lead to suffering. Sure. It’s true. I’ve also tried to shy away from all the “it’s just not fair” crap. But it’s not fair. I do feel robbed of decades of your love, your advice, your wisdom, your ear, your example. Your hugs. Our arguments. Holidays. Shopping. Celebrations. Shared loss. My life is proving to be so much like yours that I know you could help me walk along my own path. When I don’t know what to do these days, I don’t know to whom I should turn. Dad’s been doing a great job, but there are some things he just doesn’t want to hear. I know it’s hard for him.

There are also still some things I need to know that you never told me. Like, I know all about Richard. Well, I know a lot about Richard. But I don’t know how it finally ended, how you got over it…if you ever got over it. I remember finally meeting him at a funeral–was it Bibba’s?–and, when you pointed and said, “That’s Richard,” my going over to him and saying, “Richard? Hi! I’m Allison, Sallie’s daughter. I’ve heard SO much about you!” I think the expression on his face made your decade.

And more about your first marriage. You must have seen so much of it reflected in my own marriage. I don’t know why you were behind my marriage as strongly as you were. Maybe you just wanted to support me. Maybe you thought that having a man who loved me would be the only thing that mattered, even if that was about the only good quality he brought to the table. I remember asking you how you felt when you got divorced. I don’t remember exactly what you said, but I think it was along the lines of disappointed or like a failure. I said I felt free. You reacted almost like that made you sad.

And how to manage all of this crap. This past year and a half has been so hard on me, mom. I’m at a point where I really don’t feel like I can take anything else happening. I might literally crack. Everyone keeps telling me how strong I am–and I know that I am; I get that from you–but I’m so tired of having to be strong. You were always so good at multitasking and juggling everything. I know it annoyed me sometimes because I never felt I had your full attention, but I understand now. And the way you handled your cancer was a model for all of us. You never complained about anything, never said you felt pain, even when I knew you did. I could use the lessons that you learned during that journey. I wish you could teach me how to suffer with grace.

It’s so hard for me to go back to your house. I’m honestly glad I don’t live there anymore. I don’t know how dad manages. All I see when I walk in is your illness and everything I could have done better. I see myself struggling to learn how to help you use the bathroom and hurting you, I’m sure, in the process. I see myself causing you pain when I tried to move you. I see myself being short or gruff when I was frustrated–not with you, but with the cancer and what it was doing to you. I see myself trying to hurry you when you had no energy for anything. I know that I’m only human and that I did the absolute best that I could, but I could have done better, mom. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the times I hurt you or made you uncomfortable or forced you to do things you didn’t want to do. I know those things don’t matter to you. But they matter to me.

I’m sorry.

People always say things like, “If I could only go back and have five minutes to say everything I need to say, I wouldn’t leave room for any regrets.” I don’t have that regret. I think the one blessing your disease gave to all of us was a chance to say everything. I said everything I needed to say multiple times, and your responses were always what I needed to hear. There was nothing left unsaid. So I don’t have much to add here in that respect. You know that I’m sorry for all of the trouble I caused, and you told me that it wasn’t the bad times that you remembered, but the good. You know that I love you, and I know you love me. I just wish you were here. I wish I had that one minute, “just to stare, happy just to be there, holding your face.”

I miss you, mom. I love you so much. I’m tired of the pain and heartbreak of grief. It feels just as acute right now as it did right after you passed. I’ve heard it never gets any easier. That sucks. The worst part of having a mother who was my best friend, who was such an amazing woman and role model, is how big of a void your passing leaves in my life.

I hope that one day your memory only calls up happiness and not this wrench in my heart. Like you wrote on my poster–that awesome gift you gave me as a going-away present for the Peace Corps with all of my friends’ pictures and space for them to sign their well-wishes. You wrote, down in the corner near a picture of us at the beach: “Honey, may you always think of me with a smile on your face and in your heart–I’ll love you forever and beyond. Mom.”

I miss you, mom. I’ll always love you forever and beyond, too.

-A

Beam Me Up Video

“There’s a whole ‘nother conversation going on
In a parallel universe
Where nothing breaks and nothing hurts
There’s a waltz playing frozen in time
Blades of grass on tiny bare feet
I look at you and you’re looking at me

Could you beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it
I’d probably just stare, happy just to be there holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter,
I think, a minutes enough,
Just beam me up.

Saw a black bird soaring in the sky,
Barely a breath I caught one last sight
Tell me that was you, saying goodbye,
There are times I feel the shiver and cold,
It only happens when I’m on my own,
That’s how you tell me I’m not alone

Could you beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it
I’d probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter,
I think, a minutes enough,
Just beam me up.

In my head, I see your baby blues
I hear your voice and I, I break in two and now there’s
One of me with you

So when I need you can I send you a sign
I’ll burn a candle and turn off the lights
I’ll pick a star and watch you shine

Just beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it
I’d probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter,
I think, a minutes enough,
Beam me up
Beam me up
Beam me up
Could you beam me up.”

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Finding Peace

My birthday did not at all go as planned, but it was still a good day. As my co-worker reminded me, happiness is a decision. I decided to make it happy. I started the day with a long hike at Umstead. It was supposed to be rainy, but it was a beautiful (though humid) sunny morning. Then I went home, had some lunch, and read through both of the “mother remembers” books that mom filled out for me. I learned some interesting things, like I was speaking in sentences at 17 months and that I’m pretty much exactly like my mother in almost every respect.

The boy was supposed to spend the day with me. It was a matter of contention. When he ended things, he said he still wanted to spend my birthday with me to show that he cared. It didn’t work out exactly as either of us had hoped for a number of reasons. He came over and talked with me for about an hour, then told me he didn’t want to go to the dance performance, even though I’d already bought him a ticket and everything. So I went by myself and had a great time anyway, then met dad for an awesome dinner.

My main birthday present was supposed to be a new phone, and the boy was supposed to help me set it up (that’s his thing). We went back and forth about when he’d have time to help me set it up. He came home late Saturday night (Sunday morning?) and asked if I wanted to come over to get started, so I did. He showed me how to do most of what I needed to know, and then I spent all Sunday getting it set up right. It’s awesome. I love it.

So starting Monday, I went back to myself. Back to the 6AM workouts, tracking food, spending the evenings reading and going to bed early. I started feeling better immediately, but my heart still hurt.

The boy and I still talk a bit during the day over chat. I told him Wednesday that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go to his band’s next show, which is a week from today, because I didn’t think I’d be able to handle seeing him with a girlfriend so soon. We talked about it for a while. Something that came out was that he said he felt like we’d just been friends for the past few months. For some reason, that settled me a bit. I guess it makes more sense to me now how he was able to jump into another relationship so quickly. I’m still confused about a lot, but my heart isn’t quite as sore. It’s nice to feel a little bit at peace.

Things are on the upswing. I’m trying to go back to doing the things I was doing the last time I felt happy, and so far, it’s working out well. We’ll see how long it holds out.

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16 Days

Only 16 more days until I turn 32. Even though that must seem young to some of you, it’s hard for me to believe I’ve gotten so old. I remember a time when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to 18.

I’m still very worried about my birthday. I hope it’s not as sad as I’m expecting it to be. I don’t have any plans except to see a dance performance (seriously, you should all come…Ronnie West is the best dancer I’ve ever seen in person, and I know this show is going to be AMAZING…plus, you can wish me a happy birthday!), and then dad’s taking the boy and I out to dinner. It’ll be a very late dinner, which dad wasn’t really up for, but I really wanted to see Ronnie’s show. I’m glad we were able to work it out.

Things have been relatively stable for me. I haven’t lived so close to my best friend since I lived on Johnny’s street in Vilas. I’d forgotten how nice is it. I’m spending the majority of my evenings hanging out at the boy’s house. While my cats are a little sad about it, I’m glad to have the company. It also makes me feel more secure knowing that there’s someone who cares about me living so near, just in case I ever need any help or anything.

I’ve been doing a lot better with food. I actually haven’t binged on food in…it seems like it’s been a month or more? And I’ve corrected my diet over these past two weeks so that I’m getting back into a comfortable routine. I’ve also been much better about exercise. I’m trying to remember that it’s not about how I look, but how I feel. I feel so horribly out of shape. I’ve felt unmotivated and heavy, like it’s just too much effort to move. I do struggle to do the things I used to do, and I can’t do the things I used to do at the same level. People keep saying that it comes back quickly, but I don’t know about that. I just have to keep chugging away at whatever level I can. I’ve been trying to find more fun things to do so that I look forward to it. I got a deal on Shaun T’s dance video series…it’s hilarious having the dude who runs the Insanity program teach me how to disco. I also got a voucher for three private Pilates equipment sessions. I used to do that once a week…did that for years. I had my first session this week, and I felt equal parts blissed out and destroyed. I wish I could afford to continue with it. If I don’t end up going back to HEAT, I might be able to figure out a way to do it. I guess we’ll see.

I still miss mom. Sometimes conversations about death come up, and it’s hard for me to explain what it was like to be present to witness it. I think some people have an idealized version of what it might be like. It’s not pretty. And it leaves holes and scars.

It will be one year in October. Dad rearranged the beach schedule so that we’ll have the beach that week. We’re going to take her ashes.

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One of my childhood friends was married on Saturday. I think it was the hottest day on record. It was an outdoor wedding at Fearrington, and while it was at 6 pm, we were sitting in the shade, there was a breeze, and they provided fans and cool towels, I still sweat like a pig. That’s pretty normal for me, though. I’m just glad I wore a black dress so it wasn’t so obvious!

It was nice to see so many of my parents’ friends. I’ve known them all my whole life. The young woman getting married, Julie, is a couple of years younger than I am. I was always closer with her brother, who is my age. I have many memories of playing with our He-Man toys in their playroom and of being jealous that they had a pet rabbit (I always wanted one, but mom said they stank too much). We apparently were not always nice to Julie, but I don’t remember that, of course.

The food was wonderful. Julie was beautiful. But it was so very bittersweet.

I wasn’t expecting to miss mom so much. Fearrington was always one of her favorite places, so I was expecting to be thinking of her, but the thing is that if she were still around, she would have been heavily involved in helping with this wedding. I spoke with the mother of the bride a bit, and she said she’d been thinking about my mom the whole day, about how much she loved the place and about how much she would have loved the band, who started the night off with beach music. We danced together later: the shag, in honor of my mother. I’ve never been very good at it. Mom always led. But I think we did okay.

I cried the whole way home. It was kind of awful. My poor boyfriend has been having to deal with this kind of stuff from me since I met him. He tried to make me feel better by telling me how everyone supported me, how I was so loved, how everyone saw my mother when they looked at me. In truth, just crying and allowing myself to feel grief was cathartic in many ways. Being held was cathartic in others. I’m lucky to have him in my life.

Other not-so-fun events transpired yesterday that really made me appreciate my parents and their unconditional love, which I’ve always taken for granted. Parents are supposed to love their children no matter what, right? I can’t imagine it any other way. Seeing parents who act like they love their children only when it’s easy or convenient makes me confused and sad. I don’t know how a child who has never known a steady, reliable love could have any kind of functional relationship as an adult.

I can’t take my parents’ love for granted anymore. I’m blessed to have such a wonderful mom and dad, and I’m blessed to know what it means to love and be loved unconditionally.

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Hiatus

I haven’t updated here in a while, mainly because not much has changed.

Work is going well, though stressful at times. I’m settling into my new role as more of an editor than writer, and I get to work more closely with the development team, both things I enjoy. And I’m starting to become well known across the company…this is new for me. People I’ve never heard of email me for things like they are familiar with me and what I do, and when I introduce myself to people for the first time, sometimes I get, “Oh yeah, I see your name in emails all the time.” I hope I’m at least leaving a positive impression with these people I don’t even know.

My relationship with food is still rocky. Sometimes I think I have a handle on it. I think I’m getting a handle on it, anyway. I feel absolutely horrid, like I’m wearing a fat suit. But people have said interesting things to me. One old friend told me that I’d gotten too skinny and was looking better. Another said I was too hung up on it and shouldn’t worry so much. It really makes me wonder about myself and if I have one of those body-dismorphic disorders. At any rate, I don’t feel happy with where I am and would like to get back to where I was last August. It just requires a lot of focus and hard work that I’m not sure I can dedicate right now. It’s a toss-up. I just have to do the best I can with what I’ve got and work on loving myself all the time, no matter what stage or phase I’m in.

I still miss mom. It’s not as acute as it was, though I admit I had an overwhelming moment last week while reading a book. I mostly feel bad that I don’t see dad as much as I should. I haven’t even been over to his house in months. I wish I could do more for him, but I just don’t know what to do.

And the boy…things with the boy. The whole situation is complicated and confusing. I’m honestly not sure what’s in the future for us, and I’m working on being okay with that. I do know for sure that he’s become my best friend, and no matter what direction life takes us, that’s not going to change. So things will be okay, I think, whichever way they go.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the wide Internet universe. Dad’s birthday is on the 28th, so be sure to send him your love. 🙂

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