The Darkness

Darkness.
Seeing no way out from a life heavy with a lack of light.
Sigh.
Begrudgingly starting every day.
Silent.
Every single day I regret being silent to those who have come to this blog to read my words and have found help or comfort through them.
Worse.
Wish I could laugh in the face of every person who has said it will get better one day because all I feel is the overwhelming sense of sinking deeper.
Lost.
Unsure of where I fit or belong.
Disconnected.
Not part of anything yet surrounded by all the things I should be.
Wordless.
No longer able to put into words how I feel.
Pathetic.
Hate myself for the inability to function.
Downhill.
Living proof that it is a myth to take it one day at a time and things will get better.
Drowning.
The thought of breathing it all in makes me choke on the misery.
Disappointed.
Not at all doing what I am supposed to be doing or living the life I should be living.
Letdown.
Unable to be there for the people who love me or be part of their lives like I once was.
Unfocused.
Getting what needs to be done every day is a daily battle barely won.
Failure.
My original goal of helping others through my words and experience with grief has failed since losing my ability to write.
Lonely.
My heart beats for you with miserably unattainable desire.
Guilty.
Constantly questioning why it was you, not me.
Jealous.
Everyone’s lives seem to be coming together in such a perfect loving way while I am trapped in this dismal cage.
Angry.
This is the life I have been given and I wish I could return to sender.
Frustrated.
The daily motions that must be gone through quickly grow tedious.
Mundane.
Nothing seems to bring joy or relief or brief moments of clarity.
Master of the mask.
Faking it has no longer become an option, just reality.
Unhappy.
Struggling to remember the last time I was happy and woke up excited for something to happen.
Incapable.
I am totally unable to forget and move on even though people tell me I should.
Lonely.
Life without you just does not make sense and all attempts to fill the void are inadequate.
Weak.
So tired of the fight and effort it requires to get through each day.
Defeated.
I feel like I need to acknowledge that my entire life of bad luck has won.
Bandaid solution.
Trying anything to cover the pain and make it go away.
Acceptance.
Realizing and accepting that regardless of trying to be a good person and giving so much to others isn’t enough to avoid fate when she comes knocking to take away everything you love.
Caught.
See absolutely no way out of all of this.

Grief.
The only existence I know.
Surrender.
Tired of fighting and ready to give in to the unrelenting darkness.

Darkness.

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A Thought for Fellow Grievers: A Picture Says a 1000 Words

A-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words

They says a picture is worth a thousand words and as an obsessive photographer I have always agreed with that.  I have also always been a big fan of quotes in that I am constantly saving ones I see or writing them down from the books I read or posting them on my fridge or sharing them with my best friend, Lauren.  Since I lost Zach, my fiancé, I have either come across or been sent various pictures with quotes about grieving that have so strongly resonated with me that I now have an extensive collection of them saved in my phone or in my email.

I would like to share them here with you today because maybe you also have found yourself trapped in a similar journey with grief and you feel like me in that it gives you a small degree of comfort to know that other people are thinking and feeling the same way as you.  Maybe you can also look at a picture of someone who has experienced loss, recognize the raw emotion, and know exactly what they are feeling in that moment.

That’s the worst part about grief: to feel like you have lost your mind, that no one could ever feel the way you do, and that what you’re feeling isn’t normal.  Our grief stories might be different, our loss can have a completely different face, but grief is grief and we experience it together.  So maybe you have already seen some of these pictures or heard these quotes or maybe you won’t even get anything out of me sharing them, but I am doing this today because I need the same reminder that grief is shared by all….. even through the pure kindness of faceless online supporters.

These pictures depict, describe, define, and demonstrate grief whether it be through words or just a picture.  I hope you draw the same thing from them as I have.

From me to you,

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The Lost Me

lost

“I’m not sure this is a world I belong in anymore. I’m not sure that I want to wake up.” ~~ Gayle Forman in If I Stay

 

Zach,

Lost doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel right now.  I somehow managed to finish the spring semester and even more insanely somehow managed to finish with straight A’s again.  Dean’s List for the third year running…. yay, right?  But there is no yay.  There was no joy.  There was just a weekend of relief then back at it again.  The summer semester is already one week underway and it is brutal.  The great thing about the summer semester is how wonderfully quickly you can get through a full class.  Who needs the typical five months to complete a university class when you can accomplish the same thing in a matter of mere weeks?  Of course that does mean work and teaching 8-5:30, class every night from 6-9 PM then home to read a full textbook chapter, take a quiz, do an assignment and somehow be up at it first thing in the morning again?  Hell.  Is it any wonder that I feel lost?  Probably not, but this is an ongoing thing since I lost you.

There is no concept of time anymore.  Wasn’t it just Christmas?  Or Spring Break?  Or last year?  The other day I told someone that I lost you last year.  It hasn’t been a year.  That’s just not true.  It is has been over a year and a half now so why would I say that?  I have not only lost myself, but I have lost my grip on everything.  What I haven’t lost is the ability to fool everyone into thinking I am coping better than before.  My mask has been pretty firmly in place for awhile now, but by now I just am the mask.

I go to work, I do the job and I am great at it.  I’ll pat myself on the back for that because I do good work and I love my job.  I teach my students, they learn, they enjoy class, and they love me as much as I love and am indebted to them.  I go to class, I succeed, I learn, and (without sounding like I am tooting my own horn since it is their words and not mine) the professors are impressed by my work.  And yet there is still nothing there.  It is empty.  It is vapid.  It is meaningless.  It is lost.

But am I actually lost?  Like the picture says, in order to be lost you have to know where it is you are supposed to be.  I definitely don’t know that.  I am supposed to be with you, living my life with you, and without that?  I just don’t know.

Zach, I started this blog and began writing in this space, not only to help process some of the thoughts in my head, but to share my story so others might know they are not alone, and to maybe help someone else one day.  Now I feel I am even failing at that because I cannot pull myself together, cannot overcome the constant exhaustion I feel to sit down and write.  I am so lost, what I used to be is so lost that I don’t even know where to find a smidgen of a piece of me.

But aren’t we all lost?  Isn’t that what grief does to us?  Spins us around, dumps us upside down, twists our realities, and makes everything tainted with a bitter disdain for our own lives?  I know I am not alone in this.  All of us found in excruciating vortex of grief have felt the same way at one point or another.  I don’t know how to find my way back, but I think this space is a good place to start.  This space was the only place I could be myself and express myself when my grief was the freshest.  So this is the space I am going to try and find that one small smidgen.

The Loss of Your Confidant

z and me

Grief is a solitary journey. No one but you knows how great the hurt is.  No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life when someone you know has died.  And no one but you can mourn the silence that was once filled with laughter and song. It is the nature of love and death to touch every person in a totally unique way   ~~ Unknown

Zach,

I use this space to tell you what is going on, what I’m struggling with, things I wish I could actually tell you.  Maybe it is stupid or pointless because it is a poor replacement for the real thing, but I do draw some comfort from being able to “talk” to you.  Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to share my secrets with my childhood imaginary friend; my invisible, untouchable, and out-of-reach confidant.

When you lose your confidant, it becomes a one-sided conversation.  I still think all of these things; they don’t just go away.  I still want to say them and quite often I do still say them out loud to you.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I have gotten strange looks from people as I say things out loud to you.  So how do you shut off all of the things you are used to talking about?  You can’t.  This just means I have a lot of one-sided, empty, unfulfilling, and tragically lonely conversations with myself.

Zach, we talked about anything and everything all day long.  I see something funny and I still reach for my phone to text you.  I am annoyed at work and I want to pick up the phone and call you.  I want to hear about your lunch break, about your funny students making you laugh, the female teacher drama you so desperately tried to avoid at work.  I want to tell you when I’m sad, hear you encourage me when I am overwhelmed, to be told everything will be OK one day.  I want to listen to you talk about our future, excitedly dream about getting your Ph.D., passionately drone on about History I could never understand the way you do.  I want to people watch and make sarcastic comments quietly to each other, talk about the family property and our big plans for it, strategize our next travelling adventure.

When you lose your confidant even the monotony of daily life, the trivial things, the insignificant things become something you desperately wish you could say.  It isn’t just the big things that you want to talk about, discuss, and analyze.  The small things become huge when you are faced with the reality of not being able to say it to the one person you want to.  Of course I have my family, friends, and coworkers that I can talk to, but it isn’t the same.

You are the one I am used to sharing everything with: the mundane, the important, the major, the minor.  And now I don’t have that.  The silence is excruciating and it constantly reminds me of how alone I am.  I want my partner, my confidant, my best friend.

I’ve been brutally reminded of this inability to talk to you this week because I want to tell you both the good and bad news I got.  They say everything gets easier with time, but it doesn’t feel that way.  Every day it seems to feel worse.  Every day I am slapped in the face with the reality that I can never tell you anything again.

The silence is deafening.

The Man and His Dog

zach and lusie

Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really ~~ Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Zach,

I feel like I am writing this on your behalf.  Either that or just to tell you what is going on.  I can’t really decide which it is, but either way it is sad.

Weekends with your family are the only sense of comfort I typically feel during my weeks of insane scheduling.  I am truly blessed to have them and they are the most wonderful in-laws one could ever ask for.  Your family is my family and I love each of them as if they were my own…… but I digress and that is not what I set out to write tonight so I’ll start over.

Weekends with your family are the only sense of comfort I typically feel, but this weekend was inundated with a profound sense of sadness.  I walked in the door on Friday after a long day at work followed by a two hour drive to start catching up with your mom after three weeks of being unable to come home when I laid eyes on two green plastic bottles on the counter.  Noticing me notice them, your mom hesitantly informed me they were Lusie’s.

I should mention that this is a really strange sensation for me right now because I feel like I am having to break the news to you knowing how upset you will be.  Obviously strange because you are not here, but I hope that anyone reading this would understand how horribly you would take this news and how hesitantly I would approach this.  No matter what has happened and how death has tragically separated us, I still feel it is my place and my responsibility to tell you.

Zach, Lusie is sick.  Your beloved little basset hound that you picked out so many years ago to surprise your mom and sister is not doing well.  Your parents noticed two weeks ago that she was breathing heavy and not eating much.  They only told me this weekend because they know how brutal my last couple weeks have been and they were waiting for me to be able to come home, but now that I know…. I am just so sad.  The vet showed your mom the x-rays and Lusie’s lungs are full of cancer which they say is common for basset hounds, but it doesn’t make our sadness any less.

I sit here contemplating how I would actually break the news to you if you were here.  I already feel such a sense of loss with knowing she is so sick, but I know you would be that much more upset.  A man and his dog.  It is a relationship that cannot truly be defined.  A dog is a man’s best friend; what more is there to say?

Lusie is like your doggie child, the same as Dakota (my husky who lives in Canada with my mom) is mine.  This is the pooch who howled in excitement anytime you came home and would do so louder than for any other family member.  This is the pup you trained, hunted with, rode with, explored with.  Man’s best friend.

This is the dog who grieved with us after we lost you.  They say dogs can grieve themselves to death if their master dies suddenly and we were so afraid this would happen to Lusie.  The first day or so that I was in Eastman, she kept sniffing me in way that made us all realize she was associating my scent with you and that she was confused why you weren’t there.  Literally any time the door would open and someone would walk in, she would limp over to the door (she had been hit by a car the week before and was quite injured at the time) and once realizing it wasn’t you, she would come over and sniff me again.  She wouldn’t eat, she didn’t sleep much, she constantly paced searching for you, and she kept coming to me to either just lay with me or to roll around on my lap asking to be pet like only you could.

I found it really strange how Lusie responded to me after we lost you.  She is such a beautiful little pup and such a sweet girl, but after you were gone she really started coming to me more and looking for some loving.  Is that because I was willing to give it or because she associated me with you?  I’m not sure, but I have adopted Lusie as my own just the same as I have adopted your whole family.

Zach, I’m so sad to tell you that she is sick.  I know you would be heartbroken.  I know you wouldn’t take the news well.  You might not be here with us anymore, but I’m still sad to tell you about her.  I am just so sad about her.  The vet has given her some medicine to make her more comfortable and we hope she won’t be hurting/struggling as much, but it doesn’t look good and I’m not sure how long she has before she is up there roaming with you….. if that is how it works.

I love you, Zach, and even if you aren’t here it still breaks my heart to tell you something that would cause you pain and sadness.  Like my opening quote says, dogs are amazing and become a part of the family, but their lives are too short.

Poor Lusie has had a hard year and five months with getting hit by the car, loosing you, and now this.  Poor little girl has been so strong, but maybe it is time for her to be with you.  Maybe she has missed you long enough.

But we aren’t ready to say goodbye yet 😦

 

A Lusie and Krista snuggle moment.

me and lusie

The Times When You Actually Have Too Much to Say

how grief works

 

There is no grief like the grief that does not speak ~~ Henry Wordsworth

 

Zach,

I feel like this is my life right now.  Clearly my life is no longer on a straight progressive line through life, but instead it has become a clusterf**k of a disastrous rollercoaster ride.  Spinning, swirling, confusing, overwhelming, excruciating.  I have said it so many times before, but between work, teaching, and my own university classes I barely have time to think.  Every single day, from 8 AM until 2-3 AM, I alternate between working in the office, attending class, teaching, studying, doing homework, making lesson plans, grading, etc. that I barely have time to even sleep.  Since January I have not felt like I can catch a break.  And I am so tired.

The worst part about it is that I have so much I want to say.  Things I need to say, to get off my chest, to get out of my mind.  I have so much I want to say to you, to write about, to process.  I just don’t have time.  I need to make more time because there is so much more I feel like I need to do.  My every intention behind starting this blog was to one day help somebody in some way with their own grief.  To show them that they are not alone.  So many people have shared their very personal experiences with grief with me and they tell me that my words have helped, but I know there is more I could probably do.  I have ideas, I have the words…. I just don’t have the time.

And for a writer?  Not having time to do what we love, to do what is our biggest outlet, to do what helps us process so much?  Having so much to say but no time to get it written down? Zach, having no time to write is excruciating for a writer.  All of these words are just piling up in my head and I want to sit down and dedicate a whole day to writing.  But I can’t.

I don’t know if you are actually watching over all of us or if you can see how we are struggling.  But more than ever I need you to show me that I am doing the right thing, that I am on the right path.  Because right now I feel so lost that none of it seems worthwhile and I don’t know why I’m still doing it.  Especially school.  School is hard, I can never get caught up.  I am just so tired.  There are not enough hours in the day.  I don’t know if you are watching, but I need something to show me that this total lack of time is worth it.

The Big 3-Oh my God, Where the F**K Did My Life Go?

February 2011

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.  ~ ~ Douglas MacArthur

Zach,

Well the day you always teased me about has come and gone.  Yesterday I turned 30.  Where the hell did that come from?  Age is just a number and I really haven’t had the same freak-out most women do when they turn 30, but still!  What a strange thing to say.  What a strange thing to be out of your twenties.  What a strange thing to have no idea where my life has gone….. especially not the last few years.

You always loved it because I was two years older.  You didn’t care about my age, we never noticed an age difference, but every so often you really enjoyed rubbing it in that you would have two extra years before you hit this big 30 marker.  Why is it so significant to all of us?  I guess because it used to mean that you needed to have a career, a husband, 2.5 kids, and a house with a white picket fence by this point otherwise you may as well throw in the damn towel and give in to being an old maid.  It used to mean all that, but I really don’t think it does anymore.

So why is this birthday so hard for me?  If I don’t care about the socially implied meaning behind the birthday then why did I have such an impossibly hard time at dinner with friends on Saturday where it was agonizingly difficult to keep a smile on my face?  Why did I spend yesterday, my actual birthday, laying in bed under the covers with the TV on for background noise while I laid there and sobbed?

Zach, I don’t think it is that I feel as though my life is ruined because I haven’t accomplished certain things by now.  Is it constantly aggravating that I am still in school at my age?  Of course it is, but I did that to myself by only choosing to go back to school now.  Is it exhausting to run around being a full-time student plus teaching plus lesson plans plus grading plus the very time consuming job that I have in my office when none of it adds up to being an actual career at the age I am?  Absolutely.  It is absolutely disheartening.  But I know in my heart it is a step towards any future job.  So then what is it about 30 that has crushed absolutely all sense of joy out of me?

It isn’t that I should have reached a certain point by now and done certain things.  Well it is, but it isn’t.  Zach, it is not that I haven’t been able to attain these things in my life that everyone else has been lucky enough to.  It is that it was all stolen from me.  The life I wanted, the life I had worked towards, the life we had together, the life we were planning for our future was all taken.  It isn’t that I have failed in achieving these things.  It is that I wasn’t deserving enough to keep it.

I didn’t get to keep you.  I didn’t get to keep that true love you gave me.  I didn’t get to keep the life we had together which was so amazing it was one for the history books.  So what is there from here?  There isn’t anything.

So call me over the hill, call me grandma, or call me old lady like I can hear you doing right now in your overly exaggerated Southern drawl.  Age is just a number, but all I feel is that I’ve already hit the high points and there isn’t much more to go from here.  I have such high doubts that anything can beat what I’ve already had so I will just be grateful for what i have had….. even if I lost it all.

Not many people can say that they have had the number of amazing jobs I’ve had (and there have been a lot) or the experiences I’ve had.  Not many people can talk about the different countries they have lived in, the travels they have done, or even been able to understand the love that we had.  I consider myself truly lucky for everything I have managed to do up until this point regardless of whatever curveballs life has thrown at me along the way.  I consider myself truly blessed for having known you, loved you, and for having been lucky enough to have had a life with you even if it wasn’t nearly enough.  Maybe I just hit all those high points earlier in life than most and now it is just time to ride it out.

Zach, I understand why they call it over the hill now.  There is no more uphill climb.  All I envision are the monotonous steps in front of me which I will continue to take.  You would want me to and I know I need to, but I don’ t know where it has all gone.  I don’t have any idea how time has passed so quickly to leave me where I am now.  So I’ll ask it again….. where the F**K has my life gone?

It has been but a blink of the eye.