Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A big old pile of real

So it’s January.

My Facebook is full of reminiscing on last year and well wishes for this year.

I on the other hand, am not sure I lived a year. I personally feel like I walked space, but not time. I feel like I’m walking back to the funeral. Like I’ve walked a circle and because time is not moving, I will have no choice but to walk back into the funeral home because that’s what’s sitting on the calendar -- an actual place.

In some ways I think I welcome this arrival, because walking up to Christmas was surreal. Knowing that last Christmas my life was one way, and then so shortly thereafter it was irrevocably changed. I really hated that. I really hated walking next to a ghost of someone that used to be me, but is not me anymore. I’m almost, in a terrible way, looking forward to walking into time again and joining "this me" with "that me" this January -- letting the converging happen. But what besides, deep reality, can come from converging with pain? I don’t know, but it’s going to hurt.

And the worst part is…I won’t be walking back into the funeral home. His face and hands and hair won’t be there this January. Neither will the hugs. My raw will not be held by their raw. My raw will be in another town alone, and those hugs miles and lifetimes away.

To see your past - all at once, everyone in one room, while you are bleeding out your clarity. It’s both the most meaningful, nearly magical experience and that helps you to keep standing -- all while being the most debilitating ache, on top of ache -- a physical need to go back in time and be free. "Please never let go of this hug, please do not let me walk out of here, I’m not sure what’s really out there anymore. I need all the arms, every circle, just to keep me together.”
And everyone is ok with you crying on them. And they cry too. Everyone’s eyes match.

But then I go home. And no one’s eyes can match mine -- and it feels like they never will, ever again.

I haven’t said so on the blog, because I haven’t know how, and I didn’t have the strength for the follow up. And this is exactly like real life -- so many times I haven’t said it and no one really knows.

My brother was homeless. I hadn’t seen him in years. The last time I can put my finger on seeing him in person (but it probably wasn’t the actual last time, just the last time I’m sure of) was my wedding. (My ten year wedding anniversary is this summer.) He made choices that ripped my heart so hard I didn’t know what to do other than pretend it wasn’t happening. Purposeful repression as best as I could muster.

I moved when I got married. And my brother was a part of my life for perhaps another year, we emailed and talked some over the phone. He was working (He seemed so busy that he never visited my new house, which I didn’t think much about -- things felt good and conversational) and seemed like he was doing well. Until he wasn’t. He started using drugs again and quit his job (by never showing up again) and initially chose to live in the woods in a tent. Somehow we were still in touch with him a bit, but over time, and after enough choices... we only knew where he was because my parents put out a police request to locate him. (At that point we hadn’t heard from him in so long we didn’t know if he was still alive. They found him but said he did not want to be contacted.) He spent his last years in California. And in mid-January of last year he died of a drug overdose. The police were with him when he died, he was running through traffic, on his high, and they were trying to help him to a safer place when he just collapsed. (His heart stopped.) (That past police report, that my parents had requested earlier, was what enabled the hospital to contact my parents that time. This was not his first visit to this hospital.) Everyone was more than good to him and went out of their way to try and save him, putting every effort in with no regard to why he was in this position. (That is such a powerful example to me.)

You can probably read easily between these lines to see why people I live by, and have interacted with, since getting married, really don’t know any of this. It’s not an easy subject to bring up. And if I was trying not to sink into permeant depression by repressing, I certainly wasn’t bringing it up. If ever I did on rare occasion, it was most often met with such bewilderment -and usually a very quick subject change-  that I quickly learned it wasn’t worth the effort, there was zero emotional payback for the great aching wound I pried open to share anything from. It’s better to just leave that one to myself.
So when he died, no one from my adult world knew to care. (Or it would be more realistic to say VERY few knew to care.)
And you can only do so much, when you know so little. (And please, no one take that like a personal attack. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just rough circumstances. )

This year has been hard. (It’s also been good -- I’ve been forced to grow in major ways, and there have been bright spots regularly.) But it’s been unequivocally hard. And while Blake has been everything I could ever have asked for, he also barely knew my brother.  
My kids never met my brother and I never told them they had an uncle on my side, because it was just too complicated for people under 5. They know about him now, but pretty much  just know I'm sad, and ask about stories from our childhood sometimes...it feels so disjointed.
 So I’ve carried this year alone. (I am more than thankful for the counseling I’ve been going to, because that has been a deeply stabilizing thing inside all the circumstances that I carry.)

But I find myself inside spaces that many do not find themselves. And when others are not inside those spaces it’s common for them to quickly dismiss my pain. This has been my plight. And especially so since becoming a mother.
How hard it is to be in pain, yes... but how terrible it is to be alone.

And while I have found a rare few who know these pains, or will be willing to sit unafraid, and un-shushing, with me in these pains whether they understand them more not. More often than not I am shushed.

Here are the pains I’m regularly shushed over (usually done since they aren’t felt by the shusher):

1) c-section / c-section complications like nursing difficulty, emotional trauma, physical side effects

2) Food allergies & sever pet/environmental allergies for my children -- this changes everything, makes EVERYTHING harder because essentially anything involving people being by people, has a food component. And it’s not as easy as saying “well just don’t eat it” because, for one, my kids are kids not adults and they HAVE to rely on safe information from an adult to know what they can eat. And not all adults (actually not many adults) can provide that for them, and yet some try to, and are wrong, which is a big deal. We also have food-to-skin-contact issues as well -- and you know how kids eat right? Ever seen Cheeto fingers?... Those scare the crap of out me. Those are the reason we have had to leave birthday parties covered in hives. And we can’t go to anyone’s house until I ask a bunch of invasive sounding questions about pets and food. And some houses are just more threatening to my child’s ability to breath than is worth the risk of going/being there often (oxygen being absolutely essential). And all this is SO OFTEN seen as me making something out of nothing. 
We are isolated, misunderstood, 
and accused - of being: 
--overdramatic (as if they choose to be unaware there is a real threat to life involved -- that others have died from food allergies, but instead choose to think this is just my imagination over-hyping things, or me not having enough faith to make them healed, or that I don’t push medicine/special diets enough for them to be cured)
--a frustration/burden/annoyance (if I ask for safer situations for my children in the face of food at social events) (Or even if it doesn’t seem like I’m a bother, it’s actually VERY difficult to achieve a fully safe environment, when everyone is used to what they are used to, and un-trained on food safety.)
--or anti-social/uncaring (if I choose not to attend situations that are not made safe enough). 

It is one of the most alienating things I have ever experienced. (Not to mention the shooting pain my heart feels every time I see a social media picture of a friend’s kid joyfully eating something my kids are extremely allergic to. I cannot escape to contentment by avoidance.) 

I don’t even expect people to care, because I know I didn’t care before it affected me personally. (Which is really ices the dairy-loaded cake nicely.) 

And I’m trying to figure out how to emotionally maneuver all this so my kids can be physically AND emotionally healthy. It’s no small thing.

3) Extreme Pregnancy Sickness --- I’ve never felt so alone or depressed in my life as when I was pregnant and sick every day for 42 weeks...and people would say happy-happy-happy-happy baby things and override my need to be real and connect as a human (who felt like she was dying.) (And there is leftover emotional toll from the experience.)

4) Having a homeless brother

5) Grief of losing my only sibling

I carry all of these things, and more, every single day and yet still carry the words spoken to me: “nothing bad has ever happened to you” as a haunting summary of how people view me. And as if I’m a cry-baby, for ever showing my hand -- that this is too hard sometimes. And like that’s the solution to life: pretend the pain doesn’t hurt and keep doing what works for everyone else, regardless of if that’s truly healthy.

So I feel alone in the extreme these days. It’s very hard to have all your nuances shushed constantly. It’s very hard to walk up to people and regularly say “Hi, I’m bleeding out, can you help me?” And have them say, “You look fantastic!” and walk on like you never even spoke.

I do still get up every day. And every day I try to make the best I can of this life I have. I love my life. But I’m not always in a good mood. I’m not always everything I want to be. I don’t always put a happy polish on top of the pain, because wounds need to breath to heal.
But I get up. I keep going.
And sometimes I am so happy. There are things that bring me lots of joy -- big and trivial things.
And I know someday I will be happy again for longer and longer bouts of time.

But I gotta be honest with you. I’m really nervous to face January.
I’ve shown myself that I struggle with anniversaries of hard things (my c-section date -- conveniently my daughter’s happy birthday -- has been a struggle regularly.)
And I don’t actually even know what date to struggle with this January. Through the confusion of distance and information relaying we originally were mis-told, or misunderstood, the date on which Jeremy first collapsed. It was mid January, but I purposefully have not retained either the date I first was told nor the date I was later told, in hopes I can’t grow non-functional on either (probably not going to be effective.) Then he was in a comma, kept alive by machines for some time, and the official date of that ceasing I have also have not retained. But what I did retain was that it took so long for all the things to follow that we had this funeral February 3rd, which we postponed one day, so that it wasn’t directly on my February 2nd birthday.

So Mid-January until Feb 3rd is all fair game for me to be non-functional. (This includes my birthday. Which I may just request nothing more than to be left alone for.) I thought I had been getting better with  having panic attacks and poor sleep -- but it’s coming back again now as I get closer to the anniversary.

My point of this post is -- this is my real. And my real needs your prayers.
Lots of them this month!!
And my Christian peeps, please pray for my faith as well. It’s been beat up pretty good. I’m struggling.
Please also pray for “safe places” for me to land -- people who can sit with my real and will let me sit with theirs.

I’m no longer certain, at any moment, when it’s ok to be real. My real has been shot down so hard, for so long, I just don’t know.
 I don’t know if this post is “ok.”
But I recently read “Rising Strong”, a very cool book, where Brene Brown discusses that the only way for deep connection is to be vulnerable with your story (and this means then, in the reverse you need to be willing to allow someone else their story). And how to rise strong from hard things.

 So I’m trying not to shut down. Everything in me wants to say -- “Hey if your other stuff, before Jeremy, was too much for everyone, what the heck is this level of stuff!?!? ---- WAY TOO MUCH! Go into a hole and stay the heck away from everyone forever. You are going to ruin everything for everyone with your whining about your pain.”

But I’m too tired to stay alone. I’m going to get up. And getting up involves rumbling with my real feelings, not shushing them.
So here’s some real.
 I’m not losing hope that there are people willing to be a safe place for that. And I’m also acknowledging that this blog has been one of my best sources for safe hearts that open willingly to their real raw pain to meet me in mine. You guys bless me so much.

Keep my in your prayer in the upcoming weeks. Don’t be a stranger either. (I promise don’t cry all the time. Just some times. ;) ) And some of you, remember back last February when I said things like “yes let’s get together, or I’ll call you.” I meant it -- I just think i’ve been hibernating this year. I’m hoping I’ll wake up soon.


  1. Thank you for sharing your struggles. This post made me cry. I FEEL for you. I feel your pain of your brother and how hard social situations are with food. You are such a good mom to protect your kids as fiercely as you do. We live so far apart but I care about you and your family and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. I will be praying for you this month and next. I will also pray for someone who can listen to you are really hear your heart; I know I do but I can't be there in person. I will pray for that person for you and the validation of your struggles. I have been hiding my story for so long and you make be feel more courageous to share mine.

  3. When thou passest through the waters,
    I will be with thee;
    and through the rivers,
    they shall not overflow thee:
    when thou walkest through the fire,
    thou shalt not be burned;
    neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
    For I am the LORD thy God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    thy Saviour:


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