Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Not a Survivor

(I originally wrote this within the first 6 months after my daughter's death. I didn't post it then, I don't remember why.  I'm posting it now because it was a part of me...my journey.)

The truth is I'm not a survivor because I feel everyday like I'm drowning.  But you wouldn't necessarily know that by looking at me or talking to me.

I had recently come to a place, prior to my daughter's death, where I had this realization that it was important for me to just be who I truly am.  I can see how the majority of my life has been spent trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be...trying to match up to expectations I felt put on me by my parents, pastors, siblings, husband, myself.  It's how I was trained...by guilt, fear, shame...these awful taskmasters that were used by the authorities in my life -- most likely to make themselves feel better about whatever their relationship and responsibility was toward me, not because they wanted to nurture me into growing into the best possible version of myself.  And as I see this, in some ways I can't really blame these people because they were most likely behaving how they thought they were supposed to behave, thinking and doing according to the training they received...following their own set of "should's".

In any case, the fact remains, I had been in the process of shedding the should's and feeling good about that.  And then my daughter's death hit us like a great and terrible storm that hasn't ceased to this day.  There are days when it slows down.  The wind gusts aren't as strong-- they may pull back a bit but they never completely leave.  They are like a terrible abuser--you see their back as they walk into another room just to take a break and refuel.  You hear their heavy breathing and can smell their presence in the air and you know it's just a matter of time before they are back in all their glory and fury to wreak havoc and destruction on the very core of your being.  There is no escape, just moments of retreat between the battles.  And there is no rest in those moments because there is no true relief, only anticipation of the next attack and the anxiety of not knowing exactly when that will be.  But, rest assured, it will  happen. 

Fast forward, and in the after-loss of my daughter's suicide, I am not being who I truly am.  I am back to that place of being someone I think I should be...to my family, friends...strangers.  Who I truly am is a blubbering idiot, a puddle of tears, incapable of functioning because I can no longer concentrate, I can no longer focus, I am heaped with guilt, bogged down with all the things I could-have, should-have done.  How could I have helped?  What could I have said in our conversations that could have made a difference.  I look back on her childhood and see all the areas where I faltered, where I messed up, my selfish acts, my impatience, the times I let my own problems affect the way I mothered my child.  The things I didn't do that hurt her, the times I acted in anger....that's all I can see.  I can't see anything good because it's overshadowed by everything bad -- because that's what's won out.  Good did not triumph over evil.  It's obvious that I didn't do enough good to make up for the wrongs I had done during her childhood, otherwise there would be a different outcome.  Otherwise, she would still be here...smiling, laughing, looking to the future, singing, saying, "I love you, Mom!"  I hear her voice in my head and it immediately brings me to tears because her voice was so kind, gentle--acceptance flowed from it. She made people feel comforted, encouraged. She spread love and encouragement. She made people laugh; she made me laugh 'til I cried.  Her heart listened and heard people and she only always wanted them to feel better.  But she didn't have that for herself -- I was not a good enough mother to her to give that to her for herself.  I can never forgive myself.  How do I go on?  How can I be a good mother to my children that are still living?  How can I fill them when I am so empty now?  I am so lost and I can't see the path.  I'm sitting in this dark forest, confused, angry, miserable, broken, languishing, wanting...waiting...waiting for her to visit me--but she'll never come.  I want to sink into the earth and disintegrate. Maybe then what's left of me can float away and find her and tell her that I love her more than I even knew and that I'm sorry, so sorry, for not being more to her...for not being what she deserved.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Two Years

I had forgotten about this place.
2 years.

It's been over 2 years since my last post.
2 years and 3 different locations.
I've lived in 3 different places since then.
Actually, I'm on my third location now.
But, it's been a total 6 different places that I've lived in the last 5 years.
That's a lot of moving.

Life has changed a lot, too.
Many deaths.
Many deaths of different sorts...
   of people, of relationships, of hopes, of faiths...
     heartbreak, confusion, devastation, loss--
       it could get worse but I hope it doesn't.

Ah, I guess there is still some hope alive.
That means there must be more.
More life ahead.

Where will it lead?
I don't know, but maybe I'll try something different this time.
Maybe, I will try leading it  instead of it  leading me.
Then maybe, just maybe, I will get where I actually want to go.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Another Zippered Pouch

I made this lined zippered pouch for my niece.  She wanted one for her combs, particularly those long tail combs, so I made it  9" L x 3.5" W x 2.5" tall.

 It took me awhile to figure out how to determine the size of fabrics and zipper I would need for the pouch size I wanted.  I'm not really a numbers person so I had to draw and re-draw, measure and re-measure until I was sure.  And then I made one first out of scrap fabric just to be doubly sure my calculations were correct.

It's happened to me before that I've figured sizes and then measured fabric over and over again to be on the safe side and for some reason after it's been cut and sewn, it's off and I sit there not having a clue where I went wrong.  So, whenever I'm measuring and calculating, I'm always a little nervous.  However, in other areas of design I can just "eyeball" things and they are right on.  One example was when my husband and I were wallpapering the laundry room - correction, I was wallpapering the laundry room and he, being a general contractor, saw my methods and decided he needed to step in to make sure things turned out right.  Well, I started putting up a piece of wall paper on the wall and he said, "Wait! Did you measure and mark the wall to make sure the strip goes up straight?"  I said, "No, I know it's straight by looking at it."  Well, we debated for a couple minutes and he decided to pull out his tape measure and level and sure enough, it was right on.  I decided not to rub it in and he decided that I had just gotten lucky.  I knew better.  ;)

So, being more visual than anything, the most challenging part of sewing for me is when I'm not working with a pre-made pattern and I have to start adding measurements and seam allowances and 8ths and 4ths and halves together.  It's slightly embarrassing but here's my worksheet.

As you can see, I had to draw it over and over again, mainly so I could visualize it, and keep redoing the numbers.  Sheesh, my 12 yr. old son could have done this in his head.  He and his brother take after their dad that way.  C'est la vie  At least it's finished.  :)

I've contracted some sewing for a woman who sells children's clothing and accessories online, so I have megabillions of hours ahead of me to finish the products for her latest orders.  After that marathon, I want to make this triple zippered pouch I saw at the Sanrio website.
I'm thinking of brighter more colorful fabrics, but I love the 3-Zip.  I'm also thinking that I would probably add a little wrist strap to it.  I know a few girls who would love one of these, myself included.  Work first, then I can "play".  :)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Destruction of Faith

Every morning I look for inspirational words - things I can meditate on to get me through the day.  I used to look into the Christian scriptures every morning.  In fact, I would spend a lot of time reading, praying, meditating.  And then at other times in the day, I would read again, praying, studying, searching for truth.  And all throughout the day my mind was in almost a constant state of prayer.  I can see it better now looking back on it and comparing it to where I am today.

Back "then" I didn't realize how much of my life was based in faith.  I didn't realize the extent to which it filled up my being -- my mind, my heart, my soul.  But, now that it's been exploded and pulverized, I see the deep cavern of darkness that is left and I know.

Even so, apparently it wasn't even as big as a grain of mustard seed because I wasn't able to move mountains.  I yearned and longed in prayer for my children.  I was in a constant state of prayer for them, and a family member and I weekly prayed specifically for Hillary.  Not because we thought she was considering ending her own life, or that we thought she was depressed.  But because there was a longing in her heart to overcome and to move into a place in her life where she had peace, joy - where she was living out the hopes and dreams she had for herself.  Where she was moving into that place of fulfilling her potential.  Where she was free to love and be loved.  Yes, she did have struggles, but we all have struggles to overcome.  I certainly didn't think she was in a state of mind considering ending her life.  If anything, I saw her on the verge of beginning her life in many ways.  During the many conversations I had with her regularly, she expressed anticipation, excitement about the plans that were churning in her.  Things she wanted to do and accomplish in her job, her personal self, her relationships...etc.  I didn't feel a despair from her.  And I personally had a sense of hope about a breakthrough for her.  I really did.  I believe this was confirmed to me in spirit during a time of meditation and prayer for her.  In fact, I had joy in my heart because I felt something special coming for her and so much so, that I shared that fact with someone close to me.  I never once was drawn to entertaining the thought that this breakthrough for her that was coming was the end of her life here on this earth.  That still shocks me.  Besides continuing to endure the shock of her death and how it happened, besides the pain involved in thinking about that moment that it took place, besides the grief of missing her and feeling so many unresolved things, besides mourning the life she could have had that no longer exists, besides the guilt that envelopes me pressing down hard on my being because I'm her mother and I was unable to protect her or help her so she wouldn't have done this...there's an endless list actually of pain and suffering and anxiety and grief that is punctuated with lost hopes, lost faith, lost relationships.  I really don't know how to get out from under this mess, let alone begin to clean it up.

I think of the poor people who have suffered a catastrophe, the hurricane victims of Katrina, the many, many war victims in other countries - that list is endless as well.  I'm amazed when I think that any of them have been able to pull themselves back together and not only move on, but rebuild.  Their strength and courage amaze me.  Images of thousands of nameless souls pass through my mind and I bow to them all with tears in my eyes and feelings of great respect in my heart.

How do people move past devastation? I don't want to be lost in a hopelessness and live the rest of my days on this earth out in a non-functioning or low-functioning state.  It's not just the physical that I'm talking about.  I look at people with physical disabilities that they have striven to overcome and have...overcome.  Not just compensated for...but truly, aboundingly, overcome.  That's what I want for myself and for my family, my children but both in the psyche and physical plane.  I just don't know how to get there.  It's like a land of Enchantment that you've heard rumors about from the time of your childhood.  You've even talked to people who've been there and you long to go there.  You dream about that beautiful place where forgiveness and compassion are practiced regularly; where peace and love permeate life.   But there is no road map, and the directions you get from vast numbers of people you ask are all conflicting.  So, where do you begin?  And how do you know you're going in the right direction?  This type of dilemma does tend to discourage even the beginnings of preparation for that journey.  Also, the things I would have packed in my bag before are no longer suitable or no longer belong to me.

Things I've believed with all my heart that have been obliterated by the severe and far reaching explosion of the devastating event of my daughter's tragic death.  And, by the way, I do not place any blame on her whatsoever - none.  I should have been able to help her prior to and at the time, but I wasn't able to and I'm not sure I can ever forgive myself for that.

Words I used to believe and see beauty in now only provoke emptiness or disdain and leave me with a cold, still, feeling.

Yes, I used to get comfort from these words, for myself and for my children.  Now when I read them it's like words coming from an unfaithful partner who has hurt you over and over again and they are asking you to trust them..."this one last time".   And you've been "here" before, and you've wanted to believe so much that they love you that you find it in your heart to forgive them and say "ok" and move on.  But this time, you stand there staring into their eyes for a long searching moment, and even though you realize that you wish, really, really wish, that it were true -- that you could trust them -- their words no longer seem like a confirmation of their heart but only a desperate attempt to keep you in their realm.  So, you offer them a quick but resolute smile and then turn and walk out the door, determined that you won't be duped by them, or anyone like them, again.

Where does that leave you?  Walking down the street with your backpack slung over your shoulder, and nowhere to go.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

A For Effort

I tried to meditate this morning right after I woke.  I wasn't very successful in the act, but I give myself a 10 for the effort.  Yay Me.  I see it as a great accomplishment since most mornings for the last 7 months my motivation level has been below 0. I will try again tomorrow. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Breakthrough

I was at one of my lowest points yesterday, and then just like in the movies, there came a breakthrough.

I stumbled upon a facebook page called A New Journey created by a woman named Marsha Abbot who lost her 19 yr. old daughter in a tragic way.  Her posts on that page are inspirational and encouraging.  While I was feeling I wasn't yet at that place of hope that she has seemed to reach, I certainly was comforted by much of what she has shared.  And that page led me to her weblog My Bid Red Shoe, which goes more in depth into her and her daughter's story and the journey she has been on during the aftermath of this tragic event.  In one of her blog posts titled Snap Out of it? I Don't Think So... , I found myself thinking "I could have written this post!"  Her thinking and expression of her experiences seem to so closely parallel mine.  And when she mentioned a gentleman named Edgar Cayce and how she has recently been a sponge for his writings, I knew I had to look into him.  So I did.  I sat the whole rest of the evening and into the wee hours of the morning reading about him, his experiences, his materials.  I kept searching online to find more...and more...and I couldn't get enough of what I found.  There is a non-profit founded by him called Edgar Cayce's A.R.E. Association for Research and Enlightenment where you can find information on him, among other things.  There is also a lot of information in the way of books, pdf's, readings, videos, etc. that can be found by way of search engine regarding Mr. Cayce and the information that he brings from his readings and experiences.  My purpose really is not to promote him, his ideas, or this foundation - I'm just pointing to it because of the effect some of it had on me.  

There are so many thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head right now that it's hard to pull things together and write them down in a comprehensible way.  But I will say this...yesterday I was lower than low and today I feel a spark of hope.  Yesterday I had no energy or motivation and today, for the first time in awhile, I feel some life moving in me.  After my daughter's death, 99% of what I believed, truly, sincerely, and what I based my life on had been completely shattered.  No, not shattered.  It had been utterly demolished as if a mega bomb had been dropped and left everything desolate.  I had so many questions and I actually had slowly been getting some answers, not necessarily the ones I wanted or was comfortable with but answers none the less.  And I can say that these thoughts and ideas were priming me for taking the next step into understanding.  I have only read probably 1% of the information from Edgar Cayce's life and experiences but I can already say "Amen" to it.  My mind and awareness is moving into another phase of expansion.  And I can feel that I am ready to embrace it.  And I can feel the hope beginning to rise.  I can feel the openness coming bringing light.  I cannot pin point anything specific in these writings in this blog post right now because there is so much processing still going on.  But, I can say that while my grief is still so strong because of the loss of my beautiful daughter and the life I hoped she'd have and that I thought we'd experience together...I do now have a very real hope for moving forward in this life and being able to continue to love my living children and share and experience joy once again. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ups and Downs and Inside Out

Since my daughter's death, my moods and emotions have been so unpredictable.  But lately I've been experiencing more extreme ups and downs...feeling very protective and private of my thoughts and emotions one minute and then the next minute wanting to blurt out my deepest feelings to any old stranger on the street.  I'll see something that reminds me of my daughter and I fall to pieces, then the next minute the cat does something cute and I laugh hysterically--then I think about my daughter's two cats that she left behind and I'm sinking into a hole again.  It's really becoming extremely annoying to me.  Annoying isn't a good word here, because it's more than that.  It's leaving me feeling very vulnerable most of the time and unable to accomplish much of anything. Right now I have two people that I feel comfortable talking to but they live over 300 miles away, and only so much can be expressed in text and short blippets on the phone. I'm also struggling with just wanting to sleep all the time.  I feel like I'm doing worse now than right after the tragedy.  It's been 7 months.  Is that normal?  I'm thinking I should try to find a counselor to talk to or at least someone a bit more qualified than the 7-Eleven clerk.  I will have to look into it.  Maybe.  We'll see. 

I watched the movie the Village last night, again...for the 20th time in my life.  I flipped across it on tv and was taken in by the resemblance of the Ivy character to my daughter.  Not only were there physical similarities, with the exception that my daughter has...had blonde hair, but also the spirit of the character was so much like my Hillary.  She had this exuberance and fun-ness and also a stubborn determination.  She also had an innocence and an openness, acceptance, compassion, and love for others.  I had never noticed it so much before when I've seen the film but it mesmerized me and I couldn't help but see my daughter in that portrayal of Ivy.  I miss her so much and I know I don't only mourn her abscense but also the absence of what her life could have been.  I also can't help but see all the ways I've failed her and I wish so much I could make it up to her and love her better, do better for her and by her.  Protect her.  I'm her mother and I wasn't able to protect her from this.  I wasn't able to fill her up with enough love so that she would never consider taking her own life.  I feel the burden so heavily of being responsible.  I just want a chance to start over from the time she was little and love her unconditionally, extremely, to the deepest part of her person and nurture her more completely so she would never need the approval of anyone, any guy, any thing, any person in order to feel whole.  But I can't.  I had my chance and it's gone...with her.  But, I do realize that I have an opportunity for those things with the children I still have with me on this earth.  Even though they're no longer little, I can still love them extremely.  I can still express how wonderful I think they are and how proud I am of them, and how I will be there for them no matter what.  I can still talk to them with love in my eyes and a smile on my face.  I remember when I was young and I would try to talk to my dad about something, (my parents were divorced and I grew up with my dad) he would look at me, not paying attention to what I was saying, but focusing on something else about me with a disapproving look on his face - and then he would start talking; I'm thinking he's going to comment on what I said, but no...it would usually be something like, "You're teeth are yellow.  Did you brush your teeth?"  "You're not wearing that outfit, are you?"  "You have too much make-up on, you look cheap."  Ugh, yechh.  Too many negative memories starting to flood back that I've worked so hard over the years to release.  I don't talk to my kids like that, but I haven't been perfect.  Obviously.

I need to work through this so I can think of my daughter and have it accompanied by only positive thoughts about her and not pull me into a tailspin.  I want to be available to my living children, fully present.  I want them to know that even though I grieve their sister with just about every cell in my body and every part of my being, that they are still important and worthy of my attention, my focus, my effort, my thoughts, my love.   It's difficult to do consistently because I'm such a mess right now.

I want to think positively so I can face my days with some amount of strength.  I know I can't continue to beat myself up and expect to move forward.  I was thinking yesterday the most positive thought I could about myself right now and it was this...at least I'm not drinking myself into oblivion or consuming meds to take away the pain.  And then my heart was so heavy for all those people out there - people I don't even know..."possible" people who have suffered some kind of tragedy who are doing just that...self-medicating to cope with the aches and regrets and unbearable heartache.  I wish I could reach through the dark clouds and into your life and pull you out and say, "Let's hold on together, let's cry together, sob, weep, scream, yell, laugh, talk, sit...be quiet together.  Feel each others' presence and not expect anything from each other.  Just be, and let that be enough. 

Not a Survivor

(I originally wrote this within the first 6 months after my daughter's death. I didn't post it then, I don't remember why.  I...