Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Waves

I'm trying to figure out how to put into words what I have been through tonight, today, the last week, the last month... It's all tied together.

My son and I moved into a house with my fiancé last month. Last month happens to be the anniversary of you-know-what. So naturally this would screw up any plans I have to be normal. I thought I could trick myself. I think that's called Denial. I refused to think that any emotional state I was going through had anything to do with R's death. I have been a mess. I have been angry as hell. I don't like the surprise factor. Tonight I sat on the floor of my son's bedroom, waiting for him to fall asleep. I tend to meditate when doing this; except tonight I started to think about R, and the tears just came flowing out from the deep. I felt afraid that I was going to lose him somehow. Or that he was going to leave me all over again. I've been arguing a lot with my fiancé and think that what I am really afraid of is that HE is going to leave me, too. Am I trying to make it so? Am I so used to grieving, that I am afraid to let it all go and move on?  I spoke to R in my mind, and I felt that he spoke back to me, "go to him," And in my mind I said back "okay," as a child would do while crying, snot running down my face. So I did. And what a small miracle happened- we calmly talked things out.

Lesson learned- stop being so damned angry, Sarah.
It's hard. There is a lot to be angry about.
I am dealing with the loss of Nursing School. I don't get to finish unless I start all over again at a lower level. Who wants to do that after 4 years of hard work? The problem is that I cannot handle the intensity right now. It's a very difficult thing for me to accept that I will not be able to finish something that I wanted so badly. I cannot ignore my son to go stick my nose in books. He needs me and I need him.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's Talk About It: On Robin Williams' Death

When I found out how he killed himself last evening it was like a kick in the gut. Why? Here come all of the questions that happen with suicide. What happened? Why? Was there a note explaining? On and on...

It seems like the entire world is sad today, the day after. I have been sad thinking about how much personal agony Robin must have been in. I just cannot get over it.  I am shocked. However, my faith is strong. I know that through this God will make something positive for the greater good. I say Thank you, Robin for your joy. We never wanted to you leave us this way. But out of this something good will come, I promise.

 This is horribly tragic and is so similar to my husband's death, that it automatically takes me back there. R killed himself on a Monday, too Same manner. August 6, only 5 days earlier is the anniversary of R's death. Every time August 11th comes around, I will be thinking of Robin Williams and his family, too. I am heartbroken for his kids, just like I am for mine. Left Behind are his family and friends, and a massive audience. Today is Tuesday, and I still vividly remember what I was doing on August 7, 2012. I went to see R's body in the medical examiner's office, because I had not been at the hospital the night before where he was declared dead.  I had to feel his skin and know that he was gone. It just all felt like a bad dream. Then my family drove me over to the funeral home where I had to plan. I picked out a casket, flowers, a "package." R and I had never talked about what he would want in the way of a memorial; so I did the best I could. I tried to pick what I thought he would like. Do you want to have a viewing? Do you want to have a funeral? On separate days? When? What time? How long? Where? What do you want to have happen during the service? Who do you want to Eulogize? There were so many questions to answer and decisions to make it seemed nearly impossible to get through it all. It was extremely difficult to do all that while in shock.

Suicide is a complicated kind of grief and I hate that anyone else has to live with it. I am trying to reach as many people as I can so that we can support each other. We don't ask for mental illness ,just like people don't ask for cancer. Over the last ten years there has been a big hoo0-rah for patients fighting cancer and survivors, which is awesome. How about mental illness? Let's do the same. Let's have a big push to de-stigmatize and support each other. All kinds of ideas are zipping through my mind right now. Fundraisers. There are some great organizations out there for the prevention of Suicide. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

And for friends and families left behind: Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors

If you feel that you are in crisis, in danger of hurting yourself, you can call or even CHAT ONLINE with a counselor on the Suicide Prevention Lifeline



Sunday, July 20, 2014

That time of year

How was I to know you only had two weeks and three days more of your life? I'm still mad at you. It was a stupid impulsive thing you did. You might as well have done it right in front of us, for the ripple effect it has had. I've been under a tremendous amount of stress the last 2 years. How could you just give up like that? You were an athlete- athletes don't give up damnit! Your anniversary is on a Wednesday. Thanks for pre-occupying my brain space in advance. August 6 will never be the same again. It will be a day we struggle through every year. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Panic

I never thought this would happen to me. I thought I was on too much anti-depressant medication. But it's true. You can still have a panic attack while on plenty of medication... Here's how it happened to me: 

Before resolving an argument we (my fiancé and I) go to dinner with my son and my parents. Behind the wheel I am steaming while keeping a straight face (I'm German, it's what we do). From the back seat my son is chatting on and asking questions he may or may not get answers to. I take my time getting out of the car because I don't want to look my fiancé in the face. My head is swirling. I sit gingerly at the orange-topped pizza joint table. "What would you like to drink?" says the waitress expectantly. I look at her blankly- "water," is all I can eek out. Don't make me talk. I can't speak right now. My stomach is twisting and turning. I try my best to interact with my son. But I am so trapped in my thoughts, my weak smile is a pathetic attempt. The drinks and the plates come. I can't eat. They go to the pizza buffet together and I sit blankly, my insides revving up swirling faster and faster. I feel like everyone is staring at me. They come back to the table and not long after, tears roll down my hot cheeks. I must leave. This is so embarrassing. I don't want my son to see me this way. I go outside and around the corner of the building because I know that people won't be staring me in the face as they walk in the door to the restaurant over there. I am numb and yet I feel like I am going to explode. I feel the need to shake the living hell out of my hands to get this feeling out. But it won't come out. I'm breathing heavily, I can't catch my breath. And then I realize: this is exactly how I felt the evening that R died. I felt panicked and paralyzed. I didn't know what to do. My head was swirling with too many thoughts at once. I remember my stomach like a brick for days after, and wringing my hands. I cried and cried, feeling mad at myself for having a breakdown during dinner. But I didn't know at the time that I was having a panic attack and I couldn't help these physical reactions. The parallel makes total sense to me now: We argue (R and I used to a lot), I get anxious because I don't like to argue, I come home to a life changing surprise (R has killed himself), deep down I am afraid this will happen again. So I take some Ativan that the doctor has given me to keep on hand, I notice at almost the exact time we arrived home that day to find him dead. It takes a good half hour to start working on me. Enough so that I can eat a little. Even so, suddenly I break down again. Crying- just not able to stop it. The kind where you cannot breathe. I would have wept openly if I had not been in a restaurant. I pulled and tugged at my shirt as if it was suffocating me. Deep breaths. I need deep breaths, but I am afraid of what kind of guttural sound will come out of me if I try to do that. I don't know what's wrong with me!!! Thank God my fiancé recognized what was happening and came to my side to help me.

With that behind me- now my questions are: why haven't I had one of these before? It's been almost 2 years since R died. Why was this the first time? And I thought I had made more progress than this? Does this mean I have regressed? Will this keep happening to me over and over again now? Is this normal for someone who has experienced what I have?

The 2 year anniversary is coming up. I am wondering what to do. Last year there was a "life celebration" in his honor, but for me it was like going through the funeral all over again. I am glad I don't have to do that again. We will do something to honor his life. I just have to think of how to do it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Finding Things

Remember those boxes that I had? Yep. Still have them. Still not unpacked. 

Most of them are on our bottom floor which doubles as a playroom for my son and the cats. A couple of weeks ago I started looking through one as he was playing. I came across the framed portrait of our son that R left his note on. I was rifling through the box and when I saw what it was, I froze. I didn't even want to touch it. I stopped and stared at it for a while feeling sick to my stomach. Here come the flashbacks: walking into the sunny playroom, why is the big Elmo doll on the floor with our son's picture leaning on it? What is this note? 
"I'm sorry.
 I love you, B. 
Love, Daddy."
What the hell does that mean? 
I thought for sure he was off on a bike ride or sitting in the garage getting high. No. He was hanging in my garage with his Black Belt from Judo, that he worked so hard for, tightened around his neck. 

Tell me: what do I do with this picture and frame? Throw the whole thing away? Take the picture out and throw the frame away? Only problem is I know whenever I see that picture, no matter what frame it's in, I will be brought back to that moment. Every single thing in those boxes has a memory attached to it and the thought of going through all those items is daunting. I usually end up putting things back into the box and closing it. 

Last night I happened to be looking through another box. What's in this box? I can tell what room in our charming little house it was packed from by looking at the things that are in it. The living room. Photo albums. I see the small album from the bed & breakfast we stayed at on our honeymoon. I start flipping through the pictures and suddenly he is there, staring me right in the face. Whoa. There he is. Alive. With color in his face. And happy. Now he's dead. The last time I saw him he was laying in a casket looking sunken and sallow. You had a whole life ahead of you, why did you do that? My stomach turning, I close it and put it back in the box. 

I want to go through all of these boxes and be done with it. Just like my grief. I want to be done with it. The thing is, this will never go away. I just learn how to live on with it. BUT, the boxes and all the things that are in them CAN go away. And when I figure out what to do with them it will be a big burden off my back. I have to be kind to myself. Cut myself some slack. Nothing ever has to be done before I am ready to deal with it. 




Sunday, June 1, 2014

Blankie

I want my Blankie I say to myself as I am getting into to bed. It's been a rough night. My son seems to be all confused and angry inside and he is taking it out on me. His defiant behavior has me stumped. My frustration level is low, just like his, and I become so angry but am determined not to take it out on him. This is not his fault. I think about how this would not be happening if R had not decided to kill himself. That doesn't mean there would not have been other problems, but it just seems so unfair that a boy so little must carry such a big burden. I did the best that I could. I made him get into the bath where I knew he would start calming down after he angrily splashed and soaked the rest of the bathroom with water. Fine. At least the bathroom's meant to get wet. After bath, I have him draw a picture of what he is feeling right now. He draws himself as sad and me as angry. My fiancé talks to him in a way that I don't know how- he gets my son to think about his behavior. So, I start crying and have to leave the room. My little one follows me and says, "Mommy, I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
I look at him crying not to completely breakdown and squeak out "yes." Then he hugs me for a while. What a sweet boy I have.
It's not his fault that I am crying, I get overwhelmed sometimes and at that moment the only thing that will clear the air is a good cry. I was having all sorts of flashbacks while all this was going on and by the end of the night I was drained. My fiancé took good care of my heart as only a best friend knows how to do. And now that its' time for me to go to bed, I am wanting something to hold on to. Something soft, cuddly, something that won't kick me in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dreams and Nightmares

Last night I had a dream, I would characterize it as a nightmare. In fact, I had a series of nightmares last night that were so wacky I thought for sure I would remember all of them today. I only remember two. The first was of R and me fighting, except he wasn't speaking at all. It was just me doing all the yelling. I took off my engagement ring and threw it at him. I felt betrayed somehow. I feel betrayed by him now, so that is not so far from reality. I have read in some books that when you dream about a deceased loved one, what is really happening is they are trying to get in touch with you. If that is true, was he just letting me yell at him so I could get it out?  Is he so otherworldly and wise now that it is beyond me to understand why he would be okay with that? I believe a little bit of everything. I believe in science, which says that our brains are sorting through things when we dream. I suppose I must admit that I am still sorting through this in my mind. And I also believe in the supernatural, because God himself is supernatural, and therefore his universe must contain some of these things. Where would miracles come from if he were not? Lately I have been thinking about how much time has passed since R's death and how it has almost been 2 years. It feels like it has taken an eternity and yet it has gone by quickly. His birthday was last week; it would have been his 40th. I really cannot believe that it has been this long. It is always close by, because I have flashbacks. They seem to escalate around these "anniversaries." Today I was in an office supply store minding my own business when I heard a song on the radio that came out just about the same time as his death. I immediately and involuntarily felt sick to my stomach. I want to throw-up, I thought. God, make it stop,...ugh I just want to throw up. It stunned me a bit, so I stood there in the middle of the aisle staring at a bunch of leather pad-folios. I don't want to think about it. I know I am supposed to let the thoughts come and let it pass, but it is so hard. It's a horrible thing to think about. I realize now that especially in the first year I was doing a lot of this behavior called "avoidance." It is exactly what it sounds like, which is to avoid anything that reminds a person of the trauma or death. I know that is why I tried so hard to continue with nursing school. It was a brilliant way to avoid dealing with the whole thing. I put it off and put if off- but eventually it breaks through. You cannot avoid for too long before it comes busting through to the surface. I thought I had beat this avoidance behavior by forcing myself to go to therapy when I knew I really needed it. But, I STILL find myself doing it now and then. I just have to remind myself that this is not going to ruin me.

After my last blog entry, I was proud in realizing that I have made some progress in my grief work. The fact that I was able to recognize it is a big deal. Usually when I have a breakdown or a crying spell, whatever you want to call it, it is difficult for me to go on with the rest of the day. But, this time I was able to pick myself up after an hour or two and get my ass out the door. I went to Sam's, walked around kind of confused, in a dream-like state with my eyes burning from the crying and dried sodium all over my face. I looked at other people and wondered if they were dealing with the same thing I was; or was it just me? Am I the only one?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will I Ever Be Normal Again

Today is one of those days that I don't want to leave my apartment, much less the couch. I am tired. I get tired a lot. My son is at school and I miss him tremendously. I NEED to go to the grocery store, but I just cannot get myself to go. Later, I keep telling myself. It seems like every few days I need a break. I have to re-collect myself. I wonder if I will ever be normal again. Would I be able to handle a "normal" job? Of course, I'm not really the type of person who likes a traditional job. I did that for 2 years and I hated it. I don't want to have to think about this tragedy today, but it will not leave my mind. There is usually a trigger of some sort and I always like to figure out what it is so I can be prepared for the next time. But it's really impossible to know every trigger. Sometimes it is the most minute thing. However, today was "Daddy's Day" at my son's school. My fiance went to spend this little celebration with him; and I am grateful for that. I'm just so sad for my baby; he is so little. What is it like to grow up without a father? I have no idea. I grew up with mine and he is still alive. I don't know how to make it better for him.  And I can't.  It's over, done. There is no going back in time to fix it. I just try to help him through the best that I can, stumbling along the way. While I go to his therapy sessions, it pains me to see how hurt he is and that he cannot express his feelings with words. This week he scribbled really fast and hard on paper and made grunting noises as if he were angry. That is one way he can get it out.  As an adult I am able to talk and write about it. But, truly sometimes I cannot talk about it, I don't know what to say. It's hard for me to express what I am feeling about it sometimes. This is how I feel right now: sad, mad, tired, depressed. What in the hell were you thinking R? How could you be so impulsive and leave your son like that?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chocolate Cake

Last week I went to the town where R and I lived. It's always hard driving past the places where there are memories. Curiosity got a hold of me and I had to drive past our old house, or "the sad house" as my son calls it. This is where we used to live. Where we started out lives together, built a family. I have already said good-bye to the house over a year ago. But it has been vacant for a long time. Finally, someone bought it. There is life in that house again and I was suprised at how glad I was to see it that way. I assumed I would feel more possessive about someone living in "our house." But, no. I was not. I was relieved to see pink flowers hanging from the black iron on the front porch and someone's Volvo in the driveway. There is life in that house again, and that is a wonderful thing.
Afterwards, I went to the cemetery. I had a giant slice of chocolate cake leftover from my earlier lunch, so I decided I would sit on the bench at his gravesite and eat it. It was really a beautiful day. Very peaceful at the cemetery. I had some solitude, and some chocolate cake with R. I sat crossed-legged for a while and a leaf came down and smack-landed right on the center of my foot. Hello, R. 
Wait. Is that you? Maybe it's just a coincidence. Maybe it's just a leaf falling. But why then does that happen everytime I come here? Ok. If it's you, then do it again. Nah. That's stupid. What am I doing. Just send me a sign if you are here. Still stupid! Shut-up S. 
I continued to indulge in my cake and not five minutes later a little darning needle came flitting about. This is not the first time this has happened. I saw him flying around my feet and smiled. Silly little thing. Then, SMACK another leaf hit me in the center of the foot. This may sound crazy to some- but these are the types of little games we play to keep our relationship going. He's still there. We still have a relationship, but it's different now.