Daily Post 034: Promise Kept

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I cried today.

It was another day that I completed everything on my to-do list.

I’ve pushed really hard the past two days. I don’t know if I’m proud of that or not. I know normally I would be. I still hurt and so it’s hard to feel past, see past, the pain.

Work started off well. I’m getting faster at setting up the machines. A lot of the machines were failing their alarm tests this morning. Two of the machines in my section had to be taken off the floor because we couldn’t get them working properly. It made everything so much more chaotic and slightly overwhelming. Add to that the fact that today I cannulated two patients (stabbed them with needles so their dialysis treatment could be initiated).

Hopefully, my jokes about stabbing people with needles aren’t offensive. I don’t mean for them to be.

But yeah, two machines are gone, and I’m having to perform an invasive procedure on people who know I’m new, oh, and by the way, my clinic trainer AND my company trainer are both there watching me to make sure if I fuck up it will be wonderfully recorded.

It was a lot today. I held it together. I did really well. And after it was over and I had clocked out and I was driving home I completely broke down because I couldn’t call mom and tell her about my day.

I couldn’t talk about how it was overwhelming and I survived. I couldn’t tell her how I was able to cannulate Chef on my first try even though my trainer still has issues with his access sometimes. I couldn’t get a hug. I couldn’t go home. I couldn’t have any of the reassurance that I’ve been used to for 27 years of my life.

I talked to her again. I told her I was sorry for not listening to her couponing stories as often as I should have and how I miss them. Even now I’m crying.

Instead of going home and giving in to the sadness I kept taking care of the chores I wanted to do. I was mostly on auto-pilot. Detached from the world around me, floating in it but not really interacting or experiencing it. I was ok with that.

I found out about my contact with the boxing gym. Because I put a hold on my account for the first three months I was going to the dojo my contract has been extended until October. Lame. I was hoping to end that in July since I’m not going there much. I could have used that money to go towards my training with MG.

I did talk to her about finances, though. Since I’m not doing classes at the dojo due to my work schedule we’re going to use my membership payment to go towards the personal training sessions. So it all works out nicely.

Verizon finally figured out my phone discount. Tomorrow I’m going to call and finally cancel Zane’s line. That will save me about $50 a month on my phone bill.

Mom’s pension finally closed out. I sent Jason the money I owed him from that. One obligation taken care of. Three more to go at least as far as payback goes.

I went to the dojo and did yoga today. I saw another one of my dojo buddies while I was there.

Both him and James commented on how I’ve lost weight. I know I have. I can still see new lines and contours in my form. I’ve stopped thinking about it. Maybe it’s apathy due to my grief. The fact that I’m losing weight doesn’t do anything to my emotional state. It’s a neutral fact. It is. It exists. I don’t know what else to write about it.

I know the two tattoos I’m going to be getting. I need Photoshop to make the files. Well.. want. Not need, but still. It would be easier than doing it by hand.

I don’t know what else to write. I’m tired. I slept deeply last night though I didn’t sleep long enough. I think I’m going to have the same issue tonight. It’s already almost 10 pm and I wake up at 3 am.

I feel like this is another moment in my life where I’m transforming, changing, morphing into the person I’m supposed to become. I don’t know why I feel like that. I don’t know why it feels like I’m supposed to feel this pain.

I guess it’s because this is me moving forward. I know this is something I need to do. It hurts. It sucks. I don’t want to do it. Each step forward feels like I’m moving further away from that moment in time. That moment where I was a younger more naive version of myself, protected by the safety of mom when she was still alive. A different me. I don’t want to use the term weaker because I was strong even then. Less battle hardened maybe. Less tried.

I wish I could hug my younger self. I wish my now self could have a hug, too. I wish when I cried I wasn’t alone and yet, even as I type that I know I would try to pull myself together if someone were around me.

I wish I wasn’t so complicated.

Daily Post 020: The Beginning of the End

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Today is the start of “The Two Weeks”. The two weeks of mom being in the hospital.

Today was the day that I flew on a South West airplane for the low, competitive price of $700 one way to hopefully see my mother if she survived the surgery.

Capitalism at its finest…

Today was the day that I met Lio at the airport and held it together, somehow, when she hugged me and told me mom had made it through the surgery and was in ICU.

Today was the first day that I saw my mom, pale, asleep, wires and tubes everywhere as machines next to her bed beeped and blinked and displayed all sorts of information that I didn’t know how to process.

Today was the day that mom thought I was Lio when I asked her if she knew who I was.

Today was the first day that I felt that soul crushing weight of, “Mom is really sick. Mom needs me. She needs me to be strong.”

Tonight will mark the first night that I stayed with her at the hospital. It’s the first night we had one of our many deep conversations. Tonight’s conversation was the one where she thought she was stupid. How could she have let herself get so sick?

Tonight was the night where I felt shame and guilt and remorse. Mom could have died and here she is, feeble, frail, alive, so weak looking in her hospital bed, her voice so soft and tired sounding and she thinks she’s stupid.

She’s alive and she’s kicking herself mentally for being sick. How is that at all ok? How can she feel bad, awful, for being sick and living? She’s alive. She’s the most amazing person ever and yet she feels stupid.

It broke my heart to hear her say those words, and our conversation that night was explaining how she wasn’t stupid. She did everything right. She was feeling bad. She want to the doctor. He saw certain things and percribed medicaitons. She took them. She wasn’t feeling better. She went back to the doctor. He agreed she was getting worse. He sent her to another doctor. They found out what was really wrong and rushed her to surgery.

Everyone did everything “right”. No one was stupid or at fault. It was a shitty situatuion and we would get through it. Together. We would be ok because we weren’t going to give up. We, Jason, Jon, me, and Lio, would be there for her.

Tonight marks the first night that I fell asleep listening to a heart monitor, to her breathing. Tonight was the first night of a two-week stretch of sleeping for fifteen minutes at a time if I was lucky because everything was a bad sound, a life or death crisis that I had to be awake for.

Today marks the beginning of the end.

I hurt. But at the same time, I’m numb. It’s like I’m in a giant sea of despair but I’m on a raft made of apathy. If I dip my fingers into the water or submerge my hand I can feel all of the hurt seeping into my bones and blood. I can feel it traveling through my body if I think too long on something. I can feel my heart bleeding even though when I look down there is no wound.

It’s like a hole should be there. I should be able to reach into my chest, where my sternum should be, where my heart should be and touch nothing. Emptiness. A hallow void where once something had been.

The beginning of the end.

In my head, it seems fitting to think of it like that. My final two weeks with mom. Two weeks. Every day, every hour building up to that final morning. My last goodbye. My last, “I love you.”

I want to say that I hate this, but I don’t know if I truly do or not. I can’t make up my mind when I allow myself to feel. I can’t choose between being angry and being sad. There’s nothing to be angry at and I don’t want to be sad, so I don’t know what to do. It’s easier to not feel instead because feeling is so confusing.

It’s easier to go through the motions but they feel so empty, so disconnected from the world and pointless. I’m fighting between trying to connect to something excruciating and shutting everything out because it hurts too much.

I don’t know which I want more. I don’t know which one will be better.

I think feeling would be “better”. At least it would keep me in reality. In my reality, it hurts. By feeling, I wouldn’t be allowing the emotions to fester or mutate into things they aren’t. I would be lancing the wound I have. Purging the build up.

But to do that I have to admit to things all over again and I don’t want to. I don’t want to cry, or rather, I don’t want to cry more because I already have been. For days. Random silent tears constantly dehydrating me over random thoughts that I can’t stop my brain from thinking.

I don’t want to go through this. I wish there were a way to stop it. I wish it felt ok to hate. I want to hate this. I want to be angry because that’s easier than being sad, but it doesn’t do anything and so it’s wasted energy.

I wish mom were here. I wish she was still alive. I wish she hadn’t died. I wish I had been able to do more when I had been at the hospital. I wish I had been a CNA then. Or an EKG Tech. Maybe I would have been able to understand the heart monitor then. Maybe I would have been able to do something other than nothing. I would have been able to do something other than holding her hand and giving her sips of water when she asked for it.

I’ve almost made it a year.

I know that’s an accomplishment but it’s not one that I wanted to achieve. I didn’t want to have to live a year without my mom. I didn’t want this to be part of me, my story. I don’t want it to be “an accomplishment”. I don’t want it to be a positive thing.

I want it to be solemn and somber and heavy because it is.

It sucks and I don’t care if that’s me wallowing in self-pity or being a victim or whatever else it could maybe, possibly be. Today sucks. Yesterday sucked. All of this has sucked.

Even with all of the postive steps I have taken, I want to hate it because I would rather have my mom.

In all honestly, emotions being set aside, the past few days have been well enough. Nothing super bad has happened.

I talked to Warren. He knows I’m not ok with the apartment. He’s actually done his dishes the past few days. We got the storage unit emptied out. I’ve moved most of his boxes upstairs so the apartment isn’t completely trashed. I had two successful sticks today and I won one of the review games we played in class, so I get an extra five points on my test tomorrow.

I had an email from the hospital on Tuesday for an EKG Tech position I applied for. I had to fill out the stupid personality survey again.

Me: No. Seriously. I’m still the same person…

There was a 47 question test I had to do as well. It was all about identifying EKG rhythms and what you’re supposed to do with what you’ve identified.

Is it lethal? Should you call a code? Is it normal, abmormal? Should you let the nurse know something STAT or just mention it so she can keep an eye out if anything further develops?

I wasn’t all that confident in myself because we never talked about what you’re supposed to do after you’ve identified. I was content that I took the test rather than avoiding it and giving up on the position.

I woke up Wednesday morning to an email saying I had failed the test. I failed, but, they wanted me to take it again.

Ok… Either I bombed it so bad that they don’t believe I really am that stupid and want to give me another shot now that I’m not filled with anxiety over it, or I barely failed and they want me to try again because they’re interested in me.

Well, I mean… obviously they want me to try again. They’re letting me take it a second time. I don’t think that’s standard if you suck or they’re not interested in you.

So that’s what I did today. After class, I studied, and studied, and studied some more. I took the test and was more confident in myself while I did it. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if I passed it or not. If not then I guess I need to study more if I want an EKG Tech position.

Tuesday, while I was in the middle of filling out the personality survey, I got a call from a dialysis clinic I applied at. They want me to shadow for a few hours on Friday. And by a few hours I mean from 5am until noon. If that goes well, they like me I like them sort of a thing, then I will have a face-to-face interview at 2 pm that afternoon.

So, yeah… A lot of stuff has been going on but it’s all be behind my wall of apathy. I’m not excited about either position because I don’t know if I passed the test so there’s nothing to get excited about as far as that goes. And with the dialysis position, it depends on how much they are willing to pay me. Once the paid eight weeks of training is over the schedule flexes, so if they don’t pay me enough I can’t accept the job because I won’t be able to get a second one with a schedule that changes every week.

I’m still applying and keeping my eyes open for opportunities. Right now I feel sort of like a raptor. Anything that seems like something I could potentially do I strike out and apply for. But at the moment it’s a cold, detached sort of strike. There’s no joy or excitement behind it.

I did boxing and submission grappling on Monday. I moved some boxes that day, too. Tuesday was the storage unit, so that was more of an active recovery day. No dojo. And today was Muay Thai conditioning at the dojo with more box moving afterwards. I didn’t feel like staying for jiujitsu or the second conditioning class. I didn’t want to be around people anymore.

I’m sort of done with today.

I’m done trying and doing and problem-solving.

I wish I could say that I’m done hurting, but I feel like it’s only just started.

This is the beginning of the end. I still have a long ways to go before this wave is over.

I have therapy tomorrow. Maybe that will help. With what I don’t know. It’s not like I can have help breathing. I have to do that on my own. I have to live my own life. No one can do that for me. No one can wake up for me, and I know I wouldn’t want someone to do it even if they could.

This is my life and I’m supposed to be the one living it.

Right now it sucks.

Daily Post 008: Still Lost But Not As Directionless

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Still directionless. Still sans purpose.

But…

I did make it through today. I can’t say that I enjoyed much of anything. It felt like I was an observer for most of the day. Auto piolet. I experienced most things as if there were a barrier between the world and myself. A wall which wouldn’t let much emotion in or out.

I enjoyed the brief interactions I had with Big Bad. He teased me about being sick and how we’ll have to walk the 5k on Saturday, hand in hand. He said if I’m feeling better maybe we can upgrade from walking to skipping.

We made plans to see the Batman Lego Movie after the race if we survive. I’m feeling significantly better health wise, but breathing is still a chore so I don’t know how I’ll be after. I remember last year I was fine the day of the race. It was the day after where I was super sore. We’ll see how I fair. Regardless, I am looking forward to Saturday. It doesn’t matter how I do run/obstacle wise.

So yeah, I enjoyed my text messages. They caused me to genuinely smile and feel warmth. That was  really the only time I felt connected to the world, though. The rest of it was distant and detached.

I got a lot more done today than I thought I would. I did a few chores after having coffee. I ended up going to lunch after an hour or so of work. I had been hoping to do all the chores before needing food but skipping breakfast wasn’t the best idea in that regard.

I listened to music for most of the morning, too. I think that helped. It kept my mind focused on something soothing.

While I was at my sports bar I did a little more introspective thinking/soul searching.

I label myself as a warrior, but lately, I haven’t felt like one. I haven’t felt like anything. A hot mess maybe. Nothing positive.

I made myself sit down and write out qualities I associate with my “ideal warrior self”. I wanted to reaffirm to myself the qualities I try to embody, the traits I want people to remember me for.

Honor. Strength. Perseverance. Courage. Enlightened.

I wrote more than those words, but those are my top five.

After spending some time brainstorming what qualities my “ideal warrior self” should have I asked myself if I felt like my “ideal warrior self”.

My answer was an unsurprising, “No.”

My reason was hard to write. It was hard not to give into the silent tears as I sat writing my reason into my notebook.

“No. And that hurts. I feel like I’m failing myself.”

It’s not the outside world telling me that I’m falling short. It’s me being harsh with myself. It’s me being the overbearing parent, looking down in disdain at the part of myself that’s trying. Maybe not trying my hardest, but trying and getting no recognition for any effort what so ever.

It’s disheartening. What’s the point of trying to be something when it doesn’t matter what I do? Nothing is ever good enough for myself.

Well, no shit I’m depressed. Anyone would be with that mentality as their cheerleader.

After writing my reason and accepting why I felt like I was failing myself I wrote an affirmation.

I am not failing myself. Acknowledging these feelings allows me to improve myself. I want to be a more enlightened and accepting person. Self-improvement is ALWAYS a worthwhile endeavor.

Self-acceptance is where I need to start.

I next asked what are three things I can do to work towards my warrior self.

  1. Go to the dojo and continue eating healthy
  2. Read spiritual/grief content and continue writing
  3. Complete my projects

I know all three of those seem pretty nebulous, but they are stakes within my mind, anchor points to which I can tie things down to.

After I identified three areas which would help boost my feelings of self-improvement I asked myself what I would do today to work towards my warrior self.

  1. Meal plan for the remaining days of the week
  2. Clean the apartment
  3. Cross stitch / enjoy my evening

And that’s what I did. I figured out what I needed from the grocery store before I left my sports bar, then did the shopping. I have to admit to feeling drained by the time I got back home. I enjoyed being in the sun and I’m grateful today wasn’t a cold day, not that we really have many of those in Orlando, but I was worried for a bit that I had overdone it.

I put the groceries away and did a few tasks in the kitchen before sitting on the couch for a while and cross stitching a few threads. I let music play and my mind relax. I didn’t think about my list or what it would mean if I didn’t get it all done. The list didn’t matter. I let myself stitch until the dryer was done running. After that, I felt better. Still in my flatlined state, but I had more energy to do the remaining things I wanted to do.

I’m pleased that not only did I do all the chores I originally gave myself, but I did more past that. I still managed to sit and enjoy my evening with a cup of warm tea. I made more progress on my cross-stitch and I watched an interesting movie called Harmony.

Do not let the name fool you. It’s a pretty twisted dystopian anime. It was recommended to watch if you liked Ergo Proxy. I enjoyed it though I felt the ending was weak.

I brushed Scarlet a bit. She was happy to have some quality time. Not like she hasn’t been trying to sleep on my face for the past week or anything. I swear I have given her permanent abandonment issues with how much I’ve been traveling the past few months. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of these days she latches on to my face and never lets me leave the apartment again.

And now I am here writing, something which normally lets me feel calm and collected. An action signaling closure to the day.

I haven’t been consistent with my writing. We’re already well into February but this is only the ninth “daily” post I’ve made. There’s not consistency with my writing anymore, which I understand and accept, but I wonder how much better I would feel if I were more diligent in this endeavor. Writing helps me process, and part of the reason the emotions well up the way they do is because I don’t process very often. At least I feel I don’t.

Instead of being proactive, I’m lapsing back to being reactive.

Brain: Oh shit! We’re having an emotional meltdown. I guess we should do something about this.

Today wasn’t a bad day. It was a flat day. A white day. I think tomorrow is going to be a lot like today. Flatlined. Quite. Still.

I think I’m ok with that. More than I was. I have identified what I want to do. I want to improve and I have things that will help me do that. I’m not as directionless as I felt last night and this morning.

It’s a nice feeling.

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Musing Moment 105: Today’s Goal

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I’m awake but I don’t feel alive. I knew I wouldn’t. I went to sleep knowing this is how I would feel when I woke up and that this is something I would have to struggle through before I could do anything with the day.

Today is a day where I want to stay on the couch all day. Today is a day where I wonder if this is depression rather than sadness.

It’s been over a week since I’ve had a cigarette. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. I wonder if through all this time of starting and stopping. Getting better and then getting stressed and buying a pack to get me through the hard times finally created an addiction and that part of the struggle I feel now is due to withdrawals.

It makes me think about how all emotional states are chemical changes inside the brain. I feel like I do right now because I don’t have enough dopamine. So I should do things that increase those levels. I can’t think of anything I want to do, though. A cigarette might help, but I don’t want one, which is why I haven’t smoked. I don’t want to drink either though I know that would make the pain less intense.

I want to sleep through this. I wouldn’t mind watching another show but I don’t want to put in the effort to find something else to let my mind be numbed.

It’s like I want to suffer through this, sort of like how I suffered through the cold I’m getting over. The only medications I took were cough drops and NyQuil. No decongestant. No fever reducer. Just good old fashion immune system suffering for four days.

I know this is a low and I know I’ll get through it and that once I do things will seem brighter, warmer. That is not where I am, though. Right now it feels like winter inside. It’s not the same as the darkness I felt before which is why I think it’s depression versus sadness. There’s a level of apathy. Coldness. Detachment. Logical isolation.

I keep thinking of my question from last night. “What’s the point?”

But honestly, what is the point? Why get a job to pay bills for things that we should have? I have to pay for water. Water. A basic need. I have to pay for it. I have to pay for the right to live.

I have to pay for food that’s processed and gives me cancer. I have to pay for food drenched in insecticides and poisons. It’s sad we even have to think about things like that. Our health is less important than a company making a profit.

It’s sick. Fucked up. It makes me wonder why bother? Why is it worth it? What’s the point?

And right now I still don’t have an answer. What’s the point in getting a job I most likely won’t like to buy things I don’t care about? What’s the point of being part of a system I don’t want to be a part of?

Maybe this is all because my grief is flaring again. Swelling. I think a lot of that has to do with the student loans. Thinking about them makes my eyes water. The silent tears. So maybe that is it. It hurts so much that I can’t suppress or alter the chemical reaction inside my brain. No matter how much I will them away, the tears are there, telling the truth even though I try so hard to deny it.

I want mom back. I want to keep my student loans because deep down I want the world to work like that. If I kept my debt I could keep my mom.

But that’s not how it works.

That’s not how any of this works.

I wish it were and wishing does nothing. Dreams do nothing. Dreams without action are meaningless.

Dreams are the start of a goal, though. From dreams, we can figure out action steps, to-do lists and one small action at a time we can reach milestones and eventually the pinnacle of what we had hoped to achieve.

So what is my dream? Or a dream? What’s something that I could turn into a goal?

And I think that’s the hang up in the whole process for me. In the vast emptiness, I feel right now I have no dreams. I have no goals. I have the phrase echoing, reverberating inside of my body like a heartless wind, “Mom is dead.”

Mom is dead. There is no point.

When I was at the seminar the other week, the one at the dojo for the belt testing, there was a question for the visiting sensei.

Student: “What advice would you give white belts to keep them from giving up?”

Sensei: “Suck it up and punch the clock. You’re going to have really shitty days. Suck it up.”

At the time I cringed. It felt callous. Rude. It made me mad.

Me: My mom died.

Sensei: Suck it up.

Me: Go fuck yourself.

That’s what it felt like inside my head. That was my internal reaction to his words.

Irrational Right Brain: Go fuck yourself. I’m not going to suck it up. I’m going to dig my heels in and battle you because every step forward is a step away from her. From that point in my life. From that moment where I hugged her the last time and said I love you for the last time and actually had those words said back to me through cracked lips.

Go fuck yourself if you think I’m going to just suck it up and deal with the fact that she died and that it’s not fair.

It’s true, though. Even then I knew that though I hated the delivery, that I hated him for saying those words, the message was true. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. We all have “hard” and the only way to get past it is to keep going. If you stay where you’re at nothing will change. You have to suck it up. You have to try. You have to put in effort. Blood, sweat, tears.

I’ve put in all of that. Especially tears. I’m so sick of crying right now. It doesn’t help my congestion at all. It’s annoying constantly trying to type through blurry water filled eyes, too.

I guess I need to put in more, though, since I’m not where I feel I should be.

I feel I should be home. Sitting here in front of my computer in the apartment I own until October, I don’t feel home. I’m back to feeling lost. I’m back to thinking that family is home, so why do I feel like I don’t have family.

There was one point in Ohio, we were playing Taboo. I can’t remember the word I was trying to get Jon to guess. The clue I gave was, “We don’t have this anymore,” and his answer was, “family.”

My heart broke. Sitting in my dad’s house surrounded by “family” and Jon’s answer was we don’t have a family anymore. Without mom, there is no family.

I can’t blame him for feeling or thinking that. I feel the same way. Even with him sitting across from me I understood the shattered broken feeling he felt. My own flesh and blood brother sitting three feet from me and we both feel like we don’t have family.

Empty. Lost. Alone.

I don’t think it ever goes away. I think I’m good, or at least getting better, at coping with it, ignoring it, smoothing it over with other things. But I don’t think it will ever go away. I don’t think it’s a weed, either. I don’t think it’s something I should remove. It’s part of who I am now.

This feeling is part of my grief. I feel like it needs acceptance and understanding. A gentle touch to help shape it into something positive or at least neutral, like a fern, rather than ripping it out of my chest, leaving another gaping hole, or allowing it to take over and devour the rest of the flora around it.

I don’t know why but I feel like it’s a plant. I don’t think it will ever have flowers. I don’t think it will ever be the typical “pretty” people think of, but it’s a part of who I am. It has every right to be there. It’s part of my story. You can’t rip out a chapter in a book just because you don’t like it. You can choose not to reread that chapter, but that’s not how my brain works.

This chapter hurts. I want to reread it until I understand it. Maybe it’s because I’m a masochist. Maybe it’s because I feel we find our true selves through pain, through struggle.

A tree can’t reach into heaven if its roots do not reach into hell.

Through all of this writing and meandering through my brain, I still haven’t found a dream, but I do think I have a goal. And it’s the same as it was when I went to sleep last night only now I feel like I have the conviction to actually do it.

I will do my chores.

I will sweep, then vacuum, then mop. I will do laundry, fully, which includes putting the clothes away. I will take out the trash because it will drive me insane for it not to be done. I will wash my sheets, too. I will clean my bathroom and straighten up all of the little things out of place in my space. Maybe I’ll even go through my emails and clean my inbox.

I will have lunch at my sports bar for doing these chores. I know it’s not a lot. I need it to mean something right now. I need it to be worth acknowledgment. I need a reason to go outside and get sunlight because I know that will help combat part of this feeling. I have been inside for four days. I need fresh air and sunlight. Need, not want.

After lunch, I will assess my energy. I want to paint the baseboards in the downstairs bathroom. I want to finish the painting in the apartment.

That will be my larger goal. Finish the painting.

I have a week to finish it. Starting today.

I am accountable. I am responsible. I am ok. Mom was/is proud of me. I will make it through this moment. I have purpose. I have meaning. I have value. It’s ok to feel hurt. It’s ok to grieve. I am not broken.

I don’t want to think of things in terms of productive and unproductive. I want to think in terms of surviving.

So that’s my goal for today. My goal is to survive and those chores are how I will survive. I will make it through today because I told mom I would. I told her I would be strong so I will be.

I cannot control my grief, but I can accept it and understand it, and sometimes surviving is the pinnacle. Really, I suppose it’s the only pinnacle. The only one that really matters. As long as we survive we can try again tomorrow for something more. But surviving in and of itself is the greatest accomplishment any of us can achieve.

I will survive today, and I will acknowledge my survival up to this point because it’s worth acknowledging.

Letters to Mom 011: A Conversation About Nothing

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I need to talk to you mom. I so wish we could talk on the phone like we used to. I miss our hour long conversations about “nothing”. I miss being able to call you randomly when I happened to find free time in my day; time that I was more than willing to spend with you in the small ways we were able to after I moved away.

I really don’t have anything important to talk about, so I don’t know why I feel this pain right now. I don’t know why it keeps welling up like it has been the past week. It’s just random moments of sadness for no reason. At least that’s what it feels like. Maybe there is a reason and I don’t know it.

I keep having dreams. Weird dreams and when I look up the symbology it’s about betrayal. Like a dog biting a little girl and then decaying with maggots wriggling around in its chest, only to come back from the dead to attack other people because the dog didn’t belong in that universe and so by proxy couldn’t die…

Yeah… weird shit.

It sounds like a horrific dream, but when I woke up instead of being disgusted I felt solemn.

There are other dreams, too. None as morbid as that one, but they still leave me feeling weary, and all the psychology behind the representation points to “weariness” and “vigilance” as being the course of action to take. I wish I knew what I was supposed to be looking out for. If only my brain would tell me what it actually thought was wrong rather than possibly giving me “clues” to decipher and pick through.

I mean… maybe it’s all literally inside of my head and they’re just BS dreams that mean nothing.

I feel like if they were really nothing, then I wouldn’t have the feeling of significance when I wake up like I do.

I’ve been applying to more jobs. I might have a babysitting gig this Sunday. I was supposed to go swimming with manatees but it’s a two-hour drive there and I don’t feel up to the trip right now. Doesn’t help that it was supposed to be a fairly large group of people I mostly don’t know. Not really my ideal recovery time.

Big Bad and I had lunch today. He got out of work early since he had to work extra hours earlier in the week.

I went and applied for a job in person since that’s what the posting on Indeed.com said to do. It’s a housekeeping position at a nursing home. I know it’s simple. I know I’m over qualified for it. I wouldn’t mind doing it, though. It’s the perfect hours for still being able to spend all my time at the dojo. The more I think about what I want out of a job the more I want something along those lines. Something that doesn’t interfere with what I actually want to be doing, which is training.

So I guess I need to revise my job requirements.

Something reliably full-time in Orlando within roughly a ten-mile radius from the apartment, preferably using a skill set I already have with set hours that does not interfere with my dojo time.

The patient transport position is another really good job for that. I’m hoping to hear back from something soon.

There was a pretty big event at the dojo today. I almost didn’t go to it, but I had my “come to Freya” discussion with myself not long ago and one of the things was not skipping out of going to the dojo when I feel sad, so I went. I’m glad I went. I learned some really nifty things today. I’m less afraid to perform the moves that require me to put my weight on the other person. It means I’m performing the moves more correctly than what I was. I’m acting with intention and control. It’s a good feeling.

They gave out belts and stripes tonight after training. Jim got another stripe on his brown belt. That’s the rank before black belt. Tommy got his black belt tonight. Akib got his blue belt. That’s the one after white.

Part of me was hoping I would get my first stripe on my white belt, but I didn’t. I’ve only been attending since mid-November. I missed three solid weeks of practice because I traveled. Some days I didn’t go because I have no reason, I just didn’t go.

Part of me wanted to have something on my belt to show I’ve put in effort. Recognition. A pat on the back.

That’s not what jujitsu is about, though, and I know that.

Part of me feels like I’m not ready for the stripe yet. I still haven’t gotten a jujitsu belt. I still wear my aikido gi and I still wear my aikido belt with it. I wonder if that’s me holding onto the past, or if that’s at least part of it. Maybe it’s not all just for the sake of being frugal. I didn’t think about that until they were giving out stripes and belts and I realized if I was called up for a stripe that I didn’t have the proper belt for the stripe to go on.

I sat there wondering if I’m being disrespectful to the dojo and my instructors. If I’m training jujitsu, shouldn’t I have the attire for it? Shouldn’t I have at least gotten the proper belt to show that I respect the skill I’m training? In all of the months I’ve been going there I couldn’t have made “buy a jujitsu belt” a task on my to-do lists? I knew I needed one, so why did I never do it?

I don’t know what I would have done had Paul called my name for a stripe. I don’t know if I would have been able to bow after receiving it. I don’t think I would have felt like I deserved it. Part of it would be because I don’t want to have it, earn it, and not be able to send you pictures or have you there to see it.

I know you will be proud of me when I do get it eventually. I know you want me to keep going to the dojo and training because it fulfills something in me, and I know I’ll make it through the moment when I finally do earn my stripe, but right now I don’t know how.

How do I keep going with you not here? Physically here. How do I keep going when sometimes the only thing I can think about is the pain? Like right now. I hurt. My heart hurts. I ache for you to be here and I don’t know what to do other than embrace the pain.

This feeling, this sensation in my chest… it’s deeper than physical. Deeper than body. It’s in my core. My soul. My chakra.

It’s almost as if I can hold it. Like it’s physically something within me. Like I can cup it in my hands and have them be filled with this sensation and show people, “This is my pain.”

This is my love for you, mom. This is what I have to remind me that what we had, our time, our relationship, was real. That I loved, deeply, wholly, unconditionally the way I have never loved anyone else in my life. Not dad. Not Jon. Not Jason. Not any of my significant others.

I didn’t realize how much you meant to me until I held your hand alone in the hospital saying my final words to your spirit. Your body was already cold, your hand lifeless in mine, but I felt you behind me as I spoke my final words to you, as I promised I would be strong.

I want to say that you were everything to me, and maybe at the time that was true. With how hard it was during my time at the extended stay maybe you truly were everything, and during those six months I was learning how to adjust to that change.

My Everything was gone.

The flatlined stillness inside of my head. The emptiness. The silence I felt within myself. The lack of broken pieces to pick up. There was nothing because my Everything was gone.

I remember how I slowly started to find reasons to do things. I remember telling Warren that I didn’t know how to keep going because you were my blue crayon and without you I didn’t know how to color my skys anymore. I remember talking with Chrys on your birthday and how that night was so empty and cold and yet at the same time full of laughing at stupid werewolf drama shows.

I remember how I told Nicole that I’ve been grateful for every time I’ve made it through a hard time because there’s always something on the other side that makes me happy I’m still here to experience it. If it ends, there is no more. No more next time. No more new inside jokes. No more warm hug, or good training session, or caring smile.

I want all those things, and that’s how slowly the nothingness became something. I started seeing the good things still worth experiencing. I started enjoying things again. Simple things. Having coffee in my red coffee cup which I’ve had for I don’t remember how long. My cup, warm in my hands while sitting outside watching the day start. Most of the time I would go back to sleep shortly after because just the actions of getting up and making coffee took all of the energy I had, but for a brief moment, I enjoyed something.

I don’t know where I’m at with my grief. I know it’s not a linear process. I know there’s not a destination and that this is something I will experience for the rest of my life. I want to know that I’m ok. That I’m normal and that it’s still ok to be sad sometimes. That it’s still ok to miss you.

When you first died I researched how to grieve. I researched INFJs and what we do and how we deal with things, and everything I found said there’s no answer, so I gave up on it.

I don’t remember what I was doing the other day but I looked up stuff on grief for some reason and I found posts from other people explaining how they grieved. It was the first time that I really read into other people’s experiences. I read about a mother who lost her infant son in their home and how sometimes she lays on the floor where he died so she can feel closer to him. I read about how she never wanted to tell people that, but when she went to a support group she felt accepted because other people understood. I read another story about a mother and father who always bake a cake to celebrate their child’s birthday even though he died extremely young. I read how to them it is a way of honoring and acknowledging the life that existed even if it was brief.

It makes me feel more ok about wearing your ring and the urn pendant. It makes me more ok with my choice to write to you. I’m allowed to do things that other people may not agree with or think are “right” or seems silly because it doesn’t have to be right for them. It needs to be right for me. For us.

It’s my expression. Not theirs. And these are some of the ways I choose to express.

Sometimes I feel like you’re so terribly, horribly far away. Sometimes I feel like what I do isn’t enough. That it will never be enough. That’s how it feels right now.

But I know these feelings are temporary. I know tomorrow I’m going to wake up and go to the jujitsu class and the Muay Thai class. I know I’m going to keep waking up. I know I’m going to keep breathing. I know my heart is going to keep pumping and that as long as it does I have a purpose.

I know I have a purpose, mom. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so obsessed with it. I wish sometimes I wasn’t this fantastically rare personality type and that I could just be ok with existing and not need some deep, driving reason for things.

How much easier would life be if I could just simply be? If I could accept that I’m here and the reason didn’t really matter? How much calmer would my mind be if I could just accept that I’m here and the why didn’t factor into anything?

But that’s not my mind. I need to know why. Why am I here? Just like when Jim asked, “Why are you doing this?”

I still don’t know.

My answer is still, “Because you died.”

I’m here because you died and I told you I would be strong and keep living. I’m here because I said I would honor you by living a full life. That seems so fragile and hollow, though. I need to live my life for me, not for you. But right now I’m back to not knowing how to do that. I hurt and all I can think about, focus on, is the pain. I’m back to reminding myself that it’s worth enduring, that it’s ok for my accomplishment for the day to simply be making it until night. Surviving is an accomplishment.

I don’t know where I am with my grief, but right now it feels like a very low moment. A very sad and isolated valley where I can’t see anything except the forest that surrounds me. It’s dark, and the internal me, the me in the depths of this wood, is scared of what’s lurking in the darkness, but my higher self knows things will be ok.

My higher self is aware that, yes, it’s dark, but it’s not cold. It’s like a warm summer’s night. Yes, I’m alone, but it’s not the same alone as when my forest was held in the grips of my teenage depression, icy and covered in snow while I wrapped my arms around my knees and hid in my ice cave, unwilling to move because staying still hurt less.

It’s dark and scary, but I know daylight will come, I just have to breathe and wait for it. If I breathe my chest will hurt less. If I relax my muscles won’t ache as much. If I listen I’ll be able to hear the night life around me, the crickets, the owls, the rustling of raccoons and other nocturnal animals.

Darkness doesn’t have to be bad. It’s my yearning for daylight that makes me almost ungrateful and negligent of the moment I’m in.

Even in the moments where I hurt and I miss you there can still be good things. I still have my connection with you, mom. I still have my love for you. I still have everything you taught me. I still have the life you gave me that I can keep living. I have all of these wonderful, priceless things in this moment of darkness and so it’s not the horrible thing my brain keeps trying to convince me it is.

It’s still good in its own way, and I’m grateful that part of me can see that. I’m grateful that even through the tears I’ve been crying while I write this that I can say with confidence that I will wake up tomorrow and that I will train, and I will train hard, even if I don’t have an answer for why.

Or maybe I can accept the fact that my reason IS because you died and that’s not a bad thing. That’s not a fake reason or something to be ashamed of.

I don’t know. I feel I need to meditate more on that. It feels right, but now I need to figure out why it’s right.

I train because you died. I live because you died. I understand how deeply I loved you because you died.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

Daily Post 132: Lists and Pictures

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It’s morning. I’ve been awake for a few hours which surprises me. I had a hard time falling asleep so I had thought I would be slow and sluggish today, but not so. I can’t say that I’m really heartbroken about it. Even though I had some really good times on my walkabout, there were a lot of really hard times, and I started having bad dreams while I was in Texas which made sleeping hard. I haven’t recapped that part of the journey yet, so I’m sure I’ll write about it eventually. Not right now, though.

 

The takeaway from all of that is I slept last night, and slept well, which is something I had started questioning if I’ll ever be able to do again. I guess I can. I just have to almost kill myself with a boxing workout first. Who knew?

 

I did have a really long, really weird dream, but it was a lot of random and disconnected scenes and so this is actually the first dream that I can remember which I’m not putting much stock in.

 

I’ve already showered and cooked breakfast. My coffee is sitting beside me, neglected as always since writing takes up too much of my processing power to remember that I actually need the caffeine. I’ll get to it eventually I’m sure.

 

I have therapy at 11 this morning. That’s way earlier than when I was normally going, but it was the only spot available when I messaged. I don’t mind. I’m happy I get to see my therapist and tell her about the trip. She recently went on vacation, too. It will be nice to share stories with her.

 

I guess I should talk about yesterday a little… You know… since this is a “daily” post…

 

I got a lot taken care of. I went to the storage unit again and started poking through my boxes. Pulled out some stuff to bring back with me like my dish rack. I got a new cross stitch project out of my stash. I actually ordered hand dyed fabric the other day for a pattern I bought while I was in Texas. I can’t wait for it to come in. I would like to finish both of these projects before I move into my apartment.

 

I put air into my tires and got gas for the car. I went to Publix for a few things, including a sushi bowl for lunch. Went to the bank for a cashier’s check. Eventually I went to boxing where I had a pretty intense workout. I’ve gone the past two days after at least a month of almost nothing, and nothing consistent for the past six. I know I need to be kind to myself and not push too hard. The sadness has an easier time taking hold when I push past my limits. Because of that I didn’t go to combat practice yesterday.

 

I’m not sure if I wrote about SCA combat… I’ll get into details in another post, but basically I’m learning how to beat people up with swords. It’s awesome.

 

I was super tired and dehydrated after boxing, so I came back to my room, climbing up three flights of stairs in the process, where I cross stitched and listened to an audiobook for the rest of the night. I also made dinner and tuna so I have lunches. Look at me being a responsible adult, drinking water and eating nourishing things… 

 

I should be getting Scarlet back later tonight. That will be nice but requires a bit of setting up as far as the room goes. Nothing major. Just moving a few things around. Since she can’t jump very well I want to put the mattress on the floor. It seemed to work well with the air mattress. 

 

Oh. Speaking of mattresses… my friend is getting rid of the one he currently has since he’s getting a new bed. He offered for me to have the old one for free, and a couch for cheap. Yay for having furniture for the new apartment. Still need some other things, but I’m glad those two items are off the list.

 

I suppose I should also mention that I’m writing on my older brother’s Surface tablet. I ended up buying it from him, so I now have a laptop of sorts. It’s been amazing so far. I went out I got a messenger bag so I can carry my paper notebook with me along with my Surface, and all the other odds and ends that I normally keep in my backpack.

 

I like the smaller bag. The backpack is sort of overkill now since I’m not having to carry a change of clothes with me to work.

 

My body is sore today, but it still feels like it will be a pretty decent day. If I were using my friend’s scale I would most likely say today is a seven. At least at the moment. For now I’m going to go so I can write up a to-do list for today and start picking away at it.

 

That’s something I’ve been doing since I’ve been back. Sunday I went out and bought a new notebook. I’ve been making a list every day since Monday. Logically my brain goes, “Well, that’s only three days. Do you want a cookie?” Honestly though, making a to-do list used to be a core action for me. Every day, no matter what, I made my to-do list. Either right before bed or in the morning with breakfast. It was like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. It was like breathing. It just happened, no questions asked.

 

I’m trying to get back to there. I’m trying to figure out me in the wake of mom’s death and to-do lists are part of that me. I miss them. I miss the structure, the accountability, the guidance, the reliableness. I wasn’t perfect with them before mom’s death, so I’m not looking to be perfect now, but four days in a row is pretty good in my book, so don’t mind me while I sit over here sipping coffee feeling accomplished.

 

Here’s to trying to have another good day. Cheers.

 

Oh… and a cute picture that a friend sent me, because who doesn’t like cute pictures?

 

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Daily Post 131: Back in Orlando

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I’m back in Orlando. I’m back at the extended stay. It’s the same one I stayed at before my trip. I wasn’t able to get the same room, but the one I’m in isn’t bad. I made breakfast this morning. I’ve already been to the storage unit once to get most of the things I want to have with me during this final month before I move into my apartment. I’m thinking I’ll make a second trip today. I think I’m going to get Scarlet today as well. If not today maybe tomorrow. I miss her and need me some cat cuddles.

 

I’ve seen the Blacksmith and Big Bad already. I realized on the flight home that I think of Orlando as home. Actual home, not just home as in “I’m using the word home because that’s easier than saying this is the place I’m currently staying”. There is a sense of belonging here that I didn’t feel while I was on my walkabout. A feeling of “this is where I want to be”. At least for now. Seeing both of my partners made it feel real. Like I’m really back. I don’t have my own place yet, so the extended stay isn’t really “home”, but seeing them, seeing my brother, having dinner with Nicole, messaging everyone to let them know I’m back… All of those things made it feel nice. It made me realize that as a whole, this is where my heart is. Even though it’s autumn and summer is over, this is where I still feel warm and alive. 

 

I really don’t think I have much to write about since not a lot has happened. I have decided to not pursue work until after the new year. Most likely not until after Allison’s wedding in April, which will be the official one year mark of mom’s death.

 

If that’s the game plan I stick with then I’m not going to have work to keep me entertained and occupied. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. What should I do with my time then? I’m still in the “zero fucks given” stage and so a lot of things don’t seem appealing or worthwhile. I still want to workout. I still want to focus on improving myself. Boxing, kick boxing, SCA combat practice, aikido, taekwondo… all of that appeals to me still. Biking, yoga, running. I want to get back into a routine of caring for myself since I really haven’t done that these past six months. Not consistently at least.

 

With that goal in mind I went about editing my Google calendar. When I was working and an employed productive member of society I lived by my calendar. It told me when to be at work, what classes at the gym I wanted to do, what my social obligations for the week were… Google ran my life. Since resigning what… three months ago now…, I’ve been sort of drifting, floundering. Eeking by day by day, somehow getting things done, but not really having structure or any way to recount my days. 

 

Well… I’m going to try to get back to it. I’ve made events for the times I want to be at the gym. I’ve made events for the SCA practices. I even made events for study time since my board is coming up, hopefully soon if they ever send me the test date. Once I pass my board I was thinking for finding something to volunteer with. I haven’t thought very far in that direction, but I think it’s one I’ll seriously look into once I’ve settled from the move. 

 

I might not have a whole lot going on still, but I now have some things to hold me accountable for my time, and that makes me feel less like a slacker.

 

I went to boxing yesterday, so we’re off on the right foot. I didn’t stay for the whole class. I’m pretty unconditioned what with three weeks of not doing much, but I was content with what I did do. It’s my starting point. Hopefully today I do better, but if I don’t, that’s ok. There’s tomorrow. I’m going to keep at it until I get back to where I was, and I’ll keep at it past that to get even better than before.

 

I like the way this plan feels in my head. I know it’s a lot of “Screw it. I’m going to do what I want to do,” which is pretty much what the past three weeks were, but it feels like a good plan in my head. I know myself. I know that if I don’t want to do something and I try to force myself to do it that it’s going to end in an amazingly fantastic blazing ball of fire.

 

I’m not ready yet, and that’s ok. I feel stable today. My friend asked me yesterday how I was feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. Yesterday was a seven. Today I think is an eight. I might feel guilt for that later, but right now I have energy and things to do, so I’m going to go do them while I can.

 

Yay for finally being able to write a non-emo post. 😀