Letters to Mom 017: A Late Mother’s Day

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I wrote this on Tuesday, but for some reason, it didn’t post properly. I cherish this writing even though it was painful at the time I wrote it. It’s another writing where I grieved and bled invisible blood onto my keyboard, but it’s important to me and so even though it’s from the past, I feel the need to post it.

 


 

I didn’t write on Mother’s Day.

I had a dream about mom the night before. I still remember it.

I was in a house. I was with other people though I don’t remember who they were. I remember that I knew them, but I’m not sure if it was family or close friends. We were supposed to be going somewhere, but mom had said she would be visiting and I really wanted to see her before we left the house. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see her again for a while. It was important that I be there. It was my one chance.

I remember the feelings of anxiety and worry. Mom was running late. Her flight was delayed and there was traffic and all of these things keeping her from getting to the house on time. The people I was with were getting annoyed with me because we ourselves were going to be late if we didn’t leave soon, but I kept asking for more time. Just a few more minutes. Please. She’s so close. Just a little longer…

I remember in the dream I was almost in tears but the other people wouldn’t wait any longer. It was so hard, so heavy, to close the front door, to turn the lock. It sounded so final; the door closing. It was like I had allowed myself to give up. It was me giving in. It was me walking away and not waiting. It was me caving to pressure.

I wanted to wait. I wanted to be there. I wanted to see my mom. But I wasn’t staying and that felt like a betrayal. I was making the wrong choice and I hated it but I didn’t know what else to do. I had to leave with them.

There was so much confliction inside me and still, I turned to walk away from the door. But just as I did there was a knock.

I knew it was her. I knew mom had finally arrived and I didn’t care if I was late to whatever it was I was supposed to go to. I turned around as fast as I could and unlocked the door, throwing it open without regard.

She was there. My mom was there. I threw my arms around her and hugged her and cried.

I heard her say my name over my tears.

I KNOW she said it. I can still feel it in my chest even though I honestly can’t remember what it sounded like.

I just… I know my dream was real and that mom is still here, in whatever way the Universe is allowing.

This Mother’s Day my mom gave me a gift instead of the other way around and I still cry when I think about it. Fucking tears…

I’m grateful for my dream.

Thank you, mom, for everything that you did in life and everything you continue to do for me. I’m sorry I didn’t write on Mother’s Day. I’m sorry I still get sad and have hard days like Tuesday.

I’m sorry I’m not doing better even though I know writing that will make you frustrated with me because I know I’m doing amazing right now. I’m doing so much better than I ever have before and that makes me angry and sad at the same time because I wish you were here so I could show you; so you could be part of it. I wish I could call you and tell you about everything. I wish you could come visit and watch me beat people with sticks at SCA practice and meet Ox and just… everything.

I love you, mom. I wish it hadn’t taken your death to make me the adult I am now. I wish we had had more time. I wish I had thought to ask you all the questions I have now. I wish I had listened to your stories more. I wish I knew more about the hardships you faced while you were growing up. I wish I had you the way so many people still have their mom, but at the same time I know we’re closer for what we went through.

Thank you for raising me. Thank you for the dreams I have of you. Thank you for helping me get through the hard times.

Happy late Mother’s Day, mom.

I love you. Forever and for always.

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Letters to Mom 014: Our Last Night

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This was our last night together.

This was the code STEMI. ST Elevated Myocardial Infraction.

This was my final night with you.

This was the night your hospital gown was soaked in your blood.

This is my fear. This is my desperation. This night. This is when I feel I lost you.

I keep having dreams. They all involve water. Emotions.

The shower drain in my bathroom being clogged so that the floor of the shower is submerged in water. Inches of it. Water that won’t drain. Clear, pure water that refuses to leave. It’s only when I reach down, my pale hand pulling a dark matted wad of hair from the drain that the water finally flows and lowers so that damage is avoided.

Me, racing up a snow covered mountain to save Akib from a storm that’s threatening. Somehow we all make it to a boat that will take us away from the mountain. We’re almost to the dock of our destination. We’re almost to safety when the tempest unleashes. The waves are high, the rain comes down in sheets so that the long wooden dock is almost obscured, but I can still see it. I know we’ll make it and so even though the whole event is still an emergency, there’s the feeling of security. We’re so close. We’re there. Even if the boat sinks we can swim to shore. We’re ok.

When I look up the symbology it’s about acknowledging something. Accepting something. Allowing the emotions to exist.

I couldn’t figure it out at first.

You’re dead. I don’t hide from that fact. I don’t sugar coat it when I say it, when I explain it.

That’s not the matted tangle I needed to pull from the drain. Saying those words, thinking them, doesn’t cause an emotional reaction. It’s not something I deny. It’s a fact that I’ve accepted in my life.

So what are my dreams telling me to accept?

I think I found it this morning.

Even though you died, you’re still with me.

You’re still with me.

Those words.

That phrase.

That’s the one that hurts. That’s the one that I don’t fully believe. That’s the one I hide from. That’s the one I don’t tell people because I’m scared of it being wrong or untrue.

I’ve typed it before. I’ve said it to a few people. Trusted people. I know I feel you, as if you’re behind me, wrapping your arms around me so that your hands rest on my arms, my biceps. I can feel you there, of all places, in my arms.

I don’t know if it’s really pain I feel. Maybe it’s just intensity and my brain can’t figure the sensation out so it labels it as pain. It’s so much of something that it’s painful to feel so much so deeply.

I feel like that’s what I need to acknowledge, though.

It’s not the same. It’s not like it was. It’s different and I still don’t know how to deal with that difference because it’s not logical. It’s not mathematical or chemical or rational. It’s not observable.

It’s something I feel. Sometimes others can feel it, too. But how do I know I’m not just making it up as a coping mechanism? How do I know it’s real? How do I know I’m not partially broken and hiding behind some shattered illusion, limping by, rather than facing reality?

I wish you were here. And that phrase is most likely so disrespectful because if you are still with me then why am I wishing for you to be here? You’re already here, just in a different way.

Isn’t that enough?

I’ve written about that before. Near the beginning, I think. I would have to go back through my posts, through my Book of Survival. I remember saying it was enough. So why am I back here, in this spot, thinking that you’re not here when you are?

These days have been hard, mom. They’ve been so hard. So long. So sleepless. So empty.

I know what I want to do for you tomorrow. My ritual for every April 4th from now until the day I die.

I’m going to buy you a rose, mom. I’m going to get a crystal vase and a silken rose, and every year I will add another rose. And when they become too many for the single vase I will buy another. Eventually, there will be 27 roses. One day there will be 28. More roses than years that I knew you. That rose will be different.

For now, until that day, they will be red.

I will keep them next to your urn. It will be my way of acknowledging your deathday. It will be the day I renew my promises to you.

I don’t know what else to say right now. I want to hug you. I want to cry in your arms while you hug me and reassure me that it will be ok. I want the past year to be a dream and to wake up and have you smile at me. But at the same time I know that’s not true. I don’t want to give up all of the good to get rid of all of the bad.

I want the struggle to be over. I want the tears to stop. I want the pain to cease.

You’re with me and it will be ok. I’ll make it through our last night.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

Daily Post 022: Potentially Productive

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Yesterday ended up being better than the past few days.

I had two successful procedures in class. That’s always a boost, and much better than the three missed attempts from the day before that I refused to put energy into feeling bad over. I had enough emotional discord to contend with without making myself feel shitty about missing hard veins.

I went to the dojo again yesterday. I’m starting to do something different with my workout calendar. Instead of pre-arranging my workouts and having them set up as reoccurring events, I’ve decided to delete all of my workouts.

I’m going to be manually adding them instead and only adding the ones I actually attend. That way I have an accurate view of my workout times rather than a bunch of events I didn’t actually attend.

I don’t think that’s going to affect my accountability. If anything I think it will make me more accountable because I want there to be some sort of workout event on each day. It doesn’t have to be the dojo. It could be running, or biking, or yoga, or even just going for a walk. As long as I do something I’ll be happy with my effort. Having the dojo schedule on my calendar made it a bit overwhelming at times and so my brain would skip over the events, or I would be slack because there were “other” events I could make it to, only to get to the end of my day without having gone at all.

I was becoming desensitized to the events since the information was so reoccurring, consistent, and essentially, meaningless. It’s there, every day, every week. It’s not special.

I’m hoping this change helps to make me more aware of my habits and to spur me into action during the days where the sadness is winning. I can’t let it win. If I do I won’t be able to add the event to my calendar and those events are important to me. More important than staying in my room feeling bad. I can feel bad at the dojo and still get something done.

Multi-tasking at its finest.

As I was leaving the dojo yesterday Paul told me I was doing a good job.

Having validation when I had wanted to stay home again was really nice.

It’s weird. It’s not like we’re super close or anything. He’s my instructor. We haven’t had any super deep, soul-bearing conversations. He demonstrates techniques, he watches everyone practice and spar and makes sure we’re getting the moves mostly right. I’ve only “known” him for, what, roughly five months? Maybe only four…

I started attending the dojo mid-November. Just before Thanksgiving. So yeah… not even five months.

Yet his praise means so much to me. Paul, Big Bad, my phlebotomy and nursing instructors… anytime they say something about how I’m doing well or doing a good job, it feels like true, genuine validation. It’s not just pretty words. They mean it, and because they mean it their words mean something deep and solidifying to me.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this dream or not, but I had a dream about mom not too long ago. Or rather, I had a dream and mom was in it.

I was driving and I was getting tired. There was a really long stretch of road ahead of me, sloping down, then going up and I couldn’t see the road over the hill but in my head, I knew it would go on for forever and I just wanted to stop. It was that feeling of overwhelming defeat where there is no end and it’s pointless to keep going and it would be so much easier to just stop and give up.

Mom was in the back seat of the car. I remember I couldn’t look at her because I was driving. I had to keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road, you know… so we didn’t crash and burn in a fantastic blaze of glory. I remember telling her, tears in my voice, that I was tired and asking if we could stop. It was the only thing I wanted. Could we please just stop for a little bit?

I remember her voice. I remember her saying, “We’re almost there.”

I remember her saying that in real life. I remember all the times I was working on projects that I wanted to give up on and she would say it was almost done and to tough it out a little bit longer. She always had a way of saying it, a tone, a voice, that made me hold on for just that little bit of extra time to see something to the end.

I feel like that’s what this is. I keep trying, even when I get to what feels like the end of what I have to give, and things keep happening. Working. Coming together and solidifying into a platform where I can stop and rest and recover.

It’s nice to know I won’t have to worry about getting a paycheck though I may still have to worry about finances. I guess that really depends on if Warren continues to hold up his end of our agreement. But I can at least tell my brothers and friends that I have a job. They don’t have to worry about me as much. It’s a good feeling.

It seems like my problems are narrowing down and I’ll be able to start focusing on things with more laser precision rather than trying to shotgun my attention on everything.

Once my onboarding process is complete and I begin working in April my goal will be paying off the credit card. Currently, my goal is completely phlebotomy and gearing up for work. I want to wrap up tasks and make sure I’m in a good spot.

I know I’m breathing easier. I don’t have the tightness in my chest of, “How am I going to figure this out?”

I don’t know if I figured it out so much as the Universe aligned the way it was supposed to. All I did was apply over and over and over and over until finally, something stuck.

I don’t know if that’s divine intervention.

I would like to think that mom knew it would work out and that she helped me hold on just like she would have if she were still alive.

I do think this is going to be a career that will be fulfilling. It has the patient interaction I wanted. More so than what the hospital would have had. More than what the Central Service Tech position would have had. It seems like there will be opportunities for me here, and I think I can work it out to still make it to the dojo consistently. That is still yet to be seen, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

I’m NOT giving up the dojo. I told Warren the other night, I would sacrifice my food budget before I gave in on my dojo membership, which may be counterproductive because without food I can’t really go to the dojo, but in my head at least I would starve to death mostly happy. Maybe content is a better word. I would starve to death in contentment knowing that I didn’t give up myself.

Today I go and have my drug test done. That’s the last process, that I know of, for onboarding. I’ve filled out all of the other forms and watched the welcome video.

Big Bad and I ended up having impromptu cuddles last night. I happened to message him as I was leaving the dojo. Nothing special. Just saying I hoped he had a good day.

He replied with how his day had been good and how he missed me. I said I missed him too and that cuddles would be amazing because they would have been. I had wanted to see him the day before, but I don’t know if it really would have been a good idea to see him in the middle of a grief wave. Somehow I don’t think it would have been the best idea. Even though I wanted human contact I think having alone time was better for me.

Yesterday was emotionally better, though, and when Big Bad said he would enjoy cuddling as well we made plans to spend the evening together after I had showered because holy crap did NoGi kick my ass. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the technique we learned. It gives me more options for getting out of closed guard, but god does it feel like my arms want to fall off right now…

Anyway, I’m rambling.

I picked up more microfiber shirts this morning since I only owned two. When I first started going to the dojo it was annoying not having enough shirts to get me through the week. More so when I started going to the dojo three and four times a week for multiple classes a day. There was no way to re-wear a shirt, but I needed a shirt to go over my workout top.

Then the holiday season hit and I was out of town more often than not so the lack of shirts wasn’t really an issue.

Now I’m getting back into the swing of it and the lack of shirts is hindering my workouts again…

Well… Fuck that shit.

I deserve my workouts. I want my workouts, and I sure as hell am not going to let something like laundry keep me from having them.

So this morning has already started with my “frog”. The one task that I’ve been avoiding for the past two weeks. A trip to Walmart. When I say I would rather be punched in the face than to go to Walmart it’s not much of an exaggeration.

I sort of tried other options. I looked online but I want to touch the shirts before I buy them. Target sucked and didn’t have what I wanted. Ross didn’t either. So, since Big Bad lives close to the only Walmart near me, I decided to go there before going home this morning.

It actually wasn’t a super horrible trip. Going there at 7 am most likely had a lot to do with that. I got four microfiber shirts, so now I have six in total. That will do fine for me I think. Maybe, eventually, I’ll get two more because odd numbers are weird.

Things have to go in pairs. It’s a rule in my brain. I know it’s weird. I’ve learned to just go with it… It’s easier and less sandpapery that way.

The other day I got three more of the tank tops from Target since I was there doing failed recon for the microfiber shirts. I got a deep army green tank top, which I actually like way more than I thought I would, and a dark purple tank top. I also got a light green color but I’m going to return it. Even when I bought it I had the feeling that I wouldn’t wear it all that much. I would rather return it and get another purple or green. What will most likely happen is I’ll return the light green, get a dark green, then get two more, one purple and one more black, since that whole pair thing has to happen.

Two green, two purple, four black. Seems good in my book.

I know I’ll most likely end up getting new workout tops to go under my scrubs for work. But that’s going to be my “first paycheck” thing. So it’s still a month or so off. For that I’ll go to the sporting goods store and try on a size smaller, just to make sure it fits before ordering online. It helps that I already know what I want and am looking for specifically. That “should” make the process fairly quick and painless.

I need to go to my school today and talk to them about switching my program. That’s another thing I’ve sort of halfway been avoiding. Since I got the job offer I won’t be able to finish the final course of the PCT program, but that should be ok. I’m hoping we can switch my paperwork to be just the EKG and phlebotomy classes. Only one way to find out in that regard.

Blarg… so much talking to people because socializing doesn’t end there…

I need to call Verizon customer support as well. I went to the store yesterday to cancel Zane’s line. While I was there I found out I owe $250 on my phone, which is BS because the whole reason I got my phone was because they were supposed to give me a full $600 on my trade in. So… I’m missing something like $200 in credit towards my account.

Words cannot begin to express the annoyance of having to call, yet again, to figure out why this trade in is F’ed up. I’m looking forward to switching back to MetroPCS. $50 a month for unlimited everything and I’ve never had a shitty experience with them messing something up. Soon… So soon.

Until then, yeah, that’s $250 I want explained to me.

Alright, enough stalling I guess. Time to shower then head out into the world.

I don’t know how the day is going to go. I feel slightly above baseline. Not super crazy positive, but not depressed either. It’s a warm-ish nuetral though I don’t think “warm” is the right word. I’m room-temp. Yeah… room-temp neutral.

I think today will be a productive day. Not necessarily “good” in the normal sense, but I’m ok with productive. Productive is good.

Daily Post 013: Jobs, Dreams, and Hugs From Mom

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Today is a hard day. And even as I type that, even as I thought those words while I was in class earlier, I don’t feel like they fit anymore.

Early in my grief, they did. The days were hard. And in a way they still are. But it doesn’t feel right anymore. Just like calling the days “bad” in the beginning wasn’t right, “hard” isn’t right either. They’ve evolved into something else, something other, but I don’t know what that “other” should be called yet.

Today is a grief day. Today is a day where I woke up from a dream angry, sad, and hurt and still got up and made breakfast and went to class where we reviewed for our test tomorrow. Today is a day where I cried on the way to my sports bar. A day where I made a detour, bought a pack of cigarettes (another two weeks free down the drain) and sat at the park I normally go to and cried until I felt ok enough to force myself to eat something because no matter how much I don’t want to, I need to eat. I need to intake or I really will get sick with how active I’ve been.

I guess it started with Tuesday evening. Tuesday evening hurt.

I mentioned the central services technician position I think. It’s a position my contact at the hospital sent to me, encouraging me to look into it. I did. I liked what it was about. I liked the future growth potential it had. It seemed like a job created specifically with my INFJness in mind. I allowed myself to think about how great it would be to have that position.

Tuesday night, after pushing hard through jujitsu, after three rounds of live sparring in my new gi, which I did manage to get both blood and sweat on since a scab on my hand got rubbed off, I bowed off of the mat, went to my gym bag, looked at my phone. I saw an email from the hospital. I read it, this email informing me in detached auto-generated sentences that the position I had subconsciously already accepted had been filled.

For fuck’s sake, Universe. I can’t even go back out and train again because I’m so completely and utterly spent from the class I just did and you’re going to throw this at me now? At the end of my night? When there’s nothing left in my body to give into throwing a fist at the wall? When the only thing I can do is hold my sweat soaked gi to my chest and let the silent tears soak into it, too?

These weren’t the tears that were supposed to be in it, damn it. Tears of failure weren’t supposed to be the tears I cried. Feeling like something was taken away from me when I never had it to begin with wasn’t the feelings I was supposed to feel. This wasn’t the email I was supposed to get.

Why do you keep doing this to me? Why isn’t mom here for me to cry to? Why isn’t she here to help me keep going when I constantly hear no from the outside world?

Why? Why, damn it! If you can just tell me why and show me how it all works out in the end, I would be ok, but you’re not. I’m having to hope and pray and constantly keep a positive mindset when it feels like everything is personal and about me not being good enough in some way.

It took me longer than normal to pack up my stuff and leave the dojo. It was hard to keep all of those angry, bitter, defeated feelings from spilling over. I got to my car and sat for a minute, I gave in a fraction to the emotions. I let them have a little bit of time, just enough to try to get home.

On the way, I stopped at Dairy Queen. It seems stupid, irresponsible. I shouldn’t be spending money. I know I shouldn’t. I didn’t care. I had told Warren after our conversation on Monday that I would. I can’t remember why or how, but somehow we got onto the topic of ice cream, or chocolate… something like that. We both mentioned how having one of Dairy Queen’s Blizzards would be great. I had said I would pick two up for us the next day as a thank you for him not taking time off and for fighting through his depression for me and working full hours at his job again.

So fuck you, Universe. I went and I got ice cream like I said I would. I went inside and I made myself interact with people because I’m not going to sit in my car and cry over something I never had. I’m not going to cry over you taking away a chance I wanted.

I stood there in my gi pants, black shirt, pretty much dripping sweat and didn’t care that I was ordering ice cream and looking totally counter-productive to whatever workout I had just done.

Me: Fuck you, Judgemental Person Who Isn’t Really Judging Me. You have no idea what’s going on inside of my head right now.

It was an angry, swarming rat’s nest inside of my chest. I kept swinging from crushed, to angry, back to crushed. I couldn’t find anything in the middle. I couldn’t find balance or clear perspective. All I could feel were the extremes and in the center of it all was the fact that mom isn’t physically here anymore.

I eventually got the blizzards I ordered. I texted Warren to let him know I was on my way home with ice cream. I drove home and the whole time the only thing I could think of was, “How did mom do it?”

How was she a single working parent of two kids? How did she not break down after dad left? How did she hold everything together? How did she take us to band practice, and weekend competitions, and all of the other things she did and still have dinner ready for us? How did she not go insane from the stress of it all? Who did she talk to after my grandmother died? Who did she turn to for support when things didn’t work out? How did she keep going when all she heard was “No” or “You can’t”?

Did she ever doubt herself? Was it ever hard? Did she ever feel like giving up?

How did she do it?

I made it home. I parked my car. I made it inside without dropping either of the ice creams. And in my hurt, injured state those things, those small accomplishments meant a lot to me.

When Warren came downstairs he asked how I was.

I told him about the job being filled. He listened to me voice all of my frustration and confusion about my emotions and my almost desperate questions of how did mom do it?

I don’t remember a lot of our conversation. I guess that’s sort of rude of me. I know he was trying to be helpful and supportive but all I could feel was the swirling in my heart chakra as I tried to figure out where to go from where I was.

I had just been punched in the face, again, by Life. Was I going to let that stop me? Was I going to take my hit and sit down and say it was too hard, or was I going to fight back, hit back and show that I am good enough, that this wouldn’t stop me, can’t stop me?

At the time I knew that I would figure it out. I knew that I would find another way, another job, another something. I knew I still had classes to go to, certifications to earn. I still had other jobs I was waiting to hear back from, and I knew there was a second CST (central services tech) position that I could apply for. But in that moment it still sucked and I hadn’t gotten past the “this sucks” part.

After a bit I went up to my room where I applied for more positions at the hospital. I emailed my contact to inform him of my additional applications. I then decided that the day was done and went to sleep.

I took Wednesday as a rest day. No boxing, no dojo, no running, just class where my brain got beaten to death with EKG pathologies. After class, I went to my sports bar where I studied and made flash cards and found interesting sites online to help me study.

I eventually came home and studied more. Lots of studying.

I went to sleep. Woke up at 3 am, went back to sleep, and had my dream which is what made today what it’s been.

In the dream, I was with Corey. We were going to go to one of his friend’s houses, someone I didn’t know. I drove my mom’s old car, the one she had for forever, the one I learned how to drive in. I remember in the dream I was supposed to clean it out, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. It wasn’t super bad or gross, but it wasn’t clean either.

Corey and I went to his friend’s house and ended up sitting at a table. Corey’s friend asked him about the new position Corey had recently accepted. Corey talked about it. His friend was super interested and congratulatory.

He turned to me then and asked me what I did.

I told him I was in school for medical stuff since I was changing careers because my mom had died. He said something dismissive like, “Oh. That’s nice,” then went back to talking to Corey like nothing I had said mattered.

I was pissed. Seething. I stayed quiet while they talked like I wasn’t there.

Corey ended up saying something to me like would I mind cleaning the car before we left.

Me: Can you give me a fucking trash bag then?

I didn’t care that I was rude. I was pissed. You can’t be dismissive of me and then ask me to do something for you like I owe you.

Corey’s friend made some comment about wasn’t I over reacting a bit or being rude.

I totally blew up at the faceless stranger in my dream saying that it was rude to be dismissive and unsupportive of someone trying to better themselves and that if he thought my reason for changing careers was lame that he could go fuck himself. I then proceed to walk away.

That’s when I woke up.

I woke up angry and hurt.

I knew today was going to be rough. I still got up and made breakfast even though it took me longer to do than it should have. I took my time showering instead of rushing to make sure I got to class on time.

I didn’t care if I was late. Being late was better than not going at all and with how rough my grief was I wasn’t going to skimp on making sure I was ok. I would get through today, but I would do it at my own pace in my own way and if that meant I was late one time to my class when all we were doing was reviewing I was fine with that.

I actually ended up being on time. Not early like I have been, so I didn’t get time to cross stitch, but I was there five minutes before anything started and didn’t miss any of the review.

After class is when the emotions decided they had been patient enough and that they deserved their time, which is why I went to the park. I cried not so silently. I’m sure it looked like I was emotionally distressed but no one running or biking on the trail that runs along the park stopped or bothered me, which I was actually grateful for. I didn’t really want to explain what I was feeling mostly because I didn’t understand it myself. It was still just a blob of “stuff” in my chest.

I reached out to Chrys and we chatted for a bit. I told her about my dream. I told her about the jobs and how it was frustrating and discouraging to constantly hear no when I wanted things to work the first time.

She told me about her life. It was nice to connect with someone. It was nice to be reminded that life still goes on and four-year-olds still get sick and have to stay home and have endless energy that I’m totally not jealous about missing out on. I messaged my younger brother, too, and told him today was a hard day and that I missed mom and that I guess everyone is right about grief never fully going away. It just feels like it’s been so long since I’ve had a day like this that I had forgotten that I’ll have them.

March 4th is the 11-month mark. The closure it gets to that day the more raw and wounded I feel. March 23rd I scheduled a therapy appointment because that’s the day it all started. That’s the morning I woke up to, “Mom’s in the hospital. The doctor’s don’t think she’ll make it.”

March 23rd marks the two weeks of hell I crawled through, holding mom’s hand every night while I slept in the hospital chair listening to her breathing. And then, eventually, the days will progress to April 4th and I would have survived my first year without mom being here. Physically here.

I keep having to remind myself that it’s only physically that she’s not with me. I know she’s with me spiritually. I felt her Tuesday night while I cried in my car asking her how she did it. I asked her how she held it together all those years and even though I didn’t get an auditory answer I felt her presence around me as if I were being hugged, as if she knew that it was hard for me and that if she could make it better she would.

I don’t want March 4th to come. I don’t want time to keep progressing forward. I was so worried about the holiday season and surviving my birthday and Christmas and New Years. I forgot there were days after those days. Harder days. Days I haven’t let myself think about, but they’re almost here and they’re going to come regardless of if I want them to or not.

I feel like those days are going to be days where my spirit continues in its transformation. Painful, agonizing days where I adjust to reality again. Stark reminders that all those events I have memories of actually did happen. They are real. These dates are significant because they have had such an impact on who I have become since that time.

Jon and I may go to the beach. I know his birthday is going to be hard for him. March 28th. His first birthday without mom. I survived mine. Jason and Jon still have to survive theirs. It’s another first for them so close to the first year. I wonder if it will be harder for them. And I guess there really isn’t “harder”. It’s going to be different for them because they’re different people.

But in this instance, different doesn’t mean better. It doesn’t mean worse, but it doesn’t mean easier, and there’s a part of me who desperately wishes I could take away the pain for them. I wish I could protect them and not have them hurt from the loss of mom.

But I can’t. And not being able to makes me feel helpless. Powerless. I love my brothers and there’s nothing I can do.

It sucks.

A lot of this sucks.

Today isn’t a bad day. There have been positive moments. I’m going to go to the dojo and train. I’m going to study so I can pass my board test next Friday. I’m going to keep moving forward, but right now today is painful.

Right now today is a grieving day where I hurt and no one can take away that wound. No one can heal it or make it not be there. This is a scar, new, red, sensitive, and at the moment it aches as my soul continues to adjust.

I don’t have a name for these days anymore. They’re different than what they used to be, and I think that’s progress. I think this is a positive change. Not necessarily “good”, but healthy and worthy of being acknowledged. It’s frustrating though because I don’t know how to describe it.

Painful feels better than hard. So maybe I’ll go with that until something else presents itself. Something more “right”.

Today is a painful day, and I’m still getting through it.

Daily Post 006: Doing Better

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Written yesterday, posted today. : D


 

Things have been going better.

I went to sleep fairly early last night, but again, I had a hard time falling asleep, so when my alarm went off this morning at 6 am I already knew I was going to sleep for another hour or so.

Before I did I messaged Big Bad. After our brief exchange, I was able to doze for a bit. I had a dream about going to the beach. It wasn’t a beach I’ve been to before. There was a big hill we had to drive down to get to the water. And I say we because I know I wasn’t alone, but I  don’t remember who I was with and the other people weren’t really important. The road down the hill was lined with cars, parked vehicles that belonged to the other beach goers. It was hard to find a parking spot, but I guess that really didn’t matter either because we were walking down the ramp. We had parked along the road at the top of the hill. It was just something I happened to notice, how there seemed to be no space.

There were a few houses lining the hill going down to the beach as well. They were farther off in the distance and I really couldn’t see much of them. Just enough to know they were two or three stories tall and that they seemed “small”. They weren’t sprawling mansions. They were tall but narrow and it gave the impression that there wasn’t really much living space.

When we got fairly close to the edge of the surf I noticed there was a truck in the water, floating as if it were a boat or a jet-ski. It was a white pickup truck and it didn’t seem odd in the dream for it to be out floating in the waves.

As I watched I heard other people talking about how the tide was coming in. I watched the truck bob up and down, riding the surf. The next wave that came in hit me around hip level. One moment I dry, the next I was wet. I remember walking back up the hill wondering what was going to happen to all the cars parked so close to the rising water.

I wasn’t worried about the water. It was natural. This swelling up, the rising. It was supposed to happen. The cars, the houses, they shouldn’t have been there because the tide doesn’t change. It always rises and it was foolish for people to think the tide would stop or alter itself simply because humans had built something or felt that nothing would happen to them.

I know water represents emotions. I’ve had several dreams in the past in regards to oceans and my subconscious. The truck was new, so I looked that up. Pickup trucks are supposed to represent hard work.

Since I woke up feeling relatively secure and stable I’m taking it to mean that I have been doing well with my emotions. I have been working hard to understand them and to exist harmoniously with them even though emotions are just as uncontrollable as the ocean. You have to work with them, rather than against them or trying to force them to take an alternative route.

And just like the tide, sometimes they swell up. They rise and can cause havoc if the surrounding land isn’t prepared for what is ultimately a natural event.

Maybe it’s a reminder to me. I remember in the dream someone saying that the tide was coming in early, and so most people were surprised.

I find it reassuring from a conscious standpoint that even though the tide came in early, and even though there was some concern from others, that I, personally, was ok. My car wasn’t going to be messed up or swept away because I had left it on higher ground. My house wasn’t going to be damaged because I didn’t think it was a good idea to get a house so close to the water. I also didn’t think I would like a house where I didn’t have the space I felt I needed. And even though I got wet, I wasn’t submerged. I could still stand and even though it was a bit harder, I could still walk. I wasn’t panicked. I accepted that the ocean has its own rhythm and that I needed to back up some until the tide had moved back out.

Overall, I am reassured by my dream.

I think a lot of that has to do with the past few days. I have been doing better in the days since Friday and the belt testing at the dojo. Since Saturday and my mostly impromptu evening with Big Bad.

After writing to mom Friday night I felt better, more at peace with myself but still unable to fall asleep. I ended up taking NyQuil at 4 am since I was determined to go to the dojo in the morning, but knew I wouldn’t be able to if I didn’t get at least some sleep.

I ended up sleeping through my alarm and didn’t wake up until 11 am. It was hard at first not to feel awful about sleeping “so long”. It felt like I had wasted the day away. I had already missed attending the jujitsu class. Later during the day, I realized I got a full seven hours of uninterrupted deep sleep. It was actually some of the best sleep I’ve gotten in about a week, so the initial icky feelings were eventually quelled.

The first thing I did when I woke up other than checking my phone and freaking out about missing one of my classes was continue to freak out because I was supposed to buy tickets to a concert Big Bad and I want to go to and I was worried I had missed being able to get the seats we wanted.

We plan to go see Ghost BC when they perform in Tampa with Iron Maiden. Neither of us are really interested in Iron Maiden, but Ghost is a pretty cool band and while we were having lunch Friday afternoon we agreed to go together. He even gave me money for the tickets with the explicit understanding that he at least let me drive, which will include paying for the gas, which is still woefully under the money he gave me for the tickets. I’m going to see if I can worm my way into paying for food, too. I need to do something to make it fairer.

Anyway, I was able to get the floor tickets we wanted, which started easing over what at the time felt like my “morning fuck up”.

Left Brain: Nothing is horribly messed up. You got the tickets. If you skip coffee you can make it to Muay Thai. Chop chop.

So with the tickets taken care of, I dressed and dashed off to the dojo, letting Big Bad know that I would talk to him in a bit.

The class was good. Intesnse, but good. Before we started training I sat with Paul, Akib, and another guy I later learned is named AJ. He actually became my training partner during the class, so it was nice to talk to him a bit beforehand.

While we were all sitting on the mat waiting for the class to begin Paul told me that during the after party for the seminar Friday night they had been talking about me and one of the sparring matches I had on Thursday.

It was my last match of the class. I was put against a guy I’ve seen before but have never sparred with. Honestly, I don’t care for his personality. He’s cocky. He talks loudly though what he says isn’t all that meaningful. It’s like a frail layer of arrogance that he’s using to cover up insecurity. At least that’s what it feels like to me.

We were matched together. It didn’t feel the same even from the start as what my other matches have been. This felt more personal. He wanted to take “me” down rather than taking an “opponent” down. I’m not sure if that really describes it well enough, but feelings are hard to put into words sometimes.

I feel like for him it was a mark of honor. He was going up against a girl. He couldn’t lose against me, against a girl.

Well… sorry dude but if I’m going down your going down with me. That’s the mentality I have with my training. I know I’m not the best, but that doesn’t mean I’m bad or that I have to lose. I’m definitely not going to lose just to preserve someone else’s ego and / or masculinity.

There was one point during our match where he went to do a one-legged takedown. His arms were wrapped around my thigh and he was trying to get me off balance. I was doing alright, but I couldn’t figure out what I was really supposed to be doing to change my position to one of advantage. I haven’t learned counters or techniques for the position I was in.

From the sideline, Paul called out, “Sprawl, Jen! Sprawl!”

So that’s what I did. I stepped my free leg back as far as I could and I basically crashed my chest into my opponents back, forcing him to go face first into the mat. My arms wrapped around his midsection while his hands were forced to the floor to keep him from falling down. He was basically in a downward dog type position with most of my body weight on his upper back.

Sprawling like that keeps my opponent from being able to force me backward or really pushing any sort of advantage. They have to go through all of my body weight to do it. If you’re paired up against someone who’s pure muscle then yeah, it can be done, but that’s not what jujitsu is about. It’s about technique. So yes, while powering through my weight is doable, it isn’t really the best thing to do. And my opponent wasn’t able to do it regardless, so we were locked in that position for a while.

I don’t remember exactly what happened but we eventually broke away and came to standing positions again. He looked at me, hands raised in a guarded stance and said, “You know I’m toying with you, right?”

I said, “Yeah. I know,” but in my head, I was thinking, “It really doesn’t feel like you’re toying…” It felt like he was going at it pretty hard, and I was going at it in equal measure.

Well, Paul was saying how during the party they were standing around with a bunch of people and Peter, I think that’s the name of my opponent, said something trying to be big and macho, and Paul brought up that match and how I basically turned him into PacMan with how I made him eat the floor. So for the rest of the night, everyone made PacMan wacka wacka sounds at Peter.

I told Paul about the brief exchange that had occurred during the match, about how Peter said he was toying with me, and Paul said that made the story even better. Paul said he could tell Peter was frustrated at the end of the match. He said Peter hadn’t been toying, that he had wanted to win.

The story made me laugh and feel good. It made me feel wonderful to know that even though I had skipped out of the party that I was still “part of it”. It makes me feel like I’m part of the dojo because there are stories that I’m part of. Good stories worth sharing with others.

It made me feel praised because Paul said it had been awesome to see me pull the move off and hold my own. I guess it was an exciting match to watch, at least if you’re into stuff like this. So even though I don’t have a stripe yet, I’m doing well. It’s something that I know on a conscious level. I’m getting better with the techniques. I have better stamina. It still meant a lot to hear direct praise from Paul. Validation and all that jazz.

Jim was complementary after training as well. He said he wants to start showing me how to do triangles, which is where I use my legs to choke people out or do arm bars and stuff. Pretty sick and brutal stuff that looks amazing when I see other people pull them off. Since I have long legs and good hip flexibility he said he’s pretty sure I would do well with them. I’m always down for learning new things.

Right Brain: Thunder thighs!

After the dojo, I went to my car. The day was going better. I had lunch I needed to get to since I had told David we could meet to talk about his logo design and website. I had another message from Big Bad that I needed to reply to, as well.

He was concerned with me not being able to sleep and asked if I wasn’t feeling well. He jokingly asked if I needed an intense beating that night.

I replied saying I was feeling better. Emotionally Friday night had been rough, but I had written and that helped. Getting a full night sleep had helped as well. I also teased that getting a beating at Soul Calibur could be nice.

Big Bad: Can you talk to me later about what has been bothering you?

I’ve wanted to. I want to voice my feelings to someone, but the person I would always call is mom. She was my confidant. I talk to a few people every once in a while but for the most part, I kept my emotions to myself and her, and I suppose I also kept them to my writings. I don’t like reaching out to other people when the emotions are painful, sad, angry, overly intense, pretty much anything other than happy “positive” emotions because I know most people don’t know what to do or say and so then they just feel bad that there’s nothing they can do when all I want is for someone to understand.

Empathy. Connection.

There isn’t a problem. I don’t want solutions or advice, I want to be heard and to be told that I was heard. That my emotions aren’t crazy. I want to know that someone understands why I’m feeling the way I feel and that it’s ok because I second guess and question my emotions all the time. I guess I’m looking for reassurance when I talk to someone because I know I’ll figure it out on my own.

Mom always got it. Maybe that’s because she raised me for 27 years. I haven’t been able to really open up to anyone else. Like I said, there are some people I’ll talk to here and there, but no one consistent and that might be part of the issue of the sadness swelling up recently. No outlet.

Big Bad’s offer to talk warmed me yet at the same time it made me slam all of my walls up the nanosecond I read his message.

Right Brain: Talking to a significant other about emotions…? Let me Nope my way right into Nope Town.

I knew the wall reaction was because of my past, and I knew deep down I really did want to talk to him and explain what was bothering me. I want to open up to him and work through the borderline phobia I feel I’ve developed in regards to being emotionally open with the people in my life. I don’t feel it’s fair to cast all people in the same light simply because I’ve had negative experiences in the past.

At the same time, wanting to be open doesn’t make the self-preservation instincts of, “This didn’t end well last time. Don’t do it,” magically go away.

Big Bad and I agreed to meet later in the evening, and I agreed to talk about my emotions with the warning that I might cry. He said if I did it would be ok, which induced warm fuzzy feelings of reassurance.

Lunch with David was good. I think we made headway in the design department. He didn’t really have anything for me to do by the end of our meeting so I told him to let me know if / when he required me and left it at that.

I ran home to switch the wash and give Scarlet her meds then went over to see Big Bad.

We talked for a while. I told him about the seminar at the dojo. I told him about the story. I told him about missing mom, and he held my hand while I talked and told him that I still miss her. I told him that I feel bad talking about it because I don’t want to make other people feel sad. I said how I know being around sad people is hard and I didn’t want to bring anyone down with what I feel.

He squeezed my hand and said it was ok to be sad.

That one line, that one action, made me feel accepted and like it was ok to be me. It was ok to feel. I didn’t have to pretend or hide. I didn’t have to fake anything.

We played Soul Calibur and I still got thrashed at it. We switched to Tekken which was really cool. Devil Jin is my man in that game. Total ownage. We quit when it was 17 to 15.

That’s right. I’m the master. Totally won that round of gaming. /flex

Big Bad and I got pizza again for dinner and he watched me play a bit of the new Tomb Raider game. He said he had gotten it for his daughters but they never got through the first section of the game. I haven’t played much of it, but I got further and he said he enjoyed watching me play. I think we’re both similar in that regard. We don’t mind watching games be played. We like seeing the story unfold regardless of if we’re controlling the character or not.

I slept extremely well that evening. We both slept until 7:30 which is late for us. It was nice, though, being lazy, being sated physically but also emotional and spiritually. I like that about our dynamic. We both feel something deeper than skin level.

We had our cups of coffee. We talked more. We had a slow, relaxing morning. We made plans for, at the time, Monday night, which is now tonight. We agreed, reluctantly on my part, that Tuesday morning would be arm day for strength training. When I left we kissed goodbye and wished each other good days.

Sunday was completely and totally lazy. The most I did was load and run the dishwasher. I cleaned out the fridge, too, but I didn’t sweep or vacuum or any of my normal chores. I cuddled with Scarlet most of the day.

I feel solid today. I’m about to head to the dojo for jujitsu. I have dance class later tonight. And then I have another evening where I get to fall asleep with my head against the chest of someone I care about, listening to their heartbeat.

After the dojo I plan to come home and attack my chore list and be productive. I think I’m handling things well. I think this recharge is the result of surviving the tide. I’ve made it through the night in my internal forest where I felt lost and alone. Daylight came back. I know there will be other nights, other tides.

I’m doing well, and I like how I can say that, type that, and believe it.

Musing Moment 103: Finding Color

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I need to do some processing.

I had a dream last night that I think correlates to an event that happened before I went to sleep.

In the dream, I was trying to dye my hair, but the color wouldn’t hold. No matter what I did the purple would bleed away leaving my bangs a faded icky blondish color.

I woke up feeling vaguely uncomfortable about the dream and like there was something important about it for me to ponder on. After looking into Dreammoods.com for “fade” I found out that dreaming about fading color usually means a lack of motivation or inspiration.

Well… damn… it’s like my brain knows what it’s doing because that’s exactly what I feel right now.

Last night it was recommended to me to check out tutoring online. And wouldn’t you know it the first site I looked into had a spot open specifically for Python programming.

*Queue excitement*

I went through the application process and then got to the test to see my proficiency with the language. I had time to do it before my dance class so I figured I would try it out.

Well…

*Queue battle against soul-crushing defeat*

I bombed the test. And I don’t mean, “I failed woe is me,” bombed. I mean royally, spectacularly, “went down in a blaze of glory” failed.

48% failed.

It was hard not to feel like a failure after the test because, well… I failed.

I still went to dance class which helped a bit. I put gas in the car so I felt like a responsible adult.

Big Bad had to work late and had to be into work early today so our evening got canceled. I was disheartened that I wouldn’t be able to get a hug, or have coffee with him in the morning, or do our strength workout. I really could have used some sort of physical human connection last night to validate my existence but that’s not what the Universe had in store for me.

Instead, I came home and ate dinner, which was something I needed to do. I ended up going to sleep early, which didn’t really help. I kept waking up. I had my unsettling dream. I was tired when my alarm went off at 6 am, and since I’m still an unemployed slacker, I turned it off and went back to sleep.

I know realistically I’m not a failure. The test incorporated things that I “know” about but have never had to personally use in any of my projects. There were some things on there that I had never heard of before. The way I used Python was in a very specialized way for a very specific application. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it means I have room for improvement.

I even found out that there is a certification for Python. How nifty is that?

Answer: Pretty freaking nifty if you’re a nerd and geek out over weird stuff like that like I do.

Right now it’s hard to feel like I’m doing anything meaningful or purposeful with my life because I guess it’s starting to feel like I’m not doing anything.

I mean, I am, sort of. I’m going to the dojo. I’m becoming healthier.

But that’s about all I’m doing.

I don’t have a project I’m working on. Not actively. I haven’t touched my rigging stuff since December. It’s already the 24th of January.

This is going to be the second week I’ve been home. I’m just starting to get back into my routines. Next week I have the week trip to Disney for Allison, which I’m trying hard to look forward to, but it’s not what I want to do. I’m not interested in amusement parks. I’m interested in being home and figuring out my life.

Every time I think I know the direction I want to go it changes. I change it. I don’t think it’s a lack of commitment. It’s not that I’m scared about the California job. I don’t want to be in California. I’m not scared of going back to Full Sail. I don’t want to be there, not if I’m going to be covering classes other than rigging, which is what it sounds like the job would be. A float position. I don’t want to float. I don’t want to learn to composite because I’m not a compositor and the job posting was specifically for rigging.

I want the part time tutoring position at the community college, but that would be tutoring languages I need to brush up on. Doing the online tutoring could be interesting, but I obviously need to brush up on Python, and I don’t know how much it pays.

Taking a step back from that for a moment… Do I really want to do an online job?

I don’t think so. I think I would like having something that gets me out of the house. I like having a place that’s specifically for work. I wouldn’t be able to get that at the apartment since Warren is already using the spare room as his office. I would be in my room, all day, while I’m working.

I feel like I’m being overly picky. Nothing is right. Everything has a reason for me not to actively go for it.

Is that me making excuses not to do something?

The brief text exchange I just had with Big Bad doesn’t really help with those feelings of guilt and “what am I doing with my life?”

Big Bad: What’s for lunch?
Me: Chinese with Nicole. Yay girl time.
Big Bad: I’m jealous.
Me: Of girl time or the food? : p
Big Bad: Being free.

*Queue cold sinking feeling…*

I don’t feel free. I feel mildly lost and like I’m wasting life because I’m not moving in a direction. I’m not moving towards something. Sleeping in this morning doesn’t help with that feeling. Who else gets to sleep in? No one. That’s who. Everyone is working because they’re diligent adults.

I still haven’t finished painting the apartment. Seriously? Is there really a reason for that? No. I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I could have gotten it done by now had I actually applied myself to the task.

I feel stagnant and when I ask myself, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” my answer is, “I don’t know.”

Not really an answer that inspires confidence or conviction. It’s deflecting really. It means I haven’t looked deep enough to figure it out.

I was feeling really good about myself and my endeavors. What happened to change that? Was it my trip to Ohio? Is it solely this test that in the grand scheme of things really doesn’t matter? Is it a combination of things? Is it because it’s winter and I normally struggle during this time? Do I need to have patience with myself or tough love? Should I get a job that I think I’ll hate just for the sake of having a job?

I think I need more structure in my life than what I currently have. Yeah, I make to-do lists and I get stuff taken care of, but I don’t have a Push Goal at the moment, and so even though I’m doing things it doesn’t feel like I’m moving towards accomplishing anything. Even with the working out and such that I’m doing, it’s a nebulous goal of “get healthier”.

How do you measure that? How do you know what “healthier” is?

“Get healthier” isn’t quantifiable. Lose x% of body fat, is. Reach size x is. Those are numbers that can be answered with a yes or no. You know, for certain, when you accomplish them.

I feel like I need to clean house inside of my brain. I need to dump everything out. All of the boxes. All of the emotions. No hiding things. No sweeping stuff under the carpet.

A total cleaning rampage with bleach and trash bags and new containers so I can figure out what I’m really working with. What’s still healing? What do I really, really want? I think that’s where the tough love will come in. Sometimes being honest is brutal, painful, but a little pain now could save so much more heartache in the future. Transformation is painful, uncomfortable. Being honest can be uncomfortable because we don’t like our own truths sometimes.

Just because we’re uncomfortable with them or ignore them doesn’t make those facts less true.

I think I’m going to go through the 30-Day Challenge again. I think that might help me figure out what I want, or at least give me things to work on. I need to feel like I’m being constructive. I need to feel like I’m “doing” something.

I need to find my color.

Musing Moment 102: The First Dream Back

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I had a dream last night. It was the first night being home from my trip to Ohio. The first night where I can start processing through everything that happened while I was there.

I woke up after it happened. Groggy. Fuzzy. I should have gotten up and written then, but I didn’t. Instead, I went back to sleep. I should have written as soon as I woke up again instead of showering or having coffee. But I didn’t.

I’m ok with that because I still remember the feelings at the end and the conclusions I have come to.

In the dream, my dad and I were in school together. I think it was high school. I don’t remember all of the details anymore but there was a group project going on. I think there were a lot of people in our group. I think it was more than just me and dad, but that detail I’m honestly not sure on, either.

I remember just like most of the projects I’ve ever had to work on, school or otherwise, I was the one doing most of the work. I was making sure things were done properly and that nothing slipped through the cracks. I remember feeling frustrated and used and continuing to work despite the tears running down my face. It felt like no one cared about what I was doing.

No one cared that I was tired or that I wanted a break. No one cared that I wanted, needed, help to get it all done in time. No one was there to make me feel like what I was doing was worth it.

I wasn’t doing the work because I wanted to. I was doing it because I cared, about them, about their grades, but no one cared back.

I was just a background drone, working away while everyone else did whatever they wanted to do, whatever they felt was more important and offering me help.

It sucked. I remember feeling like that a lot in high school, in my relationships, in college. I’ve felt that feeling a lot in life and in the past I would silently accept it like I had in the dream. I would keep doing what I was doing hoping one day someone would care enough to see me. To see my effort and to let me know it meant something to them.

I’m not sure what happened in the dream. I don’t know if there was an event I can’t recall but somehow dad noticed I was doing all the work. He looked at me from where he was across the room and saw I was alone and he wasn’t ok with that.

I think he came over and started helping but that detail I’m fuzzy on, too. I do remember his acknowledgment of the situation, his dislike for it, and his resolve to change it so it became fairer.

I remember there was another scene. Maybe another dream since there’s really no connection to the first one. I was in a hallway. It felt like I was younger. Teenage maybe.

My dad was at the end of the hallway in a large room. I was huddled against the wall because I was scared. I was next to a picture frame though I don’t remember what was in the frame. I don’t think I ever looked at it. I was too worried about leaving the hall. It was dark, sort of shadowed. Dad was in the lit room. He wanted me to come to him but I was scared.

I don’t know if I understood the fear in the dream, but being awake and conscious I can say it was probably fear of rejection. What if I left the hall and he didn’t want me there? What if he didn’t hug me or he told me to go away. It was safer in the dark hall, alone. It was safer to not put myself in that situation. It was safer to not know.

I looked at him. I looked down as I searched within myself, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I bit my lip as I thought because I have a habit of doing that. I looked back at him as I pushed myself closer against the wall. The wall was solid, real, safe. I wanted to be part of the wall and not have to make this decision.

I knew deep down, really deep down, wanted to be with my dad, though. I didn’t want to be alone with the cold wall that wouldn’t hug me back. I wanted to be with my Superman who always hugged me, who carried me home when I fell off my bike and scraped both of my knees so bad I couldn’t walk, who used to braid my hair, who taught me how to put puzzles together, who taught me how to color inside the lines.

I wanted to be with my dad even if it was scary. I wanted to be with him even if it meant I had to leave the safety of the dark hall and the solid wall.

So I pushed away from the wall. I walked past the picture with my arms wrapped around myself. I walked each painful step while looking at the ground because I was terrified of what I would see if I looked at my dad. I didn’t know how I would survive if I saw anger or disappointment or rejection.

It was already hard enough to breathe through the emotions I was feeling. I already had those infamous silent tears on my cheeks. I was already terrified what I was doing was wrong. How would I be able to keep going if I had confirmation, if I knew, that I was wrong? That I had always been wrong? That I would ALWAYS be wrong?

I stopped when I saw his shoes in front of mine. I stood in front of him, still holding myself, still too terrified to look up. I just wanted all of it to go away. All the thoughts. All the fear. Everything. I just wanted him to hug me and for things to be ok.

And he did. He wrapped his arms around me and I hugged him back as I cried into his shoulder. I cried as I felt love and forgiveness and acceptance and sorrow for all of the past hurts that we had caused each other.

That’s when I woke up. I woke up feeling love and acceptance and I really don’t care what happens in the future. I’m grateful I had my dream. I’m grateful for the time I spent alone with him this trip in the basement where we played darts and talked. I’m grateful for the conversations he had with Jon and me while we drank Not Your Father’s Rootbeer while everyone else was asleep.

I’m grateful that he hugged me goodbye at the airport and that he said he loved me.

I think the picture in the dream represents the past. That’s what pictures are. Past moments. Things we look back on. Moments that have happened and can’t be changed.

I feel like the picture reaffirms my realization from last week. The one about mom’s death and that it’s ok to not want to trade the life I have now to have her back.

We can’t go backward. Life doesn’t work like that.

We can only forward.

I have to leave the past where it is. The hurt, the pain, the fear and uncertainty of my teenage and young adult years… I have to walk through and away from all of it if I’m going to move forward and have any sort of relationship with my dad and half sisters.

This trip made me realize I want to be there for them. I want to be the mentor and role model I wish I had had while trying to navigate life. I want them to be able to talk to me when things are scary and uncertain, or when they need advice but don’t want to talk to their parents about it. I want to be a safe person for them.

And I want my dad and me to move forward from where we are. We can’t go back and change events. We can’t undo the divorce. We can’t undo the hurt. But we can understand this is where we’re at and that we still love each other and that I’m still his daughter and he’s still my dad.

I’m happy I had my dream. It makes me feel like I did the right thing. It makes me feel like I’m headed in the right direction.