Tag Archives: grieving

Letter to an Ex X

Dear X,

If I had known what I know now, we wouldn’t have gotten married. We wouldn’t have had an amazing child together. I wouldn’t have stopped trusting so openly and without cause. I wouldn’t have been carrying around baggage. I wouldn’t question myself on every single decision. It’s likely that I wouldn’t have sold the family business. I wouldn’t question my mind.

But it happened. You conned me. You fooled me, my mom, my family, and your step-son. When it comes down to it, you felt unworthy. You started using more routinely. Because, I believe you were already using. You decided that you couldn’t do it without superhuman characteristics. So you sold your soul, and your wife, your ‘sons’, your dreams, for something that made you feel so good at the time.

I have a hard time understanding, because I haven’t been there. I won’t even take antibiotics. But I have been addicted to things. I ‘needed’ cigarettes for many years, and diet coke, and sugar. So that makes me just as ‘bad’, even though I manage to hold a job, pay my bills, pay for our child’s holidays, birthdays, school functions, soccer, karate, church functions, and playdates.

I have accepted that you will never be a part of anything financial in our child’s life. That you will forever disappoint him because you cannot test clean. I’ve watched every episode of Intervention. So has my boyfriend. We have talked in great length and depth about how we will never unburden ourselves or Ethan from this massive web of destruction you have casted upon our lives. I have had nightmares about what you are doing to destroy your life, and how that affects our son. He loves you, but he accepts that you are not here. You cannot be there for yourself, let alone him.

You talk as though everything wrong you have ever done is in the past, yet you have zero proof that you are any closer to that next milestone of where you ‘should’ be. You have clued me into how you cheated on your lab tests. How you used until 3 days prior, and then switched to suboxone – the very drug that now, people are getting hooked on. The very drug that could kill someone like me. I didn’t deserve this, but no one that lives through the cleaning up of an addict does. Why should I be immune?

I shouldn’t. That’s the truth. It was God’s plan for me, and God will continue to see me through. Losing our home, my car, your job, your income, your support, is not the worst of it. In truth, the worst of all of this rests in something much deeper.

Our child has learned that he can only depend upon one of us. Now, he is happy to lean on anyone else. This creates the gang-mentality that I will likely have to always combat. I always dreamed of having the family I didn’t have. That will likley never happen because of the environment your addiction has created within our lives. But as a Christian, I am supposed to forgive you, accept you, and turn the other cheek. And this is the worst part. I hate myself for not being able to do any of that.

You have ruined my life. You have ruined our child’s life. Instead of starting from the bottom and working our way up, I am forced to start in the trenches. Our son is 8. Your addiction, you say, began when I was 5 months pregnant. You are repeating what you knew. I am a workaholic, repeating what she knew.

You had a horrible childhood. Your parents both had serious issues, and were heavily medicated. They spent most of your childhood unemployed because of it. Guess who gets lost in the shuffle?

I refuse to disappoint our child. He deserves a family who shows him love, who teaches him how to love unconditionally. I may not be able to reconcile what you have done, but I can work to improve the future of our child. And while I may have spent the bulk of my life believing that I don’t deserve more, I believe that I absolutely do.

So my plea to you is this – please work on you. With everything you are, and everything you ever wanted, work on you. Make strides in that direction. Go to meetings. Make valuable friendships, based on trust and clean living. Pray. Listen to what God has to offer. Earn a living. Be a grown-up. Show our child what it’s like to be a man.

We will take your recovery seriously when you do the same. When you’re finished with the lies, the manipulation, and the fiction. Our son wants his dad back. You told him the truth. Now live the promise. I refuse to assist in the lying, in the promises, in the fairytale. The work is yours to do. Whether you do it or not, our child will feel loved, with or without you. It’s your call. I cannot do it for you, and I cannot help you anymore.

If anyone out there is contemplating destroying their lives, consider this. When you were a child, you had those lucid, beautiful moments. You will continue to experience those, but not if you are leaning on substances. Those are lies. BE YOU. Naked. Truthful. Genuine. And vulnerable. Beauty is found in solace and serenity. Not in substance.

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Letting Go

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It’s the most difficult thing for us to do as grabby, stubborn, stuck-in-our-way humans, but it’s as necessary and vital as breathing. Letting go means change. Letting go means opening yourself up to growth, but it also means opening yourself up to the the possibility of more hurt. And we don’t like hurt anymore than we like emptiness.

Something that we tend to forget is that letting go can also be liberating. Remember getting rid those helpful training wheels; falling over and over again before you finally – after hours and hours of persistence – gain balance? I will never forget the day I learned to ride without them. My dad was a bit of an extremist. So, he sat me at the top of our very steep driveway, and pushed. I learned maybe a little too quickly, because I had no other choice!

Remember how it felt the first time you coasted on only two wheels, and how once you had it down pat, balance was yours for the keeping? Remember also letting go of the handrails on a roller coaster for the first time, and how freeing that was. I remember thinking, ‘why was I ever even scared?’.

Of course, letting go of people is a bit more difficult. Whether we must let go because of death, or we force ourselves to let go because the relationship is simply unhealthy. The pit of emptiness feels just as empty, and the task feels just as impossible. Just like riding without training wheels, the grieving process is nerve-racking, breathtaking (in the bad way), and even painful at times. There will be scars, scabs, and bruises all over the inside. Sometimes we feel we have it licked; like we’re balancing just right. We feel momentum kicking in, and everything feels manageable again, until we again are confronted with those little speed bumps & potholes. But as time goes on, the road becomes smoother, and the distance between obstacles broadens until one day we barely even notice them.

That’s not to say that the memories are gone, or that we’re completely ‘healed’. I’m not sure ‘healing’ ever really happens completely, at least not while we’re alive. There will always be scars, but those scars remain as reminders of what we’ve learned.  And hopefully, if the coping process was a healthy one, we can chose to hold on to the good memories, and extract from the bad ones only the lessons – letting go of what was to discover that what is left is someone stronger, wiser, and more balanced – and the coasting gets easier.

When I hear people say that ‘time heals all wounds’ is garbage, I am baffled. If we spend our time confronting the pain head-on, then time does its part in the process of letting go. I’ve had my fair share of ‘letting go”. I’ve let go of both parents, all grandparents, and lots of relationships. None of these were easy. Some were more difficult than others. But one underlying theme has remained the same; Time heals the hurt, I mend the memories, and the rest is in God’s hands. In truth, nothing is impossible not matter how much the grieving hurts in the process. I am still here, still recovering, still growing and still learning to ride without training wheels.

The Hardest Part

The hardest part of saying ‘hi’ is that one day, inevitably,  you will have to say goodbye. I was thinking of this the moment that I met my new assistant. I was also thinking this at the beginning of every friendship and relationship I’ve ever experienced. Maybe that means that I am a pessimist. But maybe it just means I see the big picture, and I’m a realist. Whatever it means, it doesn’t mean I’m special, depressed, or crazy. And although it sounds a little negative, it doesn’t mean that I am without hope.

My mom said goodbye to my father when he took his last breath. My stepfather and I said goodbye to my mom as she took her last gasp of life. Goodbyes are as much a part of hello as life is to death, light is to dark, and happiness is to sorrow. Without question, goodbyes are the hardest part of life.

When a mom takes her child into his first day of Kindergarten, when she helps him move into his dorm, when she watches as he takes vows to his wife, these are all goodbyes that build up to the biggest goodbye of all; the one where hello never happens again. When the first frost seals the earth under ice, or the last leaf falls to the ground, there are more goodbyes that will eventually lead to more hellos. Each season, each person, each relationship, each friendship, each day, each moment has its own beginning and its own end. In life, the hardest part is the endings, the final chapters, the changes, the breaking of hearts, and the loss of hope that ultimately leads to new beginnings, and new hopes.

I like to think of us as trees in this way. My freshman year of high school, our English teacher gave us the assignment of writing from the perspective of a tree of our choice. In retrospect, I could’ve been a smartass and written ‘ouch’ on the sheet of paper, I guess. But instead, I chose to be a cactus. I thought that was a clever choice. I mean, being a cactus has its advantages if you really think about it. It’s self-contained and independent, requiring very little rain, low maintenance, a tiny amount of moisture, and almost no nutrients. Yet it thrives in a barren desert, with only a few companions. It also has the built in protection of thistles; pokey little reminders that to get close, one could get hurt. It protects itself from strangers trying to uproot it from its comfort zone. But a cactus is lonely. And in my older age, I would choose differently, no matter how much I would like to believe I can fly solo and be just fine.

Today I would choose to be something more like an Oak. Oaks have rings, which is how scientists gauge their ages. Rings are subtle reminders of beginnings and endings, like wrinkles. Forest fires bring death so that birth can transcend goodbyes and lead to more hellos.

What I’ve learned from so many goodbyes is that I can’t lie down in an attempt to avoid the hellos. Every goodbye builds character. I heard someone say this once. If this is true, many of us have more character than we know how to handle. And that is okay. At the point in our lives where we say our final goodbyes, we will hopefully be able to look around the room and see all the many hellos we’ve had throughout life. Those give us full lives. They are the very reason it’s hard to let go, but they’re also the very reason we kept fighting against this goodbye. They are  the ones that keep living with the memories of that first hello when we entered their lives.

No matter how bad the pain that followed the farewells, each life enriches us, teaches us, builds and wrinkles us into fulfillment. So in a sense, the hardest part is also the most satisfying, the most beautiful, but also the most meaningful.

We will all be uprooted eventually, but the rings tell our stories, and the other ‘trees’ get to tell those, so that they too can share the legacy of hello and goodbye. Life goes on, until it doesn’t, but it’s the growth that measures and defines us in the end.

Lost ship

It’s been one of those days. I woke up without wanting to. I crawled to the shower, scrubbed, shampooed, shaved, and dried off without singing. Singing just makes it worse sometimes. Going through the motions has to happen. There is no choice in this. I am grateful. Yes. I try that; starting my thank-you’s each day before the first foot hits the cold floor. Mostly that works. It starts the engine and the wheels of gratitude begin to turn. Then there are days when that voice inside shrinks to a whisper.

Missing mom, missing those that are no longer here, is at times unbearable.

Because I run a company that she built, drive a car that she bought, and live in a home that was once hers, means that at every turn I am faced with her memory, or rather her legacy. Today was my first huge challenge as a small business owner. My newest employee was accused of theft and I had to let her go. I wanted to find a nice cool cave somewhere. I wanted to curl up and sleep. I wanted to call mom and ask her what I needed to do. But since none of those things were real possibilities, I handled it.

That doesn’t make me superwoman, it just makes me responsible. I’m responsible for the jobs of 9 girls right now (when it should be 12 girls). I’m responsible for making sure that 130 houses get cleaned every month, and the even bigger challenge of making sure two boys are loved and guided every day. On days like this, that seems like too much.

In truth, however, it’s not too much as long as I realize that I can ask for help. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that I can vent or have a small breakdown on someone’s shoulder. And sometimes that someone is an employee. But employees are like children in the sense that they learn from you, in how you react to adversity, and how you pull yourself together and carry on instead of throwing in the towel.

So as much as I feel like a lost ship sometimes, I learned today that I may be just that. But also that I may be a lost ship with lots of rescue boats surrounding me. I just have to let them know that I’m out there and need help. This isn’t an easy task for onelies because we tend to believe we can take it all on. Pride takes over and sinks us sometimes. But humility, the sheer recognition of our limitations, can rescue us from ourselves, and guide us back to that island where no man (or woman) stands alone.1339301066156