As a widow and a single Mom to two teenagers, I try my best to keep a positive outlook and show only the fighter in me to the rest of the world. By that I mean the encouraging posts, positive quotes, the articles that inspire me and help me to look on the bright side, and my own writings that usually end with a statement about how I’m going to just keep pushing forward no matter what. I think there are several reasons I do that besides the fact that I genuinely want to be positive and use the things I’ve been through to help others.
- No one wants to hear a bunch of negative stuff. I know I don’t!
- There is such a thing as putting too much of your personal stuff out there for people to see. TMI people! ha
- I don’t want to show my struggles for fear of being judged or to be seen as weak. It’s easier to “wear” a mask and put off the appearance that you have everything under control.
- People wouldn’t understand anyway. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t. Until you have been through something yourself you really can’t understand.
- This is the toughest one to say and I’m not sure why but here goes… It’s the feeling (true or not) that most people wouldn’t care anyway; at least the ones that you would expect to anyway.
You see, when you have walked this road (mostly) alone, you can’t help but to eventually feel those ways. Quite honestly though, pretending begins to wear on you. Now I am not just talking about pretending with everyone, I am also talking about pretending with myself. Most everything I say comes from a genuine place. I have tried to be strong and push forward. It’s just that while I am doing that, there’s still a reality that is very ugly. There aren’t adequate descriptive words so I will just say that it is heartbreaking, exhausting and painful.
I’m happy to say that for the majority of the last 5 years I have been able to keep myself from allowing anger and bitterness to settle in as well as being angry with God. Yes, there have naturally been some feelings associated with those things but for the most part, they have been temporary; fleeting.
That is definitely not the case in the present. I wish it was different but it’s not. It’s like I can no longer wear the mask or pretend that I don’t have reason to feel those things mentioned above.
As I lay in bed this morning and think about all of the things I am currently dealing with, my mind is racing and going in a million different directions. I think back to what Sundays used to look like and how unfair it is that all of that is but a distant memory now. My heart hurts as I think of how the rest of the world just carries on while we are still drowning in so much hurt, pain and all the struggles that you have to walk through as a result of such a loss. The three of us have to try to live our lives and be a family when we don’t know how to do that without the one who should be leading it.
Here is the conclusion I came to:
You can’t truly work through the hurt and pain until you take off the mask and look it in the face; until you allow yourself to truly feel it. Otherwise, you can’t fully deal with it, put it down and walk forward in life without carrying it with you.
So, I have named the week ahead, “Truth Week.” I am going to take the necessary time to get real with myself and work through the hurt that I have been pretending isn’t there. Unless I do that, I don’t think I can move forward the way I need to.
It can be deafening.
Sometimes it’s a choice.
Have you ever been so consumed with your thoughts that you can’t think straight?
Have you ever been weighed down so badly by the weight of hurt and grief that it’s difficult to pick yourself up?
Have you ever been surrounded by people yet had the overwhelming feeling that you are all alone?
Have you ever, although knowing you should maybe reach out to someone, isolated yourself because you feel no one could/would possibly understand?
Have you ever decided not to attend an event, family function, or an invite for the sole reason that you just don’t have the energy to pretend?
Have you ever (painfully) smiled your way through an obligation, all the while choking back tears?
This is a snapshot, a small glimpse, of what it’s like when you’re in the midst of a battle with grief.
No pretending today.
No positive quotes or sayings. No poems or song lyrics. No encouraging words or insightful thoughts.
I’m going to let that be okay.
Out of the blue, without notice, when you least expect it
It can hit you like a ton of bricks, take the breath from your lungs, knock you down
That is grief, it doesn’t go away
But pick yourself and remember, tomorrow is a new day
It’s crazy to look back and see how far I’ve come.
“They” say time heals all wounds. Does it really??
Most people don’t understand that no matter how much time goes by, you don’t stop loving someone that was taken from you. I didn’t get a divorce. He didn’t choose to leave me. This isn’t something you get over. I shouldn’t have to and I definitely don’t need someone who hasn’t walked this road to tell me I need to.
There is a difference between being stuck in the pain and moving forward without letting go.
How you live your life is a choice. Grief is not! No one would ever choose this life.
I’ve learned so much about myself; I’ve grown. I survived what I, on many days, was sure would kill me.
And now… I’m learning to truly live again.
I will never forget though…
When you think of the word grief, I think it’s safe to say that you automatically think of the death of a loved one. The process one goes through as they deal with that loss. Although that is accurate, I truly believe that grief is so much more than that.
In a divorce situation, you grieve the loss of a marriage. Losing your partner. Losing what you had planned for you future. Those involved, including the children, grieve the loss of their family as they knew it.
I’ve heard it said before, when someone is terminally ill, you often grieve that person while they are still living. Watching someone suffer in sickness, often times, watching the person you knew before the illness disappear. Knowing that their time is limited, you start to grieve much sooner.
Someone that battles a disease or illness that alters their lives, they grieve for themselves. They grieve the life that they had before, the things they used to be able to do, a life without pain and suffering.
Someone that loses a job that they’ve had for many years, they grieve the loss of what had become so much a part of them, their identity and self worth.
You get the point.
I guess what I’m getting at is that the word really means many things but the constant is that the person is experiencing or has experienced a loss.
Just as we all grieve different things, we all handle that grief differently. Truly, no grief is the same.
You really don’t know what someone is going through unless you have been through it yourself. You can have empathy, you can have compassion, etc. But, not until you have experienced first hand that particular loss, you really just won’t “get it.”
Thinking on this subject has really forced me to reason in my mind, why people act the way they do when dealing with someone hurting or struggling. And it is making some sense to me.
For example, our grief counselor, very early on said to me that I should be prepared for people to not be around. I didn’t get that. With the accident being so recent and the outpouring of care and concern we were shown, that didn’t seem possible. And me, being someone who considers and “prides” herself on being independent, I thought that if that were to happen I could handle it. I was wrong. Much quicker than I could have imagined, I felt alone. Little by little, after the flowers had withered and gone away, the phone calls and visits, etc started to do the same. I can’t completely describe the feeling but it was as if loss was being piled on top of loss, over and over again. I was so lost. I was devastated. I felt those things for myself and also for my kids. I was hurt. I didn’t understand. Hurt turned to anger which turned into bitterness and resentment. None of which I wanted to feel.
As I started the long process of trying to deal with all of those feelings, I realized some things that helped me. That helped me help my children. That hopefully, will help someone else.
What if “they” ___________________??
* are uncomfortable with your pain
* have their own pain and struggles and can’t take on any more
* don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do
* fear that they will say or do the wrong thing
* think you want to be left alone
* assume you already have so much support or people around you
* think that if you need something, you will ask
* are grieving themselves and actually feel the same way you do
* feel it’s too painful for them to talk about or being around you makes it more difficult for them
The list could be endless.
I came to the point of just accepting things as they were. Accepting people as they were. Bottom line, we are all human. We are not perfect. We won’t always say or do the right things. Acceptance doesn’t erase the hurt or invalidate your feelings but unforgiveness will eat you alive. I have enough to work through so I have to choose to simply let some things go and move along.
We can’t make people be who we want or need them to be for us anymore than they can make us be who they want or need us to be for them.
Honestly, we aren’t supposed to fill the voids. We can’t.
But, consider this… If you know someone who is going through hard times or any of the situations that I mentioned above, maybe just try being there. Just send a text, make a phone call, show up. You don’t have all of the answers and I can assure you that most likely they won’t expect you to. But any one of those things, are simple and can go such a long way.
So, I have always hated hearing a couple of phrases.
1) It’s time to move on.
2) It’s time to let go.
They are like nails down a chalkboard and they hurt my heart. If you have never lost someone close to you, you couldn’t imagine how hurtful those words can be. And the mere idea of the reality behind those words; absolutely terrifying.
I’m going to share a very personal story. I was recently reminded of it and I think it is going to be used to help me going forward. I am only sharing it in hopes it will be helpful to someone else as well.
In 2007, my husband and I separated. It was the most difficult time in my life up to that point. I won’t go into details as they aren’t necessary, but I was completely devastated and it was what seemed to be a hopeless situation.
One day, while at work, I felt as though I heard the Lord speaking to me. It was:
Let go. Let him go.
What?? That totally caught me off guard. I know what it means to hear from God but I couldn’t imagine that He would be leading me to walk away. I thought on it some more…
Let him go. To me.
It finally clicked. I understood. He was telling me to take my hands off the situation and have faith that He was in control and I needed to just give it to Him. I believe it was at this time in my life that I learned what it truly meant to have faith.
God wasn’t promising me that things would be fixed, that I would have my family back, that the outcome would be just what I wanted, etc. He was merely promising me that, whatever the outcome, He had me and I was going to be okay.
There’s so much more to this story but, long story short, I was obedient and God did have His hand on the situation. My family was saved and my marriage was transformed.
What does this have to do with my current situation??
I’ve been stuck. Beyond stuck. No matter how I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to get past the hurt and loss. I miss my husband so much and I just haven’t been able to find happiness. I haven’t been living. I’ve been merely breathing.
I. CAN’T. LET. GO.
Recently God reminded me of that time in 2007; that very time when He dared me to let go and to trust Him. Why??
I’m holding on for dear life to someone that isn’t physically here anymore. I’m holding on to to a life that no longer exists. I’m holding on to the past with everything in me.
I. DON’T. WANT. TO. LET. GO.
God spoke to my heart again:
~You don’t have to let go. At least not in the way you think. But, take your hands off the situation. Give it to me.
Wow. Totally life changing perspective.
You see, I will never “let go” of Jonathan and I will never “move on.” I will, without a shadow of a doubt, hold that love in my heart, forever.
But, I can hand over the situation to God and let Him work in my life. I can allow Him to help me move forward.
I’m at least going to give it my best shot.
In a class I took awhile back I read about the fears that lead us to believe things that are not true.
Some of these fears are:
The fear of failure
The fear of rejection
The fear of condemnation
We feel like we have to paint a picture for others that we have everything under control and are problem free. We hold ourselves to standards that are not attainable. We think others have unrealistic expectations of us. We work so hard at creating a facade. For what?? For who?? Where did we learn that we are supposed to be perfect??
I was just talking the other day about this very thing. To me, nothing ministers to people more than when someone is real. When we admit our struggles, it frees others to do the same. Feeling like we have to keep our struggles hidden, only results in isolation and further pain. I don’t want to live in a false sense of reality. I don’t want to feed into this lie that we have to meet the expectations of others.
I struggle. A lot. I battle things that not everyone knows about. I struggle with chronic grief and depression. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with feeling not good enough. I struggle with a poor self image. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
There, I said it. So tell me this… How does that change how you see me? Does that make you feel any different about me?
After reading about this, my heart became heavy for all the people that suffer in silence in the name of fear. I thought about myself and how what I was reading reflected things I felt about myself.
So, the point of this is to give a voice to this issue. If I can put my struggles out there, maybe someone else that has been hiding will be encouraged to admit theirs too.
You aren’t alone.
Where did we learn that we are supposed to be perfect??
There is a quote that I love that always makes me think. I have a big ugly scar on my leg. That’s what I think when I look at it. Ugly. In the past I have been really self conscious about it. Most summers I wore long pants to cover it. I hated when I noticed people notice it. I didn’t want people to see it. So I hid it.
But I realize some things…
- We all have scars; both physical and emotional
- We typically hide our scars, I know that I hide mine
- Our scars make other people uncomfortable so, we don’t show them; for fear of what others will think, fear of seeming weak, of being judged, being misunderstood, _______________________.
But our scars tell a story. Mine tells a story. Scars originate with pain, whether it be physical or emotional. Sometimes, and in my case, the origin is both. My scar began as open wound. A literal, physical open wound. The instant I received that physical wound was the instant my heart became an open wound; both resulting in the most unexplainable pain I had ever felt.
The wound on my leg took a long time to heal. I use the word heal lightly because I wouldn’t say that it actually healed. After a long and painful period of time, it closed up. But it left a big “ugly” mark on my leg that will never go away. It has changed and improved over these last two years, it has faded, although it is still very visible to the eye.
The story behind that scar is one that tells the story of the open wound in my heart, the wound that is not visible to the eye. This wound is much more painful. It is a story of loss and sorrow, of suffering and grief, sadness and anger, fear and isolation…
This wound isn’t so easily “closed.”
Neither will ever fully heal. They will never go away.
You see, for whatever reason, I am supposed to be here. I’ve often wrestled with the burning question, why?? That is a question that I will never truly understand on this side of heaven. I do know that there are two young people that almost lost two parents in the same day. They needed me. I also know that my work here isn’t done. I don’t fully know what that entails but I do believe we all have a purpose. I also know that life is precious. I know that our days are numbered, tomorrow is not promised.
We can choose to let the pain behind our scars keep our wounds from closing. We can choose to hide our “ugly” scars and live in fear; fear of judgment, fear of being misunderstood, fear of being seen as weak and vulnerable. We can let the pain overtake us and keep us from fulfilling our purpose.
Whatever pain and scars you are trying to hide, may not ever fully heal. But, when you face them, when you show them, when you overcome them; there will be a story, a testimony of what you have made it through. That story just might help someone else who would otherwise be overtaken by the pain, that otherwise might choose to lay down and quit living.
I’m don’t hide my visible scar anymore. It is a constant reminder of loss and pain for sure. But, it is also a reminder of where I’ve been, what I have made it through and of what should have, could have, but did not end me.
“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” ~ Steve Goodier
We were clueless. We couldn’t have known. We got in a car together just as we had several times a day for 14+ years. We cranked up the music. We pulled out of the driveway. For the last time. Five years ago today my kids and I lost the single most important person in our lives. My best friend and the one that I would grow old with was gone. In an instant. Everything changed in that instant. EVERYTHING.
Life has not been nor will it ever be the same. We had plans. We had dreams. We were supposed to raise our children together. I have been trying to pick up the pieces ever since. The thing I have come to know is that no matter how hard I try, those pieces are never going to complete the puzzle that was to be our lives together. Well, not on this side of heaven anyway.
So what now?
I have to live. Every single day I have to make the conscious choice to live. Not just going through the motions but truly living. That’s what this blog is about and I dedicate it to his memory. I dedicate it to his life and the life he would want us to live.
Jonathan David Roberts ~ Born June 3, 1979 ~ Stepped into eternity June 19, 2012
Walking through the journey of pain and loss, with purpose. Holding on to the hope of the joy that lies ahead.