11 years ago today, where we used to live in Coosa County. Actually this was taken in 2004 but I edited it and posted it 11 years ago today.

A lot of days I miss it. Not today, but a lot of days. I’m also very grateful for where we are now in many ways. Especially with depression, but maybe for everyone, peace comes and goes.

I see people strive so hard to attain peace when the reality is that it just comes and goes. Sometimes, it’s even harder to attain when you’re working so hard to find it. Sometimes, most of the time, if it’s to be had it’s just right there within. That’s been my experience.

We are human. It’s hard to be at peace in a world where you see so much that is wrong – abused children and elderly and animals and women and even men, hell, people in general. Wars. TRUMP. Capitalism. Most everyone getting the short end of a very fucked up stick… Yes – if you have any compassion or heart at all, if you care anything at all about others, it’s very hard to live in this world and have a constant feeling of peace.

But, we can speak kindly, offer a hand, take responsibility and apologize when we have not behaved our best, and do our best not to be a part of the problem. Of course we always will be because for most of us there is no way not to be a consumer. But you get what I’m saying, right? Peace comes and goes. Good times and bad times fluctuate – just like weight and the economy and lots of other things.

The only certain thing for me is that one day I’ll be dead and a few generations after that I’ll be forgotten and cease to matter. I intend to make it count while I’m here – and that’s what we did back then. I’m grateful to be where I am today. I wouldn’t trade a thing for my child. But the days back when this was taken? Not even gonna lie. Best days of my life.

Nothing can beat the freedom of that life. The people I had around me. The beauty and seclusion of where I lived. The lack of worry and responsibility for another human being…. Easy times. And we knew it. And we lived it to the fullest. And I’m grateful for every memory and experience. ❤️❤️

I hope that you have a lovely day today…

All the love,

C.

My friend Dawn shared a video that touches on something that I have been considering and trying to figure out how to express for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this, Dawn. I have had SUCH turmoil in my spirit for SO long about the things shared in this video – and now, that’s just gone.

Before 2015, and even for a short time after my father died – while I was still in denial – I was who and what Dawn expresses throughout this video. I believed. I didn’t believe in religion – I had already fought my battles with that and overcome and undone the hold religion had had on me as a child and teenager, because of the way it was so misused and so abusive and manipulative. I had not (and still have not) completely overcome the trauma of that abuse, but I am much farther down the road of recovery. I didn’t believe in “that” God – but in the Source. A higher power. An energy. And I believed in signs.

I believed in our ability as humans to connect with higher spiritual energies and forces and to receive guidance and to guide others. I knew that I had a gift and that I always had – I was able to understand that part of the reason I was so strongly opposed to religion was that I had always been more connected to that source than to buildings and books and that the source was found in the natural world that I had adored and revered throughout my life. I believed in the power of nature to heal, to guide, to teach, and to comfort. I believed in life, and not death.

I had faith – so much faith. I was positive and more happy and at peace with life and with myself than I had ever been, and all just felt right. Real. And yes, peaceful, even in times of pain and struggle. Even though I was at this place and knew I had been awakened and was living with my eyes and my heart open, I struggled with the physical complication of depression and anxiety – not because I didn’t believe in good or higher power or whatever you want to label it but because my body didn’t manage its chemicals very well.

When my best friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I was going through a loss of a different kind along with that terrifying and excruciating experience with my best friend, I held fast to my faith despite the creeping depression. My father died unexpectedly one week after the one year anniversary of her diagnosis with terminal cancer, and I continued to hold fast, knowing that he had been prepared and ready for his own death for some time. He had struggled and suffered for many years, and though his death was unexpected (diabetic coma leading to stroke and then to the sepsis which eventually shut down his body one organ at a time over the course of five days), he was at rest. At peace.

For another 8 months my best friend fought and struggled and suffered, and I was there. I was there until she pushed me away and asked me not to be. She did this with many, to be fair – she was afraid, she lost her ability to cope, and instead of realizing t was a brain tumor and fear speaking for her I believed it was what she really wanted and thought I was respecting her wishes. Weeks went by and during this time my faith began to waiver and my grip began to loosen on that rope that had always held me through those difficult times. She passed away 8 months to the day that we buried my father, and in that moment, part of my soul quite literally died along with her.

Since then I have struggled. I slipped so far down that taking my own life was an option and something I planned out and would have followed through with and completed had something inside me not spoken up and cried out to my husband for help. I don’t know why that happened, aside from my fear of leaving my son without a mother and destroying him, but it did happen and because of his help, and my willingness to fight a really fucked up system, I was able to finally get the help and the medication that I desperately needed. I still struggle. I still rarely leave my home. But in so many ways, I AM better.

In the spiritual areas, though? I have continued to struggle the hardest there. To founder. To nearly drown only to be held afloat by the tiniest life preserver with the thinnest thread attaching it to me. That life preserver has been comprised of my son, of music, of art and photography, and my unwillingness to just pretend like I’ve been ok. I found more strength in vulnerability and allowing myself to share my reality than in “faking it.” Only through doing that was I able to cross paths with some of the most healing people I’ve had touch my life in the past year. People who have encouraged me to continue to share and to have faith and hope, if not in healing, and the possibility of mending and growing and learning to live with the ache of grief, loss, and the “not understanding” or not having the answers or the closure I thought I needed.

Dawn has always been one of those people, and I am so grateful. Even though Dawn and I may be on slightly different paths in career and life in general in many ways, we also share things in common that connect us in very special ways – cancer, loss, grief, “the struggle,” seeking the way (whatever that may be for each of us) – and, what she expresses here about “giving it all away” is so accurate and in tune with where I am…

And that is the other issue that’s been weighing on me: the issue of why I give away (or dump out, as someone once said to me, and I can’t help but laugh at that because it’s so close to true so much of the time) so much stuff – just give it away with no real concern about marketing it or branding it or selling it. “Why do you just give all this creativity and energy away for free? You don’t even try to gain followers or build your brand.”

Because…I don’t want to. I create for the same reason that I breathe. I don’t WANT to make money from it. Making money from it takes away the spiritual connection and soul that I want to express. I LIKE giving myself away, as it were. I LIKE sharing myself and my creative stuff.

I used to like working on computers and tinkering and writing weird programs and so on, and then when I let people convince me to turn it into a career the heart got lost. It became stress. The same thing happened with my photography. I let people convince me to “work harder” and to get into shows and to build a site to sell it and so on, and it became stress instead of joy.

I don’t need to sell these things and I don’t want to sell them. I don’t feel like they can be valued by a price tag and that if they are then it somehow takes away from the true value of what is there. You can’t put a price tag on peace – your own or anyone else’s. It is PRICELESS. And if anything I have to offer can bring that to me or to anyone who shares in my creative endeavors, it’s absolutely worth the “freedom” – at many levels.

Ultimately, as Dawn shares, it’s healing for me to “give it away” because it’s healing for me to create – it’s my PURPOSE to create. I’m going to create regardless and if I feel that giving it away and even just possibly being of help to someone else, even if inadvertently, can be a part of that process…well, why shouldn’t that be free? A lack of monetary value doesn’t make that worth nothing. At least, not in my soul…

Sharing is priceless. It helps me to believe – and it helps me to believe even more when other people cross paths with me via my creative sharing and say, “hey, I believe, too!” or better yet, “hey, I know the struggle so well but I’m hanging on, too. Let’s hang on together. Let’s learn together. Let’s share. Let’s grow together.” Those people exist. Many of you who are regular readers of my blogs, or listeners of my music, or followers of my photography, have shared with me that you are those people.

While I love that others find success in selling their creativity and I even often purchase it from them, it’s just not something I want to do with the things I share creatively online. I need that connection – at least right now, that connection is worth far more to me than money ever will be. I want to be better. I am, at this time, extremely blessed to be able to survive and work on becoming better and not worry whether there will be food in our mouths or clothes on our backs or a roof over our heads without me having to sell my soul to cover it. I am so thankful for that – for my family.

I’m SO grateful that Dawn’s shared this and that it’s available for me to share with you. This has been on my heart for so long and I’ve not been able to figure it out until now. Thank you again, Dawn. So much!!

I encourage you to watch Dawn’s video and listen to her story, which you can do by clicking here. In many ways – especially the spiritual things she speaks about – it mirrors who I was and who I am re-becoming. It inspires me to continue to seek my own heart and hear it, as well as that of whatever this higher power has to offer me.

I hope that you will find some inspiration or encouragement in it, as well…

All the love,

C.

Today I received the most unexpected “thank you” note. It’s said, “thank you for sharing your story with me,” and had a nice note alongside that spoke about art and creativity and the healing of trauma, grief and broken spirits.

I want to thank YOU, for much the same thing.

I think we often forget that a person’s art IS their story – regardless of the type of art they create – and that’s where I’ve focused my mind this afternoon. When we create any kind of art, even when it’s not a piece of writing that “explains” what’s in our minds, we are actively releasing SOMETHING. Whether it is good or bad, whether it is joy or pain, beauty or darkness, we are actively expressing our hearts in any creative endeavor that we are a part of.

I truly appreciate the kind feedback here, at Instagram, and all the other places. I appreciate YOUR art and stories so much. It’s a wonderful way to remember that we are really all the same, just living our own stories…even when we aren’t sharing our own out loud.

Thank you for the kind response to my sharing of my music. I was really very unsure whether it was “worth” sharing, since I only create it as a hobby. Turns out it’s much like my experience with sharing photography and writing – people enjoy other people’s art, they enjoy SEEING another human being, and you get to know other people who create the same kinds of art, whether it’s photography or writing or music…

I’ve enjoyed “meeting” so many different people since I started putting that stuff out there. It’s a blessing to get to know and learn from you.

It’s always been one of my greatest joys to share my creative pursuits and my spirit with the world. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me how important it is for a creative person and artist of any kind to do that.

I’m thankful for, and blessed by, you. Keep expressing yourselves in your ways, too. And stay awesome.

All the love,

C. 💜

There is nothing like the joy of a child, or your love for that child and that joy.

It’s snowing here tonight – very lightly, compared to our snow in December, but snow nonetheless. I have a memory that always returns to me when it snows here in Alabama. It is a memory of a father watching his only child play outside in an Alabama blizzard at something like 9PM, darkness never bothering the child and snow never failing to fascinate and excite.

I remember this man watching this child and seeing a sparkle in his eyes, despite his misery at being outdoors in the cold, dark night, wind howling and snow blowing from what seemed like all directions.

I can see him suffering at the hands of neuropathy and overworked muscles and joints, every step a sharp pain and every breath a hope for the snow to stop and the pipes not to freeze. But I can also see him glorifying the excitement and the newness of the snow in the child’s eyes and spirit, and struggling to roll the three parts of the snowman just in case it melted the next day.

Turns out, that snow lasted for almost a week, there was no power until days after the snow had melted, and the man saved the child from frostbite by giving the child his own full faced toboggan halfway through the snowman building process.

This man was willing to suffer for his child. He was willing to forgo the knowledge that his body would hate him the next day, that he wouldn’t be able to go to work (even though there was a blizzard his factory didn’t care – he was a supervisor and was expected to be there, no matter what).

He didn’t care that he was hurting or that he would pay a price for the temps in the teens and the random but grand night adventure. He played. He laughed. He threw the child in the air and caught the child. He didn’t let her fall. He never let her fall.

This man was my father, and this child was me. And I will NEVER forget that night or that blizzard, not as long as I live. I will never forget the milk and the goat cheese and the freshly churned butter and the wax paper wrapped venison and squirrel that he’d taken for us and cleaned and processed himself, literally buried in a drift of snow, or the cooler on the deck full of all the condiments and other refrigerated foods.

I will never forget his smile. His laughter. His attempts to run and to make six foot four inch snow angel and perfect lines of size sixteen footprints right alongside my own. I will never forget the light in his eyes, even in the dark, even in pain. I will never forget how warm I was when he would hug me up in his own coat or the comfort in the voice I have almost forgotten saying, “how do you like the snow? Are you having a wonderful time? Do you see and feel the magic?”

I am thirty nine now, and have an eight year old child of my own, and suddenly tonight I realize the sacrifice that was a part of what was one of the best memories I carry in my soul. I know now what he gave to me – not just suffering the cold that southerners “can’t bear,” or staying up late, or giving up his recliner and his comfort. He gave me his time. He gave me his patience. He gave me his love. He gave me his heart.

When you have a child, and you love that child, that’s what you do. It’s not even a choice. It’s just what happens. You don’t think about your own comfort, even if you repetitively say, “I don’t know how long I can stand this cold!” You just…do. Because the child brings out the magic and the joy that’s been buried in your soul by an exceptionally long overworked-with-nothing-to-show-for-it run.

You realize you have everything right there in your arms, and no amount of pain (physical or emotional) or cold or worry about the future is going to stand in your way of that moment. That now. That memory.

That’s what I experienced tonight. Tonight I became my father. And now I sit in bed and weep tears of both longing and joy. Because I was raised, protected, loved and spoiled by a loving man. A faithful man. A steadfast and gracious man. A good man, despite his flaws.

Watching my boy, and playing with him tonight in the cold and the wind and the little bit of snow that presented itself, I realized that I carry that within me and I am capable of giving it to my baby. Although eight years old, and someday 39, like me, my baby he will always be.

I love you, Daddy. And I am so grateful for the 36 years I had with you. Thank you for the life you gave me, and the heart you taught me to have. And thank you for the snowman.

I was challenged on Facebook to share “just me” in images and not just words. I suppose that’s a REAL challenge for me because I really despise sharing photos of myself, as most of you know. I’d much rather share the intimate details in words than to let you see my physical self. Who knows why – that’s so backward, right? I mean…that’s true nakedness.

Anyway, I didn’t copy and paste what the full challenge is but I did write my own thing because that’s kind of the space I’m in right now. The point of this challenge is to share just you, and lift yourself up, and by doing so encourage others to do the same. So…

This is just me. No filters, no makeup, sweating from hiking, in my element in nature. 

This is just me. No pretentions or expectations, a bit of a grimace coming through my attempt to smile because of the pain I was feeling in my body. 

This is just me. Christy. Leigh. Whoever I am by name, wherever I came from. 

This is just me. The nearly 39 year old mom of one who is struggling through grief, and who has so many diagnosed mental and physical illnesses I won’t even bore you by listing them again. 

This is just me. A woman you may not know anymore because I’ve changed so much or may have never really and truly known but who has been through hell just like so many others and is still here, somehow. Still has goals. Still has dreams. Still has a self inside. Still has a light somewhere inside all this inner darkness of depression and still fights on and walks through a lot more than what can be seen or expressed in words. 

This is just me. Yep, the fighter, the pusher-through. The trying-to-remain-an-optimist. The hoper. The lover. The never-giver-upper. The warrior. The mama bear mama-ing and trying to be the best example of surviving and thriving she can possibly be for her son, despite what she shares with the grown ups in her weakest moments. 

Here are the photos I chose – no makeup, no filters, just as I am about 99.9% of the time. This is JUST ME. I am beautiful as I am, I am strong despite my weaknesses, and I am enough.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” -John Muir

Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 2:52PM. Only 22 hours away from Dorie’s deathiversary. How weird…. Today is one of those days when it feels like she is still here, just hiding away somewhere where she can’t be seen but still be felt. Maybe she is here today – I don’t know what I believe about any of that anymore…

I’m having a few hours of time to myself. No child, no mother, no company, no people. I LOVE IT, surprisingly enough. I didn’t really want to be alone today and I REALLY didn’t want my son to go to his grandma’s for a sleepover but now that I’m here, sitting on the deck with my laptop and my words, listening to the birds and watching roses start to bloom and tulips already beginning to fall away, I’m…peaceful. I’m happy in the solitude.

I know this – I want to go riding. But I’m so, so tired… So anxious. So afraid… And my stomach is uneasy. Hmmm… What to do?

Tomorrow a friend is coming to spend the day with me, so maybe we will do that then. I have barely eaten today – I’ve had a banana, some coffee, and a lot of water. Maybe I should just focus on eating some food and resting this evening and tonight… Celiac is a bitch.

………………………………………..

It’s several hours later – nearly 8PM now. I sat for a while on the deck earlier, and I talked to Dorie’s ghost. Of course I don’t believe there was really a “ghost” there, but I talked to her anyway. About halfway through my conversation with her, her husband texted me a photo of her crocuses blooming. It was eerie, in a way, but it made me very happy. He called and we talked for about a half hour, and that was nice.

When I went back to the deck I finished reading this little book called “Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments,” by Kent M. Keith. It’s tagline is, “finding personal meaning in a crazy world.” It’s a book Dorie gave to me nearly 12 years ago, and for whatever reason there it was, laying on the shelf. I happened to notice it today – I’m sure I walked past it a hundred times since it was last touched, and probably laid it there myself the last time I read it.

That was probably a few weeks after she died – it seems like that was the last time I read through the entire book… Stacks of books all over my house, but I left that one laying flat on a shelf, where I could see it, all this time. Anyway, I picked it up to read it again. It just seemed like the thing to do with my time this afternoon. I’m so glad I did…

I must’ve read this book a hundred times in the years that I have had it. I’ve quoted from it many times, and it’s truly become the core of who I am, not only because of the book’s message but also because it’s how my father raised me all my life, long before the book was ever written. In fact, it reminds me very much of my father, and different parts of the book bring back vivid memories of experiences and situations I found myself in with my father when he taught me many of the lessons I have learned from him throughout my life, both as a child and as an adult.

For many reasons I adore this book, but earlier today when I picked it up again, I mostly adored it because she gave it to me. That is, until I started rereading it. Now, I love this book for that reason and for one other very important one: because I DO find myself in this book, twelve years after receiving it from her.

I see myself now, today, as she always did: capable. That’s why she bought the book for me in the first place. She gave me the book during a very hard time in my life in 2005. I was going through my initial split from the church and I was having a very difficult time with my adoptive mother. I was also going through the beginning of a pretty difficult breakup with a friend (that would end up taking more than a year) and I felt so incomplete, afraid, and vulnerable. I used the word vulnerable in conversations with Dorie I don’t know HOW many times during that period of my life. And that’s why she bought the book when she saw it.

One of the commandments is, “Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.” I remember her telling me that she had read through parts of it in the bookstore and that that particular line had reminded her so much of me. She said something to the effect of, “you might feel lost, confused and broken, but you’re much stronger than you believe you are and if your heart is guiding you then you’re in the right place. Maybe this book will remind you of who I know you are, and of who you already know you are…maybe now, maybe many times in the future.”

My word, how it has…especially today.

These last few years I have found myself in need of these reminders many times. Especially in the last year, since she died, I have felt more lost and heart broken than I ever have. Pain on top of pain on top of pain and loss after loss after loss does something to numb you from so much of life. You just reach a point where you really just feel “there.” It’s not depression, necessarily, or even grief.

It’s exhaustion (as I’ve written about earlier today and yesterday). It’s just being so tired at every level. It’s being…well, drained. When that happens I tend to forget how to ground myself and how to regenerate…especially now, with chronic illness in the picture, it’s extremely difficult to find rest.

As I read through the commandments today, I found myself thinking, “yes! That’s who I am. That’s who I’ve been for as long as I can remember, now…” My two favorite commandments are the first two.

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.”

“If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.”

Well, now. Isn’t that the story of my life as I’ve struggled and stumbled through the last few years. Not that I’ve been a saint myself – goodness knows I’ve had my moments of being rash, illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. And, I’ve made no excuses for those moments. When I have been conscious of it, I’ve tried to offer my sincerest apologies and learn from those moments. But I’ve also dealt with these two things more times than I can count (and by the same couple of people) over and over again throughout the last several years. And the truth is, I STILL love them anyway, and I still do good anyway.

I am still the same person I always was. How can I not be? It’s who I am, and I’m proud of that. I am GRATEFUL for that. There’s always room for improvement but I’m a damn good person and woman, and I believe that about myself.

Do you ever tell yourself similar things? You should, because I’m 99.9% sure they’re true. Be kinder to yourself. Even on your worst days, pat yourself on the back and say, “I love you!” to yourself. Then give yourself a treat of some sort, even if it’s just five minutes of sitting in silence on a busy day when you really “shouldn’t” waste those five minutes. Trust me – waste those five minutes, because if that’s what you spend them doing then it’s no waste at all.

The only way forward is not to just affirm things, per all the self-help gurus, but to TAKE ACTION. Actively love yourself. Walk your talk…don’t just speak it. Otherwise? It’s useless.

In spending some quiet time in true solitude today, I’ve really been supporting myself, and “myself” likes it a lot. We’ve been through half a box of Kleenex between allergies and memories, but hey – at least we thought to have Kleenex on hand.

The point of my “big cry” is this: not everybody is going to love you, no matter how lovable you might be, and not everybody who loves you is always going to be there, even if it’s only because they’re dead and they just can’t be. Learn to love and support yourself – it’s so important. I can give a lot of credit to a couple of people in my life for being there for me, to listen and to offer a hand, during the last year, but mostly, since my dad died? I’ve chosen to face my struggle alone.

I knew when my dad died that I needed to do that – because I knew that I COULD do that. I needed to step up and take care of myself in that way during that time. And, as far as the grief with my dad, I DID do that. I did cope and get through it mostly by myself (and with the help of an amazing bunch of animals who are just about the only living creatures I cried in front of, by choice), and I’m grateful for the people who care for me who allowed me to do that without question, without pressure, and without judgment.

When Dorie died, I decided to write my journey through that grief. It was so completely different than the loss of my Dad for many reasons. It was far more painful and confusing, and I had so much new growth that needed to be fertilized before it died. I had so much to say then, so much pain and so much confusion and so much loss… Writing has always been my most useful and trusted coping mechanism.

So, mostly via instablogs on Instagram, and this year via this blog, I have publicly shared that journey and I have become all the better for doing so. Admittedly, there have been some pretty raw and ugly moments, but there have also been some truly beautiful ones. I have met some wonderful people, given and received so much support, and made some really good friends in the process. I am SO grateful for that, and I want to continue doing that… But there’s something I have to tell you.

That journey…it’s over. Timing unexpected, and perhaps a bit ironic or even serendipitous, I know… But this thing happened today as I sat alone, after I finished rereading the book I mentioned.

I sat on the bench in the therapy garden, finishing my conversation with Dorie, and I began to sing… I sang to her, like I sometimes did when she was sick and we’d sit on the front porch for some air. A lot of times she wouldn’t feel like talking, and we’d listen to music. I’d start singing along to a song, and she’d stop the music and say, “no, you keep singing. I like for you to sing.” Well. Sing, I would…

This afternoon I was singing to her this song called, “Sanctuary.” It’s a song that is from the show “Nashville,” and it reminds me a lot of our time together when she was diagnosed and throughout her cancer. I wish I had known it during those years with her, but instead I sang it to her “ghost.” You do what you have to do, I suppose.

I’ll link the video below, but for now what’s important for me to share are just two lines:

“I will share this weight you carry… Let me be your sanctuary.”

As I finished singing the song, with those last few lines, I could feel her in my spirit telling me, “I don’t have a weight anymore that you need to share, you can put it down. You don’t have to carry it any longer, Christy…” It’s as though she invited me to lay it down, and I accepted.

With that, just as swiftly as a cardinal flew from the feeder when the dog barked, that part of my journey through that grief was over. Does that mean that my grief is finished? No, of course not. It never will be. But today…that part of it felt like it came to a very gentle but real finale.

Here’s the really interesting part of this story:

For the last few months, especially the last two days, up until this afternoon, I have felt myself reaching a limit. You know the one – the one where you throw your hands up and throw everything away. I’ve wanted to toss away my phone, my cameras, my computer… I’ve wanted to delete my Instagram accounts and my blogs, burn my journals and shut myself off from the world. I felt like I was right there at the very edge, to the point of lashing out, openly sobbing and giving up – right there at this very tumultuous, very messy, very hasty end of all things sharing, all things real.

But, I didn’t do that… No, I offered myself patience, and I continued to follow my ever expanding heart instead of my hasty, very limited and fear-filled mind.

Instead, I’ve sat in my back yard this afternoon, finally meeting with silence and true solitude again after so long of not having a break from being mom and daughter and everything in between, having this conversation with Dorie’s “ghost.” It’s funny to me that it happened the way it did, really. I find it heartwarming (?) that she wouldn’t let me do those things when she was alive (give up, throw it all away), and she won’t let me do them now. Or, rather, I won’t let myself do them now.

I won’t give in to what’s easy and just run and hide. That’s not who I am in my heart, and my heart is what I always choose to follow, no matter how irrational or painful my mind might think it is. That’s because in my time in this body and on this planet, short as it may seem even to me, I learned (a long time ago, really) that my heart is always right.

So is yours. Remember that…

Dorie and I had some hard times. We fought sometimes. She’d make me madder than a wet hen sometimes, and sometimes she’d want to literally shake some sense into me. But you know what? We never gave up on each other, and we never let each other give up on ourselves, because true friends never do.

At the end of this day, I can reflect on that and I can say at least one thing with the fullest of confidence and pride: she was my best friend, and she was the closest thing to a mother I ever had. Losing her when I did was the most difficult experience of my life, and I miss her desperately, still. It is still difficult. But here I still am, despite that. Here I still am, sharing my feelings and working through, anyway.

I don’t know how the deathiversary will play out, exactly. I do have a sort of plan, per my fairy god therapist’s orders, as I mentioned earlier today. But, here I am tonight, at a new sort of threshold regarding grieving her death. I love her, but I love me, too. I love me enough to lay down a weight that she laid down when she died: cancer, and the pain and the guilt it brings, even in death to the loved ones left behind. That’s the thing I’ve chosen to do on this day, 364 days after her death, and I am determined to leave it there…

To close this post, I just want to ask you, whoever you are reading this, to keep sharing anyway if sharing is what your heart leads you to do. Keep being you anyway. Keep living anyway. Keep grieving, in your own way and as you need to grieve, no matter what it is you’ve lost. We’ll keep trying, and keep going, together.

All my love,

C.

I’m grateful for you today, Internet. 

Let’s be real, as usual. This week SUCKS. Anniversaries like this suck. Today throughout the next week is one great big anniversary of the worst, most traumatic, life altering, bullshit of an experience I’ve faced and surprisingly, I am allowing the anger (at least today). I thought I’d be so sad, or so lost, or so “emotional,” but really? Seems like I’m just pissed off.

I’m not pissed off because it’s a “why me” or an “I wish it was different” thing, because neither of those is true. I’m just mad. I’m mad at the world for being an asshole, and at humanity for abusing and hurting and killing each other.

I don’t want a lot to do with people these days. Today I feel like I’d rather be alone forever than have to face another human being for the rest of my life. Maybe we all have days like this. Do you?

Mostly, for me, that’s because I can’t be alone OR around anyone without being so raw and real in expressing who I am and what I feel (which has always been true of me), and I get so tired of hearing (lately), “It’s just grief. That’s how grief works. You’re just depressed.” So, I’d rather just be alone.

Grief is not depression, although it can contribute (no doubt). Grief is not an emotion or an experience or a thing to me anymore. In my experience and my heart/soul, it is as if it is a very small yet significant creature, very quiet and very cunning, very swift to come and go but never ending in it’s patterns and in the way it sometimes dances, sometimes just hovers, around me.

Grief has become my friend. It has given me some of the most precious gifts – the experience of true solitude, by choice; the beauty of the truest and deepest tears; the realization that it exists as truly and with as much compassion and love for the loss of our living as for the loss of our dead.

I admire grief. I admire the way it adapts itself for every other creature. I love the way it never compromises. I love how reliable it is, even in it’s unpredictability. I never know what each day of my life with grief will bring, but I know without a doubt that if I am there then it will be there, too, and it will be dressed exactly to the nines for whatever my spirit needs on any given day.

I have learned not to hate it, or to dread it, or to resent it. I have learned not to view it the way society likes to “paint” it. I have learned to accept and to allow my attachment to it as a part of who I am, just as my child and my own spirit are a part of me. My anger today is not at grief, or because of grief. 

My anger today is because of my lack of and ever-present inability to control my heart and tears, even when I really need to have a grip on things. My anger is born of exhaustion and from all the dreams I dream when I do sleep, and how those dreams taunt me with the past that was and with the lies of a future that will never exist. 

My anger today is of and at myself – for not being more cautious with those people I have chosen to allow in my life. It is of and with my heart – for not giving me a choice sometimes, of who I love and have loved.

My anger today is toward a version of humanity that has no excuse for the way it behaves, for the way it treats itself and it’s planet. It is for the lack of compassion and openness of heart that has caused so much of the pain in my own, because of my own openness… And, maybe part of my anger is in the fact that we are not made to be alone, which is another blog for another day…

Mostly? I just want silence. I just want all the noise to stop…

But, I as I have written above, I am grateful for you today, Internet. I am grateful to have you to escape to, just as often and as easily as I can escape to nature in my back yard, if nowhere more grand. I am grateful for all of you, out there in the land of Internet, who help me to work through the bad shit and back to the good shit, over and over again, whether you know it or not.

I am grateful for those people, even strangers, who take the time to send me messages and emails with encouraging thoughts, even stories of their own experiences and confusion. I am grateful, most of all, for the memes and the quotes that I receive randomly (like today, on a very hard day) that say things like, “If you could see all the beauty that shines through the cracks of your brokenness the way other people do, you’d see that our suffering is not all for naught.”

All the love to all of you today, despite my struggle to smile or appreciate socialization. The stars help, as in the thumbnail above, and each of you are made of that.

See you around…

C.

I know that I should not – can not – focus only on my pain if I expect to ever move beyond it. At a logical and very realistic level I know this is the truth. What I do not know is how to focus elsewhere – for more than a moment at a time, anyway. 

The truth is that in my heart and my mind I’m still focused on those things – things that happened months and even years ago. Mistakes I made, people I pushed out of my life with those mistakes. Some left indefinitely before I could figure out my mistake…some are never coming back. 

In the process of getting through the pain of being where I was, I proceeded to shut myself away from those who were left, including my father. Then he unexpectedly died, and I did the same damned thing Dorie, and now she’s gone, too – thank goodness we were OK before she made her graceful exit from this world. And now… 

Now? People – including me – believe that now is the only moment that truly matters. My now is saturated with a single, life damaging substance of emotion. Regret – the first regret I’ve ever had in my life, and hopefully the only one. 

Nights are the hard part, the worst time. I can’t express the feelings and thoughts that come in the night and have them make sense, and that makes me feel so wound up and unsettled and crazy. But, like a child afraid of the dark, my fears seem to find that light kills them. That in itself is progress, to be perfectly honest. Morning comes and I’m ok…but then night falls again. 

So I silently plead with them, “please, come visit me in my dreams. Bring light and color back to my nights. Your ghostly glow protects me from the uncertainties and the ugly monsters of my own un-forgiveness and guides me back to myself again… It helps me to see the truth to see your smile and to hear your voice, which otherwise I’ve almost forgotten already. 

Your nebulous, radiant, shimmering spirit guides me home in my dreams, to the beauty of what I used to hope that the beyond was, and that’s the only reason I risk the dark in the first place; anymore, and forever. I need to find the beauty to stay alive…”

With that, all I’ve left to reflect on tonight is that I suppose now I’m moving into the harder bits of the You Can Heal Your Life book. I’m realizing that it’s not my life I’m worried about healing, so much as the lives that I might have/did hurt, including my own son. I can hardly live with that on my shoulders. I just can’t bear it anymore. But there’s nothing I can do but to bear it or to release it. For me, for now, for reasons I can’t seem to yet put into words, I can’t seem to do either. 

In the night, I feel stuck. I feel hopeless and doubtful and like a hypocrite to the person I know I am in my heart when it’s day. I am, quite literally, night and day within myself. I don’t yet know what to do with that. How to reconcile it. How to validate it within me. Or whether I need to…because the process for me is to allow and to just be.

So why do I feel I must fight it? To fight it is to drown, to float and to flow is to survive… Or is it? Have I become completely delusional in my exhaustion? Probably, yes. So now, I try again to sleep…and to meet them there…