Woke up this morning exhausted. Life has been so non stop between work and the kids and trying to have a social life. It’s a balance we all try to achieve. This morning as I woke up exhausted, I also woke up excited.
That feeling you have in your stomach when the possibilities in the world seem endless and the future is within your reach, yeah that was me. I was so much more focused on the future instead of the past and got so excited. I mean, the future is filled with uncertainties but for the first time I was okay to not be in control and just go with the flow and live in each moment. For my “type A needs to always have a plan and be in control of my life” self that was huge!
As a mom, I still want control over what’s happening with my children to make sure their best interest is always in mind, but for me, I feel as if my spirit is being set free. I still have some insecurities but they aren’t weighing me down. Learning to not let fear guide my actions but do things in life that bring love and joy and purpose is liberating, and that is what makes this part of the journey exciting… uncertainties and all.
I am always humbled when people comment on how strong they think I am because I am sharing my story and going out to live life again. The honest truth is, it’s terrifying. Opening yourself to the judgement of others puts you in an extremely vulnerable place. It was not an easy decision to start this blog but I’m so glad I did. Writing frees your thoughts and gives others the chance to acknowledge their own. When you tell your story it’s a chance for healing and may heal others in the process.
There have been times I’ve written full blogs only to go back and erase them. Then I realized writing this blog is a lot like dating. You go into the process not knowing what to expect. You put yourself into a world open to rejection, but also for the chance for the most amazing moments to occur. I look back and read some of my previous entries and see how this crazy path has gone.
I think back to THAT night, when life changed. I experienced something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I witnessed moments and took actions that nothing prepares you for. I had my heart ripped from my chest and memories etched in my mind. PTSD. I remember the day I heard that. It was no surprise to me. My first response was, “How do I change that? I mean now too.” To go through so many moments of watching and listening to ambulances go by, hearing the sound of a defibrillator, witnessing code blues and people doing chest compressions knowing those were the moments I had to overcome was a challenge. A challenge I accepted and won.
The process to rebuild life is ongoing. I felt honored when I started writing and found these blogs entries help others going through similar life circumstances. I felt even more honored when someone suggested I have PTG now, Post Traumatic Growth. Growth. WOW! Maybe. I do have a better understanding of who I am and what’s important in life. I am way more willing to express my emotions than before which is what prompted the blog. I established a new path for life and discovered I’m stronger than I thought I was. Does that mean I’m no longer scared? Nope.
I am still very much like my entry called “Greatest Fear.” I will always be a mom and friend, but will I ever be that person that’s a partner in life? Like I wrote before, my heart is my weakness and that scares me. I’ve talked to so many people who’ve gone through losses of many types, death, divorce, distance, and this is a common fear. So the honest truth is, while I may seem to have it all together, I’m still nervous and scared. For anyone with the same fear as me, my wish for you, for us really, is that we find someone who can see past the scars and love us for everything we are and have been through and hug so tight until those pieces are back together. After all, every happily ever after went through a crazy journey to get there. During this journey, I will continue to write.
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love quotes. Sometimes when your mind just can’t grasp how to articulate an idea there will be a quote that can sum it up. This morning was just that. I woke up restless and couldn’t go back to sleep at 5:30. I realized what my weakness is.
Death can cause anyone to lose hope, lose faith, lose meaning. Through this process I’ve realized that I can’t let it do that to me when it feels like there is so much more life to live. Then I saw this quote, “Caught between a strong mind, and a fragile heart.” Yes, fragile. I will always believe in Hallmark movies and happy endings. My weakness is being the hopeless romantic because I think it’s better than just feeling hopeless. In those beliefs though you open yourself to a very vulnerable place. To go through any loss, death, divorce, breakups, I think the bravest thing you can do is to go out and date again.
I’ve also realized that because life is fleeting you need to take risks and chances in life. My mind will constantly battle me on this, but my heart will always win. I may do things that others never understand and that’s okay. I may be more understanding at times but that’s because I see life through different eyes at this point in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the pushover at all and never let my understanding underestimate my strength, but I do try to see the good a little more now than before. I may guard my heart a little more until the right person comes along but I still believe a Hallmark happy ending will happen someday.
Butterflies have so much symbolism. They represent new life, loved ones lost, love, the list goes on. I know I’ve seen so many butterflies lately and have smiled each time. Tonight as I sat down I got to thinking about what the butterfly means to me.
It’s always been a wonder how a caterpillar could emerge from a cocoon and transform into something so beautiful. Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” That is so very true. In this process of going through grief you feel like you are in a cocoon. You inch along and curl up and don’t want to come out into the world. In that process you go through an enormous amount of change. You finally realize that this change is inevitable and you emerge from your cocoon.
You fear spreading your wings and it takes a little time to get the hang of this new life but it happens. When it does you learn to fly. Your wings are fragile but they carry you through. The winds may blow and knock you down but you get back up again and learn to adapt.
Butterflies show us that we can go through some intense and dark times and still find something beautiful in the process. Then there’s that feeling of butterflies. You pray you are able to feel them again and find happiness and love. You test your wings again and you may get knocked down, but just as before you get back up and fly again in hopes that you eventually soar.
I read the quote, “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice.” It struck a chord with me for sure. Part of this journey is reprioritizing life. I thought I knew what I wanted, what path my life was taking, and who the key players in my life would be. That all got thrown out the window almost a year ago. Since that day it has been about maintaining “normalcy” for the kids and trying to figure out what my new priorities are.
Always, always, the kids are number one. Even that was a change. BK, before kids, Mark would always say our relationship was the priority because there would be a day when the kids would be out of the house and it’d just be us, and we were an “us” before they were ever there. Well now there is a new outlook to relationships.
Most likely the person I’ll end up seeing will have kids. My kids, and theirs, will be the priority since the kids will have been in the picture before an “us” is to be. Even most of my friends have kids. Does that mean that I need to sacrifice whatever time I have to being Mom 100%? While I originally thought yes, the answer is really no. I’m learning that I can’t sacrifice my happiness for being Mom 100% of the time. Yes, they make me happy (and stressed) but there comes a time when you realize you need more companionship in life than an 8, 12, and 14 year old. It is true, there will be a day when they are out of the house and then what? Who will be there to fill those moments that have been filled with soccer, ballet, robotics, school events, and more?
My time with friends and those relationships become so valuable to give me those moments to be me. I used to think that was selfish. Now I know it’s not. As new factors come into my life it becomes a constant state of reprioritizing. It’s a constant struggle of the guilt my mind throws my way and what my heart and gut says it needs. I’m learning to trust my heart and gut. I’m learning what I really want at this point and where I want to go. It’s a process of growing and becoming. It’s a process of learning that kids, work, and relationships of all types have a place and importance in life. My kids always know I’m here for them and cheer them on in life and that I love them unconditionally. Like that quote, I’m learning that if I don’t sacrifice some time doing what I truly want then happiness and my personal growth becomes the sacrifice. When you realize that we are never promised tomorrow (as I’ve completely learned firsthand) you go out and make the most of today.
This is been another few days of mixed emotions, culminating into a moment where I was not as strong as I thought I could be. For the most part life is moving forward and the kids and I are settling into our new normal. It has been a week of unexpected surprises and blessings mixed in with just unexpected. There have been so many little signs that have been sent my way to let me know I’m on the right path.
A small moth remained camped on my front screen for two days. I almost thought it was stuck there. Then on Thursday morning I saw it as I left for work. When I came home, it was gone. At that moment there was a sense that felt like life really had moved on. Then cue Friday, June 8th. I sat at my desk writing the date when I realized why it was so familiar. June 8th, 2018 would’ve been our 15 year anniversary. I sat there for a moment and wouldn’t you know it, a tiny moth made it’s way into my office. It fluttered around the computer as to say there was a gift that was sent from afar, a gift of selfless love to give me the ability to continue to move forward on this journey of life. Almost as if it was Mark’s way of blessing all the decisions I’ve been making. I know in my heart he has sent some blessings himself.
The rest of the weekend has been filled with little moments of unexpected moth friends, at the movies, by my car, in the hallway… until today. Today, nothing. The kids are away having a great time with family and celebrating the start of summer. I am having some much needed me time, not mom time, but me time. Time to just be Sarah. Well, in those me times some of my biggest vulnerabilities come to surface. When you really allow yourself to just be open and to truly feel you make yourself susceptible to so many sort of emotions. This afternoon was one of those times where I realize I am not as strong as I think I am, and that’s okay.
I sat in my dark hallway and thought of the 8th that had just gone by, the turn my life is taking, events that are coming up this week , and those moments that you long for and started crying. It was tears that caught me off guard but tears that keep me in check that I’m still human. I share this with you, not to make anyone feel bad, but to show those moments of true vulnerability are okay. Tears are okay. That while so many think I am always strong, my smile does hide many of the insecurities I feel and when I am not as strong as I think, that’s okay too.
How do you honor a life? By definition memory means “a capacity for showing effects as the result of past treatment or for returning to a former condition.” How do you honor the memory of a life? Simply put, to live.
Being able to emerge from the depths of grief and live again is a blessing. I still remember the day when I felt my heart was dead to the world. That every heartbeat was merely pumping the blood through my body for an existence that I questioned. That feeling pain was welcomed because it meant I hadn’t died along with him. In those moments I couldn’t see past each hour and sometimes each minute. In those moments, there was life but not living. Grief was strong but grief was not honoring the life lived, it was a heart that was broken for a life that was lost.
Every day I wished for a fast forward button to push through those moments. I would get so angry that time seemed to stand still. I would cry until I couldn’t catch my breath. Looking back, I now know I had to go through those moments to learn to live. Yes, go through, not get over. You never get over a loss but you learn to go through the process.
Today I realize that to truly honor the man that was, is to live the life that is. My existence and being today wouldn’t be the same if I had not gone through life with him or the grief of losing him. We cannot change the circumstances of the past so we must learn to move forward with the moments life gives us now. Each beat of my heart now pumps blood through a body that is able to feel again and live a life with purpose. It is amazing to be in each moment and to feel not only pain, but to feel joy, love, and happiness. I know that is a gift he continues to give me each day. I treasure the memories from the past with hopes for the future. To live each day with purpose and find meaning in each moment is truly honoring a life.