Day 64 – Cardinal Comfort

Yesterday I was shopping in a Kirkland’s store.  It is a store filled with home decorations.  I only had a few minutes, because I was on a my dinner break from my second job.

I saw this Cardinal blanket and I had to have it.

It reminded me so much of my brother Michael, who passed away. The last time we were in the garden at his nursing home, this cardinal landed.

This is the actual picture.  It’s a little blurry, but I was trying not to scare the bird.  Anyway, in our family, it is our belief that if you see a cardinal, you are being visited from a loved one who has already passed.  As this little bird lands, literally at our feet, my brother says, “See, everything will be ok!”.  Since then, I have had comfort in knowing that our loved ones can watch over  and visit us.

Michael saw my Grandmother sitting at the edge of his bed a few days before he passed.  He said she told him that she would be waiting for him. I was so grateful for him telling me that.

Now that I’m dealing with the aftermath of my mother’s death, I’m praying that maybe she met up with Michael and her mother as she passed from this life.

Death is inevitable for all of us.  Death is surreal.  Death is life-changing.  Death is reality. This past week I have worked so many hours, just trying not to feel or think about death and it’s reality.  I’m hoping it won’t catch up with me and make me feel those same awful grieving pains.  I know all too well that grief is sneaky and can be life consuming.

So I’ve been running and avoiding and saying no to grief.  But the truth is, ultimately I have no control over when and where it happens.

Should I keep trying and pray it never happens, or should I pray it happens and I am finally able to stop avoiding it?

I’ve been told that I’m a micro-manager of my own life.  Sounded funny at first, but so true.  I need to be in control of each and every feeling. Good or Bad. Happy or Sad.  I’m the CEO of MJ’s soul and often feel like a failure at it.

True acceptance of myself would be to allow any feeling to happen and allow my soul to experience that feeling in a natural normal way.   I’ve been in survival mode for so long, that I don’t know how to experience emotions.

For tonight, I’m going to wrap up in my blankie and have some cardinal comfort.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

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Day 62.5 – She’s Here – Part 2

Previously on Day 62 – After  a long weekend of arguing and fighting, she left the narcissistic 2nd husband.  After a few hours of driving, he talked her into coming back home to try to make amends.  When she arrives, he is on the phone saying , “She’s here, She’s here!”.  He tells her that he called the police and she runs.  The police catch up to her as she is attempting to hide in nearby shrubs.

Part 2 – The story continues as the officers help to lift her up to her feet and let her know that she needs to come with them.  She does so with a nod of her head.  She knew what this meant.

She would be going to some sort of facility for at least 72 hours.  But first, they had to stop at the local police station.  In this very small city, there were probably only  a few deputies on duty and only one person in the police station.

The took her into a very small office and asked her what happened.  She explains that Dr. Johnson is not a physician but a scientist who aims to control his wife in every way possible.  The officers nodded, almost in disbelief.  Why would any man lie about his wife being suicidal if it wasn’t true? After a few questions, they left her to sit alone in this room for what seemed like hours.

Two more gentlemen enter the building.  They are from a psychiatric hospital in Tampa.  Again, they say, “Come with us”.  She enters the large white van and the door slams and locks behind her. She has no idea where they are headed.

After about 45 minutes, they arrive at a small private hospital.  The door opens and they escort her in.  She still can’t see the name of the hospital.  A woman escorts her to an intake office and MJ becomes a patient with no control or say over her own life.

Since it was Friday night, the doctor wouldn’t be in until Monday.  All that MJ can think is that she doesn’t want to miss work on Monday for fear of losing her job and her only sense of self-esteem.

Early Saturday morning she is awakened and instructed to go to breakfast in the dining hall.  She says she’s not hungry, but it doesn’t matter.  She had to go anyway.

Breakfast, group therapy, medication, lunch, group therapy, dinner, free time, more group therapy.  The weekend was a blur.

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On Monday morning, a nurse tells MJ that she will be seeing a psychiatrist for evaluation soon.  She calls work and pretends she is sick and can’t make it in.  They buy it.  Dr. Milian arrives around 10 am and is incredibly sensitive and sympathetic of her position. He asks MJ what she feels she needs to do.  She says she just wants to go home and decorate her Christmas tree.  The doctor agrees and asks the husband to come and pick her up and have a short conversation with him.

As the meeting starts, MJ pretends she has 100% love and respect for her husband and can’t wait to get home and “make up”.  Dr. Milian agrees and they leave the hospital together.

In the car, MJ tells EJ that he is the biggest asshole ever and throws her wedding ring in his face.  He didn’t seem surprised, but again threatens to take her back.

This was a life changing event in a few different ways.  Number one, Dr. Milian was an amazing, kind, gentle man, and he was able to help her to sort out what her next move would be.  He introduces her to a marriage counselor, who also would eventually help her to change her view of the situation and gain the courage to leave.

Marriage counselor Keith, asked her to come back to therapy alone, after a few visits that included EJ.  He said to her,  “MJ, I want to you to run as far away from this man as you can, and don’t ever look back.”  And she did exactly that.

This was the first time in her life that she was able to stand up to an abuser and try to stand on her own.  It actually took her two more years to eventually get the divorce but she did it.  MJ was now a single mother, and independent for the first time in her life.

If you have never been thru a co-dependent or abusive relationship, you can’t imagine why she would have stayed.  But the truth is, after all the these years, she was still trying to get someone’s approval.  She just wanted to be loved.  She just wanted to know she mattered.  Unfortunately, this was the end of her second marriage and now she felt only that she truly was a failure when it came to being a wife and mother.

She was just being MJ everyday day.

 

Day 63 – What a Difference a Week Makes.

One week ago, my mother died. I say it to myself because I don’t believe it.

The whole week was so traumatic. She fell and hit her head and had a brain bleed. Within 24 hours she was brain dead. And in another 24 hours we had to remove her from life support.

The days following are just a blur. I cried some, but mostly just walked around dazed.

And now it’s one week later and it feels like 10 minutes ago. And yet it feels like 10 years ago.

In one week, everything has changed. My life. The life of my siblings. The life of my precious step-dad who I call Dad. My reaction to life has changed. How I react to hurt has changed. How I react to anger has changed. It’s all different.

And yet nothing pauses. Life keeps going. The world keeps turning. People don’t seem to know that I’m absent. I’m here but I’m not.

A co-worker said to me, “So sorry for your loss, but that’s life isn’t it?” I just shook my head. Partially in disbelief but also knowing that it is the truth.

Life is short. And elusive. We are here and then we are gone.

Everything I had planned for my future seems to have faded into the background. Everything that was familiar now is foreign. Every breath seems like a struggle.

To watch someone pass from this life is sobering. It’s an instant loss of all control and a feeling of helplessness.

Can she say one last thing? Can she give me one last hug? Can she just breath again?

Part of me wants to cry, but it feels like if I start, I will never be able to stop.

I don’t know when I’ll laugh again? Or cry again? I dont know when I’ll enjoy life again?

But for this moment, I have to close my eyes, try to shut out the pain, and try to get a few hours of sleep.

Grief is moment to moment. I always thought of myself as a strong person, but now I’m just void.

As I try to wade my way thru the emotions of life and death , I realize that everything familiar has changed. What a difference a week makes!

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

The Darkest Day -Return to the Future

Saying goodbye to your Mother for the last time is something you think will never happen.

The whole event was so traumatic and sudden. It’s one of those things you try to mentally prepare for but emotionally you can never prepare for.

Taking her off of life support was awful. We expected her to pass immediately but she breathed on her own for three more hours.

My brother and I were at her bedside. It was agonizing.

When we left the bedside for the last time, I sat in my car for hours.

For that short period of time, I was her little girl. But at the moment her life ended, I had to go back to my future.

I have to return to recovery. I have to return to finding purpose. I have to return to becoming the best me.

Grief hasn’t really hit me. I’ve been so busy with the funeral and family and friends.

Tomorrow I will return to work and try to get back into a routine. Im hoping that I can handle the grief a small portion at a time.

The funeral was full of reminders of my past and the last two nights have been hell.

I’m taking it one small moment at a time because a day at atime would be too overwhelming.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

The Darkest Day

On Wednesday, at 1:30 am, on October 25, 2018, my Mother passed away.  It truly was a dark day.

She was 79 years old.  Born in 1939.  She was the daughter of a bridge builder. My grandfather helped to build many of the bridges here in Florida.  Her mother worked for our local hospital all of her life.  She packed surgical supplies.  She had 7 sisters and 3 brothers.

My Mother was ill most of her life.  She also suffered from mental illness.  I have talked about her a lot in some of my blog posts.

I was able to arrive before she passed and while she was still on life support.  She did not look anything like the Mother I grew up with or remembered even in recent years.

Agreeing to turn off life support is an agonizing decision.  It is one that I hope no one ever has to experience.  But knowing that she was brain dead, helped us to make the right decision.

The doctors and the nurses were very kind and compassionate. They explained everything as it was happening and offered drinks and food throughout the night.

Today we did all the planning for the services and tomorrow is the Celebration of  Life.

I don’t know how to get thru these days except one day at a time.  I’m emotionally and physically exhausted.

I would appreciate any prayers and good thoughts that you could offer for my family and myself.

This blog will keep me focused and distracted in the emotional days to come.

Thank you again for reading. The blog is growing every day.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 62 – She’s Here – Part 1

So I have shared previously a little bit about the narcissistic ex husband. This is another story about him and our crazy relationship. I’m going to tell the story in the third person so that you can get a clear picture of how awful life with him was.

It was about a year and a half into our marriage when we were finishing dinner and the conversation of his mother came up. He informed me that she would be coming to stay for a few weeks or more.

Normally, I loved having company but she hated me. She despised me taking her baby boy away from Canada. He was 33 years old but thats beside the point.

So he tells me that she coming to stay and I asked him if that was a question. He informed me that he made all the decisions because it was his home etc.

What happened after that is where I will begin the story.

She sits in the rocking chair in disbelief. Once again he has said that her opinions and feelings do not matter. He goes to the bedroom and leaves her to be aline with her despair. EJ had crossed the line.

She grabbed her purse and a few clothes from the laundry room. She wrote a short note that said something like, “I can’t take this anymore. I’m leaving. I hope you can live with yourself after this”.

In her desperation, she was trying to make him feel bad and perhaps ask her to return with an “I’m sorry”, etc.

She gets in her car and drives for well over an hour. Her pager goes off and it’s EJ with a message to call home right away. She finds a pay phone and calls him.

EJ says that he loves her and misses her and wants her to come back. MJ is undecided but agrees to come home. After taking some time to breath, she drives back home.

By now its late. Around 10 pm when she gets to the apartment parking lot. From her car, she can see him looking out for her.

She gets to the door and he’s on the phone. He says two words, “She’s here!”. He quickly hangs up. MJ says, “Hey, who was that?” He stalls with his answer. After some prodding, he finally says, “It was the police. They wanted me to tell them when you arrived home safely. They will come and ask you a few questions.”

She panicked. She ran out the door, as fast as she could and hid in some trees in a very dark area of our apartment complex.

The police arrived as MJ was trying to duck down. They spotted her right away.

Two officers, on either side, picked her up and brought her to her feet. They walked her over to her apartment where EJ stood with a smirk on his face. She could tell he was really proud of himself this time.

The officers said, “Sir, are you worried about her well being?” EJ said, “Yes sir. I believe she wants to kill herself”.

He knew a small portion of her abuse story and subsequent counseling. It was his opportunity to show her that he had full control.

After saying his lies, he proceeded to show the officers his PhD on the wall. Never mind that the degree was in Analytical Chemistry. He said, “I’m a doctor. I know what’s best for her”.

This moment was life changing for her in many ways.

Part 2 of this story will explain those life changing events.

Until next time – I am being MJ every day.

Day 61 – All Over The Place

From the moment I got out of bed today, I have struggled with emotions.

Not all bad. Some were good. But when you are used to being empty and void of feelings, it’s so foreign.

I kept thinking today that maybe I’m starting to lose my mind. Maybe I really am losing it.

I cried as soon as I woke up. When I got in my car, I heard music that made me happy. When I got to work, I got the usual Monday morning stress. I tried to stay focused and busy.

On my lunch, I had to run some errands. It felt good to be out in the sun. I stopped at the drug store to pick up a few things and the cashier was not very nice to me after I suggested something rang up incorrectly. She made a comment to me that I probably saw the wrong sign or something.

I felt that old familiar punch in the stomach. The “you screwed up again” complex. The feeling of worthliness.

I quickly grabbed my bag and left before anyone could see my tears.

After getting back to work, there were more problems with a few vacation days I had planned for next week.

Long story short, I will rescedule. But by this time it’s 6 pm and I am mentally toasted.

These may not seem like huge things to you, but when you are used to trying to control the outcome of every situation, it takes a toll.

I was able to stay together at work and put on that mask that everyone loves to see. But the truth is that I can hardly breath behind it.

I had a talk with myself on the way home and managed to be ok.

I’m tired. This PTSD war is the pits. You never know when or how a reminder will pop up. But guaranteed it will. When you least expect it.

My emotions are all over the place, but I should be thankful that I have them right?

Until next time – I am being Mj every day.