Sunset on the Beach

Somedays, my emotions seem to bubble a little closer to the surface than others. The past few days have been those kind of days for me.

Sunday’s are almost always hard days. Between church and my ex calling to talk to the kids, my emotional bungee cord is stretched to the max. I was expecting this Sunday would be different, since I was away and neither of those things were going to be happening. Sunday came, and I was more than a little shocked to find the same feelings resurfacing like they did every other week. It bothered me. A lot. I have blamed these recurring feelings on two main things he. First, going to church where I sit through lesson after lesson on eternal families and how that’s the ultimate goal and knowing that goal was taken away from me twice because of the choices of stupid men. So I sit in church each Sunday arguing with God, yelling “How can you expect me to want to do this again? How am I supposed to trust anyone with my heart that much again? And why the hell is it so important that I do? Why can’t I be enough on my own?” (Yes, I swear at God. I swear at him a lot, actually. And He still loves me.) And it’s not that I don’t want to get married again, because there is a part of me that does. A part that craves that connection and love and romance and all those good things that come with being married. All the things I was missing in both my marriages. But there is also a big part of me that doesn’t believe it’s possible for me. For a multitude of reasons, none of which I will list here now, cause they’re not the point.

So after spending all of church having this massive debate/internal yelling match with God, I’m exhausted. And then I spend the rest of the day knowing I’m going to have to sit and listen while the kids talk to their Dad. The conversations are painful, for many reasons, but for my part, they’re painful because they’re a weekly reminder of something that was taken from me. Of a trust that was broken and a wound I don’t know how to heal. And then I get mad at myself for still feeling angry and hurt 3 years later. “It’s been three flipping years! Get over it, stupid woman!!” I yell at myself as I cringe at his voice. Every other day of the week, I feel like I am over it. Like I’ve moved on with my life and I’m doing the best I can for my little family. I’m so far from perfect, but I’m trying and most days, I’m damn proud of that. But Sunday’s it all seems to fall apart.

Anyway, you can imagine then, how much I was looking forward to a Sunday without these “triggers” that I blamed my Sunday meltdowns on. And equally, you can imagine how frustrating it was to have the same feelings without those triggers. In fact, it bothered me so much that I’ve spent much of yesterday and today thinking about it and asking myself what the issue really is. I’m not sure I’m really any close to an answer as to why Sunday seems to be the day that I can’t keep it together, but I do think I know why it bothers me so much that I can’t.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a *bit* of a control freak. I can’t stand not being in control. Not because I feel the need to dominate people or situations. Totally the opposite actually. I don’t trust people enough to let them dominate me. I’ve been hurt by people I trusted the most in the biggest of ways every time I gave up control. Somewhere along the way, my mind decided that it couldn’t happen again if I was in control. But we all know that isn’t true. Because life happens and circumstances arise that you have no control of. So, while I know I can’t control all the aspects of my life, I try and maintain control over those things I can, especially my emotions. I’ve become very adept at “letting” myself feel emotions or shutting them off at will. That doesn’t mean I don’t let myself feel negative emotions. I think it’s important to acknowledge crappy days and feelings. But I don’t usually let myself dwell on those feelings and I don’t let them overtake me. Except on Sundays. On Sunday, don’t seem to be able to exert the same control. Maybe it’s too much on one day, or maybe it’s the exhaustion of maintaining that control the rest of the week or maybe it’s something completely different that I have yet to figure out, but whatever the reason, I can’t keep it together come Sunday. And then inner Tisha starts yelling at me to get a grip and pull it together. And I spiral. And it isn’t pretty. And then Monday comes and life moves on and I don’t have time for spiralling, so controlling me kicks back into high gear and shoves all those nagging thoughts into the black corner of min mind, the corner that’s wrapped in caution tape and has a big “Keep Out” sign posted.

But that’s where this week was different. This week, I had nothing else to occupy my mind while I relaxed at the boat, so I was spiralling, big time. I’ve spent the bulk of the last 72 hours going over all the things that are wrong in my life, agonizing over all the choices I made that “should” have been different, over the times I’ve let people in and they’ve hurt me, berating myself for being too closed off/ too trusting/ too unworthy/ too hard on myself/ too you name it, over allllll the reasons why no one in their right mind would ever want to date me, let alone marry me, over why it really doesn’t matter how well I do in school, cause school means neglecting my kids… you name it, I went there. It. Was. Hell. A beautiful, beachy hell, but hell nonetheless.

Then, as I was lying on the beach reading/agonizing, I read a sentence that struck me to my core. “Sometimes you have to give up control. Because if you want to know the truth, control wasn’t yours to begin with. (The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle)” (yes, I know that’s a completely incorrectly formatted citation and I don’t care!) And just like that, it hit me. I need to loosen my grip. Mostly on my expectations of myself. I’m so busy trying to control my life that I’ve been forgetting to live it. But here’s the thing. I don’t know how to let go of control. If you get right down to it, I’m scared to trust that life won’t crap all over me again. I’m scared to trust, not only those around me or myself, but I’m scared to trust that my Father in Heaven has a plan for me that doesn’t involve more misery and seemingly endless trials. I don’t say that meaning I expect there to be no more bad things that happen in my life. I’m not dumb. (Well, kinda. Lol) But I don’t trust that the good will outweigh the bad. I don’t trust that at some point, I will be able to feel a sense of security in my life. I don’t trust that I will find someone who loves me the way I deserve to be loved and who wants my love in return. I don’t trust that this isn’t as good as it gets. I feel like the part of me that trusts has been obliterated so many time and, each time it’s put back together, some tiny shards have been missed, leaving me incomplete. And I don’t trust that I can ever feel whole again.

So, here I sit here, watching the sun set on the last night before I head back into real life, contemplating what to do now. How do I relinquish control enough to live the life that is laid out for me and make the best of it? I think the answer for this question would be different if someone else was asking it, but for me, I think the answer is to take baby steps. To start by allowing myself to let loose without worrying about consequences. To stop living with the guilt and shame. And to take time to acknowledge and enjoy the blessings I have been given, and believe me, there are many. And finally, by asking God to help me learn to trust those around me, myself and Him again.

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2019

Two years ago, at this very moment, I was sitting in the same bed I’m currently sitting in, thinking about the New Year and what it held, just like I am right now. But that is pretty much the only thing that is the same.

As 2016 drew to a close and 2017 began, I sat in bed bawling uncontrollably. There were so many unknowns about my future. Here is a list of the things I knew:

  • In 3 days,  I would become a single parent
  • In one month, I had to move back to a house I dreaded living in
  • I had no clue what the hell I was going to do or how I was going to survive it. In truth, I didn’t think survival was possible.
  • I had even less of a clue what life had in store for me.

2017 came and went and was pretty much as awful as I expected it to be in most ways. It. Was. So. Hard. I felt like I was constantly drowning and couldn’t keep track of anything. I spent so much time seeking answers to my questions. I prayed constantly and my Heavenly Father flooded me with His peace in a way I’d never felt before. While I had some answers, there were still so many things I didn’t know. But instead of feeling the normal feelings of anxiety I feel when I don’t know what’s coming or how to deal with what’s ahead, I knew I would be ok. So many awful things happened that year. It was like I kept getting kicked in the gut over and over again. But that peace would quickly flood back in and I knew things would work out.  I felt like the decision to return to university was the right move for me. SEVERAL people didn’t agree with me and tried MULTIPLE times to talk me out of it, but I knew it was the best move for me and the kids. I knew it would be hard, but it was where I needed to be. I only took three classes that first semester to help ease myself back into things with school, but even with only three classes, work and kids meant my life was busier than it had ever been before.

That drowning feeling grew and grew the whole year long. By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I was more than ready to say goodby to 2017. Yes, I’d learned a lot and grew a lot, but there is no amount of money in the world you could pay me to relive that year. It was nothing short of hell. Like many others, I choose a word each year to guide my focus throughout that year. My word for 2018 was survival. I didn’t feel like I could do more than that. More importantly, I knew I needed to let myself be ok with that. I needed to learn what was necessary for my family’s survival and what could be left behind. That was a REALLY hard thing for me. To say I struggle with anything less than 110% is an understatement.

I took more classes in school and life was even busier. I didn’t really think that was possible, but I guess I was wrong. I had to learn to rely on others to help me because I wasn’t able to be there for my children and do all the things I used to do. I am SO BLESSED to have such an amazing support system who is willing to help me. There is literally no way the kids or I would have survived this past year without them. Seriously, no way. This last year was super challenging, for sure. But through it all, I had this assurance that this is what I’m supposed to be doing and I learned to be ok with not doing my best at everything all the time. Does that mean I love it and want to keep living this way forever? No. Definitely not. But it does mean I’m MUCH less hard on myself when things don’t go the way  I would like or I run out of time and something doesn’t get done as well as I’d like. I can now recognize that its ok to just be doing the best you can in each moment, even if today’s best is maybe a little less than yesterday’s.

As I look back on the year, I can see and remember all of the challenges and struggles this year held. I can still feel so many of them so closely. But what I feel much more strongly is a feeling of confidence in the direction my life is headed and where my family is going. If you had told me two years ago I would be feeling this excited about life, I would have said some really unkind things to you. So as I sit here at the dawn of 2019, here is what I know:

  • Those hard times that we are sure we can’t live through WILL end. Maybe they don’t end so much as we grow to meet the challenge they present. Either way, things WILL get better.
  • ITS OK NOT TO BE OK! You’ve had a super crappy day/week/month and you just can’t bring yourself to get out of bed today. Totally fine. Your dishwasher just flooded the kitchen again even though no one has used the dishwasher in over a year and you thought all the water was turned off to it (which it actually was) so you throw towels all over your floor and sit in the giant puddle and scream and cry for 45 minutes before you feel like you can get up and clean the mess up? Perfect! Way to allow yourself to feel those emotions, deal with them and them move forward! Seriously, don’t be so upset with yourself for not feeling great every day! Just don’t let yourself get stuck in the dark places. Feel the feelings, process the feelings, move on to new, hopefully better feelings.
  • It takes a freaking village. Be kind to your village.
  • Sometimes, just getting by is good enough.

I know so many people who had such a hard year and I get it! I may not have experienced the same struggles, but I know exactly how it feels to feel like you literally cannot function for one more second. I know what it feels like to feel like your very soul has shattered into millions of irreparable pieces, like you will never be able to be yourself again. I know exactly the feelings of hopeless desperation that comes with loss and unimaginable sorrow. I know that blackness that consumes you when your world is pulverized and you have no desire to live another day. I’m so grateful that I can now say I also know that those days will pass and, slowly, very slowly, life will improve. I still don’t have all the answers and I have a long way to go to get to where I want my life to be, but for the first time I can remember, I’m starting a new year excited for what is to come. Now let’s hope I didn’t jinx it!

Four Years

I’ve thought about sharing this story for years. Its something I haven’t talked much about. In fact, its a part of my life very few people know any details about. Most probably don’t even know it happened. Or maybe they do and I’m just fooling myself. Either way, I can’t stop feeling the push that I need to share my story. And not just this part of my story, but all of it. All the details. No matter how much they may make me squirm.

Four years ago today, I tried to take my life. There were reasons, but I’m not going to talk about them today. That would take too long. Much longer than any of us have right now. But there it is. I’ve said it out loud. For the whole world to hear. My life had been flipped end over end and I had no idea how to handle it. I wrote a letter saying essentially that and, more importantly (to me, anyway), that my kids needed to go to friends of mine because I truly believed that would be better for them than for them to have only me to rely on. I finished the note and took several pills. I don’t remember what kind or how many. There are some details about the day that I can remember as clearly as if it was yesterday, but others that I can’t recall no matter how hard I try.

Minutes after I took the pills, my sister called. I don’t know why (another one of those details I don’t remember). The pills had started taking effect and my grief was so raw. Immediately she knew something was wrong, more wrong than she had anticipated. She called the ambulance and then came over. I don’t remember who got there first. I don’t know if that matters. One of the paramedics on call that day was the husband of a close friend. He kept asking me questions, trying to keep me awake, but I couldn’t bring myself to answer. I didn’t want to talk. The only thing I said to him, just once, was “Don’t tell Megan”.

Before I took the pills, I had been hyper-emotional. I cried and screamed and trashed my house. But then something snapped. It was like I had no more emotions left to feel. I couldn’t handle feeling the things I’d been feeling. Death seemed like the only escape. When the ambulance came, it didn’t matter that my plan had been stopped. I felt dead inside. At the hospital, the doctor asked me questions and it took everything in me to give  him a one word answer. I laid there in the bed in the ER virtually unresponsive, wishing I could just fall asleep and never wake up again. I remember laying with my eyes open, taking what felt like forever to blink. I couldn’t close my eyes, because questions started as soon as I did. Sleeping wasn’t allowed. I was, of course, admitted so that I could be watched.

I spent the next three days in the hospital. During those three days, my then husband and my kids visited once each day, but didn’t stay long, which was fine by me. The fear in my children’s eyes was horrible. It is a look that has been forever etched in my memory, one I pray I will someday forget. They didn’t know what was wrong and were to young to grasp the situation.

Outside of their visits and a daily check in from my doctor, not one person came to visit me. I don’t tell you this so you’ll think I had horrible people in my life. Honestly, I don’t even know which of my friends and family at the time knew. And in truth, I don’t know how I would have reacted to their visit. Maybe I would have welcomed them and felt less alone. Or maybe I would have assumed they were there out of pity and felt guilty. Or maybe I would have screamed and yelled and told them things I really didn’t mean. I don’t know. But I laid there day after day playing so many scenarios in my head. And thinking. Day in and day out, so many thoughts. I hated thinking. I hated having nothing to distract myself with and being forced to think the very thoughts I’d taken the pills to avoid. And now here I was with nothing and no one to distract me.

I realized over those few days just how very alone I was and would be on the journey I was being forced to take. I know, that sounds horrible. I have so many people in my life now who love and support me. But ultimately, whether or not my life is a success is fully up to me. No amount of help will make up for my unwillingness to participate in my own life.

I wish I could say I left the hospital with a renewed determination to do better. I didn’t. Not even close. I left feeling empty and hollow and pathetic and scared and so sure that the worst mistake ever made had been not letting me die. But I also left knowing that this was MY life to make of it what I would. I’d spent far too many years being pushed around by other’s bad decisions, too long letting my life be run by those around me. I had no clue how I was going to make things better or when they were going to get better or even if they were going to get better. If I’m being honest, I knew that things were going to get a hell of a lot worse before they got better. But I knew that the choices that had to be made were mine.

I won’t go into any details about after I left the hospital right now. Thats another (several) posts for another day. What I will say is this: it is now four years to the day since I tried to take my life. My life is still really, really hard. There are so many days I struggle to put my feet on the floor and get out of bed in the morning. There are days when every second is a fight to hold on to the things that keep me here. But there is also hope. And happiness. And joy. And peace. There is a forward momentum in my life now that is unstoppable, because its driven by me. By the knowledge that I AM ENOUGH exactly as I am! That its ok to have those bad days. Having bad days does not make me weak or awful or undeserving of love. Having bad days makes me human. Where I prove my strength is when I accept the bad day, acknowledge the pain and move forward with my life. Its not always easy. In fact, its rarely easy. But it is always worth it. I am rediscovering who I am, my true self, and I love me!

There are so many more things I want to say about this, that I will say about this, but this post is long enough already, so they will wait. For now, this is the most important thing I would like you to know. YOU ARE ENOUGH EXACTLY AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW. If you are feeling anything like I felt four years ago, please know that there is hope. Know that there are people out there for you. If you don’t have anyone you can think of, let me be that person. My door is always open, my email is always ready and my phone is always on. zero judgement. I know its impossible to imagine things ever getting better, but I promise you they will, usually in ways you could never have thought possible. Don’t lose hope.