Revisiting the grief

Once in awhile I wonder what was the purpose of writing this blog. I did it because George and I loved blogging together, we had two food blogs, so I felt it was a way for me to continue a connection with him. But over time, the appeal and shine loses its luster. But recently I revisited those old posts and to know how far I’ve come in this journey is incredible.

I’m trying to organize my thoughts and posts a little bit and try some fluidity with them. But very much like grief, things just happen and there’s no control over them. I look at the old posts and they flip flop between miserable, excited, self-loathing, angry, manic, numb, and just getting by.

New Years is around the corner and I haven’t had a lot of luck with New Years. I think my first New Years after George passed was one of my best ones, just because I was with my friend Lindsay just reflecting on the shit year we had (2013) and how perhaps 2014 would be better. Little Chinese food, wine and One Tree Hill. It was memorable and she’s still one of my best friends and I love her for being there to do nothing with me as the calendar year flipped.

Good friends make suffering better. Always remember that. A strong support system will hold you up, even during the worst storms.

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Happy Birthday George

Today is George’s birthday. I’m feeling his absence a lot today. There’s this hollowness inside me I can’t fill. It’s almost like his death is very real today, which is odd because I know he’s not coming back. But I can’t explain it. I feel very off and sad. This morning I watched a video we had made when we used to blog, and it made me so happy to hear his voice, and see him smile. But then it’s gone. I have to search for it if I want to hear it. I allowed my mind to float back in time to when we grabbed a cab to his birthday party in K-town. We had just started dating and it was carefree, wonderful, and fleeting. I was embarrassed by the age difference, but I couldn’t get enough of him. I miss his sense of humor, I miss his lightheartedness, I miss his laughter, I miss his sense of calmness through all the chaos. I miss him so much. But I’m so thankful I got to be with him.image

Memorial Day today

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

I got back from New Orleans this evening and this Memorial Day weekend has been nothing short of fantastic. I feel relieved, relaxed and most importantly happy. I had a great time with my friends. And of course when I reconnect I tend to think about those people who have come into my life. All the laughs, experiences shared and how people grow together and separately.

I also think about all the men and women where this holiday weekend is very somber and painful. This post doesn’t really have a lot of point to it, I kind of have been contemplating the reoccurrences of emotional hurt. I went to the WW2 museum in New Orleans and they have telegrams posted to family and spouses saying their sons are missing and cannot be located. It made me feel for those who ventured off to defend their country never to return again. I also ached for the loved ones who received those telegrams. To love someone so much where you feel invisible can also break you down to nothingness. Makes you appreciate the people who impact your life momentarily or those who are in it for the long haul.

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Back in New Orleans

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

Im spending this Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans. I wrote my graduate school thesis on The Battle of New Orelans so it’s great to be back here 8 years later. I still love reciting the history and folklore of this city. I got to reunite with my HS friends and again wonderful to know how much love and support I have all around. And it makes me appreciate the journey in a weird way.

my friends here are married and they are HS sweethearts. They’ve been together now for 9 years and we were talking about how they’ve grown together as a couple. From braces to wedding bands, and they still appreciate and respect each other deeply. Coincidently this interesting article came out in the NYT which I wanted to post. Im curious for people’s thoughts on it. It’s very pessimistic but having friends be married and then soon divorced I don’t think it’s tremendously off the mark.

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Thought of the day

“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”

I’m looking at old photos from the past couple years and I’m certainly a survivor. My journey has included a lot of experiences and meeting new people, and I wouldn’t trade it. The road in front of me is clear skies and rocky terrain, but you know what, when Im told I can’t do it and I’m not strong enough, those words echo and transform into coal to move this engine. What happens to coal under extreme amounts of pressure? That’s right.  Feed me more doubt, I’ll show you what I can do.

This is the house doubt built.

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My grief

imageCan you imagine having someone love you so much that even after 2 and a half years they still write about how much they love you? To leave this earth with so much love to carry you on? The love I shared with George propelled me to become a better person. I can confidently say I am more social now than I was when he was alive. I say hello to my neighbors, to strangers, just because a friendly gesture might change their entire day. Just like when people show kindness to me it makes my day that much better.  I shouldn’t be ashamed of my grief. But I am.

Grief is love turned inside out. I feel ashamed and weak but I love George. I lost my love once and I recently lost another through an ended relationship, so I can’t help but sit here and be reminded of losing him. I close my eyes and I can see his jaundiced face, but I also try to remember his rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes. His big grin, and his wrinkled forehead, and perfectly shaped eyebrows which I was so envious of. But I remember how he treated me, his words, his touch, and how happy I was with him. I love him so much and my grief is proportioned to how deep the love ran. So much so I continue to write about him, talk about what a wonderful man he was and how he impacted my life. If only we can all be so lucky.

I’ve taken giant leaps forward, but lately I have been taking steps back. But I’m still looking in the direction I want to go. I want to be back on track and continuing to flourish and achieve. I also know people care about me and having me not be my “normal” self is hard to watch. Creates discomfort because I’m not the cheery Julia I usually am. But I come back, I’ve been stringing together lots of happy moments in the day. But I need to grieve. My world became too heavy and I crumbled under the pressure. I fell but I will put one foot forward to get back up again. And because I’ve done this once before I will get back quicker.

I feel weak, but I am not weak. Grief is not a weakness. It’s human nature. If I could suppress this overwhelming feeling of loss, what would separate me from an animal or a machine?  I’ll never stop loving him, and he’ll always have a presence in my life. And if carrying that love is frowned upon, then I don’t know. He changed my life. And he still does. If only we all can be so lucky to leave this earth knowing someone loves us immeasurably.

Goodbye.

 

Second wind

image He’s not coming back. I miss him a lot. And I wish George was here tonight. I want his guidance I want him to rub my belly and tell me everything is okay. That I’ll be fine and tomorrow will be better and the next even better than the last.

My grief is really bad tonight so I decided to hit back to the widow boards to talk about what’s getting me down. I had some really interesting responses and it made me hum and haw. The big question I had is why is this break up impacting me so much and one woman stated it best and I felt it was the champion outlook I’ve been waiting for: “the loneliness sucks. The feeling less than is tempting to believe, but what you’re feeling is that you deserve better treatment and you stood up for yourself…. The consequence to ending a relationship is all the processing your brain does while you move on. The kisses and intimate moments and smiles are pulling on your heart strings because it was a life and it’s over. You and everyone here knows the pain of closing doors. Keep pressing forward. You’ll thank yourself at the end of each day.”

I’m not thanking myself at the end of each day. I rack my brain with hundreds of different endings and none of which are truly achievable. I have Bodie to keep me company, he’s such a good pup. Never questions my loyalties and what I’m doing. Just loves me the way I am.

I miss George. He was so good to me, and I love him so much. And I have all this love to give, but it’s not ever going to be reciprocated. It makes me sad, and it’s brought on this familiar hollowness which is slowing making me drown again. I could barely hold a conversation tonight with my friend. dead eyes and flighty thoughts of why am I back here again?

Grief, friends and Willie Nelson

imageWith grief it’s so easy to be pulled into the negatives. There’s an unforgiving grip of hopelessness, sorrow, self-loathing, rattled confidence, and second guessing yourself. I feel like I’m going crazy because I do not feel like myself. I feel like another person wearing my skin. And I’m surprised how overwhelming this bout of grief has been. I don’t feel like I should be feeling this way anymore. I thought this part was over. But two and a half years after he passed, one hiccup in the fortress caused for a full blown meltdown. I’ve had triggers of grief here and there but this one was bigger and being back here has been exhausting. But I’ve revisited the grief handouts and have been talking to someone and it’s been helping. The first go around those outlets weren’t helpful but this go it has been a life saver.

I am not going crazy. Turns out it’s a very common occurrence to have grief after the first serious relationship since a spouses death. And sometimes the grief is worse than the first time. When I heard this and learned this is common I didn’t feel so alone anymore. It made me feel better knowing others have dealt with this too. I’m having problems controlling my emotions and I’m second guessing my decisions and thinking I’m hurting the people around me which ultimately weighs and makes me feel worse. But I think it’s okay to be a little selfish too.

My friend invited me to see Willie Nelson in Atlanta last night and today I had a recruiting showcase just north of Atlanta so I thought it was perfect. I accepted and there I was front row watching a living legend. It was surreal. Jimmy Carter was there and got up on stage to sing, the night was unbelievable. When these opportunities present themselves and they are just so incredible and memorable, it’s those moments I do believe George is with me and showing me he’s got my back. He keeps an eye on me to assure me I’ll get through this hard time too.

I feel unbelievably unlucky a lot of times, but then there’s moments and experiences where I look around and just think how fortunate I am. It builds me up. And I’m glad for friends and those who put up with my ongoing emotional state and still smile and tell me they enjoy being around me. Because there’s so many days recently where I’ve wanted to be someone else again.

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Nothing Good Gets Away

This morning I traveled to Gulfport with my mom to see my grandmother. Last year around now I went to go visit her, and I’m back again now. When I go to Gulfport it’s a very sleepy podunk town, but it’s very beautiful. The gulf laps against the shore as the locals perch on the rocks fishing, and the boats idly float out a ways. In 2012, my sister and I took a sister vacation to Gulfport and we ended up meeting a few people who I’ve stayed in contact ever since. This afternoon I met up with one of the guys I met back then and we had lunch overlooking the gulf and caught up on life and everything in between.

After we finished having lunch he asked me if I wanted to go on a motorcycle ride down to the beach. I emphatically agreed because I do love motorcycle rides, and it’s something I really do miss. So I hopped on the back of the bike and we started cruising. The wind rushing through my hair, the sounds of the road, roar of the engine, I really felt at peace. The little communities on the way to the beach were quaint and then as we neared the shoreline, the mansions were impressive and towering. We puttered throughout and I gazed out at the ocean and began thinking about where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, and I started to get really emotional.

I’ve been learning more about the journalist Michael Hasting, who is the author of I lost my love in Baghdad which is about the war on terror in Iraq, and how his fiance was killed in a convoy ambush. It’s fascinating yet heartbreaking. But there’s one thing in the book that really resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. With young love, you certainly have to work at it. With young love that has a lot of hurt, it’s really hard not to have that hurt influence the present. And sometimes unable to process or deal you begin to look toward the future more because that is ultimately the light at the end of the tunnel, right? And when you’re doing so much of looking ahead, you miss out on what’s going on in the present.

For so long, I wanted to be someone else. I didn’t want to be who I was, so I worked at cultivating and changing my outward appearance and it did begin to shape my emotions and who I was as well. I successfully became someone different than who I was because I was so motivated to push forward. But now where do I go? I spoke with my friend last night when I was feeling extremely low, and they suggested I need to learn to be gentle with myself. I need to allow myself to hurt. I’m not just hurting because of Mike. I’m hurting because it opened up old wounds. Ones that were not properly healed. And I know these scars are some that make dealing with me very difficult. And I continue to tell friends and family, and others that I’m fine, but in reality I feel shame. I can’t explain exactly why, but I feel it and I think I’ve failed. Even though it’s situations far out of my control. And because of the trauma of losing George I try to enjoy what’s going on around me, but maybe I do indeed block out what really is going on around me, and in a F.Scott Fitzgerald kind of way I twist and invent a reality that doesn’t fit within the background of a character. People are real and operate in a context, and sometimes I don’t pay enough attention to the current surroundings but what I feel the outcome should be. I don’t know, I over-analyze.

All I do know is, nothing good gets away. Just needs to be found again.

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The lies

imageMy head has been spinning since returning to Alabama. Luckily I’m heading out of here tomorrow morning to Florida. My grief is in full swing. I’m not sleeping, not eating, exercising excessively and crying uncontrollably. When I walk outside my door I put on a good face. Everyone is complimentary. It seems almost excessive recently, but maybe I’m noticing more. I wake up in a haze and I don’t want to do anything. Days are feeling longer cause of the lack of sleep, and my brain is shriveling.

I do have a good support in place here. There are people I can talk to about what’s going on, but nothing will change the fact that the damage has been done. I feel vulnerable, I cannot believe someone who I loved treated me this way and I cannot wrap my head around the rationality of it all. I say it’s a real mind fuck. I’m burning. A fucking magnificent glow for all to see the spider webs of gloom rain down until I fizzle out and the wind scatters me around.

And then my mind can rest.

Time to paint my pretty face and hide the bags under my eyes so I can pretend I’m not tearing apart inside.