Noise of a 7yr itch…

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6 years ago today, I accepted an award for the challenges, choices and changes I was making in my life. I accepted this award from my concurrent disorder support worker. A special hand on this journey, a crucial time in its beginning. An award she had nominated me for. An award I didn’t feel I necessarily deserved, yet knew I did all the same. I remember the feeling of that time. Tearing myself apart, inside-out, trying to grab hold of any kind of understanding of the 5 “W”‘s of ME. Something I had struggled in for several years prior. Self-image. Enduring trauma, it changed everything, including all I ever knew of me.

Looking back, I could never have known true impacts and how vast some are and can and would be. How long some linger. How quickly some seem to fade away. Almost any and every area of life. From minor to major details and scenarios. Every ounce of the heavy that is grief I have, still do and always will carry, it weighs in and impacts life.

If I have learned anything about grief it is this… Grief, is love. It is love with no place to go. It is what lingers in the absence of something we have come to know, so well. It comes in many forms, many scenarios, touches many facets of life and living in the thereafter of it, can bring us to places and scenarios we never dreamed. The good, bad and yes, the ugly.

The misunderstanding I still see, feel, receive… It’s never changing. I’ve just learned to adjust and adapt to what surrounds me. To LIVE, in a manner which my loves are safe. My grief is love. It is entitled to be safe. The grief I carry bridges into my living son. That love in grief, it carries us. We remember. We laugh. We cry. We allow our grief to BE. When you’re searching for a way of survival in unchartered waters, we grab what we can in hopes we can survive. I hang onto memories that brighten faces and spaces… I allow space for that. I forget my son is the BIGGEST piece of a love I grieve….. He IS a world in himself and what we always dreamed he may be and more!! His dad would be so bloody proud, and he is so much every part of his dad. I take that love and apply it to the grief I carry for a love of my life, in my life, that made him. It truly is the ultimate peace in grief. A living piece. I am blessed for it. I celebrate that. I am faulted for appearing “stuck” to the blind eye. Grief, it has its demons. And this scratch I’m itching is the result of 7yrs of a rough bloody go!

It’s been a ride and many strides across this pond. I look at that woman from 6 years ago and am proud AF of her for hanging on. For gripping on for dear life that time she felt she couldn’t hold on much longer, and the noise… ughhh the noise. The noise. the naysayers and the novelty of boundary crossing, well it has long worn off and the running to stand still I have felt bound to, it’s finally lifting. The hyper vigilance I feel in parenting, let alone living and being…. It has crawled over me too long. Regardless of why, how, when… all the shit that ppl just do not get, just know, this has all been enough to make skin morph to depths unseen.

6 years ago, I accepted an award, so naive to what was before me still. Seeing more depths of grief after the loss of a child proved too insane to process. I am pushing 7 years into what feels like the war of a bloody lifetime, the war within me, isn’t so much the noise anymore. This chart I’ve navigated, the heavy ass, pea soup thick fog of it finally falls away from my shoulders and the pond that fog sat over moves further and further behind. The good never fades. The laughter always carries. The love forever lives. This day, this hand on my journey, all the hands that have graced me…. good, bad, ugly… I know the ugly truth more than some will ever understand or give me credit for. And ignorance, especially in grief, will always be bliss.

Live real & laugh and love abundantly.

Forever grateful to the hands that grace this climb with loving support… you all know who you are!!

In Litost….

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I found myself in disbelief and shock late afternoon this past February 14. I was notified of the loss of a former love and friend. The past week has been a difficult path to navigate emotionally. Having minimal information to understand always makes things more difficult. However, by end of week, I felt comfortable and confident in the knowledge and acceptance I had made with the information I had.

2 days later, I found myself reading a message from a reporter from our local newspaper. Looking to write a story of my friend and his life and loss. He had been referred my way by a few unknown callers who stated that we were a couple,… seeing we were a couple in words, it choked me immediately and my heart immediately broke at this loss again and also at the idea of anyone looking for information I had made peace without knowing days earlier,

I found myself in heavy grief the past few days. For the loss of someone I truly loved and cared about. A friend who was there for me and me for him. Irregardless of outcomes, learned lessons, hard realities ….. when you know someone and you love someone no matter what, you always cherish the pieces that you had.

I always saw so much more than what my friend ever believed of himself and I used to tell him that all the time. It’s funny, because his career choice would tell you a much different story. However, sometimes we all wear masks as to not expose our insecurities and I am just as guilty as the next of the same along this way. I am grateful a mask was removed late last year and for the last communication I have that is the unmasked friend I knew and loved. I’m grateful I was able to say how much more he was to me than he believed and how much I would always care. The tears I have cried, will still cry, tell me just how much I did. Like I always said … “You always steal the show, Babe”…. I hope you are at peace 💜🙏🏼😇

I never liked Valentine’s Day anyway…

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February 14th is forever significant for Jackson and I. Not to celebrate Saint Valentines Day. 4 years ago, we awoke to early morning door knocking to inform Jackson and I, we had lost another we love dearly the night before, February 13. Jamie was taken as abruptly and traumatically as the loss of my son, Brandon, a short 2.3 years earlier. Had I known than, what I know now…

The rumination; It has taken me to dark places and spaces. Ones I felt I’d never see or dare dream of coming across again. Even though I thought I had mourned my love for and within our relationship, Jamie.. he was my heart for over 10 years. One of my biggest supporters, my best friend and love of my life to the core. I was sorely wrong on thinking I had mourned anything at all. So. Very. Wrong.

The morning of February 14, 2018, I was suddenly flung into a confusion of more loss, disrupting the platform I had built-in healing and recovery from 2016 on and than…. it hit me…. Jackson. Jamie and I’s sweet boy. My everything, my mind, body, soul was disrupted to levels I’d not seen in the wake of Brandon. Jamie cared for and protected Jackson for me at that time. This time, I was on my very own and this was a massive reality for me to accept with confidence and hope because I knew from the wake of Brandon’s death, Jackson and I would NEVER, EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN, AGAIN. Ughhh…

I’d been there already, in the wake of loss. My childs loss at that. But, let me tell you the heavy I carried being back in the aftermath of loss again. Grieving, healing, recovering. A very frustrating deal for someone who battles mental health diagnosis’ and the desire to numb it all.

It’s been another 4 gruelling years. This ultimately stripped me of so much more than I could ever find words for, humbling me in a way that pained me so deeply into the roots and core, it shifted everything I had busted my ass for 6yrs prior.  I had to reset, remembering everything I had and was working so hard for and why. I remembered what was important. It’s been another 4 years of this process for Jackson and I. Relearning. Rebuilding. Becoming, again. Therapy has been the key component to the successes that haven’t led me backwards. Being supported in healthy ways is a gift in healing that is second to none! Reaching out and believing in that help along the way is half the battle. We can let this shit make us, or, break us but I assure you, we cannot do it alone.

What we believe directly affects our environment.  I believe there is hope still for all Jackson and I do while carrying forward from this foggy pond that has gripped me almost frozen under its dreary cloud. I believe there is still beauty to be found within our pain. I believe Jackson and I will thrive IF we can just hold on to that hope we still feel and have! 

Once the shock began to wear down about 4 months later, My mental health spiraled. And FAST. I struggled to merely maintain, my anxiety, the heavy of complex PTSD and grief/loss, the hyper vigilance I gained (a big useless gift built from many symptoms shared through my complex grief, PTSD and my anxiety) I’ve slowly and gradually become more and more hyper in my vigilance 4 years later. I had it all back together prior to that day. I was flung back into a “protect what could implode our world yet again” almost robot, as a mom, as a human being begging for some calm from the universe. I became angry at ignorance, saddened by loneliness, mourned a human I felt the most connected to in my life and still wonder if I will ever find something quite like the happy that I got to feel when the going was good. I isolated. I cried, I talked to air. I drank, I slept. I over ate. I still do all these things. Feeling like you are morphing out of familiar skin into unknown is an experience I struggle to find words for. My brain has thought some fucked up thoughts, dreamed quite a few fucked up dreams and witnessed unmistakable trauma. But, right there, that’s where I finally begin, 6yrs into complex grief, to cut myself some slack for being self aware enough to know all those things. Remind myself that healing requires time. That grief is not and will not ever be linear. Refresh my exhausted mind of the intensive therapies, treatments and constant self work I have been involved in since 2016 The huge progress and strides that I’ve made and how proud I am of it all.

There’s a quote I’ve seen around..”Be everything you loved about the person you lost.”.. I can carry the compassion and love that Jamie so loyally gave me time after time, and be exactly that part of him that I fell in love with in 2006, when his face burned itself into my mind, my heart and my soul for the first time.  I can carry those things and continue to embody them into our outstanding “not so little” boy, who, never fails to remind me, just how strong and resilient we are. I still cry if I need or want to and miss 2 very loved human beings who profoundly changed my view on life, love… on living..  I hope the heavens are beautiful for you both, above.

In loving memory of…

James Alexander Rohr

Novemeber 21, 1971 – February 13, 2018

Miss you, so much, My Jame

On Healing and Recovery…

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It’s day 32 of lockdown and day 15 of the stay at home order for the province of Ontario, Canada. It feels like day 1000 to some. I know for myself, I’m beginning to feel some cabin fever in ways and frustration in the fact that I am off work, while our province gets its shit together.

I was in a VASTLY different environment during our lockdown here in 2020. 2020 was unkind to the majority and for so many different reasons why. The environment I find myself in during this 2nd lockdown is healthy. It’s filled with support, care and concern. Truth be told, I was battling my mental health, heavy grief I had not acknowledged and with those, addiction during the 1st lockdown. I was a walking concurrent disorder until the end of August 2020.

I faced nuisances from human beings I trusted and cared about and learned allllll over again what boundaries are and that it’s ok to enforce them for myself. I did just that and still had nuisances fighting those boundaries. A sign of non acceptance on their part, not mine. Hindsight is always 20/20. When it all came to a head at the end of August, as angry and hurt I was by others, I couldn’t be anything but honest with myself about my reality. My role in my own demise in 2020 was equally as harmful as the nuisances of others because the fact is, we are what we allow and life is all about the choices we make. My choices sucked!!!

In the wake of the exploding head in August, September brought some new light. Fresh light to a very dark world I was living in. I got back into intensive therapy with a local agency to address my ever declining mental state, the grief I was carrying and stuck in and my newfound addiction with an illicit drug, rather than alcohol this time. Not knowing how or where to begin again was paining me. Harming me and the environment in which I lived and cared for my son. My circumstance left me no other option or choice. I was forced to address it all. Much like an incident after my infant sons passing, it was the best thing that could’ve happened amidst a very shitty situation.

One of the largest bumps for me to overcome was feeling like I had done this work all before, only to bring me where I was again. It was difficult to understand how I could’ve fallen so hard when I knew better or thought I did at least. This is where my concurrent disorder clinician came into huge play. Reminding me upon my initial assessment (a 2.5hr process in which my truths fell) that I had lived and endured trauma of great significance and impact to my life. Reminding me my PTSD diagnosis was diagnosed for a reason and that my responses to trauma were valid, even if not healthy. What I laid on the table with my clinician that day, it laid the foundation for the recovery and healing I not only needed, but, also desperately wanted underneath my numb and cold mind, body and soul.

I find myself today, sitting here typing with clarity. The clarity I had 2 years ago today when I first created “My Afterglow”. A blog I dreamed of writing to not only help me, but, others too. To share my story of living after loss. To help remind everyone that there is a rise to every fall. To bring awareness to grief. A topic with so much stigma around it, no different than mental illness and addiction. That therapy with a professional is the healthiest choice to make to address all the issues and illnesses we may face, be it body, mind or spirit. That admitting we are not ok, is OK!! That it’s ok to not be ok and it’s OK to ask for help! It is by far the strongest thing I have now ever done for myself. Ask for help. Times are trying at the best of times and during COVID times the struggle becomes even greater for some who may never have experienced things like anxiety, let alone anxiety to just go get grocery’s! Reach out to professional and personal supports! Doing it for the 2nd time in my life, it saved me.

Happy 2nd Anniversary to “My AfterGlow”…. I’ve never been prouder to live my truths, to live and share my story and I hope 2021 finds be blogging more than ever before.

The dawn of a new decade…

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” But is it really? Maybe for some of us however, not all of us. So many people I care about, are struggling. Whether the struggle is with mental health, addiction, grief or just general stress around the pressures of the holiday season, life struggle doesn’t end because the holidays are here. The holiday season doesn’t take the pain of missing loved ones away, or the want to use substance or flick poor mental health off until they are over. The holidays are a trigger for some pretty shitty emotions that can trigger and affect our mental states into some very sad, isolating and devastating places.

Growing up, I remember the holidays being such a joyful time of year. Even after the separation of my parents, my Christmas’ remained intact. My mom made sure of that for my siblings and I. I remember happiness with family and friends. Christmas eve at both my grandparents houses with so much family and than in our home where my mom and friends would gather while drinking and laughing and singing carols as my mom played the piano. Bailey’s , I remember Bailey’s and sneaking sips as a kid (yup mom, I did) until I was old enough to be allowed to have a few drinks in my mom’s home with all my friends who were now a part of our Christmas eve tradition. A message Christmas eve from an old friend reminiscing about those fun times, brought a world of good to my mind! New beginnings and changing environments happen every day. And things may not be what they used to or how we envisioned them to be but, there’s a calm and endearing feeling to finding peace within ourselves when we usually expect to feel pain. Memories. They have the ability to make us smile and appreciate or, break down and concede and live anguished.

This year, the anguish and pain of the ridiculous hands I’ve seen wasn’t so present. For almost 4yrs, I’ve learned to appreciate more rather than wallow. I’ve battled my love/hate relationship with alcohol for almost 4yrs come next May, I’ve grieved death in ways I never knew existed for over 4yrs, I’ve learned self love and preservation and how to maintain boundaries in order to keep myself and be the best I can be to those around me, this past 4yrs. I’ve worked so hard for this. Approaching a new decade brings so much ‘bittersweetness’ to my thoughts and life. I’m still not where I completely want to be however, I sure have come one hell of a long way. Deep trenches of crap and I’ve never been prouder to know myself and be better for it all. I still have and probably will make poor decisions at times and feel the anguish of my experiences and always will. Life is continuous learning even in the best of circumstances. Choosing not to let the bad drive our beings, that’s a level to strive for.

The dawn of a new decade is upon us together with the closing of this year. And though I thought and hoped this year would be the calmest and clearest of the past 10, I’m just fine with it’s progress and/or lack there of for myself. There’s still so much more I need and want and will strive for, learning to be patient in the process has been half the battle. “Patience is a blessing” is a quote a friend from recovery said to me at the very beginning of this past 4 yrs for me. He lost his battle to alcoholism earlier this year. His insight to negotiating life in the mind of a Borderline personality addict, will never leave my mind.

I have had so many positive blessings with all of the pain. I’ve met, shared with, had long conversations and keep contact with some incredible people who never fail to help remind me how lucky I am to have breath, let alone a decent attitude. Ones who allow me to be devastatingly sad and than ridiculously happy and laughing about it in the next moment, without judgement. My relationships from personal to professional are better from all I have lived. I am grateful beyond for it. My family and friends are second to none and have made this season easier to endure. It’s not that the pain isn’t there, it’s that it was allowed to be there and the laughter and joy is so much sweeter because of that. Hold on, pain ends… HOPE.

May 2020 bring so much good to all to everyone. Life is what we make it. Make it matter. Make it authentic and real. Make it beautiful! Cheers to a new year, a new decade and new beginning for all. Happy New Year!!!

For my dear friend, Rick P… Your brilliant mind will never be forgotten. I hope your soul is at peace, my friend…

4 grueling years later…

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4 years ago, on November 11, 2015, I awoke to the most nightmarish trauma I will ever live and survive. I awoke to my infant son, cold and lifeless in his crib. The details for some are to hard to hear. The details for me, they are too hard to type. They play out in my mind so often that it’s enough to make a generally sane person, go insane. It was enough to grant me a diagnosis of PTSD. What I lived through that morning… from my frantic phone call to 911, to desperately trying to administer CPR to my infant son, to the turn of a corner into the lobby of my apartment building and discovering my street lined with emergency vehicles and their flashing lights, to exiting the building to follow a racing ambulance in the back of a police car to a hospital… to a Doctor sitting beside me in the private room I was taken into, sitting beside me while holding my hands and telling me that there was nothing they could do and that Brandon had been pronounced deceased. The elapsed time from waking up to hearing my son was gone, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. The events within that time however, felt like forever. The events within that time, will last forever within me.

What a lot of people don’t know or understand is the policies, protocols and procedures that take place after. Prolonging what has already been a terrible nightmare, into what feels like a never ending nightmare. There is an investigation that MUST occur to rule out things such as homicide, negligence etc.. There’s also a coroner who must conduct an autopsy to determine cause of death. There is no write off of any of these things, ever. You must go through the motions and that I did. From not being able to be alone from the time I was first in contact with emergency personnel (I was with a police escort at all times) until I had gone into the police station with a homicide detective who had to conduct a formal interview with me, on video, in an interview room.

My apartment was treated much like a crime scene and I had to wait for the investigators to clear it before I could even go back into it. I was in my pajamas, had none of my personal belongings such as my purse and wallet, ID or cell phone on me the entire day. Brandon’s crib mattress and his blankets together with anything within a certain amount of feet away from his crib were removed from my home. Things were removed from my living room where I had laid him to administer CPR. I’ve never attempted to get them back. There was a policy that I could not touch Brandon’s body after he was pronounced unless the coroner had lifted it. Which she did after an initial interview with me in the hospital. That was the last time I held my baby boy in my arms. I sobbed while repeatedly saying “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry Brandon. I’m so sorry I failed you.” All under the watch of a homicide detective. I recall saying to him “I don’t know how you do this. See this. I don’t know how.”

Every professional I was in contact with, police officers, the homicide detective, the EMT’s, victim services and especially the coroner, they all treated me with great compassion. I never once felt I had done anything wrong by them. That wasn’t the case for my own mind and self however. Once the shock started wearing off, I really felt fault for not being able to know as a mom that something was wrong, before it was too late. A guilt I will forever carry irregardless of what the coroners report says. You never quite make peace with the “what ifs”. Or, at least I haven’t anyway. I never will because there will never be a day that feels right again without the presence of my child. The coroner contacted me after she had completed the autopsy and I was on the phone with her for over a half hour listening in depth to her explain that sometimes, things just can’t be explained and also, that there was nothing that I did or could’ve done to prevent the outcome of that day. That call to me from her is the only thing that helps me understand that I will never understand.

SIDS is the #1 leading cause of infant deaths in Canada. It takes the life of 1 of every 2,000 live-born babies in Canada. It is rare before one month of age and also after one year of age. SIDS is not the cause of death on Brandon’s coroner report. Undetermined is the word used. That is what gives his death a SIDS status. For the most part, we as humans crave definitive answers. We want the 5 W’s. It’s very difficult to negotiate peace with undetermined things. I don’t think I would have been able to make the peace I have with his death without his coroner giving me cold hard scientific facts. That helps me mentally, spiritually and emotionally along this way. I thank her beyond measure for doing what she did and emailed her telling her that.

Death and grief is a bitch. It’s a hellish path to navigate and I was slammed with 2 traumatic losses that have affected so much of my life and being in under 2 and a half years. It’s crippled me at times physically, mentally and emotionally. However, it has also given me so much more perspective. Applying it isn’t always easy and to this very day, I struggle with moving forward and facing fears. I struggle to understand so much within myself and in the environments around me. I struggle to believe I will ever find happiness and peace in the future and that the war within me with grief, will ever end. I struggle to parent my living son whom has lost the very same 2 loves as I. I’ve struggled with my mental health and suicidal thoughts and still do. I struggle. I struggle with so much more than some could ever possibly believe or understand or even take the time to hear. This shit has rocked my soul, my heart, my mind and my life to it’s core. I wish daily it was different. I wonder daily how different life would be and if the happiness and peace I seek now would be there already had I done things differently in both cases, before devastating loss turned life upside down.

I am still standing though. Still fighting. Still clinging to the hope I have that someday all the mass of grey will shift for me and us. I am grateful daily for breath. A privilege denied to many, including my 3 and half month old son. Not being able to give that breath back to him is something that reminds me how precious breath and life is.

4 years has passed, however, it will always feel like yesterday. I will never forget your first loud coo’s the night before on the phone with my mom, I will never forget singing “You are my sunshines” to you and Jackson before you closed your eyes forever. I will never forget you and I will never let your name be in vain. I may still struggle but, your life taught me so much too. I am grateful for your short physical presence and ever grateful for your reminders that you are not far. I miss you, dearly, We miss you, dearly. Forever a piece of my heart, my sweet Brandon. Jackson and I hope you and Jamie are soaring together.

On summers end…

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We are winding down summer break, all the birthdays and events that have truly made this THE best summer in my entire 41 years of existence and for reasons I am so very proud of. I’ve worked tirelessly to get and be here. However, there are 2 realities that have been largely weighing on my heart and mind amidst all this wonder of summer. One being that Brandon would’ve been starting junior kindergarten come September, and two, it’s really beginning to hit me the milestones and celebrations that Jackson will only ever share with 1 living parent. Brandon and Jamie’s absences are never far, but they are surely in my face this past week and a bit now.

Both realities punched me square in the face the morning of Jackson’s 9th Birthday while baking a cake. I prepare myself for milestone days, birthdays, ‘angelversaries’ etc etc… For example, I spent the day before and day of what would’ve been Brandon’s 4th Birthday, with my BFF, parents and another close friend beside the pool at my parent’s home. A safe and quiet space with 30 acres of land some of which holds some Brandon’s ashes. A quiet dinner and night with my Mom and Bill going into the day of his 4th birthday was exactly what my heart and soul needed. I didn’t anticipate either of these feelings rushing in and in turn was not prepared for the overwhelm of these truths. This in turn plays a wicked game with my mind than triggering my mental health, namely my anxiety as it demands I be on top of everything at all times. My day planner houses all I need to know about my schedule and what I can anticipate on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Day planners don’t hold schedules for grief waves or emotions.

Last week, following the fun of Jackson’s birthday, for the first time all summer long, I felt the darkness of the waves of grief, my mental health and my inability to control the things I cannot control. I reminded myself daily that in order to get through, I had to move through my emotions and the physical toll it took on me. I was down with a headache (I never get headaches) for 2 days, I was getting sick and for only a moment, felt guilty as hell for being so happy all summer long and in a state of what I would call remission of my mental illnesses if not for but a moment. I have not felt such crippling anxiety since early June. I was scared again to move forward in the wake of this all doing it by myself with Jackson, knowing it’s all me and I was heartbroken that I was only sending one little boy to school come September 3, 2019. It’s all such a HUGE horsepill to swallow and it’s exhausting, even on the best of days.

I’ve visited the thoughts of single parenting on my own until Jackson is an adult, I’ve visited the thoughts of milestones that will be missed by his dad and knowing how it makes me feel let alone, how it makes Jackson feel. I than feel heavier trying to carry it for Jackson so he doesn’t have to bare the pain I know all to well when it comes to losing a person we love. I don’t want him to hurt but, that’s not very realistic at all. I want him to be 9 and live so freely and lovingly that it looks as though pain never existed for him. I’ve visited the pain of milestones my deceased son will never get to live. I’ve never felt quite so saddened by it though. Maybe because I haven’t had to face a major milestone yet like, his first day of school…. It was more about the medical milestones that would’ve come with his Down Syndrome diagnosis. Like the day they pulled his G-tube out and me realizing that milestone was a massive one. Oh how I cried at how well he had done and how far he had come in such a short time.

The key to this all, visiting them. Visiting all the thoughts and ideas of what was and could’ve been however, not staying there. I will never forget what my grief counselor, who counselled me after Brandon’s passing and again last year in the wake of Jamie’s loss said… “I would be more concerned if you WERE NOT having any of these thoughts, ideas, wondering, what if’s, that’s when I would be concerned.” I forget that I am allowed to visit the darkness, even when I’m feeling the light of living on and within myself. I sometimes forget the trauma of a fateful morning in 2015 that profoundly changed my life. I forget that I am allowed to have ‘down’ days within this freeing feeling of living again rather than just surviving the day. But, I do just survive some days. I do feel so much pain and emptiness even at the best of times and that makes me human. That’s the premise and point of my blog. This afterglow of life after surviving what in the loss community is called ‘the unimaginable’. After surviving trauma.

I have written before and will write it again that I would not be where I am today without a massive support system personal and professional. Though all the work is done by ourselves, it cannot be done alone. I can count on one hand how many people in my life truly ‘get it’. I’ve lost friendships, possible relationships, job opportunities and the list goes on solely because of my mental health and the amount of grief I carry and will carry for life. Dating is an utter joke in the wake of this all, another blog for another day and oh the hilarity of that all. I am of the opinion that those were not the people or places for me. My life is better without having to pretend to be what I am not. I will never be that person for anyone. I’d much rather be alone than give to anyone who cannot respect the person I am and why I am that person. No one has to understand our specifics, but, they can respect our realities. Never settle for anything less than that. Any thing less is surviving and I choose to live rather than just survive and remember, on any given day, at any given time, it’s ok to not be ok!!

A massive shout out to my BFF, my person, my sister from another Mister, the one who truly gets me and all of my shit… Lisa A…aka Hooker… for living right along with me in ways I have not in years this summer… From hospital visits to Sarah McLachlan at Jackson Triggs to farm days by the pool and all nighters filled with laughter for the ages… Here’s to sooo very many more together!!! What would I do without you… #oliveyouhooker

July 27, 2019 @ Jackson Triggs Winery

On Father’s Day…

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At any given time I have anywhere from 10-20 ‘quick memos’ on my phone where I have jotted down a self epiphany or thought I need to express. Those memos usually make their way into my writing and are a guide for me on topics I want to write about for the most part. However, I have been working on 4 different blog subjects for over a month now and feel so much blockage and difficulty articulating what I actually want to say to make it readable and understandable for those who may not necessarily get the depths to which mental illness, grief, addiction and just life in general can take us. Father’s Day. A blog I started working on and just can’t quite seem to loop together but, here goes anyway…

Coming into this Father’s Day weekend has not gone as flawlessly as I had hoped. It’s another stain and reminder on what the reality of our household is. That I am the ONLY parent and Jackson, well, he misses his dad because he is no longer physically here. So, we try and celebrate with his sisters to remember the good, rather than focus on the pain of what is missing. Loving all the things we had, knew and loved about Jamie. Keeping his memory alive in my home is something that will never die, until the day I do.

Parenting is hard. No matter what the situation and even in the best of circumstances. Parenting is a full time job on it’s own. Jackson and I ran into a bump last week where, to make a complicated and essentially all is ok story, short, we had to take a step back, yet again, in a somewhat harsh way, where we have to visit the places issues may be stemming from. Is it general childhood growing pains or is this a manifestation of the amount of loss and grief this 8 year old boy has endured? I question my parenting. Am I doing enough? Is he coping worse than I thought? Did I miss something? What can I do to shift this into positive moving forward? That’s only 5 of the 1,0000,0000 questions I had run rampant through my mind over the past week or so, on any given day really. I cried, I slept, I was frustrated, I got angry. Angry at the entirety of the situation we are in to begin with. Parenting is hard. But, parenting on my own, knowing that Jamie’s hand will never be physically present again in the way I had always envisioned it would be for our son, well, that shit just winds you.

My parents separated when I was 9. I will never forget a day where upon driving us home after a visit, my father flat out said to us “I am your part time father now.” Years later I understood the selfishness of this statement but, what was the cost for his poor attitude towards parenting us 3 children? Well that’s another blog, another day however, it didn’t help my situation at all because those words essentially fell into not him being a father at all and absence of integral figures in our lives can and will effect us. The only consistent visitation my father upheld was when he was with a woman (RIP Patty) who was a single mom and looking back, I know she got it which is why we had that time. She helped try and assist not only my father but us to establish a new normal outside of our parents divorce. When that relationship fizzled, so did visitations with my father and he sank into the neck of a beer bottle for good in my view. My father was not present the way he should and could have been. And it angers me to levels sitting at 41 knowing this all while watching my 8 year old boy who cannot even attempt to visit a physical being. It breaks me into pieces.

I’ve been blessed with Bill, my loving step-dad who has given so much to myself, my children, his grandchildren and who always boosts me in this journey and doesn’t scold me for having a shitty past with poor choices and mistakes. He’s more proud I admit them than anything. I love him as if he was my own dad and tell him that every chance I get because I have learned so very harshly that everything can change in the blink of an eye. He means the world to our family that Papa Bill and for every shit choice he may make or has made, his heart bleeds more love and compassion than the negative any day. Bill and I have a very unique relationship and I respect and love him more than he will probably ever know. He is my adopted dad. You are one character and a half but, I love you so much, Bill.

I know dads pulling double duty as both parents and for so many different reasons. I know dads who do it on their very own, I know dads who are amazing dads regardless of a marriage or relationship ending. I know dads who fight to be every part of their children’s lives no matter what the situation or cost. I’m a dad now too and I feel like I’m failing at it to levels so throw me some dad advice, dads! A father figure is such a needed piece of growing up. They do things I as a mom never would be able to do, like take a fish off a hook for example. I will worm a hook and catch but someone release it for me! It’s much like life for me as a double duty parent. Bait it, but can I really execute the whole deal? Nope, because I will never be able to take that fish off that hook without assistance. I’m a mom who was thrown into the world of being the only living parent and I sometimes need assistance in the daily struggles we can face.

To all the dads out there who tirelessly work so hard, just like us moms, keep going! Keep doing what you’re doing and thank you for being better than my dad. Soak up every second of fatherhood because again, everything can change, in a heartbeat. Show respect for the dads that fight battles to even see their children, to the dads who are smashing stigmas against the deadbeats. I applaud you all!!!

To Jamie… we miss you. To places and corners no one would ever look or know. WE MISS YOU. We will celebrate you always and especially this Sunday. There will never be another Jame. Not ever. Never stop showing me you’re hand is here, even though I may not see it. I still hear you laugh, I still see you walking up to that fire pit. I’m grateful for the childhood and life stories you shared with me, the memories and laughter I get to share with our son because of how good the good was. Forever a piece of my heart you are and always would’ve been, no matter what. You are missed beyond measure by 4 beautiful ‘mini-you’ humans who also hold a very special piece of my heart forever too.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dad’s, to Bill, to Steve, to Jamie. The dads that showed me that being a dad is never a part time gig.

On moving forward…

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I’ve recently and FINALLY begun the journey into continuing education, namely focusing on bereavement and loss support. I have so many hopes and dreams in these next steps and a very passionate fire within myself to support those who suffer, just like I have. It is bittersweet to finally be back in a place that isn’t riddled in a pea soup thick, grief fog that prohibits me from taking on any type of new information. There are only some of you that will understand exactly what that means. Be grateful if you don’t know the depths of pea soup thick, grief fog. This is something that those of us who have swam in the dark depths of, wish upon no one.

Currently, I am studying a MOOC (massive open online course) and for some, the name of this course itself, may be deterrent enough to scare the shit out of a curious learner. “Grief MOOC – How grief can empower or kill us”. As a griever and one that doesn’t take things too literally or to heart, I knew this course was for me immediately because grief HAS almost killed me. Grief HAS, on 2 occasions, stripped me of everything I once knew and it felt like I was dead inside. It has blown my world apart in ways some will never understand or respect because, the fact of the matter is, our society sucks when it comes to learning and speaking about grief and death and loss and the tolls it can take on the living… mentally, physically, emotionally and in our surrounding environments in general.

In studying the first few chapters, I was blown away at the fact that I have experienced at least 6 forms of grief in a time frame of 2 years and 3 months. From traumatic or sudden to disenfranchised grief and it’s been heavy enough that I landed myself a permanent role in grief known as “Complicated or Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder”. That doesn’t include secondary losses either and those rushed in like raging river waters and flooded equally as the primary loss. No wonder I envisioned myself hanging from that tree last fall, right!? No wonder. But, I didn’t, I didn’t let it kill me.

So, what about the empowerment? I consider myself a very lucky human being that had the ability to still hear her gut when her gut spoke that it was time for more help at one of my worst and most shameful times. I could’ve laid down in the aftermath of my baby boys death, let it kill me and society would’ve accepted it because no wonder I was a mess right? “She lost her baby, I’d be drunk too, in fact I’d probably kill myself” was one thing I heard along the way. Pretty empowering, right? I was definitely on that path however and truly began to not give a shit. I had someone telling me I was horrible person and mom, that I deserved to lose my son in the months leading up to the incident which helped me to admit my realities and live my truths. I quickly realized under the support of caring professionals and my own self reflection, NONE of that was true of myself and that not a single opinion of me, good or bad, mattered but, that of myself. Self discovery and re-learning myself and life itself has empowered me. Self awareness is empowering!!

I could have conceded to all the negatives that life and death seem to sometimes be. Concede to the negative that death is the end and losing Brandon and than Jamie so sudden and traumatically could and should have killed me. Is that what Brandon and Jamie would want for me, for me to be for Jackson? To concede to life because I’ve lost? Absolutely not! Those 2 are surrounding us cheering us on louder than some of the living humans in our lives! Sad but true. Jamie was always one of my biggest supporters, even the last phone conversation we had less than 2 hrs before his being would leave this earth, he was cheering me on and I him in the next chapters we were about to take. Over a year later and the pain of that conversation has turned into an empowerment on parenting our son. Hope, laughter, support, beautiful friends and family and professional supports who believe so damn much in me, that empowers me! Brandon, he empowered me. He gave my life back at the cost of his and there is an unscripted beauty there that no one else in this world has to understand but, myself and that empowers me into places I never dreamed of.

I have my Mom to thank for A LOT of the positive, strong and courageous qualities I seem to carry. I watched this woman raise 3 children, all who played rep baseball province wide, while she still played ball herself. She had a corporate career in the 80-90’s dealing with ignorant corporate men as a warranty department manager, not to mention the turmoil my almost non existent father would throw her and our way once in awhile. Resilience, strength and courage is an apple I bit off my mom’s tree. We have and probably will still butt heads at times, however, if it wasn’t for her and what she did for her own self so many years ago, I truly don’t believe I would be half as resilient or courageous otherwise. I don’t often say it Mom, but, thank you for everything you did for us 3 kids. Knowing and seeing what you did to keep moving forward, the importance of it is so very clear in the chaos and I use it to empower myself moving forward, just like I watched you do for so many years.


To all the beautiful humans that have helped empower me along this way.. Mom, Lisa (my best hooker), Lisa B, Lynn (my hobbit), Susan A, Marilyn O, Pam, C, Jenny B, Gillis, Roger B, Lee and Di, Christine, Kim, Kirsten, my entire day treatment team, Corah, Bailey, Talea, Jen… I’m sure I’ll think of a few names after this is published too… Thank you! I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I am grateful, I am empowered!!

“At any given moment you have the power to say, this is not how the story is going to end” – Unknown

For some, ignorance is bliss…

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A knock at my door this week gave me quite the mind trip afterward. Two Jehovah’s witnesses came to my door and at the time I thought nothing of it. When I opened the door to them (a male and female), the male immediately handed me a pamphlet and said “We’re inviting you to the death of Jesus.” I said a very robotic, “Thanks” took the pamphlet and closed my door not processing what was said, I just wanted these door knockers off my porch no matter what their sell was. Not 10 mins later, it registered to me that I was just invited to death. WTF?!?

My immediate reaction was to run down the road and ask if their approach had any consideration for what my life environment may be and tell them that if they were trying to ‘recruit’ me, so to speak, their flair for empathy, was the most ignorant I had seen. Religious beliefs aside.

I did not grow up in a religious home. My parents were not church going people. I was on baseball diamonds Sundays, either playing myself or watching my mom, sister, brother. NFL Sundays. Those were my Sundays. I’ve always struggled with religion and recently have contemplated trying to go into a church just to see how it makes me feel. To see if it does or has potential to help on some level. For myself and Jackson. My battle with a higher power has been an interesting one to say the least lately. I’m just not sure after all the shaking up of shit, what exactly I’m believing in again sometimes. Pieces are missing and though I am coping, I do know I need more. So does Jackson. Continuous learning is never a bad thing. It’s a touchy thing, religion. I’m an open thinker and believer for the most part. That we all bleed the same colour blood and that empathy bleeds love. Even if we disagree.

Ignorance is bliss to some. It can kill a lot. It has and does. From war to politics, personal relationships, the list goes on. Ignorance killed hope for me last year. I refuse to let it again. People are ignorant jerks sometimes. I concede to understand that I don’t have to agree or engage with those people. Boundaries are a great tool to have for that. Especially a physical one like a door that allows me to close the invitation to the death of Jesus at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

Ignorance has closed my heart off to a lot, made me hyper vigilant and given me a cold and dark sense of humour at times. I do not allow ignorance inside whenever possible. Be with those who are good for you, they say. I think ignorance has somewhat stolen my spontaneity, sense of security and even the ability to open myself intimately to any one or thing. There’s more, I’m sure. That’s where the missing really show to me though. It’s hard to process and heal through it all while parenting a grieving little boy as well. We don’t need ignorance. We, need love and understanding.

The Four agreements are such a simple moral ground base for me…

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

Basic life skills. 101. Thank you, Don Miguel Ruiz.

To the Jehovah witnesses that brought death to my door, no offense to you or your religious beliefs, but, Screw you!! We will be declining your invitation. I watched real death, it’s been at my door twice in very traumatic ways. It profoundly changed my everything and I don’t feel your religion is what I need to help me feel whole again. I’m almost inclined to send your organization a complaint but, I strongly feel it will fall on ignorant eyes and you’d still just try and push your beliefs on my situational needs so, I’ll find something more constructive to do with my time.

For now, my religion is love, kindness and empathy. I may be somewhat at war with my higher power, however, those 3 beliefs within myself will never change. We should celebrate and believe that we all are allowed to have our own higher power, whether or not we agree with others beliefs, or not. Whether its a religious belief or an opinion of the ignorant… you can have your say however, people do not have to listen nor do they have to care. Don’t be ignorant. Be open always to understand that we may all not ever find understanding, but, we can still be kind and respect difference. We can also appreciate those differences in peace. Life is a kaleidoscope of views.

Those Designer Genes…

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This past few weeks, my son Brandon has been so present in my mind and thoughts. He always is, however, these thoughts aren’t the ‘norm’.

March 21 or 3/21 marks World Down Syndrome Day. Brandon was born with Trisomy 21, better known as, Down Syndrome. I celebrate this day with family, friends and professionals worldwide and always will. They have all been touched in some way by one simple, little, extra chromosome. Just like how Brandon’s short life with DS, touched mine.

Getting Brandon’s diagnosis… terrifying. Life changing. A month at McMaster Children’s hospital, in and out of the NICU after emergency surgery to repair a duodenal atresia, issue after issue, all while trying to absorb that I was now the mother of a child with a disability and there were no if, and’s or buts about it. Brandon would always have Down Syndrome. Wrapping my brain around that was not difficult, but, it was taxing. I started researching the crap outta DS, found the Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton and joined support groups via social media and was welcomed into a world of human beings who supported and cared beyond borders. A virtual family of support for this new life path we were now embarking on. Overwhelming support and visions of success in what in the ‘old days’ of DS seemed impossible. I was getting messages from parents young and old about how much their lives had changed for the good when that extra chromosome came into their life. I managed to gather it all together and was able to envision a productive and successful life for my sweet boy. I had hope in heaping loads and felt the strongest purpose I had ever felt in my life. A new path had been paved.

My recent thoughts have been around all the beautiful things I envisioned for my sweet boy and all the milestones we will never get to or celebrate. I mean, we didn’t even make it to his first birthday. It was gut wrenching, soul crushing and devastating to see the new path I thought we were paving, GONE. Literally, overnight. The solid stepping stones were ripped from beneath me and everything I thought I was doing and knew was gone. All the dreams, wishes and aspirations, GONE. I felt I had failed as a mom. I luckily had a coroner who took the time to make very clear to me that no matter what, there was nothing that I could have done. This wasn’t my fault. Had I gone left not right the day before etc, it could not and would not have changed the fact that SIDS takes the lives of infants without any known cause. In the wake of Brandon’s passing, I struggled desperately with the why. What was the purpose, his purpose? Brandon became a catalyst for my recovery and I made peace with my own thought that his purpose was to remind me that I still have purpose and I ran with it and had massive success.

It’s been so difficult walking a path of heavy grief again. I’ve been here. I did this already and I’ve been so angry at times knowing I’m again grieving and feeling like I’m not progressing forward after all the exhausting and deep digging I did to be able to keep moving forward in the first place. I keep thinking to myself over and over again, be all the things you loved about the person you lost. I am desperately trying to be, trust me! My mental health gets in the way sometimes and I’ve had some ridiculous hiccups from asshole humans along the way since early 2018, however, feeling like you’re running to stand still and doing all the work all over again that you thought you already did… It made me want to give up. Than I see my thoughts about Brandon, all the milestones I grieve for us to not celebrate with him, all the strength and endurance he showed me through being poked and prodded in his first 35 days of life. How can I give up on me when I would never have given up on him. No different than any of my children. Especially Jackson. What is me giving up going to serve into our already torn apart world? Nothing, except more pain and my Jackson has endured enough loss already, just like me.

I’m re-drawing lessons, strengths, thoughts from Brandon’s passing and the aftermath. I’m remembering to keep on fighting just like he did. To be courageous, like him. To hit milestones and celebrate them because had I not had my experience with Brandon, I may not truly know just how momentous they are or how my designer genes which are rich in mental health diagnosis make me my very own designer gene rockstar, just like him. I remind myself that I can endure, just like he did. I have endured and I am still standing despite it. When you awake to a lifeless child in their crib and frantically go into panic racing for a phone to dial 911, desperately trying to put breath back into your child, well, that changes you, just a wee bit and it’s enough to break you. Facing a second traumatic loss has just complicated things but, I’m still navigating while standing and I have Brandon to thank for that. Without his life, his lesson that different is beautiful, that courage and strength come in some of the smallest packages, I would not be here today. I found beauty within unimaginable pain and it can be done in any and all situations and scenarios if only we are patient enough to allow the stepping stones to fall where they may, on their own.

Thank you, to my Rockstar Brandon. You were and still are a gift and person I draw so much from. You never steer me wrong. We miss and love you, so very much. These next steps for me are dedicated to you. I love you, my sweet Brandon.

To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day click here:

https://www.worlddownsyndromeday2.org/about-wdsd


It’s fitting…

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Today, is #BellLetsTalk day here in Canada and though my blog is still ‘under construction’, I feel it all too fitting to share it with the world today.

I am the face of mental illness. I have 4 mental health illnesses that impede on how I live my life daily and slap some massive grief on top of that and we have, me.  I may struggle, however, I do everything possible to find the light in the dark, the beauty within pain, the afterglow of my life after loss and mental health diagnosis’.  And laughter, well, it’s just one of the best medicines out there.

I work diligently to cope and understand.  I also work hard to make my story heard.  If my story can help just one, just one person, reach out, talk , live their truth, than I have succeeded.

The stigmas that come with mental illness have consequences beyond what some of us could ever imagine.  The consequences of living in shame or fear that stigmas around mental health can cause, they are fatal and not just physically.  Stigma, it can take our heart, but, also our souls.  To some of the darkest places.  In the depths of darkness, I have found corners of darkness within myself I never knew existed.  They lead to suicide ideation, isolation from any type of support, professional or personal and the list goes on and on and on.

Speaking my truth to not only the world, but also, to myself, it helped save me.  It also allows me to live my truth, unapologetically, every single day.  I still struggle in the stigmas that have held me back in the past few years, but I have a ‘0 fucks given’ attitude towards the shamers or blamers. I know my truths and I don’t have to justify them to anyone!

I was 38 years old when my truths fell.  Time lost is a lesson learned, they say.  It just makes me that much more passionate about living life at 40 and how I want to move forward in peer work with others who suffer just as I have and continue to learn, heal and grow within my mental health.

If you suffer, reach out!  I assure you, I am only here today because of my strength and courage to do just that and you can do it to!!!

My name is Lindsay Beal and I am the face of mental health.

Brave, not strong…

If there were one thing I wish… it is that we could always see through our pain to the place of acceptance and peace… To not fall into the parallel of disorder, addiction or mental health when the universe and life seem to be dealing, shit cards to your hand…

Watching someone you love be lost and in pain is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I’ve experienced it’s depths with 3 people in my life who I hold near and dear. You are helpless to the choices another makes. It’s difficult to comprehend at times and is exhausting and draining trying to remind someone how worthy they really are when they are carrying a heavy dark soul.

I’ve seen pain. I’ve watched pain fall upon people and change their life in seconds, I’ve held pain and the heavy dark soul that can attach itself to it. It’s a massive dark cloud that does not go away easily. Every scenario has it’s venture, it’s journey through. There are always different stages and parts of any story. So many perceptions and perspectives on any given situation or scenario. We can get lost sometimes in the perspectives and perceptions from others, into our stories… we can sometimes lose sight of our own selves, our own thoughts and ideas while reveling in the world of others ideas, thoughts and/or judgements. It’s not a place to stay, however.

They say we are what we allow. Are we fully though?! Sometimes, shit happens. Sometimes, we have 0 control of what is occurring in front of us or to us. The power to control is not always in our hands. Understanding how to let go and let things just be is a very difficult concept to comprehend. We are programmed in ways to do for ourselves. However, we are not always programmed for healthy choice making or how to maintain healthy boundaries for ourselves with yourself or others. Making the healthy choice at a time of crisis or life being in disarray, for example, is not always the case for someone living in turmoil whether a chronic or isolated issue, making a healthy, wise minded decision or choice does not always come easily to someone in pain. Be it physical, emotional or mental pain. Finding the right stuff for yourself to keep going and in a positive way, can be such a difficult search.

I’ve said before what it’s like to have someone tell me “You’re so strong, I don’t know how you do it”.. Things such as this being said, for myself, is almost like a double edged sword. “You’re so great but, I have no idea how you take on this pain everyday.” Fact is, I’m not strong. The courage to continue when it feels like nothing is left to fight or continue for is one I battle everyday. Even though I truly do know now more than ever that there is so much left to hold on for, it still doesn’t bring my losses back. Holding on to that belief and hope is what makes me brave as hell to keep going at all, because there are many a day where giving up felt or still feels like the only option at all.

The courage to face a bad anything and the brave heart it takes to endure the ins and outs of that will never change for me. I keep going. Through what feels like the same ridiculous motions, over and over but, I didn’t come this far to only come this far. I have not endured this all for nothing. Great words of advice in healing and recovery “prove them all wrong”. This journey feels like the never ending story to me in ways and is always in motion even when I’m on stand still… I’m idling again at the starting line…. Running to stand still, is how I describe it to my counselor. Like the U2 song Jamie introduced me to years ago….

“And so she woke up, woke up from where she was lying still. Said I gotta do something
About where we’re going. Step on a steam train, step out of the driving rain, maybe run from the darkness in the night.”

Choose to believe, choose to see more, choose to see more within yourself. We are a force to be reckoned with when we carry courage and hope for ourselves and our lives. Finding the positive somehow within the negatives or the beauty within our pain can lift us to places we never knew existed. All because we shifted our perspective and choose to perceive differently than our norm. Maybe, it’s not happening to you, but rather, for you. It’s all about perspective. We’ve been through and endure so much more than just our traumas or life experiences. They can lift us to greater places.

You will not always be strong, but you can always be brave.”
Beau Taplin

On 6 years…

6 years. 6 years of finding ways through. Through the thickest fog I’ve ever travelled through. Days of floating in beauty I’ve found. Nights drowning, pained, frozen like bound.  Feels forever and a day ago and yesterday all the same. It’s entirely a clusterfuck to explain grief.

6 years. 6 daunting years of relearning living. Living after loss. Surviving circumstance. Fate beyond control. 6 years of flailing, falling, rising, life epiphanies, falling, life reflections, life rejection, standing up. beginning again. 6 years of befriending, battling.. an most unwanted, feared and intrusive reality.

6 years ago death knocked and was beneath my lips. A grievous tsunami to life without warning. The calm before the crash was newfound ground. Purposeful. Hopeful. The tsunami collided with life 6 years ago and took out every foundation I ever knew. Direction I had, gone. Clarity to navigate, next to impossible.

Grief handed me the most shittiest card grief can deal.  In the world or “afterworld” of loss, child loss is acknowledged as the most “unimaginable pain”, irregardless of age, circumstance, any factor at all. Fact of the matter, out of order death does not promote the ‘typical’ life cycle we may know or believe in. We are born. We grow, learn, live life into golden years and pass away, in old age, completing the cycle of life categorized as natural

I believe any loss and the grief we carry from it, is no more unimaginable or painful than any other loss any one has endured. Loss is loss. It’s devastating and life altering. Losing someone we love to an out of order death, it has the ability to steal life entirely from those sitting in its wake and aftermath. And there is aftermath, unique to our grief journeys. It’s chaotic. It’s disorganized. It’s pea soup fog you row lightly towards, over and over and over hoping the ride somehow guided you out of that foggy marsh. It’s running to stand still on the shore of that marsh, unable to let go of the heavy cloud that desperately needs to be released so I am no longer running to stand still. A war within a love/hate relationship I hold with grief. A reaction to loss, the 24/7 buffet of emotion encompassing it. Six years. 6 years of making peace, embracing grief, tearing myself down, inside out, in desperate hope that any and every thing good that fell away from me, will somehow find it’s way back.

6 years later, what has fallen away I know and understand never find their way back. I’ll never be ok with the fallen pieces. The raw and real in my life, within me. its seems to have fallen away, in a way. I accept it and continue striving for peace and calm. I rebuild. Reset. Readjust. Refocus. As many times as needed.  Moment by moment, day by day, month by month, year by year I have slowly but most assuredly, found understanding and perspective in this love/hate relationship I’m in with grief and, always will be. Without it grief, there’s no healing. Beauty within pain are words I first spoke 5 years ago. The idea that pain can bring beauty is ridiculous to some minds but, opening my mind to understand the reality, facts and details of my story and experience… it gave me the ability to see life after loss again.

Forever a work in progress, maintaining in traumatic loss is one of the hardest struggles I still face. I am leaps and bounds away from 6 years ago. So much change and challenge but what will never ever change in grief journeys, you are not here. Never changing. Never ending. Never a day has, Never a day will pass, when your face and spirit doesn’t grace my life or mind. It’s an undying rule for me that your loss taught me how to live again. It will always be the most beautiful part of the pain I have carried. Floating in that beauty, allows me to feel weightless. It’s a beautiful thing to feel, from the most unimaginable event, 6 years ago. It is the truest statement for me today, that the me today, is entirely proud and so glad, 6 years ago me, never gave up. 

On Acceptance…

Of all the definition points of acceptance, I feel the most appropriate for grief would be “willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation”. Noted under this definition of acceptance are words like tolerance, endurance, sufferance and forbearance. Words that seem to encompass the word resilience in ways.

It is my experience that in order to find acceptance, especially in grief, we must understand the pain and the changes to ourselves that has come from it. Pain changes people. Whether better to bitter or bitter to better, pain paves paths we never dreamt we’d walk.

Understanding and addressing my pain has been a battle for years and for many reasons however, in hindsight, at this moment, I’ve learned enough to understand and be self aware in a wise and healthy mind to make the choices that have brought me to these days I have been recently living that remind me of a place where I have lived before when life wasn’t a fogged bowl of pea soup to navigate daily. A place of happiness and calm. A place of belief and faith in the idea that life IS going to be ok.

Making peace with pain and acceptance of that pain is a difficult task in any scenario. Finding peace in child loss for example, has been quite frankly, the most painful hell for myself. I still struggle in it and may always. There’s an unspoken grief to child loss that seems to be a “faux pas” of sorts in “normal” life. People can’t fathom the loss of anyone let alone their children and it’s not spoken about near as often as it should be. Stigmas remain. There is shocking self doubt in even the bravest, an unspoken guilt in the aftermath of it. I have torn myself apart and down in the loss of my son because I could not save him and as a Mom, every instinct I have is to be that protective mother who had it sooooo together that she of course should, could and would save her child from sudden infant death syndrome. Reasonable, yes?! Of course not!! A coroner told me so however, that is the world of child loss and an example of how a mind created self expectations and doubt. Enough that it allowed me to lose discipline and control of myself.

All of the acceptance I have found has come because of some epiphany in self awareness and in healing. Perspective allows insight and in the fine and many many details we face in grief in loss or life, we need perspective in order to navigate a path of healing and healthy living. Acceptance is a regiment. It’s a daily affirmation and self routine applicable to any form of recovery and healing. It’s self discipline that can give so much clarity to a scattered and disorganized mind, body and spirit. Its utilizing professional and personal healthy supports. It’s believing and having faith that everything is going to be ok and after losing site of that twice in my life now, this round of lessons is making me feel like just maybe, the third time may just be my charm. Maybe I am resilient enough to endure and live the beauty of my pain. All I can do is believe.

When one door closes…

Art by my daughter, Taylor Noelle

It’s the end of an era for Jackson and I.. Today, we said goodbye to our home for the past 3yrs. A small 1 bedroom space that was once a beautiful new beginning for him and I. It’s disappointing and upsetting that leaving isn’t anything but a bitter end.

The landscape of this space and the life within it has changed drastically since we moved in August 2017. We loved this space, I loved this space at one time. It was a solice, a clean slate, an accomplishment to be back in my own environment after recovery and healing. It was mine and Jackson’s home after a traumatic loss and so much turmoil and life felt healthy and intact again. It’s been an emotional morning looking back over a timeline that tells a sad story of a slow decline of what was fought so hard to gain. A product of more grief and losing sight of myself AGAIN, within it.

There is no question for me or the professionals I work with for mental health support that I am battling the hardest I ever have for my own state of mind. For my life, really. Harder lessons are a pill to swallow, especially in grief and loss and I am still making my peace with a few hands I’ve been dealt. Namely, Jamie’s loss and the heaviness that came with single, only living parent, parenting. Parenting while grieving one of the great loves of my life. I felt that pain everyday since I awoke February 14th, 2018. I am a product of what I have allowed, however that day, that moment I opened the door to Jamie’s death, it changed the environment and landscape of our home in ways I have desperately failed to get back. As a parent, it’s blown the wind out of my sails and I’ve failed my boy because of it.

I’ve been encouraged to remember the saying that when one door closes, another opens. Leaving here and closing this door is bitter, but, it is a welcomed end to a very tumultuous period of time and I am trying to have the perspective that I’m not ending anything, just beginning again. Taking an opportunity to walk through a new threshold in life and I’ve already begun to move forward into it.

Changing routines, habits, toxic environments. Getting back to the things I love like writing, playing baseball and remembering all the positive things I am and how capable I am of being so much more like I set out to do in 2017 when we moved in.

I feel brave and safe closing this door. Carrying huge gratitude and love for the ones supporting, loving and helping me do this, again. Especially, my cousin, Ange, who not only knows beginning again is not easy but, knows loss and how mine have impacted my life and why. She understands my mental health and how it and my grief has driven my addiction into an active overdrive again and HARD for the better part of the past year of my life. She knows my pain but, she also knows the courage and hope I hold and believes so hard in me she’ll be the first one to put my ass in its place or a foot up it and QUICK!!..if I waiver from what I need, want and am doing for Jackson and I moving forward. I love you, Ange and our friendship has kept me sane thus far through this chaos. I’m forever grateful for simply even that. The laughter is equally as healing, let’s never stop doing that or playing ball together please!!!

Closing this door to end this era of pain and sadness that has impeded so heavily is an easy one to pull shut. I’m desperate to do it and have been for so very long now. I’m tired of merely surviving. I’m beyond ready to open a new door to living a life that allows me to feel alive again and I’ve begun to do just that.

Every end is a new beginning.

New Dawn of AfterGlow…

I’ve been trying to rebrand my blog. Taking it to an entirely different blog provider to layout and alllllll the stuff that comes with shifting into something new. Add the the fact that I’m not a total genius on blogware either. It brought me to the thinking that is the new dawn of AfterGlow. And, it’s a hell of a metaphor for what my life needs again in general. I’ve fallen desperately off track.

I haven’t written a blog since January of this year. I felt stuck and unsure of what to expect moving forward before COVID became a daily mention in our lives, let alone critical concern. I isolate on purpose in general. My anxiety demands space. I have no issue distancing. COVID’s effects on my environment aren’t typical. It’s impeded on what I already wasn’t doing before. It’s made me even more stagnant which has in turn affected my already shit mental and emotional health. I’ve had numerous ideas, thoughts, etc. etc.. No writing though. I can’t seem to work some things out in my mind enough to make sense to put it together to write and it’s so frustrating! And than I’m sidetracked… because during an already trying ordeal to get my life together… COVID has isolated Jackson home with me and I am his only living parent not to mention all this added extra precaution and heavy to do anything even a small walk to get out of isolation.

Awareness and self awareness are being demanded of the world and it’s something that I love to see yet, has also been lost in my journey along this way. Here I am writing a blog however, so maybe i’m not so much lost as, just wandered off track. I’ve also had a lot of extra personal issue as of late. But today, I woke up for the first time in a long while and found the shit I lost to sit down and write and get back to what I truly want and need to finally get to the calm place in life I want to be.

Truth is I’ve been battling hard. I’ve coped with substance, I’ve slept and slept and slept, been an irritable parent, faught with people I love, cried, been hurt, had super crappy thoughts and not been productive. I’m not doing what I should be doing and feeling stuck during it has made it difficult to explore solutions. I can see in my phone calls, texts and msgs in social media platforms just how much everyone else out there is also struggling. Things are intense for everyone around us!! I see a lot of extra love and support over and above the negative vibes though and that is such a positive during a time of such unknown.

Everyone, take care out there! Reach out if you are struggling! Never be afraid to ask for help! This week is gonna be a week of doing just that for me. I’m hoping it’s the new dawn of my own after glow too. Be well and stay safe!!