This makes the third time I’ve started this introduction- my mind is racing with ideas to write about. I apologize for the length in between posts, but I’ve been house searching, purchasing a brand new home, and organizing a move. On top of that, I’ve attended a pre-trial that once again rocked my world. You’d think by now, I’d always have on my safety gear, and that I’d be prepared for the days when I walk out my front door, and once again my world changes forever. That eventually, I’d add safety gear to my numerous other costumes, masks, equipment, and alter-egos it takes to survive the death of your husband. But, this stubborn girl just wants to exist in her world where “everything goes according to plan.” And, so over the past few weeks, I’ve been forced to once again change who I am because one person who, I don’t even know, decided to link our futures together forever. I have so much that I could write to you about, and considering I’m taking a much needed vacation from the real world, and I’m currently siting on a bed in a hotel room, I just might write more later…but for now, one thought just keeps replaying in my head. And, I’ve learned, if I just write about it, as scary as it may be, these are the blogs you all need as much as I do. They seem to be the ones that respond to both of our needs the most. I blog not just for me, but for you as well. So, as you are reading this, please be mindful that “Never take someone’s feelings for granted because you never know how much courage that they took to show those feelings to you.” Today’s post takes a considerable amount of courage. It lets you into places, I generally keep guarded even from my own self. But, I firmly believe that there are lessons for others to learn through my experience, and that because of the circumstances, my life lessons can also become moments of inspiration for you as well.
And so we begin with the events of one month prior to today. I was house-hunting, juggling life insurance claims, being a mommy to a little boy who lost his daddy – sadly all events that seem to have become my new “normal/routine.” And, I thought I was fine. I disregarded my therapist’s advice when she said, ” I think buying a house is just too much for you right now. I think you should wait.” I figured, she was wrong. Yep, completely a narcissistic thought, but she obviously didn’t know me. I could handle this! So, I house hunted. I rationalized it in my mind with thoughts such as, ” just because you lost your husband, doesn’t give you the green light to be financially irresponsible. You have the means now to own a house, so stop throwing money away on rent.” It seemed logical at the time. But, what I really was doing, was covering up my real reason to leave the house. Really, I wanted to move so badly because I just couldn’t handle the bad memories anymore. I couldn’t handle being bombarded by memories in every inch of my house. I didn’t want to think these thoughts because in my mind those thoughts betrayed J. Now, I realize, those thoughts weren’t a sign of betrayal- just my mental well-being. I found it increasingly more difficult to be happy and positive in the house we were renting. And, I thought that buying a new house would solve that problem. It seemed logical in my mind at the time, and really in the end, it was the right decision. But, moving out of that house, packing up J’s things, and being forced to relive every memory we’ve basically ever made together, caused me to have to posses an Olympic like strength. You know, those guys who pull an eighteen-wheeler across payment with just their own personal body strength- that’s the amount of strength I needed. And, then, in the same instance, it’s strength I didn’t want to possess…
Somehow, with numerous breaks, and the help of friends who are my lifeline at this point, I found a house, packed up J’s items and my own, and moved. I walked out of the house that was the last place we ever lived together. And as I walked out that door one final time, I was overcome with a unique combination of happiness and sadness. Buying a new house was the first real step I’ve taken that secures C’s and my future. It’s the first huge decision I’ve made that separates us from the events of J’s death. And, I didn’t know if I was ready for that, but I also knew I wasn’t ready to stay in the old house. So, I walked out the door and into the new home- the symbol in my mind of the rest of C’s and my life. And, once again, as I walked out the door, I felt like I had that huge harness attached to my body, and that I was lugging behind me an eighteen-wheeler. Staying in the old house brought back memories I no longer could bear, and I wanted, craved, desired a fresh start. And at the same time, I felt that giving myself that fresh start betrayed J. Welcome back my old friend: self-imposed guilt. But, I shut the door. I got in my car. Drove across town, and I walked into the new house. And, behind me came my huge, heavy, cumbersome eighteen-wheeler.
When I walked into the new house, I wanted more than anything to leave behind the truck. To take off my harness, to stop being strong, and to just sink into the safety of my “new” start. But, I found oddly enough, I wasn’t happy there either. If anything, it felt like someone had secretly added more cargo to the truck, and that instead of just pulling a truck, I was pulling a truck that was half-full. I distinctly remember laying in bed one morning at 3 am thinking, “why would I think a new house would solve my problems. Erase the bad memories of answering the door at 12:40 am?” I hated, well still hate, that front door. I hated looking at it, walking down those steps, walking across the drive way. I hated looking at the closet where the dress I wore to J’s funeral was still sitting. But, when I looked in the closet at the new house, or I walked through the new front door…I felt nothing. Not happiness, not sadness – simply nothing. And, as much as I hate feeling sadness, I hate feeling nothing even more. I wanted so badly to be as “happy,” as I told all of you I was. And really, I was happy with the house. It’s everything I could possibly want. But, when I looked at its beauty, all I saw was guilt.
The beautiful countertops, the hardwood floors, the beautiful trim, the huge closet, all reminders of my own guilt. That, I wouldn’t have this beautiful house, if J didn’t die. That because of his death, I’m standing in my dream home. And, I just cried, and cried, and cried. And so here in lies what I like to call my intelligence vs emotion complex. Intellectually I know my thoughts are silly. That J would be more than happy for us to have this beautiful house, a secure future for C, etc. But emotionally, I’d give every bit of it up, just to see him again. The life insurance claims, the new house, the new car, all of it…every single ounce, just to see him again. Sometimes I struggle with letting my intellectual restraints go, and just feeling. And in that moment, at 3 am in, laying in my bed at my dream home, I despised my situation. I doubted my fate, my strength, my ability…and I just wanted to go back to my old “normal.” To go back to the rent home that wasn’t beautiful, but functional, and for J to be there with me. And so, this time, I added more weight to my almost full truck. And, I had to put on an even bigger harness to tow it with. I prayed for my load to lessen, or for me to be able to work through my thoughts…but I woke the next day, feeling just as burdened.
I got up, tackled the tasks before me, and at 12:09, yes I remember the exact time, I sat down to organize a pantry. And then, this overwhelming moment of panic overtook my body. I had forgotten about the pre-trial scheduled for 1 pm that day. And, while I still had 50 minutes, I was sitting in my pantry organizing outfit- far from appropriate for a court preceding. So, I showered, dressed, and quite literally flew out the door. I might have tripped in my rush to leave the house! In my rushed panic, I failed to clothe myself with the appropriate gear for the hearing. I still wore the harness, pulled my almost full truck behind me, but I failed to pray, to reflect, and to get my thoughts together before entering this pre-trial. You may ask why that was even necessary. It’s just a pre-trial. But, a pre-trial means, once again, I am forced to look the man who hit J in the eyes, and see him walk free. And once again question my OWN views of humanity. I needed my safety gear on today…and I was too rushed to even think about clothing myself against seeing him again. Now, looking back, it’s sad that pre-trials have become almost a normality for me. That being in a court room, hearing my husband’s death discussed, has become a “normal/routine” part of my life.
I jumped out of the car, and quickly walked the what seem like 400 million steps to the top of the courthouse. I walked into the front lobby, and I’m greeted by his and his family’s faces staring back at me. And, I stop. I freeze mid step. It’s obvious we know it each other…the proof is in the looks on each of our faces. I had forgotten, he was out on bail. That we would be sharing the same lobby. And, in that half of a second, I crumbled. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked while standing completely still. The rest of the world went on around me in slow motion..and I just stood still. And, as I stood still, the momentum of pulling a loaded down eighteen-wheeler behind me, causes it to crash into me. To knock me emotionally off balance, but somehow I still stand. And, I begin to weigh out my options. I don’t want to appear afraid, I’ve already been made victim enough..but I can’t logically go over and verbalize my thoughts to him. So, with the weight of my truck constantly pushing against my back, and my mind going in a million different directions. I stare at him…I look him in the eye, and all of his family with him. And, I decided retreat… and while doing so, I’m hating myself for doing that. I wanted more than anything to just stand right there, in that moment, until we were allowed into the courtroom together. I wanted to push back the weight of the truck, and to just stand there in the same room with the man who potentially/accidently killed my husband. But, I couldn’t. I didn’t have the strength, plus not to mention, I knew all of the officers would be irate with me for doing so. I retreated upstairs to my safety net…and I felt like I left every ounce of my own personal strength back downstairs with him…for him once again to rob me of something that is MINE.
In the elevator ride to the department, I fought back tears… I hated the fact that I was having to do this. That I couldn’t just make myself stand downstairs. That, yet again, his decision, controlled my life. I prayed for strength that I didn’t even WANT TO have. I felt the weight of the truck bog me down, and it took every once of my personal strength to force myself to walk out of the elevator. God bless the poor ladies at the front desk, they read my moment of panic, and leaped into action. I hated showing that weakness to them…to admitting to needing help, but I had no other choice at that point. Bless the officer, I’m sorry, I didn’t even catch your name, who left his phone call, his report, and who just walked a fearful me back downstairs. He didn’t know what to do, I’m sure he felt like he wasn’t helping at all. But the sense of safety he gave me at the point when I couldn’t be strong enough to give my self it, is indescribable. For a moment, those ladies, and this officer, took my harness from me, and helped me bear the weight. Again, I prayed for strength I didn’t wish to really have. Strength I needed, but never even wanted.
Throughout the court hearing, I sat and watched without emotion. I pushed back, and pushed back my truck that so badly wanted to pass me, to run over me, and to cause me to completely lose control. And, so somehow, I made it through. I was escorted back to my car by officers who once again didn’t know what to say to me, but their presence said everything in the world to me. I drove away, and I still pulled my truck. The truck that was dirty, scratched, far from beautiful…but yet I still pulled it because what else am I supposed to do with it?
The days went on, and I kept tugging, and then I woke up one morning, and I thought, ” I’m just done with this. I don’t want to pull this anymore. I don’t have the strength, and I simply just can’t. I need to get away.” So, I did. C went to spend time with his grandparents, and I booked a hotel room. And, I went to dinner and movie with a dear friend. A person who I’ve known forever, but has re-entered my life because we are fighting the same demons. We are pulling the same trucks, and we both have strength we never wanted to have. After the movie, we sat FOREVER, and talked. And upon returning to my room that night, one portion of the conversation kept replaying in my mind, (I’m paraphrasing), “sometimes we have situations that cause us to become stronger, but they result in strength we wished we didn’t have to have. Lessons we wished we didn’t have to learn.” And, in that moment, and the many hours thereafter, it dawned on me that it’s okay to not want to have this strength. To not want to pull this dirty, scratched up, heavy truck anymore. That wanting to shed myself of the bad memories, the front door, the doorbell, even my own phone with the record of the 20 something missed calls I had between 12:30 am and 12:40 am on the night of June 14th, wasn’t betraying J. Buying a beautiful new house and wishing my life could return to “normal,” wasn’t betraying him. Retreating upstairs, and leaving every ounce of my own personal dignity on the bottom floor of the courthouse, was okay. That in this moment, I don’t have to want to posses the strength I’ve been given. I may not even appreciate it fully. To want to give it all back for a simple hug. To want to be able to look at piece of grass in the park without horrible images flooding my mind. To want to even have the numerous scratches on the walls of my new home that were so frequently caused by his duty gear. Are all simply okay.
All of you say you are “in awe of my strength.” My strength isn’t a choice. It isn’t something I’m currently in awe of. It’s something I’m forced to have, or maybe I’m choosing to have it. I’ve yet to work through that aspect in my own mind. What I do know as I sit on a hotel bed in my pjs, and escape the world on my “me” vacation, is that I can’t trade in my truck for a lighter model yet. That, sadly, it’s not time to fully unload it…that I have to keep my harness on, keep tugging, and that sometimes, I have to allow others to wear that harness for awhile. That maybe I can repair a few scratches in the faded paint color, I can unload a few items…but that my battle is far from over, and that this truck and I are forever harnessed together. I’ll never be able to leave it behind because it is a symbol of my fate. The path I’m chosen to have, and leaving it would be abandoning J’s memory. It’s paradoxical, it bogs me down but it is also the means by which I will become a better person. The days of my world being rocked, are still looming ahead of me. I’m more prepared than 4 months ago, but I’m scared of the strength I’m going to be called upon to have in the future. Eventually, I know I’m going to be a better person because of it. But, until this happens, I’ll wear my tiara, leopard print rain boots, Wonder Woman costume, numerous other clothing items, and my harness. And, I’ll just keep pulling and trying to share my load when it becomes too much to bear. And to learn to become okay with not wanting the strength I possess, but eventually learning how to utilize it into making me a better person. Until, then, I’ll exist in my new house..and I’ll just keep pulling.