Flight Risk and RomComs

Did you watch The Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Typical cute rom-com, typical Julia role and film. In it, she’s in love with love. Gets engaged several times. Then bails when she’s walking down the aisle. Finally, she meets the guy who understands (Richard Gere). They plan a wedding, and sure enough she starts to bail. He’s prepared. He knows it doesn’t mean she isn’t in love. He knows it’s her thing. Her fears. Her past, her roadblocks. Her speed bumps, her baggage, her heart, her mind. And he loves her through it. He gets it even though he doesn’t get it at all. He chases her and loses her in the chase. And then, eventually, she comes to him. Ready to settle down with him. And he’s waiting. And they get married and live happily…well you know the rest.

I’m here to tell you, life ain’t this movie.

In today’s edition of “how to screw up a new relationship”, let’s talk about coping mechanisms!

So, looking back, I realize that I’ve never really been able to stay put in my entire adult life. I grew up in a relatively stable environment home-wise (don’t get me started on the dynamics, I’m JUST talking about the building itself…the HOUSE). I lived in 2 homes before I moved out at 18. My entire childhood was spent in two homes. Pretty stable, right?

I moved out at 18 and since that time, I have pretty much moved houses every 3 years with the exception of the house I had with Michael, which was 5 years and counting. Sometimes I’d just change neighborhoods. Sometimes, states. One time, a country. But I’ve always been on the move.

Because I never felt I belonged anywhere.

Take this information and fast forward to now. New relationship. Unchartered territory as a widow. A relationship that I quite frankly never expected, never looked for, sure as hell never thought I’d allow into my life or heart again, but here we are.

And as with any new relationship, there are quirks, kinks to work through, growing pains, debates, and yes some arguments. It’s going to happen, folks. We are both in our 50’s with our own very unique baggage and shit comes up.

And it turns out that I’m a flight risk. Me. A flight risk. Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me either.

When things get tense, I “offer” to leave. I don’t threaten. I don’t do ultimatums. I just say I can leave.

And this is super fucked up.

Why?

Why do I do it? Why is it so fucked up? Well, I do it because I feel like I’m a burden. To everyone and everything. Ever since Michael died, I’ve been floating. Nomading. Looking for “home”. Looking to belong. Hoping to find someone that loved me and that I could love along the way.

And then I found it. I met a wonderful guy who loves me and the dogs and wants to share a life with us. So I jumped. I don’t mean a little hop to a lily pad, I mean a full force jump off the cliff into the lagoon. I. MOVED. IN. OMG. This is not something I ever expected. Never. It was fast, but it felt right. This was/ is a HUGE step for me. I don’t live with guys unless I’m married to them. I don’t just “move in” with a dude just because. This meant and means something BIG to me. BIG.

And now, I “offer” to leave when things aren’t perfect.

Why is this so fucked up?  Because it breaks trust and makes your partner feel like they’re in a revolving door. It’s cruel and quite honestly, a little bit abusive. So why do I do it?

A lot of it comes from a lack of a sense of belonging. This isn’t about anyone but me, but I feel like a guest who has overstayed her welcome. I feel like I’ve damaged the relationship with my insecurities, self-loathing, and issues.

Another part of it is feeling like HE wants me to leave but he’s afraid to say so. So it’s essentially an easy “get out of Lisa” card.  Which is really stupid because I can’t assume to know his feelings.

In those key fight or flight moments, I always choose flight. It’s not because I’m afraid of conflict I don’t think. I have plenty of conflicts in my life.  I have no issues speaking my truth even if it causes conflict. So it’s not that.

I think it’s just about my damaged brain choosing that I don’t want to be anywhere or do anything unpleasant. I don’t want to feel like I don’t belong. I don’t want to spend my time stressed about relationships. I don’t want I don’t want I don’t want. I can’t. I can’t manage. I can’t process. I can’t I CAN’T I can’t. And of course, the LAST thing I’ll allow myself to do is cause any stress on others. So when I see something going off the rails, I want to just bail. Put THEM out of their misery.

But…I have to reprogram my brain as much as I’m able. I need to get to a mental place where I feel I truly am wanted and loved and accepted, and where I can shed the fears about driving people away. It really becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m so afraid of being hurt or losing someone, that I’m putting walls up that don’t need to be there.

And maybe I need to lock up my passport.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Mental Illness: Overcoming Ourselves

As you know, I’m in a new romantic relationship. I could go on and on about all the great things that revolve around this life change, but this is a widow’s blog and I want to be real. I want to talk about what all of this means, how it has affected me, how I’m handling things as it pertains to my past and my pain.

The news isn’t all good.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, happening really quickly. It feels unbelievable at times. But beyond that, as I am getting to know who I am now I am discovering that I have lots of emotional and mental issues. SURPRISE!! I already knew this much, but I wasn’t aware of how things would play out in terms of being with someone new. I have had a couple really intense breakdowns and I discover new triggers and observe my reactions to things quite frequently.

I’m exhausted.

DOGS: There are two roommates here, and I’m very mindful/ self-conscious about the dogs. They’re barking omg. They’ve run off omg. Someone peed in the house omg.

My dogs aren’t bad dogs. They’re undisciplined. They’ve lived their whole lives with a completely fenced and closed off yard to play in. Not here. The property isn’t secured around the edges and my dogs take off all the time. Mostly Walter and Rosie.

Walter is at the end of his rope. Resident boy Django is a DOLL but he won’t leave Walter alone. This results in Walter being on edge and pissy a lot.

SOUNDS: This is what I would consider a loud house. It’s not really LOUD, but there are lots of moving parts and the sounds get completely overwhelming. One roommate is a musician and plays the same music over and over again as he mixes and tweaks things. Dogs. Music. Conversation. People. It’s a lot for someone who has social anxiety and has been living alone for almost 3 years. A lot of peopling.

NUTRITION: This has been tough. I’m not eating properly. Not really eating much at all tbh. Roommates present a challenge with kitchen space, therefore presenting a challenge with grocery shopping or meal planning. This is really hard for me. REALLY hard.

COMPROMISES: Yes there are quite a few for all parties. I guess my biggest compromise is giving up having my own kitchen, and allowing my dogs to be dogs. I know Scott has made FAR bigger compromises. He moved me and the dogs in, for fucks sake. So his adjustments and patience are plenty.

Other compromises? I miss eating what I want when I want. I miss watching what I want to. I miss having space that is all mine. I miss the things that make a home feel like home to me, like pictures on the walls or anything that resembles my taste or decorating stuff. These are all just adjustments from being alone to living with someone. But for me, they sometimes eat me up. I literally cry sometimes because I just want to meal prep for the week, or because I can’t find something, or because this house doesn’t feel like “me”.

SHAME: Did you know that I am singlehandedly responsible for every bad thing? It’s true. If the weather sucks, I’m sorry. If you lost your keys, I’m sorry. If you had a bad day, I’m sorry. You’re angry at me? It’s my fault. You left me? My fault for driving you away. Things could be so much better if I wasn’t such a fuckup and a loser. I try to take up as LITTLE space as possible so I don’t “intrude”. Welcome to my brain!

LIFE: Scott has lived in the area for a long long time. He knows everyone. His kids are here. His friends, his childhood memories, all of it. Flip the coin and I have none of that. I’m completely a guest/ newcomer into his life and his world and I feel a little like I’m tumbling through space. Trying to navigate and reconcile that none of our shared experiences are new to him and that none of what we see is remotely familiar to me has been tough. It’s not easy to be the newcomer in a club of peeps who’ve known each other for years or even decades.

EMOTIONS: Wow. Where do I start. I feel all of the following things, even though not one person has done anything to make me feel this way.

  • Scared
  • Like he’s mad at me
  • Like he’s losing patience with me or the dogs
  • Like the roommate situation might be too much for me to deal with
  • Always on edge making sure the dogs aren’t making a mess
  • Always on edge making sure I do enough around the house
  • Unable to trust myself
  • Like I’m wearing out my welcome
  • Like I’m a crappy partner

ANTSY: Scott is afraid I’m going to run away. Sometimes I feel like running away. Not because things are bad – they’re not. They’re pretty wonderful except for my meltdowns. But I don’t trust myself. My fight or flight struggle is real and something I’ve never been really good at overcoming.

QUESTIONING MYSELF: Man. For almost 3 years I’ve worked on shedding my possessions. Minimizing my baggage (mental and literal baggage). Becoming more light and readily able to move or travel. And now I’m settling into a big house with a huge piece of property, and I’m wondering who the fuck I am. I was “domesticated” while married, but I’m a bit more “feral” now. I want to LIVE. I don’t give a FUCK about money (I know, immature or unrealistic right?). I don’t give a fuck about a job. I have the smallest wardrobe I’ve ever had or ever known anyone to have. I don’t want to spend my life doing household chores and tasks. I went through hell, and I’m still climbing out. I didn’t go through all of this to end up back in the grind. I have no desire to be back in any grind. I just want to LIVE life, every single day.

Yes, there are a lot of challenges – mostly self-made. But it’s the bigger picture here. Fear of losing control of my life and my choices. Fear that my mental health will drive him away.

Now, the good stuff?

It feels really good to be loved and needed.

Scott is a wonderful sweet man who treats me (and the dogs) so well. He’s kind, respectful, and understanding.

The dogs and I are safe.

The roommates are cool people.

I’m living in a beautiful home on a sprawling piece of land, because I met a man who opened his heart and his home to me and the dogs.

I’m living in a beautiful area that is rich with gorgeous sunsets, peace and quiet, cool outdoor activities and a 2 hour drive to San Francisco.

There is life, and love, after loss.

And in reality, all is well. I know this is just an adjustment and lots of growing pains. I’m not unhappy at all. I’m content and happy overall. It’s just a reminder that loss is heavy. PTSD is real. Mental illness is pretty scary. And ultimately, I got this. Everything is going to be okay. ❤

Peace, friends. ❤

~ Lisa

Connections Here and There

As an ever-increasing recluse, I had convinced myself that I didn’t need people. I had “lost” everyone in my life whom I depended upon. Taken for granted that they would always be in my life.

After I lost him, many friendships followed. Lost my home. My rescue. My life as I knew it.

I felt so incredibly alone, living in a country far from my friends and having no human interactions. I believed that I would be alone for the rest of my life, and that the people I love end up leaving so it wasn’t worth investing any more of my heart.

Quite often, I think about “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”. Sometimes, we can’t really determine which purpose they serve. I always thought Michael was my lifetime, but it turned out that he was a season and a reason. I learned so much from him in the far too short time we were together. And now I truly do understand that he was a season. A season I needed, a season I loved, but a season nonetheless.

Others have been in my life for a reason. To teach me about pain, loss, rejection…to teach me about love, happiness, living in the moment. I believe some have been in my life because I had something to teach them, or they needed me for any number of reasons.

Lifetime relationships aren’t common. Two of those relationships in my life are people I thought I had lost. Relatives who formed opinions about me based on the lies of another jealous relative. Those two relationships are coming full circle as I’m about to see these two people for the first time in over 10 years. I can’t discuss much more about it until I’m sure the family shame secrets no longer exist, and I’m respecting their decision to prevent chaos in their lives by keeping things quiet for them.

Connection. Connections are all life really comes down to. My connections and friends helped bring me home from a dangerous place. Friends are the ones who provided me with housing options. Listened to my breakdowns. Connected me with resources and other people who are in my life for a reason as well.

My hard time in the DR was definitely for a reason. I have made lifelong friends from that experience. Lifetime relationships. I think.

Most recently, a friend connected me with a really special woman…the woman who now lives in my former home in Minnesota. After hearing her story and talking with her, a wonderful friendship is developing and I couldn’t feel better about who is living in “my” house and knowing that it will be a loving, loved, safe place for a family who needs it.

My session with a medium a few weeks ago was all about connections from those I’ve lost. I was assured that those connections continue, and that I have an amazing army of guardians on my side.

As I write this today, I’ve come to believe that EVERY single interpersonal relationship I have, is a relationship I need. I believe that any person who is a regular part of my life, belongs there. I have come to cherish connection and love so much more than I ever did. I guess that’s what loss has taught me.

I’m having some challenges re-integrating into real society. This is much more difficult than I imagined it would be. Establishing new connections after loss is really difficult. But it’s happening. New connections will be made, and they’ll be in my life for a reason, season, or lifetime. Every single one of them is meant to be.

Peace,

Lisa

GRIEF: A Reality Checkup

It’s been a while since I checked in about my grief and my life as a widow.

I thought it would be helpful for me to look back at where I’ve been and where I am today and give everyone out there a reality check of what I’ve discovered so far.

The Stages of Grief can fuck off. I’ve said it so many times, and it appalls me that so many still don’t know this, but those STAGES? Those are for the ones who are DYING, my friends. When people know they are dying, they go through these pretty predictable phases – and pretty much everything they feel will naturally fall into one of the stages’ definitions. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told “you’re going through the (fill in the blank) stage”. Um, no. I’m not going through your neatly defined stages. I miss my dead husband. I’m angry. Tomorrow I’ll be sad. Tomorrow night I may be sentimental or filled with happy memories. The next day, I may actually forget about him for a while. And then I’ll get angry again. These stages are bullshit. You can experience a wide range of emotions on any given day, minute to minute. The difference now, is that I’m better at managing those waves. They come less often but equally as intense, and I know enough now to ride them out. Let myself feel whatever I’m feeling and ride it out. If this helps ONE person to understand that the stages of grief are NOT for the survivors, hallelujah.

Here’s another reality check. Everyone in the WORLD will tell you to take your time. Grief has no timeline. Everyone grieves differently. I’m here to tell you, they’re lying. They don’t mean it. They might mean it when they say it, but once your invisible non-existent timeline expires, they’ll drop like flies if you keep talking about it. Now of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. But I will tell you this. My best friend for many years is no longer in my life. My sister is no longer in my life. And my closest friends now are the ones who were either background characters in my life before, or people who I didn’t know until after Michael died.

As more time passes since my loss, I’ve been surprised at the love I’ve received, and the love I didn’t. I choose to focus on the love I did receive, and I’m more able to leave toxic people and incidents in my past where they belong.

Something else is new. I’m in a brand-new relationship. More on that in a future blog, but I wanted to talk about this purely from a widow perspective. I have read so many articles, blogs, and books about this and apparently it’s REALLY common to feel guilty – especially in your first relationship after loss. I’m finding quite the opposite is true. I feel incredibly supported by Michael and in fact, I believe Michael may have led me to this relationship. It feels real and right and true. I have zero guilt. Yes, I know he wants me to be happy but beyond that, I deserve to have happiness and love in my life.

Scott and me. More on the relationship in a future blog.

My boyfriend Scott is very understanding and supportive of my “relationship” with Michael. We talk about him openly. I share memories and experiences. He’s handling it like a champ.

I never thought I wanted or would be in a relationship again. But like most things, that changed over time and I realized that what I was missing was love. It’s not necessarily about “needing a man” or “needing” anyone really. I have proven to myself that I can do this alone. But it sure is more joyous when love is in your life. The cheesy truth I have learned through ALL of this has been that time is short. Love and forgive and play and don’t take yourself too seriously. Let go of toxic forces and stop doing things that suck joy and time away from your life. You don’t need everything you think you do. And ultimately when your person shows up in your life, you don’t wait. You jump.

And if you’re in the depth of grief right now, please know you won’t stay there. It’s something that every member of this Club Nobody Wants to Join learns. We walk with loss every day. We can let it define us, or we can let it inspire us to live full lives – whatever that means. And for the moment, I’m using the painful lessons I’ve learned to allow me to truly experience today. And today, I’m happy. ❤

Peace,
~ Lisa

Camper Living, One Month Report Card

Yesterday marked one month since I arrived in Pasadena. I have the van for little side trips and adventures, but we are living in a rented Airbnb camper so that I can decide if camper living is something I can do long term.

It’s been a fun, unpredictable, challenging, educational month. Lots of people are “jealous” of the life I’m living, and yes there are some really, really cool aspects to it. But there are also realities that people don’t understand.

It’s SMALL. Yes, tiny living is an adjustment. The shower is about 18” wide so there aren’t luxurious showers, but I’m used to that from the Dominican Republic. The ceilings are short (I’m 5’3” and can touch the ceilings). So the result of this is multiple times cracking my head open on cabinets 🙄. The bedroom is just that. A room that fits a bed and nothing else. And then there’s the stress. I’m in the Airbnb for one more month and then it’s anyone’s guess.

The good? I LOVE IT here. I love being in California again. I love the little camper and where we are.

The dogs are good. Walter has been “off” for a week or so. Not sure what’s up with him.

I’ve been meeting some guys via online dating. That’s a whole other blog 😳.

Three year ago right now, my dad was dying. It’s a tough time because looking back, this was the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it. His death was the beginning of a whole downhill spiral in my life.

So for now, I’m still in the camper. Still trying to figure out next moves. And randomly falling into complete denial and avoidance of my reality.

Life goes on…

Peace.

~ Lisa

So much in so little time

Well, that’ll teach me! I haven’t written since the New Year and so much has happened. Where to start.

Well, I left Colorado for a California retreat. Melissa loaned me her spare van to make the trip, and I’m currently staying in Pasadena in a cool and funky experimental situation.

The van is liveable with a bed and a full kitchen. And then I rented an Airbnb camper. The camper is stationary, basically a permanent “guest house”. It’s hooked up to city plumbing and electricity so it’s not EXACTLY camper living, but it’s giving me a taste of living small and deciding if this life works for me.

It doesn’t look like much but it’s a full kitchen. I have a rice cooker, burners, tiny oven, and can make full meals.

The camper is very tiny but has a cute and nice-sized fenced yard around it. It’s working out really well. And if I can still say that in a few weeks, this will be my new existence. There’s a lot I love about it – freedom to live where I want with my dogs, flexibility to move around, and a lack of housing costs just to name a few. Downsides? Many. But the freedom and independence are worth it.

Emotionally, I’m actually in a pretty good place considering I was living in an ocean view mcmansion a few months ago! The reverse culture shock, the roller coaster, the tough adjustment, losing my independence, and gaining it again in just a couple of months feels exhausting at times but I have to say I’m in a better mental place than I’ve been in a long time.

Not everything is rosy. There have been some deep and dark challenges and I struggle with loneliness and a sense of purpose. But it’s all an ever-evolving process and I think I’m right where I belong.

My RA is strangely under control. I stopped the chemo drugs a while ago again because of the side effects so I’m drug free. The climate here seems perfect because I’m not having pain.

The dogs are great. Sadly I left Donovan in Colorado with my friend for this time. I miss him a lot but it was the right thing for him while I’m figuring this out.

I’ll update more often now that I’m in a bit of a groove. I’m hoping to share epic adventures and be able to see a side of life where I belong. 🙂

Peace.

~ Lisa

Darkness Returns

Man. My brain is broken.

I got through the holiday. No fanfare, no Christmas movies, no Christmas meal. Just a day-long messaging convo with my DR friend Nancy which saved my sanity.

Then the next day came. And I was okay.

Then, yesterday. And it all crashed. The losses, the depression, the reminders that here I am at 52; having raised two children. Having three grandchildren. And spending holidays alone. And wondering what it’s all for anyway.

At 52, after spending a lifetime working really hard. After having my own place since I was 17. Here I am with nothing. No space of my own, no work, no plans, and no hope for much to change since I’m unable to work at much except being self-employed in my mental condition.

I don’t post this for sympathy or for people to give me reasons why life is worth living. I post because I’m absolutely lost. Sad. Disappointed in myself for so many things. Disappointed in life, disappointed in my choices, disappointed that I can’t recover or find my footing.

And it’s paralyzing.

I don’t know how many more days I can handle of crippling sadness, depression, loss of purpose, endless sobbing, loss of direction, and loss of hope. I don’t know why I can’t handle things as they come my way. I don’t know why I can’t just stay numb and pretend none of my past ever happened. Why I can’t forget what I once had so that I don’t miss it any longer. Why I can’t catch a break or make my way.

I’m hoping to get Donovan into rescue soon. That will help my stress levels a little. I was talking to my bestie Easton (in the DR) and he suggested EMDR therapy. I will give it a try as soon as my insurance kicks in. For the record, when you’re depressed and suicidal, having a friend who understands and doesn’t “panic” at your thoughts will literally save your life. Easton has saved mine many times. He never invalidates or dismisses my feelings. He understands them and has been there. People like us know that it’s normal to want to die and that we have to seek moments of joy. We know that it’s not always time to call out the red alerts but sometimes it’s just time to listen and understand and love and accept.

Every year is different. Every holiday a new fresh hell that I don’t expect arrives in my heart. I thought it would get easier but instead every year it’s worse. It’s another year since I spent a happy holiday. Another year without my grandkids or either of my kids wanting to be in my life. Another year passed with nothing to show for it but more pain, more emptiness, more reasons to believe that my life really isn’t worth much.

I’m feeling regret at leaving the DR. I know it’s not logical or reasonable, and realistically I know I’m in a better place. But I miss having my own space. And being here has made me realize that my trusted friends and confidantes are in the DR. As messed up as my experience was there, I did make lifelong friends who understand what solitude is.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I just needed to get this off my heart and put it someplace. I know there are many with issues, and I know that I’m actually blessed in many ways. But that doesn’t make this any less dark. There has to be a way out. There has to be.

Peace –

Lisa

2020: Reflections, Thanks, and Stress

I’ve never been a “New Year” person. It’s never really mattered to me what a page on a calendar says, and I have definitely never held any sort of belief or superstition that flipping a page on that calendar is symbolic of anything but another passing day.

So all of this “out with 2020” and excitement for 2021 to arrive isn’t in my scope of understanding. To me, it’s another day closer to Trump leaving the WH. Other than that, it’s not much.

However, I think we can all agree that this has been a horrible year for all of us. And while it’s easy to look back on this year and think it completely sucked, I am looking back at the year with some pretty deep thoughts and intensely deep humility and gratitude.

One of the worst parts was/ is the isolation in general. But it occurred to me more than once that this new reality isn’t much different than my life felt before covid. The difference started to become that other people were, for the very first time, experiencing the world I have been stuck in since late 2018. Witnessing the impact of isolation on everyone else was fascinating, sad, scary, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. Me? I just felt less alone in my aloneness and was suddenly surrounded by people who had empathy for me whether they knew it or not. I never pointed it out or made any comments; I just observed their behavior and reaction to living for a brief moment in my shoes – alone, terrified, isolated, unsure about the future, helpless, out of control, restless, unhappy, paralyzed but hyper, in denial, whatever you all were feeling in that moment was an all-to-familiar feeling to me well before the pandemic.

When I look back at this awful year, I actually see a mixed bag. The history books will tell the truth and people truly won’t believe what Americans, and really the entire world, went through during this time. But beyond that, 2020 will always be the year that I learned what true friends I have in the world. I learned that friendship doesn’t have to mean daily contact or face-to-face friendships and that there are friends I’ve had for years that I’ve never actually met <3. I’ve learned that those are the friendships that really add up because when you admit that you’re in trouble, those are the people who help without judging. Who don’t imply that I should leave my dogs behind. Who just know that if I’m raising the white flag, I’m in trouble. Who pitch in if they can, and send love if they can’t. Friends who drive 60 hours round trip to get me in Florida and bring me back to invade their home for an indeterminate amount of time. Friends who reach out in PM and just say hi, or post something for you, or click a heart here and there just to let you know you’ve got people. Friends in the DR who let you share your shit and who understand and don’t judge and who can relate. Friends who become a part of your soul even though you don’t speak each other’s language at all. Friends from France, Germany, Canada, Russia, DR, Peru, Haiti, Holland, Mexico, and I know I’m forgetting other places. Friends all over the world who you would have never known, had you not been in the DR. Friends who are in your life for a reason – thereby meaning that I went to the DR for a reason.

I can look back at this awful year as the year I got to enact something out of an action movie where I got out of the DR running across a rainy tarmac with dogs in crates and on leashes and climbing the steepest tiniest stairs onto the tiniest propeller plane I ever knew existed (the van I rode in across country was larger inside I am NOT exaggerating!) across the ocean for hours because prop planes are slower. And the coolest (?) part, I got to do all my own stunts. I had the bruises, cuts, gashes, and torn clothing to prove it.

I can look back at this awful year as the year that I put my efforts into something and went against all the answers and made something happen. Against all common sense and literally everywhere I turned telling me it wasn’t possible to leave the DR, I learned that it was. I learned that fierce independence is a trauma response, and that it’s okay to ask for help. I learned that people WANT to help if they know WHAT you need. And by myself, I boarded a plane with seven dogs and everything I owned, flew across the ocean, got off the plane in the US, got into a van for another 30 hours with same seven dogs, and drove to a place I’d never seen before (again) to try and figure life out (again).

I can look back at this year as the year I ended up in the same state where I was born and raised, just by simple coincidence. But yet full circle…

I can actually look back at this awful year as a year when I learned SO much. I learned some hard lessons; I learned what really matters to me; I learned that in some ways I’m so much stronger than I ever knew, but I’m also disappointed in myself for failing and for my moments of weakness. BUT then I give myself the motivational speech that failure is just opportunity for growth. I guess I’m wondering, when can I say “uncle”? I think I’ve learned and grown and experienced a hell of a lot in a short period of time and I’m still standing, but can I please get a break? Can someone push the fucking Pause Button?

2020 hasn’t been my worst year. 2018 still holds that honor and hopefully will always be the worst and most painful year of my life (fingers crossed!!). I mostly look back and look at where I am with a bag of mixed emotions. My unknown is looming large and I literally have no idea what steps to take, but I am feeling drawn back to animal rescue. I know I don’t want to do another foster-based rescue organization, but there are countless other ideas and ways for me to rescue animals so I am trying to explore and find cool opportunities around the (preferably western) US.

And I’ll turn the page on the calendar and then it’ll be the next day. ❤

Holidays? Oh, right.

Hi everyone, I hope your holiday season has been peaceful and joyous in spite of all the challenges we are facing with the virus, stress of the election, social distancing, etc. What a nightmare this year has been.

For the first time in my entire life, I will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone. I was going to try and get my daughter to come, but she’s gone missing from my life again and doesn’t reply to my texts.

I think I’ve spoken to my daughter once, maybe twice since I’ve been back. She says the right things, but goes right back to blowing me off for weeks or months at a time. It’s very obvious she doesn’t have interest in sharing any part of her life with me. At the risk of sounding dramatic, she really doesn’t care what happens to me or if I’m alive or not. She doesn’t hate me at all, it’s just complete apathy. In my mind apathy is worse. At least hatred requires some emotion.

I’m extremely stressed at thoughts of the future. At housing, finances, employment, health, all of it.

Sometimes I wonder if leaving the DR was the best thing. While it feels so good to be back in civilization, the mountain in front of me is daunting. At least in the DR I could afford my own place and nobody cared whether I worked or not.

So that’s my ray of light today. Holidays suck, solitude is my life, and I’m scared about my life.

Merry Christmas. Me, I think it will just be Friday for me. Let the coping mechanisms begin.

Catching Up

Long post ahead! I realized I haven’t even told you about my flight or anything else.

Well, leading up to the flight was a lot of work. A lot of paperwork and vaccines and preparations for the dogs, a lot of packing. Selling things. Running around and paying bills. Purging. All while I was extremely sick; still think it’s covid.

So the day of the flight arrives and Angela and Paola come to the house, help me load up, and we take two SUV’s to the airport. I get to go to a different terminal building for charter flights and wow was that ever COOL. There was a nice luxurious waiting lounge with beverages. There were no TSA lines. No worries about missing your flight. It took a while just because there were 7 dogs and it wasn’t very organized on their end, but it was such a treat to fly this way. I’ll probably never be able to do it again, and what an adventure…

This plane arrives and it is TINY. I’m looking at it from a distance and it is TINY from afar. I thought my baggage would be below the plane – no. There is no below the plane. It’s going in the back of the plane in cabin. So we load everything and everyone up; three crew members, me, 7 dogs, 11 duffel bags, and 2 backpacks crammed into a tiny propeller plane that is going to carry us over open waters for 3.5 hours. Somehow we got off the ground and began what was a long and cramped ride in a cabin that was smaller than a cargo van. LOL I am not kidding. We were unable to move for the flight because it was SO cramped and tiny inside that plane. My crew guy and myself were sitting facing each other, and the plane was so small that our knees were touching. I’m not complaining, we did what we had to do – BUT for anyone who thinks I had a luxurious, rich people experience in a private plane can think again. The dogs were surprisingly well-behaved, Cass had bad anxiety as expected but the others did really well.

Tight flight
It’s smaller than it looks!
Coco says hi!
This is what Rosie has to say to the DR.
Our first peek at Florida. Coming in right behind tropical storm Eta.

After that daunting flight, my friend Melissa picked me up in Miami and we began a 30-hour road trip cross-country to get to Colorado. Again, the dogs were really great except for some anxiety. This anxiety led to me staying in the back of the van with the dogs almost the whole trip. 30 hours of being tossed around, sitting/ sleeping on a piece of plywood, not sleeping, no change of clothes, dealing with Covid, banging my head, bruised up everywhere, but again we made it!

30 hours.

Since arriving it’s been a process of decompressing. I’ve been sleeping really deeply. I’m so tired and still not feeling well. I’ll have to blog about my health in the next post.

I’m working through the learning curve of the new place. It takes time but I am getting there. I’m having lots of short term memory issues right now and problems retaining conversations. I feel that my cognitive setbacks are showing their colors at the moment. The memory and retention problems started when I had widow’s fog and I never got full function back. I’m feeling that in full force right now as I adjust to a new way of living and have a hard time remembering things. For all that time alone it wasn’t so apparent but now that I’m having some interaction, it is apparent.

I’m working with my dogs, mostly Donovan, quite a bit. He’s really testing limits and learning boundaries the hard way. It’s my fault – I don’t really create a structure for the dogs. Never had to. But now, sharing space and time has led to many more expectations of him. He also is getting less exercise and he’s been through a lot! All of this to say, in spite of these things he has been just testing my patience and every last nerve I have lately. Leashing him to me almost all the time is exhausting. He’s becoming my project. First priority – leave the other dogs alone. Second priority – 4 paws on the floor inside.

As far as my life and next steps, all of it is too big to think about right now. As I expected, I’m not really on my game right now and I’m pretty messed up after all I went through. Right now I’m trying to give myself the mental care I need. My next steps are just too overwhelming to even scratch the surface of, and I’m not capable of dealing with it all right now. I have so much to rebuild. Having nothing in the DR is actually a perk so you can move more easily. But here, having nothing literally means having nothing. I literally don’t have any pants to wear!

So for now the focus is keeping the dogs happy and healthy, and trying to rebuild my brain. And buying pants. As I mentioned, I’m having a hard time with cognitive abilities. It’s unclear whether full function will ever return, or if this is who I am now.

For now, the dogs are wonderful. I’m comfortable. I escaped a place that was going to kill me. I’m recovering.

One breath at a time.

And I miss him. 💔