Hello everyone 🙂
My heart is heavy today, actually the last couple of days. And I need to talk about it.
For starters, let me say that as a rule, people here shame me for grieving. This isn’t the case with EVERYONE – but a large part of the people I have spent time with in the DR quite simply have very little compassion or understanding, and they are of the 1950’s belief that you just pull up your boot straps, get over shit and move on. If you are in a sad place, something is wrong with you and you really should hide that because it’s boring, nobody cares, you’re a negative person, and nobody likes you. This, I learned quickly and harshly.
As Mr Rogers’ mom said, “Look for the helpers”. Fortunately for me, there are helpers and beautiful souls who do understand that there are many layers to a person and that I am much more than just this mood or that state. There are those helpers who cared enough about human connection to do just that – connect with me. I think maybe they’re surprised to find out I’m not the loser that others think I am, and I can tell you I’ve had some of the sweetest and most fun times with them. They are my people. They’re messy, they’re complicated, they’re dealing with their own stuff, they’re honest, they’re authentic, and they’re there. For good days or bad. They don’t say stupid shit like “well you have a lot to be thankful for!” or “well you know, the reason everything is sad is your fault for looking at it that way”.
Anyway, suffice it to say I have very limited outlets for my feelings and learned very fast that it’s not everyone is “safe” to be yourself with. I used to wish I could help them understand me, but then I realized that I have no desire to spend time with human beings who can be mean and who can judge anyone in my situation so I no longer have the need to earn their respect or affection.
But let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about how some days it’s all I can do to get dressed. Or some days, the thought of leaving my house is paralyzing. Let’s talk about how the chronic physical pain adds to the sadness. The medications that are kicking my ass, all in the name of some sort of improvement on the physical side. Let’s talk about the added element of PTSD and waking up to night terrors and voices and replays of horrific moments in time. Let’s talk about waking up in another country with a dead husband and the number of people you can really trust in your country is like, three – and there’s a whole faction out there that has belittled you, lied about you, and left you with nothing. Let’s talk about the friends you thought you had; the ones who said how much they loved you and yet never reach out; the ones who promised they would come to see you yet there’s been not a mention; the ones who have stopped messaging and barely reply to you when you message them. Let’s talk about the HELLIDAYS. OMG, it’s brutal and painful and sad to live through this time of year. Let’s talk about how in spite of all of these forces I managed to find a house, I am working on finding a car, I am building a small business and making income, I am taking excellent care of my dogs and the house, and I am making time to build the connections with the few people who don’t choose to think they are above me. I am actually creating a life, all by myself, in another country. Nobody gave me this house. Nobody is giving me money. Nobody is supporting me.
Yes, I have really bad days. And I have really good ones too. Do I suffer from depression? Absolutely. PTSD? Yes. Does that mean I don’t have joy? A sense of humor? Have fun? Absolutely not. Do these conditions define me? Absolutely not. They’re just another layer.
Every day starts anew with a beautiful view, a delicious cup of coffee, time with my life dogs, and a fresh slate. Some days are so amazingly happy, and others are empty. This is life. And anyone who represents themselves as always happy and always grateful and always on the sunny side is full of shit. Because newsflash friends: this is the human condition. We are not robots. We aren’t always “on” and anyone who claims they are is lying to themselves and to you.
Depression isn’t an attitude. PTSD isn’t “hanging onto the past”. Grief isn’t a mood or a choice to be sad. This shit is real. It’s hard. It feels insurmountable some days. I wish he had never died. I wish I had never ended up “relying” on others. I wish I wasn’t a widow. But I’m not going to hide from it either. I wish everything was different. But it’s not.
In the very beginning of this hell or as I call it the Life Sentence, a friend Cheryl (who just recently passed away from cancer 😥 because why the fuck not), told me something I will always remember. When Michael got diagnosed she reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to hear the good news. And the good news was that when this was all said and done, I’d know who my real friends were. She told me, even those who were there during the worst may not turn out to be my people. She told me that I would lose far more than just my husband. But what I’d be left with would be a treasure. And she was right on every single count.
I have lost much of what I “thought” I had, but anything I have lost wasn’t mine to begin with. I have in my hand a few beautiful diamonds, and I’m slowly adding another one here or there. The coal has all fallen away, and while it was and is a painful process, who wants a handful of coal anyway. It just gets everything dirty and taints everything it touches.
My diamonds know who they are. I will always treasure them and carry them with me. The ones in the DR have had such an amazing impact on my life and have given me so many reasons to keep going. And I do have true friends in the states, those who talk to me late at night or send me a quick message to tell me they miss me or they’re proud of me. They tell me the drama in THEIR lives because they trust I’m not a fragile cracker and that maybe, just maybe, I can be of help. Leaning on me shows faith in me.
And that’s all. All we can do is the best we can do. We can choose to be diamonds or we can choose to be coal. There’s nothing “wrong” with me. And the diamonds know that. The coal isn’t for any of us to worry about. All you’ll get is dirty hands.