The Shattering and Rebuilding of My Life

Everyone has a day that defines their life- marriage, the birth of children, and even the death of someone close to them.One of those days for me was September 1, 2015. There was a moment in which I felt everything in my life shatter and at that time, nothing could fix it.If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you’ll be able to understand how much Jake meant to me.

If not, here’s some older posts:Love Through Bipolar

The Day AfterNobody close to him, including myself, saw his death coming. I’m not sure that Jake saw his death coming. I just know that the aftermath has changed me forever. I barely made it through the visitation and funeral. I just wanted to hear his voice and see his beautiful blue eyes again, even though I knew I couldn’t.

I drank my way through my sadness and anger. The pain was unlike anything I had been through before. Everyone tried their best to support me but yet, I kept drinking. I kept falling into this black hole of grief.

This is from “Hoax” by Taylor Swift. Basically, she didn’t want to look in another set of blue eyes but the man she cares about. There’s no other way to be sad about leaving or losing him than how she feels.I feel that so deeply.

About a month later, I started therapy. I couldn’t sort out anything in my mind and I had become someone I didn’t know or like.Over time, the darkness lifted. I even got sober in January 2017. I still have bad days and I’m on Prozac, but there’s other factors involved in those issues.I was able to decide what to do with my then-crumbling marriage- I wanted to work on things and Matthew didn’t want a divorce.

This has not been easy but we’ve been able to fix our issues.In fact, our 15 year wedding anniversary is on 9/10, nine days after this post is out. There’s not a single book on being married during a global pandemic but everyone is still in one piece.

It was a year before I truly felt like I was living again – I lost my grandfather a few months after Jake’s death. He was one of my favorite people and I was heartbroken.Over time, I worked on my self-worth and self-esteem. I’m well worth the work. I know what triggers me to drink and I try my best to avoid those things. I sorted through my feelings about being an awful mom and right now, what I can do to be a better mom to Lily. I finally feel like I can meet her where she is, now that I know what’s going on.I made two promises to myself five years ago- to finish the work Jake started and to live the life he made me strong enough to live. I’m doing both.

It can be hard, but not keeping those promises would be giving up on myself. I’m an entirely different person than I was before his death and I’m happy with who I am now.I need a few things to stay stable- a great job, my meds and a support system. I have all three and I am so grateful for this. I just wish I didn’t have to live without Jake in my life, but since I have no choice, I’m going to make the best of it.

More Than A Label: LGBT+ Mental Health

Everyone is made differently- looks, personality, likes, dislikes and even sexuality.

Some of us are attracted to men and women, some are attracted to those of the same sex. Some don’t have romantic attraction towards anyone. There are even people that are attracted to men, women, non-binary people and others.

This is okay. We can’t help who we fall in love with.

I haven’t written a lot about sexuality, but it’s Pride Month. It’s somewhat out of my scope but I’m willing to discuss it.

I previously wrote a post about this topic –Talking About Pride

However, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community can lead to some issues that aren’t always given a lot of attention.

This is My Scope of Knowledge

Mental health issues are common in today’s world, and being seen as “different” can add to an existing condition or even lead to symptoms of a new diagnosis.

Anxiety

Those that identify as non-heterosexual are three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than others – this is the same for adults and teens. This can be a result of issues in home life, school/career and other areas of life. Anxiety is hard enough to handle without questioning your sexuality. Anxiety, of course can lead to other issues, as in depression, drug use and even suicidal ideations.

Coming out to friends and family can be a cause of stress alone. A person might be fully ready to live their life but the idea of telling those they are close to can be difficult. This isn’t to say coming out makes these issues disappear, but it helps.

Depression

Depression is very common in the community. Having to keep your sexuality a secret can be devasting, and so can having to pretend to be someone else. It eats away at your soul and can lead to some very dark thoughts. Not being able to share the person you love is also painful.

Sometimes people become depressed or it worsens after coming out. This can be a result of a negative response to the announcement. There are still many people who don’t agree with the “lifestyle” and can be very judgemental towards people who aren’t heterosexual, even if it is their own child. These thoughts of not being loved/accepted can spiral into actions that endanger lives- substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, etc.

For the record, I do not care if my kids are gay, bisexual, or anything else on the spectrum. As long as they find someone who they are happy with and they’re treated well, then I am good.

For some reason, those who identify as bisexual are diagnosed with depression more than those who identify as a different sexuality. One in four bisexual people in a study have been diagnosed with depression at some point. Other sexualities have lower rates. Some of this has to do with support, or lack thereof, especially at school and/or at home.

This is why it’s so importatnt to support the LGBT+ people in your life, no matter how old they are. It’s hard to reach out for the help you need when you feel as if a therapist will judge you or even not see you because of your sexuality.

Teens go through a lot of changes as it is, and figuring this out can be difficult. Teens struggle more if their school is not a supportive place for them, because they may feel they have nowhere to turn.

Bullying is already a topic that many are familiar with. This can be excruciating for teens that identify as LGBTQ+. It just adds to the feelings of not being good enough, or shame at being “different”. It also makes a teen feel unsafe in a place that they should feel safe. Having to defend yourself 5 days a week can be physically and emotionally draining.

The Importance of Community

I can’t stress this enough- if you are reading this and you need LGBTQ+ support, in any way, please reach out. There will be resources at the end of this post.

It’s not healthy to feel like or even try to go through life alone. Everyone needs someone they can tell about really good or even really bad dates. People need to belong. It’s a basic need.

The feeling you get when you are around others that understand you is wonderful. It’s nice to know you are not the only one.

Resources:

LGBTQ Information on Addiction and Suicide

HRC

LGBTQ Youth Hopkins Medicine

MHA

LGBT Community Mental Health

Pictures courtesy of Unsplash

A Year in Books

I haven’t had time to do a book review since my break, but I will likely bring them back in 2020. No worries, I haven’t stopped reading.

This post is a bit of a refresher or maybe even a first time read if you’re new.

Enjoy!

One of my top ten favorite books

Gone Girl

A memoir of a mom in recovery- I hope she remains sober. It’s a daily struggle.

I’m Just Happy To Be Here

A mother has to make tough decisions.

72 Hour Hold

Book? Movie? You decide which is better.

Fight Club

Friendship is EVERYTHING.

Valley of the Dolls

All the Wishes and Dreams

Many years ago, I knew I wanted to have kids.

At one point, four sounded great, but that got cut after Cameron was born. He was a tough baby and now he’s my most chilled-out kid.

Three is enough at this house. I have friends who have more than three, and I wonder how they do it.

Every parent that I’ve ever met has some sort of wish or dreams for their kids. Mine probably isn’t much different from theirs.

Kid pic

Doesn’t he look thrilled?

The Biggest Wish

I want my kids to live a life that they love. College is still debatable for the boys, and Lily hasn’t said much about it. I don’t think a college degree is necessary to go into an occupation.

My career required a degree, but not all do. I could have become a CNA and possibly made more, but due to RA, I’d probably have to stop at some point if not already.

My theory is: if it’s paying your bills, legal and you like it, then I support it.

Our school system has programs at each high school that students can go into for a career if they decide not to go to college. I think this is a great idea. Cameron is in a machine tool, computer-aided design (CAD) and engineering program.

He’s following in his grandfather and uncle’s footsteps. Matthew was NOT interested.

Julian is looking at programs and thinks a graphic design program might be a good idea. He loves computers and video games and loved to draw when he was younger.

If this is what makes them happy and fulfilled, who am I to stop them?

Of course, there’s more to life than working, so I hope they have a partner that they can be happy with and friends who they can be themselves with and are there when they need them. I also hope they remain passionate about what they like and believe in.

You can read more on my thoughts about my kids going to college here

Zoo selfie

Remember Who You Are

This was my grandfather’s biggest lesson to everyone in the family and it’s on his headstone.

In my kids’ case, I hope they remember that they can always come home and I’ll be here.

This also means being yourself and never running away from or changing that. That never ends well- I tried it and I was miserable.

In part of knowing who you are, I hope my kids never, ever accept being treated less than they deserve- because they deserve the best person for them. This also means never treating anyone with less respect because they’re different in any way. I think that lesson has been extensively covered.

Accepting people for who they are and where they are in life is a huge value of mine and I’ve worked so hard to teach my kids this. I think Cameron and Lily have learned a lot about acceptance, thanks to Julian.

I also hope my kids accept themselves as they are- nobody is perfect and I don’t expect anything close from them.

Funny meme

Adulting is a TRAP

I joke about this, but adulting is tough.

My boys can’t wait to hit 18, then 21 years old. They can do all the “fun things”.. Like pay bills and work?

I’m huge on self-sufficiency. No kid in this house is moving out unable to take care of themselves. All of them can cook in the microwave (we’re working on the stove), do laundry, clean the house (some better than others) and other things.

Welcome to the Future

At some point, I’m probably going to become a grandmother.

I plan to spoil them terribly and send them home.

I haven’t always been the best mom, but I’ve always loved my kids. I think they know this, and maybe my parenting will get passed down- the humorous parts, hopefully. They can do without the drinking part.

I hope my kids are great parents- they’ve seen me do my best with very little, struggle with my health (physical and emotional) and still be an okay mom.

Mainly, I want these kids to have more. We’ve struggled financially and it’s not fun for anyone involved. It’s stressful and can break a family.

I know their lives will hit difficult periods- I hope I’ve armed them with the tools to get through those times.

Just an Ordinary Mom

I’m just a mom writing a blog of my thoughts. I don’t wish or hope for much with my kids. I’d love to see where their lives lead them. I’m trying to stay healthy (and mobile) enough to do so.

For further reading:

What I want my kids to know about Friendship

The Place I Don’t Like to Be

There is a cemetery in Southern Indiana that holds a grave I never thought I would see.

I know exactly where Jake’s grave is and every time I walk towards it, my heart breaks.

I’m not supposed to be here.

He’s not supposed to be here.

It took three years before I could come to his grave and not cry until my eyes swelled.

This is not where I want to be, but it’s where he is.

The Day We Didn’t See Coming

Nobody saw the events of September 1, 2015 coming. Even if any of us had consulted a crystal ball, this wouldn’t have been in it. I’ve looked back so often- even though Jake was quiet the last couple days before his death, this wasn’t on my radar.

I thought he had a lot on his mind, maybe a depressive episode.

If it had been, I would have done anything to stop him. All of us would have.

There are no words to fully explain how I got through hearing of Jake’s death. I’ve tried to describe it to those close to me, including my former therapist. Shattered is the only word that can even come close.

The Day After describes how I began the process of crawling forward with my life and how it is possible if you have had this sort of loss.

I didn’t attend anything after the funeral service because I was far too broken. I simply walked out to my car and drove home.

I spent days in bed, crying and drinking. I even spent my tenth wedding anniversary in bed- it was only 9 days after Jake’s death. Matthew let me be.

What?

Stay with me.

He knew that he had essentially broken me. Verbal and emotional abuse is no joke, and it will put you in a place that nobody should ever be in. Matthew is a bright man, but this wasn’t one of his better ideas.

He had changed.

I had changed.

That’s no excuse for what occurred.

He eventually realized that even though I had cheated on him and ran our marriage even further into the ground, Jake put me back together. Anyone who knows me well knows this.

There were days that I couldn’t see a way out of the darkness that I was living in. I ate and drank my way through my feelings. I gained weight and didn’t care.

I still don’t. I currently sit at 170. I don’t weigh myself unless I’m at a doctors appointment.

At one point, I became angry and mean. I’m not like that. I will become that way if pushed and even at this point, I still should have handled things better.

The Breaking Point

I began talking to Jake’s brother’s girlfriend, *Lauren. One discussion went terribly and to this day, we aren’t on speaking terms. I’m okay with this.

I am not, however, okay, with the fact, that it destroyed my friendship with Jordan. We are barely back on speaking terms. This took a lot of time, work on my end, and a bit of help from Sara.

I realized that I needed a bit more help to get past my grief. Raging, crying and eating clearly weren’t working.

I found a wonderful therapist and slowly began to see a bit of light. I worked on processing my grief in healthier ways- this blog is one result. I also worked my way through trust issues (I’m still picky about who I like), issues in my marriage, with my kids and some other personal things.

I highly recommend therapy in any form.

I even got sober while I was in therapy and my therapist was thrilled. When I started, she was almost ready to send me inpatient based on my drinking.

Seeing the Light Ahead

There are days that hurt- Jake’s birthday and today, September 1. I think it always will. This is okay. I refer to it as “The Day the World Went Away”, which is the title of a Nine Inch Nails song. He loved that band.

As four years have gone by, I try to remember what I’ve been able to accomplish. I remember that Jake would be so proud of me, or so I hope.

I’ve become a volunteer for the AFSP Out of the Darkness Community Walks. I’ve also done a couple of the college campus walks at the University of Louisville. In a way, it helps me carry on Jake’s (and my) love of helping others.

I figure if I can live through this, I can help others somehow. I cannot explain what a suicide loss is like. I just know that this is something that nobody should have to live through.

I have been outrageously lucky- support isn’t something that everyone has. Matthew didn’t have to be there, but he was. My best friends and family have been there since day one.

Josh, Jake’s other brother, has been one of the best supports I could ask for. I couldn’t have made it through the first two years without my former therapist. I may have ended up in jail and/or rehab.

I have a really bad mouth and back then, unchecked anger issues. The mouth hasn’t changed at all, but I’ve learned to manage my anger. My kids have noticed.

I may have kept drinking had my doctor not called with the fateful lab results.

Grief is one of the hardest emotions for a person to manage. One day can be great and you don’t think about the loss at all- the next, you’re sobbing over a memory.

” Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you”- “New Year’s Eve”, Taylor Swift

My short term memory is trashed, thanks to a mini-stroke shortly before meeting Jake. My long-term memory is intact, and I am grateful. This helps me hold on to the two years of memories.

Thanks to those memories, I’ve created two hashtags: #ForMySuperman and #SpeakNow

They are seen with many of my mental health/suicide related posts on social media. I’ve often referred to Jake as my Superman. Even though he wasn’t perfect and our situation definitely wasn’t, my life was better with him in it.

He saved me from myself sometimes, but even more, the world I was living in. For two years, he was always there for me. I could be myself again, I was able to breathe. I could be happy and not pushed into a corner.

Those memories have gotten ne through the last four years, the good and bad days. I don’t have any pictures of the two of us together, but Josh and Sara have helped me with a collection of pictures of Jake and even a few of his kids. His daughter looks just like him. Of course, she’s taller than me.

All of the pictures have been carefully saved- they’re all I have.

The last week of August and the first couple of days of September are hard for me. I try to do things for others during this time- it helps. I also try to take care of myself so that I don’t fall into a pile of tears.

Growth, Change and Happiness

Before I met Jake, there was another Jacob in my life, my grandfather. He died in May 2016, and it broke my heart. He was the first man in my life who really believed in me.

I called my Granddad “the sunshine of my life”. He gave great advice and had a great sense of humor.

It took over a year to finally feel like I was living again. This doesn’t mean I was fully healed and living my best life. It means I felt like I wasn’t stuck in a daily grief pattern.

I struggled to move past the anger that eventually came, sadness, and other emotions. I never went through the bargaining stage. I knew Jake wasn’t coming back.

I’m at the best I’ve been so far. I’m past 2 1/2 years sober, and every day still remains a challenge. If someone tells you that sobriety is a breeze, it’s a lie. I don’t sit in meetings or read the Big Book every day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t do the work.

Happy? Am I happy? Probably. I’m living the life that Jake made me strong enough to live. As long as I keep that promise to myself, I’ll be okay.

My kids are growing up and I’m attempting to figure out where I want to go next. A few years ago, they were smaller and I had all the plans in the world. I know what it’s like to have that ruined in a minute. I don’t like making long term plans.

I do know that I’m going to be okay no matter where life takes me. I’ve got three people watching out for me- my grandparents and of course, my Superman.

Pics courtesy of pinterest