Bittersweet emptinest

Yesterday Angel and Dan put an offer on a house and it was accepted. I am excited for them. They are getting sick of people asking them if they are going to each live with their parents after they get married.

It’s really starting to feel real now. In a couple months my daughter will be getting married. She will be changing her name. They will have their first house. She will be moving out never to return.

I knew when she moved back home after college that it was temporary. I enjoyed the time she spent back at home with us as an adult. I can’t help but feel incredibly sad she is leaving.

It’s bittersweet, it really is. I am happy for her. Angel is marrying a wonderful guy. They will have their own house and will be starting their own family. I have to let go now.

Last year at this time we had all of our kids living with us. Now they are all moving out. I can’t even guarantee our pets will be with us in a couple months. There is an emptiness inside of me. Hence the empty nest I suppose.

Today as I thought about it, I feel old. My best days are behind me now. My hair is mostly silver instead of the gold it once used to be. I gained 15 lbs. since last year at this time. Almost all of the pants I wore last year are too tight. If I can get them up past my thighs, I might not be able to button them. But I don’t want to get rid of them because maybe I’ll get back to the way I once was.

I don’t see or hear as well anymore. I don’t remember things like I used to. Sometimes I forget what I’m saying as I’m saying it. My body has aches and pains. Things I did effortlessly before seem to take a lot more effort. Aging is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. Then there are the getting close to 50 crazy lady hormones to deal with.

But in some ways I’m ready for it. My kids are all adults now. I don’t have to run myself ragged anymore doing all the things parents have to do with young children. Maybe my life can be more peaceful and calm. I don’t have to actively take care of my children anymore. Now it’s just me.

Now I can spend time with my husband. By our first wedding anniversary we had our first baby. I don’t regret having children right away, but we missed out on having time alone with just the two of us early in our marriage. We can do that now without having to find a babysitter or worry about the things we had to worry about before.

I really have to look at this whole empty nest thing as something positive. There are some perks to getting older. It’s just the changes I have to adjust to. It feels like everything is happening all at once. Or maybe that is what I am focusing on instead of the pain of my daughter, or in essence of all my children, leaving me and moving on with their own lives.

I’m not sure what the future holds. It is scary and exciting at the same time, bittersweet.

Muse ick

My daughter showed me how to view my 2021 review of the year on Spotify. Numbers don’t lie and it showed me myself which can be scary. Angel showed me her year in review and posted it on Facebook along with all her friends. I would never do that. People would wonder if I was okay.

Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I got my first radio in Kindergarten. For the most part, music has been a healthy coping mechanism in my life.

Through my years music has always been there for me. In grade school, I cried myself to sleep at night with the Duran Duran Arena album. Planet Earth echoed my emptiness. The Chauffeur, The Seventh Stranger I felt my aloneness with them.

In high school I found Pink Floyd. I understood The Wall because by that time I had locked myself behind one. Comfortably Numb spoke to me. I could find myself in the depression and numbness without ever touching a drug. I remember when The Division Bell came out. When I got a Spotify account I searched and scoured everything Pink Floyd. I now have 69 songs from them on my playlist. Sadly, there is nothing new to consume. In a few months I am planning on getting The Dark Side of the Moon prism tattooed on my back. That’s about as new as it gets. They are my #2 artist of this year.

Music means the world to me. According to Spotify, I listen to music 88% more than other listeners in the US. I am beyond happy that my daughter Angel has a music degree and my son plays many instruments and started making beats for a rapper.

I could almost say I have a music addiction. There were times I felt guilty about my intake. I destroyed my collections, later to buy them back again. I am extremely private about the music I listen to. I feel shame because I don’t like feel-good Christian or otherwise music like my mom does. I like music to express the feelings when I am having a hard day: the anger, the emptiness, the despair.

Spotify said my music mood is wistful and spooky. I listen to thoughtful hard to listen to music discussing difficult topics like death, suicide, emotional pain, broken relationships, etc.. I really wish I liked songs about grace, forgiveness, love (in a good way), and happiness. There are a few I like but not many. I want to like that kind of music but I don’t. I can’t force myself to. I tried.

This year I found a new band. It’s not really new, but new to me. I found it by watching the MTV videos on Beavis and Butthead. I know, I know. Just remember I wasn’t able to be a kid and my inner child likes it. I keep telling myself that anyway.

The band is called Type O Negative from when I was a teen. Never heard of them before. Some of their songs I don’t care for. But four out of five of my top five songs this year were from them. They are my top artist this year. I am in the top 0.1% of listeners. I’m predicting next year will be lower because they will no longer be new and they don’t have any new music since the lead singer is dead.

Type O Negative has some really difficult songs to listen to because they have some really really hard grief messages. It really helped me process my feelings about having a suicidal daughter, Arabella, and the resulting depression from it. I can’t take the mental illness from my daughter and it is killing me. Life is Killing Me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt from this band. I recently ordered the Black No. 1 shirt with the lyrics written on it of ‘loving you is like loving the dead’. Sometimes I feel like anyone who could love me is loving the dead because at times I was so numb it was like I wasn’t even there.

My number three song was from the $uicideboy$ entitled Kill Yourself. No strong suicide lyrics there. NOT. My daughter Angel showed me this song. She said after she found the porn on my dad’s computer she became really depressed and started listening to this song. It helped me understand how she feels. Most parents would be worried but apparently I am not one of those parents since I started listening to it as well by myself. But seriously, it’s not going to be on my top 5 list next year. It’s just too dark even for me.

I wonder if there are any other dark people out there like me. Is there anybody out there? Why am I drawn to the darkness inside of myself? Why don’t I like uplifting music? Why do sad songs make me feel good? It doesn’t make sense.

Why do some people like romance and others horror movies? You probably already could guess what I would prefer. Yup, horror.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it. It’s like music is a friend of mine. When I’m feeling sad it cries along with me. It’s always there for me. As an introvert who struggles with depression sometimes it’s easier to pour out those emotions with music than with people.

Maybe I just figured out why I don’t want to share my music with others. If I share my music, I really am sharing about myself and that is truly scary to put myself out there like that. Now I just have to figure out why I am okay putting myself out there here.

Sifting through the ashes

There was nothing left after the explosion that left a crater sized hole in my heart. It destroyed everything I built.

I had dreams of what it was going to be like before it existed. I painstakingly wove together the blueprints within my very own walls. I laid out the best foundation I could build with the resources I had. Every day I devoted to it before it fully came into existence. I dreamed of what it would be like. I tried my best to make sure it was built right. It may not have been a magnificent palace like those who had rubies and gold but it wasn’t built out of straw like my own flimsy abode.

It’s all gone now. It’s hard to look back at what was. Were my dreams wasted? I just wanted what everyone else seemed to have, a happy home. All that is left are footprints in the cold concrete. There is a date next to it but it is weathered like an ancestral gravestone.

Every day I go back and sift through the ashes of what’s left. Baby teeth, thankfully not bones, left for the tooth fairy long ago hidden away in a drawer uncovered in the dirt. A teddy bear smeared with soot its fake eye hanging from a thread. A gift to you. I remember when it was brand new. But I can’t think of that now. A tarnished spoon.

Where within the gray ashes is the silver lining of hope? I search trying to find a sign. Maybe there is a flower about to root hidden underground safe from the blast. Maybe something good can come out of this. I dig and dig to find a joker from a playing card. What is the purpose? It’s useless scary and ugly discarded in rejection from a regular hand.

I keep searching for anything left. Maybe if I tried harder to fix the cracks before the explosion it wouldn’t have happened. Maybe it just wasn’t built right. Maybe some of my straw got mixed in with the brick. How come I didn’t notice? I thought I built it strong enough to weather the storms on the outside. But I didn’t weather proof the inside. Why would I even think I might have to? Would padded rooms keep it secure and safe from the bomb blast?

Why did this have to happen anyway? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It didn’t happen with other houses. Was it my fault? Was the builder to blame? I screamed at the hollow shell, my own emptiness echoing back. I wanted to shatter something but it appears as if everything is already broken.

The rains came and I cried along with it. It was once a beautiful house. Did you see the brilliant colors of the walls like a prism refracted in the brightest sunlight? Did you see it? Don’t you remember how it was? I should’ve inspected every room closer to see if the angles were off. Maybe I could have done something, anything. Maybe I could’ve tried harder.

I search for clues of why it happened in old pictures. You see, the house looked fine there. It was the same house when the shadows cast on it as it was in the bright sunshine.

I would give anything just to be in the house one more time. I’m sorry I didn’t enjoy it more before it was gone. If only I’d known. I want to drive in the driveway and see my house waiting for me to come home. I want you to wave at me through the window like you used to. Even an empty window would be alright if I knew you were still there. I’m not asking for much.

They say I should move on. I shouldn’t keep searching. But I cannot. Even in my dreams I am stuck there looking for things I might have missed. There is nothing left. It can’t be rebuilt. But that doesn’t stop me from going back. I remember what it was like at its finest. I can’t believe it is gone. I can never go back to the carefree days I spent dancing through the halls.

Nothing is the same. Do I think if I keep going back that one day everything will magically be put back together again? Why do I keep searching? Why can’t I let it go?

How can I go on missing a part of my heart? I don’t want to die but I can’t seem to live.

numb

Lost, that is what I would call him.

Never to be found?

Wandering around.

Trouble, the kind he might never find a way out of.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Homeless, yet at times living in my home.

It’s too cold to be sleeping on a park bench.

Sleeping on the floor in my son’s room.

Arms wrapped around the dog at night for comfort.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Bouncing from home to home…only 17.

Skipping out of school.

No hope?

Will he even graduate?

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Numbing his mind with whatever he can find.

He could die on the streets and no one would lose sleep.

Numb, the word permanently etched on his face

under his eye with a vacant stare.

It’s been a long time since he cut his hair.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

He’s drowning and pulling others down with him.

We had to break free of his grip.

Our son, we can only help save one.

But he is not out of the water yet..

numb

Emerging from the ashes

I am angry.

I am angry with my mother.

I am angry with Matt.

I am angry about my childhood.

I am angry.

There I said it.

It was difficult to admit and hard to post yesterday about feelings of anger. I must have edited the post a million times as the minutes slipped away. I cut and hacked the angry words away. I almost scrapped the post altogether. I thought about deleting it after I posted it.

Anger…I was taught that it was wrong to feel that way.

You shouldn’t feel angry, it agitates Matt.

You shouldn’t feel angry, he can’t help it.

You shouldn’t feel angry, you are normal.

You shouldn’t feel ANGRY!

You shouldn’t feel angry…

You shouldn’t feel…

I didn’t feel…I stopped feeling. I was numb inside. I could no longer feel pain, but could no longer feel joy. I was empty inside. I became devoid of color. I lived in a cold, barren desert. No more tears, no more laughter. I could stare at the same spot on the wall for hours. I was sinking inside of myself.

My mom sent me to a therapist.

How do you feel, Alissa? I don’t feel.

Yes, you do. Take a look at the feelings chart. I don’t know.

Over time I started to feel again. But the feelings right away weren’t good. I felt everything that I wasn’t trying to feel before. It was a dark place. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it through to the faint light in the distance. Sometimes the empty void called me back. You don’t want to feel if you have to feel like that.

It was a long journey to get to the place I am now.

I had to lock away the demons that tore at my soul. But I still kept the key.

Sometimes, in the dark of night, the flame from the fire that burns through the keyhole draws me in. I’m curious if I can stoke the fire without getting burned. I keep looking in. I pick at old wounds to see if they still hurt. The scars are starting to fade.

I’m holding the key. I feel strong enough now to slowly unlock the door…

I think the person that emerges from the ashes will make walking through the fire worthwhile.

 

 

Survival stories

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Over this past week, we have been hit by several severe storms. There was one day that it didn’t storm. Tornadoes blew through the area.

My daughter, Arabella, was at camp all week. They had to take shelter several times due to the severe storms. For once, I didn’t worry too much. I grew up fairly close to the area that my daughter went to camp. I knew exactly where the storms hit. I knew the campers weren’t in the storms path. By the time I knew a storm was coming, it had already passed that area.

After I picked up my daughter from camp, I went to the cemetery to see if my grandparents ‘survived’ the storm. I checked on their parents and siblings too. It seemed like a strange thing to do, since they all have been dead for almost a decade or more. I don’t get out that way to visit too often.

I remember going as a child along with my grandma and Aunt Grace to check on our family at the cemetery after a storm. Now, regrettably, it felt like my turn.

I drove by my grandparents house. The new owners put up a decorative fence in the front yard. At Aunt Grace’s house, the new owners put in a new front door and constructed a flower bed where a tree used to be. It is still painful to drive by.

I stopped at my parents house, but they weren’t home. It was oddly silent. I feel a certain sadness when I go home. I can’t explain it. I feel nostalgia for what was. I feel grief for things that happened that shouldn’t have. I feel an emptiness, a sense of being alone. It is a painful feeling, but ever so slightly, an uneasiness that almost cannot be pinpointed.

I picked asparagus in my parents backyard as I saw lightening and heard the rumble of distant thunder. I felt empty, alone, and a little afraid. Afraid of being vulnerable out in the open. I felt the emptiness of it all. Soon my parents will be gone. I still regret not spending every moment with my loved ones that I could before they were gone. Guilt. But not even deserved. I spent a lot of time with my family. My mother didn’t want to let me go, so I stayed. I’m the dutiful firstborn that never went far from home. I was needed.

As I ventured out and about this week, I talked to others that faced the storm. People are drawn to tales of destruction, to view the carnage. People want to share their survival stories. I spoke to a stranger that said his family had several collector cars that were destroyed by the tornado after the shed they were in blew away. Cars that were loved, the original parts sought after. I saw pictures. How often does a stranger show you picture after picture on their phone??

I heard the story of a barn the was destroyed in the storm. The cows were lost and some blew away. Half of the cows were found down the road impaled into the ground. These are survival stories being told by people grasping for others who can relate.

I thought about the stories I heard, then realized that I am the same way. I want to tell my story. I want to feel united in life’s collective struggle. They may not be the same stories, but have the common key of surviving something difficult.

I told you this week about a couple of stories where we survived sailing under difficult circumstances that were unexpected. I tell you about my races, how grueling the last triathlon and marathon were. My struggles as a parent, spouse, business owner, and with my own personal issues. I speak of surviving a very difficult childhood. I often feel alone because I don’t hear a lot of people with a similar story.

Who else out there has a severely mentally ill sibling that threatened to kill the youngest most vulnerable family members? Beside my siblings, I know of no other person who has that story to tell. It is lonely struggling alone.

My favorite bloggers are those that have struggled too. I don’t read your stories because I like to see you in pain or your failure. Your stories motivate me to go the extra mile. They inspire me to keep telling my story.

I almost feel sorry for people that don’t have a story to tell.

Depression, my old friend

In response to my neighbor’s suicide…

I understand your struggle…

When I grew up, my childhood was very difficult. It was so difficult that the big people in my life could barely cope with the circumstances that they had to deal with. In early childhood I developed two friendships to help me cope, depression and anxiety.

Depression was a close friend of the family. My dad made friends with depression too. Sometimes when the house was really quiet, I was afraid of what he might do. My brother Mark found friendship with depression too. When he was a teen, my mom found several nooses in the tree. I knew the temptation. I knew the struggle.

In late childhood, I tried to break my friendship with depression but she fell in love with me.

When I became an adult, I learned how to live with my friend. I kept myself very busy so I wouldn’t have time for my friend to visit. I worked harder and harder. When my friend noticed I was free, she would visit me.

Have you ever been suicidal before? Do you know what it is like to be that depressed? I do. It is very frightening. Thoughts and images popping into my head of my own demise over and over again. Me in the bathtub with slashed wrists. Driving very fast into a tree. A loaded gun. An empty bottle of pills. Horrible, intrusive thoughts that invade my mind unwanted. The more I try to push my friend away, the more she clings.

Over time I learned how to cope with having a difficult friend. I am a workaholic. Keeping busy keeps her away. I have a strong faith that exorcises my demons. I try to outrun my demons by running 100 miles a month. I take massive doses of vitamin D over the winter months. I try to have something to look forward to. I find the support of family and close friends who have survived difficult times.

What can others do to help that haven’t experienced it? Listen without condemnation. Allow venting, even if it means listening to things you don’t want to hear. Don’t tell them to get over it even if it has been several years since they experienced the initial pain. Sometimes being a good friend is encouraging others to seek professional help.

Does that mean that I no longer get depressed? No. Sometimes when I go through hard times, my friend comes back to help me. A few months ago when I was having difficulties with my son, she visited me for awhile. I spent a long time staring off into space. This is very hard to explain, but when I stared off into space I felt peaceful. When you sink down low enough, sometimes you feel so empty that even the pain is gone. It is a very alluring trap. I had to pull myself out of that dark void. I feel sorry for those that struggle to break free.

Over the years, I learned a few things about my friend. It is okay to feel sad. Sometimes the negative feelings in our life motivate change. During difficult times and emotions, I tell myself that the feelings will pass. I also tell myself over and over that I have felt this way before and survived it. I know how to cope, how to get through.

I am trying hard to face all of the feelings that were locked away for so many years. Writing has been very therapeutic. Maybe if I write honestly about my experiences and struggles, then others won’t feel so all alone. I am okay. You will be okay too. Find a way to cope. Be understanding toward others that struggle. Maybe it will prevent one more unnecessary death.

A storm is brewing

I feel the edginess right before the storm hits. The peacefulness and calm from my vacation is leaving slowly like a summertime tan. I feel the wind surround the emptiness inside of me, trying to find a void to fill with cold icy snow. The warmth and sunshine are gone now. Sorrow, darkness, and anger encapsulates me. I cry out to God, but He doesn’t seem to hear my prayers. I feel the tug of emotions trying to drown me in a river of despair. I am alone. I want to be alone. I don’t want to talk. I really don’t want to do anything.

It has been a hard start of the year. I miss my neighbor and friend that passed away a couple of weeks ago. Every time I look at her house, I think that she is still there. She will pull her car out of the driveway and wave at me. We were supposed to do something together next week. But guess what? I can’t go. I looked over the old messages that she sent me. My heart tells me that she is still alive. She just can’t come outside. My brain tells me to stop being such a fool. Stop pretending that things are fine.

Last summer my best friend moved to Florida. I had the opportunity to spend time with her while we were there on vacation. I didn’t realize how much I missed talking to her and seeing her. I miss her. I don’t feel like talking to anyone else. In 4 months, my oldest daughter will be leaving the house. I am excited for her to start the adult chapter in her life, but I am at such a loss. I started crying while she performed her solo and ensemble song for me. It bothered me that she sold her junior prom dress. It just seems so final.

Then yesterday we found out that my mother-in-law has stage 4 terminal lung cancer. They are giving her around 15 months to live. Wait a minute, I am not ready to deal with the loss of our parents yet. I have been having a hard time with this since I saw her last week. I have been feeling sad and angry. With all of the people that were praying for her and my friend that passed away, why didn’t God heal them? I don’t have any control. Why should I expect miracles? I feel helpless. Who can avoid death? It has given Paul time to say goodbye to his only parent. That has been good for him to spend time with her.

This morning my son got suspended from school. He got in a fight with someone in the hallway. It has been no secret that my son has been struggling with school for the last couple of months. He has been begging us to switch schools for a couple months now. Apparently a boy called him a faggot on facebook back in December and has been bullying him with some other kids. My son got in his face today. I suppose that it shouldn’t surprise me that the day after my son finds out that his grandma is dying that he confronts this other boy. Words were exchanged between my son and this boy. They were pushing and shoving each other in the hallway. Then I received a call from the school that my son was suspended for 3 days. He was trying to provoke the other kid that was picking on him. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we can finally resolve this issue head on.

We are expecting a snow storm today. We should be getting somewhere around 8 inches of snow with blowing winds. It just started to snow.

My soles are worn thin

It seems I haven’t gotten too far on my travel series yet. Maybe tomorrow..

This past weekend I shared with you a dream that I had about having to run a marathon I am not ready for. I think the marathon symbolizes the second half of my life. I looked down to see that my soles on my shoes were totally worn out. The reality is that the first half of my life is over. Then I noticed that at the beginning of this marathon I was wearing shoes that fit but they were on the wrong foot. I don’t want to start the second half of my life on the wrong foot. I request a new pair of shoes, this time they fit but they are uneven. I won’t be able to run the race very long wearing these shoes. I think this is symbolic of parenting. My children will start leaving the house in a few months, things won’t be the same (uneven), and soon I will be actively taking these shoes off. The last shoe brought out is the most comfortable but it doesn’t fit yet. Ah, retirement and living without the stress of working and actively parenting. But it is going to be a long time before this shoe fits me.

I took comfort early on in the dream marathon that Gu and broccoli were at the beginning of the race. I chose to go down the path of exercise and healthy living. Not only does being an exercise fanatic ward off my depression, anxiety, and stress. It makes me think that I will live longer and healthier. Because if I really think about it, which is something that I try to avoid doing, I am terrified of death. We are not going to exist forever like we do now. Even though I have a firm faith in God, I am still absolutely terrified of my own demise. What if I am wrong? What if there is nothing out there? Forget the physical pain of taking your last breathe. What if there is only an empty void? A void like the one before our existence. I just can’t bear the emptiness of that. I want to think that I am going to see my loved ones again, even if I am wrong.

When I started this dream marathon, I saw people wander off the path before it began. I went to sleep that night worried that my neighbor in her mid 40’s was not going to make it. She did pass away during the night. She was one of the people that left the race early before it really even began for her. Another thing that I noticed was that the path looked straight and the weather was fine. I seemed to have the tools I needed to run the race but I couldn’t see very far ahead of me. I needed to figure out what shoes to wear, what my role is going to be in the second half of my life. I wanted to wait to start the marathon before I figured that out, but I ran out of time.

I suppose at this point it is pretty obvious that I was a psychology major in college. LOL

 

 

Still the classical music plays

My mom called me in the say that Mr. Smith died today. Tears fall from her eyes but all I want to do is go back outside to play. The snow is over my head and I want to go back to my little hill to sled. My little brothers are busy ants digging underground tunnels in the snow. It is cold and quiet outside. Sometimes I sing a song to hear my voice echo back to me. Then I don’t feel so alone. I am always alone. None of my friends are allowed to come over and play. Matt scares them away.

My mom takes me over to see the really old people in town. She said they like it when little girls come over to play. They don’t have any family and are all alone. I like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Sometimes Mrs. Smith gives me cookies and one time she took me upstairs to see the dolls she used to play with. The dolls are really old and I can’t play with them. Mr. Smith showed me his card shuffling machine. I really liked it. Mr. Smith is sick. He coughs a lot. Sometimes he doesn’t get out of bed when we visit. Mom said Mr. Smith died today. Maybe I’ll see him tomorrow but right now I really want to play.

Mom keeps crying. It is making Matt upset. We can’t sleep. Matt rocks back and forth in his bed. He rocks until his face bleeds and blood is on his sheets. My little brothers can’t sleep because Matt is making too much noise. My three brothers share the room next to me. Mom cries. The day Mr. Smith died, mom put a record player in the hall at night. She thought that the classical music would soothe us to sleep.

Night after night, the classical music plays. But it doesn’t relax me. Instead I feel afraid.