lastmandystanding

Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Blogger. Aspiring writer. Smartass. But you'll probably still want to be my friend.

Archive for the tag “stress”

Grieving: “Where have you been?” Moving your feet and life forward after heartbreaking loss

“Where have you been?”

That’s often the first thing we say when we see someone who hasn’t been where they were supposed to be at the time they were expected. Your spouse, your teenager, friend, etc. is late to show, and we beg to know where they’ve been…what has kept them from us? It may be part relief, part curiosity, part fear…but we ask – needing that answer. 

And sometimes we need that answer from someone who can never give it to us.

I’ve written before about my father’s sudden passing here, which unfathomably is approaching the five year mark. I cannot ever convey in words the devastation it brought me and my family, and how much of it I feel so deeply every day, even still. There are events so pivotal that they divide your life into categories: before and after. 

I am not the same woman I was before he died. I will never be her again. A part of me died with him. I’m still working on my “after.”

I’ve found solace in “feeling” him near me over the years. Dragonflies have an extremely unique and special significance for me, and I consider them a sign from my dad. I’ve had a few dreams of him, but never once has he spoken words to me in a dream…he’s just – there. Funny thing is, the ONLY words he has spoken in any of my dreams since his death, were telling my mom not to open that bottle of a really odd flavored vodka, because we already had one open and it would go to waste. My dad drank bourbon. Go figure. Dreams are weird.

He was cremated after an open-casket service, so I don’t have a graveside to go sit and visit him, talk to him, have that symbolic “place.” 
My mom just sold the last house they shared together. I can’t even imagine how difficult that was for her. I can no longer go there and feel his presence, catch a passing smell of his cologne, sense and feel him as if he’s there, just in another room, out of site. 

It was when I went THERE, to their home to visit, that reality really wound it up tight and throat-punched me. Walking into the house and up the stairs and he wasn’t there waiting. Agony. But then slowly I’d start to feel him all around me. Bittersweet memories of him either kissed me gently on the cheek or punched me in the face everywhere I turned. I could feel him there… and it brought some needed comfort, if only temporary. I can’t go there anymore.

I will admit that my grieving process has functioned on a healthy dose of denial, supported by the fact that my parents have lived in another state for over 20 years now. When my mom comes here to visit, it’s easy and protective for my mind to just casually tell itself “Oh, dad just stayed home this time. No big deal.” My sister and I joke that he’s just on a nice vacation. The joke is that he must be having one hell of a time to be gone this long. But the funny truth is, my dad hated vacations. He was a worker; two jobs for most of his life. 

I have only a small amount of his ashes that I shamefully admit are in the small pill bottle in which they were given to me. I haven’t found anything special enough to hold the small amount, and I have plans to eventually have some of them added to blown glass and created into something unique and beautiful, forged by fire – just like him. They sit in a curio cabinet that is rarely seen, and even more rarely opened, along with my other “dad” stuff. Stuff that is special and sentimental, and comes out when I feel the need to bawl hysterically for a bit and just let it all out.

Are you like me? Do you ever seem to just torture yourself with sad things?

Like, “damn it all, I need to ugly cry, and I’m going to look at the things, and listen to the songs, and smell the smells, and relive the moments that make me saddest in life. And while I’m at it, I’m gonna think about orphans and starvation and cancer and abuse and homelessness, and how my kids are growing up at warp speed and I’m running out of time to fix any ways I’ve screwed them up and omg, I’m 40, will have BOTH my babies walking around in teenage bodies in the next few weeks and life is a little hard and overwhelming right now. I better just get it all out and be REALLY super miserable for a bit — then put it away ‘til next time.”

No? Just me who does that?

Ok — Don’t judge my borderline unhealthy coping skills. It’s cathartic because I say it is and we’re all friends here. If, on the other hand, you do the same thing, then “hey there, crazy-cry friend. I see you. I get you. I already love you. You are safe with me.”

What usually brings me to one of these ridiculous crying sessions is my complete and overwhelming grief. I grieve many things, as do many of us. I am trying to muster the courage to write about some of the others, but mostly, and presently, it’s grief for my father. And lately, what takes me there is the fact that HE. IS. NOWHERE. 

I don’t feel him. I don’t hear his chuckle when something happens that he would find hysterical. I don’t get signs from him that used to be abundant. I haven’t felt his presence in so long. Haven’t heard his voice in my ear, whispering the answer to something I’ve silently asked.

Radio silence.

Daddy… where have you been?

Make no mistake, I KNOW where he is. I know he is ok. He suffers no more. He is in beauty and splendor of which you and I have no earthly comprehension. And I KNOW I will see him again one day.

But yet I struggle.

I just feel like he’s slipping further and further away… and it kills me. I was having this very discussion with my boyfriend, who, I have to say, is completely full of love and non-judgment when it comes to this battle of mine. He never got to meet my dad, which breaks my heart, but I’ve told enough stories, he has an idea of his personality. And he said to me: “Baby… I didn’t know him, but I feel like I do. And I think, from what I know about him, that maybe he’s still very much there, but keeping distance, kind of as an act of tough love, to tell you, in a way – to ‘stop this…this level of grieving is holding you back. You need to know I’m ok and GO LIVE.’ And then he said “your dad is on the OTHER SIDE of what we can only imagine. He knows you worry and you wonder and you miss him, but you’ve grieved so hard and so long that maybe he’s trying to tell you to that ‘one day, you’ll fully understand, but until then, you need to stop focusing on me because I am more than ok, and focus on loving and living your life, because currently it’s holding you back. I am holding you back.” 

It was a clarity moment. This made a lot of sense to me, especially knowing my dad – the KING of tough love (and also a softy.) But in my true last-word-Lucy fashion, through my ugly sobbing, I said “well yeah, sure…that’s totally something he’d do, but can’t he throw me a freaking bone when I’m crying out for him right now?!”

No, dear readers. I don’t think he can. Nor will he. I think I gotta do this one on my own. I have to find ways to cope and deal with his death so that I can get back to living.

I suffer fiercely from anger over his death. It was sudden. Unexpected. No closure. Sure, I said things at his bedside before he took his last breath, but did he hear me? And the anger… oh, the anger… manifests in ways I can’t understand, let alone try to explain right now. 

I have anxiety, general and social. Sometimes it’s completely overwhelming. Those closest to me may be surprised to hear that and know what I go through just to go to an event where there will be lots of people. That can be anything from the grocery store to a hometown football game to a get-together with friends. Hard to explain or understand, coming from a woman who’s been described as being able to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything. Most, not all of the time, once I’m IN the situation, I can mostly fake being ok. It’s the build-up to going that’s hell. And the rest of the time, I can’t get out of there fast enough, even if I’m having a decent time.

I believe the only way FOR ME to get through this is to pray and move and write and love my way out of it.

I will move myself back to life. I will, to God, pray myself back to life. I will write myself back to life. And I will love myself back to life.

I need to get out more and interact with people. (Working from home, that’s easily avoided.) I need to move my body. I need an outlet for stress and anxiety before it literally kills me. I’m looking into yoga classes. I plan to write more. About my dad. About grief. About anger. About happy and funny things again. About pain. About whatever it is I need to write about. Even if no one reads it, I need to say it. I need to put it in writing.

I have to start more DOING and less TALKING.

I have a framed quote in my office that my dad used to have in his. It reads:

“Don’t ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.”

Well… It’s time to start moving my feet.

And pray that one day, I will hear – clearly – the answer to “Daddy, where have you been?” 


Picture in blog is me and my sweet daddy when I was a baby. Looks like he was doing the “soooooo big!” ❤️ Precious to me. 

**I’d love to hear ways that YOU have coped with grief and loss, and the anger and anxiety that follows. Please comment and share your thoughts. I read them all. And if you enjoyed this post and think someone else may need to hear it, please share the link on your social media. Thank you! XO**

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Tales of insom-nom-nom-nia

I saw a funny thing about this insom-nom-nom-nia phenomenon today (when you just eat whenever you can’t sleep), and forwarded it to my sister for a good laugh. In texting back and forth with her, I had apparently never told her this story. And judging by her “Lmfaoooooo…X 2” reply, I thought others might get a kick out of it, too.

About 6 years ago, my now ex-husband and I had just separated, sold our house, and were in the midst of divorce proceedings. I had moved into an apartment, and sleep was not on the agenda. Not at all. I’ve always been a horrible sleeper, but with everything going on, it was getting ridiculous and i could barely function. That, and I was too busy smelling the ganja that came wafting down from the upstairs apartment and wishing I could be that young, stupid & carefree.

Anyway… my doctor put me on Ambien to help me sleep. I never took it when my girls were with me because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake if they needed me, because I mean this.shit.worked.

Stress usually gives me a very unsettled stomach and nothing — I mean NOTHING sounds good to eat. You may recall the “Peanuts & Coke” story with my mom. If you’re not familiar, it’s worth a read. I figured I could at least drop a few pounds since the rest of my life was going down the crapper. My very own silver lining.

So imagine my disgust when I actually GAINED a couple pounds. I couldn’t figure it out. I hardly ate, fidgeted like crazy, was sleeping well at least a few nights a week. I thought for sure I would’ve lost a pound or two.

I started finding orange residue in my bed — on my pillowcase, down in the sheets, etc. I never eat in bed and usually don’t let my kids do it, either, but I figured they must’ve gotten in there with food at some point.

When I started finding the kitchen cabinets open in the morning, food on the counter, crumbs everywhere, I thought I was losing it. I know I didn’t eat that crap and I couldn’t blame it on the kids, because #1. They couldn’t reach the stuff, and #2. They weren’t with me when it would happen. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but I’m not ashamed to tell you that I seriously thought the potheads from upstairs were sneaking into my apartment and eating my shit while I slept because they ran out of food because they smoked too much pot and had insane munchies and didn’t buy food because all they bought was POT!!! Yes, I know that was a huge run-on sentence, and a bit on the paranoid side, but it could happen. It was a house turned into a duplex. And I may or may not have pushed a big table in front of the door where they could’ve gained access and used the back door from that point on.

It wasn’t until one morning when I woke up with the orange residue everywhere again — my fingers, my hair, my face — everywhere. Coupled with the realization that I had a mouthful of shit (not literally shit, just shit, as in, why am I waking up with food in my mouth?!?), all the cheesey pieces of the puzzle started coming together. And there was no denying the bag of Cheetos in my hands. But seriously, wtf? What was even happening? I had NO recollection of eating any of this, of getting out of bed, walking to my kitchen cabinets, retreating back to my bed, ready to apparently make love to the Cheetos. (Was it good for YOU, Chester? Because all I got was a big ass and orange stains everywhere.)

I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor a few days later and he informed me that yes — sleep WALKING, sleep DRIVING and sleep EATING were indeed possible, albeit rare side effects of Ambien. If it’s rare and unusual, I’m your girl. Uhh…yeah. Thanks, but no thanks there, doc. I’ll take insomnia for 200, Alex. I’ve got enough problems without adding “I consume my weight in Cheetos while I sleep.”

Needless to say, I stopped taking Ambien. They should change their slogan to “Ambien – you won’t give a shit about sleep anymore, because you’ll have bigger problems, fatty.”

This concludes today’s episode of “Tales of insom-nom-nom-nia.” Thank you and goodnight.

Could you help me with this thing here? Yes, you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP37RQ7pmW0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

I absolutely LOVE the Golden Girls. My twin cousins and I would spend every Saturday night with our Grandma, and we would all watch it together. Watching old episodes brings me almost as much comfort as my grandma’s hugs used to, or a comfy sweatshirt, or wearing my favorite faded black velvet pants with paint stains. They’re just plain comfortable.

If this linked correctly, it’s a clip from an episode where the ever-so-over-dramatic Blanche decides to write the world’s greatest novel. She comes dramatically out onto the “lenai” and professes to have writer’s block – something she claims to be the worst feeling in the world. I love Sophia’s banter about 10 days without a bowel movement being worse than that, but this clip leaves out the best part. Right after where this cuts off, Dorothy asks Blanche: “Well how much have you written?”
Blanche: “That’s just IT, I haven’t written A THING!”
Dorothy: “That’s not writer’s block, Blanche…otherwise WE ALL HAVE IT.”

I can’t explain it…but that episode just kills me. The sarcasm of Dorothy. The drama of Blanche. The outspoken Sophia. Rose just being…Rose. The truth in all of it. I love it.

In a roundabout way, I guess I’m trying to say that I have writer’s block, but not exactly like Blanche. I’ve got lots to write about, to talk about, to cry about, to smile about, to laugh about, to be mad and hurt about, to joke about, etc. –but I can’t just sit and do it. I want to. I need to. And I love to…but I just…(ahh…i hate saying it)….can’t.

I’ve stated in my few blogs since my father’s death, that I fear if I start writing, I may not be able to stop. So I don’t know if that is what’s keeping me from it, or something else.

Do you ever feel like you’re on the verge of something…you don’t know what it is, good or bad, big or small…but you feel it…and you don’t know whether to jump and shout and leap tall buildings in a single bound, or go sit in the corner in your faded black velvet paint-stained pants and just sit quietly until someone comes and picks you up and says “hey, snap out of it”??

Yeah. Me too. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of all that.

I need your help, reader(s). (If there are any of you left.) Since I can’t get the words from my brain to the keyboard very well (or often), help me out. Whether you know me or not, new reader or followed since blog #1 – what would YOU like me to write about? I’m serious… Please comment and I will pick something from the comments to write about. If you know me, it should be easy for you. If you’re a complete stranger, better yet. Read some of my other stuff and ask questions. I need something to get my creative juices flowing again. (My REAL creative juices…not the pretend ones I keep boldly “pinning” like it’s my job.)

Help a sister out. I know I can write. Just help me through my version of writer’s block. I promise it’ll be honest and entertaining if nothing else.

Readers’ Choice.  Let’s do this.

Oh, and if my sister-in-law happens to read this, I’m still waiting on the Xanax casserole that was promised last Christmas. I’m starting to think that was just a bunch of talk.

Peanuts and Coke

My mom is a good ol’ Southern gal, born and raised. Born in Mississippi, raised in Tennessee. Mind you, she’s been out of the South for about 40 years or so, but she still sounds every bit like she’s just here (the Midwest) visiting. You know what they say – “you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl”. They were talking about my mom.

Her stature is small, but her personality is mighty. Pretty sure this is where I get it from (on both counts). Like every good and true Southerner, she’s still a little bitter that the confederacy lost. But don’t let the accent fool you. I’ve seen her go toe to toe (in Mexico) with a 6’5”+/- Canadian man who had the audacity to bash Americans. She has a no-nonsense, straight-shooter approach to many things that I find very endearing.

One of the reasons why I have dedicated an entire section of this blog to “My Southern Momma” is because there are so many things she does and says that just deserve their own attention. She and her little ways are so funny and cute to me on many levels. And I have perfected my imitation of her accent – pretty proud of it if I do say so myself.

I will admit, more than a time or two someone has commented on ‘my Southern twang when I tawk’. I say it comes from years of living with her. If I am around anyone with a thick Southern drawl for any length of time, mine comes out full force. (Like Madonna’s fake British accent that only comes out when she wants to sound sophisticated…except mine isn’t fake, and it shore as hail don’t sound sophisticated – but I love it, it‘s a part of me, just as she is).

Since you have to read this and not hear it, I need to give a phonetic breakdown of some general words and how different they sound when my mom says them. The basic theory is that the syllables get stretched out and added onto, or in-fact, just the opposite. It depends on the word.

Examples as follows, refer back to it as needed:

Actual word                                            What it sounds like when my mom says it

Damn/Damned/Damn It                          Day-um/Day-umd/Daymit

Shit                                                            Sheeit

Ignorant                                                     Ig-nernt

Thing                                                         Thang

Hell                                                            Hail

Well                                                           Wail (or whale would work here as well)

Mandy                                                       Maindy

Can’t                                                         Kaint

Your/You’re                                               Yer

Sick                                                           Seeick

Baby                                                          Baybee (same but with drawn-out “i” sound as well)

*Totally unintended use of those particular words in that particular order, which might have a hidden meaning, but I’m leaving it as is. I’ll talk about that in therapy years from now.

Anyway – a few years ago, I was going through the first round of separation/divorce proceedings with my then husband. I say first round because we went through a nasty, ugly round a few years back, and somehow amazingly reconciled, stayed together a few more years, then finally had to call it. Second and final time was quite amicable. THIS time was brutal, to say the very least.

My heart was heavy and I was a big ball of stress and nerves – unable to eat, sleep, concentrate, breathe, etc. I was at work one day – and I mean that’s it, I was just “there”…that was all I could manage – and was just having “a moment”. A thank-God-I-sit-in-the-corner-so-no-one-can-see-me-sobbing…moment. And I needed my mommy (who lives five hours away).

I called her and she knew instantly that something was wrong – an innate “mom thing”, but her radar is way finer tuned than most. Freaks me out half the time, to be honest. I was sniveling like an idiot, breathing/sobbing spastically, taking 15 tiny breaths in 5 seconds because I can’t catch ONE – all the while trying to talk and explain what had me so upset.

Now…my mom is very sympathetic and coddling when I am THIS upset – at first. Another great thing about my mom is that if someone has done her baby wrong, she will get on an anti-whoever/whatever bandwagon like none you’ve ever seen. And it matters not who you are. It also does not matter if I am right or wrong at the time. If I am that upset, she is on my side at that moment. She waits until I’ve settled down to remind me that I might be wrong. And she always – without fail – eventually tells me “baybee, you need to stop bein’ so sad and upset and get pissed, dammit!”

I was still in full-on meltdown mode when she asked (knowing me) what I’d had to eat that day. It went a little something like this:

Mom: “Jeet anything yet this mornin?”

Me: “No…”(sniffle, sob, etc)

Mom: “Why??”

Me: “Mom, I just can’t – I can’t even think about eating, I’m too upset, I just can’t do it…”

Mom: “Wail ya kaint do that, baybee, yer gonna hafta eat somethin’ before ya make yerself seeick…even if it’s just peanuts and a Coke…I mean, sheeit…”

Me: (Abrupt pause in my sniveling) – “…what? Did you just say peanuts and a Coke? …and then ‘shit’?”

Mom: “Wail, you know what I mean…ya gotta have somethin’!”

And in an instant, I went from sobbing hysterically to laughing my A$$ off. Then she started giggling. And the more she tried to defend herself, the harder I laughed. #1 – I hadn’t drank a “Coke” in years. But then I remembered that in the South, almost any beverage is “a Coke” (ie. “y’all want a Coke?” “sure” “what kind?” “root beer”) #2 – Why THAT combo? Why THAT specific nut and THAT specific drink? I could throw out the same advice to someone and never in a million would I come up with THAT particular combo. My state of mind, combined with her saying it, and THE WAY she said it (like that was the most logical nutrition she could recommend for someone who just can’t eat) sent me into a spiral of gut-busting, deep belly laughter – which was exactly what I needed. She’s so stinkin’ cute.

The moral of this story is: Moms rock – especially mine. There is no greater earthly power than that of a mom. And as they say in the South: “wail…bless their little ol’ hearts” …all of them.

 

 

 

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