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I have reached what I am calling a crossroads moment in life. I have some decisions to make.

Actually, I have ONE decision to make, and two options from which to choose.

The road only goes two ways.

This Way and That Way.

This Way is the road I have been on for the last several months. It has been a difficult path, but walking it has gotten easier since telling myself that this is just how life is going to be. I’ve battled depression most of my life, so a depressed person is my destiny. I’ve struggled with alcohol addiction in the past, so alcohol is destined to be a part of my life. I’ve never had many friends, so a lonely person is just who I am destined to be. I’ve had a track record of making poor decisions, so poor decisions are just going to be what identifies me. This Way is characterized by landmarks such as depression, alcohol use (and abuse), loneliness, pain, hurting those I love, and feeling like no one gives a damn anyway so why bother.

That Way is the road that I have come to. I’ve been on that road before too. It just doesn’t seem to be a road that I can stick to walking. For some reason, I always find myself back on This Way. That Way is characterized by decisions that, while initially difficult and painful, eventually lead to a better and healthier life and attitude. These decisions could include doing the hard work of replacing negative thought patterns, abstaining from alcohol, eating better and generally taking better care of my health, cultivating relationships that are healthy, and attending to the spiritual part of me.

I hate failing, and since I’ve already failed at That Way more than once, it seems so much safer to stay on This Way. I’m pretty comfortable here.

Except, I’m really not.

Part of me wants to concede to the world–to give into what my body desires–whether that be alcohol or gluten–with the attitude that I’m not getting out of here alive anyway. I may as well enjoy the time I’m here. You know the saying, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” I kind of like that as a mantra.

Another part, though, whispers to stand against the world. It flashes pictures of my husband, kids, and grandson. It whispers that they want me to be here–really be here, in each moment–not in a fake, drunken happy but rather a genuine love for life happy.

Why is it that I usually give in to the beckoning of This Way over That Way?

This Way screams at me.

That Way whispers to me.

If God really does love me, and if others who claim to love me really do, why is it that I don’t hear those voices all the time? Sometimes I think I do, but upon further inspection, realize that it was most likely the wind whispering through the trees and not God or anyone else at all.

I am at a crossroads in life. This Way and That Way are my only two choices. I need to make a decision quickly, for the night is closing in to swallow me…


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Not a Good Place

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This morning I sit here in the quietness of an empty house. The only sound other than the clicking of the keyboard as I type is the hum of the space heater that is keeping me warm. My two faithful companions, Moo and Sadie, are close by as always. The last several nights have been long and difficult. Physical pain, nerve pain from this frustrating disease, has been constant. It feels like my feet, and sometimes my hands, are a raging fire. My eyes burn with pain and fatigue–even though I have done nothing strenuous on them yet today. Emotional pain has taken over my mind–the grip of depression tightening each minute that I lose sleep. My mind bounces from thought to thought.

Racing thoughts. A byproduct of depression.

If only those racing thoughts were positive or good in some way.

They are not.

They are taunting thoughts, taking me back to a time three years ago when I was in  a very good place. I was reminded of it again this week.

Facebook. More specifically, Facebook memories. You probably know what I mean. Each day Facebook gives me memories–previous posts from that day, dating as far back as the beginning of my Facebook journey. Sometimes those memories bring smiles–like the picture this week of my son in his high school soccer uniform dancing on the sidelines. Sometimes, though, those Facebook memories bring tears–like pictures of the cat I suddenly one day was forced to put to sleep. She was my baby. One memory that popped up this week was a video of my baptism three years ago.

My mind screamed at me to not click on it. Don’t watch it.

But I did.

As I listened to my own words from that day, it was so evident that I was in a much better place then. There was joy that just isn’t there now. Although the video doesn’t show it, there was a sense in my mind that I was loved by the people witnessing that moment. There was a confidence that God was for me; now I feel the opposite. I have been told many things about God by various people over the past several months. Some of those things have only made me question even more if God loves me.

I am tired.

Tired of being in pain.

Tired of hanging on–wishing I could just let go but afraid to do so.

Tired of watching people I love treated unfairly.

Tired of the loss that comes with change.

Tired of tears. Every. Day. So many tears.

Tired of the bombardment of bad and sad news that streams into my life via television and internet.

And tired of being in this place. It’s not a good place. I have often wanted to have the talent to draw–to somehow put my feelings and emotions into a picture that others might understand. I can’t do that, though. Art is not my gift. So I try to use words to paint that picture. This morning, though, I am struggling to come up with words that will accomplish that. My mind is a jumbled mess. My life is a mess. I’m not sure if even God can fix it this time. Part of me wants to cry to him. Part of me wants to curse at him.

Part of me wants desperately to reach out for help. Part of me is afraid of failing yet again if I do that.

Part of me wants to begin to break down this wall of protection I have built around a very fragile heart. Part of me is scared as hell to do that–scared of being hurt even more. I don’t think this heart can survive more hurt.

Daylight is trying to force its way in through the closed blinds. For now, I will keep them closed to shut it out. I am not ready to face the day. I used to dislike the darkness, but now I find the darkness to be my friend. It is easy to hide when it is dark.

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There is a monster that resides within my head much of the time. The monster’s name is Depression. Sometimes, I am able to wrestle the monster and lock it away for a time. Sometimes that duration is long; other times that duration is short. Either way, if a reprieve can be had, I welcome it regardless of how long it may last. My current go ’round with the beast, though, has been a long battle that has taken so much out of me and, I’m sure, out of my husband who does his best to put up with me.

Depression can be fed by a variety of things. Failure, comparison, loneliness, and illness are the biggest feeders of my depression. Others would have a different list. Some may be able to mask the fact that they are plagued with the monster, while others, like me, maybe could do that at one time but not every time…and especially not this time.

A mind that is held captive by depression hears messages that a mind that is not held in such captivity cannot usually understand. Some of those messages for me include:

“No one loves you.”
“It’s never going to get better.”
“Life is not worth it.”
“You’ll never be enough.”
“Death would solve all your problems.”
“You deserve this.”
“Your life is pointless.”

I have had people tell me that all the above are lies of the enemy. I’m not sure if when they say that they are insinuating that I don’t know that fact. Because, the things is, I do know that. I really do. It’s believing that fact that is often the problem.

When I was a child, my mom baked wedding cakes for people in our church. With the help of our next door neighbor, she would spend hours in the kitchen baking and assembling multi-tiered cakes. Most weddings were in the summer so I, along with aforementioned next door neighbor’s son, was banished to the outdoors so as to not get in the way. Intellectually, I knew what needed to happen to bake a wedding cake. But, until I was given the privilege of baking my daughter’s wedding cake, I couldn’t fully appreciate the work that went into the task. I think I baked five or six different cakes to find just the right flavor. I agonized over how to decorate it so it looked beautiful but not overdone. My daughter’s cake was small compared to the cakes my mom often made, but since it was my first attempt at such a feat, I was nervous as could be when it came time to actually decorate, assemble, and transport the two-tiered, heart shaped cake I created (with the help of my future daughter-in-law). From the outside looking in, it didn’t seem like such a huge task. Baking came naturally to my mom as it does for me. It was only when I stepped into that role of baker-in-charge did I realize how much work went into baking wedding cakes.

From the outside looking in, it has been easy for people to tell me exactly what they think I need to do to beat this oppressive depression. I’ve been told to have more faith, to remember that God is in control, that everyone goes through sad times, that I need to choose happiness and joy, that God will use my depression for his glory, that other people have it so much worse…I could go on. Now, if you are reading this and you are thinking, “Well, those things don’t sound like horrible words. All those statements are true,” then you obviously have never been caught in the death grip of severe depression. With the exception of the first statement (I don’t believe the level of a person’s faith is a protection from difficult times), I understand that all those statements have truth value to them.

That doesn’t mean they are helpful.

I have suffered at the hands of varying degrees of depression nearly all my life. I have attempted to take my own life and have thought about it too many times to even count. I have a preferred way to die.

Yes, I know that sounds horribly wrong. But it is the sad truth.

Depression is an evil monster that wants nothing more than to destroy a person. I would dare say that in many cases, and I think I would include my own here, that destruction doesn’t always have to take the form of suicide. For the last six months or so I have felt like a walking dead person. I have been breathing, eating, existing, but with little life. There have been times that I have been able to force myself into nearly normal existence. Those times usually happened when I had my grandson with me. Now that he has moved away, in all honesty, I fear that any normal existence for any extended period of time is a chasing after the wind.

Maybe that is another lie I am believing.

I guess only time will tell.

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I am a creature of habit. It has been said that most people are. It is why we tend to eat the same foods, watch the same television shows, listen to the same kind of music, and follow certain routines across our lives. I am also a person who likes–no, needs–to know what the plan is. I hate going into a day or an event or even a vacation without having some type of plan in place.

Over a year ago, when my daughter and her little family moved to our area, she would come to my place a couple times a week to do laundry. I loved the extra baby time I got during those visits. A few months after relocating, she and her husband decided to sell their second car in order to save insurance money. She knew I was more than willing to go pick her up and take her anywhere she needed to be. I admit to enjoying the fact that I felt needed once again. It was also nice to know if I was feeling a bit lonely, I could text her and ask if she and the baby wanted some company for a bit. She always answered with a “Yes!”

As the weeks passed, little man’s schedule started to fall into place. This meant picking one day to pick them both up for laundry day and, subsequently, take them home in time for his nap. Thursday was designated as that day.

Every Thursday I would leave my house by 9:00 AM, pick up my daughter and grandson, swing through a McDonald’s drive thru on our way back for diet coke and breakfast sandwiches, and bring them to my place to start laundry. We would watch Food Network or Game Show Network while laundry was being washed. I would rock or play with little man. We always got lunch as well. Sometimes, we would go out somewhere. The older lady at Smashburger looked forward to seeing the baby each week. If we didn’t go there, we might meet Uncle DJ and/or my son-in-law for lunch at Culvers. Sometimes I just went and brought something home for us to eat. She would get as much laundry as she could done before having to leave for his longer nap. We would load the baby and laundry into my van and I would drive them back home. Any unfinished laundry would be left here for me to finish and take to her over the weekend. (Another chance to see the baby!)

Today is the first Thursday since they moved. There was no one to go pick up this morning. There was no diet coke from McDonald’s or Smashburger for lunch. There was no baby to rock or loads of laundry waiting to be done. There was no little baby shirts and pants to fold. The toys are still neatly put away in our living room. Eventually I will need to pack them away, but I haven’t been able to do that yet. My heart is not ready to pack away his singing toolbox or the Sesame Street toy that sang when he pushed the buttons. The sippy cup and baby spoons have not left their cupboard home for a week. There are still sweet potato puffs on the floor, but that is only because I have not had the emotional energy to vacuum them up from his time with me last week. The clock says it is 12:30. I need to eat lunch but have no desire to do so. I wish we could go to Zupas–Grammy would buy him the chicken fingers he loves so much. Or maybe Culvers and Uncle DJ could meet us there. But that can’t happen. I wonder if he misses me? Probably not. He is too young to know what habit means and how deeply ingrained our Thursdays together became for me.

But this morning, when I woke up and realized it was Thursday, I pulled the covers over my head and cried. I cried tears that I didn’t think were even possible to cry. I felt my heart break even more as I wondered what he would spend his Thursday doing…and I wished so much that he was spending it with me.

I hate my life right now. There is only so many ways one can escape the pain of a broken heart. None are healthy.

But I don’t care right now.

Right now, I just need to escape.

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The First Aching

This is my glider rocker. Dave bought it for me when we moved to our townhouse a little over a year ago. I had always wanted a chair specifically for reading. This chair was perfect for that. We put it in the spare bedroom which is also my reading room (since we seldom have anyone stay with us). I remember being excited at the thought of rocking a new baby as well. My grandson had not yet made his debut in this world when we bought the chair. Over the last sixteen months, this chair has been a haven for me on many occasions. It is upstairs away from the noise of the television. The window of the spare bedroom overlooks the woods by our place, and when the window is open, the sounds of birds, squirrels, rustling leaves, and an occasion “hoo-hoo” of an owl can be heard.

It has also been the place where I rocked a tired boy to sleep. Whether it be for his nap time or if Grammy had him overnight, we would always spend time in the rocking chair, me singing softly to him as he drifted off to sleep. Funny that his favorite song to fall asleep to was a Dixie Chicks song.

This morning, I dragged the vacuum upstairs to clean up the mess of cat food on the floor in the office where the cats eat. I decided to do a run through of the spare bedroom as well. The pack and play where the baby slept is put away. The baby monitor we bought because we had him so much sits on the bedside table, almost taunting me that it is no longer needed. The white noise machine is still plugged into the wall. The chair sits where it always has. I sat down in it and started to cry. My arms ache to hold him. It has only been five days since they left, but with the exception of our vacation last fall, this has been the longest I have had to go without holding him. And that time is only going to get longer.

Tears. So many tears. I honestly didn’t think a body cold produce this many tears. They fill my eyes, spilling down onto my face, eventually landing on my shirt or the floor. They disappear–dry up as if they were never shed. But then comes more. And even more. My heart is broken. It physically hurts, just as my arms physically ache to hold a baby and rock him to sleep. I have been criticized by many.

“He isn’t dead,” they tell me.

Damn. Don’t they know I know that? Do they realize their words don’t help? The ache is real regardless. My heart is broken still. Their words just hurt more. A heart can only take so much and mine is at its limit. I seriously think one can die of a broken heart.

I will still sit in my chair.

I will sit here and cry more tears.

My arms will continue to ache.

My heart will stay broken for a long while, if not forever.

This is just too hard.

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Not the Same

Many people have what we refer to as pet peeves. These are behaviors that a person does, whether consciously or unconsciously, that drive another person crazy. There are far too many examples to list, but I imagine anyone reading this could name a few of their own pet peeves.

I am no exception.

I remember posting a Facebook status about one of my pet peeves–people driving under or just at the speed limit in the left lane. I like to drive above the speed limit. It isn’t hard to figure out that the left lane is supposed to be the faster lane. I admit to bouts of road rage as I “encourage ” the pokey person to get out of my way.

Recently, a new pet peeve has been added to my list. This one is difficult because I think people usually mean well but fail to realize their words are having an opposite effect.

Last week my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson my only grandchild) moved. My heart is broken. Having my grandson close by, being asked to watch him for a few hours or keep him overnight made me feel needed again. Now that they are no longer living close enough to see on a regular basis, I feel unloved and unneeded.  Whether that is actually true or not is irrelevant to this broken heart. So many people have said that I can visit him.

Duh. Of course I can visit him. But that is nowhere near the same as living close enough to see him multiple times a week. He won’t remember me. He may not give me a big smile like he did when he came to my house so often. I can’t rock him to sleep since he won’t be spending nights here.

It’s nowhere near the same. I’m not needed anymore, at least not like I used to be. I feel God is punishing me…maybe even doesn’t love me anymore. I miss my daughter. I will miss out on so much of my grandson’s life now. I never had grandparents as a child. I so wanted to be the grandma I never had. Now I won’t get that chance.

Visiting, even once a month, is just not the same as being involved in his life. The hurt right now is raw. I have on more than one occasion fought the very strong urge to just give up on life. In fact, I am writing this because I was laying in bed thinking how useless I am now. I write to distract myself this morning. It isn’t eloquent. It isn’t uplifting. It is real and painful and raw. I miss him beyond words and already have a visit planned. Still, I would give my life right now to drive the 20 minutes I used to drive just to get some baby snuggles.

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Stabbing Pain

This morning my eyes opened. I didn’t necessarily want them to, but they did. In the fogginess of that chasm between being half asleep and half awake, for a millisecond, I forgot the reason I desired to stay asleep. It didn’t take very long, though, for it to come rushing in like high tide. Waves of sadness washed over me as I recalled the tearful goodbye to my grandson, daughter, and son-in-law not even 24 hours prior. Forced to drag myself out of bed to face the dreaded day, I managed to go through the typical morning routine.

Then I walked downstairs.

The waves of sadness rushed in even harder as I spotted the toys in the living room. The high chair we bought because he spent so much time at our house stood in the corner of the dining room. On the floor, scattered all around it, were Gerber sweet potato puffs that he had spilled just one day ago. His books lined  the bookshelf, the glaring absence of some of them stung. Some of his favorites I sent with him. The kitty book that he would ALWAYS bring to me to read with him is now in North Dakota.

I felt like someone had a knife and was stabbing me repeatedly with it. Only I couldn’t fight back. There was no physical attacker to run from or subdue. Instead, I was bombarded, stabbed, repeatedly with the emotions of missing someone I love, wondering how his night went, thinking about the fact that he will probably not remember me when I see him again. He won’t remember the fun time we had at the park just one day ago, the giggles as I pushed him in the swing and helped him slide down the slide.

I plan to avoid the park. It will hurt to see grandmas with their grandchildren, laughing, playing, and spending time together.  I actually plan to avoid people altogether for a while.

Stabbings can cause death from loss of blood. This kind of stabbing, though, is not as merciful to allow the escape of death. This kind of stabbing is a taunting, relentless kind that reminds me over and over that a huge hole has been ripped in my heart and nothing can fix it.

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Broken things are usually discarded.

Sometimes, the thing that is broken is put back together. But it almost always shows proof somewhere that it was broken.

Perhaps a tiny crack that couldn’t be completely patched.

Or a chip where a piece of the item simply disappeared.

One can turn the item a different way on a shelf so that only its perfect side is exposed.

But upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that it is damaged goods.

Sometimes, it is sent to a thrift store where it will sit on a shelf unwanted for any given period of time.

Other times, the broken piece is beyond repair.

In that case, it is discarded in the trash.

Thrown out.

It is forgotten about eventually. The one who possessed it realizes that they didn’t really need it in the grand scheme of things.

Today, I am broken. My heart hurts so much that words would never do the pain justice. So I refuse to try.

Alcohol can numb the pain for a little while.

Eventually, though, the alcohol wears off and the pain returns, screaming with vengeance. The pain screams of my brokenness. It reminds me that I am no longer needed. I will be replaced by others. I will be forgotten.

Being broken hurts.

Hurts. Like. Hell.



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Loving Too Much

I think I love too deep.

Too much.

Too hard.

If I honestly look at my heart, I realize that I never “kind of” love someone or something. There are very few things in this world that I can take or leave. And what fits into that category are indeed things.

I can take or leave vegetables.

I can take or leave exercise.

I can take or leave fireworks shows.

When it comes to people or animals, especially animals, though, I go in with my entire heart and love incredibly deeply.

That has backfired on more than one occasion. Animals don’t hurt on purpose, but people do. I’ve never felt betrayed by an animal, yet I have often felt the stabbing of betrayal from people. There are members of my own family who no longer talk to me. They have gone so far as to say that I am dead to them. The betrayal has taken its toll.

I have always been a very sensitive person. Even as a child, seeing an animal hit and laying on the side of the road brought instant tears. Raccoons, deer, squirrels, cats, birds–it didn’t matter. The thought of the deceased animal and the suffering it may have endured as it died started a chain of emotions that always resulted in a breakdown of tears. That sensitivity never went away. Earlier this year as I was on my way to help with middle school youth group, I passed a turkey that had been hit on a busy road. Another turkey, I assume its mate, was just standing next to it, looking at it as if to say, “Why aren’t you following me?”. The tears came instantly (and are again as I relive that experience). I went into the kitchen area of the youth group room and just cried. My daughter-in-law and son followed me in. I was a mess of tears and embarrassed. I often get angry at God for making me the way he did.

This morning, as I lay awake (wishing I would not have awakened once again) I decided that loving has resulted in tremendous hurt over the years. Because I love and feel so deeply, it cuts deeply when that love is rejected or the relationship changes. Eighteen months ago, I held a little peanut in my arms in a hospital in Fargo. My baby girl had given birth to a beautiful baby boy. Our first grandchild. My arms were full for the first time in many years and I couldn’t get enough of him. Over these last eighteen months, I have spent a great deal of time with this precious boy. I love him deeply. Perhaps too deeply, for now that he is moving away, the deep wound is causing pain that is way too much to bear. Added to that pain is the reality that his mommy, once my baby girl, will also be gone–my best friend.

Once again I find myself angry at God for creating me to love so deeply and for taking people away from me–people who I love so very, very much. I have been criticized for saying I hate life. I don’t care. I hate that life has to change and hurt so much so often. I hate that the loneliness of an empty nest will only intensify with them moving. I hate that my arms are going to ache to hold my precious grandson and he won’t be here to ease that ache. I hate that next Thursday they won’t be coming to do laundry as they have nearly every Thursday for over a year. I hate that I have to continue living when life is so damn painful. And I hate that I don’t know how to move forward with a life that has no real purpose.

Posted in Children, death, depression, empty nest, Grandma, Grandson, loneliness, moving, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Sunshine

Image result for losing my sunshine

There hasn’t been much sunshine in my world as of late.

No surprise if you’ve read anything I’ve written in the last few months.

The dark clouds have been gathered for a while and they have been pouring down rain and even hail for quite a while now. The thunder has rolled and the lightning has struck without relent. The winds have blown with strength so great that I have felt for sure I would certainly be swept away by their force.

Normal people like sunshine. I’ve never considered myself to be normal. Most who know me agree with that. I love winter and bitter cold while most people like summer and warmth. I like clouds and rain while most people like sunshine and blue skies.

I have always been different and because of that, have had a hard time fitting in.

I don’t even like songs about sunshine.

Except for one. There is one sunshine song that, up until now, always brought a smile to my face. The reason for that has been because this particular song always brought a smile to the face of my little grandson. From the time he could smile at me, he has loved the song You are my Sunshine. You’ve probably heard it:

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know just how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

He loved that song and whenever he would need to be rocked to sleep, I would softly sing him those words.

Right now, those words are like swords going into my heart and coming out my back.

He has been the only ray of sunshine I have had in some very long, dark, days.

But my sunshine is moving away.

My heart, stabbed by the intense pain of what will happen in two days, is broken and bleeding.

I’ve said it before…this is just too much.

“Please don’t take my sunshine away…”

It’s happening.

I can’t stop it.

And I don’t think I will be able to come out the other side of losing my only sunshine.

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