January 21, 2016

The Dark Side of Death & Finding My Joy

Before you read this I want to say I write this for me. I write this for you if you are a widow and are experiencing much of what I am talking about, especially if you are a woman and if you lost your husband to suicide. You can read between the lines better than anyone. 

I write this for you if you have or are going through a divorce, illness or hard time in your life where you are at your lowest and have been hurt to the core by people in your life you thought would do the right thing. 

I write this to thank my parents, siblings and their partners, my close friends, counselors and lawyer who have listened and know my stories. You have stood by my side and have helped me stand up so many times when I couldn't on my own. And I write this to thank you, my old friends and new friends who near and from afar have defended me, stood up for me, listened without judgement and supported me.   

I am one lucky girl.

And the picture you ask? My neighbor took it in her studio. She made me laugh. It is the first picture since Pat died I saw pure joy in myself. Thank you Jennifer for capturing it. 

Yes there is a dark side of death. I have been living it for over 3 years.

The things I don't want to talk about.
The things people are afraid to hear.
Unbelievable and hurtful situations I have been put in.
Sick and wrong things people have said and done.

I have been holding these stories tight.
Dirty secrets I want to pretend I don't know.

The secrets are not about Pat or I. They are about other people. Family, friends and strangers who have said things, done things, texted things, mailed things that hurt me. Hurt my kids. Made me cry. Made me scream. Made me lose so many nights of sleep. Made me not trust. Made me hate.

If you would hear my stories, you may say "Sandra is crazy, she is being dramatic. She has to be making this up."

I am not making it up.
I can't make this shit up.
These people have hurt me.
Crushed me to my core.
They have taken my energy away from my healing.
They have taken my time away from helping my kids heal.

Why do they do this?
For their own needs.
Their own desires.
Their own fucked up wants.

They see me as weak. They see me in pain. They think they can take advantage.

Some did. Many tried. Some are still trying. Not anymore.

One person can only take so much.
I'm done keeping secrets.

I am surviving. I am not living.
Unless I let this hurt go I will never live again.
I will be stuck forever.
I don't want to be stuck.
I want to live.

Two weeks ago I was meeting with my grief counselor Erin. She sees the boys occasionally. She checks in with them. They like her. I like her.

I told her I was stuck.
I started to cry.
I sobbed.

"I have no joy. Nothing brings me happiness except the boys. My heart is dull. I have fought hard to get where I am but I am afraid to live. My trust in people is gone.  The dark side of death has taken its toll on me. I have to find my joy. The boys deserve it. I deserve it."

That was it.
I said it out loud.

"You lost your joy Sandra but you will find it again. The boys are okay. The boys are amazing. You did that. Nobody else did. Own what you have done for them. Own you have saved them and saved yourself. Let those stories go. Let the hurt go. Stop protecting and keeping those secrets. You are a strong, powerful, amazing woman who has a beautiful life in front of her. Stop being afraid. It's time to find your joy."

I walked out and told myself this is it.
I'm finding my joy.
Every day I now ask myself
"Do I find joy in this?"
"Is this person making me feel pain or joy?"
"Is this situation bringing me joy?"

If I say yes. I keep it. I found joy and I am holding on tight.
If I say no. Good-bye. I am letting it go. I am letting you go.
Is it always easy? No. But I am doing it.

The secrets I have been holding do not bring me joy. They bring me pain. It is time to let them go. I am not going to tell you the secrets. Many are too painful to talk about. But what I am going to do is share the life lessons I have learned in the past 3 years.

I have learned so much about people. I have seen the dark side of people...the selfishness, sickness and weakness people have. Instead of taking care of their own fears, guilt, insecurities and problems, they pass it on to others. They force it on to others.

Here are 21 life lessons I have learned:

  1. No means no. No explanation needed.
  2. Stop means stop. Stop texting, calling, asking, pushing, demanding, gossiping when someone asks you to stop - when someone begs you to stop.
  3. Blood is not always thicker than water.
  4. Doing the right thing is the right thing to do. Always.
  5. Everyone has shit. It's how you deal with it. Not dealing with it is not a reason to hurt others. Figure your shit out.
  6. People CAN change. They just don't want to.
  7. You don't have to explain what you do, who you are with, or where you go to anyone. Ever.
  8. This is YOUR life. Live it only for you and your kids and live it to its fullest.
  9. Weak people prey on the weak and struggling. 
  10. Be brave and always stand up for yourself. 
  11. There is a time to be quiet and a time to scream and fight.
  12. Adults can be bullies.
  13. Assume nothing.
  14. Moving can save you.
  15. When things get uncomfortable, silence is the easy way out. 
  16. Create an "Unacceptable" folder. Save texts, emails, pictures and goodies that are offensive to you. It can help you in the future. 
  17. Drunk and sober married men should keep their hands, dirty comments, pictures and texts to themselves. Pat is gone so now I am fair game? Note: My "Unacceptable" folder is full. Your wife will get a copy the next time you do it. To those who were Pat and my friends, shame on you. You disgust me. (okay I let 1 secret slip)
  18. If a relationship is toxic, walk away. Friend or family. No regrets. No guilt. Just walk.
  19. You have to do the hard stuff yourself. Nobody else will do it for you and after you do it you will find strength in yourself you never knew you had.
  20. Have a good lawyer you trust.
  21. Find YOUR joy!

To my widow friends, my friends struggling and to those of you I don't know, you may feel tired and weak and be at your lowest point. Maybe you don't have your strength back yet but you will. I promise you will. You will be different. You will have strength and courage you never knew you had. You will wake up one day like I did and say "I am finding my joy and nobody is getting in my way."

I have let the secrets go. I'm taking my life back. It has taken 3 long years but I'm finding my joy. Mine. My life. My joy. Enough is enough.

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