Breathe In, Breathe Out

Has anyone tried any of the meditation apps? I just downloaded Calm. It’s got Guided Meditations, Music, people reading books to you, all kinds of stuff I’m just starting to explore. If you meditate, what works for you?

By the way, hi. 🙂

I saw my general doctor today. I’m having some symptoms that are really concerning such as extreme muscle cramps/spasms and a few other issues. The worst part, is that my ribs feel crushing pain when I stretch, lean, or breathe in too deeply. He thinks this cramping is possibly a side effect of one of the anti-depressants, so I’m stopping those.

I’ll be getting away for a few days on a girls’ trip. I cannot even begin to tell you how badly I need a vacation.

There are things happening in my life that I want to talk about but I’m just not ready to do so yet.  Not good things. Just shit things. When I come back from my girls’ trip, hopefully I’ll be in a better place to share more. I just need to get my head around things first.

It’s been a pretty unproductive time for me at the casa. I haven’t done anything in the way of projects to speak of.  The rescue is taking some of my time, and other than that I’m just pretty much here. Not doing anything. Not being anything. Just here. Inhaling and Exhaling. Taking up space. Doing nothing. Wishing my life away. Nobody notices if I sleep or wake, nobody cares if I get dressed. Nobody knows if I eat or leave the house. Sometimes I might go days without speaking to anyone local. This is exactly what I needed when I decided to take a leave. I just underestimated how alone I’d be and feel (and by the way, the next person that tells me I’m not alone is going to push me over the edge. I am literally alone. By myself. In a house. Alone. Every single day and every single night. Alone. Decisions? Alone. Workload of 2+? Alone. I’m very alone. Trust me, I’ve checked under all the beds).

He was more than my everything. He fueled me and made me who I am. Without him, I’m just here. Weak. Fragile. Broken. Sitting. Waiting. Serving time. Not really caring. Not really hoping or planning or worrying. Just hurting. Breathing in. Breathing out.

Which takes me back to, meditation apps. I’ve started really turning to guided meditation, and I’m always looking for good apps or sites. If you have one, please let me know. ❤

Namaste 😉

~ Lisa

The Life Sentence

I’ve been struggling with the tone of my blog. I’m not the type of person who likes to spread negativity or complain about my situation. But then I realized, this blog is live-time. I wanted to start this so that people in my life understand what’s happening and can try to understand ME, but also my TRUE hope is that other widows may find comfort or at least something relatable in my words. Sadly, to narrate this experience of mine is a sad and dark endeavor for the writer and the reader. This isn’t a place to come to feel better and that sucks. This isn’t a place to come for jokes, life tips, or anything positive. It’s just a dark place. And I realize, this is true because this is my life right now. This blog is a tiny peek into my psyche and my reality. So the fact that THIS little sliver sucks and is so depressing all the time is a good indicator of the bigger picture. For the moment and for the foreseeable future, my life sucks.

I got my hair done yesterday for the first time in over a year. The salon was playing Christmas music of course, and all the clientele were talking about their holiday plans; families, trips, gifts for the kids, getting their hair done for the hubby, getting their hair done for the holidays, the upcoming party, whatever the occasion. The energy was positive and the place was humming. And I almost lost it. Finding myself in the early phases of a panic attack, lump in my throat, tears welling up, and hair color on my roots so I was stuck. So I started texting my sister to get through the moment. 3 hours later, I was done and I went to dinner with a friend. Then I came home with my new do, and nobody to tell me how great it looked. And the sadness begins again.

In reading others’ experiences, the time after your loved one dies is commonly referred to as the Life Sentence. Going through the motions. Fighting back waves of emotion that come without warning. Coming home to empty.

When I sat down in the stylist’s chair (I’ve known her for years), she wanted to catch up. My response was that I can’t even talk about my life, so she had to do the talking. This sums me up. I don’t want to be the debbie downer. I don’t want to be the exhausting person that nobody wants to be around. I don’t want to carry my shit into every single interaction. I’m tired of my life being about loss. I’m tired of hearing my story. It’s so awful that nobody knows what to say. It’s just shitty and leaves everyone involved in an awkward sad shitty situation. That’s what my life has done to others.

What has loss and grief done to me? It’s stolen the following:

  • My confidence
  • My life
  • My hope in the future
  • My security and stability
  • My future
  • My belief that if you do good, you’ll get good.
  • My faith
  • My joy, happiness, and contentment
  • My spiritual home
  • My personality and sense of who I am

I hope as time goes on, the tone of my blog can change as the tone of my life changes. I do believe that things can get better. I do believe that MY life can go on. I have no desire for it to right now, but I’m in a strong enough headspace that I know this is part of my process.

I know there are some who completely understand I lost my husband on top of a stack of multiple other devastating recent losses, but I also know they DON’T understand why I can’t move ahead. They don’t understand how STUCK you can get, and they don’t understand how it feels to lose your everything. Those who don’t really understand, are usually those who are sitting next to their spouses and asking themselves why I can’t just keep going. Again, that’s not a crime. It’s just ignorant and those people need to be educated. Sadly, 1/2 of those partners WILL feel what I’m feeling at some point in their lives. Their grief and loss will shake them to their cores and bring them to their knees. I don’t wish it on anyone – but make no mistake. If you don’t “understand” this, if you are married, either you or your spouse will someday. Pay attention. ❤

If you’re sticking with me through the shittiest journey and the most depressing blog ever, I appreciate you.

Peace,

~ Lisa

The Story of Michael and Me

After a really even-keeled emotional and decent physical day yesterday, I suffered a crash and burn of epic proportions last night. I’m actually writing this at 3am, but I’m waiting until I get some sleep to review it tomorrow before I actually post it.

I’m in the process of a major clean-out. I have always had slight OCD but it’s through the roof now. EVERYTHING we planned to get rid of MUST GO NOW. It doesn’t REALLY have to go NOW, but in my mind it does. So…back to the point. Tonight, I was going through boxes in the basement and the dam broke. Sobbing, looking through old things, and I came across this. It’s another picture of a picture because this was before the digital age. This was the very first weekend that Michael and I spent together. Basically, the first time we met. Which leads me to…the story of Michael and me.

When we met

Michael and I met online. This was in the days of AOL and the old-school chatrooms. I was going through a painful divorce and I went online in search of a support group. I found one, and inside that chat room I met a guy named Michael. We immediately started side conversations in little private chat boxes, because we noticed we were the only two people in the whole group who used their actual names. Other people had “handles” but we were just Michael and Lisa. He and I were in similar situations, going through divorces after 17 years of marriage. We were both with spouses who knew they wanted out long before we did, and we both had very similar pain and an understanding of what the other was going through.  Soon, I started really looking forward to the evenings when I knew he would log on, and we would chat online in those little private chat boxes for hours.

Soon, online chats turned into phone calls, and the connection was intense. He was NOT my type in ANY way, shape, or form – or so I thought. But he was sensitive, sarcastic, kind, smart, and had a shockingly dark sense of humor. He was deep, spiritual, patient, soft-spoken. He wanted to know my kids. He wanted to talk about God and the universe and the stars. He listened when I talked. He was the exact opposite of any guy I’d ever been in a relationship with. And I decided maybe that was good for me.

After several months of phone calls and webcam chats, we decided it was time to meet for real to see if there was a “spark”. He flew out to California much to the chagrin of his friends who all told him he was crazy and that I was going to cut him up into little pieces.

This picture was taken that weekend. It was a park near my house, and we were just hanging out.

And after I dropped him off at the airport that weekend, I came home to find this note in my kitchen. I blocked some of it out because it’s personal. I JUST found this note a few days ago. ❤

Theres a spark

After that, we started flying back and forth every two weeks, taking turns. So once a month I was in MN, and once a month he was in CA. That went on for about 10 months before he moved to CA in 2005.

We lived in CA with my two teenage kids and saw them graduate high school. We got married in our backyard in the summer of 2006. It was a beautiful wedding. We had about 40 guests, all close friends or family, and the band were our friends and they played all night. Michael’s mom and Auntie Patsy (both RIP) flew out for the wedding, and so did his kids, and it was a great family time for everyone. Lots of dancing and partying. It was a lovely night, and the priest who married us was named Charlie Sinatra! A distant cousin I believe.

In 2008, Michael’s heart was calling him back to MN. His mom was alone and getting older. He was an only child and felt that he needed to be close to her. So I made him a deal. He gave me 3 years in CA, so I would give him 3 years in MN. So to MN we moved.

Michael’s mom Addie passed away in 2010 I believe (sorry, I don’t mark dates and anniversaries). That was a tough time. Family stuff got complicated because Michael had to make decisions that not everyone agreed with. It was a hard, hard time. I loved Addie. She was like a mom to me. She accepted me and loved me instantly, and that wasn’t always the case marrying into a very traditional midwestern family. I had some very meaningful moments and conversations with her as I sat bedside with her. She was also my first intimate experience with death. Michael and I were both there as she drew her last breath. Addie was ridiculously particular about her wig and her makeup, so I did them for her in the casket. I knew she’d want to look like Addie, and NOBODY could make Addie look like Addie. Her wig was very dated and too dark, but that was Addie and her look.

Being with Addie when she died was a profound experience for me. The conversations I had with her, the private moments we shared, the things I witnessed, changed me forever. And since that first experience, sadly I’ve lost count of how many lives I’ve witnessed come to an end. Between beloved pets, rescue dogs, and humans, it must be in the dozens. Every one has a profound impact on me.

I guess Michael and I were always good at loss, because we suffered many losses over the course of our relationship, and every loss we suffered brought us closer together.

Our marriage was thriving when Michael got sick. We truly had the marriage that everyone thought we did. Our love was deep and our commitment was solid. Tonight going through things, it broke my heart. I spent a majority of my life in a relationship with the wrong person. And when I did meet the right person, he was taken far too soon. I cried at what could have been. I cried because I was robbed. I cried because he wasn’t ready to die. And I wasn’t ready to lose him. I cried looking at the memories he made before I was in his life, and I felt a little sad and jealous that I didn’t get to share that part of his life with him. I wondered if we had raised children together, would our relationships with them have been better? Would they have wanted to be in our lives? Would we have had grandchildren bouncing on our knees? Or maybe we would have retired to some remote island. But none of that matters because he didn’t get to live long enough.

Michael and I were big on second chances. Our wedding invitation talked about second chances. I look at that photo above and I see a couple with hope, excitement, and a future. And it just absolutely sucks that our second chance was taken from us.

And now, 10 years after I made a deal to move to MN for 3 years, here I am. My kids both followed me here over the years (irony at its finest but I digress). I built a rescue here. I built a network here. And now, he’s gone.

And I miss him. 😥 ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa 

Poison Drugs, Part 2

Hello everyone 🙂

If you’re following, you know I had to take these poison pills the other night. pills

I took them Wednesday night, and all day Thursday I was SO SICK. It was almost the worst day of my life. Yesterday I was a little better, and today I’m much better. So it’s safe to say I’m tolerating the treatment okay. I’m sure they will get easier each week (she says with a tinge of hopefulness).

I can’t drink alcohol anymore because these drugs mess up my liver. So that’s a bummer because this time of year I like my boozy cocoas.

I’m doing okay. The steroids are kicking in again so the joint swelling is down. The Lyrica is working on the nerve pain and I’m building up a tolerance to it so it doesn’t dope me up me as badly anymore.

I heard from a friend this morning with a referral to PT, so part of me wants to take the plunge and get that going for my spine. But the bigger part of me feels like it’s just too much to deal with it all at once. I really want to focus on my RA and deal with my back later, but I feel like I started something I have to continue now. But part of me wants to give myself permission to just postpone the spine stuff. The Lyrica is working and I’m in much better shape pain-wise. I’ll need another fusion eventually (a third one) so I feel like postponing the second one just buys time until that third one. I keep wondering what Michael would say if he were here. I believe he would want me to focus on the RA because it’s internal and far more serious. I believe he would agree that we handle one issue at a time and that RA is priority. I believe that, anyway.

I woke up in a good mood today. I slept really well (OMG this bed!), played some music while I cleaned my kitchen and drank my coffee, played with the girls after they had breakfast. Here’s hoping that today continues to be a better day. ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa

“Get Over It”

I had a talk tonight with a good friend. She said something to me that was interesting.

I can’t remember the exact words, but she said something to the effect of, there are a lot of people who don’t know I’m sick with an auto-immune disease, and she wonders if they should follow my blog (since I’m not on FB right now) because otherwise they’re just thinking I should “get over it” and move on after Michael’s death.  We also talked about how people hear Rheumatoid Arthritis and they think I have sore joints, oh they have arthritis so they get it, etc. This is SUCH a mis-named disease. This is a disease. An auto-immune condition. My body is attacking itself. It happens to be attacking my joints, so it presents like arthritis. But this isn’t granny’s arthritis. This is serious shit. In fact, since I’m so very helpful 😉 I’ll put a link to information about RA right here! From a reliable source, an easy quick read. Say, Mayo Clinic – what is RA? 

My reaction to this was that it was so interesting, because I had planned to take this leave from social media and my overall job far before I became sick, so that I could allow myself to grieve, mourn, and put my life in some sort of order. This sickness is actually robbing me of that leave/grieve time. I also needed the break from social media over the holidays, BEFORE I knew I was sick. But I found it interesting that she said what I know to be true. People are sick of my grief. They don’t understand my mourning. They’ve never experienced loss like this, or maybe they have but they handled it differently.

I had another talk with a friend of mine last week along the same lines. “People are going to get sick of your shit. You’re going to lose them. They can’t handle your life.”

Both of these conversations were loving conversations with trusted friends. Honest conversations that I truly appreciated. THEY weren’t in this place of ditching me. They just honestly told me their perception of others’ perceptions. And they are both right. I was wondering when the time would come that people thought, “Okay Lisa, get up and get going. Enough is enough.” Maybe the time is now or maybe it’s my friends’ perceptions, but I’ve been feeling it too. The overall vibe that people are just kinda done with me and my situation. This statement doesn’t come with any bitterness or negative feelings attached at all. I don’t blame them.

Now, I’ve been an insanely busy reader lately, absorbing as much as I can about my new life ahead. I take so much comfort in the words of others who are ahead of me in this journey. And one thing I’ve seen consistently in almost every writer I follow, is a version of this story. The Get Over It story. Usually nobody has the nerve to say that to our faces, but they get really sick of us. They don’t want to hang out with us because we’re a reminder of their good fortune- they’re not in our shoes and maybe they actually feel weird because of that. They get fed up with our solitude or our lack of accepting their offers. They get tired of chasing us because we don’t want to chit-chat or meet for coffee. They get indignant when their texts aren’t returned. They get chased away by our rejection. I don’t blame them. It doesn’t make them bad people. They just don’t understand. And it doesn’t make me a bad person. I am just doing the best I can.

It’s really sad that widows oftentimes lose so much more than their husbands. It’s quite common that they lose friends in large numbers, finding themselves with a couple of die-hards that hung on if they are lucky. I really feel that so much needs to be talked about when it comes to grief. It’s such a taboo subject. Nobody likes to talk about it. It’s too sad. But it’s real. It happens and sadly in every marriage one partner is going to lose the other. People die and leave people behind. I don’t know why the whole thing is so uncomfortable and why relationships among the living have to be lost. He died. It sucks. Why can’t we be friends anymore?

The other common truth I see in other widow’s words, is that you never, ever, ever, ever get over it. Some widows are still exactly where I am, years and years in. Some women say it was 2-3 years of darkness, others remarry within months. But no matter how people choose to grieve, they never get over losing a life mate unexpectedly.  And the deeper the connection, the deeper the love, the greater the loss is felt.

It’s just interesting is all.

Lately, my grief hasn’t been so much over missing Michael himself although that’s constant. My pain has been more about me. My life. My future. My outlook. My state of being. My serious PTSD at watching my dad and my husband die within months of one another. Hospicing Michael really, really affected me in ways I’m still dealing with. The compound grief and loss and those affects on my body and my spirit. Of course it all goes back to being alone and how this wasn’t the plan, but it manifests itself in other ways. I don’t cry as often as I used to. It hits me more unexpectedly than it used to, though, and when the bouts of crying come, they come full force.

I worry a lot. Mostly about money but other things too. I’m not a fan of having no plan. And right now, I’m in limbo. I won’t let myself make any major life decisions for one year, thank goodness. My “life plan” has changed a hundred times since Michael died. I don’t know what my finances even look like, and I’m trying to find my groove and see if I can sustain the house with just my income. It’s not looking promising but I really need more time to see how things shake out. If not, I’ll look at selling. And that opens a whole new overwhelming set of decisions…where will I move? And HOW will I move? I love love love love this home. WE loved this home. It’s a deep connection. I have dog’s ashes planted with trees that Michael and I planted with our own hands. This is our home. I’m not ready to leave it and my connection to Michael through it. And that’s significant. I have moved every three years throughout my entire adult life until we bought this home. It’s finally where I planted roots. I thought we’d grow old in this house together.

I’ve never, ever been alone. And now I’m painfully alone. It’s a stark contrast to the past 50 years of being the youngest of 5 kids, then a young mother so I always had my children with me, a wife, a nana, and now this. Alone.

So to those who think it’s “time” I get past it and “move on”, I’m not angry at all that you think that. You’re ignorant and that’s not your fault. I want you to understand it isn’t so simple. It’s not only about missing him (although yes I miss him terribly). It’s about grieving the part of me that died with him, grieving the entire rest of my life that I thought was pretty set, it’s about the fear of the unknown that lies ahead, it’s about being faced with horrible decisions and horrible realities unexpectedly when you weren’t prepared in the slightest way, it’s about having nobody to bounce the day-to-day things off of, to help counter-balance my stuff.  It’s about having WAY too big of a life for one, and trying to acclimate to/ simplify that life while battling lots of physical pain. It’s about missing him, yeah. Big time. But it’s about so, so, so much more. And this shit takes time. I loved him deeply and wholly with every fiber of my being. It’s going to take me some time to unwind those fibers and find my life. I’m moving ahead and choosing to wake up each day. That’s a hell of an accomplishment. I’m staying fully engaged with and contributing to the rescue even though I’m not on social media. I’m trying my best to take care of myself. I’m trying my best to stay connected to someone. That someone varies but I’m staying connected to human beings.

I didn’t realize until late this evening that it’s been 4 months today. So much has happened in that 4 months. It feels like forever but at the same time, it feels like yesterday. I don’t want to make a habit of marking these anniversaries because that’s not who I am – but I noticed it so I needed to mention it.

Thanks for listening.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Help Wanted

This is nothing but a classified ad, and for that I’m sorry.

  1. I need an attorney to help me with taking legal action against a contractor. I plan to pay this attorney, so I’m not looking for handouts this time. Weird, huh? Ideally, the attorney would work on contingency, but I’m just making it clear that I am not expecting pro-bono work.  Who do you know? 
  2. King-sized bed must go pronto. It’s in the entryway of my house because I have no place to store it. Make me any reasonable offer and COME GET IT PLEASE!
    1. It’s a Simmons BeautyRest Recharge Hybrid. They don’t make it anymore (they do but they’ve changed the name I think) so it’s not easy to find a current price.
    2. It’s king, and comes with low-profile box springs that we paid extra for.
    3. Comes with a frame.
    4. It’s about 13-14 months old and has been in a plastic mattress protector since the day it arrived in our house. We paid over $3000 for it. It’s a NICE mattress, minimal wear.

These pics obviously aren’t the actual bed because as I mentioned, THAT is in my entryway….but this is what it is. Interested? Email me. Know a lawyer? Email me. lisabooth826@gmail.com. Thank you. ❤

Results – Confirmed

The hits just keep on coming. Results are in. I have an auto-immune disease.

My blood test that we were waiting for was a Vectra Test. It tests for stuff in the blood that indicates Rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s the score scale. Vectra score

And in typical Lisa over-achiever fashion, I scored SUPER high on the test nobody wants to score high on. My score? 86. 86 out of 100. EIGHTY -SIX. Because I don’t do anything half-assed. :/ That means the disease is severe right now. And drug therapy is beginning.

I’m on a few vitamins, had to get a pneumonia shot because my immunity is pretty low. I’m on steroids which further weakens my immune system. Also, I’m taking methotrexate. This is technically a chemo drug, but it’s used widely for RA. I take 6 pills all at once, once a week. I am taking the first dose tonight. I’ve been putting it off since yesterday. I’m afraid to take them, but down the hatch they shall go. It’s just really difficult psychologically to swallow pills that are essentially poison.

My limited physical abilities = limited projects at home. Were you at Michael’s Celebration of Life? If you were, you’ll recognize his memory tree. It was on display in the back of the room with the other mementos, and we had people write memories of Michael on cards and hang them on the tree. I’ve saved all of those memory cards as well. ❤ Anyway, I took it down to the shortest height, removed the stand, ran the plug through the water drain hole at the bottom, got some floral foam and some moss, stuck it all in a chipped pot that I got for almost nothing, and voila! I think it’s beautiful, and now it’s a permanent fixture in our (my) home.

Michael's tree

I’m JUST ABOUT ready to take photos of the house for all of you to see. There are still a few touches that need to be done before I am ready to reveal it in its entirety, but it’s coming together so nicely. I’ve made sure that there is a piece of Michael in every single room and space. I’ve only placed things out that I love or that serve a purpose. I’ve decluttered dramatically. Organized like crazy. Made it mine but still making sure you feel him everywhere. It’s a warm and comfortable place to be. The only thing that’s missing is him. ❤

I’m pretty messed up about everything right now. I have so much stress. I miss him. He’d make all of this feel surmountable.

Hey, who wants to see two fluffy dogs? I woke them up from napping to snap a pic. ❤

Fluffies

And now, I’m going to sign off and take all of these poisonous pills. Wish me luck. ❤

pills

Peace,

~ Lisa