Sadness and Joy
It’s been a while since I last posted, so I wanted to tell you what’s been going on. This was a very hard post for me to write and I’ve re-written it several times over the course of about two months. Forgive me if I ramble, LOL
The past year or so, have been full of highs and lows. The highs were as high as could be, while the lows were as low as they could be. It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster for us.
It all started last December 2018 when my Dad passed away here at home. It was sudden and unexpected. He was a good man, as good as they come, and he loved and took great care of our family. As you can imagine, it was quite a blow to us all.
At the same time of his funeral, LeAnn was in Texas with our daughter, who had just given birth to our first Granddaughter, with whom we were overjoyed. They were upset about missing the funeral, but, fortunately, we were able to live stream the service to them.
As sorrowful as things were for us at the funeral, there were some lighter moments. After Dad’s graveside service was finished, our son (he was 11 then) raised his hand and said, “I have one question.” I saw my cousins to the side elbow each other smiling, while inside I was cringing. The funeral director asked, “What is your question?”
“How long did it take to dig that hole?”
Tears turned to laughter and we knew that Dad was looking down laughing, too.
A couple of weeks later, we recieved news that LeAnn’s Papaw had passed away suddenly. He was much loved by his family, friends, and community. Having lost my Grandparents in my youth, I had adopted him as my own, and I too, was devistated to see him go.
The Day That Came and Went
I couldn’t say why, but my depression had gotten as bad as it had ever been around February and I was angry and dissappointed in myself as I was not the person I wanted to be. I was also drinking heavily and daily to curb my guilt and anxiety for the pain I’d caused loved ones in my life. (I’m talking about emotional pain, not physical. The only person who’s ever been in danger of me is, well…me.) I was in a really dark place. I had also convinced myself that my family and friends would all be better off if I wasn’t here anymore. So I turned over my Instagram duties to LeAnn and I withdrew from social media and the blog because I didn’t feel that I should be interacting with others.
At that time, we were doing a lot for Mom, since Dad was gone, and there were quite a few projects that needed completing here at home. I did some planning in my head, estimated a completion date for the work, and then set a new event in my phone’s calendar for April 2. It simply said Zzzzz.
Zzzzz was going to be my last day. I knew it was the right thing to do. I believed that LeAnn would be able to find a better partner and our kids a better father once I was out of the way.
As time grew closer to my deadline, my list of projects and things to do had continued to grow, so I was working hard to finish in time. My “logic” was that I didn’t want to leave a lot of work undone for everyone once I was gone.
April 2 arrived and things weren’t ready, and I (ever the procrastinator) put it off and continued to work toward it.
The Long Way Round
I love watching Doctor Who, and in one episode, I found some inspiration. The Doctor was trapped in a prison/maze/puzzle which reset every time he solved it. He could have left at any time, by simply giving up information that he needed to save his companion, Clara. Instead, he had just enough time before the maze reset to use his fists to hit a substance harder than diamond and twenty feet thick, in order to tunnel to freedom. He only had time for a couple of hits each reset. It took four and a half billion years, but he smashed his way out.
When Clara, in tears, asked him why he did that, he said, “I had a duty of care.” And that he took the “long way round.” What he didn’t say, was that he loved her.
That stuck with me. I was needed here. I too, had a duty of care, out of love, and would have to take the long way round. So I decided that I would stay and at least “fake it til I made it.” I then began working harder with my mental health doctor to increase my meds and help straighten out my impulsive and inconsistent behaviors.
Later in April, an old friend (who had made me laugh at my Dad’s funeral) took his own life. He was close to me in age and lived just down the road from us. He left behind a wife and children, tons of relatives, and countless friends.
I felt that I understood him, because I know mental illness and it’s “logic.” But, I also saw and felt the pain that resulted from his passing…
I HAD to take the long way round.
About a month later, one of my very best childhood friends took his own life.
What a waste, I thought as I reflected on the two lives taken too early. All of this reinforcing my decision to stay.
I trudged along day by day, inching my way closer and closer to LeAnn. I’d pushed myself away from her and I had to try to get back. We’d had a difficult few years, and had been in marriage counseling for over a year. (I’ll write about that in a future post)
I have to stop here and say that LeAnn didn’t know about all of this until recently, but she did know something was wrong at the time. So, she stood by me, supported me, loved me, and encouraged me daily. If it hadn’t been for her patience and love, I wouldn’t have made it back to her.
Later on in the year, an old friend lost her teenage son in an accident. I hadn’t met him, but he was very well loved by all who knew him and was a jewel of the community.
So many funerals and visitations in the span of a few months. It all weighed heavy on my heart and I wondered how much more loss this little community would have to endure.
Lay Your Weary Head to Rest
For two years, my best friend had been battling Stage Four Lung Cancer. I got to visit him a lot even though he lived far away. In July, his wife messaged me to come out. The next day, I drove the ten hours across Texas to see them.
He looked much different than the times I’d seen him before. We’d spent time together in El Paso and Houston for his treatments and I had been so hopeful.
But when I arrived, my hopes were dashed. He was unable to walk, but he could stand up to get into his wheelchair. He knew that time was coming to a close so he was making his last goodbyes with friends and family.
He gave me a gift that I’ll always treasure. He then took me to his room where he wanted to say his goodbyes. Among other things, he told me that I’m a better man than I realized. He said, “You’ve never meant to hurt anyone.” It’s like he knew the guilt and shame I’d been dealing with, although I hadn’t told him any of it.
For months, I’d been trapped in my thoughts about the loved ones I’d hurt and things for which I could never ask forgiveness and for which I would never forgive myself.
He made me promise to think better of myself and to realize my true worth. I agreed, but was/am doubtful of my success.
His health deteriorated rapidly over the next couple of days and he was unable to stand at all.
I spent one night with him so his wife could get some sleep. He was up and down all night. I told everyone the next morning that it was awkward being in the bed with him because he was naked. So…I got naked too, just so it wouldn’t be weird. 😉
One evening he was having so much trouble breathing. The effort took his whole body. At one point I held him and told him that everything was okay, and told him how much we all loved him. I sent for his wife. She came in seconds later and looked at him for a moment then asked to trade places with me. “Of course” I said.
I then helped calm him down so he could lie still and go to sleep.
We listened to his final breaths. And then he was at peace.
I miss him dearly. I still message him sometimes on Facebook. Silly, right?
The Road Ahead
For me, it was a year full of loss and remorse and every low that came, also came with a life lesson that I took to heart.
There were also light moments when we laughed during the tough times as we remembered those we lost. We gained our first grandchild. How amazing is that!!?!
I now get to take Mom to the doctor, shopping, and lunch. We really treasure the time we get to spend together. (Actually, Mom doesn’t know about this, so let’s spare her the distress and, if we could, not mention this all to her, that’d be great, LOL)
I realize now how much I mean to LeAnn and our children and my love for them grows every day.
LeAnn and I are closer than we’ve ever been and I love her more than I ever have.
Our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter are living with us for now, and that’s a good thing.
Having taken the summer off from therapy, (I was in therapy fatigue) we are back in marriage counseling. Sadly, my two nieces, (sisters) are going through divorces right now. Although their changes are for the best, it reminds me of how fortunate we are that we started counseling when we did.
I’m back in one on one counseling. I am starting from the very beginning, and as hard as it will be to share, I will document my journey to improving my mental, as well as my goal for better physical health.
I will also take responsibility for my actions and reactions instead of hiding behind my illness, so I’m working closely with my doctor and we’ve been increasing and changing my medications and we are gonna find the right “cocktail” that works for me. I’ve also stopped the daily drinking. (On some “bad days” I may have a few too many.
I still have PTSD nightmares, depression and anxiety are ever present, but my bipolar tendencies are becoming much more manageable thanks to the medications.
I’ll have setbacks, I’ll be uncomfortable at times and I’ll fight back at myself, but I will keep it up and take the long way round.
If you ever feel like hurting yourself or others, please call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, or the Hotline in your country.