**10/6/2015-I started writing this post about a week and a half ago. I was going to delete it because I was so angry when I wrote it. I re-read it and realized how disorganized and crazy it sounded. But, I’ve decided to post it anyway. Because this is what happens to me sometimes. This blog is about how I live my life without Jake–and this is how it goes sometimes. You may not want to continue reading if you are easily offended. **
I had to drop my oldest boys off at grief camp on Friday night. I will be picking them up today. I didn’t expect to react the way I did. I walked away and immediately started bawling. Sobbed for about an hour afterwards. Not because I missed them. I was so sad and so incredibly pissed off that I had to take my kids to a grief camp. They shouldn’t have to go to grief camp. They did nothing to deserve this–this sadness, emptiness, and confusion. These unexpected triggers tear me up inside.
Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely grateful that such a place exists. It is called Camp Erin and it is held once a year. It is free to the families that attend. It is run solely on donations and grants. The volunteers who work it are some of the most amazing people I have ever come across in my life. I wish I had the words to describe–but my words would never do this event/place/people any justice. It was another reason I found myself crying. I wish I had all the money in the world to support Camp Erin. I wish I had the words to express my gratitude that my boys were “fortunate” enough to attend. I have to pick them up today. I’m anticipating an emotional day ahead for me.
My little girl, age 5, handed me a picture she made the other day. When I asked her to tell me about it, she pointed to the numbers. She said “One mom, four kids, and zero dads”. I don’t think I need to say anything else about that. Anyone reading this can imagine the pain. This is the way my little girl expresses her grief. Holy shit. I can’t believe this is my life.
My littlest guy continues to ask where daddy is, when is he coming home, why can’t we go see him, etc. He won’t get it for a very long time.
I get asked questions like this a lot–“How are you?”, “How are you doing?”, “You doing okay?” or some version. I never know how to answer. But I will say this–if I say I’m “fine” or “okay”–do not rejoice because you think I am “fixed” or “all better” or “past it”. I will never, ever be any of those things. I’ve said this before–my life has been broken into parts–the BEFORE and the AFTER. I’m learning to live in the AFTER. What has happened will always be a part of me. When I tell you I’m “fine” or “good” or “even great”–there is always the caveat that I’m not the same “fine, good, great” as the BEFORE Kristen. I was trying to come up with suggestions of other things you can ask a person in a similar situation. It’s hard. Even I don’t know what to say to other people under similar circumstances. Maybe just a hug and “I’m always thinking of you” or “I think of you often”. Don’t ask us “how we are”. I know it’s such a natural greeting–it’s very hard to not ask. If you see me smiling or laughing or having fun-just don’t assume I’m all “fixed”. It just means I am having a good moment. Which is good. But not the same.
So, going along with this whole anger theme I have going on lately–if I were to make a list of qualities of the BEFORE and AFTER Kristen–many of the characteristics would be the same. But in a different way. I experienced anger before–I experience anger now. But they are very different. The AFTER Kristen is way more likely to tell you to “fuck off” than the BEFORE Kristen. I was a compassionate person before–I am a very compassionate person now. However, don’t expect me to stir up any sympathy for you when you complain to me that your husband is going away on a business trip to an exotic country for three weeks. Fuck off. Don’t complain to me about how busy you are with one kid who plays sports, has music lessons, goes to art class, and has tutoring just so he can “get ahead” on the MSP/WASL/SBA (whatever they are calling the state standardized test now). Fuck off.
I am very easily overwhelmed. I always feel like I’m on the verge of going over the edge. The tiniest little thing that someone says or does has the capability to shut me down completely to the point where I can’t do anything at all. For example, at work I needed to complete a task that I had never done before. It was pretty simple and straightforward. But I froze. I couldn’t comprehend the simplest of directions of what I was supposed to do or the steps to take to accomplish this task. I read the directions over and over again until I just shut down. I couldn’t do anything. I gave it a few days and tried again and completed it. Don’t ask me if I did it accurately! I have no idea. But I did it. Another example, I was very proud of myself for being productive and making a ton of phone calls I needed to make and getting shit done. Then I received a simple text telling me I needed to do one more thing. Something small. But again I froze. I crawled back into my shell and couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not one more thing.
I am also extremely sensitive to well-intentioned people giving me unsolicited “advice” on how to parent my kids. My kids “need” this or “that” in some person’s opinion. I am going to be clear about this. Unless I ask for advice-do not tell me anything about what my kids need/don’t need or everything I am doing “wrong”. This leads to irreparable damage to our relationship. Every time something is said about what I need to do/not do–something inside of me breaks a little more. I feel enough guilt, enough responsibility, and enough…”lack of good parenting skills” to fill me for the rest of my life. I don’t need anybody else telling me or even “gently suggesting” to me, what to do. I do it enough to myself.
Speaking of “myself” (selfish Kristen coming through), I experienced the worst day of my life so far–something I never imagined happening in a million years on August 27, 2014. I had no choice but to get out of bed everyday and somehow go through the motions. I feel sorry for myself–yes. Absolutely. I want the opportunity to crawl into a hole and cry and punch things for a while. Not forever. Just for a little bit. I’ve recently started doing some things for myself. Pursuing new interests. Some of these interests impinge on my time with my kids. I had signed up for a dance class I had been wanting to take for a long time. After I registered, I found out that my daughter (who is only 5) would be having soccer practice at the same time as my dance class. I chose to continue with the dance class (which is only six weeks long). Holy mother fucking shit on a stick. You’d think I was beating her based on the reactions I got from some people.
**Updated: 10/6/2015–I’m not having an angry day. But everyday I am sad. I am sad about what Jake is missing out on. I am really sad about what my kids are missing out on. A lot of days I still don’t believe he’s gone forever.
I was obviously very angry when I wrote this post. I have these days sometimes–I call them “fuck the world” days. Actually, they are not usually whole days–but minutes, maybe hours. But I want to make it clear that I am so grateful for who I have in my life. I am so appreciative for what I have in my life. In loads of ways, I am very, very blessed and fortunate.**
Thanks for reading