This post has been in the works for over a year now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it, tweaked it and sobbed over it. I try to convince myself each time I sit in front of it, that it’s too raw. Too vulnerable. TOO real (yes, that’s a thing). Will anyone honestly even care that I want and need to scream MY OWN feelings from one corner of the internet to the other? Or are they content hearing versions from others perspectives or people who think they know my life – or who have decide to google it, and believe everything they read?
Have I been quiet too long?
“Elevation Sometimes Requires Isolation.”
Funny thing about the internet is – once you put something out there… it’s ALWAYS going to be there. For your future employers, family, friends, children and even grandchildren to read. And for the longest time I had an internal battle with myself trying to decide what was MOST important for me to feel COMPLETELY HEARD on.
What would REALLY matter later on in life?
What could I say to help someone never feel as alone as I have in my grief, and hopeful?
What is relevant enough, that people who take their time to read what I write will feel value out of reading it?
Most importantly… what will my sweet girls learn from me one day, as I try to lead by example?
In a nutshell…
– Be patient with yourself.
– Stand strong.
– Know it’s okay to cry – don’t bottle things up.
– Remember who you are – even (especially) when life feels impossible.
– Stay classy.
– Don’t sweat the small stuff.
– Try your hardest to let the big stuff go – and don’t give up.
– Tell the people you love how special they are to you, every opportunity you have.
– Life is too short.
– Things are just things.
– Time spent with someone = Love.
– Attention given = Respect earned.
– And no matter what… Always Strive to Be Kinder Than Necessary.
MOVING THROUGH GREIF
It’s 4am, another sleepless night and I can’t stop thinking about something my bishop and friend Randy once told me while sitting on my couch.
“Eventually you’ll start telling people little by little… and one day it won’t hurt so bad. Try people you trust at first, then close friends, move to acquaintances, then someone you don’t even know. See what happens and how you feel. It will get easier.”
I never thought those words would ring true for me. I never thought in the depths of my incredible sadness, that telling anyone anything about how I felt during the worst moments of my life, would be something that would heal me, make things easier, or by any means make me feel better.
I was wrong. He was right. He was right more than I’d like to admit. I miss Randy horribly. He passed away just a year ago, and I can’t write this post without mentioning the huge role he played in being supportive, understanding and nonjudgemental through the absolute hardest part of my life so far. He would pull me out of my head and back down to the ground over and over again at the beginning.
…And now I can only pray that he knows how many times that saved me.
The problem with telling people, is that it’s always hard, painful, awkward and heartbreaking for me to say it out loud. But then after it’s out… no matter what the response is from the opposite party… there is an instant feeling of relief. No more dodging. No more acting like things aren’t what they are.
Now we can talk. Really just talk.
And then… the best part… NOT having to talk about it anymore.
That’s the part I work towards. That’s the moment that is worth all the super awful, anxiety filled ones before it. The part where I just get to try and be ME again, and not the girl who’s defined by her husband’s choices and life’s now MANY uncontrollable circumstances.
That being said, after a massive amount of thought, prayer and many sleepless nights wondering what should and shouldn’t make up this blog post – I have decided that the best thing to do is to only share my own experience, grief and truth.
Even though we all thrive on the nitty gritty details of what could possibly force marriages to end and people to be so incredibly sad… it is not all my story to tell. And no matter how painful things feel for me right now… I want to work hard at trying to be the kind of person who continues to give respect to others – whether or not I feel it’s deserved.
I’m sick of not fully being me. Even if that “me” has changed so much, that others don’t like or understand the “new me”.
It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
So here we go…
It’s been 2 years and 25 days. I’m crying as I lay here alone in the dark, plunking this out on the notebook section of my iPhone, because typing it on my laptop while sitting up always feels too formal.
Too definite. Too tough.
I’m laying here feeling all of the frustrated, sad, impossible to describe heartache and hurt, disappointed and embarrassed feelings that I do EVERY time I tell anyone for the first time.
My husband Cason and I are no longer together. There was a brief time when he lived back at home with me and the girls, as I tried with every fiber of my being to overcome and work through things with him, but ultimately we have decided that permanent separation – and now divorce – would be best… and honestly, my only option.
Last week, I officially filed my divorce papers.
Why did it take so long?… Because of hope. Because I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. Because it hurt too badly. Because I didn’t want divorce and single motherhood to be part of my story. Because it’s not fair. Because I’m $2,500 deep into lawyer fees already. Because the thought of being legally an “I” and not an “Us” makes me crumble to my very core.
Seeing the final names, date and my lawyers letterhead on that paperwork in my inbox the other day, put me into a crying fit so hard that I unknowingly ruptured a blood vessel in my left eye.
Yes, it looked horrible and yes, I’ve probably scared all of the small children this past week that I’ve been in contact with.
Nobody prepares you for so much sadness in this life. It just hits you straight on, like a truck moving 100 miles per hour. And there’s literally nothing you can do to stop it.
You just have to figure out how to stay alive.
I was blind-sighted and crushed when my entire happy world came crumbling down around me.
If someone would of told me that I would be able to survive through the immense heartache, bone-crushing grief, loss of control and excruciating emotional pain that these past 2 years would put me through… I’d of laughed in their face and yelled…
“Impossible!!” No one could or SHOULD ever have to live through that!!!”
But it turns out, being human sucks sometimes.
Because it IS possible to keep moving…breathing… and even functioning to the point of mechanically doing the laundry 2 days after your whole world and future comes crashing down right in front of your eyes. #momtruths
I miss my past every day. I miss what I had. I miss naive happiness.
Hell… I just miss being truly happy as a whole.
Smiling. Laughing. Feeling truly confident. Downloading my really important or incredibly silly feelings, fears and thoughts to another adult at the end of a hard day – in order to decompress so I can sleep better.
You really aren’t aware how much you take everyday happiness for granted, until you are forced to string shallow MOMENTS of contentment together in your head to create “a good week”, so you can finally try to look an unknowing friend in the eye when they ask casually “how are you!?”… and all you GENUINELY want to respond back with, is a tearless… “I’m fine”.
JUST a FINE! That’s all you want to say without bursting into a bawling, snotty puddle of tears.
Even though I have gone through (and am still going through) the long, hard process of forgiveness with Cason, I’ve refused from the beginning to pretend like we’re still “the happy family or couple we once were” on Instagram, this blog, or any other social media outlet.
I’ve always tried SO hard to be authentic and real with myself and with my followers, and I don’t want to “pretend” things are what they aren’t. I steer clear of gravitating towards people, bloggers and personalities who do just that… so why would I want to BE that person? The one who puts on a show, just to avoid the speculation? (and believe me, there’s been a lot).
All of that being said, even though I have full support from my closest friends and family to say and do whatever I need to, in order to heal …I just didn’t… and still don’t feel ready to admit to myself (especially in this large of a capacity, to ALL of my loyal and amazing followers) that what I was SO sure of, and that the thing I blogged and wrote SO proudly about… is now broken and gone. And changed and different forever.😢
I want to defend it. I want to hold it tight and keep it safe, because it WAS real. It was MY happiness. And I’m just not ready to hear or to read phrases like… “I knew it!” or “See! Everything wasn’t so perfect.” or “I wonder if she regrets spilling all of her personal business out to the world now!?”
Yes, these are real comments – from real people. Some hiding behind computers, and some who have said things directly to me. (insert uncontrollable sobs and possibly another busted eye vessel, here)
We’ve all done it. Admit it.
We’ve all passed judgment on people’s situations we know little to nothing about. Or even better, can’t remotely relate to.
We obsess (usually in a healthy way), love or become invested-in people we are drawn to. It’s human nature. So why are the people’s lives and feelings on social media that we hear and see oftentimes more-of than our own immediate family’s, ANY different!?
As a “personality” on social media, if you choose to share your real life, and your real feelings, you also willingly must take the audience that comes along with it. Good and bad. With this amazing new audience comes connections, loves, likes, praise and relateability in the form of comments, emails and DM’s – ALL the good things! – The reasons I started a blog in the first place. To connect. To share.
But then what happens when things are bad? Like… really bad.
… well… this is where I’ve determined that you have to decide what kind of “social media personality” you really are. Do you choose to share JUST the good? JUST the “share-able struggles” that aren’t heart wrenching to talk about?
Or… are you ready to open up about the really freakin’ hard shit too? Trust, hope and expose yourself to this bigger chunk of amazing humans in this little social media bubble that you’ve created?
As you can guess, even though it’s taken over two years… I’m all in. And here’s why:
Almost everyone’s response when I’ve hashed out my anxiety with sharing this post is –
“Shelley, you don’t owe anyone anything! They don’t need an explanation. It’s none of their business.”
Me – After LOTS and LOTS of thought:
“Uhhhhh…. WTF!? How can they say that!? LITERALLY, my (money making) business WAS to make MY (personal) business, THEIR business! I worked hard to gain the trust of my loyal readers. Pre-Pinterest, pre-Instagram, pre-stupid social media numbers that are now so damn important to everyone – that some have resorted to buying fake ones! (insert disappointed, slow head shake here).
I worked my butt off cultivating a space of happiness, truth-telling and project/opinion sharing that sustained my family financially for over 5 years! And now I’m just suppose to NOT talk about the worst part of my life… because it’s too hard!?
How is that fair? Won’t they want to connect with me through sadness too, when I’m ready? Won’t SOMEONE know how this next-level sadness feels?
I would be SO annoyed if one of my long-time favorite bloggers decided that I’m not worth sharing with anymore, ESPECIALLY if they wanted to – and knew it could help them heal in some way! I buy from their links! I click on their blog for page views that they receive income from! I take time to comment! I continue to follow along when they maybe get in a weird funk and veer away from the reason I started following them in the first place! If it wasn’t for ME, that blogger wouldn’t have this space to talk, to earn, to connect, to feel heard and justified. Why does this blogger feel like they can’t trust us with the hard stuff too!? That’s when humans weave themselves together, in a tight knit space of love and empathy for each other. That’s where the healing can begin – in knowing that you’re not alone!”
If you haven’t ever heard or felt my passion for blogging/social media sharing and the amazing, positive community that exists within it, before today?… there it is.☝
Both sides. As a blogger, and as a reader.
It’s beyond enjoyable, super rewarding and scary as hell. It’s an excruciating exercise of vulnerability and that amazing feeling of a trust-fall gone right, all at the same time.
Side note: I have always been overweight, so the idea of a trust-fall terrifies the hell out of me. It’s only happened once at a work “party”😒 #tricked (and will never happen again), but let me tell you… there’s no comparable feeling in the world to that of diving ass-backwards into a pile of scrawny, untrusting arms… and ACTUALLY being caught.
RELIEF to the highest degree🙏 #biggirltruths
That all being said, I want you to know…
I blogged what was REAL.
I blogged what I knew.
I blogged what I felt.
I don’t regret any of it.
I cherish “my journal” of memories and happiness now, more than ever… and I wouldn’t take back a single thing.
Now? All I want, more than anything, is to keep writing in my “journal”… but I feel like there’s an ugly part of my now tainted soul telling me I can’t. And that I shouldn’t.
(insert ugly sobs here)
Mostly because everything just hurts too bad, but also, because it isn’t AT ALL what it once was.
Then there are other days, when messages and emails start stacking up, asking where my husband is, what happened, or why I’m not spending more time with him… and I want to scream the truth from the rooftops, so I don’t have to skirt and dodge questions or explain myself anymore. And also because I’m beating my brains out just trying to stay respectful, kind and to keep my main focus on finding those happy moments in my day – and I miss my blog being part of that.
I want to be honest in my grief and sadness.
I want to cry and complain about how being a single mom sucks and is so hard, stressful and yet also incredibly empowering all at once. It’s brought a closeness between my girls and I, and a fulfillment to my life that I never, ever could of dreamed of, or even knew to wish for.
I want to gush and spill my heart out about the amazing healing powers of true forgiveness and hope……. and then other days I want to curl up into a ball, never confront my feelings or problems ever again, and also vent, swear, ugly cry and scream out awful things about that stupid forgiveness and hope!!!
If you aren’t aware, grief is a messy process.
At the end of the day the reality is…
(here’s that excruciating exercise of vulnerability I was talking about).
I AM CHANGED FOREVER.
I curse way more frequently than I should to get my point across.
I’m very defensive and much quicker to tears and anger.
I often listen to music as loud as I can, to distract and drown out the constant revolving thoughts of worry and “what if’s” in my head.
I lack motivation, patience and almost all trust in others.
I’ve questioned my religion, my friendships and myself… more than I’d like to admit – yet I pray with more purpose than I ever have before, and lean longer and harder on my inner circle support group than I ever thought I could.
I sleep less and worry a hell of a lot more than I’d like to – and because of that, I suffer from some pretty awesome insomnia and extreme anxiety… especially when I start to feel REALLY out of control regarding my children or future.
Therapy is great. But only time can even remotely start to help heal it all.
Why am I telling you this? Because I know I’m not alone. And because through all of those thick new, prickly, uncomfortable layers…I KNOW I’M STILL ME… and all I want, more than anything, is to find the old parts of ME again that I miss.
The confidence. The spontaneity. The motivation. The creative. The fun and funny. The patience. The positivity. The worth. The carefree. The EVERYDAY happy, that turns into weeks and then months.
I’ve decided that SO much of the good in us gets buried in these new layers of life’s complexities when we go through something that we shouldn’t be able to survive emotionally, that sometimes it feels like the best parts of us just fade and disappear.
When really… all along, they’re only just under those thick, matted layers of life’s shitty circumstantial side effects.
And guess what? I do NOT want to only be defined by my life’s crappy side effects… because it’s not REALLY who I am!
I refuse to stop trying to get back up again, after being knocked down by blows of sadness and grief.
But what really sucks you guys?… is that I don’t feel stronger yet… I just feel smarter somehow, more aware, more passionate about things that happen from day to day, and more alert.
I feel more in-tune with others who have gone through some sort of hell on earth like this too.
I have new lenses on now. I truly see things differently.
I’ve experience a great loss.
My husband is gone, my marriage is gone, and still at times my future feels pointless, lonely and so damn scary without a spouse to share and plan it with.
I’m not good alone. I miss being an “Us” and “We” instead of an “I” and “Me”. 😢
I feel for others like I never thought I could before.
I’ve reached a new level of sadness that has “upgraded” me from a kiddie pool of depth, to a gaping, unfamiliar ocean.
I know there’s still a “bottom” somewhere to plant my feet, and a side/shoreline to swim to… but it just seems a whole lot scarier and harder, less safe and a hell of a lot more intimidating than the kiddie pool I was in before.
I don’t know if or when I’ll ever be able to feel comfortable in this ocean, because I didn’t choose to come here voluntarily.
I don’t know who swims here.
No matter what anyone says or promises, I feel very alone and very scared of my future most days. So much so, that it can become emotionally crippling.
I cling on like a life vest to the few people that keep me floating above the overwhelming waters of loss, grief and self doubt that I’m experiencing. And YOU + this blog, are a huge part of that.
Because instead of turning around while flailing, knowing I’ll splash into someone similar to me like before who can help… Now?, I feel like I have to swim harder and force myself to calmly float around a lot longer alone, in order to find people who are swimming in this big blue ocean of depth – terrified, and trying to reassure themselves that “everything is going to be fine”, just like me.
Turns out, not a lot of us who go through all of these horrible new feelings and experiences want to admit at the core of it all… we’re just really scared of the uncertainty.
Want to know the truly ironic part of it all though?
I LOVE THE OCEAN.
It’s super intimidating, but amazingly calming all at once. And even in my “ocean of depth” I can see the big beautiful waves, warm sand, sunshine, security and happiness all around me. I just… have to figure out how to start moving towards it.
It’s in my nature to want to get there.
I hate being a deep sea dweller, even if it HAS made me learn so many things I never thought I could. It’s cold and lonely, and I’ve been here too long. And I’m not okay. (shrug)
I’m still not okay after 2 years and 25 days… and I think THAT’S okay to finally admit out loud.
It’s the thing (especially after a long period of time) that people who go through really tough shit don’t want to admit to the people who support them… because it ends up making the supporting party feel bad, helpless, worn out or sad.
But the truth is… I (we) don’t need you to fix it, make it better or talk me (us) in circles about how things will be fine, and how I (we) am (are) strong, resilient and amazing.
I just… want to be NOT OKAY – for now.
And know that THAT’S okay with you – for however long I need it to be that way.
For me, I really just need to feel all of these bad things without burying them, so that I can confront them, process them and then put them on a shelf so I don’t have to keep carrying them around all the time.
It’s completely exhausting… but I need to do this so I can heal quicker. Because when the good things come (which they DO and WILL), I can appreciate them that much more.
I don’t really have a plan for myself yet.
I don’t know what’s ahead – and it scares the hell out of this organized, anxious, responsible, OCD control freak.
I’m barely treading water trying not to drown most days, and sometimes all I really want is a standing ovation for just showing up to life and “surviving my oceans obstacles” – for being a kick-ass single Mom and taking on the homework, laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, fighting, emotional outbursts, birthdays, holidays and then actual PAID work, when I can fit it in.
Being vulnerable at this capacity is one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done.
Sharing all of this and pushing publish makes me feel sick to my stomach, but I know that bottling it away from everyone for much longer is only making it more impossible for me to inch closer to finding and sharing the best parts of myself again.
True, unexpected heartbreak and absolute betrayal is THE WORST thing I have ever experienced in my life, to date. But I’m slowly seeing that it only means that the love that once was, was just THAT real, and THAT deep.
And I truly wouldn’t take any of it back, no matter what the circumstance was, for all of the money in the world.
Grief I’ve learned, is really just love.
It’s all the love you want to give to someone, but now know you cannot.
All of that unspent love gathers up inside you, and shows itself through the tears in your eyes, the lump in your throat and that painful, awful ache in your chest.
I know that grief is an essential part of this life.
Everyone will experience it.
Some more than others.
You can let it take you down, or you can allow it to build you into a more content-rich version of yourself… all while trying to keep intact the best parts of who you’ve always known you already are.
Personally… I choose the second option.
“May you lean into the change and cycle you are currently going though or being called towards. May you find the courage to trust yourself and shout YES to the burn of transformation.
May you let go of all the no longer essential parts of yourself, and ignore the fading, fear-filled voices.
Because this is where you cross the river. This is where you stop being the scared person you once were. This is where you shoot out of the cracks you’ve fallen into. This is where the waiting ends and a new voice is birthed.
A voice you recognize as your own, the NEW YOU. And there’s no going back, because no one’s gonna save you, except you. May you lean in. May you lean in.”