Right. Wrong. Way.

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Life seems to be a process of letting go. Over and over and over again– and over again. I am barely growing accustomed to not having my mom around. I still miss her so much. Long for her phone call. Long really for someone who really gives a fuck about me. I don’t mean to be crass, but it’s true. My mom. Moms in general. Really are, for the most part, the ones who really care about what happens to us on a daily basis.

So, in an attempt to be a good daughter, I have tried to keep the little family I have together. But to be crass again, they are assholes. Self-centered shits. Some therapists say, whatever you think of others, may be what you think of yourself. Well, that may be true, I am an asshole and a shit and sometimes a big murky pond of diarrhea, but you know what, I, at least try to care, or pretend to.

This past month has been yet another of separation. I see my therapist on a weekly basis. Sometimes, I think it’s good; other times I think it’s bad. But, I hope for the most part it’s good. Recently, in one of our sessions I came to the realization that my objective to keep the family together – in writer terms—has been in the “right-wrong-way”. At least that’s what we call it when our protagonist/hero, is trying to resolve their objective with proper intention and bad thinking coupled with some bad actions.

What have I been doing?

No. No. Not sleeping with another married man, but trying to salvage my relationship with my brother. How have I been accomplishing this you ask? Well. Emails, texts, phone calls. Reminders of our youth. Nostalgia. Words. Lots of them. Recently, all he has been able to say to me is, “the only thing we have in common is that we came from the same parents.”

OUCH. What a shit! Right?

So. I’ve resolved to do as he and my stepfather do and (yes, we don’t share the same father, but I guess he forgot that, I have no relationship with said biological dad either— another shit, right?), anyway, I have resolved NOT to give chase. I’ve resolved not to beg my object of affection, my dear brother, to be a part of my life, instead, I am releasing him while leaving the door open in case he wants to come through again. Life hurts, but begging is a form of self-flagellation I don’t need to participate in anymore.

I ‘m learning that family isn’t a blood relationship; it is a bond between two people or clan of people who want you in their lives. Who care about you. Who love you. This is all I want, and let me tell you, it’s liberating. Maybe, now, romantically I will call the right one in, now that I am no longer on the right, wrong way.

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Grief makes you dress like SHI@!!! Am I alone?

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I left the house to the grocery store wearing faded black work out pants, a black tank top, no bra (I really should wear a bra), a black and white poncho, leopard print flip-flops, and no make-up (no one should ever leave the house with at least mascara).  I didn’t care.  Until, I was bumped into by a very handsome man in the produce section. I think he was single– No ring! (but these days you really never know).

He smiled at me, and said, “Excuse, me.”  Scanned my face, then asked, “Are you okay?”

I said, “I’m fine. Why do you ask?”

“It’s just– you look a little pale,” he answered.

I looked at myself in the mirrored wall behind the produce, and I saw a ghost of myself. Pale. Sad. Broken.

Never in my life would I consider leaving the house looking at least somewhat presentable.  My long hair was strands of stringy mess strewn over my shoulders, hidden under a hat.  I have beautiful hair, at least I did once.  Thank god, I still bathe.

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I politely moved on, but it was at that moment that I realized how broken I really am. How much grief has taken its toll.  I simply don’t care about myself or how I physically appear to others, and I should.  This is not me.  My dear mother would be horrified if she saw me in some of the outfits I’ve thrown together, while forcing myself to leave the house for basic necessities. Sadly, this outfit is actually one of the better ones.  Granted, leaving the house for groceries is progress considering all I’ve been eating is take-out or delivery, but, I think, I’ve finally had it with feeling tired and malnourished.  My mother taught me to be put together, to be neat in appearance, to dress well.  I look like a slob and this is a dishonor to her.

Hopefully, next time I leave the house, I will look civilized and not homeless.

My new mantra is to be, “Stressed, depressed, but well dressed.”

What grief outfits have you worn? How bad have you looked? Hopefully,  I’m not alone.

It’s the little things….

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I have this calendar hung on my wall from 2012, it’s theme is “How Much I Love Being Your Mother”– my mother gave it to me and I never take it down.  She passed in January of 2013. In it, is documentation of her trips to the hospital that year.

How could I not have seen it coming?  It’s sad to lose a mother and my mother was a great mother.  Funny how the little things moms give us, amount to so much.

That November, I distinctly remember feeling so utterly disappointed, displeased, shocked by my brother.  My mother had brought up that she would need a kidney transplant to my brother.  He had the audacity to say, “Mom, I can’t.  Because of my anxiety.  I don’t think I could handle a transplant.”  Then, my mother asked me, and I said, “Yes.”  My mom asked, “Are you sure?”  My answer was, “Yes.  Now if you ask if I want you or me to get operated, then, no.  But if it means having you around a lot longer, so you can finally eat some of the things you like.  Then absolutely, YES!”

What saddens me about my brother or the situation, is that it wasn’t me and my brother going at it on who would give the kidney, in my mind we should have been fighting for the honor.  But he so easily backed out.   I was scared, but ready, and he was okay to say, “No.”

Now, as I look at the calendar, I’m taken back to that time.  Telling her over Thanksgiving that she needs to get better, that we need to get her better, that we need to get the kidney thing going, because the only reason I ever visited home, was for her.  It was true.I miss her.  As I look at this calendar, it is a reminder of how limited our time is, of how limited her time was, for the sake of not ending on a platitude, it is a reminder that life is not what we do, but who we “do” it with.

I miss you, Mom. Thank you, for all the little things.

Mistress NO More!

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I’ve always known better. Heck , I was raised Catholic, not that that means much these days, but I did it— I had an affair with a married man. He is 12 years older than me and his wife is 7 years older than him, which technically means his wife could be my mother. I’ve seen pictures of her, she’s definitely older, but that’s neither here nor there, this is an affair.

How it started. Seven months after my mom passed, I was reunited with HIM in a production staff meeting. I was brought on to a show to help write a TV pilot. HE happened to be producing that pilot. I had worked with him previously on other films and we had the same boss for eight years, until I left the production company to pursue my own writing career. He hit on me then, and I refused him because he was MARRIED, which didn’t matter much to him anyway because he found another side-dish to play with, but we became friends and I became privy to all the women he dated on set.

Even then he said his marriage was over, that he and his wife stayed together for their son. His wife is an airline stewardess and they made the agreement for her to fly during the weekdays, if he would be home on the weekends with their son. A perfect space for infidelity.  He would spend 4-5 nights a week with me.

After we caught up, he confessed that he’s always been in love with me and felt this reunion to be serendipitous, “meant to be”, whatever—and so it began. He said that he was separated, intent on getting a divorce, once his son left to college.  But recently, I found out that this was not that case, that the divorce wasn’t even on the table, that I was in fact his mistress.

His weekday concubine.

He claimed that once his son left to college this year, and got the divorce finalized things would change. That he would be with me on weekends. That we would have a life together.  All the cliches.  We have not had one weekend in 10 months. It’s been three weeks since his kid left to Berkeley, and I’ve learned that he is currently a financial disaster and has had to borrow money from family and friends just to pay bills, a difficult task since he was accustomed to make over 500k a year.  Now, his wife pays the mortgage and he pays simple bills.  He says, now, without money he cannot get a divorce.  How convenient.

All this came as a surprise, because we would go out on elaborate dinners on one of his credit cards. Card he could be using to pay his house. He busts his ass working in a job that pays a fraction of his income to pay towards the house he and his wife built and apparently plans on keeping, AND  in my experience, if you really want out of a relationship, you get out. If they were really separated and getting a divorce, wouldn’t they logically sell the house, split the profits and move on?

Pain and humiliation finally set in, when I found out I had been duped.

Oh, he was skillful with his life.  He had me convinced he was separated, made it even seem like they had an open relationship and were merely waiting to get the son off to college.  That they slept in different rooms.  Didn’t have sex. How could he  if he spent 4-5 nights a week with me? How could a divorce not be in the making?

Deep down, I knew something was off, but I ignored my instincts.

Why?  Because I didn’t want to be alone.  And he also having lost his father years ago, could relate to my grief.  He knew how much I loved my mother.  He would hold me. Tell me he loves me. Endure my depressive states. Kiss me.  Hold my hand.  Let me cry. He made no judgements.  He also presented a good case for staying in the facade of the marriage he didn’t want to be in– for not divorcing immediately —for his son.  Given that my father figure has been anything but amazing to me, this got me, this lured me in.  I believed him.

But boy did it hurt when I found pictures of him with the wedding ring he claimed not to wear. When I found Thanksgiving pictures of him and his wife, her with a ring he claimed she didn’t wear. I confronted him and he said, “It’s for the kid.” — I still believed him.

Yeah. I know. Stupid. Naive.  Me.

I told myself it must be true, I mean, what kind of husband can get away from being home four to five nights a week? What husband can get away with spending tons of money on dinner on his mistress?

He claims he doesn’t have sex with his wife.  That he sleeps in a separate room, that that’s how it’s been for years. That her sex drive has diminished and he has no desire for her anyway—yeah, I don’t believe it either, I’m sure they have some sex. I asked him if he still loved her, even just a tiny bit. I begged him that if he did, to go back to her and leave me alone. To work it out, not for his son, but for him and his wife, after all they have built a life together, but he said there is no way it would ever work out, that he’s been emotionally and physically out of his marriage for over ten years and there’s no going back and divorce is imminent, but from what I see, not right now.

I realize none of this matters. I realize I was wrong. I sinned, even if he was “in the process” of divorce, he was not divorced.

I was weak.

I couldn’t bear being alone.

Grief without a partner is bad. Sometimes all you want is a body next to you to reassure you that you will be okay. Someone to hold you and love you, even if it means losing your self-respect and ignoring your morals and values. I didn’t want to go in as a mistress, in fact, every Monday, like clockwork I would tell him I didn’t think what we were doing was right,  that we should be together when the divorce is finalized, that it was not only affecting me, but his wife and his son.  That is was wrong.  But he convinced me otherwise.

I didn’t want to go through this ending, but that’s what happens when you look for signs from the afterlife.

I swore my mother would bring my husband to be. I prayed the sign would be a number, possibly something related to her birthdate. My mom was very keen on numbers and numerology. When I found out his son’s birthday was the same birthday as my mom’s, I was sure this was the sign. Especially when he confessed that he’s been in love with me since the moment he met me ten years ago. Yeah, I bought it.  I bought it all.

But my mother wouldn’t want this for me.

So, today, I took matters into my own hands, via text,  who needs a face-to-face these days with all our social media.

Maybe some of the fog of grief is lifting and I’m beginning to think again.

I basically texted him a message saying that I need to move on, that he has clearly chosen the life he wants to be in, and I can’t be half in anymore. That we can be friends someday, but not until I’m in love with someone else and I have my life back on track. I’m not really sure if we can be friends, but I didn’t want to make it ugly. This is already ugly enough. He was supposed to be with me on Sunday, per the plan,he didn’t even cancel and that was it for me, reality hit me like a ton of rocks— he’s really not getting a divorce.

He lied.

So, today I realized I can’t be his beck and call girl anymore. That maybe it’s time am alone.  Really, alone. I can’t be a mistress or a weekday concubine. I deserve better, so does his wife and kid. Please pray that I continue to be strong in my resolve.

Wishing for my Mother’s Ghost.

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It’s been a lonely couple of weeks. I’ve spent so much time looking at mom’s pictures and ruminating on the life we’ve shared. Her last days. The last two weeks in December I spent with her. Our long talks. Thinking she was strong enough for me to leave her and continue with my life.

I’ve spent the last few days and night asking her to visit me. Be it in my dreams. My thoughts. As a ghost. I’ve been begging for a message that she is still with me. But nothing. I don’t know if this means she has already crossed over. If this is the case then she crossed over quickly and easily and maybe it’s better that she is not here.

But now I find myself wondering if there really is an afterlife. A heaven or a hell. Is this place we cross over to real? Or is it a place of hopeful imagination. A place we all hope to visit and reunite with our loved ones.

Throughout my grief I’ve consulted with three mediums. They all seem to pick up on my artistic ability particularly my writing. Two of them got my mother’s name and one of them didn’t pick up on my mother at all—but it was more of a reading than a meeting to speak to my mother. The readings weren’t amazingly accurate, although I wish they were and fueled by my mere wish to speak to my mother. To have a tie with her, now, even if she is in the spirit world. However, I’m not sure if it is real or if it exists.

Has anyone reading this post had a significant experience? If so, please share.

Isolation. Seclusion. Necessary in our passage through grief.

 

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According to Dr. Patricia Pitta one of the various stages of grief is to seclude.  Being that I am such a social creature, I was not prepared for my need to be alone, but am comforted in the fact that it is a normal part of the passage.  Ahead is what I found:

III. Conservation and the Need to Withdraw

As we journeyed first through shock and then through exposure to the loss, we are now exhausted from feeling so much psychic pain. In the next stage, withdrawal, we need to conserve what little energy we have left. Now, we welcome being alone; we fear falling apart if we continue feeling such intense emotions. We may find ourselves not wanting to return phone calls, preferring not to communicate with others.

Characteristics of this stage are:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Great need for sleep
  • Weakened immune system
  • Helplessness
  • Feeling a loss of control

As we hibernate, we obsessively review and ruminate about the death. We question why it happened, we wonder if we could have done something to prevent it from happening.

Finally, we come to an understanding that life will never be the same as it was in the past. We start moving at this time to a realization that, without forgetting our precious memories, we will need to find new experiences and ways of perceiving life.

Main tasks of this phase are:

  • Allow yourself to withdraw. In order to grieve at this time, you need to be alone.
  • You might fear you are going crazy. Reassure yourself that you are not. It is a time of deep emotion and exhaustion.
  • Learn to conserve your energy so that you may heal from your shock and stress. Sleep more; take little naps. Nurture yourself. Do things that make you feel good (massage, baths, walks).
  • Simplify your life. Find shortcuts for everything possible.
  • If you are developing dependency behaviors (drinking, drugs), break the patterns and attitudes that are perpetuating them.
  • Allow yourself to think about your lost one—the good and bad times. Review photos or videotapes of your life with the deceased. Visually looking at your life puts it in perspective.
  • When feeling low emotionally, know that these periods will begin to get shorter and shorter.
  • If your own grief pattern doesn’t seem to follow the stages, don’t be concerned. Grieving patterns are individual.

 

Ahead is a link for more information on the grief passage:

http://www.drpatriciapitta.com/specialties/grief_bereavement.php

 

Build Again

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Early in my grief process, I didn’t know what to expect.

How do you move on when you get that late night call, put in the most indelicate way, that your mother is gone?

I was living in California and my mother lived in Texas and I’ll never forget that plane ride home.  It’s horrific to know that what you’re flying into is not just the death of your mother, but the realization that you never said, “goodbye”.

I didn’t hug her the last time she dropped me at the airport, as usual, I was in a hurry and “had to make that plane”.  I felt I would hug her the following week, since I had to go back to Texas to conduct a seminar, but that trip was cancelled.

I never made it back in time.

I always hugged my mom, but, sadly, not that last time.

I no longer regret it, I just accept it, as part of the sadness.

During this time, I began my research on grief– asking questions like “how long does it last”, “what should I expect”, “will this pain go deeper”, well, as we all know, the only way to experience grief is to go through it, but I did find some comfort in the following passage by Rachel Naomi, which I reread from time to time and will share again:

“Every great loss demands that we choose life again.  We need to grieve in order to do this.  The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life.  When we don’t grieve, a part of us becomes caught in the past like Lot’s wife who, because she looked back, was turned into a pillar of salt.  Grieving is not about forgetting.  Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain.  It is a sorting process.  One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them.  One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

I now understand this sorting process, but it takes a long time to get there, and I’m still not done.