Grief – The Scenic Route

My beautiful picture

I have always been the type of person who has the mentality of all or nothing.  If i’m going to do something I’m like Nike, Just do it! Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to everything in life.  Grief is one of those things. See my dad was the patient one. He had lots of patience. Me…not so much. That’s one of the reasons I hated being in the passenger’s seat when he drove.  I just wanted to get there. Get to the next stop. Keep moving.

Dad was more for the scenic route, the long way home, he was never in a rush.

I feel that way with grief.  My dad passed away just over a month ago.  I thought for sure my life wouldn’t go on. And if it did i would just spend days crying and then things would slowly go back to normal.  I’ll cry, I’ll grieve and then it will be over and I’ll be OK. Like a skinned knee, a broken bone, a cold.

Grief is not like that.  Death is not like that.

Each day I wake up is different.  It’s like your life is just the same, yet your life is very different.

Some days you feel angry at the world over what seems like silly things.  You run into someone and they simply say, “Hey, sorry about your dad” and hug you.  One day you may respond, “Thanks!” and smile. Another day you may take a deep breath as you choke back tears because you’re standing in Starbucks and God forbid you cry in the middle of a store in front of all these people who will judge you.  Some days you smile and think of something funny he would have said or just a memory of him pops into your head and it makes you happy.

Then you run into the person who must know you just lost someone close yet they just simply say, “Hi! How are you?” as they make simple conversation, never acknowledging your loss. You smile and chat while inside your head you are having your own conversation.  “Are they serious? MY DAD DIED!! WHY DON’T YOU KNOW MY DAD DIED? YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY!! WHY ARE YOU NOT SAYING YOU’RE SORRY!”

Inside your head you want to punch this person in the face and scream at them.  How can they be so insensitive??

It’s the strangest feeling.  As much as you don’t want to talk about it, you want people to acknowledge it. And when they don’t, it only makes you angry.  And sometimes, you don’t even know if it is just because they simply have no idea or maybe, they just don’t know what to say.

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Some days I feel like I walk around looking normal to everyone on the outside.  They must think, “Wow, her dad just died and she seems fine!” But I’m not. Yes, I may look OK.  Yes I still smile. Maybe I smile a little more now because I realize that there may be millions more going through what I am going through and maybe someone needs to see that smile to make it through the day.  But really I just get up, keep moving and fake it a little.

Some days I feel OK and all of a sudden it hits me and I have to run to the ladies room to cry.

I feel like I keep waiting for it to hit me.  Like maybe one day I won’t be able to get out of bed because I will be overcome with grief.  Many days I just feel tired. No tears, just tired. Many days I forget things. I have a great memory most of the time but lately I feel much more forgetful. I often keep myself busy and my calendar full.  Then there are days that I just need to be alone. Even if it’s to sit home and cry by myself. Other days I need to be surrounded by others and maybe even laugh or share stories about my Dad and tell everyone what a great man he was.  I think the scariest thing about grief is that you really don’t know how and when it will hit you. If it will be tears or anxiety or anger. So right now I’m learning to take each moment as it comes. Whether it’s strength or laughter.  If I need to cry, I cry. If I need to nap, I nap. If I need to scream, I scream. Because the one thing that is for certain about grief is that there is no wrong way to experience it, just take it as it comes.

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Comfort in the Uncomfortable

The healer cannot heal others without first healing themselves

But how do you heal yourself

without allowing yourself

To live

To love

To feel

To anger

To cry

To laugh

To explore

To grow

To break free of all that you thought you were

all that others expect you to be

to become all that you truly are

It’s not about being comfortable in your own skin

But finding comfort in the uncomfortable

Because all that is uncomfortable is what pushes you further

Because breaking the mold and pushing through to the next level is how you grow

and growth is how you heal

 

In the moment

Sometimes you have to let it all go.
Sometimes you have to continue letting go.  It doesn’t happen all at once.
Baby steps.
Little by little.
It gets easier. 
It starts to feel lighter.
You learn how to keep going.
You learn not to look back,
Not to look too far ahead.
You stop.
Plant your feet on the ground.
Take time to feel the breeze on your skin,
The sun on your face,
The sand between your toes.
You take a moment to listen to life,
to love
but most of all
to yourself.

Packing Light

Recently I signed up for a free 21 day meditation with Oprah and Deepak (who is no relation to Tupac as my sister seemed to be curious about), called Shedding the Weight – Mind, body and spirit. It was free, so I figured, why not? Can’t hurt, right? I’m up to day 17 and I have no idea if I have physically lost any weight because I threw away my scale back in January. I was getting rediculously obsessed with weighing myself. I also rid my house of all diet books. I know that 99.9% of anything is mental, at least for me anyways. So what I have been trying to figure out for a while now is what am I holding on to?
Continue reading “Packing Light”

She was tired

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She was tired.  Exhausted really.  Tired of trying to be someone she wasn’t.  Tired of trying to contain and stuff and hide the real her.  Why must she sugar coat herself?  Why did she continue to people please.  Didn’t she know they wouldn’t be happy?  Didn’t she know you can’t water yourself down?  Didn’t she realize there was nothing wrong with the she that she needed to be?  She was perfectly imperfect.  She was like no one else.  Why should she bend and twist and try so hard to fit the mold that wasn’t even made for her.  Just say what’s on her mind.  Do what she wanted to do.  Yes, she could be a miserable bitch.  She could also be a sensitive woman.  Highly emotionally.  She had almost forgotten what it was like to feel.  She had been hurt and saddened and disappointed so many times that she had stopped feeling.  She started lying to herself.  She started telling herself whatever she needed to hear to believe that she didn’t need to feel.  So she held it inside.  She stuffed it away.  She crammed it in and became this other person.  The one who pretended she didn’t care.  Pretended she didn’t want or need or feel.  She shut it off.  But that day she was tired.  She realized it took too much energy to be this other woman.  It took too much fighting and too much negativity.  One day she stopped lying to herself and finally admitted the truth.  She felt sad and hurt and foolish and broken.  And she just wanted to cry.  To let it out.  But it was stuck.  Like the day her friend passed away.  It had been stuffed in and pushed away and hidden behind the shadows until she didn’t even know how to get it out.  How to let it out.  So she sat down and closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  Breathe.  That’s all she needed to do.  Just breathe.  She took a deep breath and another and another…  and she let it out…  and that’s when she realized she was enough.  She was all she needed to be but she needed to be who she really was.  She needed to have feelings.  To be a woman.  She hadn’t felt emotion in so long because she didn’t want to get mad or upset anyone so she would just smile and stuff it all away.  Until the day she broke through and realized those emotions were meant to be felt.  You were supposed to feel.
And she thought, “I don’t know how to do this!”  I’m scared because I haven’t felt.  I just want to feel.  And she knew that she could.  This was the day she realized it was time to live.

Natural Blessings

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This morning, after dropping off my son around 8 am, instead of going home to clean or go back to bed I decided to head to the beach.  Although it is still chilly, only about 32 degrees this morning,  the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing.  I pulled into the lot to see a few other cars, but over all it was pretty quiet.  It was definitely not swimming weather yet, not that it will be until around August or September, and depending on your tolerance for cold water, it may never get quite warm enough. 
I have lived here my whole life and seen this beach a million times, but this morning as I pulled in and saw the bright sun shining down, reflecting on the ocean, I felt this true appreciation for the beauty of nature.  People spend millions of dollars on diamonds, furs, and other extravagant things.  They spend countless hours sitting in front of the tv watching reality tv of the Kardashians and other plain, old, (somewhat) normal  people who live these ridiculous lives trying to impress others and make all this money.  I sat watching the waves of the ocean roll along the shore, watching the golden rays of the sun beat down on the tiny flecks of sand, seagulls flying, scavenging and gathering around and thought, all this is free!  Why do people worry about all the useless material wants when nature is right here and free?

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As I sat listening to the water move in and out, the sounds of the ocean and the birds, I could feel this calming peace.  I sat in awe of the beauty of it all.  Appreciating every sound, sight and feeling this beauty of nature brings.  I felt blessed.  I tried to imagine what it would be like for me to not live near the ocean.  I thought about how excited I am for the summer to come.  That first spring day, when even if it is a bit too cold to take off my shoes, I love to walk the beach barefoot, feeling the cold sand between my toes, beneath my soles as it conforms to my footprint, making me feel alive.  The cool, gentle, ocean breeze whisking past my cheeks, breathing it all in.  Anticipating that first dive into the cold, New England ocean that feels so refreshing, cleansing and invigorating.  As the waves crash over my body, washing me anew.  Diving into the waves, fighting against them or other times just riding the wave, going with the flow. 
I used to go to the beach and go swimming, and while I was in the water I would find myself thinking of all the things I needed to do when I left.  Until one day, when I realized i wasn’t enjoying the time I was swimming.  I was never quite enjoying the moment.  Last summer, after a painful, excruciating winter full of snow, a winter I thought would never end, I made a vow.  I made a promise to myself, that I would stop trying to rush through everything and just enjoy the moment.  I told myself I would enjoy the summer and the beach and I would not worry about cleaning or trivial things because I simply had all winter to clean.  So I did.  I spent as much time at the beach swimming, reading, writing, walking and enjoying every golden ray of sun possible.  So much so, that by the time winter came I was actually ready for a break.  It made me realize how much I enjoy the four seasons of the North East.  How my body and mind need the winter break to hibernate, regroup and restore myself. 
The seasons and weather changes here have taught me a lot in the past couple of years.  Most of all they have taught me to live in each moment.  I can worry about the snow, I can prepare for it to a degree, complain about it or I can enjoy being snowed in.  Feeling warm and cozy on my couch, enjoying my hot cup of coffee with my journal and pen.  When summer rolls around again, I can pack up my towel, blanket, sunscreen, books and journal and lie in the beach, soaking up the sun as my body sinks into the sand below.  I can dive into the waves, feeling washed anew, refreshed and alive.  I can stop worrying about what is to come and just simply enjoy the moment I am in, feeling blessed by nature’s simple and peaceful, calming creations.  
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Invisible Upsouth

For years I had been friends with Christopher Johnson on Facebook.  It wasn’t until this past fall I actually had a chance to get together and speak with him in person.  I had checked out some of his performances on youtube that he had posted and I really enjoyed his poetry and spoken word.  “I want to pick your brain one day,” was the email I sent him.  A month or so later we met for coffee to discuss writing and I checked out a couple of his shows over the months to come.  Right around the time I met him, he told me he may be writing a play based on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (not to be confused with The Invisible Man, totally different).  I never read the book Invisible Man, but According to this article and advertisement at Broadway.com it was “Inspired by Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece novel Invisible Man, Invisible UpSouth aims to challenge the way traditional theater-going audiences think about race and humanity and how they move through the world; how one can be well-educated and still blind to the world around them.”1.  I know it was written in the 50’s and addresses the issue of feeling invisible in society as a black man.  Christopher had taken this play and rewritten it into a present day black man in Providence RI, along with the assistance of Vatic Kuumba.
I knew I had to catch this show Sunday because it was closing day and I had promised I would show my support, plus, I really wanted to see this show!    Now, I’ve seen a few of Christopher’s shows before and I know that this man has a way with words, but I was in no way prepared for this experience.
Continue reading “Invisible Upsouth”

Warrior Woman

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So last week I was inspired to write a post Loving Me which was a love letter to myself.  In fact, it encouraged several other bloggers to do the same and I hope it continues to spread.  A couple days later I found some old emails to myself and shared them in  A Little More Love (cause you really can’t have too much)
So, as I continued to go through some old journals, I stumbled across this letter I wrote.  If you have been reading,  you know that I talked about how I thought I wasn’t worthy of love.  It wasn’t for me.  There is a song by Anthony Hamilton called Dear Life and one of the lines says,

” Ooooh sometimes I go on through life
Thinking that love is something that’s
Not meant for me.”

I remember listening to the song after a break up one night and crying, not even because of that person, but because of the fact that the lyrics described exactly how I felt.  Today I found this letter and was encouraged to share it with my readers. 

For so long I thought I wasn’t worthy of love. I kept thinking, oh, make them run.  I will only hurt you. You will fall in love and I will break your heart because that’s what I do. I will bend over backwards. I will be and do and say everything you want and you will love me. A black widow,  I will then tire of you, push you away, gasping for air and needing room to breathe. You will grasp on tighter and I will turn.  I will freeze over like the ice queen and you will cry and beg for the person you first met. You will clutch on, cling and it will feed my ego for a short time, but then I will grow bored of you. Maybe that’s not the case. Maybe I will be thrilled with the idea of love. The idea of saving or fixing you. A love of nurturing you. But you cannot fill my needs and once I realize this I will let go. Maybe I was settling. Maybe I was looking for the wrong things. I no longer see this. I no longer feel the need to impress. I am me. I am loving. I am nurturing. I’m an amazing woman. I no longer feel the need to prove myself. No longer need your acceptance. I need to be more than what you need me to be. I need to be free. I need adventure. Room to grow, to feel, to love, to explore, to breathe and to fly.  In time and in space. To change. To nurture me. But thank you all for the journey. For the lessons along the way. To teach me who I really am. A warrior woman with strength. I finally realized I am too strong and you never could have battled me.

I continue to write my letters, to encourage myself of the need to let go of perfection. Because I am slowly realizing my biggest flaw is nothing more than trying to be perfect.

My Truth

Do you ever find something you wrote a long time ago and amaze yourself with how smart you were?  Sometimes I think we need to remind ourselves how much we really know.  Many times we know the answers to the questions we are asking but ignore them because they aren’t the answers we want. 

Truth. Honesty.  It’s amazing how speaking the truth does so much for one’s well being.  Being honest with yourself.  That is the key.  Why do we lie to ourselves?  Sometimes we are even afraid of our own truth.  Amazing.  Once we begin being truly honest with ourselves can we open up and allow the truth to flow around us.

Trust not just in other people but in ourselves!  That is the real truth.  Knowing ourselves and what we want.
Taking ego and fear out of the outcome.  Speaking your truth just frees you.  No matter the outcome, once you are sure within yourself, other people’s response will not matter.  You will simply feel free because you are confident in yourself.

I read this and thought to myself, wow! I wrote that??  I wish I had taken my own advice months ago when I shared my first blog post.  The one that was posted on Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake.  The one that I was terrified to post because even though it was speaking my truth, it was also sharing a piece of me.  It was very personal because ultimately I would realize it was my way of working out who I am on paper.  It was really me pouring out pieces of my heart and soul onto paper. 
I was so scared to share it because I was worried what people would think of me.  I still get nervous when I share it, that it will be read wrong or offend someone, but I know that it is written in love.  It came from my heart, my thoughts and my feelings.
So here is my personal essay on Why I Love Black Culture.  Love it or hate it, it is my truth. Here is my personal essay…

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Just Me —– by Elissa Butson

When I think back and try to figure out where my love and interest for black culture came from, I still can’t pinpoint it. I can remember being in Evan’s
market with my mom and my baby doll and hearing a little girl say, “mom why does she have a black doll?” I was so upset by the comment. Why would she say that? I remember feeling embarrassed, like I was the one who had done something wrong. At the same time, I felt confused. I couldn’t understand why it was a big deal.

Continue reading “My Truth”