I know I haven’t done a good job at all with keeping up with my once-beloved blog over the past year. I’ve been neglecting what was once my main source of income and my creative outlet.
Here are things, ordered semi-reliably from least to most impactful, that have happened in my life in the past 6-ish months:
- I’ve gained 20 pounds, sitting at about 170 right now. The reason for this is, on paper, simply explained by overeating and not exercising enough. It’s not an excuse, but a big factor is the fact that ….
- I work full time. More than full time, really, if we’re getting picky, but I love my work, so I’ve got that going for me.
- I moved from the suburbs of San Tan Valley, Arizona to Scottsdale, Arizona. This was insanely life-changing, mainly because I work in North Scottsdale, and I was commuting about 2 hours each way, Monday through Friday. In the past year, I wrecked my Prius twice during those commutes, totalling it with the second wreck. It was pretty gnarly (we were okay):
But the thing that’s happened that has completely and entirely flipped my world on it’s head came on April 17, 2015, when my husband, Andrew, took his own life while he was on the phone with me.
I can’t decide how much I want to talk about that, honestly, as this blog post will either go completely unnoticed or be very, very widely seen. I’m still dealing with a lot of the logistical nightmares that come along with your spouse passing away — finances, consolidating debt, getting ownership of assets that I’m not listed on, etc. — but the emotional shit that comes along with that is something that I will probably never totally sort out. I’m trying like hell, though; to sort it out. Andrew and I had seen a marriage counselor in March of 2014, but stopped going after a few sessions, at his insistence. When Andrew died so suddenly that Friday, I almost immediately called that therapist back and was able to be on her couch first thing on the following Monday. To sum that up in one statement: thank god for amazing therapists.
People keep asking me how I’m doing. Or telling me how well I’m doing.
“You’re so strong.”
“I’m in awe of how far you’ve come in just two months.”
Hearing these things helps. It really does, because some days I don’t feel strong or like I’ve come far enough. But I also feel a twinge of sadness when they say those things, and this is why: I was with Andrew for 10 and a half years. I knew of his depression. I knew of his struggles, and I tried so hard to help him, to fix him, to keep a lid on his depression, but I now know that it wasn’t even possible — I couldn’t have helped or fixed or contained it. But over all of those years, in the far back corner of my mind, I felt like it was a possibility that he would be suicidal. I’d done everything I could to get him help, but deep down, I felt like there was a real possibility that one day, I’d be in an emergency room waiting area with a doctor sitting across from me, telling me that Andrew was gone. Carrying that with me was like carrying a million pounds of weight on my shoulders. I can’t imagine how it felt for him to carry his emotional struggles with him each and every day.
That is why it stings so badly to hear how strong I am, or how well I’m taking it. Because I’ve mentally prepared for this moment for the past 10 years just like some people prepare for the passing of an aging parent, or some other devastating life event that you know you have to take steps to get ready for, in case it happens, but at the same time, you never want the event to actually occur.
I’m going through the “what if’s” and the “I should’ve’s,” even though people tell me that I shouldn’t. It’s so hard to not have this crippling, most complicated case of survivor’s guilt — that I’m still here, living with my kids happily, and he’s gone. Missing it all. It’s all just too much to process sometimes. It’s really crushing to think about how badly he had to have been hurting. In his last conversation, he told me that he was scared. Knowing that his last emotions were fear and sadness are enough to bring me to my knees whenever I think about it.
And the kids. I don’t even want to get into the kids, honestly, because the entire subject is so mentally exhausting. They know that Dad’s brain was sick, and that the doctors couldn’t save him. They’re doing as well as could be expected. They talk about him, and I’m prepping for a busy Father’s Day weekend that will both honor Andrew, as well as keep us as busy as possible to avoid too much wallowing. I’ve seen that “Inside Out” is getting rave reviews from child psychologists, with all of the feeling-identification talk, so we’ll be seeing that tomorrow after we release some Father’s Day notes attached to balloons (sorry, environmentalists). Emma (8) asked if we could send letters to heaven — this is my best solution.
And while I feel all of these terribly sad feelings when I think about Andrew’s passing, and probably always will, I also struggle with this: When am I allowed to be happy in public? I’m so lucky that I have great friends and co-workers who have been helpful and understanding — before coming back to work, I sent an email explicitly stating that I just wanted life to be normal again. I want to tease people again. I want to be snarky and sarcastic and witty and LAUGH. But at the same time, it feels like this happiness is just a slap in the face to Andrew.
Sometimes it feels like I’ll struggle with that forever.
I’m sure I’ve already typed more than I ever wanted to about this subject, and I’ll probably regret it the second I hit publish. But I’m going to try to dust off my blog. Selfishly, I need an outlet, and logistically, I need the income it once generated. But what really matters is this: if I can help someone by sharing this, it will be worth it. I’m not claiming to be a great resource for those left behind by suicide, and I’m clearly not someone who is capable of helping those who are suffering from depression, but my message is this: if you’re struggling, please reach out. If you’re the friend of a loved one who is struggling, be there for them. There is such a damaging stigma in this country (hell, in the world!) regarding mental illness. Andrew, though he had been seeing a therapist in the last weeks of his life, had been unwilling to get help for whatever reason — embarrassment, pride, whatever. Getting help for mental illness is no more embarrassing than getting treatment for any other physical ailment.
So I don’t really know where I’ll go from here. I know that this is a weight loss blog, but I also have gotten a lot of Instagram messages asking me to start blogging again. I’m going to just start. I don’t know what I’ll talk about, but I’ll just talk. I hope you’ll follow along.