Two Years

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In high school and college, I spent hours honing my ability to craft good introductions for my papers. I love finding the perfect first line for anything — essay, article, short story, blog post. However, I have found no good way to introduce the fact that Dad died two years ago today.

You try to convince yourself it’s just a day. Tell yourself it’s simply the combination of a day and a number in a month that happens every year. After all, people say that age is just a number. Weight is just a measurement of gravity. If we lived on the moon, our weight would be six times lighter. If we lived on Mars, a year would be almost twice as long. So then I wonder, Would that have given us more time with him?

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.
— Leo Tolstoy

I never really blogged about how that first year went. I didn’t really blog about anything, actually, for over a year. All those firsts came around: first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, a family funeral, first birthdays, first Father’s Day, a family wedding. To believe he’s  watching over us is comforting, but his absence at special occasions still leaves a gaping hole.

I’m not really sure there’s any trick to coping other than the clichés of getting out of bed every morning, putting one foot in front of the other, and taking it day by day. Not long after Dad died, I sat in my Nurse Practitioner’s office for a regular weight-monitoring visit (that’s really more irregular) and relaying to her what had happened over the past few months. When I was done, she asked, “And how are you?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said.

“Really? You lost your dog, then your dad, then started a new job in the span of three months. Those are some major transitions and stresses.”

I had not stopped to think of it that way. Perhaps I wouldn’t let myself do that in order to keep myself from buckling under the pressure? Usually, anxiety doesn’t affect me until AFTER the stressful event is over. In this case, it came almost a year later.

Starting last July, I found myself overemotional, hypersensitive, panicky, irritable, moody… you name it. For weeks I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until after that first anniversary, during a journaling session, that the thought rolled out of my head, through the pen, onto the paper. As of 24th, I was more than a year removed from his presence. I could no longer say, “At this time last year, Dad was still here.”

Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.
— Earl Grollman

In January I felt ready to get out of the funk, to do something that made me feel as if I were actually living, not just existing. The process has gone more slowly than I wanted and left me beyond frustrated — proof that I am my father’s daughter. I had to take time off from the gym because of a knee problem, which then kept me from doing some physical challenges I wanted to do. That’s better now, so I’m trying again to get back in the groove. And I’m writing more as well.

I heard this song a week or so ago that summed it all up what I was trying to do. My favorite thing about music is how it can express so much of our own feelings in just a few notes and words. May it inspire you to get out of whatever funk you might be experiencing as well.

Who Am I and What Have I Done with Myself?

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I’ve talked before about struggles with my weight. I was pudgy as a child — “pleasantly plump,” if you will — and the mild teasing and occasional ostracism as a young person led to issues that I believe kept me from losing the weight for good because I felt like if I lost the weight I was giving in to their negativity.

For the record, let me just say again that accusing overweight people as lazy lumps who need to “put down the chicken leg and get off their ass” is not the way to motivate someone to lose weight. One of the worst statements I’ve heard is, “There’s no excuse for someone to be overweight.”

I’ve stood up on the soap box about that issue before (see link in first line), and I can say that for me, the negative experiences I had as a kid regarding my weight created a rebellion in my mind and made me want to eat what I wanted. These incidents didn’t happen daily for years and years, but it didn’t take long for the damage to settle in my subconscious.

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For a Man I Never Knew

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Tonight, there’s a memorial being held for a man who killed himself in the parking lot of a church this past Sunday morning. I suppose if he had been a man of little notoriety, the situation might not have made such a splash in the media. As it happened though, the man was a social media guru known all over the world — not a full-fledged celebrity, but  if you had tried to learn anything about social media, especially in Greenville, you would have at least seen his name mentioned.

I never met him. I’d read some Twitter posts and a couple of blog entries while I was trying to find a job a couple of years ago. I’d seen replies and retweets on Twitter. My impression was that he was extremely smart and well-respected. Things have come out about what had been going on in his life leading up to the suicide, and while I’m not going to elaborate on that borderline tabloid aspect, it didn’t take much clicking to read that this smart, respected, marketing genius was known to suffer from depression.

I can’t explain why, but my heart aches for him. I hurt over the fact that he felt like he couldn’t go to anyone for help, that he either couldn’t take meds or that they weren’t working, that his desperation was that low.

And it’s situations like this when — not to turn the spotlight on me on purpose — I have to speak up and say that no one has to feel this desperate. I thank God I’ve never sat in a car in a church parking lot with a gun while police tried to negotiate with me, but I have had deep, dark thoughts that I can’t bring myself to speak out loud to anyone. Y’all, that is not the place to be. That place sucks harder than one of those Dyson vortex vacuums with all the cone-shaped cylinders and G forces and swivel apex that gets into every nook and cranny of your soul.

Then you have people who can’t understand why you’re unable to just snap out of it. Just eat right and exercise and lose weight and all your problems will be solved. Meanwhile, you’re struggling to keep your shit together just trying to blow dry your hair.

I’m not proud to say that I have this problem. I am proud to say that I’ve been able to keep it at bay, but I don’t wanna stand on a mountain top with a Riccola horn and announce that I’m on meds and see a therapist.

But I would if it meant that one person sitting in a church parking lot with a gun would put down the weapon and get help.

So since I don’t have a Riccola horn, here I am, on my virtual mountain, telling anyone out there to please talk to someone if you believe you feel anything like what this man felt.