“You don’t know what you don’t know.” One of the wisest lessons I’d ever learned.
Bill was 86 years old when I first met him last March. The week of his 87th birthday he was placed in an acute assisted living facility. He had terminal brain cancer and it had spread down to his neck. For 3 months we went to visit him on Mondays like clockwork. During the last 6 weeks of his life he was in and out of what we knew as his reality, but he seemed almost peaceful when he spoke often times those nonsensical words.
He sat in his wheelchair, weak of energy, yet that sheepish grin of his emerged out of nowhere. His eyes still had life in them, but he would seemingly look right through me as he spoke. It was obvious to me that he was living in this realm, but crossing over simultaneously. Most days he was talking to his mama who had left this earth sometime ago. The conversations were real to him and heartwarming to witness.
Bill had lived the last nearly 40 years as a sober man. He was committed to making amends even in his final days. His devotion to The Lord was obvious when he shared stories with me now and then. He was a straight shooter and as honest as a man could be. Up until he took his last breath, he still had plenty to say.
When his pastor came to see him one last time, Bill asked once more if he believed that God was going to let him into his kingdom. With complete assurance the pastor told him without a doubt and with all certainty He was. He has been missed since that final day. I’m grateful he’s no longer hurting and has found peace and contentment in his own heart, but selfishly we all wish he had more time.
I will never forget the unspoken words that he conveyed to me with just his gentle smile and a shake of his head every time he asked me something about my life. He was a lovable, kindhearted man with such conviction that he stood proudly on. I thank God for the moments I was blessed to have those conversations with you sir.
Rest easy my friend. My promise holds that I will help your lovely bride for as long as she needs me.
Reflection over my life so far, I’ve learned to run after a positive mindset. Greatly wanting to live this way, but always battling with it. I can give kudos and be outwardly uplifting with an abundance of encouragement, for you. This is who I am. This is what I do. But what about me? Where is that self care and love component to gift myself?
They tell me self forgiveness and acceptance is how I will achieve this. Then I go down the rabbit hole where the misery lives. It’s dark and damp, with cobwebs and it kind of smells like death. I don’t purposely fall down in there. I do allow others to trample my heart and that’s when I find myself climbing out yet again.
So far spending time getting reacquainted with me has been both enlightening and disappointing at the same time. Regret is not a common word in my vocabulary. I’ve enough emotional recovery and healing to understand the positive influence every experience has had on my spirit. Then I tend to combat it with a negative connotation because this is how I have been conditioned. Trained out of deserving peace and comfort, even joy. At least on a more often than not basis. That can be debilitating and quite depressing.
I’ve come to dislike those positive memes. Don’t send me the rainbows and unicorns with puppies and kitties telling me to have a bright sun shiny day. Those don’t resonate with me. I need to know that I’ve walked through some hard fucking shit and I am a survivor. In other words, remind me how far I’ve come and that I am ok!
I know this too shall pass and all the other quirky slogans I’ve learned and implemented into my everyday living, but most days I simply need to just be authentically me. A craft I have yet to perfect and likely never will, but my ultimate goal… to be comfortable in my own damn skin. Finding that balance between my own satisfaction and happiness while participating in this event called life. Is it always going to be a chore or will I wake up one day and everything will magically just smooth out? I highly doubt that and I am curious to know the antidote. Meanwhile I will just keep on keeping on, loving you with my whole heart as I work to gift this to myself.
She was tenacious when it came to believing what she thought she needed, and that was him. Far beyond their expiration date and her tolerance of his neglect and torment she clung. White knuckling the life she fantasized, the tighter her grip, the more relentless he became. The addiction cycle prevailed as the destruction and demise ensued.
Breathing had transformed into a chore, labored and choking. His twisted beliefs ravaged her every thought, move and decisions that were no longer hers to make. He had devoured her and she was consumed. Her immediate response to his touch, his words and especially his body language, was to never disappoint him while completely betraying herself.
She had found herself tethered to this neurotic, sadistic human, whom she would discover was really an empty, wounded, broken shell. His pain inside ignored heightened his desire to inflict it upon her. Emotionally, physically and especially psychologically as he pulled her cuffs tighter, his noose around her neck cinched as she gulped. She was his kept property.
How could she break free of the restraints and stay by his side? She could only dream, and that’s all she ever did. Her body was not her own. She had long since detached from it. How else could she endure this life she found herself in?
He was good at this game. Distracting her from her own mind. Convoluting his words while mincing them with his actions. Was she crazy? Could he be right? Did she not hear what he truly meant? Her brain on fire as she worked to read between the transcripts of their one sided conversations. He’s a bully, she thought to herself. More than the mean kid on the playground. Is that where it started with him? She wondered.
She struggled daily to analyze the two of them. Her heart longed for what it could never receive. Her brain constantly reconciling with what was happening. Maybe he’s right. She is the broken little girl inside after all. She must be the one who needs fixing so she will continue to abide by his every rule and expectation of her. Keep working for his love, attention and affection is what she told herself.
This ball of yarn, tattered and worn, had become her sacred space to cling to now. Somewhere, deeply within it, was holding her hope. How will she find it and retrace her way back? She knows she has battle scars and wounds running deep. She didn’t come out of this unscathed, but going from victim to survivor has been her only goal these days. She’ll keep talking and writing until that skein is down to its last bit of what has her bound still. Until then, she’ll do what it takes to unravel the mass of devastation. His secretive ways being revealed, unveiling them for her sanity, saving her soul.
A big stretch up to the sky as dawn kisses her cheek. Good morning she says, aloud to the silence. She greets each day with a grateful heart. Deep breath in and a long exhalation of the past that sometimes haunts her still.
With another gift, an abundance of love, she questions the validity of her life. Her purpose she thought she once knew, rendered obsolete, nothing was true. Being reminded by this fragrance and that special place, letting go isn’t so easy, but necessary to keep on breathing.
Today is less about the loss of what was as more emphasis is put on the freedom she is reluctant to feel, but now is. She watches them while she sees the light flicker in their eyes. Others who pay her the attention she was always instructed to ignore. She smiles back at them now and then, yet inside, deeply feeling rejection towards all.
Too soon or too late, she is where she is, growing and learning simply wanting new friends. No longer seeking that white knighted, makeshift alpha or fake savior. Becoming comfortable with her own company while she continues to blossom and bloom. They don’t understand, although some say they do, that her completeness comes from the brokenness within.