Meditation vs Rumination

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via Daily Prompt: Ruminate

Ruminate: to meditate on; ponder.

Meditate: to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.

By their very definition, these two words look interchangeable. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is, only that for me, meditation has a positive connotation vs rumination, which I associate more with being “stuck in my head” or spinning my wheels.

Meditation is something that is good for you, rumination is not. That’s how I’ve seen it. Looking up the definitions today and thinking about it a little, I wonder if the difference isn’t in the intention…

Over these last 10 months, I’ve tried to keep up on my relationship with my sister, despite the obvious barriers.

For months I would ask her to come visit me in my dreams. I’d fall asleep holding her picture or set her music on repeat so even subconsciously I’d be in a place to receive her. While I’ve had tons of signs that she’s around me, I wanted to see her face. I wanted to interact with her.

Radio silence.

Until last night.

The details are fuzzy now but I was running from someone or something in a mall. I saw an empty corner, squished myself in and slid down the walls. I buried my head in my folded arms and sobbed.

I was soon interrupted by a light tapping on my shoulder.

I looked up and I saw her.

The song “These Dreams” by Heart played overhead.

She was … Radiant. Stunning. Healthy.

Of course she was.

I scrambled to get to my feet and I lunged for her, grabbing her tight to me.

I woke up and while this past year has felt like a nightmare, I was convinced that it was over now. I grabbed for my phone, desperate to hear her voice, her reassuring laugh chiding me for overreacting.

But of course that didn’t happen. Half way to the phone, I remembered the necklace. The music shaped urn necklace. I was scared to touch it. Maybe it wasn’t there… but if it was, it meant she was really gone.

I clutched the charm in my fist as the tears continued to burn and I remembered to thank her, even as painful is it was, as it is, as it will always be… she did come visit me.

Lyrics to These Dreams:

Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
Figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
These dreams in the mist

Darkness on the edge
Shadows where I stand
I search for the time
On a watch with no hands
I want to see you clearly
Come closer than this
But all I remember
Are the dreams in the mist

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

Is it cloak ‘n’ dagger
Could it be spring or fall
I walk without a cut
Through a stained glass wall
Weaker in my eyesight
The candle in my grip
And words that have no form
Are falling from my lips

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

There’s something out there
I can’t resist
I need to hide away from the pain
There’s something out there
I can’t resist

The sweetest song is silence
That I’ve ever heard
Funny how your feet
In dreams never touch the earth
In a wood full of princes
Freedom is a kiss
But the prince hides his face
From dreams in the mist

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

Songwriters

Read more: Heart – These Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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(No) Doubt… Anymore!

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

I’m trying on the power of positivity!

This morning I was notified that it is my one year anniversary of this blog! I knew it was coming up, but not this fast… I was kind of…astounded. A whole year? Granted, this year has both flown by and drug on and on and on.

I’m posting under today’s word of the day, doubt because honestly? I doubted I’d stay with it this long. I’ve started several blogs, four, I think. I never posted more than once or twice before I either deleted my account or just abandoned it all together.

When I started WerdyNerdyNDirty, I had a vision of a simple extension of my somewhat offbeat, quirky personality and life. It was a good two months. Full of drive and deadlines (I’d given myself but still…) I found that instead of dreading my blog, I was more creative, less inhibited and basically “got over” my need for every word to be perfect. I used to be so caught up, thinking it had to come out organically inspirational or funny. There wasn’t room for editing. “Go big or go home” right? Not that there is anything wrong with going home, I was just tired of it. Tired of my rigid expectations…

It was mainly thanks to my writing teacher, Roxanne Sadovsky and our Friday morning groups that helped me to get over myself. Learn it’s ok to be raw, or even just be.

I couldn’t very well call myself a writer if I wasn’t writing. And I longed to write. I missed it. I’ve had a lot of fun writing for you and I know that I’ll be able to get better, the more I do it and it’ll be fun to look back in a few years to see how I’ve developed as a writer. I’m sure there’ll be quite a difference.

I been writing for this blog for a month and a half when I lost Noah. Blogging help me through it. As painful as it was to share and process, I’m sure it was an integral part of my process. A month and a half after that, we lost my sister Natalie.

Typing that last sentence still brings the sting of the tears. It’s so fitting that she LOVED the movie Alice in Wonderland (she even got married on the date printed on the Mad Hatters hat, 10/6!) because I feel like I’ve been free falling down the rabbit hole since May 19th. Prior to her death, the most devastating loss had been my grandma on Christmas Eve, 2009. Oh my God, I didn’t think I’d ever get over that. It took me years before I stopped having that dream where she was just on vacation. It was all a mistake. She was going to be so upset when she came home to find it had been sold while she was away…

I don’t really want to compare the two losses, there’s not really even a way. I never expected to lose my sister. My little sister. The light and the joy of so many people’s lives. Even knowing she’d relapsed, being the one telling her she was going to die if she didn’t cut it out… there was no way to prepare. A lot of days, it still feels like a brand new shock. Realizing it’s coming up on a year, it feels like a brand new level of Hell. Time is passing, life is going on, for others but somehow…I’m stuck. It’s still so fresh. People tell me “it gets better”, some tell me “it never gets easier” or “you’ll find a new normal”… I sure as shit hope “this” isn’t the new normal.

At least I think people have stopped telling me, for the most part, that “she’s in any pain. She’s in a better place” etc because hopefully they realized by telling me this, it made me think “I don’t want to be in pain. I want to be in a better place. I want to join her.” And then a timely quote literally fell into my lap. I dropped my phone and when I picked it up, it said “suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just gives it to someone else”. I don’t wish this kind of pain on anyone. So I write. And I cry. And I listen to her music. I try to take one day at a time, careful not to sleep through too many in a row and miss out on all the beauty that still surrounds us.

Wow, as we say in our family “that took a turn”. Meant to write about self-doubt and creativity… I guess this all applies. It’s given me purpose and direction. I hear that it helps other people too which is just icing on the cake. I hear Cheryl Strayed talk about how her mother’s death, as horrible as it was to lose her, made her a better person. As much as I don’t want to be a better person because of Natalie’s death, it would be much worse to stay the same.

I want to be an advocate and help others, I’m not sure I can do that just yet or what it will look like when I do get involved but I’ll keep y’all in the loop, no doubt about it.

6 Month Anniversary, part 1: Washburn-McReavy

Yesterday was the “Service of Remembrance”, I believe it was called, at the same Washburn-McReavy where Natalie’s viewing/wake was held. I’d been dreading it, as I’m sure we all were, but the fact that it was on the 19th, the six month mark exactly, made it a must attend event. I’d expected it would be hard. I wasn’t looking forward to walking back into Washburn-McReavy and I drug my feet on the way in.

The first thing that surprised me was how full the parking lot was. I guess I’d imagined it was going to be a small, intimate gathering. We almost didn’t have room to park (maybe I was hoping for that? Oh, nowhere to park? I guess we’d better just go home…). But, we found a spot. The cold wind forced me to hug myself tight on the way in.

Right inside the doorway was a fountain. Behind that was a set of double doors. Behind those white doors, was the viewing room where everyone else saw her for the first time. I’d driven to Minneapolis with my friend Shar earlier to possibly help with Natalie’s makeup. They didn’t need my help they told me but I could go in and see her if I wanted…

*If you want to hear more about that part of the experience, check the blog posts right after the 19th, I don’t think I can do it again now and still finish this post.*

Suffice it to say, once I realize which room was directly in front of us, I got sick to my stomach. Fortunately, in front of those doors was a long table filled with Christmas ornaments with the names of loved ones lost. We collected our ornament and were led to the chapel. There was a singer/piano player in the hallway. She sang/played “Amazing Grace” and I mentally cussed her out because I could feel the tears start to burn.

Since the parking lot was full, it should’ve come as no surprise that the chapel was also almost at capacity. For a few seconds, it reminded me of high school or riding the bus. All the cool kids were in the back… The further away from the teacher/event speaker, the better. So, imagine my elation when I sat myself in the very front row… I probably could’ve fit in the second row with my family but I felt strongly about sitting as close as I could (read: I am not a cool kid, ha!). I went for the spot on the far end of the pew, the corner. That way I could prop myself up with the bench and the wall.

I faced forward, looking at this…

 

wb-chapel

The only difference was there was a single candle in the center of the open space and a pastor in the chair near the podium. I think there was also a water fountain somewhere… I heard running water, I guess it was probably from the fountain in the front, now that I think about it. Man, the acoustics in that place… my full bladder was going crazy!

I digress.

The sermon?, the speech? I don’t know what it was called… was very moving. I took notes, honestly! He had a soothing voice and the words of God. I almost missed going to church. He talked about his brother-in-law who was a grief counselor and the three main things to focus on after losing someone.

Number 1. Ask yourself “What have I really lost?”

Number 2. Ask yourself “What do I have left?”

Number 3. Ask yourself “What are the possibilities?”

We closed with a prayer and rose to leave. The woman next to me, who’d been reaching for the tissues about as often as I was had a big button pinned to her purse and it took me by surprise. “Does your button say ‘I love Gaga’?” Her face lit up with a smile and she said “Yes, my son calls my mother that!” I tried to find words, I guess “Gaga” isn’t all that original, but still, I was surprised to see it anywhere outside of Tayla and Mary’s relationship.

“Who did you lose?” She asked, her face returning to a somber expression.

“My sister” I said.

“Me too! She was young, wasn’t she?”

She reached for me and we hugged each other so tight, I imagined she thought I was her sister and she was mine.

“Yes, 36”

“Well my sister was 59…”

“Still too young” I said.

She nodded.

“Can I ask what happened?”

Before y’all start… I know that I *can* ask and I should’ve said *may* but grammar be damned! (in this situation)

“Cancer”

For the first time, since I can remember, I struggled with telling someone how Natalie passed. I don’t know what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t find the words but it was several seconds before I was able to spit out the word addiction.

“She must have been in a lot of pain…”

I nodded, so grateful to not have this woman recoil away from me in horror and question my right to be there and be grieving. I don’t even know where those thoughts came from!

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of” she continued.

I kept nodding.

Finally, I was able to speak. “She was going on 10 months of sobriety. That heroin… it’s a kind of monster I don’t think too many people understand. I don’t understand it but I know that recovery from it,  it’s not like any other drug I’ve ever heard about…” I had been staring at the carpet for most of my comment. Finally, I looked up and asked her

“How long has it been?”

“May 20th”

“Wow. Natalie was May 19th. Six month ago, today.”

She gave me another hug and said “We’ll get through it”.

I hoped to myself that she was right.

As she was about to walk away, she said “Oh, by the way, thanks for bawling and making a scene, it made me feel like I could cry too…”

I think I smiled and said something like anytime.

“Bawling and making a scene”?!?!?! Ha. Lady, you have NO IDEA how much restraint I was using. I thought I was doing a fairly decent job, actually but… maybe not quite as good as I thought? All I know is I was making sure to focus on my breath and not dry heave in front of the entire chapel.

 

 

Good Mourning

Grief is complex and often times confusing. Today is the six month anniversary of my sister Natalie’s death from addiction. Six months. Six? As in 6, 6? Like 1,2,3,4,5,6? My how the time flies when your stuck in an endless loop of sadness… In a therapy group meeting, I mentioned that today would be a difficult day for me, given the occasion. Around the room I heard gasps and whispers, I saw eyes widen and heads shake. Someone made a statement akin to what I just expressed and… I, I was offended.

“What do you mean, 6 months already?”

Just what I said, how can you not know what I mean? How can you question the validity of my statement? Haven’t you felt her absence every second of every day? I feel like I have.

But what’s the point?

Here’s what I’ve learned in therapy:

Emotions. E-Motion. Emotions are guides to helping us understand what we need. The things we need to do. It puts the “motion” in emotion.

Fear is about keeping us safe. You’re afraid to walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town? Good! Don’t do it, you might get hurt.

Anger gives us the energy to make a change, to set limits and boundaries around situations or people that might be unhealthy.

Grief/Sadness? It allows us to be comforted. To bring us into relationship, at a point in time when we really need it.

I need it. I’m in a place where I’ve never before felt such intense levels of all three of those emotions, for this long of a time period.

I feel so lonely, even though I know I have lot’s of people to lean on for support… I just don’t have the energy to even reach out.

Nat’s death, especially with the holidays around the corner, is getting worse. It’s getting harder with the six month mark because I think, for me, the permanency is setting in. The holiday music is killing me. She loved Christmas and every time I got to see her, it felt like Christmas to me. I heard Mariah Carey sing “All I Want for Christmas” the other day. I’ve disliked that song since 2009, when grandma died…and not so much as dislike the song, just teary, every time I hear it, I cry myself into a little puddle.

Today we are going to a candlelight service at the Washburn – McReavy. It’s not just for our family but all of the families they’ve served this year… it just happens to fall on the exact 6 month marker. I kinda feel like I have to go.

“Why do you have to go? Can’t you just light a candle at home?”

I could, but I guess I kinda feel like how many more functions will there be where Natalie is apart of the event… I have to go. I have to celebrate her with others. I have to remind myself that death is a part of life and it’s not permanent… the separation, I mean.

I recently read a quote by Chuck Palahniuk that made me hold my breath in pause, in awe for a moment before resuming my breathing… Here it is:

chuck-palahniuk-quote

Interesting food for thought morsel, isn’t it?

What are your thoughts on grief or emotions in general? I’d love to hear about it or fell free to share a story in memory of a loved one in the comments section below!

The Beginning of the End?

I was getting ready to finish the blog post I started last night and it just hit me. Out of nowhere, like a ninja, grief attacked.

I was going to write about politics, so maybe it’s not so bad I was derailed… but a photo of Natalie stopped me.

Since the expo ended on the 15th, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop…

 

It had been getting close. I had a few close call with crying fits but hadn’t really been able to let it out and I don’t know why.

I do know what pushed me over the edge though…

We The Kings have a song called Sad Song and it tore my heart in more than half…

*This video is NSF, unless you don’t mind ending up a puddle on the office floor*

Maybe I should’ve had the warning above the link… sorry.

It’s just that everything hurts all over again. Again and again.

I thought that once the expo was over, I could go back to meditating. It’s a new thing for me, at least it was. I’d felt calmer, more centered and most importantly, closer to Natalie. But, the expo ended and… I. feel. like. shit.

Physically I don’t feel good. Part of that is my Grave’s disease (couldn’t they have come up with a name not so… dismal?) is kicking in again. That means I’m dealing with exhaustion, an intolerance to heat and irritability (no shit). On top of that, depression is settling into my bones. The past several days it’s been almost impossible to get out of bed. I’ve made it to work, the one shift I’ve had so far this week. I’ve gone to my therapy group and not much else. I didn’t do my volunteering that I usually do on Wednesdays. I haven’t answered the phone or email. I just feel so heavy.

I kinda feel the equivalent of drunk. Like, sloppy drunk. Praying to God from inside the toilet bowl, trying to hold your hair back without moving any other body part for fear of vomiting… Once you do start puking, you just lay down on the cool tile floor and wait for the next wave of nausea to peak.

I lay in bed, my head propped up against the wooden headboard and wait for the next tsunami of tears to sweep me away. After the hysteria subsides, I fall into a light sleep with my eyes swollen shut and my throat dry and scratchy until the next little trigger starts the cycle again.

Like an alcoholic, I have to take this one day at a time. Remind myself that through is the only way out, when I beg God to tell me how long this is going to last. How much more do I have to endure? How many more hours and days will I walk around with a piece of myself missing…

While looking for an image to go along with this post, I came across this poem… it’s slightly modified to fit this particular situation.

I’ll Meet You In the Light

I know that you can’t see me, but trust me I’m right here.
Although I’m up in heaven, my love for you stays near.

So often I see you crying, many times you call my name.
I want so much to touch your face and ease some of your pain.

I wish that I could make you see that Heaven indeed is real.
If you could see me run and play, how much better you would feel.

But our loving God has promised me that when the time is right,
You’ll step out of the darkness and meet me in the light.

Written by Maureen Bauer

 

Daily Prompt: Fragile

via Daily Prompt: Fragile

Yesterday I felt fragile. Small and breakable. It started out that way because I was putting the finishing touches on the “End the Epidemic” brochure for the expo on the 15th and spent a lot of time finding the right photos and making them the perfect sizes. Writing her name and her dates and a little of her story…

I had an appointment at 1:00 and I was grateful for the break. Afterward, I planned on going to Sally Beauty to get some hair dye. Once in the car though, I realized how badly I needed to pee! I knew Sally’s didn’t have a restroom, so I opted for Unique… hey, at least they’ll have ONE thing I need! I finished washing my hands and dried them on my jeans on the way out. “I wonder if they’ll have anything that reminds me of Natalie…” I looked up to see this:

img_2799

“Ok, fine. You’re here. Thank you very much AND I’m still pretty pissed off.”

I wandered a bit because I had a little time to kill before picking Tayla up from school. Because of Halloween coming up, the store is laid out a little differently than I’m used to. I was perusing the kitchen gadget isle (our toasted WAS toast last week) looking for a toaster but found myself in the movie section.

I’ve been trying to get more in tune with my intuition and so I tried to “feel” which way to go, what message I was supposed to get. Standing in front of shelf after shelf of movies, I quickly became overwhelmed. “I know Nat. You love movies but seriously, you loved them so much, I’ll never know which one I’m supposed to find!”

I saw The Crow. Is it this one? Oh, Pulp Fiction- that has to be it, right? But no internal alarm sounded, no sensation was felt. My arms were getting fuller and my calculated cost grew with each title. “Sorry Nat. I can’t buy all these. Then watch all of them? I guess the only way I’ll really know if I’m on to something is if I see a movie like Somewhere in Time…” I actually laughed at the prospect of finding such a movie, in such a place.

Guess what? Not a minute later, my eyes found this:

somewhere-in-time-2
Somewhere in Time

The sensation of a brain freeze took hold of me and I clutched the movie to my chest, trying with all I had not to cry until I got out of the store (which I did!).

I had a big cry and pulled myself together before turning the car on. As I looked around, checking for cars, I saw three black birds circling overhead.

“Show off” I thought.

But there’s more. The first song I heard was “Save Me” by Shinedown.

I got a candle
And I’ve got a spoon
I live in a hallway with no doors and no rooms
And under a window sill
They all were found
A touch of concrete within the doorway
Without a sound

Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me, if you can
From my blasphemy in my wasteland

How did I get here
And what went wrong
Couldn’t handle forgiveness
Now I’m far beyond gone
And I can hardly remember
The look of my own eyes
How could I love this,
My life so dishonest
It made me compromise

Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me, if you can
From my blasphemy in my wasteland

Jump in the water
Jump in with me
Jump on the altar
Lay down with me
My hardest question
To answer is why
Why

Someone save me if you will
And take away all these pills
And please just save me, if you can
From my blasphemy in my wasteland

Someone save me [Repeat: x2]
Somebody save me [Repeat: x2]
Please don’t erase me

Hearing that made me hungry for more…

I turned to Siri and Apple Music requesting “music by Shinedown”.

Here is what came up, in the order it played:

Cut the Cord (to self harm) so you can survive “don’t be a casualty, cut the cord”

Second Chance “sometimes goodbye is a second chance”

Save Me

Through the Ghost

Sometimes, ok, a lot of times, I feel like a toddler throwing a tantrum. I want her to be with me, show me she’s here and when she does, it’s not good enough. It’s coincidence. It’s an accident. My mind is filling my life with “signs”, it’s all in my head because that way I don’t have to forgive her. If she abandons me, it’s ok for me to still be so angry… Even though deep down, I know she’s sorry. She didn’t mean to abandon us. She is still around. She will always be around and it’s ok for me to be angry.

Puddles

Tonight I am finding myself at a loss for words. Exhausted, I have a million things to write about but justice would be done to none. Instead of doing less than my best, here is a free write from my Friday class.

Disclaimer! As we say in our family, towards the end, it “takes a turn”.

Things That Make Me Melt:

*When Tayla crawls into my lap and throws her arms around my neck.

*When she says “mom, do you want to see what I wrote?”.

*Most everyone on America’s Got Talent… watching  the culmination of a persons dedicated and hard work summed up in a smile or a tear, receiving what I’m sure feels like the ultimate validation.

*Comedians who laugh at their own jokes.

*When one of my cats stretch themselves across my bare feet, not so subtly demanding a belly rub.

*Doggies. Especially Niles. Probably seven pounds of miniature dachshund, minus an eye. Minus my sister. My heart breaks when I think of him alone with Natalie’s body. Tenderly washing her exposed skin in desperate kisses.

I remember sitting in that conference room. The apartment building on LaSalle Ave when the medical examiner told us she’d most likely passed around 2 or 3 am that morning. Hours. Just hours we missed her by. Eight hours earlier I could have called and expected she’d answer.

I don’t know how time works for animals. I know part of him understands, like part of me understands but I can’t help but tear up whenever I see him, still searching for her, like me.