Thursday, September 12, 2013


I had a paper due today for one of the counseling classes in my grad program. The assignment was to write about a time of hardship and resiliency in our lives. Tonight, we had to read our papers aloud to each other.

This was mine (some of the parts have been taken and modified from earlier blog entires):

When people are deeply in love, they sometimes tell each other dramatic and romantic things like “I could never live without you.” Although a cliché like that sounds over the top, somehow love makes you say it with such conviction, like you were the first two people on earth to declare that to each other. When I said I could never live without Blake it was with complete sincerity. But now, even though I meant what I said with every fiber of my being, here I am living without him

In college, my boyfriend Blake was in an accident where he was injured and subsequently prescribed the painkiller OxyContin. Due to the extremely addictive nature of this drug, he got hooked. This addiction to painkillers eventually lead him to experiment with heroin, which is actually a cheaper, more accessible drug derived from the same source. Blake overdosed on heroin three months ago. The entire time we dated I knew nothing about his heroin addiction. He somehow managed to keep it completely hidden from me until the day he died.

I went through, and am still going through, a million emotions in coping with both finding out about my boyfriend’s double life and mourning him at the same time. The thing about lies is that just one has the power to breed contagious doubt about all other truths. Finding out about his hidden drug use initiated an overwhelming insecurity about whether a relationship I felt so proud of was just a product of my imagination. How could someone who actually cared about me keep such a huge secret? Were any of his feelings real? Did I know him at all? And then there are also the feelings of guilt for not being able to help him and confusion in wondering why he never let me.

But above all there has been an overwhelming sadness for the loss of my love and best friend. When I was with Blake, I felt like I could say anything, do anything, be anything. Anything and everything seemed possible because of him and how he made me feel. When he died, that was all taken away from me without warning and without any chance of getting it back. It was, and still is, devastating.

In the aftermath, the hardest thing in coping with such a tragedy has been feeling so torn to pieces on the inside, but looking normal on the outside. I almost wish I had an illness, broken bone, scar, something so it’s more obvious that I am not ok. If this were something physical, people could actually watch as I heal and know by looking at me that I'm still recovering. It's not like I want any of these physical maladies to elicit sympathy from others, I just want them to know that I'm not the same. I'm not normal. I'm not entirely myself.

But what is normal? Who am I anyway? These are things that I have begun to ask myself.  In order to manage what happened and look towards the future, I have given myself the permission to analyze anything I need to question, reflect on whatever I want to process, and feel any emotion that decides to grip my heart. I’ve done all of this through writing. 

I created a blog after a friend told me that reading how I explore my grief might be helpful for those who loved Blake, people who have gone through something similar, and most importantly, me. By opening myself up this way, so publicly and unapologetically, I have made my internal pain visible. Not only am I able to release what’s swirling around inside my mind, but I can also share my recovery with whoever wants to read it.  Whenever I feel like the pain is weighing me down or I can’t focus because it’s clouding my thoughts, I take out my laptop and allow it all to flow through my fingers. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m writing about until the entry is done. Then, I can read my message and discover new things about myself: who I am, what I value, and how I feel. Giving myself space to write has become both cathartic and essential to my well-being.

At the point when I first created the blog, I decided that this tragedy could either become a pain buried in the depths of my heart or a scar that blends into the landscape of my skin. It was my choice. I chose to wear the hurt openly because I couldn’t burden my heart with the weight of a secret. I realize, however, that I need to get to a place where I acknowledge this experience as part who I am without letting it define me. This is something I continue to navigate every day.

Through my journey of resiliency, I am beginning to realize that telling Blake “I could never live without you” wasn’t actually a lie. I’m not living without him because Blake has become a part of me. If I truly believe that I carry him with me wherever I go, I feel strong. Of course it's devastating to know he will never physically be with me again, this blow is lessened when I realize that I never have to say goodbye completely. He can be the reassurance in my head that whispers words of confidence, the pulse in my heart that beats with pride, and the air that fills my lungs and leaves me with a sense of calm. I don’t have to live without him because our love continues to shape who I am every day.

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