Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Beginnings (A Poem)

There's something about a sunrise
like staring deep into your eyes
remembering them open wide
telling me "Baby, look! The Sun!"

Holding me is pale pink,
orange, yellow, all I think
is the colors make my heart sink
back to the hammock, in your arms.

The sky becomes a light blue
recalling sunrises with you
Are you here for this one too?
The warmth tells me "Yes."

After all the painting is done
many colors fade to just one
highlighting the beauty of the Sun:
a symbol of the new.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

When Your Words Don't Matter

Last night I left the bar to go home because a guy made me feel extremely uncomfortable. After acknowledging my fear of new men, I've made an effort to clearly state what I want and don't want without being rude, but firmly enough to get my point across. The reason I panicked last night was because I discovered how powerless you can feel when your words don't seem to be enough.

To make a long story short, this guy did not seem to understand that when I said, "You're making me uncomfortable, can you please stop," and "I'm not ready," I meant it with complete sincerity. This was not me inviting him to try harder and push until I changed my mind. This was not a challenge. Even after a friend of mine explained to him that my boyfriend recently died, he still came back at me with, "I could be the guy to help you forget about him."

This is not flattering to me. This is terrifying and disrespectful.

After I realized he wasn't budging on his insistence that going out with him was best thing for me, I told him I needed to leave. I got up, walked outside, and hailed a cab home. I did what I had to do to feel safe. But on the way to my apartment I was quick to start looking for ways to blame myself for what happened. Did I come off too friendly in the beginning? Was it my fault for accepting a drink from him in the first place? Should I not be in bars at all?

Although I never felt like he was going to physically violate me, undermining the weight of someone's words is almost as debilitating. What gave him the right to insist that he knew what I needed better than I did? What I say should be a factor in my interactions with others. My words matter.  When that isn't honored, it can make a person feel insignificant. If what I said didn't register with him, maybe what I want isn't important. It made me start thinking that I was wrong.

But after a lot of reflection, I decided my question to myself shouldn't be "Was he right?" but instead, "How can I build my own confidence to insure that the opinions of others don't rattle it?" I need to shift the focus away from this man (and other men) and his actions. I will never understand why people do the things they do and I definitely won't be able to alter their actions. Just as they must decide for themselves to change, so must I.

Last night I didn't leave the bar to go home because a guy made me feel uncomfortable. I left because I allowed myself to feel uncomfortable. Yes, the choices he made in his interaction with me were questionable (in my opinion), but I gave him the power to affect me. By taking what he said to heart, I granted his words the permission to get under my skin. I allowed what he thought to mean more to me than what I thought.

Although I am by no means condoning how he treated me, I need to focus on my part in the situation. Because what I do, say, and tell myself is all I have command over. I will give myself consent to leave a bar if I have to. I will allow myself to tell any guy to back away and feel good about my decision to do so. And I will promise to remind myself that if I listen to my heart, it will never lead me astray. Because I am the master of what I do and think, and my words matter.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lost Lips

Blake and I would have to go weeks without kissing. With me in California and him in Arizona, sometimes our lips had to be hundreds of miles apart. During those periods, they would wait impatiently on our faces. Once they knew each others' touch, an existence quietly perched between nose and chin would never be enough. After they tasted sweet purpose, they changed. They knew how it felt to come alive, so they lived in anxious anticipation of their next embrace.

Especially after longer gaps between reunions, our lips met with overpowering urgency. It was as if they had been holding their breath all along and were finally able to greedily gulp in oxygen. They were completely consumed with each other. Inseparable to the point that it was hard to tell where one set ended and the other began. So when one set ended, the other couldn't begin again.

Now my lips are just lips. 
They no longer get the chance to feel and lust and love. They reluctantly hold their place between my cheeks and resent me for leaving them there. Filled with memories of when they used to dance freely, my lips fight to imagine their phantom partner. They fall silent in defeat, waiving a white flag to signal their surrender. And so they lay dormant. In defiant refusal to live a life any less than the extraordinary one they once knew.

But even though hope is faint, they still cling onto the dream that maybe one day
they will come alive again.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Loving Blake Through Loving Myself

When I was thinking about last night, that same enormous smile took over my face. For some reason, my body felt the urge to express this happiness physically. Without even realizing what I was doing, I wrapped my arms across my chest, grabbed onto my shoulders, and squeezed. I held myself tightly, eyes closed, smile pure, and felt the same kind of tingles that kissed my skin when I experienced Blake's presence.

I had an epiphany.

Since Blake's body isn't here, there is no way for me to physically show my love and gratitude for him. Before I could hug him, kiss him, and carry out acts of kindness for him, but now I can't. This left me with pent up emotion and energy that's been bursting out of me in unpredictable ways. Sometimes it's through obsessive investigation, other times self-loathing and despair. I guess I never realized that all of these varied behaviors stemmed from only one thing: love without a clear recipient.

I had no idea how to productively channel all of this excess energy. What do you do when you're so filled with appreciation for someone and have no way to communicate it directly to them? I realized that the spontaneous self-hug was my subconscious providing me with a physical representation of the answer I sought. But why was hugging myself the solution?

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to honor Blake is through loving myself. Earlier this month I acknowledged how taking care of my needs has been put completely on the back burner since Blake passed away. Although I've always known that I need to start making myself a priority, I never had the motivation to. I was missing the why. It was easy to push aside taking care of myself because I didn't understand how self care played into any of this. But self-love has everything to do with this. If I truly believe that Blake is a part of me, the best way to love him is through loving myself.

All of this is encapsulated in another brilliant quote by my new favorite person, Rumi:
"I see my beauty in you. I become a mirror that cannot close it's eyes."
To me, this means that in the reflection of my ability to love Blake so deeply I see the beauty of my own heart. I see that I am filled with so much more love than I ever imagined. And because I am capable of that kind of love, I am truly deserving of that strength of love as well. I owe it to myself to love myself as deeply and as unconditionally as I love Blake.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Me All Along

It clicked tonight.

Lying in bed, silent and still, I felt him. My skin turned into a sea of goosebumps and my heart lit up. Although it sounds crazy, it was the farthest thing from irrational. It felt more real and obvious than anything I've ever felt. I whispered out loud, "There you are. I missed you."

A bigger smile than I thought was possible to produce spread across my face, which sent another wave of goosebumps rushing over my skin. In that moment I knew I had been asking the wrong question. It was pointless to grapple with what distance to keep Blake, because he's been inside of me this whole time. Whether I realized it or not, that's where he's always been and that's where he'll always stay. So instead, I need to be asking myself how can I be inspired to move forward by this empowering force within me?

After this became clear, I started to reflect on the struggle I was having with trying to picture Blake. I realized that I've been going about that the wrong way too. Since Blake no longer exists in his physical form, attempting to imagine him that way is futile. It only brings me the superficial aspects of his appearance, which just frustrates me further. Although it's hard to stop trying to reconstruct how incredibly handsome he was, that body no longer belongs to him. I need to let it go. However, instead of imagining him I can feel him in an all encompassing and spiritual way. A way that fills me with far more meaning than any mental representation could.

I am ending the night and drifting off to sleep thinking of a quote I read today. Moving forward, I am going to think back to these words whenever doubt creeps into my mind.
"Goodbyes are only for people who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation." -Rumi
But do not be mistaken. Acknowledging Blake is within me won't leave me frozen in time, chained down by unproductive thoughts of what might have been. Instead, it will push me to live a life filled with a renewed sense of purpose and love. He will radiate from inside of me and multiply my light.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Create Your Own Signs

Sometimes (most of the time) my mom ends up telling me the exact answer I need to hear before I even know what the question is. Do all moms have this magical power or is mine just even more amazing than I already thought? I'm thinking it's both.

We got into a conversation tonight (the messages are split up into three sections, forgive me if the formatting is confusing) about what I want moving forward. Do I want to learn how to connect and talk to Blake? Or do I want to distance myself so I can start moving forward? I am struggling to pick because choosing seems impossible. But at the same time, having it both ways seems like an inherent contradiction.

After my mom suggested I look up how to contact people who've passed away, I tried to explain to her that I'm not sure if that is what I want. I don't necessarily have things I want to say to Blake or things I need to hear him say, I just have a desire to know he's always there. Especially in my weakest moments, I want to have confirmation that he's looking out for me.

She responded by telling me that I already know Blake is watching over me and I need to be secure with that. I don't need continual reminders.

I pushed back a bit and insisted that constant reassurance is what I crave. Maybe I second guess his presence so much that I need those outward signs to remind me. Maybe if I have proof that he's watching over me, I can focus on other things. If I don't have to question that he's always going to be there, I can move forward.

This is where my mom employed some tough love. Basically I was sounding like a needy, insecure girlfriend. When Blake was alive, did I ask him to tell me he loves me all the time and assure me that he was there for me? Of course not. First of all, that would've been extremely annoying and self-conscious. Second of all, it wasn't necessary. When Blake was alive I never questioned his love for me. I always knew that no matter what he would be there for me, comfort me, stand by me, and support me. Why would it be any different now?

    It isn't.

Probably the most profound part of our conversation came in the final part. This was one of those pearls of wisdom that my mom gave me before I even knew I was asking for it. Even now I'm kind of in awe of her insight. When I explained that maybe I just like getting signs because receiving them makes me feel good and renews my faith our connection, she simply told me "Give them to yourself."

Give them to yourself? Can you even do that?
Yes. Absolutely, one hundred and fifty percent, yes.

Although these are not the grand signs like finding the blue heart-shaped sea glass or an old email popping up on my computer screen out of no where, these kind of signs are just as important. The signs I give myself might actually be more important because they come from within my own heart.

There is a confidence in our love that dwells inside of me. It is so strong that it could sustain me even if I never get another sign from Blake again. This belief doesn't need the validation of anyone else because to me, it is as indisputable as fact. If I can tap into that internal truth and bring it out, I create conviction in Blake's presence that won't disappear. Distance, time, and the doubt of others won't affect my certainty that Blake is with me. That's what it means to be self-sufficient. That's what it means to create your own signs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Keeping an Open Mind

Without realizing it at the time, I went searching for Blake today. After waking up, I found myself looking up directions to the San Diego SPCA. Throughout our relationship, Blake and I spent hours talking about what kind of dog we'd get together one day. We even had a name picked out for him: Moose. Although I knew that I wasn't going to actually adopt a dog today, sometimes just entertaining the idea makes me happy. I felt a pull to the animal shelter, so I listened.

I walked around looking at all the puppies, seeing if Moose was in there. I know that when I find the right dog it won't necessarily be a particular breed or color, but a feeling I get when I look at him. Almost like Blake telling me he's the one. Unfortunately, Moose wasn't there. But I decided that was ok. I know I'm not ready, so it might have hurt more to see a dog there that I wanted, but knew I couldn't get.

I started walking out, feeling a little defeated, when I noticed there was a nature trail close by. I didn't have any plans for today, so I decided to take a walk. I felt weird about doing this all by myself, but something was telling me that I needed to get better at enjoying time alone. Besides, the day was too beautiful to just go straight home.

Someone close to Blake messaged me last night to tell me that Blake is all around me trying to help me, but is having a difficult time getting through. A few months ago, this would have sounded crazy to me, but after my recent experience with the medium nothing sounds ridiculous to me anymore. She offered me more information about the symbolism of the blue sapphire, which started me thinking about what I need to do to heal spiritually.

As I was walking, I was drawn off the paved path onto a side trail. To my left was a bed of fallen leaves in a sanctuary formed by clustered trees. The way the light poked through the branches as the wind rustled through them spoke to me. I decided to sit down and try to meditate.

This didn't go well, as I don't know the first thing about meditation. Blake tried to teach me a couple times, but my brain was always too busy to actually slow down enough to make meditation work. As I sat cross legged on the ground, the blowing wind felt like Blake trying to coax me into relaxing. I closed my eyes and it got stronger, but not powerful enough to silence my thoughts. I opened my eyes and whispered "I'm sorry, Blake. I tried." The wind gently swept my hair off of my face as if it was saying it's ok, you'll get there soon enough.

Although I couldn't clear my mind, what filled my thoughts was a message I wanted to write down. I didn't have any paper, but I decided to remain in my hideaway and jot it onto my forearm:

"Always searching for the path to you. How can I open my mind enough for you to fill it? What can I do to show you I'm ready? Ready to receive the gift of spiritual awakening. No longer trapped in my head and a slave to my own negativity. One day I'll be ready. Every day is a step in the right direction. A step closer to you, yes, but more importantly a step closer to me."

These thoughts are pretty disjointed, but I like them as they are. I am proud of myself for keeping an open mind and trying new things even if they aren't coming naturally yet. As the person close to Blake told me last night, another gift Blake gave me through his death was opening me up to a more spiritual and meaningful way of life. Although this is all new to me, I'm getting closer to figuring it out. This will be a lifelong process, but one that I'm sure will transform me in a beautiful way.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Separating (A Poem)

Enough space to keep me sane
Close enough to heed my heart
Straddling this fine line 
Crossing over, ripped apart 

The strength is in the balance
Of knowing how to choose
At what distance to hold you
The amount of separation to use 

If away is where I place you
I'm lost, disconnected, alone
Wandering, restless, broken
A soul without a home

If I pull you in too tightly
It's like embracing the sun
Engulfed in blissful light 
But scorched and overdone

Where's the happy medium?
The perfect in between?
Fully accepting my reality
While still honoring the unseen

So goes my daily struggle
Learning to navigate this mismatch
Loving you thoroughly and truly 
While beginning to detach 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's Ok to Move Forward

Today I feel lighter.
There is a lightness in my body and mind that I haven't felt since before Blake passed away.

The medium called me again this morning to check up on me after our intense conversation the other night. He told me immediately that I sounded different. When he brought that to my attention I realized he was right. I did feel really different.

He said he was blown away by my connection with Blake. Initially he had some idea of the depth of it, but after talking with both of us he came to understand that our bond was greater than he realized. Probably greater than we even realized. It felt amazing to hear him validate what I already knew somewhere imbedded in the fibers of my being: what we had was special, what we still have is special.

What the medium acknowledged is something that I have had a hard time getting other people to understand. Moving on for me doesn't mean belittling my relationship with Blake, making it seem like we had less of a connection than we did, or making him out to be an unworthy person. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I recognize what a true love and soul mate he was to me, but the circumstances of where he was in life cut our time together short. Because he was unable to learn the lessons he needed to in this lifetime, a life together became impossible.

So my lightness comes not from a diminishing belief in the love that we share, but more of a comfortable detachment from Blake. This means that for the first time I can separate myself from him and our love to see the bigger picture. Although I believe Blake is one of my soul mates, because of his choices he is no longer meant for me in this lifetime. Desperately holding onto him will only end up holding me back from enjoying the rest of my time here without him.

The medium told me that as a gift, Blake said it is going to be his mission to connect me with a soul mate who can be all of the things he wasn't able to be for me. At first this scared me. Does admitting there is someone better for me conflict with saying Blake is a soul mate to me? Will moving on mean that I love Blake less? I can finally answer both of these questions with a firm "No." When that time eventually comes (which, admittedly, probably still won't be for a while) and I can see this new person as a gift from Blake, I know that it will be ok accept it and that I deserve it. Moving on won't mean loving Blake less, it will mean finally loving myself more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Karmic Connection vs. Soul Mate

Last night when the medium explained to me that Blake and I had a "Karmic Connection" in this lifetime, I was really fascinated by this new term. I had never heard of it before, so I started to research it today. After spending hours on different websites, I found a ton of information on karmic connections, soul mates, and the differences and similarities between the two.

This made me think back to one of the very first entires I wrote in June called "Soul Mates?" When I wrote it, I was having an incredibly difficult time putting Blake and my relationship into perspective. Blake and I had talked about being each other's soul mate, but were we really? If he isn't here anymore and he was my soul mate, does that mean I'm never going to find love again? Can you have more than one soul mate? These were some of the questions I asked myself, but I never came up with any definitive answers. I settled on the fact that maybe I didn't need to figure it out.

Interestingly enough, every single website that I read was in agreement that people have more than one soul mate (but not necessarily in the same lifetime). They explained that because of free-will, missed connections, and the fact that not all souls will be on earth at the same time, the blue print created for your life includes a few soul mates with the hope that one or two will work out to be actual long term partnerships.

One website explained that although soul mates have Karmic Connections, not all Karmic Connections are with soul mates. This was something that confused me. After a lot more reading I think I have the concept figured out, so I will try to explain. When someone is your soul mate, they have an immediate pull and magnetic connection with you that makes you feel like you might have already met them before. What's confusing is that this is the exact same experience you feel when you meet someone whom you have a Karmic Connection with. The difference is that a soul mate is potentially with you for a lifetime, while a person with a Karmic Connection is only temporarily put into your life to teach you a lesson or solve unfinished business (from a past life experience together).

Going back to what the medium told me last night, he explained that he thought that Blake and I were married in a past life, but he betrayed me in some way. Because of this, Blake had bad karma with me that he needed to balance out in this lifetime. This is why the medium referred to what Blake and I had as a Karmic Connection. Blake was supposed to make up for this past betrayal by showing me true love. However, Blake repeated his same mistake in this lifetime and betrayed me again. For this reason, the medium said he wasn't sure if we would continue to meet up again in subsequent lifetimes.

So what does this all mean? The fact that he thinks Blake and I were married in a past lifetime could mean that he is one of my soul mates. However, due to the betrayal and missed opportunity to fulfill his Karmic Connection, it's possible that my soul won't choose to include him in my blue print in any more lifetimes. The medium told me it will be up to me to decide to give him another chance. But, he said I may not even want to once I meet the soul mate that comes into my life next. So will Blake continue to be a soul mate or was he just a failed Karmic Connection? I'm still not sure. But what I do know is there's so much love left for me in this lifetime that I have yet to experience. That should be my focus now because the rest can only be sorted out in another lifetime.

**Side note:
For anyone reading this who thinks I've gone off the deep end now that I'm talking about karma and past lives, I promise you I'm fine. I believe more and more every day that coping with the death of a loved one has a way of awakening your more spiritual side. Knowing that Blake is dead, it would send me spiraling down a black hole if I thought that was just it for him. Spirituality gives me hope that there's more to life than just the physical world and that even in tragedy, there is a bigger message from the universe at work.

Here is one of the websites I liked the most if you want to read more about Karmic Connections and soulmates :

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Medium Returns

Blake's mom sent me a message tonight telling me to call her. The medium that we talked to in June texted her saying that Blake came to him again. I called her up and she read the texts the medium had sent. Apparently Blake had been desperately trying to connect with the medium last week, but he was preoccupied with his own family stuff so he pushed it off until now. In his message he said several things, but the thing I latched onto the most was that he was very concerned with me not being happy. I froze. I asked Blake's mom, "Do you think he knew I spent my whole birthday and the day after trapped in my bed?"

Blake's mom gave me the phone number for the medium so I could get more information about his experience with Blake last night. We ended up talking for two hours as he gushed about Blake and how much he wanted to say to me.

The medium told me that last week he kept getting the feeling that he was supposed to check the bowl he uses for healing. Because he was dealing with family issues, he ignored this urge for a couple days. Two days ago he finally gave in and went to the bowl. Inside of it was a picture of Blake. When he connected with Blake's spirit, the first thing he started talking about was "birth." He told me he thought that meant someone could be pregnant, but I offered up the information about my birthday being last week. He immediately knew that must have been what Blake was talking about. There was a lot of concern around a "birth," but Blake passed along the message that it should be thought of as the start of a new beginning.

Although I'm not going to write about everything, one thing I will discuss is something that is still a bit unsettling to me. The medium told me that when I met Blake and felt that crazy, deep connection, it was actually because of something that had carried over from a past life. He said that he got the sense that Blake and I were really important to each other in a different lifetime (he thought perhaps that we were married), but that Blake betrayed me in some way. Us meeting again was something he called a Karmic Connection. A Karmic Connection means that our souls had unfinished business from a past life that he was supposed to resolve in this life. The purpose of us meeting was so he could learn the lesson he didn't learn in the past life time and come full-circle.

The medium said that Blake and I met so I could help rescue him from himself. Unfortunately, because of free will and poor decisions before he met me, Blake was unable to get back on the right track in this lifetime and correct his mistakes from our encounter in the lifetime before. I asked if that meant that we would find each other again in our next lifetime. Clearly Blake didn't learn his lesson, so we must still have that unfinished business. The medium said he was unsure. Blake had been given the opportunity to right his wrongs with me and failed, so it would be up to my spirit to afford him another chance.

I told him that I'm confident I'll give Blake another chance. I know myself; I would forgive anyone for almost anything. The medium kind of laughed at me. He said he had a feeling that when I meet my true soulmate, I am going to "find what I thought I had." He said he is positive that if what I felt with Blake made me this happy, then I'm going to be deliriously in love when I meet the person who is actually meant for me in this lifetime. I didn't know whether to smile or cry.

I never thought in a million years that I would believe in mediums, but I actually think I do. The things he was saying and the depth to which he understood Blake and my relationship was chilling. I'm not sure what to do with all of this information about "past lives," but it does help me feel better to know that Blake and I really did have a magnetic connection even though I never really understood it. Even though he wasn't the best version of himself for me because of his addiction, I could still see through to who he really was at a spiritual level. I wish I could have saved him from himself like I was meant to do, but the medium reassured me that that didn't happen because of Blake's choices, not mine.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Quieting the Mind

I woke up this morning with my usual scroll through Instagram. I like to slowly transition into being awake by mindlessly checking in on the world. A couple weeks back I was feeling particularly inspired and decided to follow an account called "Radiate Positivity." I know, I know, total barf. But honestly, reading positive quotes actually does make me feel better sometimes. Plus I have a deep appreciation for sentences that seem lyrically put together like a piece of poetry. Although some of the quotes on the page are cheesy, every once in a while I read one that speaks to me in the most powerful way. Cue this quote on my newsfeed this morning:

The vibrant red was like an alarm. It burned my eyes as I read it: "The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to quiet the mind." Talk about a wake up call.

Although I'm usually a big fan of analyzing everything and then analyzing that analysis, as I read these sentences I knew it was time to tell my thoughts to shut up. Maybe I don't need to "process" every little thing that I feel. Maybe sometimes it's better to just let things go, push past them, and allow myself to be present.

So I did. I committed today to quieting my mind. And honestly, I don't think I've had a more productive day since before Blake died. I wrote two papers, worked on a project, and studied for a midterm. I focused completely on the tasks at hand and channeled all of my thoughts towards them. Whenever my mind started to wander, I silenced it. Not today, today I was in control.

But now, as I lie in bed, I'm up to my usual nightly reflection. I feel good about how I went about my day today, but also somewhat bothered. I'm starting to think that I misread the quote and interpreted it in a helpful, but incomplete way.

After looking at it again, I do feel like I was true to the meaning of quote today. I stopped letting my thoughts distract me so I could get important things done. This must have been what my soul needed today to start regaining a sense of normalcy. But other days? Maybe a quiet mind will lead me down a path of reflection, introspection, action, confrontation, or inquisition. A quiet mind doesn't always mean ignoring or suppressing my thoughts, it just means giving myself a pause to figure out what my soul is telling me it needs.

If I give myself a chance to clear my head, I believe that I will always know what's best for me. What I need will look different every day, so it's important that I give myself a daily space for checking in. By quieting my mind, I can listen to the wisdom that's already inside of me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Being a Passenger

Some days are beautiful.

There are inevitable moments of stress, loneliness, and sadness, but there is a larger sense of calm. Even while enduring daily struggles, there is an underlying notion that everything is going to be ok. That you are going to be ok.

The beauty in these days isn't in their perfection, but acceptance of their imperfection. There is a release of control because you realize you aren't in control anyway. Although you have the power to change a situation by your interpretation of it, what happens and how it happens is not up to you. This is confusing, frustrating, and annoying, but it is what it is. Sometimes you are just a passenger.

Today was beautiful.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Another Full Day in Bed


When I try to describe how it feels when I wake up and want to quit the day before it even starts, the best word for it is paralyzed. Completely and utterly paralyzed.

This morning I tried to craft a text explaining to my partner that I couldn't come in to work today because there was no way to compel my body to move. How do you even describe that to someone? I attempted to illustrate it the best I could to help her understand, but who knows if she did. I hoped she didn't hate me for burdening her; I sincerely felt awful for not coming in. But I didn't even wait for her reply. I just closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep.

There is no way to wrap your mind around how the body can just reject directions from the brain if you haven't experienced it yourself. Until Blake died, I had always taken for granted the automatic nature of the mind-body connection. If you want to pick something up, your brain tells your hand to reach, open, close, and lift. Simply because your brain sends the signal, your body reacts accordingly. But not when you're paralyzed.

I don't want to be insulting to people who actually have medically diagnosed paralysis, but I do believe grief and depression can legitimately have similar (but transient) effects. This morning my brain feverishly sent signals to my legs, but they refused to move. It tried again with my arms, but they lay limp under the covers. After working on overdrive sending signals and screaming at my body about why we needed to get our shit together and GET UP, my brain finally accepted that it lost. I remained in bed the rest of today.

Instead of beating myself up over this, I can only kindly ask myself why? This feeling of being paralyzed hasn't taken me over since the weeks immediately following Blake's death. What I experienced on my birthday yesterday and again today jolted me back to that black hole I was in before. It was terrifying to re-experience that crippling, but indifferent sense of mental defeat when I thought I put behind me. Why was this happening again?

I honestly don't know why. What I do know is that I need to develop better strategies to help myself if this happens again. There are only so many times that a text about my "paralysis" will be accepted and unpunished by a person who was counting on me. Because the reality of the situation is I'm not paralyzed. Even though sometimes it feels that way, my body has full ability to function in whatever way I want it to. I guess what I need to work on  now is truly wanting it to.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ruining My Own Birthday

It started this morning as the messages from well-meaning friends rolled in telling me "Happy birthday. I hope it's the best!" and "Happy birthday, I hope you're doing great!" and the worst "Happy birthday, I hope all of your wishes come true!" I thought to myself that clearly it's not going to be "the best." It's very obvious that I'm not "doing great!" And how could all of my wishes come true when no wish can bring Blake back? Did people somehow think that just because it's my birthday that my life would magically get better? If anything, today being my birthday put more pressure on me to feel happy when I. Just. Don't.

I started getting mad at everyone. How dare they wish me happy birthday like it could actually be a happy birthday. I'm not sure what I'd rather them write to me though. Maybe I didn't want them to write anything at all. I just wanted this day to disappear. I just wanted to disappear.

After I allowed myself to fume for a while, I started seeing things from a different perspective. Of all the million other things these people had to do today, they decided to take the time to write or call me. When they didn't have to, they made the effort to let me know I was on their mind. I realized it didn't matter what they said, it was the act itself that was special. So from that moment on, I made the decision to respond to each and every message with gratitude and appreciation.

I let this consume me for the entirety of today. I became very obsessed with making sure that everyone knew how much it meant to me to get their message and how grateful I was to have them in my life. I spent so much time doing this that I forgot that the day was supposed to be about enjoying myself. But I didn't want to enjoy myself. I used gluing myself to the computer as a way to avoid all of that.

My dad happened to be in town for business, so he took me out to dinner for my first and only meal of the day. I shoveled burrito into my mouth as I cried to him about how much I hated this day and wanted it to end. I had a class at seven I was supposed to go to, but decided I couldn't let my classmates see me like this. They would want a happy, smiley birthday girl... the kind of birthday girl that I just wasn't able to be for them today.

I missed the cake that they bought to surprise me with. It was pink and perfect and most importantly, purchased with so much thought and love. They sent me a picture of the cake, a video of them singing happy birthday to me, and reassuring messages that they understood why I wasn't there. I cried more. Why couldn't I just be normal and let myself have a happy birthday?

I don't think there has ever been a lonelier 24 hours in my whole life. The worst part is they didn't have to be that way, I made them that way. It's nobody's fault but mine that I chose to be distastefully detached from my own birthday. I have never been more relieved for a day to be over. Thank God for October 11th.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Connecting With Blake

Sometimes at night, when I lay perfectly still, the wheels in my brain stop spinning. The incessant and ever-present buzzing in my mind takes a pause. Instead of a million thoughts racing around, bouncing off of each other, crashing, and colliding, there is peace.

I become hyper aware of my breathing. My lungs swell and my chest rises, my lungs deflate, my chest falls. Air streams into my nose and swirls ever so softly inside of it. I feel a burst of coolness before it leaves to return to the outside. This repeats over and over and over again. Rhythmic... Even... Stable...

Gradually my body gets heavier, but I acclimate to its weight in the most effortless way. My bones settle quietly within my skin as I slowly melt into my bed. I sink into the mattress almost as if I was meant to be part of it my entire life. I grow roots into where I lie.

My mind is finally calm enough, my breathing steady enough, body still enough, to feel Blake. Although tears well up and leak out through the bottom of my shut eyelids, I am not sad. I am not only happy, but complete.

Sometimes I see Blake and sometimes I just hear his voice. But the way he looks or the things he says are never the important parts of this experience. The most spiritual, emotional, moving piece is how my heart feels. In those brief, but incredible moments there is no hole inside of it. The constant ache that has become as much a part of me as the blood that flows through my veins, disappears. I am who I am, but bigger, myself, but stronger, me, but absolutely and positively whole.

He leaves me, but his kiss lingers on my lips. Although goose bumps cover every inch of my skin, I am the farthest thing from cold. The warmth of his embrace cloaks me like a security blanket. The ripples in the sound waves he caused with his voice act as a soothing lullaby. I drift comfortably into sleep knowing that's where he's waiting for me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why I'm Starting Therapy

Whenever the subject of Blake's death is awkwardly broached, nine times out of ten people tell me they were originally afraid to bring it up. One reason is that they see me doing well and don't want to shove me back into a dark place. They think it will remind me of the tragedy when it looks like I am finally pushing past it. Another very significant fear of discussing my grief has nothing to do with me. Although to me this pain is all too familiar, it can be uncomfortable and unnerving for other people to hear about. Instead of being fearful of sending me down a dark path by bringing it up, they themselves don't want to be dragged along. Letting me go into detail about how I feel can be detrimental to them.

As time passes, it feels decreasingly acceptable to avoid work, cancel plans, shut myself in my room, cry uncontrollably, reminisce longingly, or desperately pray for ways to feel connected to Blake. That doesn't mean I don't do all of those things, because I absolutely still do. But rather, as time goes on I have gotten better at keeping them from other people. After four months, I feel that my friends' and family's patience with my all-consuming grief must be diminishing. Instead of testing their limits, I choose to share selectively or not at all.

Although it may seem like I'm letting it all out in conversations with close friends and family, there is not a single person who knows even the half of how I'm feeling. One part of that has to do with protecting myself from judgment and the other has to do with shielding everyone else from how scary my mind can be. Writing has given me a little more freedom from this, but lacks the element of human connection. The process of writing out how I feel is cathartic in itself, but sometimes leaves me lonely, wondering if anyone is reading it or even cares.

This is why I'm starting therapy. I finally found a therapist who specializes in traumatic deaths and am in the process of making an appointment for this week. I am confident that until now I wasn't at a place where this method of coping was best for me, so I am not ashamed that it took this long to take this step. I believe that I needed to struggle, lean on friends, and explore support group settings in order to get to a place where I know what I need and what I don't. In this time I've done the background work of really figuring out what I want to get from therapy. Now, I can go into it with both self-awareness and purpose.

Although I will continue to confide in my friends and family and process through writing, therapy can be the extra piece that ties everything together. Therapy can be an outlet to get all of my feelings out so I'm not walking around carrying their weight, the space to talk about my scariest thoughts that I would never want to burden friends with, and the tool to help me work on myself in a way that I've been unable to do on my own.

With strength from Blake and a whole lot of my own, I'm ready.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Half of My Heart (A Dream)

I just woke up from a terrible dream:

I was at the reception of my wedding. It was absolutely gorgeous and everyone I love was there. I spent the whole time going from table to table, making sure everyone was having fun, laughing, taking pictures with friends, and accepting congratulations. I didn't stop smiling for a second.

As the party was winding down, I went over to the corner where my father was standing. After I gave him a big hug and thanked him for such a beautiful day, he asked if I thought it was weird that I didn't spend any time with my husband tonight. ...I hadn't even realized.

I looked over and saw him standing with his back against a wall with the saddest look on his face. I rushed over and he immediately started crying and screaming at me. I begged him to stay quiet so we could talk somewhere else, but he kept saying everyone was already talking about it anyway. They were all saying, "Poor guy! What kind of life did he just get himself into? How can she love him with half of a heart?"

I wanted so badly to calm him down by telling him something reassuring. But I didn't. I couldn't. I just stared blankly. All I felt for him was pity.

And then I woke up.

What scared me (and caused me to originally post this without an interpretation) was my first instinct upon waking up. I panicked, thinking that this nightmare must be foreshadowing my actual wedding day. It was telling me that I will live the rest of my life with only half a heart, unable to give any man the life and love he deserves. There I was, ruining this poor man's life by trying to trick him, our families, and myself into thinking I could commit to him. But deep down we both knew I would never fully be able to do that.

I've said many times that I know it's better for me to be alone for a long time because "I feel bad for any guy who tries to date me now." I think this is partially because I realize how broken I am at the moment, but also because it would be an unfair position for anyone to be in. He would be signing up to compete with a man that I'm still in love with and have no way to ever get real closure on our relationship. As far as I'm concerned, if Blake was alive we'd still be dating and very much in love right now. How can I begin to consider anyone else as a potential partner when I know that to be true?

But maybe this dream was more of a warning, rather than a peek into my future. Maybe it was to remind me that I can't be in a healthy, lasting relationship if I go into it only giving the man half of my heart. If I am still thinking of Blake and wishing he was the one next to me, then I'll spend the whole relationship ignoring the man in front of me, like I did at the wedding in my dream.

I am going to take this as a gentle reminder to take care of myself. Since I still feel like I'm in a relationship with Blake, then that is my reality. To push myself to do anything that contradicts that reality would be harmful to everyone involved. I have faith that eventually I'll be in a different place, but for now I need to start figuring out how I can begin to carry both halves of my heart.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Every Negative Has a Positive

When someone dies of an overdose there is no right way to take that news. Do you feel pity? Disgust? Shame? Guilt? Or do you just decide it's too uncomfortable and try not to think about it at all? It would be a lie to say that someone passing away from drug related causes has no barring on how you look back on their life. Although it's not his whole story, how Blake struggled in life and what took him in death are integral parts of it. To ignore these aspects of him would mean missing out on the invaluable messages we can take from them.

Although Blake's addiction and death are both ugly parts of him to think about, I choose to remember everything about him. I wouldn't call it "the good and the bad," but there were obviously facets that shined brighter than others. Regardless, I've grown to love all of them even though some pieces are sparkly and others dark. To me, that's what true love is. When you decline to acknowledge an aspect of Blake or focus solely on another, you don't do him justice. He was the sum of all parts of him. Every piece is both a blessing and a lesson.

It crushes me to think of someone judging Blake's character because of his addiction or the fact that he overdosed. Yes, these are valid parts of him and yes, I would like to pretend they didn't exist. It would be easier to deny them or tuck them away in a mental vault and throw away the key. But every day I make a conscious decision not to. It's challenging to think about these things positively, but I strive to see them not as degradations of who he was, but as a legacy of hope for others. If sharing any part of his life or my coping with his death speaks to someone and helps them, then I know that even the darkest pieces of him can become a gift.

Although Blake was far from a saint, he was an incredible man who taught me lessons that I'll never forget. The best one was that in every negative there is always a positive. The key is not to forget the bad things, but instead process them in a way that exposes the pearl of wisdom that lies within. To say abusing drugs and dying from them is an awful fate would be a gross understatement. But we can learn a lot from both how he excelled and his downfalls, how he lived and the way that he died. If we give the negatives a chance to show their positives, we can come to appreciate Blake's entire story and all of the messages it delivers.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Blue Heart

Somewhere in my darkest moments of searching for strength, I rediscovered the word resilience. For me, resilience meant acknowledging the weight in my heart and committing to fight each day by carrying it with respect. This pledge of resilience was sparked by a quote that I found: "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'" I posted a picture of it on my Instagram with a caption that read "Resilience" followed by a blue heart and a bear.

The bear was a pretty straightforward choice because Bear was a name that I called Blake. The blue heart was chosen mainly because I remembered Blake telling me that his best friends from high school used to call him Blue. I'm pretty sure he got this nickname simply because he liked to wear a lot of blue clothing (high school boys are so creative). I also chose a blue heart because it didn't feel right to use a cheerful pink heart when mine felt so sad. I chose blue because it reflected the sadness of loss. And from that point forward, all of my Instagrams about Blake included the little blue heart emoji.

(Fast forward to a couple months later) As I shared in the post about Blake's birthday, I had a really hard time figuring out what to say to him as I sat at his grave. For several minutes I stared at the assortment of sand, shells, and sea glass that Blake's mom had offered me to give to him as a present. While zoning out, one of the dark blue pieces of sea glass caught my eye. I picked it up and noticed that it was almost heart shaped. I squeezed it tightly in the palm of my hand, brought it up to my heart, and sent a message to Blake. Finding the heart gave me the inspiration I needed to connect with him. 

After I finished, I looked over the piece of blue sea glass again and realized that it was almost the exact same size and shape as the heart already engraved on Blake's headstone. When Blake's mom and Nana came back over, I told them the story and showed how it matched up perfectly. Blake's mom thought that this must be a sign and encouraged me to get super glue to affix the sea glass to his headstone. Now the blue heart is a permanent part of it.

As I was reflecting on this meaningful moment after I got home from Blake's birthday weekend, I decided that I wanted to get a piece of jewelry with what had now become a very significant blue heart. Not only was the blue heart something I had been using all along in the captions of my pictures of Blake, but now a blue heart in the form of sea glass had popped out at me and helped me find the strength to deliver Blake a birthday message at his grave. On top of all of that, while I was searching for jewelry with blue stones, I discovered that the blue sapphire is the birthstone of September, the month Blake was born in. It was all too serendipitous and perfect.

The blue heart necklace I ordered arrived in the mail yesterday. When I wear it, I will think about the different blue hearts that have become part of my life thanks to Blake. I will think of Blake's best friends, who gave him the nickname Blue that inspired the little blue heart emoji in all of my pictures. 
I will think of his family, who generously allowed the blue heart shaped sea glass to become part of his headstone in the same way they have lovingly taken me in. And I will undoubtably think of the loss of my true love, Blake, whom I will carry with me forever inside of my own blue heart. 

But most importantly, when I wear this blue heart I will think about resilience, the word I vowed to live by when my connection with the blue heart first began. The blue heart will remind me that courage doesn't always roar. Resilience is not about bouncing back immediately with smiles and positivity. Sometimes bravery is a quieter determination, slow, but with consistent resolve to always try again tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Focusing on Me

Every year I start my birthday countdown over a month in advance. I mark off each day with anticipation, thinking about what I'll do, who I'll spend it with, and how much cheesecake I'm going to consume. But this time I was blindsided. When I saw that the date today is October 1st I realized my birthday is less than ten days away and I didn't even care. If fact, I was dreading it.

I thought back to only two weeks ago when it was Blake's birthday. I started planning three months ahead for my drive out to Arizona for that weekend. I wanted everything about that day to be perfect for him. The flowers, the gifts, the cemetery visits, everything. Even though I knew I couldn't spend Blake's birthday with him, I thought incessantly about how I could feel as connected to him as possible during that time.

Looking back on the amount of energy I put into Blake's birthday makes me feel strange about the attitude I have towards my own. But this stark contrast isn't only about birthdays. Actually, it's not about birthdays at all. The opposite reaction to my birthday only stands as a reflection of a bigger problem: in letting myself be consumed by mourning Blake, I have pushed my own needs aside.

Since Blake died, I feel incompetent at taking proper care of myself. Most days I'm just grateful that I got my body out of bed, so what that body looks like doesn't seem as consequential. This means wearing glasses every day, no make up, and ragged hair piled messily on the top of my head. But this apathy isn't limited to just the superficial care. I also find myself choosing to ignore basic practices that keep me healthy. Eating well, sleeping, exercising, and time with friends are all casualties added to the list of things that no longer command my attention. It's nearly impossible to focus on myself when my mind is working at full capacity ruminating about Blake.

So as crass as this may sound, I need to remember that I am the one who is still alive, not him. I am the one who still has the ability to learn, go on adventures, meet new friends, and have birthdays that serve as more than just a day of remembrance of the life I once had with the people I once shared it with.

Gradually I need to shift my focus back on to me, my health, and my future. Although it's going to take time to learn to prioritize my personal needs over my preoccupation with Blake, I am going to take the first step by starting with my birthday. I will take back the happiness associated with one of my favorite days of the year and reclaim it for myself. Because I am alive, and that is reason enough to celebrate. My birthday this year will be all about appreciating my life, the people who are a part of it, and creating new memories with them.

And cheesecake, lots and lots of cheesecake.