Friday, February 28, 2014

Picture Perfect

My William Blake,
I wasn't going to write this directly to you, but it seems like the only way to do it. Any other way would feel like I'm talking badly about you behind your back. But I'm not. I don't want you to think of it that way, so I'm going to say this directly to you. I want to own these words and I want to do so without guilt. 

A few months back, I read a quote about how in the eyes of loved ones, even sinners becomes saints after they die. I'm not a fan of giving someone the label "sinner" or "saint" because I don't believe people can fall neatly into one category or the other, but that idea stuck with me. I wanted so badly to remember only the good things about you and about us that I made you into a saint in my mind.

You were an incredible man, but you weren't perfect. We had a real and special love, but it wasn't perfect either. Nothing in life is perfect. But in death, it can be remembered that way.

It's not that I rewrote history, I just filtered it in the best possible light. Ignoring some cracks and retouching some blemishes, I made the picture of us that I hung on the halls of my mind: perfect. A picture perfect love with the world's most picture perfect guy. Whether I was intentionally doing that or not, it didn't feel harmful. It just felt like I was honoring you. 

But what I didn't realize was that I was setting myself up for a life filled with unfair comparisons. Atop the high pedestal I placed you on, you sparkled like an illusive dream. No other guy would ever be able to compare to the picture perfect image I had of you in my mind. You couldn't even compare to that image.

I didn't write all of this to put you down. From the very beginning I cautioned well-intentioned friends away from doing that. In my eyes, moving on will never come from making you less than you were to me or diminishing what we shared. What you were and what we had was beautiful- unedited, unfiltered. But what I must remember is that what it wasn't, was perfect.

Nothing in life is perfect, but in death it can be remembered that way. 

So now, I want to take you down from your pedestal and see the image of us as we really were. I'll take the cracked-glass, blemished-faced picture of our love story and hang that in the halls of my mind. Because what was real may have been flawed, but it was something I'll always cherish. And putting it all in perspective will allow me to see the present not as a second-rate version of what could have been, but as an opportunity for another flawed, but perfectly imperfect love story. 

I Love You Imperfectly,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Evolution of X

June 24, 2013, a little less than a month after Blake's death, I started this blog to give myself "X amount of time" every day to grieve. After asking the advice of a friend who lost his father, I created this space to spend that designated time writing. In my small piece of the internet, I could spill, organize, and share my thoughts. "X Amount of Time" was meant to help me sit with what was in my head, focus it, and then get it out. To help me make sense of my grief so that I could move forward.

Technically "X" denotes the unknown. However, I went into this thinking "X amount of time" meant confining my grieving to an hour or so a day. But in actuality, X stood for 24 hours. If there were 72 hours in a day, that X would've stood for 72. X was all consuming. Even when I wasn't sitting down to write in my blog, I was thinking about it, rereading it, connecting with people through it. I couldn't give myself x amount of time, because grieving was my full time job.

As soon as I realized this, I decided that the "X" didn't mean hours in a day, but instead it stood for months. My "X amount of time" would be how many months I was going to need to keep writing. I told myself that I would stop adding entries when I didn't need this space anymore. Eventually, I would phase out my blog and move on with my life. October: 21 posts, November: 17, December: 12, January: 7. As I saw myself writing less and less frequently, I figured February would be the end. My "X amount of time" would be over, and my new life would begin.

But something inside me had a problem with that kind of thinking. As I started asking myself why I felt the need to stop writing, I realized that there was really no reason besides that I felt awkward about keeping this going for so long. Awkward in the sense that I felt like people might think it was pathetic. It's been almost nine months, did I really need to write about it anymore? Shouldn't I be ok enough now to stop thinking about this?

This morning I realized that "X amount of time" isn't about trying to restrict myself. Saying, "I'm only giving myself one hour to be upset today and then I have to stop thinking about the loss," or, "After nine months of this I have to move on." Instead, X amount of time is about reminding myself. Reminding myself that even though life goes on and I've entered a state of normalcy, I still deserve to give myself that hour or two every day, or every other day, or once a week. Whenever I need it. Anytime I feel the need to spill, organize, and share my thoughts, I have this blog and "X amount of time" that day to do so.

X denotes the unknown. I don't know how long or when I'll feel the urge to share the thoughts inside my head about Blake's death and how it continues to affect me. I don't know if the number beside February will have three entries or 30. I don't know if there will be a March 2014 or a March 2015. I don't know. But what I do know is I have faith that I'm going to be ok, regardless of what happens to this blog. Because I trust in myself and I trust in my ability to give myself "X amount of time."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Relapsing on Sadness

Maybe sadness became my drug.
I wanted it. I craved it. Even when it hurt me, distanced me from everything I loved, I ran to it. Wrapped myself in it. Hid inside of it.

I don't know much about addiction besides what I've read in books, studied, assumed, but I'd imagine it feels a lot like this. Knowing something isn't healthy, but yearning for it anyway. Feeling like you are choosing it, when really it has chosen you. 
And you can't do anything about it. 
Or maybe you don't want to.

I know I didn't want to. I loved my sadness. For months I woke up and consciously chose it. I chose it like I had the choice. I closed my eyes to the morning sun and told myself, "Today, I choose sadness." And so it was. Months blurred together in a haze of false control.

But I reached a point where I didn't want it anymore. I saw my island. I saw how cut-off I was from the word and realized that I was responsible for the flood that left me detached. I acknowledged the water, but was too afraid to look in its reflective surface. Yes, sadness was in control, but what now? What could I possibly do?

I had to start believing in something bigger than myself. Bigger than sadness. 
Hope. Faith. The possibility of the impossible. That maybe I was going to be ok. Better even. These thoughts seemed crazy, but just crazy enough to be true. And in this new state of serenity, I started believing in a life without sadness. A life where I didn't want it, or crave it. Where I wasn't wrapped inside it, or hiding within it. Not hurt or running, but stable, safe, and connected with everything I love. 

But then there are nights like tonight when I feel like I'm relapsing on sadness. I try to remind myself of the beautiful words I've etched into my heart like hope and faith, but they aren't as shiny as they usually are. They mock me, laugh at me, make me wonder why I ever thought such pretty words were true. It all feels like an illusion. The only thing that feels real is the sadness that's crept it's way back into my life. Flowing through my veins as if it never left my body.

Maybe I'm an addict 
and sadness is my drug. 

Although I don't know much about addiction besides what I've read in books, studied, and assumed, I do know that recovery lasts a lifetime. I will always be recovering. 
But the difference now is that I believe in something bigger than myself, bigger than sadness. 
The possibility of impossible
A belief in something better. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Facebook Relationship Statuses After Death: Part 2

Back at the end of September, I wrote a post about my Facebook relationship status. In the kind of world we live in today, how you present yourself on social media seems to be inextricably linked with who you are. Which is why after Blake died, it felt impossible for me to change my relationship status back to "single." I wasn't ready for people to see me as single and I most definitely didn't feel like my relationship with Blake was over. So, even after uncomfortable inquires about it from friends, I kept "In a relationship with Blake Norvell" on my profile.

At first when people asked me about it, I would tell them, "I don't want to change it because I'm still in a relationship with Blake," or "Blake is still my boyfriend." Although this didn't seem weird to me, I could tell that it left some people worried about my mental stability. But I told myself it was alright, they didn't have to understand. They could never really understand anyway.

But in the last month or so, I noticed that my answer to this question started to change. When asked about why it still said I was in a relationship with Blake, I explained that seeing it on my profile made me happy. Plus, it gave me a quick shortcut to click his name and go straight to his page whenever I wanted to look at old pictures or see if anyone wrote to him. "Besides", I always added, "it's not like I am dating anyone else. If I get to that point with someone, I'll change it out of respect for him. But until then, if it doesn't matter to anyone else why bother updating it?"

If you've looked on my Facebook profile in the last week, you might have noticed that I no longer have a relationship status. That's because I finally made the decision to hide it from everyone but me. When I look at my profile it says "in a relationship with Blake Norvell," but to everyone else it says nothing. Did I do this because I don't feel like Blake is my boyfriend anymore? No. Did I do it out of respect for another guy? No, again. So why did I do it?

Immediately after Blake's death, I was hit with crippling insecurity. I wanted so desperately to prove that he was the man I always thought he was and that our relationship was real, that I over compensated. I didn't want Blake to be seen as just some tragic overdose story, so I illustrated his compassion and character to anyone who would listen. And I didn't want myself to be looked at as some unfortunate, naive girl, so I detailed our love story in an effort to show everyone how real it was, despite the circumstances. I didn't want anyone to think I was embarrassed of him or our relationship. I wore our relationship with defiant pride. No one could make me believe less about him; his struggle was indisputable, but his heart was always pure. But to be completely honest, I think I was doing all of this more in an effort to prove it to myself than to anyone else.

But now, I'm at a stage where I'm internalizing my love and connection with Blake. I finally feel like I have nothing to prove to anyone- not even to myself. The last part of that sentence is even more important than the first, because I believe it is the key reason why I don't need the relationship status to validate anything. I am happy with my moments with Blake and don't need the world to know about them. Of course I'm still an open book, and sharing all of myself is part of my personality, but I do so now without the agenda of battling insecurity.