It’s easy to preach about living in the moment when we’re numbing out or avoiding reality.
When we create false moments through parties, drinking, shopping, drugs, food, gossip, social media, etc. In order to avoid our feelings about our actual reality, it’s so very easy to tell ourself that we live in the moment.
I was numb for a very long time. So numb that I had to seek outside sources of pleasure for myself in order to remind myself that I even had feelings at all. I was not totally dead inside yet, but my soul definitely slipped in and out of a coma-like state for a while.
Pain and trauma do that to a human. Our bodies are hard wired to shut it all down and encase the tender parts of us with iron clad armor.
*Note: before you tell yourself that you haven’t experienced pain or trauma, I challenge you to look honestly at your life. And the truth of it. It may not have been a tragedy that made headlines, but most trauma is quieter than that. It’s quieter than the word itself. So quiet that we tell ourselves it was nothing, dismissing our tender feelings and opting to suit up with the armor instead.
The thing no one could ever truly convey about healing, because you have to live it to know it, is that it gets ugly. The mind and body will literally battle the soul, clinging to the armor that protected the whole of the three so well, for so long.
Living in the moment, truly living in the moment, is actually brutal when you are recovering from something. Peeling off the armor, then removing the distractions that numb us is beyond uncomfortable. It is painful. The truth of our trauma is painful and forcing ourselves to feel it, is counter intuitive to our human nature to survive.
It takes patience and bravery to let the soul take over the mind and body like this… because the soul knows best; it also takes a type of self love that most of us are not nearly as used to giving ourselves as we should be.. (I’m sorry for that… because we all deserve to love ourself.)
If we can get here, if we can force our ourselves to peel away the armor, remove the distractions, look at the truth and feel it for as painful as it is, it will truly suck.
It will truly suck.
This process brings us to a breaking point, and just when we think we will break, we choose something better than the numbing distractions of the past. We call out to Him… and feel the relief.
There’s relief on the other side of that pain. There’s pain on the other side of that numbness. There’s bravery in venturing past those hurdles…. And there’s whole wide life to be lived on the other side of it all.
Remember, life is going to hit you hard with a lot of crappy stuff. Might as well live anyways.
Maybe you’ve kept so focused on being “nice”, understanding, polite…
Maybe you’ve let one too many wolves tell you they’re sheep.
Maybe some times you just didn’t know how to say “no” or “That doesn’t work for me.”
Maybe for years you’ve suppressed the darkest parts of yourself for fear of the capabilities. You’ve kept your boundaries written in erasable ink and far too many carry an eraser.
Jordan Peterson, a modern philosopher and Toronto professor, says that not having a dark side isn’t what makes you virtuous. It makes you just another thing to take care of. What gives us virtue is having a dark side and knowing how and when to use it.
There’s sheep, a vulnerable thing to take care of. There’s the wolf, a dark and predatory thing with bad intent. Then there’s the shepherd, who takes the care to tend to the sheep and will also shoot the wolf dead if needed.
There’s nothing wrong with your anger, your ‘no bullshit’ meter, your fire. They’re our internal alarm system telling us when a boundary has been crossed or needs to be readjusted. (If we’ve been violated or betrayed a lot in life, our alarm system will be much more sensitive, but that’s a different post for a different day.)
Say “that doesn’t work for me”
And watch who stays.
Watch who says you’ve changed and phases out of your life…
Chances are they were either sheep, preferring other sheep to do sheep shit with or … they were wolves, looking for an easy kill.
Judgmental people exist. It’s part of life, and many of us live in fear of the judgment of others.
However, it’s very rare, as an adult, that we experience judgment in a direct fashion. It usually comes as an undercutting comment or a question disguised as innocent curiosity or as encouragement… but intuition hints at contempt.
Widows know this hint well.
“Do you ever feel guilty for dating? “
“What do your kids think of the new baby?”
“You don’t have to feel guilty about falling in love again.”
As a widow personally speaking, I’ll just go ahead and take the time to answer this now.
I don’t feel guilty.
If I felt guilty, I probably shouldn’t be dating… How could I possibly have a healthy relationship with Mike if every time we did something that mattered, I felt guilty about it?
Answer: I couldn’t.
When we feel guilt, it is either warranted or not.
Sometimes, we feel guilt because we just should… Because we did something wrong or are doing something wrong or because we’re about to do something wrong.
Other times, we feel guilt that’s unwarranted for no reason at all. And when this is the case, we still shouldn’t be doing the thing we’re about to do… Why? Because we will likely sabotage it for ourselves because we feel undeserving.
When we feel guilty for no reason at all that’s an indication that there’s something internal that we need to explore. There’s healing to work through.
So do I feel guilty for meeting and falling in love with Mike and Myles? For getting the opportunity to carry and give birth to another beautiful baby?
No. I don’t.
That series of questions insinuates that my children and I don’t deserve the experience of loving and being loved by new people. Further, it also stems from an archaic notion that the grief we were tossed into is over once new love is introduced. I reject both of these ideals. One because it’s ridiculous to think that we don’t deserve love because we’ve experienced loss. Love is a blessing, and we will take all the blessings that we can get.
Guess what? I’m still in it here. I’m still working through missing Scott every day, especially the holidays. I’m still sad that I can’t share all of the good things that have happened for us with him. I can’t introduce him to Mike, Myles, or Lukas. He won’t see Sophie progress in cheerleading, clap for Lydia at her first home run, or seeing Jax on the ice as a goalie.
I still wipe their tears after a cemetery visit. I still answer hard questions and hold my daughter in her bed for as long as it takes because she just read her baby book and found a letter that I wrote to her back then, and she can’t understand why there’s not a letter in there from her dad.
“Where’s Dad’s letter?” She asks disappointed, near frantic, “everything’s in your hand writing, Mom.”
So I’m the person who tucks her in from something like that, heads upstairs and cries; because when I wrote that letter 12 years ago, there was so much love in my heart. And hope… so much hope for my infant daughter… that she would read it some day, as a teenager and know how loved she was… but here the time came, and instead all she could think was: where’s Daddy?
Never in my nightmares, did I ever think when pouring my heart into that beautiful letter, that it, along with so many other things, would be tainted…
So, yes, yes we will take some new, fresh, and pure love.
These are the types of things that I manage and help three children manage all of the time. The only difference now?
I have help.
We have a wonderful person who lives with us, loves us, supports us through living to the fullest and healthiest and supports us through our evolving grief.
Do I feel guilty for that?
No. And no person should feel guilty for living despite heartache and strife, widowed or not.
I felt guilt when I wasn’t able to get to my husband the minute I knew he was not safe.
I felt guilt I wasn’t able to bring him justice.
I felt guilt that I gave him so much shit when he was alive.
I felt guilt for not doing my part to make myself happy in our marriage, losing myself in a relationship, and putting the pressure on him to make “us” happy. Codependency at its finest.
I felt guilt for loathing traditions like balloon releases and leaving an empty chair at holidays.
I felt guilt that I relied on my kids too much, too early.
I felt guilty for living. Often.
I felt guilt when it was the wrong guy. Definitely.
But not any more and never….
Have I, for once, ever felt guilt for loving Mike.
The other day, we visited the cemetery so the kids could take time to talk to Scott about all that’s happened in their life. Jaxson brought his school stuff to show. The girls talked about the new baby.
Afterwards, there were tears (as there usually is), but the kids were conflicted.
“Mom, I miss Daddy but that means we wish away Mike, Myles, and Luke.” One cried (and another child later expressed similar feelings.)
They feel guilty. I thought. And for a split second, a combination of my empathy, and my own self doubt gave me the residuals of that guilt. I almost took it on.
Was I wrong? Did I curse them with internal conflict by moving forward and asking for more from life?
I quickly reminded myself that they’ve been given a gift. Forever feeling the loss of their father and cursed with grief, they’ve been given the opportunity to love and be loved. Again, here was another situation they needed my guidance on.
“You can feel both,” I said, “You don’t have to choose between hurting and missing Daddy and loving and enjoying our life now. You were made strong enough to handle both.”
And in order to coach my children on this, I have to believe it and live it out myself.
And I do. No guilt here. Just love. Because God made us strong enough to handle it all.
To you: Life is complicated, unpredictable, and really really hard anyway… might as well do what we want and live it. Big love, Meg
I recorded this 2 years ago before heading into a writer’s conference. It makes me cringe 😬
It also serves as a reminder to how much I’ve grown, how many times I get back up after failing, and how much life can change (for the bad and good)…
Don’t mind me while I indulge and reflect, take what works for you and leave the rest 🙂
2019 was truly the worst year of my life.
Yes, we had devastation in 2016 when I’d lose my husband to a car accident on his way home from work, all while he and I talked on the phone. I would spend 2017 and 2018 trying to rebuild, thinking I was close, but later learning that it was an illusion.
Once the trial came in 2019, nothing could’ve prepared me for what I would experience. A spiritual pain so real that it manifested itself physically in an instant. Agony. Right there in the court room, feeling every nerve in my body scream in pain and willing myself not to pass out.
Still, playing “tough guy”, after it was all over, I would insist that I was fine.
I was not fine.
I went on a war path.
I bleached all color from of my hair. (Screaming inside)
I jumped into a relationship with someone who ended up being not right for me and not what I stand for. (Screaming inside again.)
I remodeled my house, allowing someone to demolish walls in my basement and wreak complete havoc on my home.
I heavily drank, telling myself it was ok because it was only wine. My bills were paid. My kids were healthy. I’ve been through a lot and if I didn’t deserve to drink, who did? But that would get to be too much also.
I grew obsessed with becoming financially successful in real estate. A career that I once chose, as a single mom, in order to work my own schedule for my kids.. started to completely consume me. I was working 14 hour days showing houses, writing offers, driving everywhere, recording videos, sending marketing material. Losing sleep over transactions.
While I’d forgiven Daniel Tobey (yes, I have. Another blog for another day), I could not get over the callous ways of his defense team. I wanted them to see my face on a billboard and know that they didn’t “get to me”. My anger fueled my ambition, which wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t fueling me in the wrong direction.
And I have to admit that I still hope they remember Scott’s name forever. I hope they never forget my face in that courtroom, and some day, when my daughter, Sophia, who’s life’s mission is to become a judge, becomes one, I hope these attorneys have to stand before her, and oh, I hope she gives them Hell.
I digress though.
It all came crashing down in September 2019. After a series of very difficult events, I had something stop the record completely. Screech. Yet again.
Every belief that I’d ever had was shook. I think it’s what they call: a paradigm shift.
I was now upside down from my upside down, and it was only then that I realized I wasn’t healing as deeply as I needed to be.
I once wrote on my blog about building a beautiful castle (The Lonely Castle) around the hole in the land that was my heart; I didn’t realize that while building a castle is wonderful, admirable, and eventually necessary, some times we need to sink our fists, elbow deep into the soil and find our way to the other side of the earth, of our world that’s been flipped.
And while I won’t waiver from the need for mindset work, healing is not always as easy as a workout routine and positive affirmations. At some point, we have to get our hands dirty. Look at ourselves with honesty and ask what really needs to be done. Ask ourselves the questions we’ve been scared to say aloud.
One thing that I’ve realized is that when we finally decide to get honest with ourselves, God will literally move mountains to help. Two years ago, I was recording this video still very lost, trying to “come back”, but I still had so much dirty, gritty healing to do. So many questions I still needed to answer to myself. I wouldn’t know the rewards that were to come as a result of it all.
▪️2 years after this video (a turning in my healing journey),
▪️Almost 3 years after the trial,
▪️5 years after the tragic loss of Scott,
I am closer to my children, in a loving, healthy relationship to Mike, someone who continually surprises me with his depth of character; a step mom to Myles, and expecting a baby within weeks. 🤰
My anxiety and depression is balanced out. I’m not medicating. I respond instead of react. I am in the moment instead of somewhere else.
( And my hair is better too 🙂)
It’s amazing how life can change for the good just as fast as it does for the bad.
And while I fought God so hard on this for the last few years, I am ready to say that I am letting go of real estate. It doesn’t serve me. It wasn’t meant for me. I used it to fuel an unhealthy side of my heart, and it’s time to move on.
Life will have us white knuckle gripping the edge of a cliff. Sometimes it is for a moment. Sometimes it is for years. Just dangling and THINKING of ways we can get over this ledge. For me, my mind was determined to utilize real estate (and other things) to boost me up over it. God wants us to stop thinking and start praying. When we pray to God and are open to His answer, we realize that there’s no need to hold on to that cliff. Because maybe our feet are able to touch the ground the whole time? Or.. maybe we can fly?
So that’s why I am letting go 🦅
Thank you for reading this far!
Some of you have followed and supported me before our life became a local headline. Some of you right around that time. Some of you just started. And I am just ever so grateful for each of you. ❤️
I hope you all have lovely day, and if you feel compelled to, follow my blog and support me on social media (Click here for either)
➡️ Steven Spielberg was 2 grades behind his peers. Some of his administrators called him lazy.
➡️ Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet, Phillip Schultz, did not learn to read until he was 11 years old.
➡️ John Irving, author of Cider House Rules, which was later adapted into a movie, was dyslexic and in the remedial spelling group.
➡️ Science journalist, Garrett Cook, a Pulitzer Prize winner, cannot write by hand nor read aloud.
➡️ Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, presidential candidate, and U. S. Secretary of Housing and Urban development was considered the “dumbest” kid in his 5th grade class.
➡️ Helen Taussig, a leading pediatric cardiologist of the 21st century, was considered “mentally retarded” by some of her teachers.
➡️ Channing Tatum was in special education.
➡️ Diane Swonk, an economic advisor on the Federal Reserve board, does not know left from right, couldn’t memorize her times tables, add a column of numbers, or read a speech.
➡️ Charles Schwabb the CEO of the the largest brokerage firm in the U. S. flunked English twice and was dyslexic.
➡️ Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran graduated high school with a D average.
➡️ Billionaire Richard Branson was called stupid and lazy all of his life.
➡️ Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, lives with ADHD and was told he’d never be successful.
➡️ Vince Vaughn had learning disabilities throughout school and was in special education classes.
➡️ Screenwriter, inventor, professor, and one of Time Magazines 100 Most Influential people, Temple Grandin, has autism.
➡️ Robert Toth, a Smithsonian artist, failed 4th grade three times and didn’t learn to read until he was 12.
➡️ Tommy Hilfiger struggled with reading and writing in school.
➡️ Public motivational speaker and radio host, Les Brown, was called the “dumb twin” and deemed “uneducable” and “mentally retarded”.
➡️ Bram Cohen, founder of groundbreaking data sharing network: BitTorrent, has Asperger’s.
➡️ David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, has ADD and could not pass standardized testing in school.
➡️ Shark Tank’s Daymond John has dyslexia.
➡️ PGA Champion Golfer, John E. Morgan was bullied throughout his school age for his learning disabilities.
➡️ The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic had learning troubles in school.
➡️ David Goggins, ultra marathon runner and the only member of the U.S. armed forces ever to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, could barely read as a teenager.
➡️ The first athlete ever to win perfect 10s in a World Championship, 4 time gold medalist, Greg Louganis, was in special education.
➡️ Steve Jobs was dyslexic and dropped out of college.
What do these facts say to you?
💥 There is no mystery person without issues who’s better than you. The person you think of right now who seems to have it all, does not. 💥 Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s peak! You have no idea of their battles. 💥Life is not “me versus them”. It is “us vs the struggles” 💥 Do not ever let a single person, group, or system define you. 💥The world is designed to beat you into submission, forcing a resignation from you.
Don’t do it! Fight! ⚔️
You are capable of greatness. You bring value to this world as you are. Right now. Completely perfect.
While there are many forms of loss such as divorce, unemployment, estranged relatives, the death of another human being cannot be compared to any other experience on this earth. It is a totally unique experience. When it’s unexpected, there’s a whole other set of challenges that present themselves.
Everything is cyclical. You will have dark periods that cycle out and return, and with time and healing, the dark periods grow shorter. Do not expect them to disappear completely though. We loved that person; And it’s because we loved that person that there will always be sadness associated with their absence.
I’m not an expert (I don’t know who would want to be an expert in this). These are all things I’ve learned and observed through the last two years.
My long time friend and fellow writer, Trisha Lynn, and I did a FB Live this week to
discuss some ways we cope with the losses that we’ve experienced. (*to see a replay of this go to www.facebook.com/31MainStreet ) Here, I briefly recap those suggestions, as well as discuss some other tools that weren’t mentioned in our Facebook Live:
Music – PURPOSE: Creating new pathways and associations in your brain. Music can understand you in a way that people can’t some times. When talking to others who are grieving, I’ve noticed a commonality. A lot of us have songs or entire genres associated with our loved one. In the beginning, it can be painful to listen to a song that feels like it belongs to someone else who is no longer here. So until then, I highly recommend finding an artist or genre that you never considered before. It could be EDM, Classical, or Jazz. For me, there was a whole other world of music that I never knew about (*for more on this see my post: How Music Worked With Me this Year )
Journaling – PURPOSE: Our minds race. Thoughts can build up and intertwine with one another, binding us, making it impossible to function. Many times, our thoughts can get so tightly wound up. It can be hard to make a decision as simple as what to do first in our day, so we go back to bed. Journaling (first thing in the morning or last thing at night in particular) can be a wonderful tool to rid ourselves of the useless thoughts. There’s a book to reference for this. It’s called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the book, Cameron offers a means of decluttering one’s mind. She calls it “Brain Dump”, and I think that’s the perfect term. Get rid of all of the crap bouncing around in there, close your journal, and be one step closer to clarity.
Learning Something New – PURPOSE: Creating new neuro pathways within our brains. Learning something new will build your confidence in this foreign world. It will give you a sense of control that you feel you’ve lost. Some skills that I’ve learned over the past two years are real estate and shooting. Both of these areas have served different purposes for me personally, but the world is boundless with possible new careers, skills, or hobbies you could develop.
Reading – PURPOSE: This serves as a great escape from reality and can be incredibly comfortable and relaxing. It also serves another purpose. It goes along with the suggestion above: learning something new. I highly recommend reading books that feed you in a positive manner. Books like, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, come to my mind. As Olson states in his book, reading just 10 pages a day will still move you in a positive direction forward. This fosters both patience in the process of learning, and also, it’s effective in the absorption of content.
Faith – PURPOSE: It’s my ‘why’. The promise that I will be reunited with loved ones some day is what keeps me going. While I don’t push my beliefs on another, I will say that believing in something bigger than myself has gotten me through some extremely dark times. (If you ever want to have a respectful conversation about it separately, I’ll gladly discuss my beliefs.)
Exercise – PURPOSE: Get rid of toxins. The enzymes in a sad tear have a different make up than the enzymes in a happy tear. These are toxins being released. Exercise elevates the heart rate, getting blood cycling throughout your body, but also, helping you to literally sweat out bad feelings. There’s so much already written about this, and I invite you to research it on your own, but endorphins have been way more powerful in my life than any other outside substance.
Physiological Exercises: PURPOSE: These are calming activities done for severe panic disorders as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sudden death of a loved one brings trauma. Traumatic memories are stored differently than other memories. Our brain boxes them up tightly, so we can function in other aspects of our lives. The problem is that the mind takes this tightly packaged memory and puts it in the emotional section of our brain, so if we have a trigger, a stimulus that pops the top off of this memory, we experience the emotions as if the event is happening all over again. This is overwhelming. Here are some recommended activities that one can use to calm his or her self down from a panic situation. While Trisha and I explain it in the context of PTSD, it is applicable to many other situations. Parents use this for children with intense emotions or who may fall on the spectrum. With the demands of our world nowadays, these activities are beneficial to anyone who feels like they are overwhelmed with panic. The first step before any of these recommendations is to recognize the rising feeling of panic, then proceed with any of the following exercises…
The A-B-C Trick – Trisha explains this as first, choosing a category. The example she gives is “Animals”, but you could decide on any category (i.e. food, cars, TV shows). Once your category is selected, go through each letter of the alphabet and name an item within that category. So for Trisha’s category, “Animals”, one could say, “A – Alligator; B – Baracuda; C – Chamillion…” And so on. Do not stop until you’ve reached ‘Z’. Repeat as desired.
Shoulder Tapping – This was recommended to me by a fellow widower, who experienced intense trauma in his life. Here, the individual takes his or her arms and crosses them over their chest, each hand on his or her shoulders. Then, just lightly tap their shoulders with their hands, remaining silent while tapping. (I was also told that one could tap their own sinuses to alleviate stress. This is depicted in my blog: Panic Attacks: 5 Quick ‘In-the-Moment’ Exercises to Alleviate Them)
While I know most of these are fairly simple recommendations, I also know that adding them into your life, when you’re under mental stress and emotional pain, is easier said than done. Here, I reference the book “The Slight Edge” again. Jeff Olson, the writer, points out that this “…path can be uncomfortable…scary. Especially if you’re the only one around who’s on it.” He also continues on to say that, despite this, if we take small baby steps forward, we will see change. Positive change. Pick one small way to cope and take your first baby step, even if it’s itty bitty.