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Pockets of Grief

I have been working for the past month to get my dad packed and moved into his new place. Moving is one of the biggest stresses. It puts strain on every aspect of life – emotional, physical, and mental. But this move has an added dimension of stress.

My parents will officially be divorced on Friday, November 20th. The reason he is moving is because their shared home is sold and gone. I don’t think I’m able to wrap my brain around this fact yet. I can’t figure out how to reorganize my mind with the knowledge that our family is irrevocably broken and changed.

So, most days I try to ignore it. I tell myself that it’s ok. That we’re okay. That this is the truth and real. No longer can we hide behind our mask of what we thought a family was supposed to be. My mantras work most days. I get through the day. I feel positive about the future. I can approach it from the adult side of my mind.

But some days it doesn’t work. I find myself lost in the emotion pooled right beneath the surface.  Someday’s these pockets of emotions bring me to my knees.  Today was one of those days. Turns out living in the truth can be painful. Not to be melodramatic or anything. LOL.

I spent most of the day unpacking the kitchen. I came across a lot of dishes that have memories. A piece of the silverware from my parents wedding. The dishes my mom loved to put out at Christmas. A pan we’ve had since I was a kid. As I unpacked I could feel myself getting angry.

I was irritated that I was the one that had to do it. It should be my mom. She should be here doing it, but this isn’t her house. I don’t know if she’ll even come here. This made me sad. Trying to avoid these emotions I got really scattered and unable to focus.

Tonight I talked to my mom for a bit and just started crying. I don’t want this to be happening. I’m dreading the holidays. My mom is going to be with her family in Indiana. My brother is doing his own thing with his family. My dad will be going with his friends. I don’t know where to go because I want to be in three places at once. I want us to be together. But I can’t make that happen.

Last thanksgiving was great. We had a bunch of people over. We ate lots of yummy food and played a ton of board games. It was a good day. Lots of laughter. It was easy. It was fun. I wish I had known it was the last one. I would go back and take more mental snapshots of the small moments. I’d relish the fact that we were all together. Now we’re just awkward, distant and unconnected.

Now that I’ve had a cry I can put it back away for a bit. I can move on and get back to unpacking the kitchen. I will again tell myself that we’re okay. That this is the truth and that we will move on.

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The Power of Story

Who doesn’t love a good story? The love, the fight, the drama, the comedy. It’s why we go to the movies. It’s why we read book. It is what transports us to another time and place. We are inspired, horrified, scared, captivated and engaged.

All the while we are writing our own story, full of the same emotions, plot points and events. Yet there are so many elements of our lives we keep hidden. We’re afraid we’re the only ones. We’re worried about being judged. We’re ashamed of what happened to us or what we’ve done.

Yet my old pastor always said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” It makes a world of difference as soon as we begin to give voice to what is happening to us, what we’ve been through and how we are feeling. It empties out brain space. It frees up our heart to move on, so we don’t get stuck in the mire of our circumstance.

This is in part why I chose to blog. Some write stories. Some sing songs. Others write poetry, paint or play an instrument. Anything is better than being silent. Anything is better that being alone. Anything is better than quiet surrender. We have to fight for ourselves. We have to shout, in a way that is healthy, so we can be set free.

My friend Jenn is choosing to give voice to her story of breast cancer. At 34 she is facing a stage three diagnosis, a mastectomy, chemo, losing her hair and fighting for her life all within about a week. To reach out for support and keep those who love her updated on her progress she is blogging through it. I am amazed at her strength, resilience, faith and the joy in her journey so far. I know there isn’t much I can do but pray and her blog helps me do that more specifically.

We are also part of a bigger story that God is telling through us. All of our stories overlap and interact with others. We are not alone. We are part of a huge family. In that there is comfort, encouragement and faith. In the midst of pain it is easy to burrow inward. It is easy to become destructive or self-sabotage. But having the courage to speak out means that we can be held accountable, someone can give reason to our voices of insanity. Or in some cases someone to just give us a hug and tell us to hang on.

I think my friend Erika is right in that we are all a beacon of hope for someone who isn’t as far in their story as we are. We get to lead the way for someone, if we let ourselves speak of what God has done, how he has provided, how he has healed, how he has disciplined and even through how we suffered.

It’s easy for me to forget these things. I want to shut down. I want to block out. I have done that a bit over the last few months. The pain of my parent’s divorce was just too fresh. The death of our family unit was overwhelming. I was fighting out of wallowing in it. I was trying to help my parents. I was trying to be there for my brother. I didn’t know how to be there for myself. I just slipped into survival mode.

I am so grateful for those friends that have kept me sane. I am so blessed with their love, joy, distractions, prayers, encouragement and support. They have made this time of pain tolerable. There have been moments when I didn’t want to talk to God. I was angry at him, yet I knew that I was getting his voice through them. They kept speaking truth. They kept speaking love.

As I come out of the shock and denial of what is happening I can finally begin to give voice to everything. I am starting to process out what it all means to me. I learning how to have a different kind of relationship with my parents and my brother.

It’s all a process.