Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Dark Passenger

People, life is hard.  It's beautiful, but it's hard and messy.  And sometimes, even when nothing's going on, it's hard.

I wrote my last post about finding more time for myself and my friends.  And I'm happy to report that I have a girl date tomorrow!  Yes, SIL1 and I are going out for some fine food and drink, and more importantly, some much needed girlie conversation.  We are both in homes filled with men, so it's very necessary to connect once in a while, so we don't forget why we like being girls.  I'm really looking forward to it.  It's been way too long.  Seriously.  We live within 30 minutes from each other (which is saying something, since I pretty much live that far from anyone), she's married to my brother, her kids are two of my favorite people in the universe, and I LOVE hanging out with her.  So it's ridiculous that we don't get together at LEAST once a month.  But like I said in my last post, life gets away from all of us sometimes.

But in the last few months, I've been slowly realizing that I'm in a dump.  It's been creeping up on me slowly, and I have not been very aware of it, since I have been busying myself with kids, basement, dog, cleaning, and whatever else.  Laundry and my ever-important TV shows.  So here I am.  In this mental darkness, and I need to climb out if it. 

I have been completely letting myself hide.  From everything and everyone.  I don't even look in a mirror, if I can avoid it.  If you watch Dexter (yes, I watch too much TV), it's sort of like my own Dark Passenger. I lost my dad this fall.  I don't talk about it.  I don't write about it.  I have such conflicted emotions about the whole thing, and really, I know I haven't let myself deal with any of them.  So right here, with my fingers doing the talking so my mouth doesn't have to, I'm going to list my emotions about that.  Maybe that will help me come out of my darkness.

I am sad.  I am sad that I have lost my dad, my father, the man who helped to raise me.  I am at an age where I am certainly not alone in this loss, but it is a sad fact that my dad is no longer here on earth.  I cannot sit across a table from him.  I can't hear his voice in the room at family gatherings.  I can't shop for him for his birthday or Christmas.  I am sad that my kids no longer have him here to be their Papa.  

I am sad for my mom.  I know she aches for him, she feels alone, she struggles sometimes.  She hates to eat alone, and she has to do it most of the time now.  She's a diabetic, so it's critical that she eats regularly, and she has to consciously force herself to have her meals.  I am sad that she didn't feel like decorating her place for Christmas, and how hard holidays are for her in general now.  

I am hopeful for my mom.  Her marriage to my dad was absolutely not an easy one.  He had many problems, and made her life extremely difficult much of the time.  She loved him very much, but her life was never easy.  Now, his parting gift to her was financial stability.  Her life can be easy now.  I am hopeful she will find a new path, new habits, and new freedom.

I am angry at cancer.  Cancer has stolen not only my dad, but my mother-in-law and her sister, two ladies who were amazing people, amazing women, taken far before their time.  I am angry that there is this insidious disease that can just strike at will, cause such suffering, such devastation.

I am fearful of losing my husband.  He has cancer in his family.  But even if he didn't, it doesn't mean he's safe from of it.  None of us are.  But he could get hit by a car or any other horrible tragedy.  None of us are immune.  And losing loved ones makes us hyper-aware of the mortality of the people we treasure.  And I can't picture my life without him.  I cannot fathom how I would survive.  I cannot imagine my kids surviving something like that.  I don't want that in my head, but I cannot get it out.  If he's five minutes late from work, that's where my imagination goes.  Not to anything reasonable, but right to that.  Every time.  I fight it every time, but it wins.  Every time.  But he's fine.  He is fine.

I am riddled with guilt.  Guilt that I wasn't a better daughter.  That I didn't tell my dad that I loved him.  But even worse, guilt that I didn't know if I loved him.  I would tell myself that I loved him because he was my dad, but I never knew if I really believed it, deep down.  There were things that he had done in my life that left deep, dark scars.  Wounds that I don't think will ever really heal.  But he was a flawed man.  And I know now, as an adult, that he honestly did the best he could.  Considering the childhood he had, it's amazing he did as fine a job as he did, really.  I should forgive him his mistakes.  Maybe then I could let them go.  But I don't know how to do that.  

I feel numb.  I feel like I was too prepared for him leaving this earth, too ready.  I feel like maybe I had already let him go in so many ways.  I had such a wall built up between us, that my emotion during his illness and his final days were reserved for my mom, my kids, the situation as a whole.  Not just for the man that was dying.  It terrifies me that I can feel this cold.

I feel regret.  My dad was a really good guy, in a lot of ways.  His co-workers adored him.  I know he was an inspirational man at his work.  He always was very good at his profession.  In many ways, it's what kept him going, kept him feeling alive.  I missed out on that side of him.  I didn't allow him to get close enough to me to enjoy that side of him.  He was funny.  He was passionate about food, music, and his wife.  We actually had a lot in common.  He was wise, street smart.  He'd had a tough life, and learned a lot because of it.  He was a Vietnam Veteran.  I am proud of his service, and I know he wanted to share his experiences from that time of his life.  For some reason, it was usually too difficult for me to hear.  I wish I would have sat longer, listened longer.

I feel relief.  This is the darkest part of me.  I carried so much pain associated with my dad.  I had convinced myself that I could let it go when I let him go.  Well, he is gone now.  I have let some of the darkness go.  It has been replaced with other kinds of darkness, though.  The relief I feel from his absence comes hand in hand with shame.

During this time, I have let myself go.  And it's time to reclaim my happiness, my pride.  I need to take care of myself--I am my kids' mom, and my husband's wife.  They deserve the best me I can give them, and that certainly is not what they've been getting lately.  It's time to put my big-girl panties on.  Shake some weight off, and find a reason to get out in the world and smile at people every day.

I just went back and read what I have written on this post, which is something I almost never do.  I try to make this blog be as real and natural as I can, and one way I do that is to write quickly and then post before I can give it too much thought or editing.  This one's so raw that I'm tempted not to post it.  Maybe that means it's more important to post this one.  Reading it has been sort of freeing for me.  Maybe I will post it.  


  1. You amaze me. I had an evening that sent me down the hole again today. Reading your blog reminded me I'm not alone, and that I do still have friends. So thanks! And call me when you want to get together. *HUGS* Cathy

    1. Cathy thanks so much for your support. It's so good to know you're out there! We should get together soon and swap notes. Send me a message! :)T

  2. I applaud your ability to let it out. To acknowledge it. To name it and be determined to not let it take over. The loss of someone leaves a dark hole, sometimes with ragged edges. One that I keep hoping will fill in, but it doesn't. It leaves its mark. But it takes a truly strong person to see that hole and not allow themselves to fall in to deep, to go just deep enough and crawl out. You get some scrapes - but you come out stronger. And hopefully you are able to realize you are not alone.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I know that I lost my dad under different circumstances, but so much of what you said, I can relate to. Thanks for having the courage to share this. --Julie

    1. Julie I'm sorry for your loss. Hard to believe this is where we are in our lives, isn't it? I believe time does have the power to heal, though. Time and prayer. Thanks for reading!

  4. I wish I could be there to give you a hug and a hand to help pull you out of your darkness. Never forget that how you deal with the darkness makes you the person we all love. It doesn't matter if it's in a flawed way or a flawless way. You are you. You are a strong, amazing, wonderful, intelligent, creative, fantastic woman. We love you, through dark times and bright times. Sending hope and healing to you from Portland. Love you lady! ~Dani

  5. Dani I wish you were closer too! You sweetie. Thanks so much for your kind words, and next time you're in town we're getting that beer!