Little girl found ❤

I read a blog today that stirred my heart. It spoke of strength and bravery as paramount in a woman’s soul. I began to get that sinking feeling in my gut, one of those reminders that that has not always been my reality.

I wish I had been braver.  More able to stand up for myself, to protect my body, to have had a voice. But I wasn’t and I didn’t. I paid the price though, that is mine to pay.

Why me?

How did God let it happen?

What did I do wrong?

Answers…

Because I was a lost little girl whose Daddy ran away.

He didn’t, bad men chose their own cruel steps.

Nothing!

Grief has taught me many life lessons. One of the biggest is that dwelling on those big questions eats at your soul. Natural disasters strike us all. A devastating fire can rip through your soul so fast you might only escape with your life. Hopefully you get out with your most precious and valuable; good memories and evidence of happy times.

I don’t like to think about my abuse. It’s horrible. Pictures in my minds eye that can taunt and stifle. He was a big man, I was a small girl. He smelt of sweat and that horrible old man smell that gives me the creeps. He was wrong and I should have ran away when he ushered all the others outside. But I didn’t and he blackened my soul – natural disaster.

At times I thought for sure that I had barely escaped with my life. I tried not to think about it, letting years go by believing it was my fault, that I must have been inherently bad, a naughty little girl. But I was wrong.

Under the charred bark precious life was hiding. Waiting for rain to fall, for seasons to change and a tender hand to prune. Not an easy process, pruning is painful, cut after cut with the realisation of each memory. But cuts do heal, sometimes they needed stitching, sometimes surgery. I can see the scars, but they don’t hurt like they used to. Seasons later I began to see green leaves, soft and fuzzy on my charred stumps … and later stronger, more elegant branches. Love, hope and faith again and again and again.

Over and over and over, love hope faith love hope faith love hope faith. That’s how I survived.

I can look back now with a knowing that I was not a naughty little girl, he was a bad, bad man. Sure the scars will still be seen through the new growth, but they are part of me now. I can’t change that. I can only change how I see me and know that the little blonde, beautiful girl is me. I am one of the many strong, beautiful women in the forest of many.

Love Hope Faith


Grief bites

I was reminded of all the pain today.

The hospital.

The disease.

The unhappy ending.

I was gutted. I turned on your phone, it still worked, looked at your photos, your messages to your kids and your sisters. I was so glad to see your love for them, but that made me sad too. I haven’t cried over you for awhile, haven’t felt that hollowness that feels like a punch in the stomach…but I did today. It’s hard to shake, hard to face.

We miss you.

I am surrounded by a new life, a good life, but it’s different and even that reminds that it wasn’t always this way. The memories are good, but they also have the power to drag me under. Loss is loss. I lost something I cannot get back, it’s gone. New beginnings still happen and bring me happiness, but they are not replacements.

I know I’ll be OK, my mood will swing back around, but in this moment I feel stunted, heavy, and unable to think clearly. A fog has come done and just sits on my shoulders. I know it will lift, but this moment is just grief. Unaware of when it may strike and completely caught off guard.

They say (not sure who “they” are, but lots of people!!) that gratefulness can change your mood so let’s give it a go.

I am grateful we met, loved and had our kids… you loved them without end and stayed, that was new for me and helped me know I was lovable.

I am grateful you were my friend, it’s hard to lose your best friend, but great when you have one.

I am grateful that you had faith and I know where you are…I will see you one day, not yet, but one day.

Now I will go onto something else and quit the wallow. Not because I want to forget but because the living needs my attention, because life did go on.

I love you still, I’m sorry it was hard for you. I’m sorry you felt so much pain, I don’t know why. I saw it was hard for you and I’m sorry I was mad at you for leaving me. I felt abandoned and I wanted to blame you. I blamed God but He gave me glimmers of hope, so it must have been your fault!! Dumb I know. I couldn’t put it all together, still can’t really. I love you, see you in awhile xx


I carry your heart

Grief causes so much that is unexpected. Life as you know it had to change shape. At first happiness didn’t seem to fit and you wondered if it ever would. You experienced a pain in your very centre that you thought you could not survive. You thought it would surely kill you in your sleep, but it didn’t, and you were left … alone.

Retrospect is a great tool that I wish could be used with the addition of time travel. To be able to go back in time and reassure your aching self that it will be OK, there is a reason for the pain. A reason why your insides feel like they are on the outside. You are taking on a new shape.

I see it now, it took awhile, but it’s clear. It’s growing pains, your heart is being expanded rapidly. Stretched, pulled, tear upon tear trying to get the big ball of muscle to grow enough to fit all the moments in you had shared, you don’t want them to just be a memory, but they need to be, have to be, or else they are gone forever. Don’t let them be gone forever. Accepting they are gone, well, that’s the biggest tear of all.

A little aside – The English language is an odd thing, where two words can be spelt the same yet mean two different things. No way to differentiate them except to define them. Tear and tear. To rip apart or to cry. Different but the same. Accepting they are gone forever rips at your heart and crying is a given.

The transition into widowhood is harrowing, relentless punch after punch from one unexpected place after another. A hand unheld in the supermarket aisle, days events unshared, unfeeling and unknowing words that cut deep, tear, tear and tear. But as one little tear heals, and then another, something amazing takes place. Your heart is transformed. It becomes a massive, life sized USB continually uploading memories, sad and glad, integrating them into your everyday. So your smile isn’t just a smile, it is a carrier of beautiful moments that only the two of you shared. Your crying isn’t just sadness, it is the missing the part of your soul that is trying to morph into your very own being. So that now you carry them with you always, physically felt inside you. You carry them in your heart.

You carry their heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                   

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

BY E. E. CUMMINGS


Guilt.

When my husband died I fell to pieces. I missed him with every fibre of every one of those pieces. My true love was gone and l was beyond devastated. I couldn’t see a way to fit those pieces back together to form any kind of a life. There were parts missing, like an old jigsaw from last Christmas carelessly tossed into the box without all the pieces . The picture could never look like it was supposed to. It would never be right.

What about the ugly pieces? Our fights, our struggles, the really hard stuff. Those bits I didn’t want to find, hidden under the lounge, I didn’t miss those.

I didn’t miss the disease. I didn’t miss the strain created between being with my husband in hospital and missing the kids. I didn’t miss the hard times it put on our finances and I didn’t miss the struggles we had in our marriage after 20 years…does that make me a bad person? It doesn’t sound loving or caring. It sounds selfish. It certainly made me feel bad, and that made me feel guilty and that made me sad all over again.

Initially I had rose coloured glasses on and I couldn’t think of a single bad thing he had ever done. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it was just a reflection of my love for him. That was real. But as the fog of grief lifted a little I began to see that life needed to be different. It had to be. I no longer had his pieces to fit with mine to complete the picture.

I had to live, parent, and work on my own. As my independence grew I began to discover things that I loved that I had either forgotten, given up on in compromise, or were new. I found laughter again, but it was different and often felt wrong, it felt like I was forgetting and that too felt like guilt. I didn’t want his family or friends to see me enjoying life, that heightened the guilt. Not because they wanted me to stay miserable or feel guilt, please know that, it was all internal. It was my perception of a life that still wasn’t quite making sense.

I think I gave too much, to my own detriment. I didn’t look after myself all the time and when I felt exhausted I chose the couch over the treadmill. I resented some of “our” choices and didn’t let go fast enough. I have a pretty tough exterior and I know I can find it hard to bend sometimes. That’s tough on a marriage. They are some of my faults, because I’m here and I can defend myself. Of course as a normal human being he had faults and made choices, some of them hurt me deeply, but he is not here, so I choose not to make a list of them.

Those hurts are hard to deal with, I can’t talk them through with him, I can’t yell at him, I can’t let him know how bruised I was, even when I pretended not to be. He will never know how I sat in the car park before work and cried. He will never know how I blamed myself and felt like I wasn’t enough. At least not to the full extent that only retrospect affords me. It makes me feel guilty to even think about, it feeds my grief.

Guilt and grief are not synonymous. One is a natural feeling after loss, the other leads to the decay of our heart. Guilt is a heaviness that seeks out our deepest frailties and plunges our emotions into darkness. It tells us lies about new happiness and whispers darkness into your soul. It is very real and it can destroy the goodness that you have found.

So what then? Can I hold him to account? Is there any point in bringing it up? Does it help me find pieces to complete the jigsaw? Actually yes, I think it does. If he was alive, we would say his mistakes were his to deal to deal with, not mine. The same is still true, it is not my guilt to take up now, I cannot own someone else’s mistakes. I know, I have tried it that way, it’s only another pathway to guilt. These things are not easy to do, not easy to overcome. Little by little I needed to let myself off the hook. I slowly came to see that I needed to let go of his mistakes, or I would not heal. He was a good man, but I needed to grieve the whole marriage, not just the good parts. A jigsaw has the pretty colourful bits everyone loves to find but it also has the pieces that look ordinary and plain,  you need both for the whole picture.

I needed to let him know how I felt. I wrote to him, letters that I threw to him in the ocean, as if sent of to him. It was for my benefit. About how I felt about what he did, not about what he actually did . He can’t change anything and even though he tried often, he couldn’t boost my self esteem above the level my own internal dialogue dictated. That’s up to me and my own beliefs. I believe God can do the impossible, move mountains etc But He can’t change what I won’t let go of.

I had to find a way through, to let go. It wasn’t pretty, it was painful. But there is freedom in letting it go, in facing it. To stare at the ugliness of guilt, what caused it and decide not to be caught in its grip any longer. To understand that I was the one instigating the guilt and holding back happiness. Whatever he had done, forgiveness was my decision and the key to letting it go. And when I didn’t have strength to forgive, the God of all forgiveness could help, wanted to help, I just had to ask.

Grief is forever, you don’t just forget one day. But happiness is forever as well. They can coincide as part of a new life… if I let grace rule over guilt.

If I let myself off the guilt hook. 

NOTE : If you are stuck you might need to talk to someone who understands, and if that means paying a counselor/Psychologist, DO IT. Do it sooner rather than later. I cannot recommend that strongly enough. They are trained to deal with the level of emotion you are feeling and are not personally involved so they are completely objective.

You are not defective if you need to talk to someone, you are normal.


It just does…

When a woman’s hand slides across her childless womb, when a widow gives in to a cold and empty bed, when life isn’t as it should have been. Is there really hope?

When grief pursues forcefully and without warning. When it catches us of guard and defenseless. When it feels cruel, unbearable and dark. Is there really hope?

When we are left feeling a deep ache that won’t go away and questioning it all. Why did it happen? Why do I feel so bad? Why is life unfair? We hope there is hope, we hope there is a light at the end of that pretty miserable tunnel. We can’t see it, can’t feel it, don’t know it. It is a grey fog pursuing and trying to overtake every sense that might pick up on hope, tricking us into thinking its an illusion or just something other people feel. “Other people feel good, what’s wrong with me?”

So where is hope?

Hope, like love, is unconditional. Not dependant on the right circumstances, feelings or good looks! It just is. It is more than what we wish for, it is how we wish it, a feeling of goodness bestowed upon something. It is something that wells up from the inside out. It can be in the darkness without having germinated into the light just yet.

It’s on the inside, it’s the good guy that fights against the darkness, pursuing the bad guy. It has the unending strength that somehow dodges all the bullets even when completely outnumbered. It is a main character that survives all else, and even if it is killed off, it finds its way back in the sequel.

Oftentimes grief is a consequence of an apparent end. The end of things is painful and hard to see beyond. No hope, no point, why bother? But know this about hope, it has no end. It can live in darkness, it does not need the right conditions to germinate, one day it just does. The roots still alive under the blackened earth of the wildfire. It blooms as half a smile, as feeling some warmth on your skin, as a small knowing there is love.

It just does…

How? I believe it happens one very teeny, tiny step at a time. By doing what you can do, not what you can’t. I can go for a walk in the sunshine, I maybe cannot run a marathon. I can get out of bed today, I maybe can’t meet someone for coffee…but maybe tomorrow I can, or maybe the next day. I can find one thing to be thankful for even if just the breath in my lungs. I can look heavenward if only with a glimmer of a prayer, that’s all it takes, just a glimmer, just a tiny bit. This is the supernatural exchange, our darkness, all of it, for God’s Hope. He lives in Hope, He lives for hope. He is in that “it just does” moment filling it with light and life.

Sure the darkness is very, very real. No arguement. But as real and deep the ache, so real and deep the hope.

Teeny, tiny steps. Teeny, tiny glimpses.

Hope lives, it just does.


Ebb and Flow

When a cool tear rolls down my cheek it takes some pain with it. It is like a release valve that lets built up sorrow, stress or anxiety escape from my heart. It’s a vulnerable, bearing-your-soul-kind-of-thing. I have to trust those around me. Lots of people cry in private, hiding their hearts, not trusting people, not trusting places or maybe not trusting God.

I have found a great comfort in my faith for many years. It’s solid, I can count on it. But it is also ever changing, like a river, and you never know what’s around the bend. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m drowning with pressures and misunderstandings dragging me beneath the surface. Whilst other times are full of utter refreshment and cool relief.

Ebb and flow. I trust in decreasing and increasing increments, usually dependant upon what has gone on around me. Someone dies and I don’t understand why; decrease, something amazing happens beyond understanding; increase. I don’t want to lose trust , I don’t want to “appear” unfaithful, I want to stay in a good place, but sometimes I don’t. That’s the truth.

Pain can sting twice.The original wound, and then it can also lead my heart away from vulnerable, keeping freedom at bay. Faith offers my heart relief, but when I don’t understand what’s happening around me I may resist the very thing I need the most. Humans – our own worst saboteurs!

We want to know how, why and cry “It’s not fair!” But that’s the pressure that drowns. Freedom of heart, I believe, comes only when we know that we just don’t know! That we know we don’t have complete control and trust that God alone does. When I believe that He has my hand in His no matter how furious the current may become and when I’ve just had enough and can’t do it anymore, there is a lifeboat, even if I doubted, even when I don’t trust.

The offer of relief, of freedom, is not dependant on me, it’s always there. A lifeboat always alongside. Trusting is not about understanding it’s about being vulnerable. It’s about letting your heart be in another’s charge. It’s not weakness or frailty, it’s trust in something beyond what you can see. It’s faith.

It’s why I can still breathe.

 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…”


Sorrow

I saw another sorrow this week. I saw it in my husbands eyes, heard it in his words and felt it as he hugged me tighter. We think no one deserves that kind of pain, but that isn’t the truth. The truth is hard, it’s real life and that means if you love someone deeply, you miss them deeply.

The preacher said “It’s because you loved him, it hurts to lose him.” It’s true. Does it make it easier, I guess it doesn’t but it does mean he knew love and that is a comfort.

Does that mean if we know love we will certainly know sorrow? I think it does. I think we try to avoid sorrow, I do get it, I know it doesn’t feel nice. Lots of things do not feel nice but we have to do them anyway. If we avoid cleaning things we can get sick, but no one likes cleaning, well not the normal among us. We might like the outcome but the process is not enjoyable. This is sorrow.

The process of sorrow sucks! It rips at your stomach, pulls at your heart and causes a lump in the back of your throat that cannot be swallowed. It lets us know that we have lost something that makes us feel like our soul has been torn. The puzzle is no longer complete, the game unwinnable and left completely undone.

But as time goes by this pain assimilates into who we are, the puzzle doesn’t  look like the picture we had on the box, and there will always be a piece missing. Yet, it’s our puzzle and we think it’s beautiful. We remember all the times together, good and bad that are threaded into our fabric, woven so tightly that they cannot be separated. When we feel a tug it helps us to remember who they were and who they will always be in out hearts.

I think we need to get past worrying about who sees us cry or if they are uncomfortable with our pain. It’s in everyone’s life, why do we hide it? “I’m good thanks” we say what if we could say, “He was a bloody good man, I will miss with with every fibre within me. I might cry, but it’s OK, I will be OK, but today I am just sad”. I don’t hear that kind of thing much I wish I did though. It’s the truth. When we speak truth it helps release the pain trapped inside. It escapes anyway, the pain, it will burst through, and often in hurtful and regretful ways.

Can we try this? Can we try to listen to sorrow without fixing it? Can we listen without thinking about our uncomfortableness? Can we let our own eyes well up and let the tear slide down our cheek and not care if it’s seen? Can we really care but not care about appearances? It’s a big ask, lets see how we go.

So here’s to Vik, my hubbies Dad and my new families Gramps. He really was a good man, he was his own man and in this house he will be forever missed, loved and remembered.

Vik, mēs mīlam tevi un mūsu sirdis, lai gan dziļi nobijies, atcerēsies tevi smaidošu.

Paul and Vik


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