December 27, 2014

enjoy the silence

It's been awhile since I've landed here at the blog.
In some ways it doesn't feel like home anymore
I've changed
blogs have changed 
(a lot).
They've lost their lustre for many, now seem archaic in their method of delivery.
A lot of blogs I used to read regularly are now out of circulation.
It's hard to keep it going and I understand that.
Some people need to make money from blogging
and I get that too - and if the money and interest are no longer there
(because, really, if the interest is no longer there then the money dries up doesn't it?)
then other paths must be explored.
But I've never fallen into that category. 
I've had a smattering of readers over the years and I've gone through a variety of styles / attempts / what-have-yous.
But here I am - again.
And the year is nearing it's end. 

This has been one hell of a year
and by hell of a year
I mean a hellish year.

My father died in October of 2013. 
It was unexpected - sudden. 
We were so sure he was going to get better and then he was gone- just like that.
He was 83 (which really isn't as old as you may think).
My mother died in 1991 so I knew what it was to lose a parent.
But I didn't know what it was to lose the only parent I had left.

This was so, so different.

It's hard to explain - but here are a few metaphors where I will try.

I felt like I had been pushed out of a plane without a parachute.
I felt like I was on roller-skates and I was on a ramp onto the highway and couldn't stop my wheels. 
I felt like I'd been dropped off a boat into the middle of the ocean. 
Bobbing about - empty for miles.

You probably get the picture.
I have never felt so alone in my life as I have in the past year.
I am lucky - I have people around me who love me and took care of me.
I have a lot of siblings and they/we have made efforts over the past year 
to reach out to each other and to actually say
I love you.

But having no parents.
Even now, just writing that -
it kind of knocks me over.
My Dad and I weren't especially close - we didn't have that movie style father/daughter relationship
but we had been through a lot together when my mother was sick 
and I think that we knew what we were to each other. 
We were survivors of something really hard
and we saw each other at our worst
and came through it on the other side. 
We accepted who the other person was - warts and all.

So we were special to each other
and losing him has left a hole in my life.
And what I've learned from losing my mother
is that the hole never gets filled by anything else.
Yes - you get through the grieving 
and you figure out how to get life going again
but you never get over it.
It just becomes part of who you are.

After Dad died and my sister and brother, as co-executors of my Dad's estate, 
started to work on closing the books on his affairs (so to speak)
They discovered that my Dad's partner had helped herself to some funds that we didn't know he had
(frankly, we thought he had no funds at all.)
And what ensued was an ugly battle that has lasted over a year. 
We are very close to reaching the end
but in doing what she did, she terminated her ties with our family
(which I suspect is just fine with her - I don't think she particularly cared for any of us)
and caused a lot of heartbreak.
It was something that none of us ever thought could possibly happen
and has taken a toll on all of us. 
It warps and twists your grief into something even worse - 
it makes your sorrow boil in your heart into a hateful, ugly thing.
Every milestone feels like a weight on a chain hanging from your neck.

I wish I was exaggerating.
But I'm really not.

But as I said,
we are near the end.
We have reached a settlement which means we didn't have to face each other in court
and that is a very good thing.
I don't think any of us should come face to face with her ever again.
It's not what my Dad would have wanted - none of this is what he would have wanted
but that's the way it went.

But here, at long last, is the silver lining.
Here is what 2014 has taught me.

Early in January of 2014, I realized that there was very little that made me feel better.
I tried alcohol, food, sloth.
None of it worked 
(which I realize isn't surprising in the least but when you're in a fog of grief, 
you aren't exactly astute in your self awareness.)

I joined a gym in March.
And I feel better.
I was able, at that time, to figure out how to make a gym membership work for me.
I go before work three days a week. 
I get up at 5:30 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
and go to the gym.
And it has worked. 
And it's now part of me in a way that exercise never had been in my life.
I can't go for extended periods of time without exercise anymore 
because my body just starts to give out on me.

I've lost about 15lbs and 6 inches.
I feel more like the person I should be. 
The size I should be.
I feel comfortable in myself again.
And I'm not done - I have a long way to go to where I'd like to be but I'm in no hurry. 
I've worked at this gradually for 9 months and I know I can do more. 
Be more. 
How many times have I made New Year resolutions about basically getting my shit together? 

But that's not what this was.
This was my way of trying to feel better.
And it worked. 
Of course I am still grieving. 

Dad has been gone 14 months and 2 days. 
(some days it seems like more and others it seems like less.)
And now that the lawsuit is finally coming to a close, I expect there will still be a whole new batch of emotions that were put on hold while we directed our energy towards hating my Dad's partner. 

But in the day-to-day, I feel like myself
and I'm proud of what I've accomplished
because I did it by myself
and for myself
and I know I will continue in my success.

What else has the year taught me?
I hate "sayings".
But you know that one -
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?

I buy into that. 
I think it's true. 
I am stronger after this past year. 
For better or for worse.

And here's another thing which everyone should consider 
whether you have a spouse, partner, children
or none of the above.
Make a will.
Keep it current
(my father's will was from 1991. I'm not kidding.)
Make it easy for the loved ones you leave behind
because it's a cruel thing to do otherwise.
That's all I'm going to say.

Last thing -
It's taken me a long time in my life to know myself.
I think that my development has been stunted in this area for most of my adult life.
It takes me a long time to figure stuff out and until I do, 
I spend a lot of time, energy and money on the wrong things.
I think for a lot of people, a lot of the immature shit we hang on to gets zapped by becoming a parent. 
Who you are as an individual becomes secondary to the health and wellbeing of your child.
It's all about being a parent to that child
and a lot of baggage gets tossed onto the back burner. 
You can't be as selfish when you're a parent 
as when you aren't.
(although that is a generalization - I know a few people who have children and are very selfish.
 I'm speaking generally here to make a point.)
I do not have children so in the past I have spent a lot of time and energy on meaningless crap.
On trying to be something other than who I am.

But I feel different now.
I'm not going to say that I'm completely different
but there's part of me that feels calm in a way that it never has before.
I've let go of some things that I should have let go of years ago.
I'm also less apologetic for my flaws. Less afraid of not being accepted.
I am a work in progress but what I want from life now is - well - not what it used to be. 
Maybe it's not just "the year" but it's also my age. 
I'm not a kid anymore
or even a young adult. 
But even as a childless adult, I realize that it's not all about me.
In fact, it mostly isn't about me at all. 
And that, somehow, makes it easier.

So what now?
What for 2015?
I was thinking about this a few weeks ago -
I always want to have at least some "thought" for the new year, if not a plan or resolve.
One thing keeps coming to me and I don't really know what exactly what it will be
but it's this -

Acceptance of who I am
and how my life has played out so far
so I can figure out where I want to go from here.
I've never been a great planner-of-the-future
and I don't think that is about to change
but up until now I have spent so much time mired in the weeds of the day-to-day
that I've made poor decisions
that really won't do much for me down the road.

Acceptance is hard.
Aging is hard
(another post to come on that one).
but it's far from over.
The game has not yet been played out.
And I want to be an active participant in my own life
(that's a ringer from days of yore.)
But it's different now.

Because now

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