Does this make me look like an alcoholic?

Well I’ve started a new journey…. within the grief journey…I knew it would eventually come to a head and it did.  and I popped it.  or should I say it was so infected and oozing and the only way to deal with this giant zit of my life was to just deal with it.

I’ve been drinking about 10 years and 10 years too much.  I floated through grief on a wine bottle.  numbing myself every night so I don’t feel the nightmare of my life.

So life got better but if I continued, it was going to blow up.

My friends have suggested I write about my dating saga’s and I Think that will lead to the big story of what brought me here to say….. I’m an alcoholic.

Advertisements

I like Big Butts

Big Butt on Big Butt

I had heard the “talk” about this hike.  Big Butt is the hardest hike on our training hikes.  Not the distance but the climbing.  First a bit downhill, then Point Misery has stairs….. lots of stairs.  Although coming down is somewhat easier, at age 45, you now do a side step and then alternate so you can get a good workout. then some climbing.  This is truly a gorgeous hike, looking out at Mt. Mitchell and hiking on a ridge with views on both sides.  Switch backs into a medow walk, and then the final decent to the turn around point.

I’m slow.  Right now seasonal asthma is kicking my lungs.  I know I have got to do some other cardio during the week to help me, but dang, finding time after a day of walking down the halls supporting 3 classrooms has got me exhausted.  This week’s goal is to get my bike tires pumped up and I think a good yoga class to stretch out would be aweome.  I’m getting braver as I get stronger and thinner.

I learned lots yesterday.  I had also visited my dietician friend at the Weight center to help me brainstorm ways to keep me fueled since I have this tiny stomach.  I can carb up on my hike days.  I find myself falling into the protein hype but wtih excercise I need carbs.

I’m hiked with 2 women, one I’ve hiked with before and the other I just met.  You get really close really fast hking.  First due to allergies, we all have runny noses.  I prefer the farmers blow when hiking.  Second, when you have to pee, then I just go.  3rd you discuss ailments…. from sore knees, to bathroom issues, to snot, to blisters in strange places.  Then after you discuss all this, I found myself, hiking to trail marker to trail marker and they both saying, oh my gosh Ashley you are doing so well.  You are killling this.  You got this.

Ok- Time out,  this is what we all need.   but damn, how many years have I been grieving and it’s finally now, that I hear the things that I’ve needed to hear.  You got this.

I have this.  Even though, I mess up as a mom, my first dating love bombed and it broke my heart.  I am finally living my new life.  Just me.  This is just Ashley.  This is not my beautiful children, this is not a boyfriend, this is not John, this is not for work.  This is totally for me but doing it because unfortuntely I don’t want people to lose other people too soon and especially without having some life bucket lists met.

At mile 10 of the hike, going up point misery, I randomly openly shared my dream that I had the night before.  I dreamed John was back, he just showed up.  in my dream, I immedietly sensed relief,  my relief was that someone was helping me.  It was not just myself doing all the things or saying, hey we got to do this ..  but he was taking care of us.  I think he was outside doing outside work but in my dream, I remember feeling, that sense of ease.  I dreamed I saw his former boss and friend, and I yelled, Hey Alvin, look, it’s John!  He is back!  Then I woke up and I sat with coffee wondering why I dreamed that because it messes with me.

so on the hike, I shared this dream.  I talk about john easily and I’m an open book about loss and grief.  but I guess with the exhaustion, i felt grief rise up, up from my gut, into my lungs, filling me with emotion that I know that I cant let out.  and so I did.  I said, uhh ohhhhh here it comes.  and I cried.  I did the ugly cry sound.  I don’t get to when I’m with the kids, because they hear me and then they come running and I try to stop it.  It hurts me to see them hurt when they see me hurt.  So I lock it down.  Well not on Point Misery mountain, just over the valley from Mt. Mitchell where about this time 7 years ago, we explored that area and I have a picture of John staring down at the valley.  He loved the high altitude, he loved the starkness.  He had plans for us to camp up there.  It was a nice family outing.

Now here I am leaving my children for these crazy hikes that keep me going.

I’m excited about the upcoming hikes that continue to grow in length but are not quite as strenuous.  I’m excited to see how much money I can raise.  I listened to one of the trail blaze coaches who is now a wish granter.  She is trying to get donations for a dinner for the family where she will present them with their dream trip, she is looking for tiny suitcases for the children.  Just tiny little things for this family, and all they want with their struggles is just a vacation.  That’s why I am hiking and pushing myself.  It is for me but if I can raise money for families that don’t get a break from a disease that is messing up childhoods.

Anyway I’m going to be heavy fund raising to meet my goal of 2500.00.   I”m a long ways off.  If you think of ways I could raise money, give me a shout.  I think I’m getting a restaurant to help, I’ll post that.  Then I’m going to do a yard sale soon and use the profit for this.  If you feel like you can donate, then please do so, I promise I would not be this crazy if Make a Wish did not mean so much to me and to others.

Love Life over

Well, my beautiful love life that had blossomed last July, has suddenly crashed and burned.  It’s been a month tomorrow or 4 weeks that I realized he had not called in 2 days.  The fact that it took me 2 days to realize it, should have alarmed me but I just thought, we got busy.

I called to check in with him early in the night/morning thinking he might be awake like he usually is.  I think he was but he was mulling it over of telling me he did not love me.

He had tried a few weeks earlier but I thought it was just him being whiny about me fussing at him.  You see I had seen the signs that he had lost that loving feeling.

He had been sick, so he had changed diets, but all he talked about was himself and his diet.  Nevermind that I had surgery and had changed my eating just months before.  I found it easy though to eat with him, because it was healthy and I could cook for us.

He had not spent any money on me and fussed about anything that cost money.   I bought the expensive dinner, I treated the entire family, I took us to the movies.  He spent less and less time with me.   I should have known Valentines day when I got my 3rd plant from Ingles.  I asked if they had run out of flowers?   He said a plant was better.  but if anyone should ever love me they should realize how much I love roses.  He missed that part or it did not seem important enough.

I don’t know why I did not seem to see that I was second.  or third.  Everything came before me.  I cooked, cleaned, managed.  I worked for him.  I planned.  I did everything and when I did speak up, I was told I was mean.

He is not a bad person at all.  He really is a nice man, and I am glad that I did date him.  But I settled.

Since the break up, I have cried, been depressed, acted a bit wild, and I have gotten back on the dating apps.  I want to try again and yet, it really sucks out there.

So moving on…..

5 years and …… she needs to pay off her credit card…. first…

Today, 5 years ago, John died.  5 years ago, I was telling my children that their dad died.  After I watched him die and said to the team after they said, I don’t think he is going to come back.  I finally said ok.  So they stopped and I came over to his side and he stopped. I only remember parts of it.  I was stunned.  I was using my manners and I was so afraid. I wished I had stayed longer but this intense feeling of needing to go to my children took over.  My brother drove me home.  At home my friend was with my children and we walked in and I said to her , just leave.  She said what happened.  I pulled her into my room and said, he died.  I have to tell my children, just get your daughter and I need to tell my kids.

So Sean my brother and I sat down and I told my kids.  it was awful.  it was in some ways worse than John dying.  Kaegan screamed a scream that I will never forget and Anna begged to go to the hospital.  Will just folded.  It was horrific and I don’t even want to type the details because I want to just put them to rest.

and then other people arrived and then they left and I cried and then I got on facebook and somehow that night I went to sleep. but it was not good.

so the next day started, some bread arrived.  people started calling and so it began.

3 weeks later, I went back to work.

7 months later I quit my job and started over. I don’t really remember much of those 7 months but getting by,

We traveled, I went back to school, I tried a job, I started my own business, the kids did ok.

This year, I started to love myself, I got a new job, a boyfriend, I had surgery, life got happy… but man did it take awhile.  I have cried so much, for forgiveness from John, from loneliness and then begging God to please let me find someone to love again, I guess the worst part has been the loneliness.

I had to stop there and pause.  I was overcome with being so thankful for not being so lonely anymore.  I picked up the phone and called Dennis to tell him,  how glad I am that he is in my life.  I wondered earlier in the week if I would be able to feel ok talking to Dennis on John’s day, but I was fine.  He lets me share as much as I want and he said, he wanted to give me space on this day and he mentioned that five years is quite the milestone for all of us.  I cried some more that he said this to me.  He is as gentle as they come, as sweet as I dreamed of and I can’t believe that I get to have a chance to love again.

My kids did well today, no one was really sad or shared that they were.  Anna who is more verbal, did say as she kissed me good night that we got through another one. Kaegan was stressed with her senior project, Will was mad I did not take him to a soccer game.  Life goes on.

Earlier in the day, I overheard Kaegan talking to someone and I figured it was John’s mom.  Kaegan had called her.  She never usually calls, and if she does it is usually Kaegan.  I think that she probably talks to the others maybe 4 times a year on the phone and maybe and if she also see’s them.  They usually see her in the summer but this summer she said she would come down here and see them.  It never happened.  First it was her house was going to be painted and now she is says she is paying her credit card off.  I listened to Kaegan tell me this and she even rolled her eyes.  I thought, how in the world do you put off loved ones, especially grandchildren for a credit card.  What possesses her to even say this out loud to Kaegan?  I have used this blog to vent, when I was angry and so much as been towards her and her treatment of me, and now the kids. Part of me always knows that this is how she is, and in some ways it means less visits which can possibly less hurting feelings of avoiding her and the things she says.  The kids now just only want to visit for a couple of days and especially not on a Sunday.

I am grateful to God to have a full and loving heart and I pray that I will never ever be like her.  I will though pray for her and her waking up to her mistakes.

So that’s five years.  Grief, trauma, loneliness , anger.  So much as eased off and mostly love and joy surround me.  I don’t think I look like a widow.  I’m fine with being a widow, I am proud of it and my journey.  I will always miss John but somehow I know he is always present in some way in my life.

The Lake House

Several years ago as my new friendship with what is now, my best friend was blossoming, she dreamed out loud for me one day.

She owns a very nice lake house and she randomly one day said to me, One day, you will come here with someone and have a romantic night.   That’s the simple sentence, but she had it all thought out and it was dreamy.   I believe I was year 3 of grief, I had done some hard work, but no dates or romantic partner seemed to be on the horizon.  I did like her lake dream for me.   Several months later, we were at Folly Beach and I was touring several of my friends from our church retreat around the house I had rented a few years prior for my family’s healing from death at the beach.  The beach house was beautiful and as we all admired it and stretched out on the chairs, the new owner suddenly appeared!  after I started furiously apologizing he took our gaggle of women for a tour.  As we toured, behind me my bestie was smiling and had already started dreaming again.  Later she confessed to me her new romantic paperback novel idea….. I mean, she shared her daydream of this man, being single and meeting me and then suddenly he would fall in love and I fall in love and It would be at the beach house where I healed.

errrrrk

ok, so that did not happen nor the novel.  But My bestie had great ideas.  AND one is about to come true.   I’m taking my new love to the lake house.  I had forgotten about this dream, but as I was brainstorming ideas for a gift for his 50th, I envisioned a fancy hotel room nearby that we could go to that would give us one night without children.  But we would be close by…… as I thought about what we could do, I suddenly thought of the lake house….. well the lake house is only an hour away… the lake house is free, the lake house has access to a hot tub.  the lake house has fun activity choices like beautiful walks and kayaks.   The lake house has an outdoor fireplace.  Suddenly I remembered my bestie’s dream.  OMG, it’s the dream.  She dreamed this for me.   When she did, I liked it, I wanted that dream, and then more years went by.  I think I liked it because she loved me so much she dreamed what I really wanted and needed.  She envisioned it for me and then she just held space for it.

So I sent a little text to her,  May I make a Lake reservation?……   for romance?    She quickly texted back with a fast date.  (she moves and envisions fast).   I quickly shuffled ideas to manage the FIVE children that ultimately be WAITING.    I planned a great weekend for them.  Ok, one day and one night.    They all agreed.

So today I’m shopping for groceries and presents for the lake house trip.  I hope it goes well, I think it will, I think if he and I just get to read a book and no one interrupts to tell us that an animal just puked or that their device did something, then we will be so happy.  It’s his 50th and he deserves some adult romance.   and by adult romance, I mean, long walks, long conversation, a fire and maybe a hot tub.  ohhhh  and reading.   because that’s all we adults really care about right?   🙂

 

dopomine

this past week, I have gone to sleep smiling, I stay busy during the day, I wake up smiling.  I have been a writing machine, I have been a talking machine.  cooking machine,   I was telling my new friend that he had put a shot of something into my life.

Is it serotonin ?   Is it adrenaline?

He said.. it’s dopamine.

ohhh

I googled it.  and I saw addiction. so I exited quickly.   ohhhhhhhhh.

Then he said, it’s more addictive than cocaine or heroin.  It’s called a runner’s high, it’s what writers talk about when they get a surge to write like Stephen King.

Dopomine.   = Dope

ohhhhhhh

yes friends, I’m just going to admit it.  I am high on the dopamine right now.  It is some good stuff.  I am suddenly confident so that when a job posted recently I went bonkers calling my tribe and saying.   I need you to assist me in making sure I get this job.   I will have that job.

Dopamine is helping me rally.

I spent an evening with my children’s youth group at the youth conference in my family’s most sacred place, Montreat.   Dope.

I stared and watched my own children laugh and talk and be so at peace.  I watched my beautiful friends children laugh, eat, dance and have serious conversations and I just sat and rocked in a chair and it was bliss.

Dopamine.  damn I love you.

My Journey back to finding new me

I forgot how when I feel such intense feelings such as grief, I need to write.  Deep new raw grief was so intense that the only way for me to function was to let it out.  So I remember creating this blog so I could just let it out.  and so I did.  Sometimes a lot and sometimes…. very little.

The past year, I changed my career up and what a healing thing to spend my days hugging, snuggling, caring for little ones again.  For me I think this was the catalyst that began to ease my pain of my grief.  Love.   Loving others allowed me to pour this love I want to share with everyone, into little tiny people who need someone to love them as much as their family does until they can be back together.   So my love was shared and my love did not just reside in my body and heart but it could flow.

Then this past Feb, on my yearly retreat with the women of my church, I celebrated feeling like my heart was full, that I did not feel like falling apart, but I felt like celebrating this new person I was becoming of being Ashley.  Ashley, mom of my 3, Ashley a caretaker, Ashley the friend, Ashley a sister at sea.   but I did realize that maybe…. maybe I was ready to see what it might be like to meet someone to do things with.

I had prayed many times before the deep of night, when I would wake up and suddenly be still with my loneliness.  I would feel it, and it seems like this ache , the ache of missing love would make me cry out, please. God, please, please don’t let me have to do this life without someone to share things with, please.  please god, I will be good.

So I tried to explore putting myself out there.   It was not good, as I tried to look around, suddenly I became really self conscious and I had the most horrible self talk to myself.  I’m not good enough, I’m not thin enough, I need to settle for this type of person,   This lasted maybe 2 full weeks before I started realizing that instead of having fun, I was creating some sort of hell for myself.   Slowly, I imagined what I wanted to find again but first, maybe I needed to do some self care.

Ok, self, what is going on?   Family is good, friends are great, job is good, oh me ???   well I”m just ok, I mean, what do I like to do?   I like to…. watch Netflix??   drink wine???  talk to friends?   eat???

I started thinking about what I have always loved, being outside, looking at nature, walking and hiking, exploring.   But these years of grief that included so much of my body being sick, really changed my body.   My body was not keeping me from exploring because it took so much energy to move my body.  So I resisted.

I barely had self care.  So slowly in Feb, I started some self care.

First I turned off the get to know a man stuff.

then I went to the Dr.

I got my hair done

I started saying yet to just going out more.

I started noticing how other people did self care…… they took care of themselves.

What ever my personality type is, I put myself last.  and here I was all by myself and I had a list of things to do for myself.

I wanted to help myself so I needed some help.  I needed some accountability, some structure and I needed to look at what it was that was holding me back.  I needed goals.  So I went to the doctor and I said yes.

yes I’m going to have bariatric surgery.   but I needed to take care of me in order to have this.

I needed to take all my meds, I needed to put nutrition into my body, I needed to move my body.

I faced my weight and I made some goals.

So started to walk more.  I sweated so much.

I started to eat salads more.

I went to doctors upon doctors.  I did testing, I logged food, poop, sleep,

I got a pedicure, I got another haircut.  I laughed, I took pictures even though I did not like my pictures but I wanted my kids to see me have fun.  I also put the brake on an unhealthy friendship that was keeping me from fully loving myself.

I opened my heart soul door for someone to come in.

and suddenly just like that……

someone did.

first of all, I want to write that even if I’m giddy, I know someone could just become part of my big beautiful friends but no matter what , he… helped me see that I am all of the things …. right now….. right now without having to have a body look a certain way.

My friends and family love me so much and tell me they love me a lot.  I know they do, I trust them.  I accept it.  but opening up and being vulnerable to be romantic feels raw and scary especially if you have any bad self talk.

but suddenly,

being able to be myself in communication that did not include face to face, it allowed me to just be.  and this person wrote back.

and we connected by our words, connected over common thoughts.  it was really easy.

It was not forced or concerning like the few only months before.
I do think the person that suddenly showed up actually was  and is, a really nice person.   Maybe the others were too but I knew just by communicating that it was not easy.

He suddenly was easy.   It’s only been 6 days.   ha!

BUT he suddenly evoked all these powerful emotions that are so strong,  they literally keep me from sleeping.  I’m exhausted.   so I realized tonight in the middle of the night that I needed to write them out.

What I am feeling is joy.   Joy of being recognized for what’s inside of me and someone saying, I like that.  tell me more.  Joy of someone wanting to know more a lot.  Not just tell me more once a week like my best best friends.   I now have loads of friends and loads of best friends and my best friends make fun of me for having so many best friends as I say… but I think and I say, it takes a lot of people to be me.  because I’m soooo much.   God made me to love others but being this means….  I have a lotta love and I have to share it.   So the past 5 years I have found this way ….. to have LOTS of close friends so that I don’t overwhelm anyone.   because I know I can do that.  It’s ok, if it’s with the right person, like with John.   He was grounded and could almost be immune to how much I was so that I did not totally wear him out but honestly he would roll his eyes at me right now and say, that’s not true you wore me out…

ok but anyway.

so even if suddenly he …. is not he.    I wanted to capture this emotion and celebrate this.

He looked over to me when we met and he recognized me and stood up.  He immediately came over to me and smiled.   Hello.

and it was easy.   There was no look that I have seen by people when they judge you for your out side.   Even my dearest friends, some still do but I found the common.   When someone really is goodness and they get to know the inside of you, and you click then they love the outside of you.

or maybe it’s just magic.

or God

or John

or the universe.

I don’t care, but being accepted for me was affirming and being accepted and wanting to be close to me was super affirming.   Being close to me and then telling me it was wonderful, that was what is keeping me up .

joy of love.  I’m not saying like love love.   but love flowing in the gentle friendship/romance way.   not in love….

It’s day 5 of gentle new affirming romantic feelings and my door is wide open.  I am wide open.  I feel a stillness in my soul of just knowing that it’s possible that I can find love again.  To me, this told me that he or someone really can love me .

and I’m wide open to being me, this new me.