Casey.

I debated posting anything, or even writing anything today. Our grief still feels like something I need to protect and keep private.

Several events happened after Casey’s death that made me feel like I needed to say something. Because keeping quiet only amplifies the stigma. So…

The first event relates to one of my children. I’m not going to write about it because it is their story and not mine to tell. But it was pivotal for them, and for me as a parent.

The second was a girl my child went to school with opening up to him about being suicidal herself. He shared his experience, and that of his step-brother and encouraged her to talk to her parents about what she was going through. I don’t know what the end result was. But that my incredibly shy, introverted child reached out to another person and opened up and was honest about his own experience feels huge.

The third was a friend who was the person who came and sat with me the night casey died. A few months after all this occurred, he discovered his own teen was discussing suicidal thoughts with a friend. Knowing what we had been through gave him a perspective to deal with his situation.

The fourth was another friend who’s daughter confessed similar thoughts. And she reached out to me in the way only a parent can, who is experiencing this horrific reality.

There is great shame as a parent in admitting your child has slid so far down that you aren’t sure you can save them. It’s terrifying. And I’ll be honest. You can do everything “right” and the outcome might not change. Fact. But I chose to share this, for all parents. because this is reality. And if you think it can’t happen, or that it’s so far from your own reality, think again. And think hard.

So. What can you do? The problem is teens are notoriously quiet in their angst. Sure girls cry and slam things and rage, or don’t. And boys silently suffer, or don’t. It’s a mystery either way. What is teen angst and what is a real cry for help? It’s hard to tell.

Casey was in counseling. His father though he was being diligent. And in a blink of an eye he opted out.  These aren’t the words parents want to hear.

All I can say is love them well.

Tomorrow we will honor Casey as best we can. We miss him.

Casey. I know you’re soul has gone on to figure some things out. I know you are ok. I know you’ll find a new spot to be in. The journey is long. We miss you. I miss your laugh. I miss your smile.  I miss your enthusiasm for the things that brought you joy.  I miss your kindness, and your softness. I hope that your next journey lends itself to those traits. I miss your presence in my life. You made me be a better “mother figure”.  I miss your being the leader of the boys. I miss  your reckless abandon. I miss watching you cringe when taylor hugged you. Because you loved us, and we loved you. But you never knew exactly how to accept or convey that. But you did. We know.

I miss you. I lament not seeing you evolve and grow and be a man. A partner. A father. You would have been great at all of those things had you chose to ride it out.

But you didn’t. And I love you anyway. Always and forever.

Parenting.

When I started .ing back on another format a few years ago the premise was i would write about all things i was doing. gardening. living. working. loving. writing. All things Heather is doing. heatheringheather. or for short .ing. 

some things have changed over time, as my life has changed and i have found myself writing primarily about my personal journey of self discovery and growth. figuring out who the F heather is anyway. its been very therapeutic and i’m so thankful for all the messages i’ve received of encouragement. thank you thank you. its my therapy and i’ve gone from only posting to a few people, to posting only at midnight when i thought only my die hard friends would see it, to posting as the mood strikes. even in the light of day. 

one area i’ve rarely actually blogged about is my role as a mother. there are a lot of things feeding into this. some cut really deeply (that i’m not going to write about) and some are more understandable and easier to talk about. so lets start there.

what sort of promoted this, was i know quite a few people who have small children. i really enjoy following their lives, their struggles, their successes. its so fascinating to watch. because i’m so close to the other side of parenting. and it brings up long forgotten memories and smiles about my own as little kids. it makes me thankful for where i am in MY journey.

add to that i just got through the holidays. December has never been a good month for me. historically it just hasn’t. i’m not one of those people who excitedly breaks out the holiday decorations. i’ve always tried to make the holidays a happy time for my kids. we have several die hard traditions we stick to. and we enjoy them. I particularly enjoy them. they are traditions Steve and I created with them when they were very small and most years since we split I’ve upheld them all. i take great pride in that. because most of the month i want to crawl under my covers and stay there. this blog isn’t about my holiday blues. but i was looking for some pics of my three together and found this:

 Image 

This is the first christmas my kids spent in two households. They were 9, 5 and 2 and two months. Steve and I had been separated since Feb. of this year. The point of this being, I don’t write about parenting much, if at all, because some of my deep rooted guilt and fear trump my successes with my kids. Mostly i keep my head down, knock on wood a lot and hope i can raise them all right. period. 

But.

I had my boys out to dinner last night. My boys are 16 and 13. if you have had teens, you know that at 13, and 16 the amount of time they want to hang with mom is small. I’ve found the best way to get them to talk to me, is to feed them. in a restaurant. where they have to sit at the table for at least 45 minutes. i followed that up by a group trip the grocery. where surprisingly i have had the best conversations with them.  i don’t know what it is about the grocery that brings out the chatty in my boys. but its astonishing the number of things i’ve learned about them there. especially with my middle who hates to talk. whenever i see him sliding, i take him to the grocery. i think its the fact that they don’t have to make eye contact. and i won’t cry at anything they have to say. its a fairly safe place. anyway. last night wasn’t about any big revelations, but just in general over the course of the evening, watching them. i was just so happy. not only were both of them in good moods, and not only did we go the whole evening without any bickering but they both showed me in little ways that i’m not doing a terrible job.

i remember when my daughter was in 2nd grade. and her dad and i went to her parent teacher conference and the teacher was going on and on about what a polite, helpful, quite, good natured child she was. how she was always readily helping others, readily helping the teacher. a care taker. and i had been having a really hard time with her. because Taylor was an independent, strong willed, very vocal child from a very young age. and we tended to butt heads A LOT. and i remember saying out loud “why isn’t she like that FOR ME”. and the teacher looked at me with a mixture of understanding, and also a little pity and looked me in the eye and said “you are doing a great job”. but i didnt feel like i was. most days felt like a failure. because there was so much, every day i felt like i could be doing BETTER. 

the unrelenting pressure to be a GOOD PARENT is omnipresent. every meal of macaroni and cheese felt like a failure. every time i lost my temper felt like a failure. every time i locked myself in my room and screamed into my pillow so i didnt beat my child felt like a failure. the very fact that i WANTED to hit my child made me feel like a failure. and to this day, i feel more regret about my skills as a parent with taylor than the other two. i had JUST turned 23 when she was born. and i wanted a baby really badly. but i had zero clue what i was doing. thank GOD i didnt have the internet scaring the hell out of me. i did what i thought was right. i nursed her when she wanted to. i let her sleep how she was happy. i wrapped her in blankets and put her in her crib on her side like the books said. i picked her up every time she cried. i bought her trucks and baby dolls. i read to her every night. and i simply loved her as best as i was capable. but what i lacked was maturity. i lacked the self awareness to understand my own psyche. to understand that maybe part of my frustration was largely linked to my unhappiness in OTHER areas of my life. because being her mother was my primary role, one which i LOVED, when i stumbled and fell it felt like such a monumental moment. i had ONE job to do. and when i didnt do it well? well. fuck. … 

but what that teacher said, stuck with me a long time. i largely think our lives paths are pre-determined. and i think my children were placed with me for whatever reason. but their success i think are largely theirs. my role is simply to assist them as best as i can. to do my best to get them from point a to point b and be their touchstone. their check in point. their safety net. to love them as hard as i can. my role isn’t to raise good offspring.  my role is to raise good humans. i don’t feel my children are a reflection of what i am, or what i’ve done. good OR bad.  i’m trying to raise children i can give to the world to make it a better place. 

so when my teens lash out. get mouthy. hole up. i try to remember its not how they are with ME. but how they are out in the world. and last night i got to have both. i got to have two sweet boys out with me for a few hours, and i got to see them interacting with the world and see them doing a good job. they hold open doors. they say please and thank you. they smile at people. they think of others. they are good little humans. and they are also good offspring. we came home and they carried in all the groceries. they helped put them away. they thanked me for dinner and for the groceries we bought. before they took off to do what they wanted for the rest of the night they asked if there was anything else they could do. yes i’m bragging. i have good boys. and i have to thank Taylor in part for that, because as a kid she was forced into the role of helping me raise them. and she set a good example to them of how as a family we had to work together if the household was going to run smoothly. (or as i recall it, she wrote the book on “how to keep mom from completely falling apart when she gets home from work”)

they’ve picked up where she left off when she moved on to college. its a team effort. all of it. 

so when i see young parents stressing about these little minute details, that i remember stressing about like what to feed them and when. or issues with sharing. or every time they pushed. hit, colored on a wall, threw a fit in the grocery. mouthed off. threw things. had temper issues. or parents who worry about gender profiling or gender roles or the fact that our culture still separates happy meal toys by boy toys and girl toys (and i can write a WHOLE LOT about my struggles with all that over the years), i have to smile. because i caused myself endless stress about all of those things. its not easy. but.

and as a mother of teens i have a whole new bag of things to worry about. and i do. every day. and every day i still do a self check of “omg am i doing ok?”  and i’m not sure i will ever relax. about any of them. even the one down at college kicking ass and taking names.

because i still just knock on wood a lot. and hug them a lot. and feed them. and bake cookies. and take them to the grocery. and try to talk to them. and mostly cross my fingers.  and hope like hell that as adults their amount of smiles are bountiful and their amount of time spent in therapy is small. 

Image

sidebar: i love this photo of my kids. taylor and i had just had one of our classic arguments where in our similarity we were about to kill each other. and my kids had been bickering like crazy and i remember thinking “omg i’m such a horrible parent, why is this SO HARD”. and then they went out to the water and took a bunch of pics and i got this. because they are awesome. even when i’m not being. thank you universe, for letting me have these three in my life . . .. 

 

Holy Shit Moments

Digging up some old blogs from my blogspot account. From Dec. 13, 2012

holy shit moments
one of the things i learned a long time ago are is there are holy shit moments. i used to think that once in a while, you would get one. one that smacked you upside the head. but what i came to realize is, there are those moments. every day. you just have to be able to see them.

around a month or so ago a friend i had not spoken to for awhile had one of those moments. i was peeking through my fingers at him via fb. we werent connected there, hes one of those users that really doesnt like the forum, and has only a handful of friends. but there i was, peeking at him.

we realized a few years ago that our friendship is unique. we both see the world through a fisheye lens. all the time. there is a connectedness to everything. and we feel and see that invisible string. its comforting to think something or feel something that most people look at you sideways for. and have the other person go “oh i KNOW”.

so this morning i was thinking about the shape of my life. the long and current view. what step do i take next. because you have choices to make. every day.

sometimes those choices are out of your hands. and you learn and adapt. but most of the time. the choices are sitting there. i can often see clearly, the path my choices bring. not that i can necessarily see how it will all play out. but i usually have a pretty good sense of if something has legs or not.

this morning i was thinking about the same thing ive been focusing on all year. what do i want. who do i want to be. and where do i want to end up. pretty big stuff frankly. i mean. i think about the people who cross my path and how often do you deeply mull over your core? it feels as tho a lot of people are on a course for who they are and dont often mull over the big picture. they just keep moving forward.

i often feel like i’m juking every few years. or months. or days.

and then my super awesome, most amazing friend said this: “so this is what i’m doing in December. because what i’m doing now, matters in July”. This was relevant to his life and his goals. but it was one of those HOLY SHIT moments for me. because the choices i make now. damn well impact my next 7 months.

i have goals. i have projects to do, because they are not only necessary, but they are vital to my growth.

i have personal goals. things that i want to accomplish. some silly and small. some feel momentous and huge. but i have them. and im not willing to give them up.

and the choices i make right now. affect those.

my “where do i want to end up” is a big fuzzy picture. one that consistantly changes scope.

i do know. what i want from my now. it sits in my hands.

i want the opportunity to continue to explore all of those questions unfettered. to know at the end of the day that im asking nothing of myself but to be me. and that no one is asking me to be anything other than me. because being me, really needs to be enough.

to stand next to me. to match me step by step on that quest. because at the

that is my main goal of 2013.

loves not lost.

so today marks the official 2 year anniversary of the break up. and i think from this point forward I’m going to try to quit referencing it as a milestone. i tend to look at my life in segments. my marriage. my life post steve/pre chris.  my relationship with chris. my life post chris. its all simply my life and its so much more than that. peppered in that life, all across the board, are moments with friends, my kids, myself, and other men who have floated in and out of my world. BUT.

today, and last night i was thinking about the term “lost loves”. it floats across our collective vernacular, this concept of losing love. or holding ON to love. or fighting for love. choices made.  there are a billion books, advice columns, industries built on advising you how to make relationships work, or how to let them go. how to hold on. or how to survive, losing. 

i’ve done both. more than once. i believe in relationships. i believe in the magic of loving another person with all of your heart. i believe in fighting for love. i believe in working really really hard at relationships. i know i have. i know i have given my whole self, loved as hard as i could, invested readily, done everything that was suggested. you know those lists, of how to have a happy relationship? i’ve done those. and i’ve had really happy relationships, and sometimes they ended. and the ending is brutal.

but, i havent lost.

i had 5 years with a man i loved very much. and loved well. and sometimes we were so fucking happy. and a lot of times we had to work really hard at life. and in the end,  he did what i didnt have the guts to do. he sat me down and said “i love you with all my heart. but i’m leaving. i will always love you. but i’m not going to be with you anymore”. and we cried and cried and cried. 

i remember a conversation Chris and I had, just a few short weeks after the split. i was struggling, really really struggling with the loss of our family we had created. i was sorting through all our pictures. thousands of pictures. always in doubles. and i was putting together a box of pictures of our life for him to have and it made me so sad, to see all these  happy moments captured and to have it all be OVER. and i gave him the photos and i asked  him “how can you do this? how can you do this to us. how can you just move on as tho we never had a life?” and he said to me “i have this box of moments. and i have 5 years of moments in my heart. forever. it was a great 5 years. it existed. it will always exist. ”  

and at the time it just pissed me off. but i get it now. 

i’ve gone back and read my blog posts from two years ago. and that aching, crying, sad as hell individual is sitting here now with two years of life experiences i wouldn’t have had if we had stayed together. i have two years of living, loving, learning. i’m happier. i’m more relaxed. i’m way less stressed. i’ve had more focus on my children. more time to do the things that are really important to me. i’ve loved. i’ve danced and played. i’ve formed new relationships. some were brief, some were longer. i’ve made new friends.  i’ve invested in people. and most importantly, i’ve invested in myself. 

when i look at all of the relationships i’ve been in. the various men i’ve known and loved, i’m so thankful. several of those men are still part of my life. some are big parts, some are small parts. some i talk to almost daily. some i never talk to. but i don’t have anger at any of them. I’m not angry that our interactions didn’t result in traditionally defined parameters.  because they all gave me some kind of gift, awareness, knowledge about myself, and even more than that. they loved me in some way that was important. they have taught me about myself, and more than that, they have taught me what i want out of a partner. i’ve learned to recognize patterns of behavior not only in myself, but in others. i’ve learned what to value and what to run from. 

i havent lost anything. i’ve gained so much.

i don’t know what the rest of my life holds. some days i can see being married again. some days i can see myself staying single for a good long while. but i am most happy about the fact that i’m not afraid to love. to fall in love. and i’m not afraid to let go when its time either.  

and letting go of an expectation of what my life is “supposed” to look like. my life IS what it’s supposed to look like. and while there are days i struggle. days i’m sad. days i’m frustrated. days i’m envious. most days. i’m really ok. and thats really not a bad place to be. 

 

 

not a resolutions list.

i don’t make resolutions lists. i do however make lists. lots of lists. i set goals all year long. but the turning of the calendar does lend itself nicely to taking a look back, and a solid look forward. 

looking back: two years ago, i had to set some new goals because 5 days into the new year my life took a major sharp turn. i had a pretty solid long term plan with a man i loved and when he decided that that was no longer our path, i had to really reassess my life, and myself. 

i started with goals for my house. that seemed the most pressing and the easiest to do when you are you know, kind of dying inside.

i made a list of something like 30 projects i wanted to complete. some where small, like replacing the back door lock. some where lofty (to me) like installing new lights, replacing the sink, putting in a new dishwasher. (dishwashers are easy. plumbing sucks. the end.)  i have the list somewhere. i might have possibly blogged about it in the past. anyway. so that was year one. trying to figure out how to move on after investing 5 years with someone. how to move on after you think you have THE REST OF YOUR LIFE plotted out. ok. new plan. 

year two was a whole new beast. it started with H2.0. a reset. a new way of thinking and approaching things. looking at situations and reacting to them in whole new ways. (forever grateful MD.).  new projects. new goals. and a new life plan was formed. or partially formed. i was asked this one simple question. if you had unlimited resources and could do anything you wanted, what would you DO. have you ever been asked that question? its pretty freeing actually. whats the first thing that pops into YOUR head? well, i took what popped into my head and that lead me down a whole new path, at least in my mind. and thats where all good things start right?  now, i DONT have unlimited resources, but having that knowledge in my brain led me to new lines of thinking. what CAN i do. and what is holding me back? Fear. always fear. so i made some progress in 2013. despite all the things that happened in 2013 what i did gain was clarity in who i am. and what I CAN do.

2014. time to put some of this knowledge into play. and set some higher goals. 

 here is a partial list of goals for 2014. some i share. some i don’t. but here are some basics. 

  • be a better mother. i don’t think you can ever stop working on being a good parent. 
  • Finding Balance: I have a tendency to be overly independent and spend an extraordinary amount of time alone. i’m going to work on changing that for 2014. i went from being classically codependent (the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.) to the polar opposite. Finding balance in all things is not my strong suit. 
  • take my fitness training to the next level. abs, i’d like to see you arrive this year.
  • running a minimum of 10 miles per week
  • travel more. at least one road trip every other month. 
  • more dedication to both of my blogs. 
  • strengthening my interpersonal relationships. i have a small circle of people i hold close. i’ve been pretty intensely self focused for the last year. it was much needed, but i’ve gotten way too good at being alone. i need to interact more and listen better. 
  • do something creative every day. that was my goal in 2013 and i let life sidetrack me. 
  • quit letting life sidetrack me. it certainly doesnt always go how i’d like. but i need to quit getting stuck every time the road takes a sharp turn. it is what it is. you can’t control it. 
  • in the wind. every day. in the wind.