About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love me or leave me

People who haven't lost confidence don't know what it feels like to find it again.  Let me tell you this...finding it again is better than winning the lottery.  I know--not because I have ever won the lottery--but because I have found my confidence again after years of drifting in a void of self-doubt.    

When Sean killed himself, my entire world fell apart.  Beneath the grief, doubt about my role in Sean's demise grew like a cancer until it ate away my self-confidence.  I questioned everything from my self-worth, my talent, my intelligence and my judgment.  People with their own agendas worked their way into my life and encouraged my second-guessing.  As a result, I made ridiculous judgments with gray-area friend (refer to earlier in the year blog posts if you don't know who that is), self-sabotaged myself at every turn, and started believing that I didn't deserve happiness after Sean's horrible sadness.

Let me say that again:  I started believing that I didn't deserve happiness after Sean's horrible sadness.  That thought permeated everything I did.  Well, to hell with all of that.  I have found my confidence again after a long journey through grief's winding and dark road.  

I wish I could say that there was a pivotal moment that triggered my comeback, but that's not the case.  This has been a process of learning from mistakes, screwing up relationships in the name of bad timing, letting the toxic people fall away, standing up for myself, studying spirituality, reading everything I could find on starting over, and loving myself exactly as I am now.

I no longer defend any decision, action or belief I have.  I feel no need for debate.  Love me or leave me, that's what I say now and mean it.  I realize now that I was never weak, merely wounded by a severe loss.  I survived hearing my husband's last breath. I survived rocking my kids as they screamed in the night.  I survived all the rumors and betrayal that surround survivors of suicide.  I survived all the questioning of every decision I made.  There is nothing weak about any of that.  I see that now.

Perhaps my confidence was never lost; instead it was drowned out by the screaming of despair.  Even as I beat myself up, it whispered quietly as I made decision after decision in opposition to those around me.  It whispered quietly when I forced myself to get up every morning and start again.  It whispered quietly to never give up even when I wanted to.  It whispered quietly when I took a chance at loving gray-area friend.  The difference is that now it no longer whispers; it shouts, it dances, it leaps and it struts.

Love me for who I am or leave me because I'm not who you want me to be, either way I know I'll be just fine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Only a dream

There are nights when I have the most incredible dreams and rebel against waking up.  Dreams where I am so happy that I wake up laughing.  Dreams where all is right with the world because it is complete with the one person I thought I would never see again.  Dreams where Sean is alive, we are talking and walking hand-in-hand. Just a dream. 
I thought those dreams would fade away with time, but they haven't.  I hope they don't.  When I dream of Sean, when I dream of us walking and talking and laughing, I remember the love. The love hits me like a tsunami and reminds me about what used to happen every time I laid eyes on that man.

I hate to admit it, but I forget what that feels like.  Sometimes when I'm awake and busy with my solo life as widow, I forget what it was like to be in love and be loved.  When I dream...I remember.

A friend who lost his wife told me that he has similar dreams.  Most people I know who have lost someone have dreams of them visiting at some point and all say how vivid it feels, how they fight to stay immersed in the dream for just a little longer.  
There are moments after I wake from a Sean dream where I feel as if my skin has been touched, moments when I feel as if he just left the room.  But I know that's not true.  I know he's been a gone a very long time. 

There are different theories about these types of dreams.  Some say that it's their ghost checking in to see if all is well; others say that it is our subconscious needing to reconnect with that person.  I don't really care about the what, why or how.  All I know is that when I dream of Sean, when I feel all that love rush back, I fight waking up because I know I will lose it all again. 

These dreams are not holding me back.  They do not keep me stuck in the past.  I am moving on, seizing the day, taking the leap and living as best as I can. But I hope I forever dream of Sean like I do now.  He is like an old friend,  a dear friend, who has great conversations with me in the night.  We laugh like we used to laugh.  We flirt like we used to flirt.  And he is happy.  In the dreams he is happy, but during that last year of his life he was so sad.  I like dreaming of him as happy.
As humans, our knowledge is limited.  We can only theorize about the after-life, about dreams, about paranormal events, about grief, about life itself.  We do not know all the answers.  I'm not sure we are supposed to know during our lifetimes.  All I know for sure is that when I have these dreams, it feels good. There can't be any harm in that.

Opening my eyes and letting go is bittersweet, but it was only a dream.  I can't stay asleep forever; I have a life to live.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The chase

For the past six weeks, I have been dealing with some health issues that made me scrutinize my lifestyle with brutal honesty.  When I mentioned to my doctor that I get disgusted with myself for my self-sabotaging ways, she told me a story about a diabetic she met during her residency.  This man had endured multiple amputations that ultimately resulted in the loss of both legs.  Following the final amputation that took his legs off at the pelvis, he remained optimistic.  He told her that only death is final, until then any condition can be changed.

How true.  Only death is absolute; until that point we all have choices about how we live and how we adapt.  It's easy to get stuck in a routine of habit, thinking and being.  I don't think routine is bad, but I do believe it's healthy to shake it up every now and then.  Re-evaluate.  Adjust.  Open your mind. Be spontaneous.  Reject absolutes.   

For me, the most difficult aspect of change is shaking off old perceptions.  Former ideas of who I am, what I believe, what I do, what I eat or what I want no longer fit.  Letting those ideas slip through my fingers is scary.  It's like stripping naked in front of a new lover for the first time...exciting yet tinged with uncertainty.

As long as I am still breathing, my heart is beating and my mind is thinking, then I am free to choose what path I take.  Whether I become a habitual granola eater or tequila shooter (or both), that is my choice.  The important thing is that I am free to choose again and again until death catches up with me.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Whittling away

The death of a loved one or any personal tragedy cracks the foundation of all that was once believed as truth or as an absolute.  Over the past few years I have questioned my long-held beliefs and thoughts.  The Pollyanna view of the world as a safe, secure place no longer exists from my perception.  And I am thankful that it doesn't. Living in delusion only works for a little while before it all comes tumbling down like an avalanche in the Rockies. 

It is true that through tragedy our character strengthens and we grow as humans; but it is also true that darkness comes with experiencing life's less than Pollyanna perfect side. People like to say things to me like, "well, now you can use your experience to help others" or "it's all part of God's plan" or "now you can use your experience to grow."  Sure, in some respects, those things have a grain of truth...but they are not the whole picture.  I am not a martyr.  I didn't sign up to be the poster child of grief management or anyone's inspiration.

I am just a woman doing the best I can with life's challenges that are all too common.   I get confused in the midst of all the healing, the moving on, the falling backward, the expectations, the anger, the loneliness, the only-parenting, the career building, the starting over, the budgeting, the redefining, the disappointments, the heartache, the trying, the hoping...damn, it's exhausting.  Of course there's a dark side.  Thank God there's a dark side to give me perspective. 

Because of my descent into darkness, I whittled away through the Pollyanna-Midwestern-Play-By-The-Rules-And-Life-Will-Be-Glossy bullshit to the truth.  My truth, which isn't to be confused with anyone else's. 

My truth is that my heart is broken.  My truth is that I do not believe in being politically correct.  My truth is that I forgive but don't forget.  My truth is that I am an optimist.  My truth is that I am a romantic.  My truth is that I love my family.  My truth is that I have scars that sabotage my love life.  My truth is that I know what evil looks like and am not afraid.  My truth is that I have no desire to impress my neighbor or prove anything to anyone. My truth is that I am angry over Sean's suicide.  My truth is that I like being snarky from time-to-time. My truth is that I am vulnerable and compassionate.  My truth is that I am scared.  My truth is that I am generous.  My truth is that I see goodness in everyone.  My truth is I am creative.  My truth is that I am always searching.  My truth is that I am at peace with God. 

I like my darkness.  I know that may sound odd or even scary for those who haven't been down my path, but trust me.  Through my darkness I experienced despair, hopelessness and anger.  Through my darkness I found strength, compassion and empathy.  Through my darkness I let go of what I thought of as reality, opened my mind to new ideas and surrendered my past.  Through my darkness I found a deeper connection to Spirit. 

As with all great works of art, which we as humans truly are, shadows add dimension and perspective.  The dark shadows transform a mere picture into a priceless collectible.  I am thankful that I whittled away to the truth through the dark so that I can bask in the light. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let me do yoga!

I am sick of triathletes.  I don't care if someone wants to be one, but I am sick to death of hearing about it as if I should be impressed.  I'm not.  Maybe I would be if you had one leg or if it wasn't the current trend.  I prefer going to bed at 4AM  rather than getting up at that time to put on a wetsuit to swim a few miles.  That's my choice and it's right for me.  Get over it.

Perhaps it's the woman's mid-life crisis that pushes us to do things we never wanted to do 20 years ago.  Maybe it's seeing our children growing into adults that makes us desperate to be young again.  Where men buy sports cars or seek out younger women, we get botox and look at younger men.  And that's fine, really.  I am not against change, especially if it enhances my life.  I am 100% pro-health and reinvention. Believe me, I exercise, watch what I eat and buy anti-aging lotions like most Americans.  But does it make me a slug because I don't care to compete with the girls next door over something that I could care less about?  No. 

I see more and more women my age trying to be something they aren't in the name of change or renewal.  Slap a label on it and become part of a movement.  Go ahead, everyone's doing it.  Meanwhile, I see judgment toward anyone who doesn't participate in the madness or--gasp--enjoys a cocktail or two.  That's what bothers me.  The pointing of fingers, gnashing of teeth and whispering behind backs about anyone who is walking a different path.  It is never ending.  Didn't high school end a few decades ago?  I swear I remember graduating in 1986. 

As 40-something year old women, I believe we are above this competition with one another.  Life is much more profound than the size of our jeans, the job we have, the food we eat, our marital status, the car we drive, the trips we take or the type of exercise we enjoy.  If you're happy getting up at 4AM to ride your bike, swim in a lake and run several miles, then that's great.  Enjoy.  But don't judge me for being happy eating pasta, stargazing almost every night, going to bed at 4AM and having zero interest in your sport of choice.

Everyone has their own thing, or at least I hope it's their own thing and not simply the latest fad that lets them blend into a group.  When we fade into the illusion of group approval, we lose the precious commodity of our individuality.  How boring is that?  Personally, I choose not to run my life via committee approval. 

As Sheryl Crow sings, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."  Do what makes you happy, but don't judge someone else for finding happiness elsewhere.  The world has plenty of room for morning people, night people, triathletes, couch potatoes, vegetarians and carnivores.  As for me, I will choose the yoga mat over the bike every day because that is what makes me happy.  If that doesn't meet your 'status approval', then kiss my downward facing dog and go jump in a lake.