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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Solo

Marilyn Monroe said it best when she said, "It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone."  I would not have understood that a few years ago, but I do now.

My vulnerability after Sean's death led me on a twisted journey of takers, users and abusers.  My need to be anything but alone opened the door for people who just wanted something from me.  Some wanted close to the latest gossip in town and I was all too willing to talk because I had a huge hole in my heart.  Others made promises they had no intention of keeping, which devastated me in my vulnerable state-of-mind.  Like birds of prey, they smelled my temporary weakness and snatched me up in their talons.  The relationships were toxic.  I see it now.  Clarity has come at a cost.  

Now that my life has stabilized and my confidence is back, I am letting them all go, releasing my attachment.  Despite my vulnerability and need at the time, not one of those relationships ever truly lifted me up or gave me joy.  They clung to me because they needed something and I made it easy to take because it was better than being alone.  Like parasites, we used each other for our selfish needs and agendas.  Getting back to a place of self-reliance has resulted in some scarring and a whole lot of learning.   

Starting over in life is more than rebuilding a career, moving beyond active grieving and regaining confidence.  Starting over means making mistakes that teach lessons about who I am and what I am capable of overcoming.  Starting over means accepting current circumstances instead of trying to make the old routine work.  Starting over means standing on my own without needing anyone to 'fill a void'. Starting over means knowing what I deserve and accepting nothing less...including respect. 

Unless you have needed to start life over from scratch all alone with kids depending on you to make the right choices, you're not going to understand.  Being suddenly widowed and an only parent is a scary thing.  I made a lot of mistakes, but I forgive myself.  The key is now saying, "enough" and moving on.  I don't expect you to understand, but I do expect you to keep this phrase in mind before you cast judgment:  There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I completely understand what Marilyn Monroe meant when she said, "It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone."  Unhappy with someone means being stuck on a one way road of dysfunction and desperation where the toxic energy binds you together in an endless loop of nowhere.  Unhappy alone means it's all up to me to change it.  I am in control.  I do not need to accept 'less than' anymore or tolerate disrespect.  

Am I unhappy?  Yes, in a way.  Sometimes.  I don't feel like I fit where I am and am looking to find that place where I do.  But it's up to me to do it.  On my own.  Like a big girl.  Solo.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pause. Rewind. Play.

I organized my DVDs and videos this weekend.  As I sorted through the piles, I pulled out a few that were filmed by tour companies during our many vacations over the years.  You know the ones with the cheesy music, shots of strangers you shared the adventure with and sold by whatever tour company you were with on that particular day?  Well, I convinced--okay, I begged--the kids to sit and watch with me.  As we ooed and ahhed over how cute Briahna was when she was only five years old and swimming with stingrays in the Cayman Islands, a pattern revealed itself.  Even though we were still a family of four at the time, only glimpses of Sean were seen in each video.

A desperation came over me to see him live and in action again.  I paused and rewound video.  Then I would see him, just a brief glimpse of a smile or a leg or an arm or the back of his head, but always as a glimpse.  There were many shots of the kids and me, almost an embarrassing amount.  But rarely Sean.

As we made our way from a decade ago to more recent times, the pattern of the three of us--Briahna, Ben and me--became clear.  It has always been this way, even when Sean lived.  I don't know how many times we would be snorkeling or diving when I would look up and realize he had disappeared.  That's how he was, always in his own head, always doing his own thing, always choosing to be alone, always uncomfortable in his own skin.  He chose to stay out of the picture.  He chose to watch.  He chose to end his life. 

Watching the images of past vacations did not make me sad.  The kids and I enjoyed them.  My desperation to see Sean in motion again faded away into a sense of acceptance for who he truly was.  Maybe I needed that reminder of how our life was with me always looking for him and him always disappearing.

After awhile I stopped pausing and rewinding, much to the relief of the kids.  There is only so much pausing and rewinding we can do in our lives.  Looking back, analyzing what was, studying the why or the how becomes redundant. It is.  It was.

Play.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Eloquence of Silence

Five years ago, my world was in free fall.  Only a few months had passed since Sean's suicide and the business of death filled my every waking moment.  My life had been whittled down to a checklist.  Get up in the morning.  Pay off bills.  Take kids to grief counseling.  Go to my own grief counselor.  Create a will.  Tear it up.  Choose a guardian.  Change my mind.  Clean the house.  Feed us.  Lock self in bathroom so the kids won't see me cry.  Repeat.

In between checking off the to-do list, I flayed around and grasped at people as if they were life preservers.  Some relationships truly did save my sanity while others threatened to crack the brittle shell that held me together.  I craved talking to anyone who would listen because the silence scared the hell out of me. So I talked and talked and talked.  And I stayed a flurry of motion with traveling and house projects.

But I could not write.  I could not sit still.  I ran from the silence.

Five years later, my story is different.  Most of those people I clung to are now absent from my life.  I appreciate them for being here when I needed them the most and would gladly be there for them in the future; but I no longer need saving.  I have learned that there are people--ordinary people who don't wear uniforms--whose purpose is to be a life preserver when someone's life becomes a sinking ship.  Once the saving is done, they fade away to find another who needs them more.  I call them Earth Angels and have been fortunate enough to also call them friends.  In their absence, I am content.

You see, grief is weird and turbulent and doesn't make any sense.  It brings out the best and worst in people.   I have family members who never stepped up to be there for the kids and me during our time of crisis, not even a phone call to see how we were.  And, I must admit, I will remember that.  I have a very close family member who recently told me that she never wants me to speak of being a single mom or a widow again--ever.  I have seen friendships either strengthen or crumble.  But the most important thing that has come from this journey is that I have embraced my life as is.  The journey brought out the best in me. 


Where once I sought to fill the void left by Sean's death with false friends who truly don't care about me, I am now at peace with my widow status.  I no longer seek to fill the void because I now see that there never was a void.  When you love someone as deeply as I loved Sean, that love remains.

I faced the pain.  I swam down in the deep end of life.  I have nothing to prove to anyone.  I do not need validation from false friends or family members who only want to be in my life during the good times. Life is as ugly as it is beautiful.  Life is as complicated as it is simple.  Silence permeates it all. When we are able to sit in the silence,  we can hear our hearts again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I love L.A.

Sunset Boulevard is often referred to as the 'boulevard of broken dreams', but I disagree.  As I checked into a hip hotel on that same boulevard a few weeks ago, those words made me smile.  When I looked around Hollywood, I didn't see broken dreams.  I saw dreamers who hope for their big break.  I saw a city built around making dreams come true.  Creative energy zapped from the pavement.  Promises whispered through the palm trees. 


My friend and I opened a bottle of wine and settled in by the pool that was tucked in a courtyard lined with bamboo, palm trees, Mediterranean pines and flowers.  As one of my friends said, it had a 'Melrose Place' feel to it.  We perched our wine bucket on the edge of a Japanese-styled fountain and kicked back to enjoy simply being there. 

As we finished off our first bottle, a too-good-looking-to-be-true-Hollywood type showed up saying they were going to be filming a television reality show where we were, said we could stay, but that they were bringing in the 'girls'.  Whatever.  I had my wine, had my feet up by the fountain, and no Hollywood producer would scare me off.  So in came the cast--I don't believe I'm allowed to say who it was so will play it safe--and they started chatting with us about what we were up to, about the amount of wine bottles we had and our plans for the night.  These girls could have been our daughters, were Hollywood beautiful and couldn't have been nicer.  Yep, it's true.  They were nice.


The night ended up being more wild than this 42 year-old anticipated and led to the dreaded not-quite-sober-not-quite-intoxicated walk down Sunset Boulevard to our hotel at 5:30 AM.  (No, we weren't with the TV girls--we were on our own.) 

I felt more alive than I have felt in years during those hours spent laughing and drinking and flirting and bullshitting all night long.  I loved meeting people who were actors in waiting.  I loved talking writing with other writers who had amazing stories to share with the world.  I loved the hope in everyone's voices, the determination, the 'knowing' that their turn at the spotlight was just around the corner, and the optimism that had them laughing at current bumps in the road. Where else in the world can you find that feeling of dreams coming true all around you?  


The next day at sunset we witnessed a band of drummers creating havoc on Venice Beach and drawing a huge crowd.  Police cars came from all directions down the beach, their lights flashing red on the sand as the sun set over the Pacific and the glow of the Santa Monica pier served as background.  As the sirens flashed, the drummers kept beating and the crowd they attracted jumped to the rhythm, waved their arms in the air and chanted "play on, play on, play on".  Eventually they left the beach to walk down the street parade style, most barefoot, some wearing bikinis, some wearing belly-dancing attire, and others in shorts but all chanting "play on, play on, play on" as the drummers kept right on drumming down the road.  


As I left Los Angeles, I bought drinks for a couple who had just gotten married and were headed on their honeymoon.  They were shocked that a stranger would pick up their tab and came over to chat with me.  All I said to them was, "I like seeing happy people in love.  Be good to each other." The way they smiled touched me deep down in my heart because it summed up what I felt over the weekend.  


My girls' trip to Los Angeles reminded me of a  few of life's necessities.  It reminded me that happiness is right there waiting to be had.  It reminded me that the creative spirit is alive and well and flourishing.  It reminded me that I can still 'hang', although my recovery time isn't what it used to be. It reminded me that beauty is everywhere.  It reminded me that kindness is always cool. It reminded me that timeless friendships are priceless.  It reminded me that even too-good-looking-to-be-true Hollywood types are nice.  It reminded me that, yes, some dreams are broken; but Sunset Boulevard has witnessed more than its fair share of dreams come true.  Los Angeles reminded me that 'playing on' is the only option.