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Learning to Live Again


Catchy title. Catchy, but I find myself struggling to learn how to live again. I wake up every day, I go to work, and I sleep at night. All the routine motions of living continue, but my heart beats differently and my mind thinks differently. Basically, I am a different person now. The things around which my life once revolved have drifted to the farthest recesses of my mind. For the last eight-and-a-half years, I haven’t permitted myself the leisure of thinking too much. I should’ve followed the advice I read in hundreds of articles about grieving; I should’ve been easier on myself and given myself the time to heal. I didn’t. Instead, I pushed forward while focusing on a promise I made and spent too much time worrying about how my grief affected others. I regret that. I don’t imagine there is a “proper” way to heal, but after so many years, I believe that worrying about what others think should be at the very bottom of the list, if at all.

My lack of foresight results in unexpected and abrupt flashes now. A couple of weeks ago, I was washing some dishes and gazing out the window and in an abrupt and unexpected moment, my mind recalled a distant memory. There he was, mowing the hill where I was gazing. I smiled. Then, I wanted to cry. I don’t allow myself to cry, so it took a lot of strength to hold back tears. I suppose the memory popped into my mind because I was thinking that the grass is growing and I need to start mowing. I suppose the memory popped into my mind because he is never far from my mind. I suppose that instead of analyzing the mechanics of what prompted a memory, I should try focusing on my instant reaction to it, which was a fleeting smile. The smile was not one of those manufactured smiles that widows practice in order to appease onlookers; the smile was sincere and without thought.

These glimpses into the past are coming more frequently now. This morning, I was sitting under my dining room table, cleaning the parts I seldom find time to scrub and I saw Star Puppy Ruth with his paws draping the table legs. We lost our beloved Star Puppy six months before Doyle joined him. Again, I smiled. Star Puppy Ruth was almost a permanent fixture under Doyle’s legs. That was Doyle’s favorite place to sit at the dining room table and Star Puppy was always right there. Sometimes, I had to slide that 60-pound puppy across the floor while I tried to clean. Sometimes, I scolded him. Sometimes, I laughed at him and rubbed his belly while telling him what a big baby he was. The memory of him was completely unexpected. It just popped into my mind, much like the mowing incident. This time, I didn’t analyze it; I just soaked it all in. This time, I didn’t fight the tear that came to my eye.

Perhaps these abrupt and unexpected flashes of the past are the stepping stones to learning to live again. I don’t claim to know the answers. All I know is that the motions I’ve been making that resemble some semblance of normalcy do not represent living.

I recently shared an old piece of writing and a few friends asked me to continue writing. I’m giving it a shot. I started writing because I thought it would help me heal faster, but I learned healing is not something that can be controlled. I stopped writing because I wasn’t healing. Healing from grief is not like healing from a physical wound. The heart, once broken, has to learn its own path to healing. There is not a pattern and there is definitely not a specific timeline. Each person and situation is unique. I can’t follow one person’s advice any more than I can follow one widow’s advice; I have to follow my heart.

I’m going to take my friends’ requests to heart and try writing again. It helps me to know that a few people actually enjoy reading what I write, and who knows, I may find that writing will help me learn to live again. This time, I won’t write with any expectations or intentions. I’ll just let my heart express what it needs to express. If it does lead to living again, then I’ll know it’s time. For now, I plan to treasure the memories of happiness that pop into my mind.

©2018 Relinda R.

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Pressing Onward in 2017


After announcing my resolve to ‘do better,’ I unfortunately took a few steps backward. Thus far, it’s been a difficult year. It’s about to get better. It will get better because I recognize that despite all the self-sabotage habits I continue, I am a warrior.

I’ve spent a lot of time in reflection. The 18-year-old bridge in that photo still exists somewhere within my soul. Decades have passed and I’ve watched people I love die, but I’ve also watched people I love flourish. My children, who weren’t yet here, have grown to become adults pursuing their own paths and dreams. I had to say goodbye to my mother, my wind beneath my wings, and not a day passes that I don’t wish I could speak to her. I spent most of the last decade grieving the husband I loved dearly, too distraught to see life through the rose-tinted glasses the young girl in the photo donned. It was as though the girl in the photo shed those windows to optimism and died the same day he died.

Despite the grief, I managed to overcome many seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life. I learned that even with all grief consumes, the slightest connection to perseverance prevails. Even with this knowledge, I could see myself gradually slipping into a dark world in which optimism fades into the shadows. Negativity was slowly consuming my soul. I began to experience anger and resentment. When I saw couples holding hands, I felt pangs of envy tug at my heart. I knew the person feeling envy wasn’t me; it couldn’t be what I had become.

Recently, a dear friend said a few words to me that finally pulled me from a dark world filled with only negativity. That friend has no idea how profound seven little words spoken aloud could influence my heart. In that fleeting moment, I could see the direction in which I was moving and I realized how ugly and dark my soul could become. Since then, I’ve reflected on decisions I’ve made, things I’ve said, and even my thoughts. I didn’t like what that reflection revealed. I don’t belong in that world.

My friend will never know that one comment pulled me from darkness, but I’ll know and I’ll always be grateful. None of us knows how much time we have here; all we can do is live our lives and hope that we leave the world a little better than we found it. My friend reminded me how important it is to make helping others an ultimate goal.

My gift is that I love and care about people. I received an important message last week and it is the key to restoring my soul. It is ironic that one of the last things my husband said to me was, “The key is in helping others.” I lost my way for a little while, but I’m finding my way back. Through the chapters of my life, I’ve lost loved ones, as have we all, but I have blessings too. I’m going to remind myself that every day for the rest of my years. I am blessed.

©Relinda R. 2017

I live


During the last five years, my life consists of nostalgic moments in which I drown in grief but every now and then – I emerge as though some part of me struggles to catch a breath of air. An image or most likely something I read sparks something in my mind that reminds me I continue to live. Somewhere buried beneath the layers of sadness, loneliness, and depression is the person I am. One of the things he loved about me is my ability to unabashedly express my opinion on random topics. I often forget that I hold two degrees and will have a third in a matter of months. I forget that I am educated and capable of establishing well-informed opinions on so many issues. I forget that I am capable of writing so many things because I focus on struggling to breathe during the rare moments I emerge from grief.
This morning, I saw a meme that reminded me I still live.

13979_835437979849666_8032690525724461015_n      I am outraged. I forgot that I am educated because my initial response was “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” What a ridiculous, misogynistic, and ignorant declaration. Saying such a thing suggests a few things to me – the person who wrote it is a pedaphile; the person who wrote it is a blithering idiot; and the person who wrote it is indoctrinated to follow a misogynistic principle formulated centuries prior to this one. The unknown author suggests that wearing makeup and sexy clothing somehow spurs impregnation. What? The first suggestion is that allowing a girl to wear makeup at the age of 10 sets a chain of events into motion that will culminate in her becoming pregnant at 16 years of age. The ironic part is that the person who thought of such drivel most likely supports child beauty pageants. Little girls play with makeup. They just do. Now, if a 10-year-old-girl wearing makeup arouses someone who has crossed the threshold of puberty into adulthood, I propose the problem is not with the child but with the aroused. It’s that simple.

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Allowing a child to date at 12¬ years old, what an odd concept. I thought that only happened when Jeff Warrens was around. Oh wait, that is not dating so much as rape and marriage. I don’t think Jeff Warrens ever considered the concept of dating. I suppose I live with blinders because I was not aware that children actually dated that early. Yes, I know they hang out in groups and have hayrides, but I think of dating as boy drives up in car, picks girl up at door, and so on. So, I suppose on this one – I’ll have to agree. I don’t recommend dating at twelve years of age.

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The anonymous author then tries to convince readers that allowing a girl to wear “sexy clothing at 14” will result in pregnancy. I assume the author has not been shopping lately. Short of buying clothes sold at the local polygamist yard sale, it is difficult to purchase clothes that some warped pedaphile might not perceive as “sexy.” I suppose a parent could use duct tape to bind any hint of breast development and dress the child in layers of feed sacks, but even then, some twisted mind might imagine the child to be a miniature adult. No, a 14-year-old girl does not need to wear clothes commonly associated with prostitution, but I think we need to be realistic and understand that the idea of “sexy” originates in the mind of the beholder. Oh, and parents should forget about high-heeled shoes. In addition, forget about the cheerleading craze because they wear short dresses and cheerleaders are commonly associated with the idea of “sexy.”
I am convinced the unknown author responsible for this meme is a twisted misogynist or bitter woman indoctrinated by twisted misogynists. Girls don’t become pregnant at 16 because of any of the reasons the misguided meme author suggests; they become pregnant because they either willingly or unwillingly had sex. A novel idea to avoid unwanted pregnancy is to learn about sex education. Teach your daughters and sons that while sex is a beautiful part of life, it also brings adult emotions that they are not yet prepared to handle. Teach your children about birth control. I recently read an interesting story written by a woman who underwent the common indoctrination of how she would burn in hell if she had premarital sex. She later experienced a multitude of emotional and marital problems because of it. Look at the facts, our country has the highest rate of teenaged pregnancies and STDs. The idiotic method of teaching young girls to be ashamed of and hide their sexuality is not working. The misogynistic method of teaching young boys that it is perfectly fine for them to react physically when a young girl catches their fancy is not working. Why don’t we consider following the educational pattern that many other countries are successfully practicing in teaching the facts, the financial and emotional aspects, and the consequences, whether good or bad, of choosing to become sexually active?
Yes, I live and continue to think. I imagine the mysterious meme author also assumes that Jon Benet Ramsey’s parents invited the assault and murder of their daughter because they allowed her to essentially play dress up. That upsets me tremendously. The type of people who think that way are of the mindset that a woman who dresses provocatively invites rapists. While I don’t agree with beauty pageants, my disapproval has nothing to do with sex—it has to do with teaching young people that superficial beauty is somehow essential to happiness. But, I also have a big problem with teaching young girls to be ashamed of their bodies. The methods we try are not working. A cliché suggests that if one continues to try doing something one way, with the same failed results, one might be insane. Let’s do the math and consider a different method by educating boys and girls alike.
©Relinda R.