An Honest View from the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. That’s the way I feel right now about everything. I can’t win. I can’t be who I need to be, no matter how hard I try. I get up to go to work, but then I have no energy at home. I help bring home an income, but I feel as if I am failing my sons by not being with them. I try to speak truth to the world, but inside I feel like a fraud.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that my writing is so melancholy. I don’t want it to be. I really, really want to be funny, entertaining, encouraging. Business experts say to give the audience what they want, what they need. And I know that women, just like me, need to be encouraged. We need love, support, appreciation. So, that’s the type of posts I need to be writing. Because that’s what you need to hear.

But I can’t. I’m sorry. I just can’t right now.

I don’t feel funny. I don’t feel entertaining. I don’t feel encouraging. I am trying. I promise. I am, but this is hard. This is so much harder than anything I have ever experienced. And here’s the real kicker.

Life doesn’t stop because I’m grieving.

So, in addition to all the emotional baggage I am trying to unpack, I still have to work. I still have to manage a house. I am still homeschooling. I am still trying to be a wife and a mother. I’m still writing and trying to kick off this business. All the normal, everyday issues that were present in my life before Brandon’s death—they are still here. And they feel magnified by 1000 times because I am in such a dark place already.

I preach transparency, vulnerability, and I’m trying to live it because I really believe that’s how we do life together. But it’s hard. It’s really, really hard.

For example, tonight we are fighting with a teen in our house. Schoolwork is a constant battle, and no matter how I try to address the issues appropriately, the result is always the same—angry outbursts, yelling, no resolution of the problem, just another fight. I’m sick of it, and I’m scared. No matter how bad things got before, I always had hope, but now I struggle to find hope because, after all, my worst fears came true. If it can happen once, it can happen again.

My mind feels thick and cloudy. Sometimes I wonder how I am able to even speak coherently. At times, my words get jumbled up in my head. Am I even making sense? I second-guess myself a lot. I am pretty sure that I repeat myself often. I worry that I may be going crazy.  

My body feels swollen, my skin stretched tight. I have gained so much weight, all of the weight I worked so hard to get off. My stationary bike sits taunting me next to the bed. If it weren’t for the picture of the odometer that I still keep on my phone, I would never believe that I cycled more than 3000 miles in less than two years. Now, I get out of breath tying my shoes. I can’t even clip my toenails.  Nothing tastes right, but I just keep eating whatever sounds good.

Despite being on anxiety medication, sleep medication, and a heart medication (more medication than I have been on in my entire life), my sleep is erratic. Last week, I dreamed that Brandon was calling me, “Mom! Mom! Mom!” But I didn’t answer. Why didn’t I answer? I woke up feeling as if I had failed him again. I carried that with me all day. “I failed him in life; I even fail him in death.”

My heart flips and flops and flutters, and I listen through a stethoscope to make sure it’s not all in my imagination. It skips a beat. It pounds as if it is going to come out of my chest. Is this really all a part of the grieving process? Or am I simply falling apart?

My soul hurts. Is that even possible? I can’t explain it any other way.  While trying to pray, I lose my train of thought mid-sentence. I cry, sometimes with tears, and sometimes with these deep, guttural animalistic sounds that take even me off guard as they escape from my mouth. I wail, “Help me, God!”

And I try to hide all of this from my boys at home, from the people at work, from the cashiers at the stores, from my Sunday school class and small group. I try to appear as normal as possible when I feel like a total freak.

Today, I told myself that if anyone asked how I was doing, I wasn’t going to lie. I was going to tell them the truth. I caught myself saying, “I’m fine.” But then I remembered, and so, I backtracked and said, “No, actually, I am not fine.” I was reminded that it’s OK to not be OK.

But it doesn’t feel OK. None of this feels OK.

This battle seems to be getting harder instead of easier. I am not even eight months out. I have a lifetime to go.

Even now, as I look at this post, it’s too long. And there are too many “I”s. It shouldn’t be all about me. I need to point people to God. I know that there are not enough “HE”s here.  

HE is good. HE is loving. HE is merciful. HE is able. HE is near.

I know. I know. I really do know the Truth. But the logical side of my brain is fighting with the emotional side. And my faith is standing in between trying to hold it all together.

So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to be such a Debbie-downer. But this is where I am right now. This is me being honest. This is me, thinking more about me than I know I should. This is me struggling to get up, struggling to get a breath, struggling to go on. If you are struggling too, please know that I understand. Please know that you are not alone. And please, please, pray for me. If you let me know, I will pray for you too.