“Borderline”

Lately, I cannot even make sense of how I feel. Parts of me seem to straddle this invisible barrier between being fed up, and being a stubborn bull that just keeps going. Most times I realize that I am purely numb.

Yet, there are multiple times during the day where I feel like I am gonna simply combust. My entire body hurts. The physical symptoms of ongoing anxiety cause for my body to feel tensed, spent and my muscles the inability to relax. I am pretty sure that my entire body feels as if I am in fight mode all day. Ready to fight like Ali and Joe Frazier sans boxing ring. Simply my emotions draining my body and souls of its ability to behave correctly.

Fighting to keep breathing, and not let my mood swings get the best of me. Fighting to not allow the anxiety I feel to swallow me up. Fighting to maintain a level head in a hostile world. Fighting to keep my grief at bay, and allow myself to be present; so that I don’t have a post partum episde. Episodes where there are large gaps of white noise. However, in present day, there are some days where my face feels to be feverish, and flush with pure frustration…the type of frustration that makes your heartbeat quicken…and it feels as if you are holding your breath for eons. Sometimes, it seems as if I literally have to make a point to BREATHE. Which is so ironic, because there are protests around the world going on where there are constant chants of “I can’t breathe.” Most days it feels like I cannot…until I have to ensure my brain communicates to my tired soul to keep praying…. Keep having faith, and trust God… to keep breathing.

My nerves are bad and my body shakes at times. I am angry. Frustrated. Sad. Exhausted. Alone yet not lonely. I am an overwhelmed mommy who taught school work for work in between WebEx meetings; like most mothers during the pandemic. It seems as if I went from overwhelmed mommy to a mommy who is just trying to ensure that her children are safe, healthy, and happy. I went from one day being the mommy that is desperately trying to interchange through her many hats; to the mommy who realized quickly that we cannot manage multiple hats on our head perfectly. After I realized that with our lives being interrupted out of nowhere that I had become the mother who had no head to hang the many hats no. I became that mommy who became aware that these sudden life changes are affecting not only me, but my babies and I have no clue what  is happening, why, and what is expected of them to do. I quickly became the mother who planned to sacrifice any and everything. And I woke up and not only did my tradition role as mommy evolve within hours, but the role of mommy became undefined. Even today I have no clue as to how I am managing; I know that I have learned things I knew I could do, and then I began to do things I had no idea I could do.

In fact, it feels like I KNOW NOTHING these days, but I will admit that my heart feels broken, but full simultaneously. When everything is in motion going day in and out, my ebbs and flows. But I get to see my babies smile and laugh more than before. After much thought I know that I am cyclically in different stages of grief for multiple reasons.

For one, I grieve for my grandmother and father. With my grannyboo, I have truly begun the grief process for the only grandmother I know. For some reason, I don’t feel immense grief and I realized that perhaps I have convinced myself that she is still in her memory facility. Maybe I have ensured that she is going about her normal day in her room. Maybe she is still participating in her daily activities with her friends, and wandering the halls with her baby dolls. I remember when I first visited her in her later stages of Alzheimers; it made me very uncomfortable seeing her truly treat the cabbage patch babies like her children.Yup, I refuse to think of anything different.

Second, I have only just began the true grieving process about my daddy. I truly believe because of my role in all the planning; that in order to stay stable, I was able to be in denial. Despite the fact that we cared for Daddy daily; I operated in denial. Then the stages of intense grief and sadness began. I went from being extremely angry about daddy. I was mad that I kept forgetting that he was gone… and then I would try to call him.  In conversation I would call out his name as if he is here in present tense. To be honest, I still catch myself speaking of him in presence tense. Then I immediately switch to sorrow.

In the beginning of the pandemic, I could not escape my grief. I could no longer grieve alone. Being at home with his room would suffocate me daily.  Eventually, I moved his things out. My goal waking up first in the morning led me to gutting the room that belonged to him, and focusing on making it into my office. It helped that the smells of him evaporated. The artifacts are packed away….and I see cheery colors of rose gold and white….and I have slipped into acceptance. I don’t cry as much. I miss him, but the gut-wrenching nightly cries have subsided.

I am grieving my pre-COVID life. I didn’t realize just how much I thrived from being on the go. Working in the community and meeting new people allows me to be in my element. I am now grieving as of today, my role at my job as a result of a merger. I have tried to move on, but no avail, I was never able to take my skills to the next level (not yet).

On the surface level,  I miss dancing in traffic.  Most importantly getting dressed up and going on a date with my husband.  My routine. Talking with my friends aka the Dacula Starbucks staff. I Miss going to visit my in-law.  I miss my daily work schedule and meeting with my friends for lunch, and  brunch, and happy hours on the weekens. It was a welcome reminder of my pre mommy/wife role. It helped make me miss them more, because I talked of the little family on those times out. I miss getting up and putting on makeup. Getting my hair and nails done. I definitely miss my monthly massages. I miss being around PEOPLE. The extrovert in me seems to crave being around others even more….and quarantine aint having that.

 

Thirdly but importantly, I am grieving the state of my people in America. As a social worker, mother, wife and friend to man; I am hurting that there has been no break for us. Especially when it comes to Justice. Though I have been “numb” this contributes to me feeling as if there has been no break for me.  In this present time, there continues to be HATRED and continued DISRESPECT to our mere presence. The majority of the Caucasian race can sleep at night; despite Blacks not being able to breathe. No, I did not watch that man take his last breath; after I have had my recent share of loss. With the constant pre-mediated attacks on blacks; I am hurting because my husband is on the front lines…  My humble husband who wears a SWAT uniform daily; he is still a gorgeous and intellingent BLACK MAN. I worried when I first met him, and knew that he was at the beck and call to save others. I remember the first time I saw him wear the badge; I felt proud because he had taken an oath to preserve life, but I feared for him as a BLACK officer no matter the fact he is in special ops.

I worried then, I worry now, and I pray.

Perhaps due to my current medications I am unable to pinpoint my exact mood. I mean I am fukking angry. I feel isolated in my grief, and I am Frustrated.

 

With all of the different levels of grief that I am breathing through; I feel completely unaligned. I am afraid, but I am unsure exactly what I am afraid of. What I do know is that I am exhausted. Mentally. Physically. And I am depleted. When will I feel better?

Will I ever be balanced again? Will I ever feel like the Erika I worked so hard to get to? Will I stop feeling depleted as a result of numbness? It feels as if I will feel borderline.  In my current present; though I don’t feel present. Nowhere near than being in the past time; yet know that there are familiar remnants of the old Erika. I an overwhelmed mommy, a wife that is loved; with hats sprawled about the ground.

Borderline sounds about right. Not here. Not there…yet present.

*Hums Mortal Man*

“Mommy Dust”

Last night, I jolted awake around 4 am, and noticed that the hallway light was on. Sleepily went to investigate the girl’s bathroom, and saw Gabby on the potty looking defeated. She told me that she wet herself; I immediately wanted to scold her due to the frequent potty accidents. After all, she was completed potty trained, and all of a sudden she was wetting herself. As I write now, my social work antenna is going off, and I should have noticed then that my baby was off. I caught myself before I got fussy and asked her “What’s going on Gabby?” In a frustrated voice she yelped; “I Miss PawPaw okay!” I was taken aback. She had tears in her eyes. Right in that moment, she needed to be held….and for once I felt like I had the tools to be full present. I used my soft voice to calm her. I told her that Pawpaw still loved her and was around. I cleaned her up, and lulled her back to sleep as she stated “I miss him and he won’t come back.” I just held her and reminded her that he’s in his new house with his new computer writing. She seemed to be soothed by that, and went asleep. In that moment, I thanked God that I was okay enough to not break down. I was able to be her anchor.  I wouldn’t have been able to successfully do this weeks ago. It would have been very hard for me to hold back the tears, but now….. perhaps it’s the positive of the med change; or that I am in the acceptant phase. I like to think that it’s a little of both.

When I got back into the bed; my brain couldn’t stop whirring. I started to replay moments where Gabby would just be so angry and would lash out at everyone.  I noticed in the recent days that She started to not wanna do her usual play activities. I’d ask her what’s wrong, but I didn’t “hear” her. I sat in that for awhile as I lie there. I had to remind myself this does not make me a bad mommy; only a learning mommy. I sat and ruminated about her love language, and drafted a plan for the next day. (I will explore this more in my book 😊 ).

Over the last few months, my frustration with working, and teaching from home due to the pandemic; I couldn’t see beyond my med change that caused for everything to be all over the place all day. My irritability and generalized anxiety caused me to yell often followed immediately by “Sorry to yell…I’m not mad.” I couldn’t focus on much, and exhibited a mixed mood.  In fact, in the daily household we all spoken in higher octaves aka “yelling up and down the stairs”.  My tries to quiet them while on important conference calls; caused heightened tension. My house during the day while Daddy worked; seemed suffocating no matter how many outside breaks we took, paint parties, etc.

To be perfectly honest, I was fed up with My name called every 10 minutes while on important calls. My children would simply not listen. I choked this up to WE all were “sicka each other;” which would be accurate. We had been quarantined earlier than others due to my husband’s COVID diagnosis (He made an amazing recovery BTW). As I laid in bed last night, I replayed several instances where Gabby didn’t appear to feel seen or heard in the home. After all, Gracie doesn’t always wanna watch the same things they used to. I am too busy cranking out never-ending reports and conference calls…..so my poor sour patch probably truly missed PawPaw these few days. If he were here, she would more than likely commandeer his tv, and watch her programs or play games on his phone. He would more than likely sneak her junk aka “snacks”; especially a pop-tart.

The past few weeks have been riddled with trigger after trigger. I truly believe that the chakrahs were a little unbalanced throughout every individual in the home. It’s like we were in crisis mode with all the changes internally and externally. For myself, COVID was filled with triggers from the beginning. When I walked out of my bedroom, I saw my father’s empty room filled with his bed and many trinkets. The extrovert in me felt isolated despite many creative workarounds. But mainly, I wasn’t able to grieve the way I needed to, because I wasn’t alone. I felt myself become stuck, and the only way to deal was to physically change my surroundings.

When I finally donated his furniture; it was like me finally saying Goodbye. I was sad…frustrated and broken. I then walked into the empty room, and saw the possibilities and growth. I didn’t think about how the change would be different for my babies. Not to mention that there is virtually no trace of him in my office now. I never thought about the opposite trigger would look for my family. Perhaps they still came into his room seeking that comfort, and now its ….not there. Either way, I was up all night wanting to beat myself up for not seeing my baby. For not ensuring that she was heard….without saying “I Miss PawPaw…Okay.” That’s the thing about grief that I am learning. We forget that our little people; are still little people despite the fact that they’re oh so resilient. I leaned on them so much in the beginning of this grief journey. And now they’re grieving their routine, friends, school, and their “break from me.” I don’t know how to survive the quarantine, but I know that we will…together. I do know that I am going to be proactive in assessing where my children are on their own grief journeys. This road is nowhere near finished…..but I have to remember they loss a household member, friend, playmate, and their PawPaw. I always said when having a bad grief day, “Please give me Grace” and now it’s my turn to extend that same grace with extra mommy dust.

 

*Goes to sneak in Gabby’s room to smell her hair, kiss her forehead, and say a little prayer…and sprinkle some Mommy dust*

“Spider Webz”

So many things I want. Simply things. Things I need….that I ignore. How long will I be able to? I am not quite sure. My life has been a rollercoaster…ALL MY LIFE. An elaborate spiderweb of sayings like Charlottes’ web. When I look back, I was not in control of the highs and lows; however, I am now. When it came to my parents’ divorce…the constant moving…the isolation…the fear… those were the lows…the lower lows; the product of ambiguity. Those things formulated who I am.

In my 34 years, I have learned that a woman’s heart is an ocean of secrets…feelings that others will never understand. Most women understand that we go on carrying invisible loads that some acknowledge, but many do not… not because we don’t WANT to, but because we know no different. Oh… what webs we weave. I want so much but I know that it’s not time, and I am impatient. I want to walk into my career destiny of my passion. I want fulfilling relationships with those I love, and I want to truly move on from my past. I say that all the time; and yet my mind wonders back to my childhood and moments I am not so proud of…oh the webs we weave.

My webs seem to ebb and flow yet they are intricate. Webs’ of instability deafening silence; yet throttles of sound. Webs of Uncertainty; strings of invisible yarns of fear that’s contribute to what I feel. Khlonopin is my friend; not because I want her & I to be besties, but because; I am mad about that once again I don’t have balance on my own. I am uber mad that  I am on Abilify, because Celexa and Lamictal just cant handle all of the craziness that swirls around me…Yet I take them ugly ass pills.

Everything is uncertain and the paranoia, anxiety and depression is so great; yet I keep going. I keep breathing even when my chest cavity caves in.  Even when it seems like I am screaming at the top of my lungs and it seems as if no one hears….. oh the webs we weave.

 

I have no idea what to do…but sleep. I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed earlier. I should have just stayed in my shell. But mommies aren’t allowed to. Depressed mommies cannot. Mommy’s simply HAVE to keep breathing so that others will.

Dammit, my where’s my khlonopin? I can’t even afford to self-harm, because I truly don’t WANT to. This is not a cry for help…this is just how I feel today. I so desperately need to feel better.

It’s been six months…it’s been a year and a half of career uncertainty… and life has been crazy ever since. It’s been months of up and down WITH medication… how and where do I begin dear reader? I can’t even go see my family honestly. I wanna stay home… I love spending invaluable time with my family;  yet I need to get out. I need to cry in traffic. I need to hide behind a cup of nitro coffee at Starbucks. I need to hide behind my grandiose persona at a Papadeaux happy hour so that my babies are none the wiser when I get home to do all the things that mommy does to make their lives sweeter.  I don’t wanna stay so that I can hide’ that’s a first for me. The more that I continue to ponder; I realize I am being reactive and paranoid. I been feeling so low. So lonely. Grief and depression is one of the loneliest places to be on the planet….. And today is a day where I am afraid that things won’t get better…but only for today.

Where’s my khlonopin. It’s upstairs. Maybe I should take some and just go to sleep. Go to bed. Perhaps that is what I need….or not. I  just wanna feel better. I reckon that I just pretend like I always do

Oh the webs I have weaved…..

“The Great Pretender”

Since September I have prided myself on the ability to hide behind my mask. Not just my manic-depressive mask, but now the mask of my grief. One thing about me is that I am a creature of habit, and I am a beast at loopholes. I figured if I could hide behind my bubbly extrovert mask for my manic depression; then surely, I can apply that same theme to dealing with my grief. Throughout my journey into my mental health; I have learned to pretend…until I was unable to. For the past couple of months; I have ensured to pretend that I was in the acceptant phase. These good and bad days would interchange without my permission…until I was in the moment.  I would talk about my dad in the present tense, and share a memory, it seemed awkward to my audience. I always chucked it up to the fact that one can only truly understands grief or what to say…when they join this lonely ass club.

At work in my speaking engagements, I would be there, but everywhere. I was present, but I’d pretend. I would ensure to look like a good version of myself. I would fake my smiles, laughter, and hide my cynicism (which is not new). While working in the community; it is expected for me to be a walking billboard. This job was made for me despite my mood swings. When I was up….I was really up and I made amazing relationships with the community without trying. When I was down, I’d plaster the same smile while meeting with organizations. It would drain me to the point that I would crumble in my car.  I hold seats on boards, and I have gotten pretty good at pretending that I AM OK.  After the deaths of my father and grandmother back to back; I had to find a workaround.  So, to avoid questions and awkwardness; I decided I will just keep it in. My workaround was to grieve alone when my babies and husband were gone or asleep. I would come back from my community meetings, and then literally fall apart in my car. I would drag myself home to my current trigger of not seeing daddy is in his room.  And now, the grief swallows me up some days.

Thanks to raggedy ass COVID, my whole wellness plan is shot to shit. I am longer able to grieve alone in my home. I feel guilty breaking down emotionally when I think that I am in private; only to see a toddler scramble away. I feel guilty for dumping on my husband. Days like today where attempted to go into his room and let the light, and I fell apart. I couldn’t smell him anymore, the room was cluttered, I saw actual dust on his belongings, and it reminded me of a tomb. I saw the bed he took his last breath in, and I became nauseated. My body hurt and my chest tightened, and I couldn’t pretend anymore. MY daughter was downstairs with her nosey ears and heard my faint sniffles, and I couldn’t hide. I ran outside to get some air…. nada. I went to my room and collapsed. My anxiety was high, and the only think I could do was first take my anxiety med, hide under the covers and silently wail. After 3 hours later; I didn’t realize I cried myself asleep. I literally woke up with swollen eyes. One cannot pretend and hide from that. I was able to pinpoint that I truly need to purge the room of all of his furniture to begin with. The room is cluttered and the stagnant air is draining me. Before COVID, I had made a plan to find someone to get the furniture out of his room for starters. After all, he took his last breath in that bed. And now, SOCIAL EFFIN DISTANCE. UGH

Before tucking in my oldest daughter, I thanked for the hugs and the sticker she left on my bed while I was asleep. I asked her what it meant, and she went on an entire toddler rant, and stated she got it from her best friend. She said the diamond was special and she wanted me to have it “so you won’t be sad anymore.” I was impressed that she put so much thought behind the gift. I spent some time reiterating to her that my tears aren’t because of her or gabby doing wrong. I told her it wasn’t because “mommy was sick again.” I simply informed her that today I cry simply because I miss my daddy, and my heart hurts. She confided in me that she wants to cry, but doesn’t want to be made fun of. I told her that crying is a strength. I told her that I cry, and what do you know… she offered for us to cry together.

While we sat on her Minnie mouse twin bed, we held hands as she shared a couple memories of paw paw, and stated she missed him too. She hugged me, we kissed, and in that moment; I didn’t have to pretend, because children are so resilient. After that day, I was back to “normal” banging out work while homeschooling/entertaining my 3-year-old. I was moving up and about. Took my babies out for fresh air every day this week; despite my love/hate relationship with sunshine. That night I took a bath, soothed my soul, and eventually fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning.

 

Hopefully what I am teaching them is to be entuned with their feelings. After this talk, I realized that I need to seek grief counseling. Counseling has been the missing link, and will help me get rid of the unrealistic pressures that I put on myself. I know that when I do my conference calls at home, or when I go outside with the babies and homeschool…my handy dandy masks will manifest itself out of habit.

 

*googles grief counseling via telehealth*

“Kiss of Life”

There are times

That lasts only minutes but feels like centuries

Times where

I feel so broken

yet put together

with stitches

even with anesthesia

My heart hurts.

I don’t feel him anymore

In my home

The home my husband and I built with him in mind.

Being in his room, usually brings me comfort, but I have heard from several that I am being a little…”too attached.” I am unsure how grief for me is, and if this is normal. I do know that it gets worse at night. I get anxious…It takes forever to sleep with or without Lunesta, and It takes tons of energy to get out of bed. I know this is normal behavior; in fact its familiar with my bipolar depression. It is a different feeling when you have this crushing feeling in your chest, and you muffle your cries not to wake your covenant partner…. I used to find comfort in knowing that daddy lived his last days with my family and I in our home. Comfort in knowing that my babies and the grands kept him going. Comfort in knowing that he never made an enemy, and he had an amazing smile and strong handshake; both I inherited via osmosis. It made me feel comforted and blessed that he took his last breath around my little family that he loved so much. Because of this blessing wrapped in comfort, I had the strength to carry out his affairs and prepare his homegoing….in fact that’s what kept my back straight. I was able to put my heart in a compartment so that I can get things taken care of. Though I knew that the true grieving process would come eventually; I took comfort in knowing I could go into his room; smell him and feel his presence….that is until recently I couldn’t feel him anymore. And now His room feels vacant. I don’t see his personal belonging anymore…I just see clothes. I see his trinkets. Every now and again; I see something with his handwriting and I chuckle because he always used capital letters and quotation marks. I have tons of flash drives that I am not ready to look at. I want my home to be full of light…and now that I am here; able to breathe better. I am able to start my new normal and not feel selfish for it. For awhile I had this irrational guilt for NEEDING to move on. Now that I am here emotional I struggle because I need for this room to change; yet I am afraid. I need the change, but I don’t even know where to start.

Prior to this feeling, someone said to me that daddy hadn’t crossed over because he was waiting around to make sure we were ok. More importantly, that I was ok. Once I realized this, I prayed that God would grant him the rest he so much deserved. I knew that as my daddy he would always worry about me, but I wanted his soul to be at rest. I wanted him to sit at God’s feet; not sit around my home. I was okay with letting him go, and just missing him until I couldn’t feel him anymore. To be honest, it feels like I have lost him all over again. Having his spirit here was a crutch for me, and now I feel completely lost. Now, I feel like I am finally grieving. I went into his room the other night distraught and all I could find was his worldly possessions. All, I could see were pictures of his family, documents that he had accumulated over the years; but not him. It cut me to the core. I was inconsolable. Now, I am starting to feel the anger….the frustration, and It makes me sick to my stomach. Everywhere in my home I am reminded that something is missing. I have to sit back and remind myself to not be selfish…and let him go like he wanted me to…like he deserved. I realized that him leaving is SO much bigger than me. Life and death is something one cannot predict. Something that mortals have no control of, and because of the love you have for them….it’s something that cannot be replaced.

I cant wait till I can go into my father’s room and write. It is a goal of mine. I know that there is no race to get there, but I must admit. I am ready. I will forever be grateful that the Lord blessed me with the kiss of life in the form of a never-ending love. I will eternally be grateful that daddy isnt here to b exposed to this mess.

Its hard to breathe when I type this but
I know he wouldn’t want to leave us like this.
He so deserved a hero exit In his bed..

In his own bed
Engulfed in love
After an amazing job well done
Just like his daddy
The dream he always told me he prayed for…
It hurts
My heart Is still severed
But the ventricles work

I love him so much that I want his soul to be at peace. I know you will worry about me dad, but you left me in good hands, with amazing family who miss you as well, and a legacy that cannot be matched…  I try to find him in everywhere I go…in most things I do for comfort. I know that I won’t always feel this way, but at least I have a template. When I miss him I watch his tribute video. The photos and playlist bring him back to me if only for 24 minutes and 30seconds.  The pictures on the slideshow shows him in an array of the different segments of his life. Most are pictures are of the ones he loved. I so look forward to seeing his face, and sometimes I imagine his voice….something I don’t ever want to forget. The soundtrack a love letter of mines to him. There is a segment that brings the stitches within my heart closer. There is a photo of him in deep thought. The song; “Kiss of Life” is playing by Sade. The lyrics make my heart grow because I imagine its the song that was playing to the soundtrack of my life the day my daddy and I met. 

“There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly led me to you
Look at the sky
It’s the colour of love
There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly came down from above
He led me to you
He led me to you
He built a bridge to your heart
All the way
How many tons of love inside
I can’t say
When I was led to you
I knew you were the one for me
I swear the whole world could feel my heartbeat
When I lay eyes on you
Ay ay ay
You wrapped me up in
The colour of love

 

*hums Kiss of Life *