Wednesday, August 25, 2010

5 years continued - part 3

Thank you all so much for the kind comments and emails. They have been very up lifting and appreciated. I have been touched. Writing about my experiences has been cathartic. These posts are definitely for me - they are tough but ...

So there I was sitting on the front porch of my house. The sun had just come up. I could not understand how cars could still drive down the street or how the sun could still shine or the wind blow. It was not making a whole lot of sense to me. The world should have stopped. I mean, this was the end.

Well, I wrote about four more pages. It was just a lot of pain and suffering and rambling. If you have ever read anything in this blog it should come across that I am very task and goal oriented. That is how I confronted this – I read the books about the all of the stages in the grief process (depending on the book there can be 5, 7 and even 10 steps) and made objectives and timelines. You know, I do love the self help section at the library. Well, I learned a lot – the grieving process is not linear. There is ebb and flow – one day you might be on step 4 and then slide back to step 2 for months.

1. Denial and Isolation.
At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.

2. Anger.
The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she's dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.

3. Bargaining.
Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, "If I do this, will you take away the loss?"

4. Depression.
The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.

5. Acceptance.
This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.
However, just because you write down what needs to be done and you do it – and this is the kicker – it does not mean you were successful. You have to really experience the steps, feel the steps, and understand what you are going through. It is not black and white. I hate to say it but you must embace the grief – let the pain wash over you. I have met so many people that have never been able to made peace. They are stuck in steps one or two for decades. They never make it out. They become ruined. I could not let that happen to me. I could not betray my wife and daughter.

So, I used to fall down a lot. In fact I fell down all of the time. And when I fell I stayed down for a long time. As time went on I fell less often and got up quicker. It was funny the things that would knock you down. I could prepare for the big dates. I would plan ahead and brace for them. But it was the little things that hurt the worst. You would catch a faint smell or see a favorite color or a voice. That is when you would just lose it. You would fall down into that pit of despair. That was the worst place. Most of the time I just felt empty but that despair - that one was tough.

Anyway, while I can’t say I am never down - it is few and far between and it is on my terms. I also love the line “You can’t knock me down – I’m either up or in the process of getting up!” I truly believe that I am at step 5 which is Acceptance (sometimes I can and will slide back). I am at peace and I am thankful of the time that I had with these wonderful people.

Opening up about this has been on my to-do-list for the last couple of years. But like I said - just because I have completed the task does not mean I was successful. I had a good friend email this question – “Does it feel better or worse or the same after writing and sharing with the world?”

I responded, “I was hoping for a weight to be lifted off of my shoulders. Well, that did not happen but I hope that I can now be myself. I felt like I was somehow betraying myself – not being able to say things. Just having to be guarded all of the time. At least I should be able to get over that – if I can figure out who I really am.

We will just have to see. Right now I just feel so very vulnerable. It is like I have a really bad sunburn. I am walking around trying not to touch the walls and hoping someone does not slap me on the back.

In the grand scheme of things I truly believe that it will be positive but here and now in the short term it is a risk. It was very cathartic to get it down on paper. I can see how I have grown in the last couple of years.”

Don’t worry, we will get back to regularly scheduled programming soon (Running from Demons and Overtraining). After all, this blog is not called Grief 101, or Tri’n for grief, or even Tri’n and Cry’n (although that is a good one).

I’m still a proud father – I’m just showing off now –

5-years-feels-like-blink-of-eye - part 1

5-years-continued - part 2


5-years-continued-thank-you-all-so-much - part 4


Silvia said...

James, I am now your follower. I really like your posts and how you express your feelings. You are an inspiration! You daughter and wife were very beautiful people! I am sure they would be very proud of you for moving on with your life and not getting stuck in steps 1 and 2. You are a brave and very strong man! God is very proud of you!


Becky Ryder said...

I hope that you sharing this with us will give you a sense of accepance for who you are. I understand how you might feel that you were not "yourself" because you had this part of you that we did know know. I respect you so much for being open about this. We now know you so much better. There may be some who will be uncomfortable because of the information that you have shared with us. Those people have their own secrets and might not know how to relate to someone who is so open. I hope that when I hugged you last night, I did not hurt your sunburn.

Jennifer said...

James, I echo what Becky says. I think you are an angel. Not that I believe in all of that, but I do believe that some things happen, and some people are chosen to be the bearers of stories and experiences that get shared and passed to the benefit of all. Thank you James. P.S. it was great to see you on the Trace the other day! I was in the process of getting my butt was getting kicked by Laura and Jessi.

Corey said...

Thank you for sharing. It was and continues to be powerful. I just want to say that I'm glad to know you...truly...Strongest person I know.

Matty O said...

It is sad to me... that I take things for granted every day. What you have written this week has really struck a nerve. Currently in the process of becoming a better person to those around me.

It is not until something like this comes out and you know that a friend has gone through this that you have to sit back and re-evaluate your life and your choices.

I ask myself, what would I do if Heather was taken from me. I don't think I could function.

Unfortunately emotions are not calculated and can never be linear. This is the difference between humanity and science I guess.

Luke said...

James, Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. They are very moving and have given me a lot to think about. I enjoy sharing blogs with everyone becasue I get to learn about ins and outs of nutrition and training, today you have given me much more think about and I will never be able thank you enough for that.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

You should be a proud father. How beautiful! Anyone who reads your posts this week walks away with something more, in some way. I hope you walk forward after this week with a stronger sense of healing. I also hope you know your friends are behind you in your journey forward.

I love the last paragraph. This summer my blog should be Run'n & Cry'n but - no more. I'm moving forward too. Cool weather's on the way, getting stronger after each run, & we will be move'n faster this fall. Can't wait to follow your journey to the Mardi Gras marathon and BOSTON. (although it's wrong that you BQ'ed on your 1st try - ha ha - it took me 15 tries - yes, I've been told I'm hard headed)

Patrick Mahoney said...

I've read all 3 of these posts and I still have no idea what to say, which is rare. I guess where I get to is that end of it all you took the worst possible situation that could ever happen and dealt with it in such a way that you are where you are today. That is frickin' incredible.

lindsay said...

Love that injection of humor :)

the part about "I felt like I was somehow betraying myself - not being able to say things" is really resonating with me today. There are dumb secrets I keep from the world and I definitely haven't felt like myself in a long while. Some days I seem to make progress with it and others... major steps back.

Kathleen said...

Yes, the injection of humor made my smile. Very catchy titles :)
I am so glad that sharing your story on paper has shown you how far you have grown.

misszippy said...

Ok, you've blown me away here! What an amazingly brave, strong person you are. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Aimee said...

I am blown away by your strength and courage for sharing your story with us. Your daughter is absolutely beautiful. I hope that your posts have helped you reach the level of acceptance even more.

Caratunk Girl said...

Again, I am at a loss for words. I read all 3 posts and what I come away with more than anything else is a very powerful lesson - appreciate every moment you have with your loved ones. Don't take anything for granted - which I know I have for sure. Thank you for sharing your story.

Julie said...

Hi James,
First of all your daughter is so beautiful and I can tell how proud that you are of her!

Secondly, I am in awe of your strength. All of these posts are so lovely and you have touched my heart by sharing something so personal. Thank you:)

Anne said...

The strength that emanates from your words makes for a powerful lesson. Thank you once again for sharing.

You should be proud, she is beautiful.

Barefoot Neil Z said...

I gotta tell you James, from a man to a man, You are a beautiful person!

Thanks for your writing these past few days. I shared your link on my blog, because, I think, people need the perspective of your unimaginable experience. This perspective can only create a better world around those who read your story.

As I have taken your wisdom, I am giving you my strength in return, for you to use it at your will.



Bethany + Ryan said...

Hi James, i too found your blog thru Ginny's blog. i read your posts twice yesterday and i could not stop thinking about you and your family all night long and still this morning. what a horrific and tragic thing, i'm so sorry. Of course i couldn't help but cry when i read your posts but then when i read the part about how you are doing now and your additude towards it i stopped crying because i got the impression from you that you wouldn't want me to cry, instead, you would want me to feel happy that you were so lucky to have those people in your life and experience such love. Your strength is just unbelievable. thanks for having the courage to share your story with all of us, you and your family have certianly made an impact on all our lives!!

Kirk (MyBestTri) said...

Thank you for reminding me what, and who is the most important in my life. Aside from that you have left me speechless...I second the previous posts.

Robbie said...

You are a very special person! It is difficult to reopen deep wounds even in light of healing. I, also, echo Becky's thoughts. At this moment God has used you to refocus your readers on what is important in life. Vulnerability is something we all try to avoid; but at times it is what we need for healing to take place. Your daughter's beautiful. You will "always" be strong to me!!