Cuckoo Luckoo Land – I’ve Walked Here Before

grief

I am not stronger than you. I am not living with some magical power special only to me.  I am not doing “okay” because I live in a fantasy world.  I am not better than anyone else out there trying to make sense out of what is happening in our world right now.  I am no less afraid than others who are doing all they can to keep the demons at bay.  I feel no less in control or less helpless than many of us are feeling.  I feel no less confused and spun around like a top out of control than anyone else.

I am feeling hopeful because I have walked this road before.   We are all, as an entire world, in the middle of Cuckoo Luckoo Land, in the most radical experience of collective shock, loss and grieving the world has probably ever witnessed.     We are all in the place I described so long ago when I first stepped into the rabbit hole with Russell that dropped me into a dark world.  It’s like Alice’s Wonderland only wayyy darker and more confusing.   What I wrote 5 years ago of my experience of this place after Russell got sick and died is eerily true of what our world finds itself collectively living in today.

In Cuckoo Luckoo Land, not only are things bizarre and weird, but even the most joyous of events like birthdays and holidays are twined up with pain, confusion, and grief.  It is such a bizarro place.  What’s up is down. What’s in is over. What’s under is out. What’s out is in between.  There are no clear opposites.  There is no straight forward path to get from here to there.  There is a little of everything in life – light, darkness, pain, joy, hope, despair, love, loss – and you never know which  you will find as wander the dark, twisty paths of this place. It’s simply Cuckoo Luckoo!

Walking along through life, in this new reality, we don’t know where the next rabbit hole might be.  Just when we think we have a “new normal” figured out, the world spins and down the hole we go again.  These are the hidden places that we drop into, often sliding as fast as lightning down into a warren of twisted up paths.  The trip down into a hole feels like someone suddenly and without warning has pushed us down a really steep slide greased with oil.  It is almost impossible to do anything on this slide but breathe.  In this space we can feel like we must be on hallucinogenic drugs, as everything is very, very twisted up and confusing in this space.  Following one path that seems to be going forward can lead to a multitude of paths going in every direction.

Am I less afraid and more awake because I am stronger than you?   NO.  I feel less afraid and feel more awake because this Land is soooo familiar to me.  I know that those dark corners just around the bend don’t necessarily hold more things to fear, but might actually hold the answers we just can’t see yet.  The whispers in the dark aren’t always the demons of our fear and our nightmares.  Some of those whispers in the dark, are the wisdom and warrior parts of ourselves seeking to remind us that we are far stronger than we’ve ever imagined.

I walk this time with confidence because I know, I mean REALLY KNOW, that I can survive walking through this place and even find ways to thrive.  I believe I walk with less fear strangling me each day because I was offered the gift of grieving within a community and surrounded with abundant love for so long that my heart felt like it was that love acting as a light to lead my way through the dark paths of Cuckoo Luckoo Land.  I have walked this place before and survived what once seemed unimaginable to survive.

Am I afraid? Oh yes, I am.   The thoughts of fear about $, getting sick, others getting sick, when will the answers come,  how long will this last, etc., etc. niggle at my mind and my heart.  When those fears take hold of me I escape to Netflix or scrolling Facebook and Pinterest, or eating too much.   But, do I know I can survive my fear?   OH HELL YES!  I stand in this knowing I am a Warrior for love and hope BECAUSE I have walked in Cuckoo Luckoo Land before and I have come out the other side.

I didn’t survive because I was stronger than anyone else.  I survived because I have gathered tools and wisdom along my life journey that could help me navigate through the darkest of paths.  I have learned to feel my feelings and focus just on my breath alone until I have the strength to move forward to the next place.  I know the power of being willing to give and receive love and help from others along the way.  I know how to listen to what feels okay for ME and tap into what is good and tap out of what isn’t without feeling the need to explain why to anyone.

The journey we are on is not a straight forward one.   It will twist and turn and flip us all around as we learn to navigate this new reality.  We will move through shock and fear and anger and helplessness and joy and determination sadness and hope and loss and defeat and gratitude and grief and love, over and over and over and over again.   Slowly but surely we will learn how to survive in this cuckoo luckoo space of time. We will figure out how much we need each other and how strong we really can be.  We will walk this road together.

Though radically different circumstances, I have walked this road in Cuckoo Luckoo Land before and I have come out the other side.   The path ahead of us maybe a very long, twisty, dark one but I am ready to walk with you every step of the way, sharing my tools with any who want them.  I believe in our strength and our resilience and can see the glimmers of light on the other side.  I believe we are not alone and that we will one day walk out of this place.   I believe because I stand here having survived this place before.

Dear World, You May Keep Revolving

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Today was the first Big Day – anniversary or birthday or holiday – since Russell died 4 plus years ago that the driving thought all day wasn’t “World, WTF?  How are you still revolving? Russell isn’t here!   Everything should stop!”  It was the first Big Day I didn’t brace myself from beginning to end waiting for the crash into the darker, despairing side of memories. It was the first Big Day I didn’t feel the need at the very start of it to “rally” my troops and make specific mention of what is missing. It was the first Big Day that I just moved through my day with flashes of memories that brought only smiles, joy, love and peace.

Big Days are WICKED hard for people who are grieving.   And, those Big Days stay wicked hard farrrrr longer than the first year that the world seems to think is the “okay” time to grieve and be sad.  It’s incredibly hard to understand how the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt, when it feels like that is exactly what our hearts have done.  I’m at the tail end of year 4 and just now experiencing a Big Day as one I can simply breathe with love and joy through, without expectations that the entire world stop for the day.  4, ALMOST 5, YEARS!  And I am in no way the exception.

We MUST find ways to love people as fiercely in the years after that first one as we do in the first shocking one.  We must gently walk with people with compassion and patience until they one day walk through a Big Day without a thread of pain woven throughout.  We must allow people their own journeys, in their own time no matter where they are.   We must remember that grief has no time frame or blueprint for how to navigate through it.

So tonight Dear World, thank you for continuing to ebb and flow around me as I navigate this still new, often strange journey I find myself on.  Thank you World, for loving me gently, fiercely, unendingly as I dance my dance between joy and sorrow, dark and light, love and loss.    Dear World, you may keep revolving.

A Little Secret

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I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, a secret that keeps me stuck in more ways than I can decipher even for myself somedays. I experience massive anxiety most days. I’ve always leaned towards being an introvert, but the anxiety I’ve experienced in varying ways since Russell died leaves me wishing desperately somedays I could be a hermit, on a beach, talking to no one for days on end.

When I’m with people I love being with them, especially if it’s my kids. When I talk to people on the phone I love the conversations. But, I’m not going to lie, I could seriously be alone in my house for a VERY long time before feeling any desire to talk to anyone. And it can take A LOT of psyching myself up for even one interaction.

I don’t feel the anxiety until I know I’m about to leave the house or make the phone call. And the anxiety eases fairly quickly once I’m actually engaged in conversation with someone. When I’m experiencing it, it’s like trying to walk through quicksand with wader boots filled with concrete. Some periods of time are worse than others but it can shift randomly. But always it’s there waiting to invite me deeper into silent aloneness.

Most of the quotes and memes I share each day are what I NEED to read just to keep myself moving. I WILL create my best life and my biggest obstacle is myself.

I’ve got this and so do you!

Step away from the rabbit hole

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Early on in my grieving/healing journey I wrote often of my drop into Cuckoo Luckoo Land.   It was the land I believed I stepped into the day Russell went into the hospital for a still mysterious reason.   I stayed there through his week of hospitalization and then for months after his death as our kids and I wandered around in shock and sorrow.

In Cuckoo Luckoo Land things are even more bizarre than in Alice’s Wonderland.  Not only are things bizarre and weird they, but even the most joyous of events like birthdays and holidays are twined up with pain and grief.  It’s such a bizarro place.   What’s up is down. What’s in is over. What’s out is in between.   There are no clear opposites.  There is a little of everything in life  – light, darkness, pain, joy, hope, despair, love, loss.  It’s simply Cuckoo Luckoo.

Most of the time now, I no longer wander in that land.   My healing journey has slowly and steadily brought me out of that space which I am very grateful for.  But every once in awhile I can feel myself inching closer to there.  What I discovered last week is that I will sometimes start seeking the hidden door that would drop me down in there again.   As memories pop up on Facebook around this time it’s super easy to get sucked back into Cuckoo Luckoo Land as I remember all of that crazy first 6 months.   I read one thing and next thing I know I’m reading dozens and crying my way through my day.

I did that goofy, open the door to the memories and Cuckoo Luckoo Land several times last week, getting pulled deeper and deeper into the depressive dark places. It really sucked considering there were some gorgeous, sunny days and I didn’t want to leave my house even for the sun.  Finally after a few days of that, which included some emotional eating, I said enough and stopped reading the Facebook memories.  Well now, what a fascinating thing.  I stopped slipping and sliding as much through my days.

So often we simply can’t stop ourselves for just taking a peek at the memories from the past, no matter how painful they might be.   For me that can take me way too close to stepping into Cuckoo Luckoo Land and I’ve just got to STOP!  I experience enough pop up memories and grief bursts that I don’t need to go seeking them out.

I’m in control of what I look at and what doors I choose to open.   That’s what I am remembering and embracing this week!  I really can say no to reading all of those things in the past and say YES to staying in THIS time, THIS moment.  Hmmm, taking my own wisdom advice might be a good thing.

 

You Don’t Know

nooneknows

Ooh, my Muse has awoken with a suddenness that has left me kind of stunned this morning.  Usually, I get an inkling that I’m moving towards writing something.  Not today.  One moment I was getting ready to leave for my day and the next the words started writing quickly and fiercely and rawly in my head.   I  listen to that Muse and act upon her invitation to heal.

“You Don’t Know”

Unless you have walked a path similar to my own, experiencing the sudden death of a loved one you don’t know, nor should you, the steps of this twisty path I wander.

You don’t know what it is like to go from one moment to the next wondering what might trigger sudden, unstoppable tears.

You don’t know what it is like to seek to find goodness and joy in life simply to hold onto it as a beacon of light against your own inner darkness which threatens everyday to suck you into it permanently.

You don’t know what it is like to think you’re making good decisions, the best that you can in any given moment, and then days, months, years later be racked with guilt because what if they weren’t the right decisions.

You don’t know what it is like to try desperately not to play the “what if” game over and over again.

You don’t know what it is like to want to be around people then as soon as you are want to be alone.

You don’t know what it is like to pick up the phone to tell your person something great or something tragic and then stand there, with phone in hand, wondering what to do when you remember they are no longer here.

You don’t know what it is like to hug your kids because they still just can’t understand what has happened.

You don’t know what it is like to live with the memory of having been the one who had to make the final decision and sign the papers to let your loved one go.

You don’t know what it is like to want to give your kids the best gift you can, knowing deep down nothing will ever be enough because you can’t give them back what they have lost.

You don’t know what it is like to go from abundance to scarcity to abundance to scarcity over and over again as you try to figure out your life now suddenly alone.

You don’t know what it is like to have to ask people for help for things you should be able to do on your own but simply can’t right now.

You don’t know what it is like to seek new avenues of growth and healing that seem to click but then fall through as one more dead path forward.

You don’t know what it is like to feel like a failure for no clear reason but you just do.

You don’t know what it is like to want to keep your kids as close to you as possible while also cheering them on as they grow and find their own, very uniquely separate paths from you.

You don’t know what it is like to think “Hey I feel pretty good right now and I’m rocking life.” to then have the next moment feel like you’ve fallen off a cliff and you’re stuck in cuckoo luckoo land again.

You don’t know what it is like to no longer love holidays or birthdays or special celebrations no matter how much you want to.

You don’t know what it is like to think “I’m getting my new life together and things are looking good.” then just days or week later wonder how things could be so far from that.

You don’t know what it is like to have grief settle into your body like lead as your grieving heart seems to infuse every muscle, bone, and tissue.

You don’t know what it is like to want to try new things but also be afraid of getting hurt because you’re all that’s left for your kids.

You don’t know what it is like to begin the process of transformation, celebrating every aspect of new life, new dreams, new goals and feel sadness because you can’t celebrate with your love.

You don’t know what it is like to have so much that was left unspoken, unhealed, and undone and struggle to let all of it go.

You don’t know what it like to watch your kids struggle with the same.

You don’t know what it is like to want to live a life focused on gratitude, joy and light  and also have your heart remind you that darkness and grief are part of the ongoing dance of life.

You don’t know what it is like to want to work hard and create wonderful new things but you can barely get off the couch still somedays.

You just don’t know.