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In one of my previous posts, I spoke about becoming a young unwed mother to my beautiful daughter. So straight out of high school, I did not go off to college but instead, I entered the workforce and started concentrating on providing a home and a life for my daughter and myself. My parents had a small house that they had always rented out to other people, and they allowed me to live there rent-free in order to help me out. Although my parents were not too proud of me being an unwed mother, the moment they laid eyes on their first grandchild, she immediately became their whole world and it seemed their new mission in life was to spoil her rotten.
My mother worked at the local school as the librarian and she was off work by 3:30 every afternoon, so I worked the 2-10pm shift at a local MHMR long term facility. That way my daughter stayed with a long-time family friend for only two hours until momma was off work and picked her up. Momma would keep her all afternoon, then take her to my house and put her to bed and stay there until I came home after work. This worked perfectly and saved me so much on baby-sitting. Of course, it gave my parents a lot more time to spoil my daughter. On Friday and Saturday nights, my daughter would spend the night with my parents so that I could go out with my friends after I got off work, we always went to a local club to do a little dancing and hanging out together.
It was at this club one cold night in January of 1985 when a man asked me to dance, as we entered the dance floor and I stepped into his arms to dance it instantly felt different. I’d never met this man, never even seen him before that moment, but as we started dancing, my heart, soul, and body felt as if I’d just come home from the longest journey of my life. We continued to dance every dance for the remainder of the evening. We continued to date and see each other every night after that for about a month and then we were married… yes just a month later after meeting him we were married. He felt the same way I did that first night.
My daughter was now 4 years old and she instantly fell in love with him too. I explained to him about my medical history with the ovarian tumor and how I was fortunate to have my daughter, but that I probably would never be able to have more children. He was ok with that, but we decided that we did want to try to have a child together and didn’t want to raise my daughter as an only child if possible. Apparently, God had different plans than what those doctors thought possible. A little over a year after getting married, we welcomed a set of twins, a boy, and a girl! After that our family was complete, I never had any more children. My husband always worked away from home, mostly he drove a truck and other times he worked on a pipeline. I did not like him being away so much of the time, but he was a hard-working man that provided well for his family. This just allowed more time for my parents to spoil their grandchildren because I needed my momma more than ever with the twins and my daughter! Twins are a handful, to say the least! My momma and I were always close and we enjoyed the time together. My brother and his wife had their first and only child just a month after my twins were born, my parents were very happy grandparents! Life was good!
About the time the twins were 4 years old, things started changing, I’m not sure if I can pinpoint exactly when, how or why, but life wasn’t so good any more. My husband was still working away from home, he was gone for long periods at a time, only home for a weekend every 2-3 weeks. I missed him so badly while he was gone, I was miserable without him at home, but we started having fights when he was home, and we had never fought at all the first 5 years of marriage. After 7 years of marriage, we were divorced. Sitting here now, I can honestly say it was the worst mistake of my life, my one true regret and I’m still not positive how or why we let it happen, but it did happen. Fortunately, we are still friends today, but a lot went wrong after we divorced and the kids and I went through many trials and hard times, mostly because of some very bad decisions on my part.
A few years after the divorce, I remarried and in defense of this decision, I’d just like to claim temporary insanity if I could! This is where life took a very fast downward spiral for me and for my kids. Shortly after marrying him I realized he was an emotionally abusive alcoholic and my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. I had gone to college by this time and received my nursing degree. Momma’s cancer was in the final stages when she was diagnosed and it spread quickly. Within seven months of my second marriage, momma’s cancer had spread from colon to bone and to brain and she passed away. This rocked our entire family, my children (now ages 13, 8 and 8) were totally devastated, my father was at a complete loss without my momma and I felt like I was going to lose my mind with grief.
Grief has no time limits, everyone deals with it differently and you just need time to heal and learn to live without the person you lost. But just a week after losing my momma, my not-so-wonderful husband came home drunk (again) and found me crying, to which he became very angry and yelled at me saying “your mom is dead, get over it and stop your crying”. That was the moment that I knew I couldn’t possibly love that man or live with him. I should have gotten my kids and walked away. Unless you have ever been in an emotionally abusive relationship, you can’t understand what it does to you. I had always been such a strong independent woman, but after living with this man less than a year I felt like such a coward. When a person is emotionally abusive, they start out very subtle. They isolate you from your friends and family in a very discreet, even loving way that you don’t even realize what they are doing to you. You don’t feel like the abuser is doing anything to you at first, you just feel like you want this new life with them and you don’t want to be with your old friends. Then by the time they have you isolated and depending on them, that’s when you feel so alone and even worthless. Then the abuser gets worse and becomes mean and even hateful toward you. So that’s where I was at this point, grieving for my momma, feeling alone and scared and trying to protect and care for my children. Suddenly wondering what the hell had I gotten my kids and myself into!
I stayed in that marriage for 5 years before I was able to finally find the courage to walk away, and believe me, every day was torture living day to day in fear of when would the emotional abuse turn to physical. Wondering if he’d ever hurt my kids or if he’d kill someone with his drunk driving. I could not take the stress and I could never work through my grief of losing momma. I could not cry or even talk about momma without infuriating him. My children could not work past losing their granny, my daddy was not doing well without my momma either. It was a very long and difficult 5 years. Once I divorced him and got him out of our lives, my kids and I started to heal somewhat, but by this time my grief had become complicated depression. However, getting the divorce, concentrating once again on my kids and myself, I was able to start healing. Since the time of that divorce 20 years ago now, I have remained single and a lot happier this way. I’m very fortunate that I have several childhood friends that have always remained very close, never losing contact with, they are my sisters by heart and I couldn’t do life without them.
So it’s very true that grief does not have a time limit! But you do have to work through your grief, you cannot ignore the grief or even put it on the back burner so to speak. You must acknowledge the loss of a loved one, cherish the memories and let yourself cry. Talk about the person and the grief. Let yourself admit how much it hurts and let those around you know how much the person meant to you and just how bad it hurts to live without them. More often than not, your friends and people around you know that you are grieving but they are walking on eggshells, not knowing what to say or how to act because they don’t want to bring up a hurtful memory or make you cry. Let them help you grieve, let them know that you want to talk about your loved one and it’s ok for them to say their name around you, it’s ok if you cry.
My very best, closest friend has endured a lot of loss in her immediate family just like I have, some days one of us will call the other one and just say “it’s one of those days” which is our code for “I just need to cry” and we know we need to talk about those we’ve lost. We start recalling memories and have a good ole “cry fest” until we can laugh about something again and we both feel better for it. Grieving is ok, it’s a natural part of life, but don’t let it eat you up and become so overwhelming that you can no longer function or get on with your daily living. You may even grieve just a little every day from now on, but you also have to learn how to live without that person here with you any longer.
Remember the person that has passed away will always be with you in your heart and your memories. Don’t ever let their memory go away with them. But learn to live again after the loss.
until next time,