The Internet is on Fire

picture from Pixabay

Or at least I want to set it on fire every time I log into any of my social media accounts. Even Instagram which really pisses me off because I really thought the social contract of being on Instagram was solid as in I we all agreed that no politics would go on there. But this week it all went to shit.

Here’s my thing: I do not have it in me to argue with strangers online anymore. I spent a lot of time doing that before Anthony died and it got me nowhere except regretting it when I buried him. I do not think anyone wins an argument on morality and politics on social media. In fact, I have lost a lot of friends because of my political freak outs. It is not that they did not agree with me, although I would say that most did not agree with me, but it was that I was hysterical. Nobody will ever listen to the arguments of a person calling them a moron. This is hard for me, especially when it comes to politics. Because I am a bit of an elitist and a Platonist. Plato was known to say that not everyone was smart enough to vote. I tend to agree with him because I am a horrible person. Which is why seething about political issues online does nothing to help me bring anyone to know Jesus and actually is probably a good way for me to walk my ass right into the pit of hell.

So! I have been staying out of the dumpster fire that is the internet. What have I been doing you ask? Well, get this! I have been doing my homework. GASP And I read a book, watched a movie and an entire series on Amazon Prime. But because I am not on social media to tell anyone and my husband is still in the desert, I haven’t talked to anyone about any of these things! Which is why I’m here on my blog because I also need to write and without Facebook, I came back to write about them on the blog.

1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – I had been avoiding watching this show even though a lot of people told me it was great. I don’t know why I avoided it really, just that I did and that was a mistake. I watched the first episode and was hooked. This show is so cute and funny. The main character’s outfits are beautiful. It is about women’s creativity and the high cost of it sometimes. Also, the family is a real family who has issues and heartache but sticks together. I normally would not watch a show about someone who is from the upper class because I do not relate to that kind of life at all, but this show really hit home how we all have so much in common in the human experience. I love it and can’t wait to see the next season!

2. I read a whole book. Maid by Stephanie Land. Stephanie is a great writer and really does such an amazing job of capturing what life is like when you are trying to make ends meet with a shitty job as a single mother. I have been there. What this book taught me is that I am so lucky. While I do not think that it’s lucky that I come from generations of poor people, I am lucky that I never wondered how to get on foodstamps or get medicaid when I was pregnant. I always knew what milk qualified for WIC and I never had anyone be rude to me at the grocery store for using foodstamps. Because when you live among other poor people, everyone gets it. But the struggle of working when you have a sick kid or finding daycare that is safe is one that I know well. Crawling out of poverty and having one tiny thing kick you right back in is part of the life of being poor too. But the love that mothers have for their children is what fuels us to keep going and keep trying. Land writes about that love honestly and with amazing talent.

3. Wine Country on Netflix – It is just funny. Do not watch it and then come to me telling me that it’s inappropriate. Because I know, that is why it is funny.

4. Game of Thrones – I am not linking this. Ya’ll know where to find it. I am also not going to debate people about the morality of watching it. There is a reason that I am not on social media and that is because I do not want to argue with anyone. Part of that inspiration came from last Sunday’s episode of GOT. SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading if you do not want to read spoilers.

So in that episode Daenerys burnt down the entire city with her dragon because she was sick with grief and rage. Ummmm…. Where do I even begin. First of all, since I started watching this show I have asked for a dragon and God keeps silent. Literally, I ask God the creator of the Universe why I can’t have a dragon. I took His silence as a way of Him saying that I am crazy and He refuses to entertain me. But then as I watched that dragon burn everything to the ground I realized that I do have a dragon. My anger. And when I lost Anthony, I let it burn everything to the ground. I did not care who was in the path of destruction, it all burned. My relationships, my marriage, my friendships, my life, my writing, my faith.. all of it. And watching that episode made me reevaluate my life which meant getting of the internet for a bit.


So there you go, that is what I have been doing. If things keep up this way, I will end up actually going to the gym this next week. Ha!

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Life 18 Months After Suicide Loss

Grief is a living thing. It starts one way and then it changes and changes. That is what I am learning as I get further and further down this journey. It does not go away, get better or ever become less painful. It is like ground zero and life goes on all around it, but it is still there like a crater in the ground where the bomb went off.

Today I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts about grief.  (Having a favorite grief podcast by your favorite grief memoirist is part of the weirdness of this new life of mine. Only people who have their own new grief life will know what I’m talking about. )

Well, today the episode of Nora McInerny’s podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, was about suicide loss. Apparently, September is Suicide Awareness month. I hate that name because I am more than aware that suicide is a thing and that it fucks up everything it touches. Suicide threatens to ruin my life every single morning when I wake up and remember that my son is in a grave up the road from me or every night when I fall asleep knowing that I can mark down one more day of this life which is one day closer to me seeing Anthony again.

This new life sucks. I am not going to even try to sugar coat that. Things are weird here. We talk openly about dead people, they are still a part of our daily reality, we talk to kids about those dead people and we have our own rituals that help us keep the memory of the dead person alive. We also have an irrational fear of forgetting our dead person and it is not weird for us to refer to them as our “dead person”. Anthony is my dead person. He is ground zero. He is gone but yet he is everywhere. He took his own life and in doing that, he blew up the lives of every single person that he loved more than anything.

I listened to a widow on this podcast talk about her husband’s suicide and her ground zero as I sat in my gym parking lot. That parking lot used to be a Garden Ridge. My husband and I bought our first Christmas tree there when we first moved to the suburbs a decade ago. Anthony was so excited about how life was so much better than it had ever been. We bought the biggest tree we could find and hundreds of dollars of Christmas lights to go with it. It was black Friday and Stacey was so happy to buy all the kids Christmas presents. It was the first real Christmas my kids had in their whole lives.

This morning I sat in that space where we bought all those decorations and listened to a woman talk about her husband’s death by suicide relating to what she was saying because my son, the same son who was so happy just ten years ago, is also dead by suicide.

Anthony had driven past this spot in town a lot in his life. It was the way to his apartment from my house. He must have driven down this feeder road the morning he died as he drove Dan to work that morning. One day he was here driving on these roads and then one day he was dead. And the world kept turning.

This morning the highway was full of cars and people going on with their lives. Red mustangs zoomed by.  I am sure he passed by this corner of town a million times in his red Mustang, but today he is in his grave and I am sitting here listening to a podcast building a life around ground zero.

Part of the reason that I ended up deleting all of my old social media is that I realized I am not the same person I was before Anthony committed suicide. Not at all.  I am a completely new person, this is a whole new life and in order to accept that and begin building a life around ground zero, I needed a fresh start. Not one without Anthony but one with the grief that his suicide left behind. Staying stuck in the in-between of my old life and this new existence was exhausting.

I woke up one day fed up with it. I was fed up with my front yard looking like this house had been abandoned a year ago, I was fed up with being overweight, I was fed up with feeling like my chest was going to explode from anxiety and I was fed up with waiting for Anthony to come back. God, I would do anything for that to be possible but it isn’t and being stuck in this mess was not going to make it happen.

I was also pretty pissed off at God and I needed a change in that relationship too because I was also tired of just going through the motions but not knowing what I really believed anymore. I had to ask myself what I wanted out of life. Before Anthony died, I thought I knew what I wanted but after his suicide, that was all blown up with everything else.

So what exactly do I want? Who am I now? Who was I then? Where am I going from here? Where did Anthony go in all of that? Where did God go in it? Where did the rest of my family and my husband fit in it? 

It felt as if I had been stripped of everything and I was starting life over. I almost felt as if I was losing my mind for a little bit, but what I knew was that I needed to take a break from life on social media and do this on my own without opinions or influences or jealousies of mine or my own flaws of thinking that everyone else has a better life than I do.

In my rage cleaning, I ended up with a prayer closet. The first thing I did in this new prayer closet was to have a phone conversation with a wonderful priest who I trust to be honest and blunt with me. I told him that I was devastated and could not see a way out of the anger, despair, and grief.

He gave me a lot of great words of wisdom on how to begin to rebuild. First, he validated my pain which he said made perfect sense because a child becomes a part of their mother while she is pregnant so to be separated from my son is the most painful thing I will ever endure in my life.

I left that conversation with a plan.

I needed to find an outlet for my anger, find time and space to sit in the presence of God for two minutes a day and I needed to find a support group. I also needed to return to the Sacraments. So I joined a gym to release my anger, I’ve been spending time with God more, I went to confession and I have found a support group and plan to begin going this month.

Then my husband and I cleaned our front yard. We cleared the flower bed, planted some plants and we mulched our backyard. I also began to clean the inside of the house and eventually will get around to cleaning the kids’ bathroom which will be a penance I can offer up for the Church. It is so disgusting that it should bring us all a lot of Grace! I am also slowly returning to social media, mostly with new accounts.

And from there I have begun to feel alive again. Alive and still grieving but alive.

That is where I am at 18 months after burying my son, the love of my life and my best friend. I miss him every single second of every single day. I wish he was here. I hate the thought of life without him and all the new gyms that will be built in his absence or the fact that I am eating organic oatmeal and he is not here to make fun of me. I hate not being able to text him a joke I find funny and he responds by telling me how old I am. But this is my new life and I can control how I build it in his honor. It is the only choice I have because going back is not an option and giving up would only add to the pain of my family.
What do I want out of life? I want to help people heal and I want to do it carrying the memory of my son with me every step of the way.  It starts by allowing myself to be healed first.

I miss you Anthony and I hope you know how much I love you.

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The Lessons of a Dive Bar

I learned a lot in that year of working in that dive bar. I learned about dive bar music. Lynard Skynard and Stevie Ray Vaughn. To this day if any of that music plays anywhere near me I have a memory smell of cigarettes and stale beer.

I also learned about barflies, and I don’t mean the kind that comes out of unclean beer taps, but the kind that shows up at 11am and order “whatever is on special and a lot of it”. They don’t talk much until about the third round when suddenly they have gone from looking like death warmed over to telling jokes and stories of what happened at the bar the night before. As an 18-year-old, I never realized that I was looking at my future where I would be happiest sitting in “my stool” at my favorite bar telling stories about how I got my son drunk on his 21st birthday in this bar because it is “my bar”.

Now, I am 42 years old, that son is dead and my faith in God is pretty shaky, to say the least. I spend a lot of my time looking back on my life now to see where I could have changed the direction that would change where I am now. Where could I change the direction of my life so that Anthony didn’t end up dead by his own hand in my house that I walked around in for hours as his life slipped out of his body? Who am I? Where did I go wrong? How can I fix it? What is the purpose of my life?

For eight years that I have been Catholic, I have tried to be “good” which took me back to an insecure 17-year-old version of myself. I didn’t talk to people outside of Catholic circles and when I was outside of that circle, I felt this responsibility to be a representative of my religion. I thought that there was this mold of how to be Catholic and while I broke some of that mold, I knew exactly how far I could go and still advance in the “job” of it all. I am using all these quotations because the truth is that all of that imaging that most of us Catholic bloggers work so hard at is fake. And that goes for all of the PR work you see behind anything, even Catholic PR. Mine was. I was fake for the sake of being good. And I was good for the sake of getting paid in speaking or writing.

I realized a couple of weeks ago is that I no longer want that life. I want my faith to be the source of my life, not the source of my income. Nothing good comes from that. I end up trying to make myself into someone that I am not. I don’t enjoy the things that make my heart happy because I feel guilty for it. I think everyone who is not Catholic is my enemy. I don’t get to go to a damn drag race and talk about it, I have to keep it secret because if “anyone found out” bla bla bla. And so many Catholic writers/speaker live that way too. Who they are in public is really about who they GET to be without losing jobs. It is like being in jail. And I am breaking out. I am not trying to call anyone out for whatever they feel called to do. I just know that it is not how I was built to be.

Last Saturday I walked into my favorite dive bar. I talked shit with barflies, took a real barfly out of a man’s drink with my finger and told him to stop being a bitch baby when he complained about germs. I cussed, smoked newports and accepted shots from strangers not knowing what I was shooting. I laughed, I cried, I missed my son and I honored his memory with strangers. And that is when I learned the biggest lesson of all, my entire life I have begun healing in a dive bar while smoking and drinking with strangers who teach me more about who I am than any other group of people in the world because there is nobody wiser than a barfly.

It is exactly where I needed to be. Nowhere feels more like home to me than that place. Everyone keeps saying they are praying for me to have peace, but what that translates to me as is they are praying for me to stop being sad and want me to go back to being their version of strong which is using cliches about Jesus taking away my pain, but the reality is that He has not taken it. I live with it every day.  Inside my favorite bar, I do not have to pretend that I don’t. I don’t have to be strong. I don’t have to be anything. That is healing. That is real peace.