Rebuilding

Suicide destroys your life. It robs the person who died of their future and it robs their loved ones of everything else. I can’t think of Anthony (my 22 year old son who took his own life over two years ago) without it taking my breath away. He was such an amazing human being. I’m not just saying that because I made him from scratch. I don’t think I have ever had anyone say anything to me about Anthony other than how awesome he is in his entire life. Or death.

I was prepared on how to plan a funeral thanks to my Tio and Tia dying 10 months apart before Anthony died. Plus, I’m Hispanic. We start learning how to plan funerals as toddlers. Death is not foreign to us. We are expected to go to funerals as children and learn how to fall in line to pay respects to the grieving family. We have rules. Who sits where and what time you are supposed to be at the funeral home. If you are a child of the dead person then you get there as soon as the funeral home opens the doors. Then from there are the siblings and nieces. My Tio’s obituary caused a huge scandal for mentioning me in it because I was one of a million nieces and my whole name was listed with his children. My entire family, including my mother, flipped the eff out because that is against the Hispanics of America Funeral SOP. So death is no stranger to me. I have been in training on how to plan a funeral since I was three years old.

What has caught me by surprise (well, one thing, because let’s face it, I say “what caught me by surprise” in a lot of my writing on grief. I know.) is how I have had to rebuild my life. I feel as if I’ve been in a two year long coma and I’m barely waking up. Or like I have been living on another planet while everyone on this planet has just kept on going.

I no longer want the same things I wanted before Anthony died. Which really sucks since I’m 4 classes away from getting a Bachelors in Philosophy and it turns out that I don’t really care all that much about a lot of Philosophy stuff. My kid is dead, I do not care that all these men sat around thinking of new ways to disagree with Aristotle.

I also no longer want to be a Catholic speaker who goes around saying things like “but in the end I know God has a plan for my life” because the truth is, I know He has a plan for my life but it would be great if I didn’t have to bury my kid in that life. But then again, a lot of mothers bury their kids. Some mothers have their children ripped from their arms by our Government and have no idea if they are ok. So why do I think I should somehow be spared from this level of horrific suffering? Why do any of us think that? Because it is easier to live in that space of ignorant bliss than to know the horrible things that could happen to us in life even though God does have a plan for us that requires us to survive those things.

I just want to tell my story. I want to tell it honestly, openly, freely and with some dark humor because life without laughter is just depressing AF.

I will tell it to Catholics or non Catholics, atheists or Buddhists. I don’t care. Suffering is a part of the human condition and suicide is a plague robbing us of our children. We have to start listening to the stories of those left to rebuild their lives after suicide has burnt them to the ground.

So yeah, rebuilding. I am having to rebuild every one of my relationships. And first I have to rebuild myself. What do I want? How do I want to do it? What is my first step in doing it? And then I have had to change my entire view of motherhood. I no longer see my children as burdens. Ever. No matter what. Because when you go two years wishing for nothing more than to have your dead kid annoy the fuck out of you, you start to appreciate the alive kids annoying you anyway they want to.

I am rebuilding my marriage. Which isn’t easy. And it’s even more difficult when it’s the thousandth time you have started over with the same person. Spoiler: Stacey and I have rebuilt this relationship a dozen times. You would think it would be easier by now. It isn’t.

And then I have to learn how to be a friend. It’s challenging to be a friend to others when you think nothing is as big of a problem as finding your kid dead in the garage. But I have to figure it out because 1. I need friends, I’m a extrovert and 2. I don’t want to be a self-centered asshole. I didn’t have a good handle on how to be a good friend before losing Anthony so this is more of just building than REbuilding to be honest.

All of this takes up a lot of energy. Energy doing a lot of thinking and laying in bed staring at the ceiling. Energy that doesn’t look like I’m doing anything which makes me feel lazy and like I’m wasting time. So I am also rebuilding how I talk to myself and how I treat myself. I give myself time and space and love to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. I give myself permission to go out with a friend and drink 6 shots of whiskey and have fun. I give myself permission to tell my kids to make dinner some nights. And I give myself permission to take a bubble bath at 3 in the afternoon if I want one. For me, being kind to myself and taking care of myself is not easy. I have to fight the voice in my head that tells me I’m selfish, lazy and do not deserve the luxury of an afternoon bubble bath. As if I have not had a hand in the work it took to get this house, with this bath, or this life. As if some fairy just came and handed it to me. As if, I didn’t wait tables, help with company paperwork, raise kids, cook dinners and build a readership with my writing to make this life reality. That voice is rooted in the belief that I do not deserve good things or happiness. And that voice does not come from God. So I am rebuilding my relationship with myself which is part of rebuilding my relationship with God.

So here we are. The biggest relationship of all. The one with God. *deep breath*

Before Anthony died I thought I knew God. I thought I knew what being Catholic was all about. I thought if I just did all the things that good people did, I would be a better person. That meant not being me because anyone with a brain could see that who I was was not a good person. Who I was was a person who made terrible choices that landed me in terrible situations like the county jail for a DWI. Who I was liked to drink until life was fun. Who I was liked to sleep with strangers, sometimes more than one stranger at a time and sometimes both female and male strangers and in public. Who I was liked to feel good but believed that the only kind of feel good I deserved was the kind that happened in clubs full of smoke and sketchy people. The kind of places that Good People do not even know exist. Because I was not good. Everywhere I looked I saw that message. I did things that Good People called sins and Good People said because I did these things, I deserved all the bad things that happened to me. Because God punishes people who do those things. That’s who I thought God was and so I thought when I forced myself to not be Who I Was anymore and had the sense to mimic The Good People that God would stop punishing me.

Then Anthony died.

Then I knew God as the asshole who can perform miracles in the Bible but somehow didn’t perform one for me or my son and just let him die alone in the garage. God allowed me to stand on the other side of the wall where my son’s body hung lifeless and discuss what I was going to make for dinner an hour before we found him. To me, after Anthony died God was both the only place I found peace and the One I was the most angry at. And that reminded me of my first marriage. Where I was in a relationship with a man who loved me deeply but beat the shit out of me when he was high. So God became an abuser to me.

Rebuilding that relationship has not been easy. For one thing it means accepting that I do not control anything, especially the Creator of the Universe. It means that suffering is possible and none of us are special in not facing the worst kind of suffering but some people do get off the hook on having to face much more suffering than “oh no, my pool isn’t working UGH” or some other Not Dead Kid crisis. And I will never know how exactly the suffering lottery works but I do know that in the lives of a lot of people in the world, I am on the winning end of it because so many people in this world have it so much harder than me. Rebuilding my relationship with God has meant letting go of all the rules that make it easy for me to count myself in the Good People club and others out of it. It has meant knowing that God does not care about my opinion on who is not worthy of His love. He has my back, but He has the back of my enemy just the same. He is God, not my body guard. Rebuilding my relationship with God has meant letting go of a lot of things: expectations, beliefs, judgements and control. It has meant learning that God will die for me but He is not mine to control. He calls the shots and I can cuss about it and kick and scream about how unfair it is, but that isn’t going to change it.

I am still figuring out exactly how to have a relationship with God which means all my other relationships are also still under construction. I do not know what is going to happen but I know that rebuilding takes time and patience and love, so that is what I am giving myself. That is what I am allowing God to give me. Finally.

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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!