I am Distraction’s Right Hand Man

Have you met my friend Distraction? Some of you may know him well. Consciously making dates with him even introducing him to your friends and your family.  However, some of you may not know him as Distraction.

Some of you may call him Busyness. Or maybe family obligations. How about focused on work. Or my favorite entertainment from friends? He goes by so many names. His original name though, when you get to know him as intimately as I do is Distraction.

In fact I am Distractions Right Hand Man!

I met him when I was young. So young. I remember when he visited after my first heartbreak. That one after Scott and I had been together for 2 and a half years! He was older and I was 15. 15 and heartbroken and Distraction visited and comforted my soul. He taught me about working and taking college classes while being active in high school on the cheer squad, in multiple sports, in the choir, in clubs. He really supported me in my education and in doing well in life.

I am Distractions Right Hand Man!

I am tricked by his accolades. Jamieko you are amazing! You are the busiest woman I know. Wow Jamieko you have such a servants heart! I am tricked by him. I get wrapped up in how good it feels to serve others. Do unto others, I have been taught. So I undertook large projects, feeding 1500 people, building homes, painting schools, supporting the disabled connecting family members from across the country, coaching sports while working 3 jobs, I am a proponent of the little man. That is what Distraction tells me. I am doing what God wants me to do!!

I am Distractions Sidekick!

I remember when I was young he came around when Mom left. When I had to be shipped away from my Dad so I didn’t have to live on the streets. He was known as family then. He was the one I played with in the dark. He was the one who comforted me when I had to make new friends, again. He was the stories my family told me to make me feel alright. He made me funny, interesting, pliable and able to become what everyone needed me to be so I fit in. I became him so no one knew what was happening.

I am Distractions Confidant

When I got divorced my first thought was God what goals do I have that I haven’t achieved? So I moved to China, in two weeks. Teach! I know I want to teach over seas. That didn’t work out so I came home after a month because Distraction, Distraction he stayed over in the US. I was lonely without him. So I came back and became the best bartender and counselor I could.With him by my side my catch phrase became, I can make it happen!

I am Distractions Best Friend

He introduced me to so many amazing things. Volunteering, working multiple jobs, moving, running races and self-care in general to name a few. Lets be honest it’s amazing how he disguises himself as Self Care. Like a best friend he introduced me to things like Grad School and my husband. Let’s be honest if he had not been around I would have waited on both of those. But like a good friend, he pushes things, he helps me rush into things, he justifies everything.

I am Distractions Mistress

He gently slides his hand up my skirt, titillating me. He encourages me to focus on my impulsive desires and supports that those are healthy choices making sure I know nothing but to be by his side. He pulls me away from my husband with his intrigue, promises and attention and calls himself Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. He pulls me away from my family programmed into my phone as Work or Church. He is a tricky Bastard.

I am Distractions Bitch!

I do what he wants, when he wants. No fucking questions asked. I am Distractions Bitch. He is a tricky and manipulative asshole and I do what he says with a smile on my face. The moment I feel anything he pops up. He makes sure to comfort my soul. He makes sure I need him at all times because he does not want me to feel the pain, the loss, the heartbreak, the disappointment. He thinks he’s saving me from myself.

He’s wrong.

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What Matters Most

What matters most to me right now is that I’m pissed off and sad. I don’t like all of these people talking to me, touching me, trying desperately to connect with me in what feels disgenuine. That conversation that is only there to fill the air because the fear of silence is uneasy for them. 

The need to touch me lovingly angers me as if the only way people can connect is through touch. In fact my personal bubble needs an invitation! An invitation that seems to be falsely engraved in my smile. My RBF (resting bitch face) seems to only draw people in more. 

I feel like my exhaustion of peopling isn’t being respected in a room full of 50 potentially grieving people. 

That noise! That fucking noise!? Who the hell leaves their cell phone on at an event about grief??? Incessant beep then chime, whatever it is it pisses me off. 

What matters to me most is I’m angry. I don’t get to be the angry one because I’m the nice one. I’m the loving one. I’m the empathetic one. Tonight, tonight I want to be the angry one. The one who when you speak my skin crawls. The one who actually wants to punch you in the face with a brick!

What matters to me most is I’m livid. Being angry shuts down the tears. The sniffle and the tears and the pulling of tissues that fills the air. The grief that envelopes the air is suffocating me. 

Shut up! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! PLEASE SHUT UP!!! I wish they could hear me scream so I could finally hear silence. 

What matters to me most is silence and solitude. Tonight I want the anger to end. Tonight I want the pain to end. Tonight I want silence. 

Make the days count

Have you ever thought about how we count life? When we’re pregnant we count life in weeks. Full term is traditionally 38-40 weeks. When we are firstborn life is counted in months. My 3 new great nieces are each 9 months old. When we live life we count life in years, I am 37 years young. When we are dying it feels like it starts all over again. Sometimes it’s counted in years like the 10 years dad lived past his first expiration date. Sometimes it’s months like theĀ 3-6 months he was given on his 3rd and final expiration date. Sometimes it comes down to weeks like the 6 weeks my Dad ended up living after that “big family meeting” talking about how it was different this time. And finally, days like the 2 1/2 days dad lived after his “Surge”.

Now that dad is gone I find myself counting again. First it was two days since Dad died, then two weeks since Dad’s been gone, today it’s been two months since Dad passed. Happy Valentine’s Day to me.

So I think today what do I count now?

I have many choices in dealing with my grief and I choose to continue to count! Today is my new day to be. Yes I’m sad. Yes I’m still tired. But I still choose to count! Count the times I go to bed smiling. Count the times I get to talk to one of my 8 siblings. Count the days that my husband tells me he loves me. Count the letters I receive from students saying thank you in some small way. Count the days that I can love myself the way my dad loved me. Count the days that I can wake up and workout focusing on making my body stronger and healthier. Count the days that I cook for myself knowing that’s one of my many skills and love languages. Count the days I really practice what I preach and take time for self-care.

So now I count everything because everything counts. Dad had surpassed all trials and tribulations while sick and so when he was given 3-6 months I knew something was different and yet I still thought I had time. I’ll never forget how those 3-6 months turned into 6 weeks. Six very, very quick weeks. So now I count everything because everything counts! Every year, every month, every week, every day, hell every minute counts!

Every time I don’t love on me I feel like that counts against everything Dad instilled in me. Every second he loved me I have a chance to love me too.

As the great Muhammad Ali said, “Don’t count the days. Make the days count!”

 

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Grief feels like Fear

I’m in a writing group for grief. There I said it. I’m in a support group. That sounds weird to me. Not because I’m opposed to support groups or group therapy. I’m just confused as to how I found myself in one.  It just sounds so weird. So many years of complaining about the lack of self-care and finally when the shit hits the fan and I hit my knees I finally find support. Just seems weird.

C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, wrote “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” This is the newest prompt. How does this make you feel? What does this bring up for me? Yada yada yada…

What does it bring up for me? God knows I can’t share all of that publicly but I can say emphatically that grief has brought more fear than I ever knew I could feel.


When Popi first died I feared falling asleep. I didn’t want to have to face another day. You know? That dread of waking up to a new reality. The reality without him. The one that said I didn’t do enough, say enough, spend enough time. The reality that says everything is different. I feared falling asleep and having to wake up.

I feared going home. I feared walking into my parent’s house and having to be happy. I feared having to go through his stuff. I feared having to be that vulnerable again and possibly breaking down again because I saw his shirt, his books, his photo, his notes all over the house, or his side of the bed where he spent most of this last year. I feared that being in that space meant I had to feel a particular way. I feared being fake.

As the days and weeks have passed I have I have learned to fear sleep and going home less. In fact I now look forward to both. Some days I won’t lie I do fear sleep but that’s still a mystery as to why. Going home, not so bad. I enjoy time with family and it’s ok dad’s not there. I mean he spent most of the last year asleep or resting in his room. So his absence isn’t much different. 

I will tell you the thing that grief has made me fear the most to which I am also most surprised at, is joy. I fear any sort of joy. I fear being happy. I fear being in a good mood. I fear a good night’s sleep and a good workout. I fear crossing the finish line at my Half Marathon in March. I fear promotions and making new friends. I fear presentations and connections. I fear finishing my first book and when it gets published. I fear good music and good weather. I fear funny moments and the ridiculous ones. I fear anything that might possibly make me happy. I fear with all my heart that moment I finally learn I’m pregnant and that moment that our child breathes their first breath. I fear joy.

I fear pure joy. I fear this because those are the moments when I miss him the most. Those are the moments which I pick up my phone to shoot a quick text. Those are the moments I start to dial his number. Those are the moments I miss his voice. Those are the moments I hurt.

I fear joy. I fear joy more than sadness and hurt. I have an amazing support system who I can always turn to for sadness and hurt. Yes he was a part of that but he was the first one I went to for joy. He’s the one who’s smile I could hear on the other side of the phone. He’s the one who when he knew about it, it meant the joy was real. It meant I could celebrate and let’s be honest until he knew it meant it hadn’t really happened.

Grief has made me fear joy. This week has sucked and the joy I felt has knocked me back to the day he passed. That sadness and that pain. The joy I felt made me sad. So I need to run. I haven’t decided if it’s physically run or figuratively but all I know is I feel that urge. That urge to run. So today or maybe tomorrow I’ll go on another long run. 

I hope I can make that happen because I don’t like being sad. Now I don’t like being happy either. Not sure what life will look like now.

-run JKO run

Exhaustion

-2.2 down….now 79 to go

All I want to do is run. Literally and figuratively. If you remember this blog is about trying to figure out what I’m running from. Why is it so hard for me to lose the weight that’s weighing me down? What do I need to start running too. But right now I am just exhausted and the idea of running makes me want to vomit. 

I mean extremely exhausted. Let’s be honest it’s not a normal human feeling. It’s the feeling one expects to have after you run a half marathon. It’s the feeling the morning after you had 4 too many shots of crown. It’s the feeling you have from listening to people cry for 8 hours straight for three weeks in a row. It’s the feeling you get when you have no sleep. Like an actual zero minutes of sleep. 

It’s the pain you get when you wake up and you feel robbed of rest. It’s the fear you get driving home fighting to stay awake. It’s the feeling in your body that weighs you down.  As tragic as the feeling is it normally has an explanation. 

In my twenties I got my first taste of exhaustion. I was the queen of all nighters. In fact I found a use for my irregular insomnia. I never really needed sleep. Then one day I was exhausted. Then another. Then another. I knew something was wrong and went to get checked out. “Sinus infection. You have a really bad sinus infection. That’s why you’re so tired. You’re not actually getting sleep.” Mind blowing magic. A prescription for 100 Sudafed pills. (Who, by the way, needs that many pills? Clearly I don’t look like I cook meth in my basement). 

I keep hoping I have a sinus infection. Or hell maybe I started drinking in my sleep. Anything, any sort of explanation to help me understand this exhaustion. I try to work out but not even knowing my half marathon is creeping up is getting me going. 

This exhaustion makes me want to run away and hide under a rock. Not because I’m depressed and want isolation but because I just want to sleep for a week. Well let’s be real it is partly because I want to run away and hide under a fucking rock. Instead of hiding I decided to start a grief group and we talked about how grief is the hardest and most exhausting thing you’ll ever do. So I guess I do have an explanation. Turns out I’m still sad and it’s wearing me the hell out!

Today, I decided to suck it up and finally go running. David, my husband, so patient and kind (after much communication of my needs) always asks if I want to go to the gym. He knows to only ask once and to leave the huff and puffs and snide comments for after he shuts the door behind him. Today, today I said yes. I mean so much so that I slept in my running clothes so I had zero excuse. 

I of course had trouble with my headphones and didn’t get a good pace until 15 minutes in when I gave up and switched headphones with David. Instead of getting frustrated and sitting in the car I did the math and figured out that if I can keep a 3.7 pace at the half I can complete it in 3:30:00. This kept me moving. Albeit an hour slower than my goal it’s still exciting.  To be true to myself right now I’ll just be excited to cross the finish line. I almost completed 5 miles today. 

With 49 days left until the Rock and Roll half I struggled to complete 5 miles. My ankle and knees are killing me and I developed a huge blister on the instep of my foot. It’s like amateur at the Apollo. 

I posted on Instagram talking about how training for a half while grieving is not as easy as I thought. In fact it’s painful, just not happening, and yet in my exhaustion I will complete it. I will cross that finish line. I will be one step closer to figuring out what I’m running from and reach another goal!

Yesterday and today I was exhausted. Tomorrow I might be as well but as Popi said, “Every day in every way, my life gets better and better and better.”
– run JKO run 

When is honesty to hard to hear?

While on hold, my “personal banker” closing an account that I’ve had since 1996 due to it being hacked looks over at me and awkwardly tries to cover the silence. “So what you doing this weekend?”

Without looking up from my phone I said, “Going to my dad’s funeral.” I could hear her gasp. I stopped reading, looked up and made eye contact. Her face was trying to morph back into professionalism all the while she began to fight back the uneasy tears. 

“Oh my God. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s ok. So what are you doing?” I’m amazing at deflection. 

 It’s funny how those who have “normal” social skills can read facial expressions to understand how your words impact others. I realized that I sounded harsh and cold. To be honest that brought a little smile to my face. That meant I was coming back. That meant my brutal honesty that I deliver with consistency is back. Sometimes I wonder is honesty to hard to hear?

Most think because I’m kind and empathetic that I’m emotional. I’m not. I don’t cry in front of people on a regular. I can say things that normally destroy people without emotion as if I’m ordering off a menu. I was taught to be honest above all. I am very literal and my honesty is often hard to hear. 

“I’m watching football.” Her mouth open gasping for the right thing to say.

“Oh fun!” I put my phone down, giving her my focused attention. 

“Were you close to your dad?” She looked at me absolutely devastated. 

I paused knowing in that moment I had the choice to be genuine or be the cold version that helps me survive. “Yes.” Deep breath. “Very close.” I decided to let my eyes fill with tears. A decision I haven’t had in a few weeks. During these last few weeks I haven’t been able to control that. The tears come like a sneeze, out of the blue or with a few seconds of warning and unable to stop. 

“Wow. I can’t even imagine.” She talked about health and her father’s refusal to take care of himself. I nodded appropriately and gave my therapeutic response of self-care and how we can make a difference in our generation. My tears never fell because I was focused on her now. Back in a very comfortable and neat box. 

She tended to the phone call to close my account. I realize it’s a double whammy. Closing an account I’ve had for almost 2 decades and emotionally preparing myself for saying goodbye publicly to the man I loved the most. 

Please don’t get me wrong. I cry. I just don’t do it publicly. In fact before I walked into the bank I had just wiped the uncontrollable tears. It’s nice though to know I can say my dad is dead with ice cold in my voice. That means I’m a step closer to being me again. 

As close as I am to being me again I am reminded that this has been a shitty week. A week full of tears. A week full of fetal position sadness. A week full of emptiness. A week full of me staring at my dad (or the box his ashes are in) and not knowing what to say. A week full of going through photos trying to create an album knowing that you don’t have enough photos of your dad because it just wasn’t his thing. A week full of pain realizing you wish you had made him take more photos. A week full of wishing you’d spent more time in person. A week full of realizations that you worked too fucking much and could have spent time sharing his air. Yeah I’m crying now writing this in case you wanted to know.

The hardest thing I’ve done was click create a slideshow on the photos I had put together for the person we are having create a slideshow. Like that with the press of play I was a sobbing mess. I cried for hours as I watched over and over and over. This week I have been perfecting the slide show as a tribute for me to have. The tribute to almost 76 years of life. The tribute to the almost 4 decades of my life with a man who was my sanity, my best friend, my Fixer of everything. Almost 9 minutes of memories and yet that doesn’t feel like it’s doing him justice. 

Unfortunately, much of my life we were too poor to even have a camera. That sucks ass and let’s be honest it’s ok because I spent most of much childhood in the moment as opposed to now where I spend most of my life trying to capture all the moments I can! 

Not many people could capture his smile like I could. Today I miss that smile. That smile that could be heard through the phone. That smile that shined every time I walked through the door. That smile that waved gently goodbye as I left the hospital the night before he died. That smile that would have shook his head at me for making that poor banker feel bad with my cold honesty. 

Today I miss my Popi. 


– run JKO run

Grief is foreverĀ 

Wellness Wednesday: Having been a grief counselor I know so much about how grief works. For instance did you know that most people don’t truly begin to grieve until about month 4 but the average recovery time is 18 to 24 months? My personal belief which I have shared with many people is that grief is a never ending process because sometimes grief isn’t being sad and in tears, sometimes it’s celebrating, it’s sharing memories, it’s honoring that person in what you say and do. Grief will be with your forever. Grief is your personal response to your loss. No judgement. No right, no wrong. Just what you need to do for wellness.

– run JKO run