That's me. I am broken. Inside. I have been for a long time. More now than ever it seems. Going to a support group twice a month with my 13 year old daughter has shown me that we are not alone in our grief and that every single one of us is broken. Every single person in the world.
I wonder how many times I have talked to a friend or a family member and had no idea how much pain they could be in on the inside. I know that's what is happening when they talk to me. Most times I am very good at hiding it. Then there are the times when it is just too obvious and no matter how hard I try, it still shows on my face the pain I'm in.
Some days all it takes for me to break down is for someone to hug me or simply ask how I'm doing.
We experienced an unexpected death July 2008. The circumstances around that entire week have been too difficult for me and my daughter to bare. I decided to write this to see if it could help me somehow to deal with all the feelings I am having. Feelings that I never wanted to feel and feelings that I can not explain to the people who love me and want me to 'feel better'.
I have to go back to fill in some blanks for those who might be reading this and not have a single clue about me or my family or our tragedy of last summer.
My exhusband died without warning, homeless and alone. The first man I truly loved & married. The father of my first baby. Age 38.
We had been apart for 7 years and I have been remarried for 5 years now. My ex husband and I were together for a total of 10 years (we met in 1991) and have a 13 year old daughter. To make a very long story as short as possible to bring you up to present day, my ex had mental health issues that he had never really been able to get the right meds for. He had an anxiety/depression disorder and was manic depressive.
When I filed for divorce after being together for 10 years, it was not because I wanted to but because I needed to think about our daughter and the life we were in at the time. Let me try to paint a picture of my life at that time: He was never home. We worked at the same company. He would go out after work and drink, whatever, and I would pick up our daughter, do the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, pay the bills, help with school work, take out the garbage. I did everything. I felt like a single mother and never felt more lonely in all of my life and I was married.
When we was home, I never knew what kind of mood he was going to be in. Divorce was difficult for me (I became Catholic in 1994 and finally knew about Catholic guilt) but I knew I had to do it to make a safe home for my daughter and myself. We had been in marriage counseling for a year and a half while living separately off and on. He did not want the divorce(but neither did I in all reality) He just never seemed to get his life on track after we divorced.
He was using drugs and lying to me and everyone else he knew. There is so much but too much to type. We lived in Chicago and 5 years ago when I remarried, I moved to Arizona along with my daughter and my new husband. Since then, he had moved to AZ approx. 3 1/2 years ago but feel into drugs even deeper, much harder drugs and never even had a job while living here.
He called me one night and asked if he could come to our house because he was going to Texas(from AZ) the next day to live with his sister. So my husband and I let him spend the night in our home and say goodbye to our daughter and took him to the airport the next day. He would've just left AZ without saying goodbye to our daughter. I don't really know why I never suspected drugs. I think looking back that I just assumed it was the fact that he still needed me (which he made me feel since the divorce) and that his anxiety and depression were just out of control.
He ended up in rehab in Texas and seemed to be doing better. He went from there to a half-way house and then moved back to Chicago in 2006. He wasn't holding down a job and finally became homeless in April 2008. I was devastated for him. We both cried on the phone together because it was such a big hole he was in and I was so worried about him. I felt in my heart that he wouldn't be able to get himself out of this. I didn't see how he could survive this alone. That phone conversation, he told me as we cried together that he had been having dreams with me in them. In the dreams, he was searching for me and couldn't find me. It broke my heart. That is when I started the not sleeping cycle that I am still in now.
His family had been helping him out financially and finally said 'no more'.
He was in a homeless shelter until the end of June and then he had been staying on a couch of a friends ex-girlfriend the two weeks leading up to his death.
I didn't get a call from him for a week, I called his friends to check on him and make sure he was OK and that he was in contact with them.
We had a trip to Chicago planned in July. We were visiting family and friends for 2 weeks. He called me on my cellphone on Wed. from a payphone to see when we could get together so he could see our daughter. I asked him if he'd be able to call me the following Monday(which was 5 days from then) to go to lunch because my husband was going back to AZ that Sunday and I was trying to make it more comfortable for the 2 of them and my daughter. He was very embarrassed of his situation and I know he was going to have a hard time seeing me with my husband.
He died that Saturday, 3 days after our conversation. He died in this girls apartment. I received an email on my Blackberry from one of my cousins that Monday morning. She was telling me that she was here for me and my daughter and to call her when I saw the email. In my heart, I knew what those words meant. But how could she know something happened to him?
I called her and told her that her email was freaking me out. She thought I found out he died because my cellphone was turned off so no one coudl call me but I had it turned off because I was sleeping.
She saw someone the night before who knew my ex and they told her that they heard he had died over the weekend! I was in shock. I told her I needed to call his sisters. They should know if he died. They would be able to confirm it for me.
I called one of them and asked her when she spoke to him last. She told me it was on Thursday and that he sounded good. I told her that I had spoken to another friend of mine & my ex's the day before and that he didn't show up for a party for a friend's son's birthday. I thought that was unlike him at the time, he had mentioned to me that he was going.
I told his sister what my cousin told me. Between my cousin and myself, we found my ex was at the county morgue by calling to see if he was there. It is very shocking to find someone that way when no one knows where they are or what happened.
His family found out he was lying dead in the morgue by his ex wife. Me. I had to tell his family he died. They had no idea. He was dead in the morgue for 2 days before any of us knew. It was unreal to me. Then I had to break my daughter's heart. This was too much for me to comprehend.
I went to the morgue to ID him with his brother-in-law and my cousin because I felt in my heart I needed to see him with my own eyes before I could break the news to my daughter. I just didn't want it to be true. He was too young, only 38.
I have been filled with so much guilt. I have so much in my life and he had nothing, and he didn't even get to see our daughter before he died (he had seen her last summer when we visited). I know he was leading an unhealthy life but does that mean he was not a worthy human being? He was the father to my daughter. I always told her that just because he made bad decisions does not make him a bad person. He had a big heart and he loved our daughter and he loved me.
I had an extremely hard time at the funeral. It was held at the church where he and I were married and the priest who did the funeral mass also married us (he is a friend of my ex's family for 20 years now). I left the church in full blown sobs. All I could see was the 2 of us standing there in 1994 taking our wedding vows, so young and happy. Then our entire life flashed before my eyes. My daughter has cried maybe twice but has been acting 'normal'. I believe she is still in denial. I can't just ignore it. I know it will hit her at some point and she will explode.
I have hardly slept at all since then and feel so much pain every day. I will say that since my daughter and I started going to a support group, I have some days where I don't cry at all and feel like I can open the blinds on the windows and let the sun in. But I am still having very many days where I don't want to open those blinds or even take a shower and leave the house. I guess my 3 year old helps me in that respect. Her being here all day long forces me to do things that I might not otherwise have the strength to do.
At first I felt that everyone would question my grief because I divorced him but to my surprise, friends and even his family have been worried about me and asking me about how I'm doing and not just about my daughter. I am just so filled with guilt for the divorce and how his life turned upside down. He always made me feel like he needed me to hold his hand through life. His mother told me he was always going to need someone to hold his hand through life and that it wasn't my fault. I feel guilt for having a nice home and a good life with my new husband and my 13 year old and her 3 year old sister. I just had always hoped that my ex would find his way in this life. For our daughter's sake. I'm not sure how to deal with all the guilt I am feeling. No one else seems to understand my guilt and I don't know how to reach out to my daughter without her pushing me away. He had such a good heart, he deserved better in life. I don't think I will ever find peace in his death. He was only 38 years old.
Even though he wasn't father of the year, at least he was in the world for my daughter. Now he isn't even in the world anymore. This was so hard to write. I am just trying to get the words out. Part of me is also angry with him for putting me in positions over the past 17 years to make hard decisions that I wish I never had to make. I do believe in God however, I am not one who believes that everything happens for a reason. That doesn't mean that I believe that if anything bad happens to you or your family that it is a 'punishment' from God. I just believe that some things that happen in the world are just plain senseless. Like a friend of mine years ago was coming home one night and parked in front of her house and was pushed back in by a stranger who raped her right there in her own car in front of her house. Was I supposed to tell her that everything happens for a reason? We all know the answer to that one. Sometimes things are just senseless.
I've lost many loved ones (friends and family) over the years in death. Most of them were age 30 or below. Two people in my family committed suicide at the age of 16. There was no purpose in that. Just in their own minds maybe but not mine or anyone else's that loved them.
My ex was a very loving person. He was always trying to make people laugh even in his darkest hours when he didn't know where his next meal was coming from or where he was going to sleep at night. On the inside, he was constantly struggling in a way no one else will ever know. I know partially because of the 10 years of being with him in a way that no one else was.
The only peace I can find in his death right now is that he is in a better place where he doesn't have to worry about how to get through the day with a mental illness. It tortured him on the inside. He did not use those words ever: mental illness. But isn't that what an anxiety and depression disorder is? I could be wrong. But I think that is what a manic depressive has.
I wrote this in hopes to lighten my heavy heart. I need to be a strong mom for my daughter. I am all she has now. More stress to make sure I am here a very long time. Keep her and her sister on the right paths in life as much as I possibly can.
I know this all might sound like rambling because it probably is but I know I need to get it out and will maybe sleep tonight a little longer than I did last night.
I want to quote a portion of a song that cuts right through my heart when I hear it these days:
LOVE REMAINS THE SAME by: Gavin Rossdale
Drink to all that we have lost
Mistakes we have made
Everything will change
Love remains the same
I believe those last 2 lines more than anything....everything changes but love always remains.
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