DECEMBER 22, 2019: “How To Re-Traumatize A Widow” …

BoundariesI struggled this morning as to what if anything to say about “the very first social event without my husband” last night because honestly, I am just so overwhelmed and TRAUMATIZED all over again! So perhaps I’ll just lead with some friendly advice for anyone out there who unbeknownst to them struggles with “unhealthy boundaries” …

To begin, here is what Wikia.org says about “personal boundaries” (and please DO click on this link THIS VERY IMPORTANT LINK for more information when you are either extremely bored OR extremely ready to conduct a quick self-examination as to where you are on the boundaries spectrum):

“Personal boundaries are an aspect of psychological boundaries and are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. “Personal boundaries” define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won’t do, what you like and don’t like … how close someone can get to you.”

One last advice I’d like to offer against what again I’m sure are seemingly innocent comments and remarks from well-intended people. I appreciate being told “I’m so beautiful”. Truly, I do, and I’m not trying to sound like a self-inflated ass, but I am in fact aware of “how I look” and yes, I agree, I am clearly not unfortunate looking. I comfortable writing those words out loud here now in this space because only I know how long it finally took me to find my actual reflection in a mirror! It took a hell of a lot of work on behalf less than a handful of people to get me to finally “see me” the way other people see me on the outside. Eternal is the gratitude for my very firstAngel from Flight 438“, because all “this” started with him! Then Zack picked up where he left off and I will NEVER forget that day in his apartment he grabbed me by the arms and physically forced me in front of the mirror while he stood behind me repeating: “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! LOOK AT YOURSELF CATHERINE, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! SAY IT! I’M NOT LETTING YOU GO UNTIL YOU SAY IT!” And then I did, and here I am. Yes, I am beautiful. The irony here is the first time Zack ever saw me in January of 2009 my presentation was “yah, not so much”. If he were still here he’d be the first to admit that I looked like a freaking train wreck. I was in the worst shape of my life, hadn’t been sleeping, was physically disfigured in the most egregious way, and about five minutes away from my final nervous break down. He used to say, “Every time she showed up at the gym she looked kind of like a homeless person”.  So trust me when I tell you – our love story did NOT begin with “wow you’re just so beautiful”. He loved me as I was, scars and all, for the very first time in my life, and for that precious reason my fallen King’s mirror of not only my reflection but most importantly my soul will always be the standard by which I judge anyone’s regard for my “beauty”.

There is probably not a human being on the face of this planet that doesn’t appreciate verbal affirmation from others, and yes, compliments in the right dose are an integral part of how our confidence is assimilated. But over and over and over again? “You’re so pretty. You’re so beautiful. You are such an attractive person.” Okay, so tell me once and that’s it! Anything more is not only overkill, but moreso the polar OPPOSITE of what has ever attracted me to a man. Observations, judgments and validations about “my surface” in my life before Zack were more than half of what made me sick in the very first place and nope I don’t care if someone thinks I’m beautiful (at least not on the outside). Quite frankly? THAT REPELS ME! Yes, this is a boundary issue with not only me but quite possibly many struggling people out there. Such an OLD cliche’ but true nonetheless: DON’T JUDGE THE BOOK BY IT’S COVER!

Well this was a long post. I apologize. Actually, nope again, I don’t. These things needed to be said and now that I’ve said them I feel much better. Guess I just needed to remind myself about the boundaries I’ve fought so hard to understand, respect and build in the first place. So with that I guess I’ll just have to find a way to be thankful for my re-traumitization last night. It was a lesson for me, for sure, and now maybe a lesson for some of you. There is indeed a time and place for everything – EVEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GRIEF! If you know someone has been through a trauma of any kind and you want to talk to them about it, just ask them first if they want to talk about it. They may want to. They may not. The choice should be theirs though, not yours.

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2019: “One Road Leads To Another” …

Highway 82So a friend of mine of 20 years urged me to get out and meet her at Choctaw in Durant last night. I spent all day going back and forth as to whether I was going or not and must have picked my phone up at least a dozen times throughout the course of the day and started texts that looked like, “Hey, I’m not sure I’m going to make it …”, but then kept deleting them and walking away from the phone.

Eventually I made the decision to go for what I thought would be overnight, so I packed my bag, took Walter to my mom and headed north up 75. The quiet drive was nice and I hadn’t really cried yet all day, as I was planning on trying not to. But right around the Highway 82 exit in Sherman I just about lost it. Zack and I had this whole “Highway 82” thing that I won’t go in to, but let’s just say that if you’ve ever heard the song “Take Me There” by Rascal Flatts, that road was a part of his story, and thus ours too. So yes, it was a moment, and yes as I began remembering all the times we’d taken that exit for our Oklahoma adventures I was flooded with emotions. I swear I could feel the “one, two, three” squeeze (I-Love-You) that we would always share to quietly express the deep connection between us, and EVERY time we made that exit? He always squeezed my hand.

It was an out of body experience drifting through that venue without my husband, and my friend didn’t arrive for a while so I was solo for 30 minutes. Several times I looked up and whispered, “Umm hello? You of all people KNOW how much I fucking hate this! What are you doing to me Williamson?” I kinda wanted to kick his ass, but not in a violent way. It was more so, “This is ANNOYING and it kinda really sucks and I wish I could punch you in the face”. It seemed like people were staring at me, which was probably all in my head, but it was just so extremely uncomfortable. I haven’t taken my wedding rings off by the way, and don’t foresee that happening any time in the near future. To be quite honest, I don’t know that I ever will. First of all, even though “death has parted us”, in my heart we are bonded for life, and also, I just don’t see how it’s possible that any other man on the face of this planet could possibly live with the immensely profound shadow that Zack has cast behind me eternally. No one will EVER be able to fill his shoes. Zero. Not that it’s a competition, and not that it’s even of relevance at this point because the thought of giving “all of me” to another man ever again makes me want to vomit. Aside from Christian and Gia there has been no other person who has had 100% of all I am. It was only him, and maybe it was only EVER supposed to be him, just as I was HIS “one and only everything”. I was Zack’s first love, and his last love, and everything in between. We were eachother’s miracles and the answers to the prayers we’d both been praying since probably before we were born. So what are the chances that a love like ours could happen twice in a lifetime? Right now I just can’t see that happening, but whatever. My focus at this point is my kids, me, and my steadfast determination to take whatever steps are necessary in the direction of improving the human condition. I’ve decided to become a life coach people. It happened on the drive BACK from Oklahoma, right around that Highway 82 exit. It just hit me. Not like a ton of bricks, but a mountain of them. I’m GOING to become a life coach, and I’m GOING to get out there and start talking to people about all the things I’ve been through and all the ways I’ve survived.

Now I remember where I was going when I started this post. So let’s go back to the end of the night when we were sitting in Gilley’s listening to the band. Two guys walked up to check out our situation and asked to buy us drinks. I rolled my eyes SO far in the back of my head that I’m still not sure how I couldn’t read the signs on the wall behind me. I said to myself, “Oh God, here we go. I FUCKING HATE THIS! I don’t want this guy, that guy, or any guy EVER to buy me a drink EVER! I just want to go home, and for my husband to be waiting for me when I get there, and for this to all not be real!” My poor friend was doing all that she could to protect me from this scenario. After all, her intention in getting me out was never to get someone to buy me a drink, only to get me out of my head. And I’m glad she did because THIS is what led me to my “Highway 82” life decision …

So the one guy asks about the drink, I was rolling my eyes, and my friend put her arms around me and turned to look at him and said these EXACT words: “Look, we sure do appreciate you but I’m going to kindly ask that you give us some space. Without going into details, my sweet friend here just lost her husband and I needed to get her out for the night which is the only reason we’re sitting here. This week is her birthday, it’s just not a good time for her, and I need you to leave us alone now.” “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that” he said then he turned to me. “Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Really? Ummm, yes, I do mind, but since he had the nerve to ask, I turned to look him straight in the eyes. “He shot himself in the head 23 days ago.” Then I turned back around and rolled my eyes again. To which, he then replied, after five or so awkward seconds of silence, “Oh wow. Just wow. How could he do that to you? Why would he? I just don’t GET IT! Such a permanent solution to a temporary situation. It’s just so selfish when people go and kill themselves. Man that’s just a shame. I’m so sorry for you darlin’. Really. Good night.” Then he left. Thank. GOD.

So here’s what’s wrong with what that guy said: ALL OF IT! Honestly, for a split second I really wanted to punch him in the face, like, violently, not the other kind of “funny” way I wanted to punch Zack earlier that night. And I wanted to scream at him, “NO! YOU’RE WRONG! He didn’t DO THIS to me. He didn’t even DO THIS to himself! He was sick. And in pain. He’d been seeing things. And hearing voices. He had split apart at the seams. He was suffering. And tormented. AND WAY TOO MANY THINGS YOU COULD EVER POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU NEVER WALKED IN HIS SHOES!” But selfish? HE WAS NOT! And I refuse to let that be his legacy. Yet therein lies the problem. The stigma. The misgiving. The untrue truth that so many have to speak to make “the S word” easier to digest.

And thus my “Highway 82 Life Coaching” decision! So many people just don’t get it. THEY SIMPLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Because unless you’ve lived it, survived it, or have watched someone dying this way out loud? You CAN’T! It’s “only been 24 days” since my husband died by suicide, and by no means am I professing to be an expert. But I know what I know, and frankly, I’ve BEEN down that dark road Zachariah never made it off of. so I’m GOING to help people understand.

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