Thanks Death, Now I Have To...


This image perfectly sums up my post for today. There are times in our life when our path to somewhere ends, and from that moment on, we have to begin making decisions for another journey. We have to decide to stay on the shore, at the end of that life, or wade out into the unknown and swim toward some unknown future, trusting we will be able to make it to a new and beautiful shore. 

Last week I had a really bad day. I don’t know if it was just a buildup of emotions because I’ve been so busy lately, or if hormones were just doing their thing randomly, or I was trying really hard to just not feel some stuff, but wow. I went over to my place to pack some more things to bring over to Mike’s place… and I just lost my shit. I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more. I felt so completely sad to be moving. For a lot of reasons... but mostly, I am figuring out, because I'm feeling thrown back into the currents a bit again. And every time I feel that way, I am reminded that my life is currently a "plan-B". That the path I was on ended one day, and I just had to get out there and swim...  

I’ve become so used to my home being my own very private space. The sanctuary I can go to when I need to just be with myself. The place I can scream and cry and binge on ice cream and Sex in the City episodes guiltlessly. The place I can work on my writing or artwork that is private enough to allow me to dive so deep into myself and into the lessons I’m learning in life. To me, “home” has been my safe place to connect with me and me alone for many years now. Even through several relationships in my twenties, I have not lived with a partner in a decade now. So basically, I really have no clue how to live with someone anymore... much less a 9 year old girl on top of things!

That is all about to change drastically. And not only that, but I am making that move, into the house that Mike and Megan called home. I think I’ve underestimated the difficulty of this particular move situation and how it was going to affect me...

There’s no way around it, I am moving into THEIR home. Which in itself feels weird. Because I can feel their history here. Years of memories built and tender decisions made about making this place a home - which I am now undoing slowly as we move my things in and take down so much of Megan's decor. And I also don't even like the house. It's tiny, and cramped, and old. It has tons of old-house, annoying quirks and is dangerously close to being out of space - especially as we move all of my crap over. It's not somewhere I would pick to live. Yes, I'll be living with someone I love, which I never got to do with Drew. And none of this stuff should matter. It should be petty and not really matter after all I've been through. Except it does matter. Because it's all tiny reminders that this was so not my plan years ago when I envisioned moving in with someone I loved.

On this particularly bad day, I ended up breaking down to Mike about this whole thing. And I told him, in a totally wrong-sounding and overly-blunt way, that if I had the money to have my own place still, I wouldn’t be moving in right now. Of course, this didn’t go over too well. He was hurt. Naturally. But I didn’t say it right. What I meant something different, but something I didn’t have words for. Something like... this whole thing has moved so fast for me, and I don't like the speed of it. Or that I want it to feel different inside of me. I want it to feel like I am actually making a choice, instead of feeling that reminder that I am making choices because I have to, because my other life died. Which also sounds awful, but eventually I think I got around to articulating it somehow to him where he got what I meant. 

So this situation is hitting a nerve. After Drew died, I quit my job and left Dallas, because I couldn’t function there anymore. It was so painful to say goodbye and leave all our friends and the place I called home for 8 years, but I could no longer exist there. It always felt like a choice I had to make, not one I wanted to make. I never wanted to leave work that way. Nor Dallas. 

I moved in with Drew’s family and spent 3 years in limbo just kind of living in someone else’s home, fumbling about in my grief. I don’t regret that, because we all helped each other to heal a lot in that time. Eventually though, it got a bit uncomfortable and I could sense we were all ready for me to move out. So moving my life across the country within just 8 months of meeting Mike… felt like something I was shoved into yet again. I wasn’t making enough money to support myself, and living where I was, wasn't really working anymore. And this new man I love now wanted to help me make a change, so it was the best choice to make. Yes, it was a good move. It’s been an incredible, beautiful, hard, scary, joyful, gorgeous, complex year. I don’t regret any of it, and am so glad I took the chance. Still, it was sooner than I was ready for, and not the way I wanted it to happen. 

As Mike and I talked, I started to realize that’s how every decision has felt since Drew died and my life as I knew it ended. When I HAD to start making decisions for a new life. From that day forward, all of my decisions have felt like “have-to” decisions - because if I could really decide, I would have decided for him not to freaking die. And for us to have continued to build our life together.  

I wonder, will it always feel this way? Because the life I had planned ended so volcanically? Because we never got to do so many things - live together, start a family together, grow old together. Will every single big change going forward just feel like something I’m being shoved into? So far, at some point, every big decision has felt this way. Even when they end up being the best choices and leading me into equally joyful experiences in my life, it still always seems like that other part of me always is saying “but this was not your original choice…”. It’s weird, and I don’t think I ever realized that until just now how hard this makes all major life decisions now. This constant reminder in my head - sometimes just running subconsciously in the background.

I hate this. Because I love Mike. And I genuinely, 100% want this life. Every bit of my soul feels right with being with this person - it’s this really wonderful “knowing” that I actually didn’t even have with Drew. I have not, for one moment since meeting Mike, felt a doubt about us inside me. And yet, there is still this occasional annoying whisper inside me that this life was not the one I chose. It is the one that I chose because I had to choose something different. I really, really hate that. Sometimes it makes me resent every choice I’ve made since his death… simply because I HAD to make them. Which feels totally confusing and complex. To be happy about life but also feel like it's a "had-to" life. 

The really shitty part is that, if I were to meet both of these men today, and date them both simultaneously for a while, I’m fairly certain I would end up choosing Mike. Which is weird to say, but it’s true. We just fit better. But I didn’t get to date them both and decide that way. Instead, my previous life informed this one. My choice of dating Mike was based on losing Drew, based on HAVING to choose someone new. I realize, on the flip side, this means that Drew is always a part of me and that he still deeply influences so much of the beautiful things in my life moving forward. And this is a beautiful things. But sometimes, it doesn’t feel beautiful. Sometimes it just feels like an awful reminder… that everything going now is a choice I have to make, instead of just being one I want to make.

It doesn’t always feel this way. The day we arrived here from Texas with the moving truck, and began unpacking, didn’t feel like a “have-to” choice. It was exciting, and full of love and joy and beautiful full-circle stuff. But just a day before, as we crossed the Texas state line headed to Ohio, it felt excruciatingly like a “have to” choice. A few months ago when I told my landlord I was moving out, I felt genuinely excited. Like 100% happy and excited and like I was making a choice I wanted to make. And I’m sure the last day of September, when my lease is officially up, it will probably feel all kinds of exciting and beautiful yet again. And most of the everyday moments of life, I do feel I’m making the choices I want to make. I suppose it’s the in the stressful times, in the middle of big changes happening, that it starts to feel like a “have-to”. Those are the tougher times, after all. More stressful, more to figure out and sort through and get done… and it’s those times that my mind seems to sink back into that mindset that I am HAVING to make these choices because he died.

I hope one day that the rough parts don’t feel this way. That I won’t feel shoved into changes. Maybe one day, it will genuinely feel like I am just making the choices I want to with my life again, at least most of the time. I’m not certain, but I hope for that time…  when big changes and tough times are no longer some painful reminder that my life is on a perpetual detour, but instead that it's just a normal part of my life's journey. 


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  • indie
    commented 2016-08-23 08:56:39 -0700
    “This…. is the one that I chose because I had to choose something different. I really, really hate that. Sometimes it makes me resent every choice I’ve made since his death… simply because I HAD to make them.
    … that everything going now is a choice I have to make, instead of just being one I want to make.

    Nail meet hammer.

    I can;t tell you hoe much this post resonated with me. I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing what I know I struggle with on a daily basis. It is why at my age I just have little to no inspiration to do more than I have to because I simply cannot handle the meltdowns that bring out over and over the loss that informs my everyday existence.

    Thank you Stephanie and much stardust to you.
  • Sharon Wall
    commented 2016-08-22 14:03:23 -0700
    Yes, Sarah! Thanks so much for your post! I have some similar things going on, but haven’t had the right words to express how I’m feeling. The decisions right now feel so damn big and I’m so sad and annoyed that I have to be making plan B decisions at all. I know you’ll sort it out and it’s wonderful that you know you 100% want this life you’re building with Mike and Shelby.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2016-08-21 22:14:36 -0700
    Wow Sarah. It’s so hard to put into words but it’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. Almost resentful that I’m having to make these choices I never wanted to make in the first place. I never have felt angry with Tony for leaving this life. He suffered so much it just never crossed my mind to be angry. So maybe my resentment over the “have to” choices is my anger coming to the forefront. All I know for certain is how difficult and exhausting it all is. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2016-08-21 11:53:33 -0700
    Oh man I SO GET THIS Sarah. I feel forced into this Plan B I didn’t want life, with all these horrible life changing decisions ahead of me…but tons of guilt because some of them I’m looking forward to…and lots of tears as I pack away my life with Mike. This is a huge change for you – but that feeling of “right” in your gut is the bottom line…I’m learning to follow that myself. It doesn’t make it easy, but at least it’s a guide. Blessings and hugs.